To Infinity…and Beyond!

By on Jan 11, 2015 | 0 comments

I usually don’t blog about recent best sellers since there are so many other good sites to recommend those. But occasionally, a book comes along that is to books what Seabiscuit was to race horses―a virtual unknown that transforms into a fast-paced success. In this case, “The Martian” is too much of a fun story for me to let it pass by, in case you happened not to catch notice of it.The Martian (Weir)

It’s a straightforward plot: an astronaut, believed to be dead, is left on Mars by his crewmates; except he is alive and his task is to figure out how to survive and, if he is really lucky, to somehow-eventually-get rescued.

The book has soared to fame from organic roots: written first as short stories, then compiled into a self-published e-book collection; to a New York Times bestseller; and soon-to-be a movie.

The back-of-the-book includes first-person material, an interview and essay, with author Andy Weir that is almost as fun as the book itself. Weir, a self-proclaimed nerd, seems like a down-to-earth (pun intended) guy who deserves applause for his scientific and his literary chops.

“The Martian” is a fun little page-turner that couples credible science facts: chemistry, physics and geometry, with very clever writing―an unusual combination that can appeal to science geeks or anyone just look for entertaining reading.

It is entertaining but more importantly, the book did what good writing should do―it piqued my curiosity and made me THINK―in this case, about modern space exploration.

I grew up in a by-gone era of school children who sat glued to their seats and watched a small grainy screen every time a spaceship launched in the 1960’s.That was when space exploration equaled AWESOME. We chanted in unison to the countdown (“10-9-8…”). We cheered during rocket liftoffs and reentry splashdowns―and there were the times, when we cried.

In recent years, part of the price of progress has been a growing nonchalance to the fact that there are humans (six at present) living and working in outer space. “The Martian” helps us recall some of the awesomeness―our marvel at the competence, tenacity, indefinable courage that propels us deeper into the final frontier.

SpaceX rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

Yesterday morning (January 10), NASA launched the Fifth SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services Flight with a delivery of cargo and crew supplies heading toward the International Space Station. When you read “The Martian,” you’ll be reminded of just how vital those resupply missions are for those living in the outer worlds.

Lest we forget about the real-life important space work being done for the benefit of we earthlings, this cargo carries an experiment that is designed to help scientists better understand and unlock the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

If you’d like to catch a glimpse of the International Space Station, just plug your coordinates into NASA’s web search to find out when it might be visible in your area. According to NASA, “The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, but it is dozens of times higher than any airplane and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster. It is bright enough that it can even be seen from the middle of a city!” I’m notoriously bad at these types of cosmic sightings, so unless they smoke-write, Hello Curious Cats (or Surrender Dorothy), I may miss them, but knowing that the Space Station and its crew are out there, will make me more inclined to look up and think, “Awesome”―because it is.

Last month, NASA announced new progress on plans for the journey toward the Red Planet.

So, here’s to Infinity…and Beyond!

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft artist concept Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft artist concept
Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

What are some of your favorite books, fiction and non, about space exploration?

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