By Andy Weir
Narrated by R.C. Bray
Ⓟ 2013, Podium Publishing
10 hrs, 53 minutes
Mark Watney is an American astronaut who is left for dead after a destructive sandstorm forces the evacuation of the third manned Mars mission, Ares III. Unfortunately, he wasn’t dead; and now he is confronted with the enormous challenges of figuring out how to survive in a hostile environment with the odds against his rescue. Relying on his ingenuity, sense of humor, salvage from the base camp, and the efforts of the world’s space bureaucracies, Watney needs to figure out out to sustain himself with air, water, food, clothing and shelter – in the face of miscalculations, equipment failure, and adverse weather. The enormous amount of exposition required to set up each challenge, however remarkable for its seeming veracity in regards to technical issues and resolutions, is often boring and tedious; but the payoff for the tenacious listener is being able to fully share in Watney’s triumphs and setbacks – his experience as if we were there with him.
The narrative follows Watney’s point-of-view, some action on Earth, onboard the spaceship Ares III, and every once in a while from a point-of-view dispossessed of any personality (recounting an action in which there are no plausible witnesses.) The narrator, R.C. Bray performs the role of the Mark Watney extremely well, lending credible voice to a character in an incredible situation. Bray also does well with the different genders and ages, though he does a little less well in rendering the foreign accents demanded of him; but the characters come to life and are well delineated. The story told clearly and with sensitivity to the characters’ personalities.
On a personal note, I almost gave up on this audiobook halfway through; but I’m glad I didn’t. Despite things happening in the story, it wasn’t clear that the story was actually going anywhere; And I wasn’t sure that the constant grind of having science & technology explained to me was worth the one-liners and/or the end result of each challenge. But I ended up being emotionally vested in the fate of Mark Watney, and consider the hours spent listening to his story well spent.
OTHER: I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.