‘The Martian’ sets our eyes on the red planet


The Appalachian Online

Matt Zothner

If you haven’t heard of or read “The Martian,” then you better get to doing that. This self-published novel by Andy Weir about an astronaut stranded on Mars has been heralded as one of the most scientifically accurate sci-fi stories of our time.

Even NASA, who the protagonist in the novel works for, has officially consulted on the science behind the film. Perhaps the genre of sci-fi has a new market: sci-realism?

The most intriguing part about this novel-turned-big-budget-film, opening Oct. 2, is that it does not depict a negative vision of the near future. In contrast, it shows the not-so-common story arch of humans pushing into the unknown for scientific and technological progress, not out of apocalyptic fear.

The plot is a lot to take in because the novel doesn’t shy away from factual science. In fact, the author researched for months to make it as realistic as possible, according to Business Insider.

Just as “Interstellar” piqued the interest of black holes, physics, and reaching other planets, “The Martian,” too, will get more people interested in the ideas of space travel.

“Although the action takes place 20 years in the future, NASA is already developing many of the technologies that appear in the film,” according to NASA.

The importance of this book and film cannot be underplayed. Science fiction has always, and will continue to, inspire the upcoming generation of scientists and astronauts.

The 15-year-olds dreaming of going into space right now are the ones that will make the trip to Mars. The content of this book is important in the topic of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, which is something the United States has been lacking in.

Even if the government keeps cutting NASA’s budget, there are still a handful of private companies working relentlessly to get to Mars in our lifetime.

SpaceX, an ambitious rocket company led by an even more daring individual, Elon Musk, is one of these companies pushing for a mission to Mars. Musk’s goals are lofty, and his dreams seem intangible, but he states that humans will land on Mars and start a colony by the 2030s, as evidenced by the SpaceX T-shirts that read “Occupy Mars.”

The challenges are evident and the government will need lots of convincing, but I’m certain that with the popularity of “The Martian,” as well as continuing support from private space companies, we could be setting foot on the red planet in our lifetimes.

Zothner, a junior marketing major from Cary, is an opinion writer