A smart and witty Martian

Mark Whitney, an engineer and botanist, was left on Mars by accident and he has to survive some years since he has even a chance to get back to Earth.

While he is at the same time the luckiest and unluckiest person on Mars he manages to crack jokes all the time.

Here are some of the highlights I made on Kindle (WARNING! Minor spoilers ahead, proceed with caution)!

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.

I used a sophisticated method to remove sections of plastic (hammer), then carefully removed the solid foam insulation (hammer again).

Using advanced construction techniques (duct tape)

Even if it’s got a bigger problem, he’s an engineer!” Dialing, he added, “Fixing things is his job!”.

It’s a strange feeling. Everywhere I go, I’m the first. Step outside the rover? First guy ever to be there! Climb a hill? First guy to climb that hill! Kick a rock? That rock hadn’t moved in a million years!

The battery was a lithium thionyl chloride non-rechargeable. I figured that out from some subtle clues: the shape of the connection points, the thickness of the insulation, and the fact that it had “LiSOCl2 NON-RCHRG” written on it.

“Yes!” They said, “Yes!” I haven’t been this excited about a “yes” since prom night!

“Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

“Jesus, what a complicated process,” Venkat said. “Try updating a Linux server sometime,” Jack said.

I mostly ignore them. I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on the planet.

I told NASA what I did. Our (paraphrased) conversation was:
Me: “I took it apart, found the problem, and fixed it.”
NASA: “Dick.”

Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.

I used a geological sample container (also known as “a box”).

I got really bored, so I decided to pick a theme song!

Something appropriate. And naturally, it should be something from Lewis’s godawful seventies collection. It wouldn’t be right any other way. There are plenty of great candidates: “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie, “Rocket Man” by Elton John, “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan.

But I settled on “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.

The worst moments in life are heralded by small observations. The tiny lump on your side that wasn’t there before. Coming home to your wife and seeing two wineglasses in the sink. Anytime you hear “We interrupt this program …”

One kilowatt-hour per sol is … it can be anything … um … I suck at this … I’ll call it a “pirate-ninja.”

I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.

That makes me a pirate! A space pirate!

The fifth one is reserved for the day I launch. It’s labeled “Last Meal.”

“What would an Apollo astronaut do?” He’d drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool.

I’m in my space suit on Mars and I’m navigating with sixteenth-century tools. But hey, they work.

They’ll probably say, “Thanks for gathering samples. But leave them behind. And one of your arms, too. Whichever one you like least.”

Have you ever taken the wrong freeway entrance? You just need to drive to the next exit to turn around, but you hate every inch of travel because you’re going away from your goal.

I’m traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick.

I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a woman. Just sayin’. Anyway, to ensure I don’t crash again, I’ll — Seriously … no women in like, years. I don’t ask for much. Believe me, even back on Earth a botanist/mechanical engineer doesn’t exactly have ladies lined up at the door. But still, c’mon.

It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.

But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true.