Conversation With Space-Geek and Science Fanatic Andy Weir

I’m the same level of smart-ass as [the main character]. It was a really easy book to write; I just had him say what I would say.

Andy Weir The Martian

Read It Forward: In one sentence, tell us what your novel is all about.

Andy Weir: It’s the story of an astronaut trying to survive after being accidentally left behind on Mars.

RIF: What inspired you to write The Martian?

AW: I was thinking up how best to do a manned Mars mission (because that’s the sort of dork I am). As the plan got more detailed, I started imagining what it would be like for the astronauts. Naturally, when designing a mission, you think up disaster scenarios and how likely the crew would be to survive. That’s when I started to realize this had real story potential.

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RIF: Do you have anything in common with your wise-cracking hero Mark Watney?

AW: I’m the same level of smart-ass as he is. It was a really easy book to write; I just had him say what I would say. However, he’s smarter than I am and considerably more brave. I guess he’s what I wish I was.

RIF: You’re stranded on Mars and you can only take one book with you. What is it?

AW: It’s always hard to pick one “favorite book”. Growing up, I loved early Heinlein books most of all. So if I had to pick one, I’d go with Tunnel in the Sky. I do love a good survival story.

RIF: How long do you think you’d last if you were left in Mark Watney’s position?

AW: Not long at all. I don’t know how to grow crops, nor how to jury-rig the solutions he came up with. It’s a lot easier to write about an ordeal than it is to experience it.

RIF: Watney seems to be able to maneuver his way around some pretty major problems with a little duct tape and ingenuity! So he’s a bit like MacGyver in that way. Did you watch the show as a kid? Any favorite episodes?

AW: Indeed I did! I loved that show. My favorite episode was the one where engineering students had a barricade contest.

RIF: Star Wars or Star Trek?

AW: Doctor Who.

Congrats to Pam S., Mary H., Misty Y., Patrick H., Oliver H., and 95 other members of the Read It Forward community! Their entries were selected at random to win a The Martian by Andy Weir.

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Featured Image: Vadim Sadovski/

ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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