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'The Martian' Novelist Andy Weir On The Importance Of Getting Science Right

A still from the movie, "The Martian," based on a book by Andy Weir.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
A still from the movie, "The Martian," based on a book by Andy Weir.
'The Martian' Novelist Andy Weir On The Importance Of Getting Science Right
'The Martian' Novelist Andy Weir On The Importance Of Getting Science Right GUEST: Andy Weir, author, "The Martian"

. The Martian thrilled Ali-ish -- audiences as ace granted scientist battled Mars. He tried to get the attention of the team back on. Fans of the movie and the book is based on was impressed with how realistic the story seemed. Mark Waters diaries are full of detailed explanations about world world spaceflight, M engineering and chemistry. Andy is talking tonight at the Fleet science Center about the importance of science in all kinds of literature. We have him -- we spoke with David Wagner.We stuttered. Science. You used to work as a programmer. You never studied astronomy. It is a huge part of your work. What got you passionate about space travel ?I do not know. I think it is a lifelong hobby that I had. I dad was a dork. He is a dork. My mom is a dork as well. So, I grew up in a science loving family.Going to science fiction realm, some of the writers like people like Arthur C Clarke, they tend to explore big ideas about what future society might look like. Contrast that with your work, the Martian is about the details about space travel. Why do you like to focus on these smaller or more granular things in your work?I do not know. That is a good question. I really love problem-solving and I like watching characters solve problems when I am watching a show or reading a book. I want to write stories like that. I am less interested in regulating about the future of humanity but more interested in specific things. I don't know. That is a weak answer. Yes, I'm not making a social commentary. I want to make an entertaining adventure story.It is not about setting up a society on Mars but how you would beat yourself on Mars the viewer's that there.It is a survival adventure story.Talk will focus on the science half you are big on getting science right work. Some people might say science fiction is fiction. Why is it important for you to get the science right in your work?It is important because that is the path I have chosen. I like realistic science. Part of it is laziness and that if you do not ever break the laws of physics in your story, you do not need to make up what happens when they break. You do not need to answer uncomfortable questions. Why do they not just use a transporter? That is part of it but also for me, watching TV, if there is a blatant violation of fish six -- I guess it is uncanny. I do not like it when there is a little bit but if you start really breaking them, I am having a. If you have a work drive, I'm fine as long as you are consistent.If you try to get the science right but fails, that but you.If it is pure fantasy, that is fine ?Yes. Even if it is science diction like Star Trek. It is fine. Back to the future, they have a Time Machine. Whatever. As long as you are following the rules you invented.Can you think of any works that got something wrong and ruined the experience for you ?I would not say ruin the experience. Gravity, that was rough because it did present itself as a fairly accurate portrayal. It was an accurate portrayal in some way but in other ways, it was really inaccurate. The debris field -- I mean, I don't want to sit around and nitpick but there were things in it that were inaccurate and they made me wince. At the same time, live watch flash Gordon and I have no problem at all. If you are trying to be accurate and you are not, that bugs me.Your novel is so accurate on certain things that it is taught in high school classrooms and not in English lit but science classes. How are teachers using this to teach students about science ?The biggest problem that teachers have in high school and also in junior high, getting caged in Jade -- getting them to care. There is more interesting stuff going on. This gives them a story where the teacher can stop and say now Mark has this problem. Here is this problem and they set it up. How many potatoes does he need to grow? The kids do creative problem-solving with a goal instead of being given numbers and formulas and told to solve it.It is less abstract.It is more tangible and hopefully more fun with them.When you're writing the book, did you have any idea it would be used this way ?I had no idea that the book book would have mainstream at all. I thought it was writing for a small niche.You did have to change some things about the book to make it useful for high school teachers, right?You mean like the profanities ?Yes. What is the different ?That is exactly the same as a normal book but the swear words are replaced with softer version. You would say crap or screwed or darn it. You know, it is soft enough that it is acceptable for high school curriculum and junior high curriculum.When you see an R-rated maybe ?Well thank you. Thank you. Yes. [ laughter ]You have a new book coming out. It has been described as a thriller on them in. We do not want to go into spoiler territory but what sort of scientific topics might you explore ?For this one, the story is more -- it takes place in a city on the moon and the woman is a small time crown when she gets in overhead. It is a crime/hi Steve or caper novel. It is not intensity focused as the Martian was but it is scientifically accurate. I designed a moon city from the ground up. I figured out how they do everything, how to take local minerals on the moon and smelt them into aluminum and how they deal with the problems that you would have. It is all solid. That is what I do now. [ laughter ] That is the niche I found.That was the Martian author speaking with David Wagner. He is speaking tonight at the Fleet science Center at 7 PM.Be sure to watch KPBS evening edition. Join us again tomorrow for midday addition at noon. If you miss a show, you can check out the podcast at I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Thank you for listening .

The hit movie "The Martian" thrilled audiences as stranded NASA scientist Mark Watney battled the harsh environment of Mars, all while trying to get the attention of his team back home.

But fans of the movie, and the book it is based on, were also impressed with how realistic the science behind the near-future Mars mission seemed. Watney's diaries are full of detailed explanations about space flight, engineering and chemistry that real-world scientists say is nearly flawless.

"Part of it is almost laziness, in that if you don't ever break the laws of physics in your story, then you don't need to make up what happens when they break," author Andy Weir said. "And you don't need to answer uncomfortable questions like why don't they just use a transporter to transport a bomb onto the enemy ship."


Weir is speaking Monday at 7 p.m. at the Fleet Science Center about the importance of science in all kinds of literature. He joined KPBS Midday Edition on Monday to discuss how "The Martian" is being used as a high school science textbook and his upcoming novel, "Artemis."

Author Andy Weir Talks With KPBS