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Mars Madness: An Interview with Andy Weir

Without a doubt, people are obsessed with Mars. We search for its red spark in the night sky. We imagine traveling to it, and some of us are willing to take a one-way ticket there. Even a private firm like SpaceX is set to launch a test capsule toward the magnificent red planet in 2018. So, it’s no surprise that a film set on Mars would captivate us. We chatted with author Andy Weir about how The Martian captured and still stays in our minds as a promise of space exploration to come.

RECURSOR: We loved The Martian (both the novel and the film), and it came at a time when interest in sending humans to Mars has exploded. Why do you think Mars commands so much fascination?

Author Andy Weir, The Martian interview via Recursor.TV

Andy Weir (public domain)

WEIR: I think it’s the next place humanity has never been, so it’s the obvious target.

Your writing style is visual and seemed to lend itself to a film adaptation. Was this a consideration when you wrote the book? How did that play into your approach to writing?

I had no idea it (the book) would ever be popular enough to become a film. I never considered stuff like that while writing.

As for visuals, it’s funny you mention that because my editor was mad at how little I talked about what Mars looked like. I just find that stuff boring to read, so I didn’t put much in.

The Martian novel cover, Recursor.TV

Cover artist Eric White, Crown Publishing

Now that the film has won Golden Globes, a Hugo and other awards, do you feel the possibility of future film adaptations might influence your future work? Do you have any interest in writing for film or television?

Hmm… I’m not sure.

Most people don’t just crank out book after book that become films. I’m not likely to equal the popularity of The Martian with any future work. I’m just being honest here. It was a runaway success, but I’m no J.K. Rowling. So no, I don’t think about film or TV adaptations when I write.

However, I am working on a TV show pilot at the moment called Mission Control for CBS.

From a dramatic standpoint, did you ever worry that keeping the science as realistic as possible and eschewing a conventional antagonist might make the story less accessible?

Mars taken by the Hubble Telescope (public domain) via Recursor.TV

Mars taken by the Hubble Telescope (public domain)

It never occurred to me while writing The Martian because I didn’t imagine it would have a wide audience. I thought I was writing for a small subset of hardcore science dorks like myself. So it wasn’t an issue then.

As for now… Yes, I do have to take that into consideration. My next book is all scientifically accurate, and it has its scientific twists, but the antagonists are people.

The Martian reminded us of some of the great action adventures stories like Endurance and mountaineering books like Into Thin Air. What was your inspiration for the novel? 

I’d say my inspiration was more from Apollo 13.

Will there be a sequel to The Martian?

No plans for a sequel, sorry. I just can’t think of any ideas that aren’t lame. I’d rather make no sequel at all than make a bad one.

What other projects are you working on now?

Well, there’s the Mission Control pilot. And I’m working on a film script for Fox (can’t talk about that one, sorry). And I’m in final editing on my next book. The next book takes place in a city on the moon. The main character is a woman who is a small-time criminal who gets in way over her head.

Sounds good to us! We’ll be keeping an eye out for it.