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The Martian began in the most humble of places: a blog
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Matt Damon in The Martian (2015) - photo by Jeff Peterson
Andy Weirs The Martian has enjoyed a life that most authors can only dream of for their creations.

Its a Cinderella story for the e-book crowd one crazy enough that even Weir thought it must have been a hoax at first, as he told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview.

But then the checks started coming in, Weir said. And I thought, Well, if its a scam, then theyre not very good at it.

The phenomenon that is The Martian started out in probably the most humble of places in todays world the authors personal blog.

As described by The Washington Post, after an attempt at fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a writer seemed to have fizzled out, Weir had gone back to work as a computer programmer. Just for fun, he started posting chapters of The Martian on his site for a small readership of fellow science nerds, eventually compiling the completed story into a free e-book.

When some of his readers had problems downloading it, he published it through Amazons Kindle Direct Publishing program for the lowest allowable price of 99 cents.

And thats when things took off.

Without any promotion or advertising, The Martian shot to the top of Amazons sci-fi bestsellers list. Then an agent called. Then a publishing company. Four days later, he had sold the movie rights over the phone for six figures.

In terms of broad strokes, the plot of The Martian isnt substantially different than that of a 1964 movie called Robinson Crusoe on Mars. In fact, that basic description Robinson Crusoe, but on Mars! has been applied to The Martian probably dozens of times at this point, including twice in just the blurbs on the inside cover of the book.

Where it stands out from the Byron Haskins-directed cult sci-fi film which, no, does not feature a protagonist named Robinson Crusoe is in the wealth of scientific detail about the Red Planet. Obviously, Weir, a lifelong space geek whose hobbies include things like relativistic physics and orbital mechanics, according to Mercury News, has benefited from decades of knowledge about Mars gleaned from things like the Mariner 4 and Viking spacecraft that the 1964 film didnt have Mariner 4 did its first flyby of Mars in 1965.

But Weir went above and beyond the call of duty in a genre that is generally more than open to a good bit of technobabble in service of story. He obsessed over the accuracy of the science in his book, even going so far as to write his own computer program to calculate the orbital paths of spaceships.

Speaking with Mercury News, he said, All of the science is real. All of the technology exists today, although a lot of it is next generation.

But thats only part of the story. After an aggressive marketing blitz, the inevitable Hollywood movie adaptation of Weirs book hit theaters recently. Perhaps just as incredibly as everything else that has happened to The Martian, against all odds, it seems the movie might have actually nailed Weirs source material. And really, when does that ever happen?

The Martian is being called a return to form for director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner), arguably one of sci-fis greatest living filmmakers, and the Oscar buzz is already building.

During development, Scott and screenwriter Drew Pearce collaborated heavily with NASA, making sure that what was onscreen turned out to be as accurate as what Weir put on the page, according to Collider.

The next challenge for The Martian will be to see whether or not it can overcome the Mars curse the 25-year slump movies set on Mars have experienced, pretty much ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger liberated the Martian colony in Total Recall.

Given some of the praise The Martian has received so far The Washington Post recently credited the book with saving NASA and the entire space program Hollywood's Mars curse seems like nothing.