Monday, September 21, 2015

Will The Martian Get People Excited about SF(R)?

I have high hopes the upcoming motion picture The Martian may prove to be a boon for Science Fiction Romance authors. Why? It has the potential to be the perfect blend of human drama, nifty science and out-of-this-world wonder. It has the promise of appealing equally to both genders. And it arrives just two months before the debut of the much anticipated new Star Wars sequel. If this cinematic one-two punch doesn't boost interest in our genre, I'm not sure what will.

The premise of The Martian? A pioneering astronaut is left on Mars by a crew who believes him dead after a terrible accident. He isn't dead. He wakes up alone on Mars with very limited oxygen, food, water and supplies in a temporary life support habitat that's expected to last only a month. The next mission? Four years away. And the next landing site? About 1,800 miles distant across a rugged, unsurvivable landscape with no breathable atmosphere and an average daily temperature of -58 degrees F.

The good news? There are no predators, hostile aliens or killer robots in sight.

The bad news? Everything else.

So how can one marooned man possibly survive on a hostile planet? That's what's so exciting about the tale. The triumph of smarts, science and determination against incredible odds. It's not just man against nature. It's human know-how against an alien world.

We've seen it done successfully once before in the blockbuster Apollo 13. That film, based on a real life series of events that transpired aboard the failed Moon mission in the early 1970s showed how applying immense problem-solving abilities to "let's take this one crisis at a time"mental discipline resulted in a seemingly impossible happy ending.

The Martian being Science Fiction instead of a real life space drama won't take away from that sense of suspense and tension. And the fact that we're discussing such a possible mission right now makes it even more exciting.

The novel itself was a major best seller written by Andy Weir--a book that grew from humble beginnings as entries on Weir's blog--and that was achieved without the visual shininess that a feature film can bring to the story.

The book has been endorsed by a retired astronaut. Chris Hadfield said this about The Martian: "It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like 'MacGyver' meets 'Mysterious Island."

Directed by Ridley Scott, the genius behind such diverse films as Alien, Blackhawk Down, Gladiator and Blade Runner, the motion picture is likely to benefit from his visual style and memorable imagery. It stars Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney.

With an original release date anticipated in November, the film debut has been moved up and is now set for release one week from Friday, on October 2nd.

Although NASA can't directly support a private enterprise, many of its experts served as consultants on the film, and NASA lent its logo to some of the scenes.

So what might make The Martian a stand out where other Sci-Fi epics that came before fell short?

In my humble opinion, the movie promises to be a winning combination of believable cutting-edge science, compelling human drama, and laugh out loud wit.

Care for a look at the trailer?

"Help is only 140 million miles away."

Want to know more? Matt Damon Explains Why The Martian is a Love Letter to Science

Newsweek: Matt Damon Spills About The Martian

So how about you? Have you read the novel? Are you planning to see The Martian? What intrigues you most about the story?

Have a great week.


  1. I wish I could believe it would make a difference for SFR, but I don't believe it will. We've had Gravity, Interstellar, Jupiter Ascending (ugh), Guardians of the Galaxy, and a spate of YA dystopia with the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Mazerunner. Did they change anything? Not that I've noticed (other than it getting my eldest interested in YA dystopia, which has now led to her developing an interest in SF. But only just). I'm not even holding out for The Force Awakens to change it. I am happy to see a lot more SF coming along with potential R elements, but I'm not convinced it's enough to get the genre up as the NBT.

  2. I hear you, Pippa. I guess I'm always the optimist that some magical combination of premise, story and characters will click with and translate to a larger SFR audience

  3. Haha. I'm more of a "hope springs eternal" sort, at least when it comes to SFR. :)

  4. I think The Martian will be a bit heavy for the romance fans. Folks like us nerds will love it, of course. But I think the new Star Wars movie is going to do more for us than a hard SF flick like this one.


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