Tag Archives: self-published

Book #50 of 2013: The Martian

Last night I finished my 50th book of 2013. I read a lot, yeah, yeah, yeah, wrote a book about it. Book #50 was awesome. It was The Martian by Andy Weir and it’s a contender for my favorite book of the year.

It’s a Robinson Crusoe type story where an astronaut is abandoned on Mars. But he’s a mechanical engineer and botanist who puts his know-how to work to stay alive and wait for rescue (which will take years). He has to use spare parts, his own excrement and controlled explosions to create water, grow food and keep himself going. It’s an incredible work of seat-of-your-pants engineering, and yes, duct tape plays a role.

The main character, Mark Whatley, has a self-effacing, sarcastic style and records his experience in a journal. We also get glimpses of Mission Control back on Earth trying to sort things out and the crew that abandoned him. Much of the story is Mark figuring out how to do things, like create more water from the chemicals on hand so he can grow food. Just when the explanation starts to get too scientific, he cracks a joke and moves on. I have no idea if all the science know-how would actually work, but it sounds totally believable to a non-scientist like me. Andy Weir did some incredible research. Even if he’s wrong, he does a great job faking it.

While cataloging how much air, water and food he has and thinking through how to grow a garden on the harsh environment of Mars could potentially be boring, it’s not. It’s gripping, has plenty of ups and downs and is funny enough that it’s not at all a story about a loner on Mars trying not to go crazy.

It’s a pretty sci-fi heavy book (uh, Mars, hello!), so I’m not sure what kind of mainstream appeal it would have, but the sci-fi folks are going to love it.

And you better act now to get it. The book was picked up for major publication, which means the digital version is going to disappear soon. Soon as in April 30. You’ve got less than a week to grab the digital version, otherwise you have to wait until the print version comes out in February 2014. As if you need any further prodding, the digital version is only 99 cents right now. That’s an absolute steal. But get it now (even if you won’t read it for months), cuz it’ll be gone April 30.

Yay for awesome books that got their start and attention through self publishing.

The InvisiblePeople.tv Book

Mark Horvath Ready for ActionI’ve been tweeting and blogging about the SXSW Pepsi Challenge all weekend (and will be until midnight tonight) trying to win a $50,000-grant for homeless advocate Mark Horvath and his InvisiblePeople.tv project. A few tweets could earn Mark the support he desperately needs. The guy has been on the verge of homelessness since 2008 when he started this project to help the homeless. That’s dedication.

I’ve been tweeting like mad because I believe in what Mark is doing. Unfortunately he’s losing to an idea supported by the tech site Mashable, a site with more than a million views a day. (An idea, by the way, that no one has yet invested in or proven—Mark has been doing his thing since 2008; OK, sorry. Shouldn’t rag on the competition, I’m just a little bitter about that.) I’m so passionate about this because a few tweets could give Mark some major support. It kills me that he doesn’t have the support he needs.

So I tweet like mad. But if all our frantic tweeting doesn’t get Mark the $50,000 he deserves, it’s not a total loss. At least we’ll have helped spread the word about what he’s doing.

But the reality is that I’ve been doing a lot more than tweeting.

I’ve got a secret: I’ve been working on a book about homelessness to support Mark’s work. In my wildest dreams I thought I could have had the book ready by this past weekend—conveniently in time for Mark’s appearance at SXSW.

Continue reading The InvisiblePeople.tv Book