In the essay „How science made me a writer”, published on salon.com on the 12th of February 2014, Andy Weir tells us about his journey of becoming the writer of one of the most beloved sci-fi stories from modern time. He makes it clear, through humour and humility, that sometimes great things just happen when you do the things you love.
Weir had been a big fan of computer programming and science fiction since he was a child. At a young age he got a job at the national laboratory and spent his free time watching “Doctor Who” and studying orbital dynamics.
So the opening line in his essay: “I’m a nerd”, fits him quite well. Weir had always found it interesting to imagine space travels and to calculate all the scientific parts of the journey.
Weir did definitely not plan to make the astronaut’s life on Mars easy: “...my plan was to torture Mark” (p.2, l. 29) and “…making his life a living hell”(p.2, l.26). Despite these quotes Weir does make it clear that he didn’t want to throw random accidents at Mark, but he wanted to make Watney solve problems that then would lead to other problems and so on.
This shows us that Weir wants his character to be intelligent and ingenious. This also supports the following part of Weir’s essay: “I also really wanted Mark to be fallible. Yeah, OK, I made him smarter and more resourceful than you or I would be in that situation.
But hey, it’s only realistic to do that when your hero’s an astronaut” (p.2, l.35-37). This quote says a lot about Weir’s interpretation of Mark Watney.
Weir allows himself to make Watney extra smart since being clever is something that we expect an astronaut to be. In the quote Weir also equates “hero” with “astronaut”. So Weir does not only see his character as a man followed by disasters, but he also acknowledges him as a hero.