Tag Archives | The Martian

The Varieties of Productive Experience

The latest Steve Jobs movie, imaginatively titled Steve Jobs, has flopped at the box office, and people are asking what went wrong. How could such an iconic subject—and in this case the word “iconic” is used correctly, which almost never happens—not draw the interest of audiences? I went and saw the film, and I don’t […]

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The Varieties of Scientific Experience

Some years ago, a posthumous collection of Carl Sagan essays were published under the title The Varieties of Scientific Experience. The title was a play on William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience. Despite his popularity among today’s atheists, Sagan was more of a pantheist, equating God with the universe, and his essays were an […]

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“The Martian” and the Earthlings

There’s one question everyone I know is asking about the film adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel The Martian: Did they mess it up? The book became a surprise self-published bestseller by drawing on a detailed and realistic understanding of the actual science and technology of space transportation—an outstanding example of “hard sci-fi“—to propel a suspenseful […]

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The Contest Between Homer and Hesiod, in Space

There is not much about Andy Weir’s The Martian that ought to work. And yet it works. The novel is like a twisted literary experiment: can you write a story that is about 5% dialogue, 10% action, and 85% exposition? And can the exposition be about scientific problem solving and the technical details of NASA […]

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