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On MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness, the novel falls solidly in the "very damn hard" category. It utilizes accurate science and is based on technologies which are being researched for RealLife manned Mars missions. No less an expert than UsefulNotes/NeilDeGrasseTyson, who is no stranger to calling out films which don't fit the bill, praised its "crucial science".

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On MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness, the novel falls solidly in the "very damn hard" category. It utilizes accurate science and is based on technologies which are being researched for RealLife manned Mars missions. No less an expert than UsefulNotes/NeilDeGrasseTyson, who is no stranger to calling out films which don't fit the bill, praised its "crucial science".



* ArtisticLicense: In any book that pays this much attention to detail, there are inevitably going to be a few details that are questionable. Weir himself freely admits that, although he pushed as hard as he could toward the diamond end of the Mohs scale, he went ahead and just went with plot needs for a few things:

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* ArtisticLicense: In any book that pays this much attention to detail, there are inevitably going to be a few details that are questionable. Weir himself freely admits that, although he pushed as hard as he could toward the diamond end of the Mohs scale, more realism, he went ahead and just went with plot needs for a few things:



* MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness: A solid 5, or "speculative science" -- everything in the book is possible with current technology (even though some of it is more efficient in the book than the current best designs) -- which is very impressive for an author with no background in astrophysics.


* TheAdventureContinues: In "The Earthling", Watney learns that Commander Lewis, now permanently grounded by NASA after stealing the ''Hermes'' to rescue him, has decided to get a job in ''private sector'' space travel. [[spoiler: And she wants him to join her.]]


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* AndTheAdventureContinues: In "The Earthling", Watney learns that Commander Lewis, now permanently grounded by NASA after stealing the ''Hermes'' to rescue him, has decided to get a job in ''private sector'' space travel. [[spoiler:And she wants him to join her.]]


* DidntThinkThisThrough:
** [[spoiler:You can't rush the construction of a Mars probe, skip the safety inspections, and expect a successful mission.]]
** [[spoiler:Just as much as you can't use canvas as the front of a launch vehicle and subject it to a force of 12g and expect a perfect launch.]]



* RealityEnsues:
** [[spoiler:You can't rush the construction of a Mars probe, skip the safety inspections, and expect a successful mission.]]
** [[spoiler:Just as much as you can't use canvas as the front of a launch vehicle and subject it to a force of 12g and expect a perfect launch.]]



* ScottyTime: NASA's plan to get a resupply probe to Mars before Mark's food is exhausted and he begins to starve. They're forced to take risks to meet their deadline because in this instance, "deadline" is not a metaphor; either they launch the probe on time, or there's no point in launching it at all. [[spoiler:RealityEnsues when they have to take one chance too many, and the probe launch ends with tiny defects that would have been caught and brought up to standard if they hadn't been so badly pressed for time combining into a chain of DisasterDominoes. Among other things, they didn't have time to check what would happen when you subject a crate full of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_Fuel Soldier Fuel]] bars to launch acceleration. Turns out it turns into something kind of like [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Newtonian_fluid#Oobleck Oobleck]], which proceeds to shake the rocket to pieces. Oops]].

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* ScottyTime: NASA's plan to get a resupply probe to Mars before Mark's food is exhausted and he begins to starve. They're forced to take risks to meet their deadline because in this instance, "deadline" is not a metaphor; either they launch the probe on time, or there's no point in launching it at all. [[spoiler:RealityEnsues [[spoiler:The expected happens when they have to take one chance too many, and the probe launch ends with tiny defects that would have been caught and brought up to standard if they hadn't been so badly pressed for time combining into a chain of DisasterDominoes. Among other things, they didn't have time to check what would happen when you subject a crate full of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_Fuel Soldier Fuel]] bars to launch acceleration. Turns out it turns into something kind of like [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Newtonian_fluid#Oobleck Oobleck]], which proceeds to shake the rocket to pieces. Oops]].


* AttentionDeficitOohShiny: While he is about to pass out from [[spoiler:the massive G forces of being launched into space from Mars's surface]], Mark becomes fixated on a particular bolt being pentagonal instead of hexagonal, and wondering why NASA decided that bolt needed to be that way. [[labelnote:The answer, in case you're curious...]]Pentagonal bolts are very difficult to loosen (or tighten) without a specific specialized tool. 6, 4, and even 3-way symmetrical shapes can be made difficult to tamper with but a great deal of common tools could be used by someone who had decided they ''must'' get around these measures. Fiddling with that particular bolt while in-mission was probably a very, very bad idea -- to the point that most likely the bolt was set back on Earth, and no pentagonal tool was sent into space, ever.[[/labelnote]]

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* AttentionDeficitOohShiny: While he is about to pass out from [[spoiler:the massive G forces of being launched into space from Mars's surface]], Mark becomes fixated on a particular bolt being pentagonal instead of hexagonal, and wondering why NASA decided that bolt needed to be that way. [[labelnote:The answer, in case you're curious...]]Pentagonal bolts are very difficult to loosen (or tighten) without a specific specialized tool. 6, 4, and even 3-way symmetrical shapes can be made difficult to tamper with but a great deal of common tools could be used by someone who had decided they ''must'' get around these measures. Fiddling with that particular bolt while in-mission was probably a very, very bad idea -- to the point that most likely the bolt was set back on Earth, and no pentagonal tool was sent into space, ever.[[/labelnote]][[/labelnote]] Independent of that, Mark Watney also exhibits some legitimate ADHD symptoms which may have been intentional or accidental, but some real life astronauts have said they particularly recognize his calmness under extreme pressure and problem solving ability.


*** Martian soil contains fairly high amounts of perchlorate salt, which would make farming considerably more difficult if not impossible. However, [[ScienceMarchesOn at the time the book was written this was not yet known]] -- and some experiments undertaken since have shown potatoes to have a higher perchlorate tolerance than previously thought. Weir has suggested that you could also just wash the perchlorates out of the soil.

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*** Martian soil contains fairly high amounts of perchlorate salt, which would make farming considerably more difficult if not impossible. However, [[ScienceMarchesOn at the time the book was written this was not yet known]] -- and some experiments undertaken since have shown potatoes to have a higher perchlorate tolerance than previously thought. Weir has suggested that you could also just wash the perchlorates out of the soil.[[note]] In an interview Weir said that while percholrate is bad for you, it's bad for you like smoking is and not like cyanide is. Meaning, you shouldn't get too much of it in your system and there are likely negative long term impacts, but it is survivable at the doses likely involved. At any rate, there are perchlorate reducing bacteria which produce ''oxygen'' as a waste product and there are even those who propose [[https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2016/pdf/2946.pdf such bacteria]] might be able to survive and even thrive on Mars. It's not out of the question a future Mars mission might even ''use'' the perchlorate to produce oxygen, as oxygen tends to be quite useful for all sorts of things humans wish to do on Mars.[[/note]]


* ArtisticLicense: In any book that pays this much attention to detail, there are inevitably going to be a few details that are questionable. Weir himself freely admits that, although he pushed as hard as he could toward the diamond end of the Mohs scale, he went ahead and just went with plot needs for a few things;

to:

* ArtisticLicense: In any book that pays this much attention to detail, there are inevitably going to be a few details that are questionable. Weir himself freely admits that, although he pushed as hard as he could toward the diamond end of the Mohs scale, he went ahead and just went with plot needs for a few things; things:

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** There is however one problem with a set of redundancies. There are multiple backup communications devices in case the one connected to the Hab breaks down, but they're all on the MAV, which means that after the storm wrecks the Hab communications gear and the rest of the Ares 3 crew leaves on the MAV, Mark has no way of calling home. The NASA ground crew concede that they hadn't thought of that possibility.

Added DiffLines:

** In "The Earthling", Lewis points out that what she did was actually ''barratry'', not mutiny. Mutiny is when the crew defies the commanding officers. Barratry is when the officers use the ship in defiance of orders. [[DistinctionWithoutADifference Watney thinks this is exactly the sort of weird nerdy thing that sailors always get weirdly specific about.]]


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* TheNeedsOfTheMany: Teddy's reasoning for many of his decisions center on this, either focusing on the continuing survival of NASA or the Ares 3 crew. In particular, when he needs to choose between a likely-to-fail resupply mission (which could lead to the death of one astronaut) or a less-likely-to-fail rescue mission (which could lead to the death of ''six'' astronauts).
** Inverted in particular by the Ares 3 crew, who would risk anything to save their crewmate... which is why Teddy tries to keep them LockedOutOfTheLoop for much of the plot.


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* InsistentTerminology: As Lewis points out, she didn't get grounded by NASA for mutiny. She was grounded for ''barratry,'' as mutiny refers specifically to the actions of the crew defying the ship's officers, while barratry is the ship's officers defying their masters.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Lewis has been reassigned to a desk job by NASA, more-or-less permanently grounded as punishment for her seizing ''Hermes'' to rescue Watney against NASA's orders.

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** In fact, the radio dying is what directly causes Watney's situation, as he is struck by the flying remains of a radio antenna, causing him to lose consciousness and his suit's telemetry rig to be destroyed, making it appear to his teammates as if he'd died.

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** When the ''Hermes'' crew decide to [[spoiler: blow an airlock and vent the atmosphere]] to help slow the ship down enough to pick up Watney, all of the NASA characters on Earth go into a MassOhCrap, with Venkat dropping a ClusterFBomb and Annie bolting for the press room because she realizes the reporters are going to go ballistic.

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** Many of the characters working at NASA and JPL qualify as well. Particularly Venkat Kapoor, who as Director of Mars Operations, finds himself uniquely positioned to snark at as many of the other NASA characters as possible. Part of Mindy Park's CharacterDevelopment is her going from a shy junior technician to a full-fledged SnarkKnight on par with any of the NASA leadership.


* "Car Trouble", Mark writes his mom to tell her about how he got out of a tense situation when he found himself marooned in an inhospitable desert with no way to call for help when his car breaks down in western Texas after he forgot his phone charger.

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* "Car Trouble", Mark writes his mom to tell her about how he got out of a tense situation when he found himself marooned in an inhospitable desert with no way to call for help when help... because his car breaks broke down in western Texas after he forgot his phone charger.


* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: "The Earthling" offers a slightly different version than the book for the Ares 3 crew:

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* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: "The Earthling" offers a slightly different version than the book film for the Ares 3 crew:


* BerserkButton: In "The Earthling" Watney ends up going off on a pushy waiter who won't take a hint that he doesn't want french fries (potatoes) with his burger.



* StrangerInAStrangeLand: Watney struggles to adjust to life back on Earth due to a mix of prolonged social isolation, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, health complications from his long time on Mars, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and a deep hatred of potatoes.]]

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* StrangerInAStrangeLand: Watney struggles to adjust to life back on Earth due to a mix of prolonged social isolation, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, health complications from his long time on Mars, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and a deep hatred of potatoes.]]]]
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue: "The Earthling" offers a slightly different version than the book for the Ares 3 crew:
** Watney is retired from space travel, and is undergoing both psychological therapy for his PTSD and being treated for physiological complications from his long stay on Mars. He ''hates'' potatoes.
** Vogel decided he'd had quite enough of space travel after their extended voyage, and has retired to teach chemistry in Bremen.
** Beck and Johanssen now live together, sharing a house just outside of Houston.
** Martinez is getting ready to have another kid, and games online with Watney.
** Lewis is permanently grounded by NASA after her stunt stealing the ''Hermes'' to rescue Watney, but has lined up a new job...


PS: Their sisters, too.''

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PS: Their sisters, too.''''

!! "From the Files of Mark Watney" contains examples of the following tropes:

* TheAdventureContinues: In "The Earthling", Watney learns that Commander Lewis, now permanently grounded by NASA after stealing the ''Hermes'' to rescue him, has decided to get a job in ''private sector'' space travel. [[spoiler: And she wants him to join her.]]
* TheAllegedCar: "Car Trouble" has Watney marooned in the middle of the desert when his car breaks down in western Texas. Also, he forgot his phone charger, forcing him to jury-rig a solution using his car's wiring. He looks forward to not needing to do that sort of thing while he travels to Mars with the best-engineered equipment made by mankind.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: In "Diary of an [=AssCan=]", Watney laments that he'll only get to spend a month on Mars, and after a training assignment that required the crew to spend two days in a space capsule together, hopes to never have to spend so much time with them like that again.
* DramaticIrony: "Diary of an [=AssCan=]", "I Made It", and "Car Trouble" all have this in spades, being prequel stories.
* EpilogueLetter: "The Earthling" has Watney starting a journal where he will document his struggles living on Earth, at the suggestion of his therapist.
* StrangerInAStrangeLand: Watney struggles to adjust to life back on Earth due to a mix of prolonged social isolation, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, health complications from his long time on Mars, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and a deep hatred of potatoes.]]

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