Friday, July 1, 2016

A to Z Challenge Extra: The Martian

Before I get to the post, I have to do a little bragging.  I've had free books hit #1 in a subcategory on Amazon before, but yesterday was the first time I ever had a paid book hit #1.  My latest book, The Incredible Shrinking Manhood!, hit #1 in the transgender category yesterday evening. Here's the proof:

It only lasted a couple of hours but it was pretty cool to be at the top.  I just wish being #1 meant you sold tons of books, but it's only 4 or so, plus about 1800 pages read from Kindle Unlimited.

And now today's entry...

After it came out last October I watched The Martian in theaters and really enjoyed it--I rated it as the second most-enjoyable movie I watched in theaters that year behind only Star Wars.  I wanted to read the book but it was like $9 on Kindle, which was too rich for my blood.  Eventually, though, it went on sale and I had the chance to read it.

The book and movie are largely the same, though the book has much more detail.  They both deal with Mark Watney being stranded on Mars and managing to survive numerous disasters with science and pluck.  Eventually his crewmates are able to come back and pick him up in a daring rescue.

When talking about books versus movies people so often take one side or another.  In my Page to Screen A to Z Challenge posts I didn't usually bother with taking one side or the other.  Some people are book snobs and will just assume any book is better than any movie.  I'm a realist and recognize that most people don't want to spend the hours and hours it takes to read a book.  So in a lot of them I said the movie gets the main points across in a lot less time.

The Martian is another one of those where the movie gets most of the main points across.  But since it's a castaway survival story, the book provides a lot more detail, just like Life of Pi.  Do most people really need that extra detail?  Not really.  Actually, unless you're a science or engineering nerd a lot of that detail about growing potatoes or retrofitting the rover for a long-range trip would probably bore the shit out of you.

There are three major difference between the book and movie.
  1. In the movie there are no obstacles when he drives from his camp to where the NASA rocket for the next expedition is waiting.  In the book it's far more involved.  Not just souping up his rover, but there's also a dust storm that he has to cleverly navigate his way out of.  Also as he nears the rocket site, he catches a bad patch of Martian soil and flips the rover over.  That would have made that portion more exciting than a montage with a David Bowie song, but the decision was probably that the movie was already too long and that would just make it longer.
  2. In the book, Commander Lewis stays in the ship during the whole rescue and Watney doesn't really get to use his "Iron Man" idea of poking a hole in a finger of his suit to fly up to where the ship is waiting.  In the movie Commander Lewis overrides everyone to go out and pick up Watney and he uses the Iron Man technique.  The former I think because they were paying Jessica Chastain a bunch of money and wanted her to actually do something.  The latter probably because it looked cool.
  3. The book ends when he's back on the ship.  The movie ends with him back on Earth and teaching survival skills to potential astronauts.  This was probably added so the audience wouldn't be like, "Did he get back to Earth or not?  Wah!  Wah!"
That's just illustrative of how books and movies can do things differently and still make an enjoyable product.  Which is why you don't have to always choose one or another.  In some cases there is one clear choice (IMHO) but a lot of the time there isn't.  Of course in our age of hot takes it's hard to say that two things are both equally good.

It'd probably be a lot easier to agree that both of one thing are equally horrible--like the 2016 presidential nominees.

BTW, the movie of The Martian premiered on HBO a few weeks ago so you can probably catch a rebroadcast or use HBO Go or HBO Now (or whatever it is) if you haven't seen it yet.  Or it might still be at Redbox.


  1. I'm embarrassed to say I haven't seen The Martian yet. I was going to rent it on Amazon, but now it's only for sale on Amazon. Will have to look into HBO Now. I don't think it's even possible to make a movie just like the book so I wouldn't be one complain about it. Things that work in the book might be very boring on the big screen.

  2. I haven't watched it yet, but you make a good point about "Book vs. Movie". Whenever anyone says the book is always better I tell them that's not true. Forrest Gump had a lot of black humor (no pun intended) since Forrest didn't understand how horrible the world really was. Bubba was a White racist football player and Jenny only came to Forrest when she needed sex. The movie takes his hopeful viewpoint and makes it his reality instead of his imagination. Much better. I also didn't care for "The Astronaut's Wife" novel over the movie. So, it's not a universal truth.

  3. Congratulations for The Incredible Shrinking Manhood! With a title like that I'd say it was destined to be #1 sooner or later.

    I haven't read the book yet but I loved the film. I also ranked The Martian as one of the best films of 2015.



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