The Martian

Want to get away from it all?

Your dream destination is…

The Habitat – sleeps six, isolated, panoramic vistas, needs some work. Away from everything. Lengthy wait to book and arrange transportation. Comes with a vehicle called The Rover at destination. Limited services available, and no on-site support staff at all. Key words – Bring your own!

Doesn’t sound too promising does it? Astronaut/botanist Mark Watney was part of a team of six (The Ares Mission) that visited this place. A sudden and unexpected storm whipped up, and Mark was hit by some flying debris. Not only did his fellow adventurers lose sight of him, but he lost his communications power. Not quite like a cell phone needing a charge – more like he was knocked off the grid.

As the storm heightened, his mates had no choice. They had to saddle up and get out of ‘Dodge’ ultra quick. In about the same amount of time it took Han Solo to say – Take us to hyper-space Chewie, in a flash of powerful thrusters, they were gone.

So begins, Ridley Scott’s The Martian. The guy left behind, was thought to be dead. Only he wasn’t.

What he was – was stranded on the Planet Mars. Mark Watney is played by Matt Damon in a bravura performance. Speaking of bravura, let’s also toss a similar bouquet at Sir Ridley. This is easily his best effort in years.

Like most of you, I don’t get that many opportunities to explore our solar system. The furthest away from terra firma that I get is the cruising altitude of what ever commercial jet-liner I’ve chosen to book passage with. For me, I can go half way around the world in a day and then call it a day while retiring to a sweet hotel with room service, hot and cold running water, and maid service. Plus a concierge downstairs to help me if necessary.

For Mark Watney, his help is only 140,000,000 miles away.

So there’s your set up. Tom Hanks was the Castaway on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. There might be a passing steamship, fishing trawler, or even a super-tanker on the horizon, but they’d have no idea about him, and wouldn’t be looking for him anyway. Or there could be a flight high above that might spot his smoke signals or make shift driftwood signage that read HELP! from 39,000 feet above him. But Watney could not expect to be discovered in a similar fashion. To say he was off the beaten path would be a misstatement of epic proportions.

He was in a sense up shit’s creek without a paddle. But a paddle wouldn’t have helped him anyway. As there was no water. He’d have to make water. But instead of a paddle he had solar panels. Which could be used to generate power. So he’d be able to cook via his microwave. Only he had just a limited supply of the remaining food. After all, this always was a bring your own.

But he was a botanist which in theory meant they he’d have a better idea than most about growing some stuff. And he have to get on that right away. He did the inventory of food stuffs (which were not quite k-rations – but more like prepared food stuffs in packages. And there were just so many remaining packages. Applying math in the form of rationing out his supply he could stretch it so far but likely not far enough.

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