The Martian: A Novel, by Andy Weir

An action packed thriller about one man trapped on Mars. I couldn’t put this one down. Mark Watney is part of an expedition to Mars that goes terribly wrong, forcing his crew-mates to leave him behind for dead. What follows is his desperate struggle to stay alive as long as possible until help can arrive.

The science all seemed very realistic and believable to me, though I’m no scientist. The solutions the character comes up with to each problem thrown at him (and they come one after the other), was like he was some MacGyver-like action hero with in depth knowledge of physics and chemistry. And it is great fun.

We don’t have far to go before this book could become a true story, though, and I wonder how the accuracy will hold up.

However realistic it turns out to be, this book has a great combo of page turning thriller and interesting science that makes it a three thumbs up from me. I liked it so much I added it to the reading list for the Nebulas this year.

Check it out!

Kepler 186F

Astronomers announced yesterday that they’ve found what they think is an Earth-like planet, 490 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, orbiting the star Kepler 186.

The planet is only slightly bigger than Earth, rocky, and orbits its star in the so-called ‘Goldilocks zone’, making it likely hospitable for life. Though the planet is too far away to get a look at and tell if it actually has liquid water or a protective atmosphere, this is pretty good news that such planets are out there. And if we’ve found this one, there are bound to be millions more.

Kepler 186 isn’t even a star like our sun, it is an M-Dwarf, which means its smaller, dimmer and not as hot. This greatly extends the possible locations to look for habitable planets, if multiple kinds of stars can harbor them.

If we can find a loophole in the laws of physics that would let us get to another star within a human lifetime, I think humanity will have no problem finding enough livable planets to populate the galaxy.

Thinking of all those planets out there, unseen, unknown–it makes the explorer in me scream for a spaceship that can reach them. And though I know I’ll never be able to go myself, I can enjoy their exploration vicariously. I dearly hope that in my lifetime we will see at least the beginnings of interstellar travel.

I know it’s unlikely, but I can dream :)

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

This was a strange book, very atmospheric and more than a little creepy.

Our unnamed protagonist, ‘the biologist’ (none of the characters are named in the entire book) is part of an expedition to ‘area x’ where reportedly very unusual things happen. The other expeditions that have gone before hers have rarely returned, and when they do return.. they seem different, and die shortly after.

I was expecting sci fi, but this is actually set in modern day. There is no future technology, and it is set on Earth.

The story is full of paranoia, uncertainty as to what is real, and internal struggles. The character is really solid and I identified with her a lot.

This is a very quick, enjoyable read. Some of the weirdness of it reminded me of Lost, and as it was with Lost, you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you don’t expect it to make complete sense in the end.

I’d recommend this to sci fi fans as well as psychological horror fans. Very good and I am looking forward to the next in the series, out in May.

Old things

I dug around in the attic at my parents house today. I found stacks of pictures and boxes of old toys, some artwork I made in my highschool art class and… a journal.

It turns out I kept a journal for around 9 months when I was 16-17, writing in it nearly every other day. Not much, just a paragraph or two about what I did each day, and a spiteful teenage thought here and there. But just the first few pages have already brought back loads of memories, of events and people I’m sure i’d have never thought of again without it.

It makes me wonder how much of my present life I’ll remember in 15 years if I don’t write it down. Will the friends I have now fade into the mists of time? If I weren’t writing down the memory of digging around in the attic and having these thoughts revived, would this memory itself fall into the void ten years from now?

I wonder how much I’ve done and will do that I’ll never remember. And if it’s a private moment experienced by no one but me–a secret thought had while alone that fades from my mind, then that moment has been erased from existence, and the me that lived it might as well have never been.

Anyway, that is all to say that I think I’d better start keeping some kind of journal again, if only to keep my memories alive. I know the future me would appreciate it greatly.

Brandon Sanderson

I met him! And he signed some books! If I ever make it, sitting and signing books for four hours is not something I’d look forward to o_O

 

Me with Brandon

Me with Brandon

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