Recently I had the pleasure of reading a book called “The Martian.” Written by Andy Weir, The Martian is about an astronaut from NASA who becomes stranded on Mars left to survive. Throughout the book the Martian, Mark Whitney, is faced with many moments where he is staring at the face of death; and in an environment where everything is against him, he is able to face the tasks head on. I have to warn you now, I’m going to try and keep things as spoiler free as possible but some major points of the book will be revealed.
Mark Watney is basically the utility character of the crew. He’s there kind of as back up to the other crew member, but he also happens to be a great problem solver and botanist. These happen to be two good traits since he is stranded on Mars with a lack of communication to the mission control center. Marks, first big issue was that he needed to figure out a source of food since the Hub only had 30 days worth of emergency rations. Being a botanist and having a bucket’s worth of soil from Earth, Watney constructed a plan to take Mars soil and use to Earth soil to colonize it with organisms. After the soil was habited Mark was going to use potatoes from a Thanksgiving Dinner that was in a vacuum sealed pack left by NASA. Keep in mind that at this moment he has no communication with the mission control room back here on Earth so he needs to figure all of this out by using his own knowledge of botany and the knowledge of natural laws. Watney has a great ability of applying his knowledge to sudden problems he faces. He shows a lot of left sided qualities, but can’t easily avoid the need for making decisions. When it comes to botany he’s the bees-knees, he is an astronaut after all so he’s definitely got a brain inside of that helmet.
Later in the book after he solves his communication issue he is finally in contact with the team back home at mission control. They have to adapt a way to communicate via an old pathfinder camera and something called the hex alphabet. Mark was ecstatic to finally have people to talk to but it came with a sacrifice. Now everyone back on Earth was trying to find out what he was doing and they were trying to micro-manage him by controlling what he did to follow their plan. This included his potato farm he had created using the manufactured soil, thanksgiving dinner, and human fecal matter. Being an expert himself in botany, Watney now had an ear full of other NASA botanists telling him what he should be doing thousands of miles away (249 million miles to be exact). This caused some problems and really didn’t benefit him in anyway. It must have been hard though, for the crew on Earth to have the perception of a man who is stuck on Mars.
To conclude, this book is fantastic; it shows a man with nothing but his very limited resources and the knowledge in his brain. He shows resilience in some of the hardest times and he does it all on his own. Mark Watney is an example of someone who possesses IMT traits by simplifying problems, and following natural laws to understand the conditions he was in. It is truly a great story and I highly recommend reading it. Ridley Scott has even turned it into a full motion picture staring Matt Damon as Mark Watney.