Hold Back the Stars – Katie Khan

hold-back-the-starsThe story:
Carys and Max are floating through space with only 90 minutes of air left in their tanks and no conceivable means of getting back to their ship. As the clock ticks down, the young couple grow try everything they can to make it back to safety, while in flashbacks we learn about the history of their relationship, how they ended up stranded in space and the earth they left behind and how they

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book. We really got to know Carys and Max as characters. They’re in an impossible situation and their reactions seem incredibly real and incredibly human. They swing between from optimistic, practical bursts of activity to hopeless despair as the minutes tick by. They bicker and argue, but also laugh and joke and hold each other together.

I was completely emotionally invested in whether or not they’d make it and for the last 25% of the book I was literally holding back sobs on the train on my way to work. I really didn’t like the ending though. It’s hard to discuss without spoilers, but I just thought it was a bit of a cop out and it made me angry! Continue reading

Andy Weir’s ‘The Martian’

the martianFollowing an aborted Mars mission, NASA astronaut Mark Watney is left behind. His team think he’s dead. He has no way of communicating with them or with Earth The next mission to Mars is over 4 years away. Its proposed landing site is thousands of kilometres away. But all of that pales in significance beside the more immediate problem – Mark will run out of food long before the next mission arrives and will starve to death.

He has a limited amount of supplies and has to figure out how he can use them in a way that will sustain his life, taking each day as it comes and hoping that a solution to what seems like a completely impossible, hopeless task. He seems doomed to fail and die alone on Mars. But the ways that he finds to survive in such a bleak and inhospitable environment are ingenious. He continues to defy expectations and relies pretty much entirely on his own logic and common sense to carry on.

Be warned, there is a lot of technical detail about the systems for life support in Mark’s makeshift home, and a lot of maths and scientific detail as he attempts to work out how he can survive! I didn’t understand a fair few of the finer points, but it didn’t take anything away from the reading – as long as Mark understood it, that’s all that matters! Continue reading