The Martian by Andy Weir Narrated by R.C Bray Audiobook review

A brand-new production of Andy Weir’s modern sci-fi classic, narrated by the incomparable Wil Wheaton, and featuring bonus content from the writings of Mark Watney.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive – and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills – and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit – he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Wil Wheaton, who has lent his voice to sci-fi blockbusters like Ready Player One and Redshirts, breathes new life (and plenty of sarcasm) into the iconic character of Mark Watney, making this edition a must-listen for both longtime fans of The Martian and new listeners alike.

BONUS MATERIAL: This edition includes the following extras:

  • “Diary of an AssCan” – Mark Watney, new astronaut
  • “I Made It!” – A happy letter to Mom
  • “Car Trouble” – A somewhat sad letter to Mom
  • “The Earthling” – A postscript. *Available for the first time in this recording 

 

 

Ok the sharper eyed of you might be looking at the title, then at the blurb and thinking I’m an idiot and put the blurb from the wrong version. We’ll you’re half right! I have put the blurb from the newer version because that is the only version now available on Audible, I am however going to review the original version narrated by R C Bray because I own that version……and it’s the superior version. In fact when I realised I couldn’t find the original on Audible anymore I went looking for answers, I was pretty pissed off as The Martian is right up there in my favourite audiobooks, like top 3 easy and its one of my go to listens if I can’t afford a new book (kid’s gotta eat I guess) and credit day is way off. I’ve listened to this book a good 10 or more times and I always enjoy it. It’s not just that its a good story, although it is, it’s just narrated exceptionally well! I didn’t want to start this review with a rant, I wanted to be all positive, but I have to address this first!

So what happened? Well, publishing rights happened. Long story short, the original was published on audible by Podium publishing, the book was very popular and when the license ran out Audible approached Andy Weir at the same time as Podium and said “hey you like money right? We’ll give you more than they are offering to renew!” and Andy Weir decided money was nice and I can’t blame him for wanting to get paid the most for his work. Audible then approached podium and asked to buy the rights to their version of the book but Podium wanted trucks of money and peoples first born children for the rights and Audible just didn’t feel comfortable about the trucks of money so they approached R C Bray to re-record  The Martian. However, since the release of the original audiobook  Brays stock had gone up, people realised this guy is a damn good narrator and he was in high demand and commanded a much higher price now. I believe he pointed out he is a big deal now and would need to be payed accordingly (minus the first borns) and again I can’t blame the guy for wanting to be paid the most for his work. He and audible couldn’t reach a deal and so Audible went straight to Will (Wesley Crusher) Wheaton.

 

I should point out at this stage that Will Wheaton is also an excellent narrator…….of other books, he’s done a stellar (see what I did there) job on several John Scalzi books and also Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and I look forward to hearing him read Ready Player Two later this month. He has some serious narration chops. BUT he’s not R C Bray and while you will still get a good version of The Martian you won’t be getting the BEST version, and there’s no way to get the original on audible anymore. So while I would still definitely recommend the current version, it’s still an amazing story and they have thrown in a bunch of extras, just be aware I’m actually giving my thoughts on the original performance if not the story.

Ok so with that out of the way, The Martian. It starts with Mark Watney, an astronaut with NASA’s Aries program, making a log entry summarising how fucked he is! Turns out the answer is very! He’s been abandoned on Mars by his crewmates who thought he was dead. There will be no missions returning to Mars for 4 years, he’s got a space tent (HAB) designed to last 31 days, food for 300 days, and if any critical life support fails he’ll die. Oh and he has no communication with earth either. The story is his fight for survival told through audio log entries (I know Alex is a big fan of this, makes an ideal format for an audiobook) for the vast majority of the book. Watney has to solve problem after problem to fight for his survival on a planet that seems designed to be inhospitable to life. What does he have going for him though? We’ll to start his mission role was botanist and mechanical engineer, two skills he will need to make extensive use of! He is intelligent, tenacious, resourceful and good at improvisation . This along with a predominantly positive attitude gives him the best shot at survival he could have.  Anyone else on that crew is a gonner in this situation!

For me this book works on several levels. First off, it’s funny! Watney is a real character and his log entries even when frustrated or in mortal peril are full of self deprecating humour, sarcasm and full of detail about whatever crisis he’s currently in.

Secondly it’s a good story, a proper feel good story full of interesting characters. No it’s not all about Mark, there are a cast of characters back on earth working their hardest to save him with technical hurdles to overcome almost as big as Watneys.  There is the crew that left him behind believing him dead, working through their own issues of guilt and really coming into their own towards the end of the story.

Third (thirdly?), it’s smart sci-fi. This book feels plausible. The notion of it genuinely happening is perhaps farfetched, but the way it plays out feels very believable. I don’t know how long Andy Weir researched for this but he has done an amazing job with the technical side of surviving on Mars, how astronauts do things in general, how systems in the HAB work, how the ships work, the spacesuits work, the communications work. There is too much to go into but everything feels right, there’s no pseudo science bullshit, no hand waving explanations for how things work cos its sci-fi and they just do because its the future! I love that, nothing is taking me out of the story because my brain won’t accept the leap of faith about how something works.

I might have mentioned the narration already, but it really is so well read! Every character is distinct and have personalities shining through.

The story moves along at a great pace with very few dull spots, will keep you laughing and constantly engaged. If you like sci-fi this is a must have. Hopefully one day Podium pulls their head out of their own ass and lets both versions be available but till then we are stuck with Will.

 

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Unrulymind is written by Alex and Joe

Sci-fi and fantasy fans

Between us we have read or listened to hundreds of Sci-fi and Fantasy books. We very much enjoy discussing and recommending books to each other. Now we would like to open that discussion a bit wider and see what you guys have to say.

Looking forward to some great listens and some greater comment discussions.

Alex

Joe

Audible

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