Review: The Martian

The Martian

  • Author: Andy Weir
  • ISBN: 9781101905005
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Pages: 435

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? – Goodreads synopsis

The Boyfriend bought a copy of this book for me back when we first saw the movie trailer.  I had heard of The Martian long before that but it hadn’t piqued my interest enough to get it at the time.  After seeing the trailer, I definitely wanted to read it before I saw the movie.  Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it, I still want to see it.
The Martian is a story in which we already assume the outcome.  We know Mark Watney is going to survive.  What kept me reading despite knowing that?  One, it’s hilarious.  As you can imagine, Watney has some spectacularly bad days, beginning with the day he gets stranded on Mars.  He handles it all with the kind of sarcastic humor required for impossible situations.  Two, I didn’t know HOW he was going to survive.  Every moment of uncertainty on his part had me on the edge of my seat, rapidly getting through the pages until I knew whether or not one of his plans worked.  I cheered for him when they did, and I felt frustrated for him when they didn’t.  Three, the book is organized into chapters that are broken down into short sections, which made it extremely easy for me to say, “just a couple more pages.”
This was supposed to be my “work” book, and while I mostly read it during my lunch breaks, I also took it home with me to read after dinner and during the weekend instead of the other books I was reading at the time.  I sincerely hope Weir has plans to write more books.

Review: Welcome to the Future


  • Publisher: Christina Escamilla Publishing
  • ISBN: 9780991529360
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Pages: 260

What will the future hold? Sometimes bleak, sometimes inspiring, these twenty tales seek to answer the very question that civilization has pondered for centuries. From a world where specialized eyes shape the way reality is perceived to fabricated simulations that are designed to allow full control over an augmented reality. This book takes you to the far reaches of the universe to the remnants of a forgotten Earth. In short, these twenty tales boldly answer the question of “what if” with a simple: Welcome to the Future. – Goodreads synopsis

I won Welcome to the Future during a #COYER challenge, and I was so happy I did since I was also participating in a book buying ban and had added the book to my wishlist nearly as soon as it was published.  I was particularly interested in it because one of the authors also has a blog I love to read.  However, that also made me hesitant to review it.  What if I didn’t like the book or, even worse, her story?
To get around the worry, I promised myself that I didn’t have to review it if I didn’t want to or feel comfortable doing so.  I don’t review every single book I read, though I try.  However, I had nothing to be concerned about since I wound up devouring Welcome to the Future in one day.  I don’t usually do that with short story anthologies.  I tend to dip into them for a story or two and then read something else for a bit before returning.  That’s mostly because I’ve never read an anthology in which every single story was phenomenal.  While I didn’t love all the stories in this one either, almost all of my favorites were front loaded.
If anything, that’s what I disliked about this collection.  I didn’t enjoy the last few stories, and if I hadn’t plowed through the book so quickly, that might have tarnished my view of it as a whole.  I feel as if the runner-up selections were tacked on at the end only to make the book a little longer.  A better way of organizing it would have been to spread them out amongst the gems of the bunch.  Putting that aside, Welcome to the Future is well worth buying.

Review: Doctor Who – Snowglobe 7


  • Author: Mike Tucker
  • ISBN: 9781846074219
  • Publisher: BBC Books
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Pages: 256

Earth, 2099. Global warming is devastating the climate. The polar ice caps are melting.
In a desperate attempt at preservation, the governments of the world have removed vast sections of the Arctic and Antarctic and set them inside huge domes across the world. The Doctor and Martha arrive in Snowglobe 7 in the Middle East, hoping for peace and relaxation. But they soon discover that it’s not only ice and snow that has been preserved beneath the Dome.
While Martha struggles to help with an infection sweeping through the Dome, the Doctor discovers an alien threat that has lain hidden since the last ice age. A threat that is starting to thaw. – Goodreads synopsis

Not long after I got hooked on Doctor Who, I bought every book involving my favorite tenth Doctor that I could find at the used bookstore.  When it came to choosing which one to start with, I looked at my TBR shelf on Goodreads and picked the first one on the list.
I wasn’t expecting anything fantastic, but now I wonder if the books are made from scripts that, while great, didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.  There are only so many episodes per series after all, and the majority of them link together in some way to form an overall story line.  So why not take the ones that didn’t fit and put them in another format for fans to enjoy during that excruciatingly long time between series?
Regardless of the reason, Snowglobe 7 felt like watching an episode, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for when I bought this and the other Doctor Who books I found.  This wasn’t my first Doctor Who story outside of watching the show, but my first was an audiobook narrated by David Tennant, so I couldn’t be 100% sure if it’s awesomeness was due to the format or the writer.  It was probably both, but it was also a different writer than Mike Tucker, so the only things I was truly certain of was that this book was about the 10th Doctor and Martha and the story involved some kind of dangerous alien species and a wintry environment.
If you’re specifically looking for a Doctor Who story but you want something new or don’t feel like re-watching the show, look no further than Snowglobe 7.  I have a feeling I’ll be repeating that as I make my way through my book collection.

Thursday's Things: Sci-Fi Edition

Image: NASA

This is the first official week of my Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share these Science Fiction related links:

Thursday’s Things: Sci-Fi Edition

Image: NASA

This is the first official week of my Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share these Science Fiction related links:

Let the Challenge Begin!

SCI-FI SUMMERReading Challenge

Starting today, June 20th, and running until September 21st (the day before the Autumnal Equinox), is the Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge!

If you haven’t signed up yet, the link-up is at the bottom.  You can link up your reviews HERE.

Here are the challenge levels:

  • Red Shirt – 1 to 5 books
  • Viper Pilot – 6 to 10 books
  • Jedi – 11 to 15 books
  • Time Lord – 16 or more books

Any book of at least 100 pages that is classified as Science Fiction, including any Sci-Fi subgenres, qualifies for this challenge.  That means audiobooks, physical books, ebooks, library books, free books, other borrowed books, anthologies, and graphic novels are all acceptable options.  You may also count any Sci-Fi book that counts towards another reading challenge.

Link up your sign-up posts below:

The sign-up will remain open until September 14th, a week before the challenge ends.

Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge

SCI-FI SUMMERReading Challenge

There’s Sci-Fi November, and Vintage Sci-Fi January, but for me, the Summer is the time of year that is best for reading Science Fiction.  I don’t know why.  Do you think I make the rules of when I read certain genres or books?  Oh…wait…I do.  Or maybe my cat Dresden does?  He seems to be Lord and Master of the rest of my life, so it stands to reason that he does.  Regardless,  from June 20th, the official first day of Summer, to the 21st of September (the day before the Autumnal Equinox), I’m reading as much Sci-Fi as possible.  I’ve got a lot of it on my TBR shelves, and I’m inviting all of you to join me.

Since I’d like to make this a legitimate annual reading challenge, below are the levels:

  • Red Shirt – 1 to 5 books
  • Viper Pilot – 6 to 10 books
  • Jedi – 11 to 15 books
  • Time Lord – 16 or more books

Any book of at least 100 pages that is classified as Science Fiction, including any Sci-Fi subgenres, qualifies for this challenge.  That means audiobooks, physical books, ebooks, library books, free books, other borrowed books, anthologies, and graphic novels are all acceptable options.  You may also count any Sci-Fi book that counts towards another reading challenge.  On June 20th, I’ll post the link up for your reviews, and it will stay open until September 25th.

Are you up to the Science Fiction Summer challenge?  Link up your sign-up posts below:


The sign-up will remain open until September 14th, a week before the challenge ends.


Review: Ready Player One


  • Author: Ernest Cline
  • ISBN: 9780307887436
  • Genre: Science Fiction

The above ISBN is for the hardcover edition, but I purchased the audiobook.

Ready Player One is the kind of book that has a lot of hype around it, and once again, because it’s classified as YA, I passed it over.  I wrongly assumed that it was another Ender’s Game.  I had also read somewhere that it was Dystopian.  As much as I love The Hunger Games and a couple of other Dystopian stories, I feel like it has become a bit overdone lately.  However, one of my professors recommended it to me, and there was no way I wasn’t going to check this book out.

Yes, technically this a Dystopian novel, but it’s also a whole lot more.  It’s a tribute to my ’80s childhood and involves much of my favorite music, movies, and video games.  At the same time, it shows the reader the horrible ways life as we know it can go to pot, and there doesn’t need to be a super bug or nuclear war for that to happen.  It also doesn’t necessarily have to be far into the future or involve the complete loss of knowledge about how things used to be.

The reason I chose the audiobook over any other edition is because it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton.  All around, Ready Player One is a geek’s Science Fiction dream.  There is a ridiculous number of geek and ’80s culture references throughout the book, but you don’t have to be a geek or have lived during the ’80s to enjoy it.  However, if you are a geek or gamer or you grew up during the ’80s, you’ll probably enjoy this book even more than the intended young adult audience.  At some point, I’m going to buy the ebook and re-read it while listening to all my favorite ’80s tunes.

#COYER Scavenger Hunt #71: Read a book that prominently includes gaming in some way (Book cover is linked to Goodreads synopsis).

Review: The Sparrow


  • Author: Mary Doria Russell
  • ISBN: 9780449912553
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Genre: Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction

I purchased this book.

I’ve managed to pull myself out of the emotional wreckage this book caused in order to write this review.  I considered not writing one, but this book is truly great.  I don’t know if it will continue to stand the test of time, but even with a small part of the story occurring in 2015, the technology still seems marginally possible.  This is a work of Science Fiction, though, so I had to be forgiving of the “science”.

Putting the science and technology aside (which is easy to do since the story is about the characters and their experiences interacting with the aliens they come in contact with), this book is difficult.  It took me several months to finish, and not just because I was reading five other books at the time.  It ran me through a wringer emotionally, so I had to repeatedly put the book down for a bit so I could process what I was feeling and thinking.  You quickly discover that Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest, is the only survivor of the mission to make contact with an alien species, and something horrible was done to him, but you don’t really know what.  Clearly, he’s suffering from PTSD, survival guilt, and a whole laundry list of physical health issues, but it’s through the back and forth between the present and the past that you very slowly find out exactly what happened and why.  You don’t know the full extent of the horrors until near the end.  Much of Emilio’s thoughts and emotions hit far too close to home, and I bookmarked several passages so that I could go back later to re-read them.  In a way, his story was therapeutic, but as anyone who’s ever been through any mental or physical therapy knows, it’s rough going.  It’s never easy, and many of the characters who are trying to help Emilio recover from his experiences don’t seem to understand that, in much the same way as most people don’t understand just how difficult it is to deal with mental health issues.

I highly recommend The Sparrow, but not necessarily to just those who enjoy Science Fiction.  Rather, this book is more for anyone who loves Speculative Fiction or Literary Fiction.  Please understand that the story may take a long time to get through, though, and I recommend having something light and easy to read for when you need a break, or for when you’ve finished this book, in order to balance things back out.  I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, which did the trick and kept me from getting deeply depressed.

Review: Ender’s Game


  • Author: Orson Scott Card
  • Genre: Science Fiction

I purchased this book.*

I don’t own or read a whole lot of Sci-Fi.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it.  It just takes a lot more to catch my interest with Sci-Fi than with Fantasy, and most of my Sci-Fi favorites are TV shows, such as Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I love Doctor Who so much that I’ve bought quite a few of the mass market books that I’ve come across in used bookstores, but they’re still sitting on my bookshelves, along with, up until about a week ago, Ender’s Game.  So, when I started listening to the audiobook version that I also own, while I waited for podiobook suggestions, it was only because the only other audiobook I own (Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White) wasn’t something I was in the mood for at the time.  I’m glad I finally got around to finding out just how good Ender’s Game is.

Had I read this book about a decade ago, I’m not sure if I would have taken away as much from it as I did reading it now.  After having served in the military, there were a lot of Ender’s thoughts and emotions that I could directly relate to, since I had many of the same ones throughout my career as a soldier, though the experiences that brought them about were vastly different, of course.  I’m not knocking the military, nor am I saying that you have to be a veteran in order to understand this book.  I’m only saying that my personal experiences brought this book to life a little bit more, and caused some of Ender’s experiences to hit a bit closer to home.  One part that didn’t have anything to do with my adult life, but struck a chord with me to the point that I had some flashbacks to my childhood, was the bullying Ender experiences.  I know first hand that sometimes you have to defend yourself with your fists.  Sometimes it’s the only thing you can do to insure your survival, and it’s sad that anyone has to learn that lesson at such a young age.

This book is likely to bring up emotions for anyone who has been bullied, forced into a fight, felt like everyone but themselves had control over what happened to them, had to grow up too soon, or has had any kind of military training.  There’s also the shock that all of the events in the story are happening to or are done by children, many of whom are barely teenagers.  With the way that Ender and the other kids think, that can be easy to forget at times, and so the reminders cause that initial shock to be repeated at various points throughout the book.  Last but not least, there’s the overall message of the book, but I won’t spoil that for you.  If you haven’t read this one already, I highly recommend giving it a try.

*While I do believe that the personal is political, I don’t believe in censoring my reading because of an author’s beliefs.  Everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs, regardless of what they might be, and if I refused to read every book who’s author had beliefs I disagreed with, I’d be missing out on quite a lot of great reading.