by Erin K. | | 4 Comments | Tags:

Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of The Martian.

In this section, Mark finally makes contact with NASA. At first his contact with Earth is stilted and slow, but he is quickly able to improve the connection. I think Mark is glad to be able to reach NASA, but he also gets really annoyed with how NASA tries to tell him how to do everything. I can see his point of view. After being alone for so long and after surviving so much, it would be hard to listen to other people’s opinions again.

In chapter 14, Mark suffers a catastrophe. His potatoes are compromised, and now his food will only last until Sol 600—not Sol 900, when the planned supply probe will reach him. That puts a lot of pressure on NASA, and I’m sure it makes Mark feel a little hopeless.

Were you shocked that the ultimate solution to rescuing Mark was to have his original crew on the Hermes come back to Mars and do a rescue mission? It seems incredibly unrealistic to me to expect that the space shuttle could fly by Earth, adjust course, and make it back to Mars. What did you think of the rescue plan? Do you think it was fair of NASA to ask the crew to add over five hundred days to their journey? If you were in the Hermes crew’s shoes, would you have felt like it was the right thing to go back and rescue Mark?

In chapter 18, Mark loses contact with Earth again. He has to assume that the Hermes crew will come and get him, and he must continue to survive without the help of NASA. His spirits seem pretty high because he believes that he will be able to reconnect with his crew and come home. What do you think? What obstacles will pop up that could delay the crew or Mark’s journey to them?

Before you go, check out this clip from the movie. It explains how the Hermes crew will come and get Mark from Mars.

Make sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought of this section. I hope you’ll join us next week as we finish the book!


4 Responses to “The Martian: Week 3”

  1. Jane Engle

    From NASA ‘s perspective the easiest, quickest, and most logical solution to help Mark would be to use whatever existing resources were at hand, i.e. Hermes and the present crew. By extending their mission, food could be provided to Mark so he would have a greater chance for longer survival. Whether that was fair to them or not would not have been a consideration. The risks involved, however, would have been of utmost importance. Thus the question that had to be answered was what was often considered in “Star Trek”: “Do the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many?” or vice versa. Teddy chose the latter much to the dismay of Mitch Although they could not and were not ordered to do so, once the crew was made aware of the Rich Purnell maneuver and their chance to rescue a crewmate, they all agreed to mutiny and voluntarily accept any risks involved. As a fictionalized account of what took place, it could be accepted as realistic to the crew and the right thing for them to do.

    After having to do what he was told, Mark probably would have enjoyed being able to do things independently once again now that communication was lost. He would not have concerned himself with things he could not control and prepared to undertake the necessary mutually-agreed-upon plans. He had to hope everything would turn out all right.

    Now my interest is peaked and I look forward to rapidly finishing the book!

    • Erin K.

      Jane, thanks for the Star Trek perspective. I hadn’t really thought of that connection before, but that quote is perfect to describe the emotions of everyone involved in the decision to save Mark.

      And, you’re right about Mark being glad that he didn’t have to do everything NASA suggested to him. I’m sure that was really nice to go back to doing his own experiments and not doing all of the things that NASA expected of him.

      I hope you like the last chapters!

  2. Carrol

    This was a great section. I am amazed at the way Mark is able to come up with ideas and work through them. I don’t know how he is able to keep control of his emotions so well.

    I was really sad when Mark suffered his potato catastrophe. It just wasn’t fair after all that work and after enduring the awful smell. I just can’t believe they were destroyed.

    The rescue plan is hard to imagine. Timing is going to be so critical. I keep expecting another storm will come up and throw them off course. I am not surprised that the crew is willing to risk it all to get Mark back. I do feel sorry for their families, though.

    I am ready to see how this all works out.

    • Erin K.

      Carrol,I am totally with you on the potato catastrophe. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to see all of his hard work just go up in flames. And, I can’t imagine how disheartening it would have been to think that you had nutrition for a certain length of time and then realize that you lost so many days.

      I can’t imagine being the family member of one of the crew members. I would like to think that I would understand that my significant other had a job to do, but I would hate for them to be away from home for several more years.

      I hope you enjoy the last couple of chapters!

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