The Martian Ch. 11-13: And so we’re back FROM OUTER SPACE | The Synthesis

Alexander Winn and Lacey Hannan are back again to discuss chapters 11 – 13 of Andy Weir’s The Martian! The L in LCD stands for liquid, Kristin Wiig is the best depiction of what a PR manager is like (editor’s note: it’s true), and that fabric stuff is OMINOUS AS HELL (apparently).

𝕋𝕙𝕖 π•Šπ•ͺπ•Ÿπ•₯π•™π•–π•€π•šπ•€ is a live talk show that aims to find the relationship between science and fiction in pop culture. We’ll discuss a book, movie, or show each week that’s science-focused and talk about just how realistic it is, where reality is cooler than fiction, and exactly where certain liberties were taken.

Alex [00:00:04] Hey, folks, welcome back to The Synthesis, yes it was. I’m Alexander Winn and this very loud person is his wife, Lacey Hannan. 

Lacey [00:00:16] Yes. Who is going to throw a book at him today. 

Alex [00:00:20] And we are so glad to be back. We had some technical difficulties last week and before that was the holiday. 

Alex [00:00:28] And we’re just so happy to be back with all of our beloved fans and great, super, super duper sorry that it’s been so long. Seriously, you guys, thank you for your patience. Appreciate you. Just felt like I need to put that out there. 

Alex [00:00:44] Yep. So we are picking up where we left off. We are doing our read through of The Martian by Andy Weir. We are currently doing chapters 11, 12 and 13. And yeah, picking back up. We are in within the story. 

Alex [00:01:01] We are on Soul 97 and souls are Martian days. So probably about a hundred and two days, something like that, into the adventure. Mark Watney has been getting the Pathfinder up and running in the hopes of using it to contact Earth. And he doesn’t know it. But the people back on Earth have picked up on what he’s doing and they’re working on it, too. 

Lacey [00:01:26] And so far, we’ve had them switching back and forth between chapters and chapter. Well, Chapter 11 is the first time that we have Mark’s point of view and the earthlings point of view. 

Alex [00:01:39] Yeah, it’s it’s intercutting for the first time. And that is not the only format change that we’re going to have this episode. Things are shaken up. He does a lot of fun stuff. This we are this weird guy. He’s a very weird guy. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, we start out Chapter 11 and we are back on Earth and we’re huddled up with the NASA and JPL folks trying to get Pathfinder to connect or trying to connect to Pathfinder on Mars. And we just have to start out with with Tim being a jackass because he’s like one of my favorite, right? 

Lacey [00:02:19] Yes. Because hit like him expressing like, OK, this is this is about we’re going to talk about time lag here. And he goes through all of it. And then the response is, hey, Venkaiah is. Yeah. Got like a degree in physics man. He knows how to do this. And Tim’s responses, you can never tell with managers. 

Lacey [00:02:38] And I’m just like sitting here going, this is a good indication that in real life people get promoted past their ability all the time and their subordinates have to deal with bullshit a lot. 

Alex [00:02:50] And it’s also, I thought, a great way of conveying exposition, because that’s the kind of thing that you can’t actually count on the audience to necessarily know. Yeah. And so you need somebody to say it. And it’s always tricky. You know, if if anybody out there is a screenwriter or or a novel writer, you know, conveying that kind of information without it being clunky is always hard. 

Alex [00:03:11] And, you know, you watch TV, you watch movies. There are plenty of times where people do exposition really badly. And I really like this sort of elegant solution, which is you have a douchebag conveyance like he’s got he’s going to spag those kind of a douche bag. 

Alex [00:03:26] I mean, that that is a perfect example of it. But he’s kind of a jackass. 

Lacey [00:03:30] I mean, he’s a jackass, but that’s different from their their degree, their degrees here. 

Alex [00:03:35] But I just I love that. Like, if you need to if you need to risk talking down to the audience, the way you do it is you just lean into it and you just talk down to people. You just have a character who’s willing to talk down to people. 

Lacey [00:03:47] And yeah, I feel like this is a good, honest snipe and I just appreciated that a lot. I also appreciate that Venkaiah is not a manager who is promoted past his ability. Yeah, I mean, obviously he’s highly capable as as we have touched on multiple times. 

Alex [00:04:04] This book is very much competence porn. This is all about the experts doing expert things. And I guess Tim just doesn’t believe that he he he still needs to be convinced. 

Alex [00:04:15] Yes. So we hang out with them for a little bit. And then, like Lacy said, we jump back to Mark Watney on Mars pretty quickly. Yes. And this was one of those moments. There are few moments in this book that the the relief is just palpable. It’s so he wakes up and Pathfinder is pointed at Earth. And as he says, Pathfinder has no way of knowing where Earth is. So the only way that it could pick Earth’s location out in the sky is if it had connected to Earth. 

Alex [00:04:48] And he’s got a line back to Earth. And just the way it’s described and, you know, I’m doing Lacey’s reading the physical book. I’m doing the audio book narrated by well, narrated by Wil Wheaton. And just the delivery and everything is so. Like, I jumped in to Chapter 11, I had not been reading through to here, I just started Chapter 11 and I was already just like, oh, so palpable. 

Lacey [00:05:13] I, I loved that. He cried. Yeah, I mean, and it makes it obviously makes total sense, but. Like the crying and then the immediate, like, I would like to delete things that I’ve written. I don’t go there and delete. Yeah, but is writing that he’s crying, it means that he’s not embarrassed about the crying. And I feel like he’s a man secure in his in his emotional masculinity. And I love it. And to me that is that is Andy weir taking time to write the future he wants to see and I say all creators out there take note because that’s what we should be doing. Yes. And but anyway, I just I love that, you know, it’s just such a human thing. He’s got this big emotional thing and then he’s also got logic going. Oh, I wrote a couple of things that I thought nobody would read until I died. Yeah, exactly. So it was it was nice. Yeah. 

Alex [00:06:11] And then at that at that point, we cut back to Earth again and we’re you know, we’re jumping back and forth pretty quick and we are in a press conference. And so one of the things that I thought was interesting is there’s a fairly lengthy section here in the press conference where, again, it’s a very elegant way of doing exposition because one of the experts is just being interviewed. What does this mean? What are we going to be able to do? How is this going to change things? You know, this whole story for 10 chapters has been about someone alone. And then we also had these characters over here who are trying to get to the guy who is alone. And so we are totally changing the rules of this engagement. Like this is a totally different kind of story. Now, it’s not somebody who’s alone. It’s somebody who can talk to Earth. And so we just sort of step through that in the press conference. What is this going to mean for the story going forward, just to sort of set the tone? 

Lacey [00:07:03] See, now, I didn’t write anything about this because I jump straight back to the Tim. I mean, I read this part. Yes. Don’t don’t get me wrong. But Tim Tim is my. 

Alex [00:07:13] Oh, yeah. I’ve got a note here. The very next line on my notes is waiting for the waiting for the panorama. 

Lacey [00:07:19] Tim is a douche and that’s fun is so you got it. You got to find a better word because to me it’s him being a smart ass. 

Alex [00:07:29] Yeah. I like him and I want to keep him for this reason alone. It’s dry and I love good dry humor. 

Lacey [00:07:35] But, you know, I think he’s talking to Venkat and. When it comes up and says, you know anything to him because they’re waiting to get a response and Tim says totally, but we’re staying at this black screen because it’s way more interesting than pictures from Mars. 

Lacey [00:07:53] And I feel like if you’re an NCIS fan, that’s where he would get swatted in the back of the head, or if your grandpa does that. Um, this is where this is where Tim would get swatted. And anyway, I just. I enjoyed that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Alex [00:08:10] So one of the things that, you know, we’ve talked over and over throughout The Martian about things that are sort of fun challenges, things that are oh, that’s a that’s a fun kind of world to play. And a little bit how do you make water? How do you grow food, you know, these sorts of things. 

Alex [00:08:24] And for me, communicating through the camera falls into that category like you’ve got a camera. It can rotate 360 degrees. They can obviously see you. So one way of communication is taken care of, but how do you get a message back? 

Alex [00:08:39] The camera turns, that’s all go. 

Alex [00:08:43] And it’s fun to watch him sort of walk through. Well, I could put little letters around, but then that would be a lot of letters. So, you know, and sort of playing with all these different ways of doing it before he finally settles on the one that he does. 

Lacey [00:08:56] I personally am right before that. Like, you know, he’s he asks them a question about like, can they. Are you reading or are you reading me, you know, and they can point at yes or no and he’s very excited about the yes because this is the most exciting yes. Since prom night. And I about lost my mind when I read that. First of all, so funny. Second of all, I was like, yes, get some makhaya nerd like a part of me. That’s like, yes, yes, I want the nerds to get. This guy is a charming, nerdy guy making it work. And then of course, I want to know, did you get some money from me? Uh, I did not actually. Neither did I. I mean, I was I was pretty devout at the time, guys, so that wasn’t going to have to be fair. 

Alex [00:09:42] I didn’t actually go to prom with my girlfriend. I went to prom with a friend of mine who had no date. And I was like, well, that cannot stand. So so you so I went with my friend and that’s very sweet. Yeah. So it wasn’t really it wasn’t something that I was hoping for, but yeah, I just, it just I like it. 

Lacey [00:10:02] And then when the nerds get there. Yeah. Not theirs, it’s not theirs. 

Lacey [00:10:07] Whatever, I just, I want all nerds to have a little something. Yeah. Yeah. OK, great. Very good of you. 

Alex [00:10:16] So yeah. You know, so what Mark does, he’s got this camera that can rotate and spaceplane this because I don’t know what this table is. OK, so the you know, the initial thought obviously he’s got a he’s got a camera that can rotate. So the first thing he does is he sets up yes and no. That’s cool. But that doesn’t really allow communication just allows you to respond to questions. So he’s got to have some way for them to convey complex information. So his first thought is I could put letters all the way around. But, you know, there are twenty six letters in the English alphabet and you also probably going to need ten numbers. 039 And then you might need a question mark, like there’s kind of a lot of stuff that you would need and at a certain point you would have so many things around the circle that each one has such a narrow degree of arc that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell. Is that camera pointed at the M or the N? You know, so he’s he’s gone. How can I get this in a way that has fewer options basically around the circle? And what he settles on is ASCII. Now, Askey is a way for computers to store text, basically, so, you know, computers work on ones and zeros and so what they have is a system where hexadecimal. So I’m suddenly sort of backtracking through all the weird math nerd stuff that I’m going to have to give to describe this. All right. So a base 16, no system so hexadecimal are a way of storing 16. 

Alex [00:11:53] Digits at a time, so, you know, normally we use 10 digits in numbers, so we go 039, this is hexadecimal use 039 and then ABCDE, AEF, OK, and so with pairs of these characters, you can store other information. So Hex Colors is a way of doing colors if you do webdesign, that sort of thing. But what he’s using it for is an alphabet table. Right. So each letter of the alphabet has a different hex code. 

Alex [00:12:23] So for example, a might be zero zero and B zero one and then C is zero two. 

Lacey [00:12:29] So he’s essentially cutting down the symbols he has by like 10. 

Alex [00:12:36] Well, no, because an ASCII table doesn’t just include letters. It also includes numbers. It also includes symbols like he probably has emojis as an option that they could send him. That is all laid out in this ASCII table, depending on what kind of like depending on how it’s formatted. 

Alex [00:12:53] But the idea is that he can now have every letter of the alphabet, all the numbers, punctuation marks, whatever he needs that they can send him. All he has to do is go through and he’ll see the camera turns like a six eight four zero two. And so these pairs, he can then take compare to the table and he can see O zero two is the letter C and then. Right. 

Lacey [00:13:20] But that’s what I’m saying is instead of having you have 16 symbols instead of your normal. Yes. 

[00:13:27] 16 symbols plus. Plus it’s all that was a question card. 

Alex [00:13:30] Yeah. OK, so he will scratch them into the sand as he is watching the camera turn around and then he can take this undecipherable gibberish and go compare it to the ASCII table and turn it into letters and a message. Right. Yeah. 

Lacey [00:13:49] Yeah, OK, I get it, it’s just real boring, so I’m glad that they didn’t go into it too much because I thought it was awesome and fascinating. I was I was actually way more interested in Cannes and how the Pathfinder was going to how they were going to actually communicate back and forth. Yeah, I like to the OK, the Pathfinder can talk to Earth, A.J. Journal, but this journal isn’t working. So how do we do this? And then getting the rover to have to work with the HAB instead. And I just I found like I found that all a lot more interesting than the ASCII table. Yeah. And I wanted to move on, which I did. 

Alex [00:14:27] I did notice another thing that we’ve mentioned before. I really like the fact that, you know, Mark is clearly a genius in sort of the McGyver sense. But I really like the fact that he’s not always the one with every solution. And in this particular case, it was actually johannsson that had the ASCII table. Johannsson is the the computer specialists. She’s the software nerd on the team. And so she was the one who had this vital tool. He didn’t know it. He just he didn’t know it. But he he came up with the solution. He had the idea. Yes. But she was the one with the information that allowed him to do it. And I just I appreciate that even though the the crew of Aries three aren’t here, that they’re still contributing. You know, he’s still you still get the sense that it wasn’t sort of a one man mission to Mars. They were a whole bunch of really competent people here. And now he just has their stuff. But it still helps. 

Alex [00:15:20] Yes, I have to say so. 

Lacey [00:15:24] Going back to Earth. Yeah, yeah. Jack annoys the shit out of me. He’s the one who comes in and starts talking to Venkaiah and Ben. It’s like, dude, like I don’t care about all of these extra things and I’m just sitting here going, thank you, thank you, thank you. Be concise, get to the point and then get out. And there are nobody cares about this extra stuff. We’re trying to get Mark home and we don’t have to you know, you can’t act like you’re in an emergency for the next however many years he’s going to be there. But get to the point, we are actually on a mission right now. So I. I love Tim and I hate Jack. 

Alex [00:16:04] Fair enough. So, yeah. And but his idea is brilliant, which is the software patch that will allow them to I mean, sure, you can be brilliant and still be hated. 

Alex [00:16:18] All right, we’re going to be tiptoeing around Laci a little bit tonight. 

Lacey [00:16:24] You don’t have to tiptoe around me. Just don’t be like Jack, be concise. Get to the point. You say that like it’s something I. He’s terrible, you guys. This is probably why I can’t handle it. And anybody else I like, I maxed out with me. Yeah. I just I’ve learned to have all sorts of patience with his. 

Lacey [00:16:42] Talking and then, wow, I mean, everybody else, I’m like, OK, no, no, no, you get to the end. We will see. The way you feel about me is the way I feel about Jay Grape. 

[00:16:54] Hey, you’re ridiculous. 

Lacey [00:16:57] OK, so the other person I love is Annie is Annie. 

Alex [00:17:02] Annie because they’re because they’re going to meet in the middle. They’re going to meet one of the greatest lines in this book. She’s talking about how some people are crawling up her ass and some people are looking at her throat and they’re going to meet in the middle Venkat. 

[00:17:16] And that’s fantastic. I just I love her so much. The profanity, the power, the. She’s just she’s my kind of gal. 

Alex [00:17:27] We’re going to get to the movie after we finished our read through. And so I’ve been trying to keep the movie references down. But that being said, Kristen Wiig was the absolute perfect casting, which is funny because I don’t remember it. 

Lacey [00:17:38] I don’t remember her. I probably will once I start watching it. This is this is an ongoing thing, though. You guys like this is not putting anybody down. I do not remember books and movies after I’ve seen them. 

Lacey [00:17:50] I just they kind of. Disappear because I think I read too fast. Yeah, or something, I don’t know, but I just don’t I don’t retain it. It’s not because of anybody’s performance socks or anything like that. Kristen Wiig is great. Yeah, OK. I, I, I have noticed. 

Lacey [00:18:08] So this is this is true for me and all signs things. I don’t retain a lot of it. Like I’ll learn what it is and then I’m like, oh that makes sense. And then I just don’t keep it in my brain. You sort of verify but don’t store it. Yes. Well L in LCD stands for Liquid and I will absolutely retain that for the rest of my life. That is because he ruined the laptop because he. Yes. And his zero out of 10 consumer review had I was cackling. I just I appreciated that. 

Alex [00:18:39] Yes, I, I really appreciated there’s a line that was one of those things. You know, there’s there’s a special category of knowledge, which is the stuff that you sort of knew but didn’t properly appreciate. You hadn’t actually stopped to think about it even though it was already in there. I really love that point that they make where they’re discussing whether or not to tell the rest of the HermΓ¨s crew about whether Mark is alive. 

Alex [00:19:02] And the point that gets made is, you know, nobody’s focusing on it, but they’re actually in more danger than he is right now. You know, he’s stranded on Mars, but at least he’s on a planet there in space. And that’s scary. And that’s the argument that is made from not telling them yet. And that’s an interesting argument like that. 

Lacey [00:19:22] I buy it, though, because he’s in. Ahab that could somehow get destroyed or like he’s doing everything on his own, he can’t last forever, whereas these people are in in yeah, he’s he’s definitely in more long term danger in terms of like, will this have survive until his four gets here and that sort of stuff. But in terms of the day to day basis is harder. Died more times than any of them have. 

Lacey [00:19:57] I just like emotionally, I get where the argument part of the argument is, hey, this will put them in danger because their emotional state will get in the way of their work. And that is dangerous. Right. And I get that. But simultaneously, like. 

Lacey [00:20:16] You don’t buy it. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it. And I and I guess it kind of. I get the I get that the argument is there, I just don’t I just don’t buy it I. 

Alex [00:20:29] That being said, I think another person who doesn’t buy that is Mark Watney. And I love how much he won’t shut up about absolving his team. Yeah. That’s like a really it’s one of those things that sort of the writer didn’t need to do. Say it once. It’s not the crew’s fault. You’ve established that you can move on, but. This is a portent. It’s important to mark that no, seriously, it’s not their fault, and really driving that point home is is great and it takes us into Chapter 12. 

Lacey [00:21:02] Well, we are. We are not done with Chapter 11 because we’re not done. Because why don’t you take us through the rest of Chapter 11? 

Lacey [00:21:09] It’s it’s just this portion where he has like he he does this long message, right. That he’s sending back. And I’m not going to find it. But he’s already been told to watch his language because the world is reading what he’s writing. And at the end, the morning has been made. And how does he end this message? 

Lacey [00:21:33] Look, a pair of boobs and then he does what does open parentheses, period, CAPPOTELLI Period, close parentheses. And I was just like, oh, you’re such a high schooler. 

[00:21:44] But that’s funny. It’s so funny. That is that’s like it’s like, what are you going to do? He’s on Mars. Like, you’re going to come fire me, you know, you’re going to leave me here. 

Lacey [00:21:55] So anyway, it’s just again, Andy Weir is so good at at bringing this character to life and keeping the humor alive for the sake of the audience. He could have taken this to such a dark place and reasonably, but he chose not to like and it’s more fun, not just reasonably, but that’s sort of like the the right way to do it. 

Alex [00:22:18] And you’ve got a guy stranded on Mars. The way you do that, right, is to raise the stakes. You make it dramatic, you make it scary. And he went completely the other way. And it works. 

Lacey [00:22:29] It does total death. I it’s it’s not following in falling into the stereotype. And I think that’s part of why this is such a standout story. All right. 

Alex [00:22:40] Now, so in Chapter twelve, he’s absolving his crewmates, which takes us into Chapter 12, Chapter 12 again, shakes up the formula of this book, which is a lot of fun because all of a sudden it’s a flashback and it’s not a it’s not Mark Watney giving a dialog. It’s actually sort of a fictional third person narrative featuring Mark Watney. We flashback to the Aries three mission and the whole team is there on the ground. And we finally get to meet the Aries crew. And this is something that I had kind of forgotten because I you know, I’ve seen the movie. I’ve read the books before. It wasn’t really in the forefront of my mind that we hadn’t actually met them yet. 

Lacey [00:23:20] Yeah, we think I was like, why are we doing this? Because in my head, I do have most of the crew members in my head as stand ins for these for these characters that we’ve like that we’ve heard about. Yeah. And so I I guess. I got really bored in this chapter because I was like, I already know all of this, so I don’t have very I have a couple of things. Yeah, I really enjoyed it. 

Alex [00:23:46] I thought it was cool to go back to sort of plan A.. You know, to see how was this mission supposed to go and collect any rock samples. And they’re doing all this stuff. It was great to see their banter. Some of the some of the lines that get tossed back and forth between different characters are great and again, are perfectly captured in the film. And, yeah, it’s just it’s cool to see how this went down. Now, to be fair, The Synthesis is a show where we talk about scientific accuracy. And so it is necessary to bring it back around to Chapter one and talk about how this storm is impossible. This is the one thing in this story which is very grounded in real science. This is one thing that anywhere gave himself permission to just make it wrong. 

Alex [00:24:29] Just go with it. Mars’s atmosphere is about half of a percent as thick as Earth’s atmosphere. You could get hurricane speed winds and you would not be able to feel it through your spacesuit like it might kick up some dust. There’s no air on Mars. 

Alex [00:24:48] And so the like the kind of wind that they are experiencing is the kind of wind that would you would need to set off a nuclear bomb to get that kind of wind. It’s not realistic. That being said, it is dramatic. And I thought this chapter did a really good job of portraying a crisis. This is a scary situation and it’s a bunch of people who are very professional and very well-trained and very good at not freaking out. Yes, it’s scary. 

Alex [00:25:18] And that really comes across. Nobody loses their cool. Nobody freaks out the way you would and, you know, some zombie movie. But you can tell the way people are handling things, the way they’re moving quickly. 

Alex [00:25:30] And it’s this is high drama. Yes. Yeah. I will say that once. 

Lacey [00:25:38] Mark Watney is out of the picture and we’re just following the rest of the crew actually super struggle with Commander Lewis really, and I’ll be interested to hear your take on it. 

Lacey [00:25:48] But she took so much time looking for Mark that she put everybody else’s life lives in danger. And I struggled with that because her job is to get as many people off that planet as possible. And I recognize that when you become a family, you don’t want to leave anybody behind. But with information she had and and you know that the rest of your team is going to have a hard time following your orders to leave you behind, you are putting them all at risk of dying there because they don’t want to follow the commands because you are taking too long. And they keep telling her, like, you have to come back. The you know, it’s going to fall over. What is it called? The map. The map is going to it’s going to tip over and then they’re all screwed. 

Alex [00:26:40] The idea is the map of you can picture it like a building or a tower and the wind is pushing it so that it’s starting to tilt. And they’ve calculated that if it goes past a 12 percent tilt, that’s the tipping point where it’ll just fall over another all stranded on Mars. So the risk is we have to get it before it starts tilting past 12 percent and it’s getting closer and closer and closer. And in fact, it actually goes past 12 percent and they have to use the thrusters to push it back up. 

Alex [00:27:06] Right, right. And and and so to me, I feel like part of the commander’s job is to do a risk assessment. 

Lacey [00:27:16] And so it was her job to not let the temptation of not following her orders happen at all. Yeah, and I know that means she spends less time looking for Mark, and that’s awful. But what would have been more awful is what would have happened if that if the map had fallen over. And so I really, really struggled with her decision. 

Alex [00:27:39] You know, I I thought that that was human. Like, I thought that I thought it was believable because, you know, he gets knocked away. She doesn’t know if he’s dead. Like there’s a bio monitor reading that read zero. But, you know, there could still you could still resuscitate him, like there’s still hope. And she’s, you know, her. You said her job was to get as many people off of that planet as she could. Really her job was to get everyone off that planet and say that there’s a point at which you triage. But I thought that it was believable. And I do think she waited too long. Like if I was her boss when she got back to Earth, I would have been like you. That was not what you were supposed to do. But I thought it was very believable as a as a commander not wanting to leave someone behind. 

Lacey [00:28:24] And I get that. I think I think it was very human, but I think that the. That the risk assessment of he he could be resuscitated versus how many people are going to die just by the massive falling over to me, there is a balance there that she did the math wrong. Yes. And I, I just I super struggled with it, especially because the team is struggling with it. 

Lacey [00:28:54] And, you know, the yeah. 

Alex [00:28:59] There’s a little bit of infighting between a couple of people on how we should handle this situation and should we even follow our order and. 

Lacey [00:29:05] Exactly. 

Lacey [00:29:06] And so anyway, I guess it’s totally it is worth mentioning that Beck is on your side. There is somebody on the crew who’s like, commander, you need to get in here. This is not how you should be handling the situation. And so it’s like it’s not you know, that’s that’s Commander Lewis’s mistake, not Andy Weir’s mistake. 

Lacey [00:29:22] Yeah, exactly. Well, that’s and there’s a certain amount of OK, you’re you’re playing the hero. You said leave. She said to leave her behind, except for nobody wants to lose two people. Right. Because then somebody else is having to pull the trigger on that decision. And it’s your job as commander to be making the decisions that keep as many people alive as possible. So you’re kind of passing off this responsibility that I I struggled with it again, good writing, human choice, but I really struggled with I will say there’s a great moment that, you know, it’s one of those things that, like, if it hadn’t been there, it would have been fine. 

Alex [00:29:58] But the fact that it is there is so great, which is that Mark Watney, who has not yet been stranded on Mars and has not yet had to learn how to make water and grow crops and all this kind of stuff, even during the storm, he’s suggesting solutions. He’s coming up with. He’s like, well, we could we could use the the cables to pull the MAV back up. Right. We could we could brace the MAV against MAV, against the wind. We could he’s coming up with all this stuff and his teammates, like, OK, man, like, you know, whatever. And they kind of move on. But it’s this little bit of sort of retro foreshadowing the character that we know well. 

Lacey [00:30:30] And it also shows how he responds to stress. Yeah. His exact his reaction is not emotional. It’s very logical. And Problem-Solving. Yes. As a yeah. And some and I and I’ve watched that happen. I’ve done it before. I’ve seen other people do that. So again, it’s, you know, anywhere is just I guess one of my favorite writers and I think I didn’t notice that. Right. 

Alex [00:30:53] Yes, there is. You know, we’ve talked a couple of times on the set. This is so far about sort of the alternate universes of the Martian, different ways that this could have gone and one of those alternate universes. That is very interesting. I’m sure there’s like some fan fiction out there that somebody has tackled. This premise is what would have happened if Mark Watney and Commander Lewis were stranded on Mars. The map takes off. They follow her orders, the map takes off, she goes back to the hab mark wakes up. 

Lacey [00:31:22] I’d like to see him to the map. OK, see, I’m not particularly Fanfan. Yeah, I’m not particularly into fan fiction, but I would almost be interested in seeing someone do that because, you know, the potatoes aren’t going to last as long. Exactly. Things might go smoother, know just like what works and what doesn’t. 

Alex [00:31:38] Having two hands on some of these problems might really help having somebody to bounce ideas off of. But at the same time, yeah, the food won’t last as long, you know. So, you know, when the airlock blew up, one of them probably would have died. Yeah, absolutely. Although I guess we haven’t gotten there yet. Oh, don’t don’t spoil. Sorry. I mean, it’ll be this episode, you know. 

[00:31:59] OK, hold on. First of all, I want to say that I’m really into Eiman economist because we have the same person. Well, I mean, we’re on the same page. First of all, the not remembering the books and movies and whatever, like. Thank you. And also, you know, just it does I think that I think you make a great point about how it seems like he almost wants to be there more than anybody else. Everybody else is like, oh, crap, we’re going to die. 

Lacey [00:32:28] And he’s like, let’s stay. Let’s make this work. It’s OK. So I thought that is that’s a really good point. Yeah, I hadn’t noticed. Excellent observation. 

Alex [00:32:36] Yeah. So Commander Lewis does in fact come back into the have they take off. Everybody’s real sad obviously and then gentle sobbing. Yeah. It’s such a good job. 

Alex [00:32:48] Like these are characters that we don’t even barely know. But he does such a good job with these little moments that tell you who they are. You know, Johannsson I think we’ve already established that Johannsson is hot. The Johannsson is like way prettier than your average is. 

Lacey [00:33:03] Actually Hansen played by Kate Mara. Yeah, OK. 

Alex [00:33:07] We’ve established that she’s particularly good looking. She’s she’s the only one who’s sobbing. But at the same time, like Beck is clearly a little more practical. He’s the one who was saying, Commander, you have to come in like, you know, my friend just died. And he’s the first one who’s willing to say that Mark is dead. Yeah. And, you know, they’re just these little nuggets that sort of give you a taste of who these different characters are. Yeah. So we flash forward now back to the present day and they’re finally telling them we’ve it’s this great moment where we keep when are we going to tell? When are we going to tell them? When are we going to tell them? And then we meet them. We see them. 

Alex [00:33:43] We see how it happened. Now we’re going to tell them it’s great timing. I left I left him behind just like that’s when I just broke for Johanes or for Lewis because I was just like. 

Lacey [00:34:00] You worked so hard, put and put everybody else at risk, and this is, you know, your worst fear wasn’t wrong. 

Alex [00:34:10] Exactly was alive. He wasn’t dead. You left him behind. 

Lacey [00:34:15] And it just there’s let’s everybody else, everybody else off the hook, too, because she’s like, you didn’t do it. You were following orders. I left him behind. 

Alex [00:34:23] Yeah. And that is, you know, they they tell writers that, you know, every character is the star of their own story. And, you know, one of the marks of a good writer is that you can look at secondary characters and be like, oh, this story could have been about you. You know, it’s not this isn’t just James Bond where all the other characters in the movie are just sort of cardboard cutouts for him to play against. You know, when you look at a really good story, every character has their own desires and their own sort of struggles and that sort of thing. And that, to me, really jumped out as Commander Lewis is the star of her own story. There is a Commander Lewis movie happening in the background of The Martian, and she has a really powerful redemption arc because everybody is celebrating. And then she’s over here with her own motivations and just a writer who is capable of setting up a scene like that where everybody’s on the same page and then you realize that one of them isn’t there, having their own personalized response instead of the sort of group response. 

Lacey [00:35:25] And what’s so beautiful about that is, is really we are all the stars of our own show. Like, that’s just kind of how we tend to live our lives. Yeah. And that doesn’t mean that we’re all egocentric or whatever. That’s just it’s hard to imagine everybody else’s motivations. And your reality is different than the person next to you, their reality. So I love that that is built into this story. 

Alex [00:35:51] Yeah. Yeah. It’s just it’s so great she’s she’s responding the way she would. Yep. And that’s Chapter 12. So you found that boring? 

Alex [00:36:02] I found that incredibly chaotic. I,. 

Lacey [00:36:04] I did this start with purely because I mean I think I kind of wasn’t having it the night that I read these because I was real bored with part of Chapter 13. Yeah, that doesn’t stay true for very long. But I think it’s because it is the part of the movie that I remember is is the beginning is how it happened that he’s there. Yeah. 

Alex [00:36:28] I as a bit of a synthesis back story, while Lacey was reading Chapter 13, I walked in, I was like, hey, how are you doing? 

Alex [00:36:36] And she looks up from her book and she looks at me and goes. 

Alex [00:36:41] I’m reading about fabric, and then she just went back to her book and I was like, OK. 

Lacey [00:36:50] And then he got all, but he got a little excited about it. And I was like, because that fabric stuff is ominous as hell. 

Alex [00:36:55] OK, so get their Chapter 13 again. The first note I have is ominous backstory. We start with the hab canvas was produced at a facility. 

Lacey [00:37:08] What we do is that the first thing I think it is wrong, it’s the first thing I noted. 

Lacey [00:37:13] OK, well, I noted about Mark getting pissy. 

Lacey [00:37:18] OK, listen, listen. He’s in communication with Earth and he’s been he’s been desperately trying to do for four months. 

Lacey [00:37:27] Exactly. 

Lacey [00:37:28] And it’s just so human to get so annoyed with them so fast. I mean, he he calls them dipshits. And I cackled. I was out loud just yet cackling because it is so human to get just to do that 180. And I love it. I love that. It’s not like overly you know, it’s not too sentimental. It’s not like like they’re annoying me. But, you know, I’m glad that I get to even talk to them. No, he’s like he a different way. Yeah. I am the best botanist on this planet. Yeah. Like I don’t need you I don’t need you to tell me that I’m doing it right. Yeah. I fucking know. 

Alex [00:38:08] I feel like this is one of those things that that is very plausible coming from an astronaut. You know, like not not everybody could make it through an astronaut program. I feel like astronaut programs like the they select for the kind of people who don’t want to be micromanaged, who are a little bit Hot Shots, are very confident in their own abilities. And so I like the I have a feeling that any astronaut who read this book would have been like, yes, that they check in to see when you go to the bathroom, go away, you know, leave me alone. 

Lacey [00:38:41] Yeah, yeah. 

Alex [00:38:43] But I’m ominous back story setting up something about the hab canvas. Weird. Like where was it manufactured and how was it manufactured and when was it inspected? And then we just intercut back to March and then we just got back to Mars. And hey Michael, what? He’s doing his thing. And we go around for a little while and then it comes back. The Hab canvas was loaded into the rocket and did it. 

Lacey [00:39:03] It this is like this is where my mother would be like blah blah, blah, quote unquote. Yeah. 

Alex [00:39:10] Um, she said to me this this recalls an old onion video that was released like ten years ago, which is Nation Panic’s as ominous music heard across the world. 

Alex [00:39:24] It’s just about weird creepy music coming from nowhere and everybody freaking out because they feel like something’s coming. That’s how I feel about this. Like, why are you talking about the hab canvas, this incredibly important thing that is vital to our hero survival? Why are you drawing our attention to it repeatedly? You keep coming back to it. What is going on? 

Lacey [00:39:45] The onion are probably tense. Kind of makes me think of stranger than fiction. Isn’t that the one where Will Ferrell is? Yes. Yes. His life starts being narrated. Yeah. By Emma Thompson. 

Alex [00:39:55] He’s a character in a book and he can hear the narrator. Yeah, so he did. So he’s growing his crops. And there is a particularly funny mention that you will know if you ever saw a trailer for The Martian because it was in like all the trailers, which is that when you grow crops in a place, technically, you have colonized it. And so Mark Watney gets to be the guy who colonized Mars. Yes, which is interesting because that’s not the definition of like. Yeah, I wonder where that comes from, where that definition comes from. Because a colony, you know, one of the things that we sort of worked through a little bit in Terra Genesis is the word colony and colonies, because not only does it have a pretty sordid history in terms of the age of colonization and very sort. It has. Yeah, like what all that meant. But also it’s a specific legal term. You know, a colony is a thing that has a specific relationship to the mother country. And you, you know, not everything is a colony. And so that’s one of the things we wrestled with in Terra Genesis is, you know, the whole point of Terra Genesis is declaring independence, at which point you are no longer a colony. 

[00:41:09] But even if it’s a mining outpost, doesn’t it have something to do with like with they’re already like being people there oftentimes. 

Alex [00:41:16] Yeah. A colony is like a it’s I forget the technical definition, but it’s like it’s a group of people who are away from their mother country who don’t have any legal control over their own sort of well-being. So, for example, California is not a colony of the United States because California participates in the government of the United States. But, you know, there there’s sort of a point by point thing of what is a colony. And so I’m surprised that Andy Weir, who I trust, like presumably he put this in there because he found some definition, but I’ve never seen a definition that has to do with growing crops. 

Lacey [00:41:51] So, yeah, well, and so I think I mean, I think the scientific community has come up with different words because because to go out onto other planets does, like you said, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re of colonizing it. So I think they’ve come up with I think they just you settled generally, which is kind of boring, if you ask me. 

Alex [00:42:12] There are a few terms. Bill Nye and the Planetary Society likes to use subtle. I’m actually not that big a fan of settled because first off, it’s boring to settle literally means like to stop doing stuff. 

Lacey [00:42:25] It feels very small just based on the way that we’ve kind of used it historically. 

Alex [00:42:29] Yeah, a settlement is like you wouldn’t you wouldn’t say a settlement on Mars of one million people. Yes, it is only like a few dozen people. 

Alex [00:42:37] But and then the other thing for me, and this is sort of a nit picky point, but I feel like it’s it will be important in the adoption of the term is it’s kind of ambiguous in certain ways. Settlement is the act of doing it, the settlement of Mars. But then a settlement is also the place. So if you talk about the settlement of Mars, are you talk about the act of colonizing it or are you talking about the colony on Mars, the settlement of Mars? So it’s you know, it just sort of it’s kind of hard to use, really, which is why in Terra Genesis, we ended up reviving a word that is very old and doesn’t really get used very much. But I think it’s sort of the best word. And I would very much like it if everybody would help spread it, because I would like to make an impact on the zeitgeist, which is harmonize to harmonize a place it is to bring humans to a place, to make a place suitable for humans. And in addition to just being right, that is a better description of what we are doing in space. 

Alex [00:43:39] Wherever we go, we’re going to be bringing people. So whatever the legal definition of how that relates back to Earth is, you’re bringing people, you’re harmonizing it. 

Lacey [00:43:47] What are the different forms that you use? 

Alex [00:43:49] Which is the other thing that I really like about it is it’s very parallel to colonize, harmonize and colonize. You can have humanists just like colonists. You can have harmony just like a colony. It sort of fits the same kind of linguistic niche as colony. But it’s a better definition. 

Lacey [00:44:09] It’s kind of definition and doesn’t have the the baggage. 

Alex [00:44:13] Yeah, it does have the weight of history. You know, a lot of people, you know, if you go to a lot of places, but just to pick one, for example, India has a huge problem with the word colony because they were a colony. 

Alex [00:44:23] And that’s a bad thing. They don’t want to be a colony. And so when you look at science fiction, worlds like The Expanse, if you went to Mars in the Expanse colony, would be a very dirty word because they had to declare independence from Earth. They are not a colony. And so if you talk about colonizing Mars, I have a feeling those Martians would have a strong objection. 

Lacey [00:44:44] Yeah, so and people have often had that objection, you know, for for their various histories of their their ancestors and whatnot. So if I think back to the ancient Greek colonies. Right. Sort of never good to be a colony. Yeah. And to be colonized. So I think I think that there needs to be a better word. Yeah. I don’t know what he’d be the first. What’s the word. Instead of being the first colonists reharmonized monarch but the first commonest of Mars. Oh I like that c I like that better. Right. 

Alex [00:45:15] OK, it just said, you know, the other thing is a lot of people like the word colonize, like they grew up with a sci fi, like we’re going to colonize Mars. I like the word colonize, but it’s again, it’s got bad history and it’s not legally right and so harmonized. Done so easy. Yeah, I harmonized Mars sold so spread the word harmonize. That’s the one. That’s the one we should be using. Yes. Let’s go with that. Next up, there’s a great little moment that made me laugh, even though it’s not actually that funny. But just like come on man, which is he talked about how he established a secondary communication system with NASA of placing rocks on the ground for Morse code because using rocks to do dots and dashes is a lot easier than using rocks to actually make like big old English letters. And he says hopefully it won’t come up. And I’m just sitting here going, Dude, have you been paying attention? It’s absolutely going to come up. This is again for the writers out there. This is something called Chekhov’s Gun, which is a principle in writing, which is that if you introduce something, you have to pay it off. If you introduce a gun in Act one, the gun has to go off by Act three. And so when Mark Watney says, hey, I’ve got this other system for communicating with NASA, just in case the Pathfinder breaks, hope I won’t have to use it. 

Alex [00:46:34] That is absolutely Chekhov’s gun. 

Alex [00:46:35] You’re going to have to use it, man, if you like. You jinxed it. 

Lacey [00:46:41] Yeah, I felt like a lot of this chapter early on at least, is just getting everyone in contact and on the same page. So it’s like Lewis to want Watney to Lewis, NASA acknowledging that it is that it has more time to deal with things than expected because he has crops like it’s just it gets a bit boring. But I did find that the that the fabric interludes were bizarrely interesting because the rest of it was boring. And I kind of got mad about it cause the interludes are weird, but very specific. They’re very specific. I didn’t read as ominous for you. Well, of course. But like. 

Lacey [00:47:26] Listen, there just I had some questions by the end of it that I was like, OK, so we’re going to jump a little bit ahead just because it’s all about the fabric. Why, why, why? Why would you put it on a plane specifically just like this and store it just like this? And then you’re going to take the plane up even higher than you normally would because you want it to have, you know, the the smoothest flight possible. 

Lacey [00:47:52] And then you’re going to take it through there, getting through multiple atmospheres. And it’s not smooth at all. Like, it’s it’s totally I think it’s just minimizing risk. 

Alex [00:48:04] It’s going to have to go through those two atmospheres anyway. So let’s minimize whatever we can, you know. 

Alex [00:48:12] Lacey’s not having it. I’m not having it, I don’t this is going to be the closest she’s not having. That’s our new tagline. I don’t buy it. I think that’s what it is. 

Alex [00:48:21] There was a moment that I really enjoyed which or rather I would have enjoyed. He didn’t go there, but I feel like it was interesting. It would have been interesting if he had, which is he talks about how he’s got potatoes now. 

Alex [00:48:34] He’s growing potatoes. He has food that he has grown himself and not just potatoes for replanting. He actually has now potatoes for eating. And he talks about how am I going to store them because, you know, I’m not going to need him for a while and I don’t want them to rot. And the answer is, you just throw him outside because Mars is going to suck all the water out of them instantly. 

Alex [00:48:54] And the whole planet is one giant freezer. So you just throw them out the door and that’s where he keeps his potatoes, presumably just in like a big pile out by the airlock so that he’s going to have dried potatoes. So he’s going to yeah, it’s going to be dry, but they’re going to be preserved. They’re not going to rot, which is great, but very dusty. Like we’ve already established this. This is a world where he has to go out every couple of days and blow dust off of the the solar panels. And he don’t want to eat that dust and you don’t want to eat that dust. And so you have to wash that, by the way, radioactive dust. And so, yeah, I’m kind of surprised that any weird didn’t go into, like, you’re eating, OK, you’ve got potatoes, but they’re covered in red Martian dust. Like he doesn’t I don’t think he has like a faucet, like a kitchen sink. But, you know, like I wish they had gone into that. That’s the kind of thing that he does go into a lot in this. 

Lacey [00:49:44] Yeah. So then you notice that it’s missing some of that detail. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. 

Lacey [00:49:49] I just want to say one more listen, just one more thing about that, that fabric thing with the with the plane and the and the atmospheres and all of this stuff. OK, see, this is why it doesn’t make sense to me because it’s like it’s like you’re giving a baby a bath and you’re gently sudsing it. Right. Just imagine this and then you throw the baby out the window with the bath water like it doesn’t make sense. Why would you treat it like this perfect, precious little baby and then just throw it out the window because they didn’t throw it out the window? 

Lacey [00:50:23] This was this. 

Alex [00:50:24] They did they did everything they could to protect it, recognizing that they can’t do everything, recognizing that it’s going to turn into a teenager someday. 

Alex [00:50:33] That’s some weird hot canvas, but OK, I’m just saying it just it seems bizarre to be so over the course of the episodes that we’ve been reading The Martian, we’ve established a number of things that Mark Watney is Mark Watney is a genius. Mark Watney is very upbeat. Mark Watney is the greatest botanist on Mars. But now in Chapter 13, we have definitively established one thing that Mark Watney is not, and that is the urinating champion of all time. 

Alex [00:51:04] And that made me laugh so hard, I know I’m not the urinating champion of all time, he’s talking about water usage and how much water is getting sucked up by the water reclaimer. And he says, no, I’m not the urinating champion of all time. And I got flashed into my head like an Olympic stadium, urinating competition. And a whole thing sort of flashed through my mind in an instant. And it was thoroughly hilarious. 

Lacey [00:51:31] I so I and I don’t even remember it. So I’m I am more taken by his expletives. So. Yeah, because again, your girl loves expletives. Yes. Yes, she fucking does. Huh. 

Alex [00:51:47] So coming back around to the dust on the potatoes and that kind of little nitty gritty thing, he actually does do one thing which I really appreciated, which is maintenance on the water reclaimer. Turns out that the efficiency has been dropping and he wants to repair it. And NASA’s like, no, you’re going to kill yourself. And so he does it anyway. 

Lacey [00:52:05] Yeah, just to be ornery, I think I think what’s interesting is in this chapter, we get Mark’s new perspective on what is life threatening and what is not. And that is a fact that’s it’s fascinating that we’re managed to anticipate that psychological change, because when you are in the used to it. Yeah. If you are going to be in a long term, high risk situation, your idea of what is worth being concerned about is going to change. Absolutely. And so I just I think I might be in love with Andy Weir’s brain. And so I need to check in with him and see if he’ll be my plan B. 

Alex [00:52:55] All right. Well, you heard it here first. My wife is leaving me for Andy Weir. 

Lacey [00:53:00] No, not not not really. Just just if it’s an option, if you have to in the future. Yeah. 

Alex [00:53:09] So throughout Chapter 13, we’ve been establishing hab canvas where it was produced, where it was inspected, how it was shipped to Mars, how it was thrown out with a baby and grew up into a teenager. 

Alex [00:53:20] And now at the end of the chapter. We see why. 

Lacey [00:53:25] OK, but you hold in, OK, go ahead, we can jump back. Do your thing. 

Alex [00:53:31] That was that was my big sting, OK, commercial break, we’re going to come back now, we’re going to do your your stuff and then we’ll get to the payoff later. Oh, OK. 

Lacey [00:53:39] I just it’s about the water reclaimer, OK? It’s all of that stuff because he says that he talks about why he’s being adversarial and that, you know, and what NASA looks for and astronauts, kind of like you said before, is independence. And if he was afraid of touching everything or literally anything, he wouldn’t be alive. So I love that he wouldn’t go against his orders from Lewis, but he will absolutely flout the requests of NASA bureaucrats. And I just I want to be like, Mark, when I grow up and have that sort of confidence to just be like, no, I’m no, I’m not going I’m not going to wait on you. You’re doing it stupid because you don’t understand what is life threatening and what is not because you’re not here. And, you know, he’s the expert. So, I mean, not on waterer claimers, obviously, but, you know, the water reclaimer story is another great moment of we’re going, OK, what would go wrong? And let’s go through the details of it. OK, we’re going to take it. And he’s going to mark every single piece. And he’s doing he knows it’s probably a clog. It is mineral water. OK, that’s smart. Like, it’s that is such a normal thing. Yeah. And I, I loved going through the detail of that. I loved the emotional reaction he has to NASA and the screw you guys. I’m going to do what I want and I don’t know, just, um. I like that NASA called them a dick. Yeah, that’s maybe one of my favorite things, because probably not all of NASA’s messages are being read and so they can do that. 

Lacey [00:55:30] So anyway, onto the fabric. 

Alex [00:55:33] Yes. So it’s worth revisiting here. The hab in the world of the Martian is not the way it’s often pictured in a lot of science fiction stories. Oftentimes, haboobs on Mars are depicted as buildings. They’re sort of built off of the same model as the International Space Station. They’ve got the white walls and sort of steel beams wrapping around, you know, often some kind of cylindrical kind of thing with a little hatch doorway sticking out. 

Alex [00:56:02] And that’s not what we have here over and over and over. We are reminded that the hab is basically a tent. The Hab is made of canvas. It’s something that ripples during the storm. It’s not a rigid structure. 

Lacey [00:56:15] Thus he is in more danger than the rest of the crew. 

Alex [00:56:20] So the hab is something that can, for example, deflate. And we’ve been following this hab canvas throughout its life cycle. And now Mark Watney steps into the airlock and pressurizes it and it explodes. And the way it is described was so just like breathtaking in sort of the literal sense and just this like kind of like, oh my God, it just becomes a cannon, the whole thing. 

Alex [00:56:55] You can just picture the cylinder sticking off of a sort of Half Dome tent and all of a sudden it just becomes a cannon. And the full force of the atmosphere in this building launches the cylinder and he’s inside. Just as it rolls across, the landscape finally comes to a stop. 

Alex [00:57:14] And he’s just like, are you fucking kidding me? Just when everything was starting, he was starting to get a handle on it and the whole hab explodes. And that’s where we end. 

Lacey [00:57:26] And Chapter 13, that’s when I was like, oh, remember when I said the fabric was marginally interesting because the rest of the chapter is really effing boring? Well, a way to prove me wrong. 

Lacey [00:57:36] Wier, you jerk. Seriously, so much for being my plan B. 

Alex [00:57:42] Sorry, Andy. She’s breaking up. 

Lacey [00:57:45] I just do 180s left and right. I don’t want to be with me. So that is it for this episode of The Synthesis. 

Alex [00:57:52] Next week we’re going to be picking up with the next three or four chapters of The Martian and taking it from here, seeing how do you what do you do when you’re hab blows up on Mars? 

Lacey [00:58:04] What do you do when you’re Mark and not everybody else? Yeah, because that those are two different answers, probably. 

Alex [00:58:11] I mean, we all know that, for example, Jacob would probably just die as he should. Oh, my good. I mean, we can I hope at least you’re a jerk. 

Lacey [00:58:21] I have. 

Alex [00:58:23] Listen, there’s only room for one jerk in this relationship, and it is absolutely Jacob. I was going to say it was Tim. But whatever Tim and Jacob, you know, Tim probably is Jacob. Like, this just seems like the kind of like that’s probably. Yeah, dumb. All right. So that’s it for this episode of The Synthesis. 

Alex [00:58:43] Tune in next week. We’re going to be here on Thursday, as usual, and we really mirroring it to YouTube. So if you’re watching us there, be sure to subscribe and hit the bell. So you’re notified about new episodes? Yes. Last thing worth mentioning is Imageworks Entertainment has a new show on YouTube, so be sure to check it out. It’s called Slice of Science. It’s a one to two minute series of just cool little facts about space and science that you may not have known about. Animated with some really cool animations by Tarnya, who works here at edX Works Entertainment. 

Lacey [00:59:14] And she’s so excited that they’re out. Yes, because she’s been working on this on these for ages, ages. And so we’re super proud of her two episodes out. 

Alex [00:59:24] And they are, I think, the most popular videos that we have released on YouTube so far. 

Alex [00:59:28] So definitely not nearly as popular as Tony. Heartbreaking. So check out slice of science knife falls on YouTube. Subscribe and hit the bell and tune in next week. 

Lacey [00:59:45] OK, bye.

The Martian Ch. 7-10: THE KING OF MARS DOESN’T TAKE A DAY OFF | The Synthesis

Alexander Winn and Lacey Hannan talk about chapters 7 – 10 of Andy Weir’s The Martian; Mark Watney is the King of Mars, BD Wong is Sadness from Inside Out, and the poop potatoes are safe babies while everyone’s favorite botanist becomes the second sojourner across the Red Planet.

𝕋𝕙𝕖 π•Šπ•ͺπ•Ÿπ•₯π•™π•–π•€π•šπ•€ is a live talk show that aims to find the relationship between science and fiction in pop culture. We’ll discuss a book, movie, or show each week that’s science-focused and talk about just how realistic it is, where reality is cooler than fiction, and exactly where certain liberties were taken.

Lacey [00:00:00] Oh, my God. 

Alex [00:00:03] Hey, folks, this is Alexander Winn. 

Lacey [00:00:05] I’m Lacey Hannan. 

Alex [00:00:07] And we’re here to talk about the next four chapters of The Martian, we’re on Episode three of our read through of The Martian by Andy Weir. 

Alex [00:00:16] And tonight, we are covering chapters seven through 10,. 

Lacey [00:00:20] Only because 10 was really boring. 

Alex [00:00:23] So Lacey has strong opinions about Chapter 10. We’ll get there at the end. So get ready for a bloodbath. But like, my God, in the meantime, I have a question for the audience, which is, if you had to pick a genre for the Martian, what would it be? 

Alex [00:00:44] The answer might surprise you. 

Lacey [00:00:47] I said. 

[00:00:50] said epic drama, epic drama. Yeah, which sounds about right to make that drive adventure drama. Yes, it’s like that. Some variant of drama. Right. What is this to you? 

Lacey [00:01:00] Yeah. More specifically, what is the movie to you? 

Alex [00:01:07] Yeah, I think I mean, I think they’re basically the same. But if you. Yes. Specifically the movie, what genre would you call the movie. Because someone in the world is wrong and it’s either me or someone else. So there is a wrong answer to this question is the wrong answer. This is what we call a loyalty test. But in the meantime, we’re jumping into Chapter seven of the mission. For those who’ve been following along, Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. He is he’s been working on making water and growing potatoes and all sorts of fun stuff. And he’s stranded on Mars. We pick up Chapter seven and he is preparing the rover for a long voyage or serious something for for the serious miles. 

Lacey [00:01:53] Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see which. We’ll see which mission. Yeah. Gets him there. OK, well, so what do you got? 

Alex [00:02:01] You’ve got ninety five pages, as usual, so let’s start with you. 

Lacey [00:02:06] OK, so this man is very loud. I’m sorry. This man is keep it rolling. 

Lacey [00:02:15] So optimistic. So the AC4 math is only thirty two hundred kilometers and it could have been 10000 kilometers. Yes. 

Lacey [00:02:27] He says this better for you anyway. So I just want to put it out there that like I love how optimistic that little thought process is. 

Alex [00:02:38] It’s only three thousand kilometers. 

Lacey [00:02:40] Yeah. And just just for all of us. Thirty two hundred kilometers is almost two thousand miles, which is approximately going the length of New Zealand and back the whole thing, like starting in Auckland, going to Invercargill and then going back. 

Lacey [00:02:57] Or it’s a one way trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans about. Yeah. 

[00:03:03] So so it’s a long haul. It’s been a long haul. And this is a place where, you know, his rover can drive for like an hour before it has to recharge. 

Lacey [00:03:12] I mean, that’s your you are it’s not that’s not true for for scientific accuracy. You can’t. What is it it’s it’s about three and a half. 

Alex [00:03:26] Well, it’s important that’s after he solves the heating issue, right. Which is what this chapter deals. OK, fine. So the big problem that he deals, so the big problem that he’s dealing with in this chapter is how does he get his Rovere to go farther on a charge? Because what he realizes is that over half the battery gets used just on the heater inside because Mars is very cold. So he tries a test run without using the heater and just hoping that he can put on blankets and stuff. 

Alex [00:03:54] And that very much does not work because he does he does three layers thinking that. But what he does is he takes the battery from Rover one. Yes. 

Alex [00:04:02] And he strings that together. And then he needs to find a way to not use the heater so that these two batteries can get him farther. 

Lacey [00:04:10] I love how he picks which rover he’s going to use. OK, so one of the things that makes Mark Watney a fully fleshed out character is he uses logic brain to know that he can trick out this rover. He’s he is capable of doing this. He’s smart enough. He’s got all the available information that he needs. But then his emotional center says that he’s bonded to Rover two because of the nights he stayed in it during what does he call it, the great hydrogen crisis scare. 

Alex [00:04:45] Yeah, great hydrogen scare of soul. Thirty seven. So that’s when he almost blew himself up in the hab trying to make water. Yeah. So I just I liked that. I like that. 

Lacey [00:04:57] You know, I’ve talked about how part of what makes him fully fleshed out for me is the way that he talks. But this is really about the writer deciding the way that he thinks. Yes. And I just I, I found it. It’s another way in which he feels whole to me is that he’s not totally logical. 

Alex [00:05:19] Yeah. 

Alex [00:05:20] There would have been a strong in like a strong impulse to take this character and make them basically Sherlock Holmes, like just ultra logic guy, perfectly practical, you know, really sort of drive home the idea that this is about survival and you have to do whatever it takes and instead it’s about survival. 

Alex [00:05:36] And he’s going to have to do a lot. And he’s really smart. But he’s also like, I like this rover more. 

Lacey [00:05:41] Well, and and then the other thing is, is he talks about how the problem that he has in front of him is really overwhelming. 

Lacey [00:05:49] So he breaks it down to its component parts and he’s like, OK, the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to focus on power. How am I going to get that? And this I mean, Alex and my therapist, both are always like, you get overwhelmed. You just if you break it down, break down a project to smaller parts, you can do this. And I love how it like this man just has a stress mechanism. Yeah. 

Alex [00:06:15] You know, well, and it’s it’s not just stress, like, obviously, yes. That’s a part of it, but it’s also and I love that in a later chapter we are going to get the psychological profile of Mark Watney and the psychologist talks about why he’s kind of the perfect guy for this to happen to. But it’s also, you know, Andy Weir described this book one time as a religious novel for someone without a religion, as a religious novel for scientists, because he said what you what you get whenever you watch like a Christian film is the character constantly has to reinvest themselves in God. And that is sort of the path to the solution for whatever problem the story is about is that you give yourself over to God and that will see you through. And this is the same story. But for a scientist and every time he’s presented with a problem, what has he does? He turns back to science. He turns back to solving the problem. And this first step in solving any problem, the first step of science is break it down into questions. It’s not just a looming obstacle. It is a series of problems to be solved. And that is I think, you know, it’s exactly what you’re saying and it is exactly what makes him so capable in this situation, because he has internalized that every problem has a solution. It’s just a matter of finding it well. 

Lacey [00:07:43] And he’s got he’s got his tools that he’s learned, but he’s also got his tools that are kind of built in, again, you know, nature versus nurture. Did he just already have some of these tools that, again, the psychologist talked about in a later chapter? But he’s got all of these tools and some of it is is about the science of it. So I love that he’s we’re we’re getting to watch a character have the tools for long term and short term stress and how to handle it. And he doesn’t always handle it perfectly, like there are moments where he gets kind of depressing. Yeah. Which we haven’t really had a lot of. We’ve had, like tension and scares and things like that, but it’s sort of comedic overwhelm. 

Alex [00:08:27] Oh, I am so fucked like yeah, but not in any kind of actual sort of dark night of the soul kind of way. 

Lacey [00:08:33] Yeah, exactly. And this is the first time that I think that we really get it. And I think that the the moment that it happens is great. But I feel like we’ve got a couple more things before we get there. 

Alex [00:08:42] Also worth mentioning, we’ve got a few responses. Imam Emon Economist says the genre is Mars and I like that. I think there should be a is it up. Yeah, it’s it’s uplifting. It’s hopeful. It’s got science and competent characters. It’s Mars genre with fun. Yeah. I’m, I’m here for it. Jay grap my nemesis respond. Oh no this is a thing. No. Oh DJ Grape Arlott J. Grape and I are locked in an epic battle for the future of mankind. 

Lacey [00:09:15] Started last week and I don’t even remember the inciting incident. So that’s on me. 

Alex [00:09:19] It was something about him being a better son in law than I am. Oh that’s right. That’s true for your mom would like it more than that’s just me and your mom likes me a lot. So that means that J. 

Alex [00:09:30] Grape is evil. So J. Grape says the genre is science fiction. Jacob also says, Alex, I am coming for you. Bring it on Grape. Oh, my God. And in the meantime, one thing that I did notice and is worth mentioning for anybody who has seen the movie The Martian, but maybe not read the book or is maybe reading along with us, which, by the way, if you’re reading along with us, tell us, because that’s super cool. They make a big deal in the movie about how the basically the only entertainment he has is 70s disco music. It is worth mentioning that in the book he has a little bit more than that. He talks about how he has some TV shows from the 20th century, but he also has some Agatha Christie novels, which is fun. Hercule Poirot specifically. Yes. 

Alex [00:10:20] Hercule Poirot, for those who don’t know, is sort of a Sherlock Holmes kind of character written by Agatha Christie, who saw the movie that came out a couple of years ago with her on the Orient Express with Martin. 

Lacey [00:10:32] What’s his name? Kenneth Branagh. 

Lacey [00:10:36] No, I thought pyro was played by the guy who plays Watson and Sherlock no. 

Lacey [00:10:42] Oh, well. Oh, OK. 

Lacey [00:10:46] Listen, I don’t ever remember the names of musicians, actors, movies, songs, album titles, none of it. Like I I as an actor, I feel like I should care more, but I don’t. So I just I just this is going forward. I’m not going to remember any of this, but I’m going to reference it like ideal. Excellent. It’s a great thing. It’s great. 

Alex [00:11:08] So worth mentioning, by the way, Mark Watney is embarking on what he calls the serious missions. And charmingly, he says that that’s a reference. And if you don’t get it, fuck you and get it. Dogs. Yeah. If you don’t do the rover. And specifically, I learned a thing about serious when I was looking this up, which is if you’ve ever heard the phrase dog days of summer, I did not realize that that is related to these star serious. Serious is the brightest star in the sky and it is part of the constellation Canis Major, the dog. The big dog. I take it this is in the northern hemisphere. Yeah, OK. And serious, right? A star in the sky. Part of Canis Major is referred to as the dog star because it’s part of Canis Major and the dog days of summer are supposedly the hottest, most oppressive days of the summer are when Sirius is especially prominent in the sky. That’s why it’s called the dog days of summer. 

Alex [00:12:12] It’s because the dog stops instating. Yeah, nice little tidbit. I think they’re wrong about it for LA because it’s like September and October, the worst. But so there are a couple of things that we jumped that I really enjoy. OK, go for it. So what I like is his breakdown of the math. So first he’s like, how can I conserve energy? OK, I can wear layers, which the first thing I thought of was he sounds like my mother in winter when she won’t turn the heat up past like sixty eight and my grandma and I just like have to pitch into the void because we’re freezing. But my mom will have none of it. And that’s what he reminds me of my mom. 

Lacey [00:12:49] But then he pulvers the battery from Rover one and he talks about it being a saddle bag for his rover and this just suddenly turned into a goddamn Western and I am totally here for it. And then it made me think of Firefly and I want to know where all of my Firefly fans are because Westerns for the win. Yes. 

Alex [00:13:07] More Firefly fans coming. It was just announced or rumored at least I think that Disney is rebooting Firefly. What you did tell me that I wanted to save it for the air. Also, by the way, I’m an economist. Just weighed in. She says that’s how serious a black got his name, you know, the bug connection. 

Lacey [00:13:25] I wondered that. So thank you for pointing that out because. Thank you. I immediately that was my thought when reading this was Harry Potter. But yeah, I, I think, you know, one of the things about J.K. Rowling is she’s pretty on the nose with her naming. Yeah. 

Alex [00:13:42] She’s got that James Bond naming. Yes. Yeah. So I guess the real takeaway here is Emon economist is great. And Jay why can’t you be like her. 

Lacey [00:13:52] I want my God to just what if I left and right. 

Alex [00:13:56] Hey, I didn’t start this jury started this. 

Lacey [00:13:59] This is a man who was like always wanted fights to happen around him because he was big and he figured that he could like make bully stop. 

Alex [00:14:06] I topped out at six four in eighth grade and and now here he is, like picking them. You are being the bully group started this. 

Alex [00:14:12] I’m just saying I’m going to finish it. 

Lacey [00:14:14] What is so more of the math? Taking the solar paneling from the hab. He says that he has one hundred square meters. His boring, his words, not mine math says he needs to bring twenty eight square meters, which is fourteen panels. And I just like I don’t know, I liked all of the different options that he kind of provided in enacting. 

Lacey [00:14:35] We called this tactics and it’s the different ways that characters come at a problem and try and get what they want. And for me it was just fun to see all of the different ways in which he could. Get more energy, conserve energy, you know, so I just thought it was fun before he came to his ultimate decision and his ultimate decision is that he’s going to go dig up the RTG. 

Alex [00:15:01] The RTG is basically a big ol box of radioactivity that will absolutely kill you dead if it breaches. But if it doesn’t breach, it just provides electricity and heat. And so he can put this thing in his rover and it will generate all the heat he needs so he can leave the heater off and problem solved. And this is just I feel like we’re going to be saying this like four times every episode for the entire duration that we’re reading this book. But I love how Andy Weir keeps coming back to the little stuff. 

Alex [00:15:35] It’s not just how do you survive on Mars. You grow crops and you, you know, whatever. It’s also like how do you heat the rover? Like, you know, like it’s cold. Well, how do you do this? It’s got insulation. If you bring the RTG in, it’s actually going to get too hot. So now you have to cut out some of the insulation, put the RTG and then when it gets too cold, you put the insulation back in and like he walks you through every single step. 

Alex [00:15:57] And it really makes you feel like this is somebody dealing with problems, not just sort of a science superhero, like in Gravity, where they were trying to make her into just this. Like one person can do it all kind of thing. No, this is a real problem with a real solution. But it’s you got to go through every step. 

Lacey [00:16:15] I do have to say log entry. So sixty seven is my favorite one by far. And that’s where he does that serious one test and he got too cold and all of that stuff. 

Alex [00:16:27] And it’s also where we get this little nugget of wit, which is all my brilliant plans foiled by thermodynamics, damu entropy. And I just I like I cackled. I cackled. I’m like cackling through most of this book. 

Alex [00:16:42] And I just yeah, it’s really just great. We do also get an awesome Apollo 13 reference in this chapter. We’ve been talking about how Apollo 13 is a huge inspiration for The Martian and for our show we started Episode one talking about the movie Apollo 13. 

Alex [00:17:00] And in this he talks about how they have the same carbon dioxide filters in the rover that they had in the spacesuits in the HAB because Apollo 13 did teach us some stuff. 

Lacey [00:17:13] I totally missed two different. Yes, filter. That’s funny. I somehow just skipped right over it. Yeah, but the other thing we skipped right over is you guys, I have this moment. 

Lacey [00:17:24] And listen, I’ve got a couple of opinions about the chapters we’re encountering tonight that people might not like. And you’re just going to have to bear with me because I’m the one with the microphone. 

Lacey [00:17:38] So they graps going to start coming after you wasn’t. 

Lacey [00:17:43] So there was this moment where he calls Johannsson an Anglophile, and it made me so happy. I don’t really know why, but it’s it’s it’s not like a wounding thing to say. It’s just like this underhanded commentary that her that her taste is a little, you know, mundane and riskless and ubiquitous. Like, I don’t know, it’s just like, yeah, this this woman’s a little bit boring. And I was like, I’m not a gatekeeper. I don’t know pop culture well enough to be a gatekeeper. I can’t I reference things like I know stuff and I don’t. So I just I it just wasn’t particularly complimentary and it made me laugh like way harder than it should have. 

[00:18:29] So I just had to put that out there. 

[00:18:32] So the last thing that I thought was interesting in this chapter, and undoubtedly you have more, but the thing that that again, I just said we’re going to be mentioning this a lot is every little detail. And, you know, he’s leaving the hab for a couple of weeks and the potatoes won’t survive without the CO2 that he’s been exhaling. And so he has to go out and get CO2 from the from the Mavie fuel plant and turn off the oxygen later and release it into the hab so that his potatoes have enough carbon dioxide to breathe, to survive while he’s gone because he’s the only source. It’s just like this. Every little detail, every detail thought through. We just love it. 

[00:19:19] And I think that one of the other things is when he talks about the radioisotope thermoelectric generator, I said that in one tank, I’m so proud of my size as if we were going to cut and dry again. This is why they pay the big box set up and how it’s holding the plutonium to thirty eight. 

[00:19:35] And I just like I liked that. He explained to us that this is an incredibly unstable isotope and it burns red hot on its own because it’s. Because it’s unstable and it’s hot and it can fry an egg by itself, and I was just like those little details, you know, there’s another point where he talks about where they are. And I don’t remember. Oh, the I don’t I’m going to completely mispronounce this. Mm hmm. OK, he provides us with a little geography, the. 

[00:20:10] As Sedalia, Polynesia one take really acid Sedalia Planche. 

[00:20:17] I’m so good, I’m so good, listen, I love it because to me, it feels like he says that it’s, you know, a big old great plane and I’m like, Oh, the Great Plains. I love those. Now, I didn’t want to go look it up on a map because I just like that the details provided I don’t actually care beyond him naming it. I don’t need to I don’t need to go look it up. It’s just one of those it’s one of those details that we keep talking about, really just bring the science to life. Yeah. 

Alex [00:20:48] Unsurprisingly, for a book this based in real science, the Aries three landing site is a very specific place on Mars. You can look up where it is on Mars and where he has to go when he references passing by certain craters. Those are actual craters on Mars. You can look up maps of Whatley’s path wherever he drives. For those of you who have played Terra Genesis and know the surface of Mars maybe better than the average bear, Sedalia Polynesia is the very soft, smooth northern hemisphere area that eventually becomes the Northern Ocean when you tariff on Mars. So it is you know, if you look at the elevation map in the game, it’s the darker areas in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s incredibly featureless as opposed to the southern hemisphere, which is pockmarked by craters, because basically the long and short of it is Mars had its head blown off billions of years ago. And the entire northern hemisphere is one giant impact crater. So it’s a lot younger than the southern hemisphere. 

Lacey [00:21:48] Listen, I’m just saying that you can know the geography of Mars without putting water there, because why would you put water there? The planet has rights. 

Alex [00:21:56] Lacey is a deep hyphestian. 

Lacey [00:22:00] And I’m like, I’m in the minority. Yes, I’ll buy a lot. Yeah. 

Alex [00:22:05] So, yes, I am a hyphestian and through. Yeah. Anti-terraforming. 

Alex [00:22:10] All right. What else you got for Chapter seven. Um. 

Lacey [00:22:13] Oh, uh. Two things I the moment he leaves the house behind for the first time, his anxiety starts to rise. In the moment, he says that it’s the first time he’s letting the hab out of his sight. I just like I like, choked a little. 

Lacey [00:22:32] Yeah, because why? 

Lacey [00:22:35] I mean, I know why. I know why. You need to you need to get your heat source. Yeah, I get it makes it feel a little bit like a video game now that I’m saying it out loud. But I the the anxiety was really there in that kind of leads into the rest of the chapters we have for the evening. Yeah. Which brings in like that really depressive tone. Um, yeah. 

Alex [00:22:57] They don’t really go into too much what this is going to like, what impact this experience is going to have on Mark when he gets back to Earth, because obviously we’re all wrapped up in is he going to get back to Earth? But you do have to wonder if this guy is going to be like an agoraphobe for a while, because if you spend your entire life fearing the outside, fearing that any tiny hole in the wall is going to kill you, and every time you go out the door, you have to suit up. Outside is danger. Outside is death. Outside is barren. It really, I think, would promote a sense of agoraphobia. And then if you suddenly find yourself having to go out, having to go out into the world, that would be terrifying after three months. 

Lacey [00:23:39] This is also the place where he gives us a really good context for how old Mars is, because he says it’s a desert so old it’s literally rusting. And I was just like, I don’t know, there’s something about that that totally blows my mind. 

Alex [00:23:55] I don’t for those of you don’t know, the Mars is the Red Planet specifically because iron oxide covers it. The entire planet is rust colored because of the iron in the soil, has oxidized and is literally rusty. 

Lacey [00:24:09] So which is just I guess I knew that. But the phrasing of it just really gives you a new perspective. 

Lacey [00:24:18] It gives you a better frame for contextualizing the whole thing. So I loved that. But my last thing on Chapter seven is someone tell me what a slide rule is, because I don’t feel like Googling it, but he’s talking about how the NASA scientists are probably hiding under their desks with their slide rules. 

Alex [00:24:37] It’s a it’s a tool for I actually don’t know how to use a slide rule myself, but basically picture a ruler, but with another ruler that’s attached to it that sort of slides to different configurations. And it’s a tool used for conversions and calculation. 

Lacey [00:24:54] What they were using an Apollo 13 when they were all sitting at their desks like each person had kind of their own. Oh, yeah. 

Alex [00:25:00] It was it’s it’s used for calculations and conversions. And especially in the pre computer era when you needed to do pretty complex conversions, you would have a slide rule. And so it’s sort of a it it sort of goes alongside the pocket protector. 

Alex [00:25:14]  It’s sort of the gear of the deep nerd. 

Lacey [00:25:17] I was like, he’s kind of taking the pocket protector to a new level. But the slide rule is essentially what he’s doing. Example, rude. 

Alex [00:25:25] I love it, but OK, so Chapter eight picks back up on Earth. We’ve started to establish this every other chapter thing where we get one chapter from Mark and then one chapter on. It’s not quite that and not quite, but it we get this alternating pattern and specifically we pick up with Mark or with with Earth and a newscast, which I think is a great way of showing and not telling something they tell writers and screenwriters all the time is show, don’t tell, don’t just tell the audience that somebody is really good at sports, show them playing sports. And so in this way, we get the sense that the news is out. You know, everybody knows the mark is alive, almost everybody. And the way we are sort of introduced to that fact is it’s a news broadcast. It’s the, you know, tonight’s coverage. It’s a daily segment. And they’re talking about, you know, they’re obviously kind of looking for any morsel of news that they can give the audience. 

Alex [00:26:22] And it really helps set the stage that this is a global phenomenon, even though we never really leave the fairly tight circle of characters. You know, we do get the sense that everyone in the world is watching. Right. 

Lacey [00:26:34] Um, I skipped over the like I mean, I read the news part, but I just kind of skipped over it because it was fun. But and I like Annie because we get to see the professional part of her and the super unprofessional part of her like that is not how you talk to your coworkers, but it’s very funny from an audience point of view. Yeah, but it’s the sitting at the tables they’re waiting on. I don’t remember who they’re waiting on, like Bruce, Teddy, Teddy, you know, Bruce is there and Mitch is there and then Kate and Mindy and Annie are all sitting there. Right. And I’m I’m not used to this. I have I have a deep belief in names. There are some names that you just shouldn’t name your kid because they’re going to just be assholes. And I’m not used to Mitchs sucking Mitchs categorical. 

Lacey [00:27:32] Yeah, they’re like they’re generally good guys and or gals. 

Lacey [00:27:36] I’ve heard that it’s a female name, too, which is rather cool. But I, I this guy, this guy, he’s the flight director of Aries three. And I figure he shouldn’t be allowed to talk to people until he learns like a minimum, like a skill level at human decency. This guy’s a dick. 

Alex [00:27:55] Yeah. There’s there again for four screenwriters and writers out there, there’s something that people say which is Save the Cat, which is when you’re introducing a new character, you should immediately have them do a thing that indicates their character. And so if you watch closely in your favorite movies, especially if you if there’s a movie with like a badass, like sort of a John Wick or some kind of really scary list, you’ll notice that in their first scene they will almost always sort of, you know, kill a bunch of guys and then help someone or and then they will do something to indicate that their aggression, which takes it to the they may get very on the nose. 

Lacey [00:28:35] And that’s the fun of it, is he’s got this dog. The dog gets killed and screw you guys. I’m going to murder all of you. 

Alex [00:28:40] Exactly. But specifically in the first scene, oftentimes the character will be shown doing something to indicate that they’re a good guy just so the audience can start to internalize that despite any other terrible things they do, like murder. And he actually has one. Yes, but Mitch is the anti save the cat. Mitch is sort of the opposite of that. 

Alex [00:29:01] He’s he is established and he immediately just sort of I mean, I felt that way, but I, I reversed on it because my first thought was, don’t fuck with Mindy. Mindy is my favorite. I like her too much. Not too much. I like her just enough. Yeah. It’s a lot. And you don’t mess with her because I say so. Yeah. And. 

Lacey [00:29:22] Then I was like, OK, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, is Mitch the only one sitting here going, No, we need to tell the crew because for me, like we agree on something and there’s enough tribalism in me and enough of like I mean, we are in America where a binary polarization is kind of what we do right now. So I am he is on my team and he’s on probation, but he’s on my team right now and I will take him back. If he agrees with me, they should tell the freaking crew. I’m I’m like I’m I’m legitimately upset about it. Yeah. 

Alex [00:29:57] I you know, one thing that I liked about this and it definitely ties into what you’re saying, is that he really, you know, in a story that’s about Mark and then and then he introduced all these other characters on Earth. He really I think he’s doing himself a great service by keeping each of the characters very specific and focused. It’s almost like inside out. 

Alex [00:30:18] It’s almost like each character sort of represents one emotion, because we’ve got Mindy, who, you know, we go to this newscast and we’re doing all this stuff and then it cuts back. And I think it’s in the first sentence. It’s like Mindy sat at the table nervously fidgeting and it’s like, yep, that’s Mindy. And then, you know, Annie blows in and she’s like, not even looking where she’s going as she’s typing on her phone. 

Alex [00:30:37] And she just definitely navigates the entire room and sits down our spot. 

Lacey [00:30:40] And that’s like one of the first things she says is swearing at somebody. 

Alex [00:30:43] Yeah, exactly. And it’s like every character in the room can be summed up by one sort of theme. And Mitch is confrontation. 

Alex [00:30:51] And sometimes it’s good confrontation and sometimes it’s bad confrontation. But he’s the guy who’s going to get in your face. And then Bruce ING is just longsuffering. He in the inside, out of The Martian. 

Alex [00:31:03] He is sadness. He’s the one who’s just always you just JPL guy, right? Yeah. You just imagine that he’s like always got a bottle of Pepto Bismullah in his hand because he’s just like just everything anybody says to this guy is just stressful. 

Lacey [00:31:20] And it’s so he was kind of a dick in this too. 

Alex [00:31:22] I don’t remember what it was, but I was like, yeah, he’s not the nicest, but he’s just the in the movie they cast DB Wong and DB Wong is fantastic in the little role that he’s given and he just he’s just like in every scene so yeah. We can get it done. I like it’s just so specific. 

Lacey [00:31:48] Um I like that we finally meet the flight psychologist, we get introduced to Dr Irene Shields and she says at one point, you know, they’re live there on air. They’re talking about how um, it’s how the crew doesn’t know that Mark Watney is alive. And she says, yeah, I think I’m sure it was a hard decision for the for the upper management. And I’m sitting there going, They didn’t consult you. Mm. Why. Mm. Why she’s the flight psychologist. It doesn’t make any sense to me and I am going to be mad about it forever until they give me a really good reason not to be. But I like that she doesn’t sugarcoat everything. Yeah. That was she was willing to kind of go deep which. 

Lacey [00:32:40] Is cool for a character and also makes me feel really bad for Mark’s community at home, because you know that they’re there, they’re getting insights on their son or their friend that they don’t really get to see on the day to day like they know him for what they know, you know, as as family or friend or whatever. But you don’t always you don’t really get insight into how somebody is at work and how they are with their team unless you’re part of the crisis. Yeah, exactly. Oftentimes you don’t really get to see these things. And so they’re watching somebody else describe they’re a person of their community in a way that’s just like devastating, really rough. And then, of course, the first thing, the the first thing I’m thinking is like, oh, my gosh, what about like when that one person who has no filter or zero empathy says something of like. Oh, yeah. 

Lacey [00:33:35] When Dr. Irene Shields says said this and says it to his parents, like, this is where my brain goes as it goes off and all of these different, like, tangential storylines of like, oh, no, his parents. 

Alex [00:33:51] And then of course, I went and you do get the sense that maybe this this psychologist was sort of going off script. Oh, yeah. They should not want to the stuff that was I feel like maybe off camera that psychologists got ripped a new one because it got really quiet and they’re like and OK, see, I think she won’t be doing any more press interviews. 

Lacey [00:34:10] Yeah. The and then the other thing I was thinking of is, you know, that there that there are people out there taking bets on whether or not this guy is going to come back alive like there are bookies. There are like there’s a whole thing happening around this. And it skived me out really bad. But simultaneously, I was like, what? What I place a bet, I mean, no, the answer is no, but if I did, what would I bet? I’m not a betting person. I don’t like to take that risk. So it would never happen. But it was it was another place where you just sit there and wonder as an audience member, he’s he’s filled up this world so well that you get to continue expanding on it. 

Alex [00:34:51] But you get to go to, like, all of the nooks and crannies because he’s filled it up so much nooks and crannies all the way to the post office, which is one of the most charming little asides in maybe this whole book, which is that they started printing Mark Watney commemorative stamps and then they realized he was alive. And you don’t print stamps of people who are alive, which I always forget is true. 

Lacey [00:35:13] Yeah, like, I’ve known that off and on throughout the years, but I always forget it’s true. And so it was kind of fun to see. It’s just another way that Andy Weir brings in reality to his writing. And I just love that weird little ways. 

Alex [00:35:29] You know, it’s not just the science, it’s the friggin post of it. 

Alex [00:35:32] Like, who thinks of that stuff? Yeah, exactly. 

Alex [00:35:35] Because, of course, there would have been a Mark Watney stamp, the first person to die on Mars. Are you kidding? Yes. They would have immediately done stamps and then she’s not dead. We do also get another example, yet another example of thinking through all the details, which is the green ribbons they’re talking about. How are they? So OK, so we’re going to send supplies to Mark because, again, they don’t know that he’s growing crops yet. They think he’s only got like 100 days of food. So we’re going to we’re going to launch a thing. We’re going to try to to land it. And I don’t know, we’ll get it as close as we can to him. 

Alex [00:36:11] But how is he going to know that it’s there, which again, is like, you know, a lesser author would have been like, oh, we’re going to land at nearby and he’ll see it. But you don’t know that. You’re going to you know, like if you’re off by even a couple of kilometers, you might not see it and it might just sit there uselessly because you can’t tell and it’s there. So they come up with this plan to airburst thousands of little green ribbons, all of which have a message written on it. And in the red Martian landscape, a whole bunch of fluttering green ribbons are going to be very visible. And that’s just another example of just thinking and every aspect. 

Lacey [00:36:44] And what I love about it is it’s not a highly technical solution. Yeah, this is analog in the world of NASA. And I love that. I love that not all solutions can even be high tech. Yeah. And I was a little surprised that they assumed that the biologist hadn’t figured out a way. And I get that to me. There’s I you would think that maybe Mitch or even the psychologist would have brought up we sent potatoes, guys. Hopefully he’s working on it. And I, I was just I thought it was interesting that they made that assumption. 

Alex [00:37:26] I think it’s believable because, A, they don’t always send potatoes. It was only because they were going to be their own. 

Lacey [00:37:32] Right. But that’s why I’m saying Mitch or or doctor, why do I keep forgetting her name? I don’t want to call her read Dr. Fields. 

Alex [00:37:39] Yeah, but the other reason, I think, is because most food was freeze dried and those potatoes specifically weren’t. And so it’s easy to forget that, like, oh, in addition to the food that we always send, there’s also this one thing. And it is I know and you know, just all the things that he had to go through. He had to make the water. He had to make the soil. He had to make like all this stuff, if you like. Even if it had occurred to someone, they would have been like, well, I mean, what’s it going to do with the potatoes? He doesn’t have water. You don’t have soil. 

Lacey [00:38:04] You know, like we don’t want to think about him trying to make water. Yeah, exactly. Like I said. All right. Yeah. 

Alex [00:38:12] So the yeah. So one of the things that’s been going on sort of in the background of this chapter is he’s driving somewhere. 

Lacey [00:38:24] And of course, for us, as the audience Mark has been talking about driving to for you. 

[00:38:33] And so but what is he like doing that he’s he’s talked about how it’s going to be while it’s going to be for years, like, why would you go now? 

Alex [00:38:40] And we even get this kind of ominous thing from the psychologist that, like, maybe he’s going to areas for because he’s already given up and he just wants to kind of broadcast a goodbye message. That’s not good. 

Alex [00:38:51] It doesn’t sound like the guy we know, but he’s been talking about going areas for. And then we get this great scene where Mandy and Venkat are talking about where could he be going? How could he be getting there? And all of a sudden they realize, I think I know where he’s going. They rushed down to the cafeteria where there is a gift shop map of Mars, which is just so charming. 

Lacey [00:39:12] And I was the one that I can write on. Yeah. 

Alex [00:39:15] And I love the fact that there’s a tech in the cafeteria. 

[00:39:18] It’s like, hey, what the hell are you going to buy you another one? Yeah. 

Alex [00:39:23] The you know, just another opportunity to sort of inject some some inelegant realism that there’s like you can’t just go. Rip something off the wall at NASA and not have anybody say anything. There’s a guy eating dinner. That’s our thing. Screw you, man. Like, but he grabs it, he draws a line. He actually grabs that guy’s book to use as a straight edge and he realizes where Mark is going. 

Alex [00:39:47] Mark is heading to Pathfinder and Pathfinder as a mission from the 90s that landed on Mars successfully. Yep, very, very famous mission. It had a sort of a base module that stayed in place, which had the radios and that sort of thing. 

Alex [00:40:02] And then it had the Sojourner rover, which would go out little flat top thing you’ve probably seen pictures of and. It has a radio and it stopped working, but it has a radio and that is how he’s going to talk to Earth, this this scene actually made me tear up because. 

Lacey [00:40:24] Then Katz excitement just like poured off the page in a way that I it felt very visceral to me and I like I’m getting a little choked up now just because I I love watching people get excited. I can see people get excited about a discovery or something that they know really well. It’s just like one of my very favorite things. And he does it and it’s written so well. And I was just like, oh, like everyone can breathe easier for just a second. 

Alex [00:40:53] Infectious enthusiasm. 

Alex [00:40:55] And and, you know, again and we’ll be talking about the movie in a separate episode, but the movie does this moment really well because you you’ve got your intercutting between Brincat and Mark and they each discover it at the same moment in the editing, Venkat realizes Pathfinder and Mark Watney reveal. He pulls aside the thing and he’s looking at it Pathfinder. And it’s like this meeting of the minds between two planets. It’s perfectly executed. 

Lacey [00:41:27] And, you know, you have to give a lot to the editor. Yes. Of the movie, which at some point I will bring in his name. 

Alex [00:41:34] But when we talk about the movie, we’ll be talking about the crew because every single person who contributed to that movie did a great job. 

Alex [00:41:40] So it does raise an interesting question, which they never actually address in this story. And I, I keep waffling back and forth, trying to decide if it was a decision not to discuss it or if it was just sort of never came up, which is when is this story set? Is this set in? It seems to be vaguely modern times, like there’s no element of science fiction aside from landing on Mars, and yet. We’re not landing on Mars right now. So is it the 20 30s and the reason that I ask this is because they assemble the Pathfinder team, they say, go get all those guys who worked on Pathfinder. So clearly, this isn’t the twenty sixties. 

Alex [00:42:21] This is relatively, you know, I mean, I feel like it’s pretty it’s pretty modern and and. Right. We’re not quite there yet. But you know what, the back to the future thought that 20, 20 would bring hoverboard. So like, you know where we can we can pretty easily say that technology, what they say that technology jumps forward like there’s a like a six month. What are talking about? Moore’s Law. 

Lacey [00:42:51] Yeah, yeah, yeah, I you’ll have to explain it, because I couldn’t it’s it’s the number of transistors doubles and the cost halves every six months or something like that. It’s a way of projecting how good computers are going to be in the future. And it’s famously been incredibly accurate. 

Lacey [00:43:08] So because of that, I can I could say that this is pretty modern because, yeah, we’re going to get that. We’re going to get to Mars very quickly. I don’t know how quickly we’re going to get to really putting people right on Mars, but I certainly hope so. 

Alex [00:43:22] I said, yeah, and that rounds up Chapter eight. 

Lacey [00:43:26] And in Chapter nine, we meet the king of Mars again. 

Lacey [00:43:29] Yes, we do. We go back to the king of France. I just love that he calls himself that. I’m like, you know what? You’re the only one here. I guess you can do it. You can call yourself whatever you want. Madisen, we’re going to agree with you. 

Alex [00:43:40] There is something interesting that jumped out at me in Chapter nine, which is, you know, we’ve got this sort of split story we’ve got on on the one hand, we’ve got the story of a of a single person doing everything they can to survive, and in particular in this moment, trying to contact Earth. And then on the other hand, we have the people on Earth watching him, trying to figure out what he’s doing, trying to figure out how they can help, trying to figure out all this stuff. And we never actually address. 

Alex [00:44:09] The the earth side of the story, from Mark’s perspective, we never discussed the possibility that they might be watching him or they might have realized he’s alive, he always grants the premise that they think he’s dead. And I’m kind of surprised by that. I’m kind of surprised that he isn’t like going out and and. Doing donuts outside the have just to sort of let the satellites look at him and realize he’s alive, there’s no attempt to just do a big broad, hey, I’m still here to the sky just in case it’s like and I hear that. 

Lacey [00:44:44] But the work ahead of him is so daunting. He’s got so much to do and he doesn’t take a day off. This man does not get weekends. No. So like, when does he have the time to do like time to waste because he doesn’t know when the satellites are pointed at him. Right. You know, so I feel like that would be a waste of time and energy and resources. 

Alex [00:45:03] Right. I’m just surprised that he never floats the notion like he never says. I wonder if they’ve realized yet that I’m alive, you know, like he’s going to dig up Pathfinder. And even he says that nobody’s listening for that. Like, I’m going to fire up this thing. And the people who are listening for Pathfinder signal are long gone. So I hope the Deep Space Network picks up. You know, I hope Setti picks up my tickets. 

Lacey [00:45:25] I mean, to me, it’s a defense mechanism. You think? Yeah, because there’s. I think that if you went in with the hope. 

Lacey [00:45:36] And belief that people are going to be able to hear you and and know that you’re alive, I think that would be devastating if it turned out that you were wrong. Right. Like that would be the point at which you’re like, all right, let’s go get the let’s go to the med station and I’m going to get that morphine. 

Lacey [00:45:55] Yeah, exactly. And so to me, I think that it’s really neat that we’re seeing this sort of defense mechanism, which is I am not going to make the assumption that anybody is aware yet because there’s nothing I can do about it and there’s nothing they can do about it right now like we can or anybody else. 

Alex [00:46:15] I’m working the problem. I will continue working the problem. If they hear me, great. If not, I’ll continue working the brain. 

Lacey [00:46:20] Yeah. And, you know, if they know I’m alive, they are either working the problem or they’re not, but I can’t possibly know. So it’s just like I think it’s better for his mental health that and this guy has to to like hold on to whatever good mental health he has for as long as he possibly can because he’s got four years. So I don’t know. 

Alex [00:46:42] I know you told me, I will say traveling in the rover. Sounds like a nightmare. It’s just he talks about, you know, the interior of the rover is about the about the size of a van, which seems really spacious until you start thinking about living in a van for weeks. He literally talks about peeing in a box and shitting in bags because, of course, both of those things are valuable resources. When he gets back to the hab, he needs them for his soil. And it’s just that just sounds just awful. 

Lacey [00:47:16] There is like a part of me that just went straight to. At thoughts of Instagram and hashtag camper van, life is what came to my mind, I was like, these people love it, like he cannot live that life and apparently neither could you. And I want a camper van so bad. 

Alex [00:47:33] So to be fair, you can leave the camper van. I don’t know how many people are going hashtag camper van life when they can’t exit. Well, I mean, he can suit up every time. 

Lacey [00:47:45] I know. I know. It’s not the same. It’s not the same. But that is where my that’s where my ad I like it made me chuckle because I thought of all of the people who are like, I’m I sold my house and I’m just going to drive around and work out of my camper van and I’m going to see the world. And I’m like, dude, that’s awesome. I don’t think I could do it for the rest of my life, but I could do it for a couple minutes. So get on board, Markwayne. I mean, at least we had a house for those for those who don’t know. 

Alex [00:48:14] When Lacey and I were releasing Terror Genesis, we were living in New Zealand for seven months and just road tripping around the country. 

Lacey [00:48:22] They have these they have these funny camper vans that are called that the brand is juicy and they’re like lime green. And they have this up redhead who I always thought I should go as her for Halloween and nobody in the US is going to get it. 

Alex [00:48:37] But apparently they would. Apparently, Jussie, vans exist in the US. They’re not as they’re not as ubiquitous as they are in New Zealand, but that is everywhere. 

Lacey [00:48:44] They were everywhere. And you always you could tell what it was coming down the road because it’s like lime green. Anyway, off topic. Off topic. 

Alex [00:48:54] So he does mention and this is one of those things where, you know, he anywhere has said that the one thing that he gave himself license in this book for scientific inaccuracy is the storm at the beginning. The thing that kicks the whole thing off a storm like that could not actually exist on Mars. The air pressure is too thin. He does also I wonder if it’s sort of one and a half because he does mention that, oh, the Sojourner rover is a lot closer to the base station than it was when it lost power. 

Alex [00:49:25] I haven’t looked up where Sojourner was, but I wonder if it wasn’t a long way away. And when he was writing this, he was like now. 

Alex [00:49:31] And then it returned to the base station before it ran out of power. Because Markwayne needs to find this thing. I mean, we we can look it up. Yeah, we can look it up. 

Alex [00:49:41] But yeah, he finds I mean, not right now. I’m just saying, like, it’s at some point we can look it up and then we can tell you what we found or you can look it up and you can tell us what you found. 

Alex [00:49:51] Yes. So he finds Pathfinder, he gets gets a little rough with it to detach it and get it up onto the rover. He does mention, by the way, that, by the way, we’re getting comments in the chat saying that Juicy is all over the place for us. 

Lacey [00:50:10] Sally, I’m blintz. Maybe L.A. just has too many people for me to notice. 

Alex [00:50:16] Yeah, he does mention, by the way, that 200 kg is heavy even in Mars gravity. I did go ahead and look it up. Apparently, two hundred kilograms on Mars is about seventy six kilograms on Earth. Or if you live in America, that’s about one hundred and sixty seven pounds. Oh that’s not nothing. Yeah, that’s not nothing. A hundred and sixty seven. 

Lacey [00:50:37]  But I mean, you know there are, there are monster weightlifters who could just be like yeah yeah. 

Lacey [00:50:43] But uh for the average everyday non muscle person, especially for someone who spent nine months in zero G and then landed on Mars and has been in Martian gravity for the last four months, I’m sure his muscle mass has decreased. 

Lacey [00:50:59] Um, I. I also want to know, why does he not have his own entertainment? Why is Johannsson the only one who brought entertainment? 

Alex [00:51:10] Well, she’s not so in the book. Several people do. He’s got Lewis’s disco music. He’s got Johanson’s novels. That’s right. OK, I know I didn’t see this, but apparently I saw a comment on a Reddit thread about the Martian. And apparently there’s some reference to the fact that Martinez and Watani both left their entertainment drives up on the HermΓ¨s because they were only going to be on the surface for 30 days or something like that. And they just didn’t bother to bring them down to the surface with them. Oh, I never saw them. I missed that. So maybe that person was just making it up. 

Lacey [00:51:42] But that’s I mean, because we we do we don’t hear anything about Martinez’s stuff except for the wooden cross. 

Alex [00:51:50] Exactly. So maybe that’s the answer. And we both just missed it. Or maybe it hasn’t come up in the book yet. And they mentioned at the very end. 

Lacey [00:51:57] Yeah. I have this moment of like this guy, he keeps mentioning how much he misses his crew. Like this is where it really hits him, that he misses these people. Um, and the moment that he names Luis Valley, like, I was just like, oh, that’s really sweet. I am so sad for you. I feel so sad that this is this is what you have is to, like, make fun of their taste, to think about them and miss them and then name stuff after them. And I was just like, I don’t know, that kind of got me. 

Alex [00:52:35] For those who are curious, by the way, as you play TerraGenesis on Mars, specifically, you may find a city name suggestion wapi crater, a little Martian Easter egg in Genesis. 

Lacey [00:52:46] You just giving those away now. So it’s only been out for three and a half years, for three and a half. Yeah. That was twenty, sixteen and a half. 

Alex [00:52:59] TerraGenesis, it’s been four and a half years. 

Lacey [00:53:01]  That’s weird. That means we’ve been married for almost five. That was a big year. Yeah. OK, so one of the other things I really like is he gets a little melodramatic in his philosophizing because he says Ferbos is the God of fear and I’m letting it be my guide. And I just like your hit man like that. It’s a little melodramatic. I, I like that he points out that that and that he knows that ferbos is the God of fear. But there’s just something really chilling about that. Yeah. And a little melodramatic and full of it. Yeah. Are you reading my notes. I am. Get out of here Cheeta. 

Alex [00:53:42] Are you. So that’s all I’ve got for Chapter nine. 

Lacey [00:53:45] Well, tell me about the Lighthouse of Alexandria, because I, I could guess what it is, but I, I have to assume that there’s more to it than, than what it sounds like. 

Alex [00:53:57] So the Lighthouse of Alexandria, also known as the Pharaoh’s Lighthouse, was a lighthouse in Alexandria. That’s it. No, it was a my God lighthouse, absolutely colossal lighthouse at the Port of Alexandria, which was probably the economic hub of the Mediterranean throughout the entire ancient period of history. And they would burn wood and manure and all sorts of stuff. You could see it apparently for like hundreds of miles. 

Lacey [00:54:28] I bet this is what when when Ben GM did that game for us that we were like essentially in the Mediterranean. This was the lighthouse. Yeah. 

Alex [00:54:37] Oh, what was it stood for like a couple thousand years, I think. And then it was taken down by an earthquake relatively recently in history, if I remember correctly, it was like the fifteen hundreds or something. The lighthouse fell. It’s interesting. But yeah, we, we know what it looked like. It’s been very thoroughly described by ancient ancient accounts. And there are stories, obviously hyperbolic stories that it could be used like a death ray that like it was so bright that it could be focused and like burn ships and stuff. 

Lacey [00:55:10] I think he did put this in his game. And I suddenly I love that friend of ours just a little bit more for being even more of a nerd than I thought he was. That’s so dorky. Great. OK, I don’t remember what game we were playing, but it was at Savage Worlds Munza Mastermind’s. 

Alex [00:55:28] Oh, yeah. OK, so I think that’s the end of Chapter nine, which brings us to SLE. 

Lacey [00:55:35] Yeah. He says that he builds a ramp out of rocks and sand like the Egyptians. Awful. It does sound awful, but I was like. I don’t know, again, he’s got all of these just like little references to ancient history, that because he’s a nerd. 

Alex [00:55:51] He’s like all the good people are. So that rounds out Chapter nine, which brings us to the absolute catastrophe, the death knell of entertainment. That is Chapter 10 of The Martian. Lacey, you you want to tell us about the crime against humanity that Andy Weir has unleashed upon the world? It was boring. 

Alex [00:56:20] So that’s all, folks. 

Lacey [00:56:25] Listen, listen, he’s just. 

Alex [00:56:28] He’s just saying he just wanted it to be funner, is what you’re saying. 

Lacey [00:56:32] Listen, Jay, Grapes and my mom are right, I don’t love the word, but they’re right, it should be a word. Yeah, OK, this is this is where it started. That’s right. Good gracious. OK, no, it’s just it’s just a chapter about him fixing up the Sojourner and and the Pathfinder and, you know, like, just OK, cool. And like, we know how this is going to go. And I think that’s why I don’t enjoy it is because. We’re just waiting for the last sentence, and he’s just I think that’s why I don’t like it, is I’m just waiting for it to end. I know how it’s going to end, but yet it really does feel like. 

Lacey [00:57:23] No, I’ll tell you, when you talk about Chapter seven, I’ll end one of the one of the things that I really enjoyed is the Chapter 10 opens with something very near and dear to our hearts, which is Mark. In his own episode of The Synthesis, he starts picking apart an old movie about a probe that was sent to Venus that landed on Earth. And he starts sort of ripping it apart for its scientific inaccuracies. And I felt very close to Mark Watney in that moment because that’s what we do here, is talk about movies and how they represent science. He does it with more sarcasm, though, for sure. But I should really appreciate the fact that he sort of echoed our own show. He did it to us. 

Lacey [00:58:07] You know what? I totally missed that one point for Chapter Ten. All right. 

Alex [00:58:11] Next up, I really appreciated the return to the HAB in the same way that leaving the have felt really scary. I really bought into returning to the have felt joyous. He had talked about how awful it is to stay on in the rover and how cramped it was and how smelly it was. And all this kind of stuff he talks about as soon as he gets into the hab, he starts doing laps and just waving his arms around in the air because he literally hasn’t been able to wave his arms around inside for, you know, a couple of weeks. 

Alex [00:58:42] And it just it really sort of captured the joy of coming home to mother. 

Alex [00:58:47] OK, when did I say I’d like Dan? Yes, OK, but he’s not wrong. 

Lacey [00:58:57] That does sound rough. And it’s it sounds pretty awful and like, you know, you’re back. Being screwed up is no joke when you don’t get to quit. But simultaneously, I was just like, OK, I’m glad for you that you’re back. I’m here for the joy. Let’s get to the end of the chapter. Yeah. 

Alex [00:59:15] And the end of the chapter has what I thought, because I don’t know, maybe you didn’t feel the same way, but I thought it was the most emotionally impactful data log I’ve ever read, which is he gets the Pathfinder system up and running. He gets a charged, he gets it all good to go. He boosts it up and he makes a big deal about how I’m not going to really like there’s sort of nothing for me to do. I just have to wait for this thing to try to contact Earth and we’ll see if it does, because nobody’s listening for this anymore. Like he knows this is a long shot. The Pathfinder system is decades old. 

Alex [00:59:53] You know, I hope somebody hears me and he’ll know that they did if the whole system reorients toward Earth because it has no way of knowing where Earth is. 

Alex [01:00:04] So the only way it can triangulate its position is if it gets a signal from Earth and then it can point its dish and it ends. He ends the chapter with a log of internal systems diagnostics for the Pathfinder system, and it starts going through like solar panels non-operative and goes through all this kind of stuff. And it says attempting to acquire a signal waiting. Waiting, waiting. Signal acquired. And I’m I am listening to the audio books narrated by Wil Wheaton, Lacey’s reading the physical book, I’m listening to the audio books. And even though I’ve watched the movie a dozen times, I I’m just more efficient with my time, really. But even though I’ve watched the movie a dozen times and I’ve read the book a couple of times, that signal, a quiet moment gave me chills. It’s in everything in this story is in that moment I was like, I’m practically dead here. 

Lacey [01:01:03] And we’re like, this is so boring, so boring, so boring. And then it was just like everything came back to life. I just like I there was like a squeal that happened inside of me. 

Lacey [01:01:10] I was like, yes, yes, yes, yes. I kind of like because we’re not doing next week because it’s Christmas Eve and the week after, because it’s New Year’s Eve. I felt like I was like, oh man, we’re kind of assholes because we’re leaving on the season finale. Like, that’s what this is. 

Alex [01:01:25] Mark Watney can finally talk to Earth, but you know who’s not going to be talking us to you? Wait until twenty, twenty one. Yep. 

Lacey [01:01:33] So I my thing about it was just like there is there was this jolt because this is what I’ve been waiting for, this is what I knew was coming and yet. And yet. And can you imagine being those scientists who worked on the Pathfinder mission and you’re being called to help to help bring Mark home. 

Lacey [01:01:55] And I was just like, oh, I choked up. Oh, I was. 

Lacey [01:01:58] So I was just like, I mean, if we if we consider that this is, what, 30 years later, maybe. 

Lacey [01:02:04] Right. How big of a deal would that be to you to have maybe the thing that you consider your life’s work is actually going to is it’s going to be salvaged and made into something bigger than you life saving. 

Lacey [01:02:19] Oh, my. 

Alex [01:02:22] Yeah, I’m just like absolutely fantastic moment and so perfectly delivered through a system diagnostic. Like, again, he just he keeps returning to the the competence. You know, it’s not the these moments are not even done in particularly emotional ways. They’re done through success. You know, he he achieved his goal and that is impactful. We don’t need to see him thrusting his fist into the air to know how important that is. 

Lacey [01:02:55] And we as the audience get to know that on the other side of it before, like, this is the first time that we know something really before Mark Watney does. 

Lacey [01:03:04] I mean, we were seeing what’s happening on Earth. Yeah. But, you know, they haven’t come up with issues yet and they haven’t really come up with any big solutions yet. There’s they’re still arguing about what the best thing is to do while they’re all working together, which again, I don’t totally foresee happening. But they you know, they are supposedly they’re all working together and and. They still don’t have answers and they’re trying and this is this is the moment that we get to see. The work that they’ve put in, the work of following his trajectories and what he’s doing, I don’t know, there’s just something so beautiful about that. Thing’s starting to click, you know, and finally getting traction. 

Lacey [01:03:54] Yeah, I just love it so much. And that’s it for this week on the Synthesis. 

Lacey [01:03:59] We know it’s not know, first of all, first of all, I there are a couple of other things in here that I I’m with J great here that the Saturn five does need a stamp is not wrong. Definitely not wrong. I’m going to assume, uh, Jay Grap is a guy because you’re driving with my husband. But if that’s not true, let me know. I will use the correct pronouns. 

Alex [01:04:31] Jay grap not a good person but not wrong. 

Lacey [01:04:35] Oh oh my God I but you also have to tell people what the genre is. Oh yeah. You guys. 

Lacey [01:04:44] So guys I think you know so we agree it’s, it’s Mars genre, it’s, it’s epic drama, it’s sci fi, all of that. 

Alex [01:04:53] I was, I was researching The Martian, the film and this is bullshit among other things. I noticed that while it received several accolades, all of which were deserved, it did also win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture, musical or comedy. 

Lacey [01:05:10] What? That’s not right. I mean, it’s funny, don’t get me wrong. 

Alex [01:05:16] Yeah, there’s humor, but like, there’s humor in a lot of stuff. There’s humor in Titanic like this. 

Alex [01:05:23] This is not a comedy. And I mean, obviously, it’s not a musical, but it’s not a disco jukebox music. Exactly. 

Alex [01:05:32] This is not, you know, the disco version of Jersey Boys. Yeah, right. This is the musical. So I’m I’m very blown away and I don’t like it. And I would like to go back in time and tell them to get it right. No, no. OK, wait, wait. Look up. Who actually got a best, um, I don’t know, drama that year or whatever, whatever the other one is, uh, whoever they didn’t want to go up against because you know, they get to submit themselves for whatever category they want. So really this is on the producers. 

Lacey [01:06:06] So, uh, 20 then everybody had to vote for them. So maybe, you know what, there’s a lot of blame to go around and I’m willing to hand it out. 

Alex [01:06:15] Yeah. Um, let me see her best music, best motion picture drama. In what year was this? Uh, they were up against The Revenant, I think. The Revenant. 

Lacey [01:06:28] I don’t remember that one. Yeah. Is that the is that the the Leonardo DiCaprio one. OK, ok. OK, let’s, let’s do this you guys. I’m not so we’ve talked about uh nope. I have to have this little rant. I just. I do, I do. I need to look up his name real quick because this is important and everybody here needs to know about this. 

Alex [01:06:51] Um, what is living on Mars is harder than surviving a bear. 

Lacey [01:06:56] I’m just saying, OK, um, so. 

Lacey [01:07:01] There’s a book called Lord Grizzly, and it was written by Frederick Manfred, and it’s about Hugh Glass and it’s freaking incredible. It is. 

Lacey [01:07:14] I am you know this. I’ve talked about it. Survival stories are not my jam. But I read this book in high school and. I to this day, it’s one of my favorite books, I told my grandfather, yes, this is morbid, but I told him when he dies, the only thing I want from him is his signed copy of Lord Grizzly now. Now, Manfred’s family multiple times optioned the story. And you want to know what got made. The Revenant, The Revenant that is supposed to take this is supposed to take place in South Dakota, my home state, and Frederick Frederick Manfred’s home state, I do believe. And they film it in the Rockies, in Canada, because it’s prettier. No, it’s not. And I mean, those are beautiful, too. It’s not a it’s not a competition. 

Lacey [01:08:04] But you guys, The Revenant is a made up story based on an incredible story that’s told better in Lord Grizzly. 

Lacey [01:08:14] And why didn’t they do it? Why why didn’t Manfred’s family not get they worked so hard and this author was so much better. 

Lacey [01:08:21] And I’m just I am still so mad about it. I’m so mad about it. 

Lacey [01:08:26] I’m so mad about it. And then they beat out the Martian for best drama and kicked them to best comedy. Adding insult to injury. 

Lacey [01:08:34] This is not I am so unhappy. The Revenant can. Yeah, but it’s it was beautifully shot. I will put that out there. Yeah. I with that movie, very, very strong opinions in this one. 

Lacey [01:08:51] I don’t feel bad. 

Alex [01:08:52] That is it for the synthesis this week. We are going to be off for the next couple of weeks for the holiday. So enjoy your January 7th. Yeah. I think January 7th is the next time we’re going to be Horth is a Monday. 

Lacey [01:09:07] Yes. OK, so we will see on the 7th. Yeah. Which means that we super hope you have have found a great way to celebrate your holidays to stay safe. Um Happy Hanukkah. 

Alex [01:09:19] Merry Christmas. Happy Boxing Day and Kwanzaa and happy New Year and everything else that happens in the season because it’s yes. 

Lacey [01:09:27] A lot of good stuff that happens this season. And we hope all of the good stuff happens for you. Yes. Our people. 

Alex [01:09:34] So tune in in three weeks to the synthesis when we’ll be talking about the next few chapters of The Martian. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe and follow us. We have a patriot on page four networks entertainment. 

Alex [01:09:49] We are on Twitter and Facebook and read it and everything you can imagine. Be sure to hit the bell so you get updates for future episodes. And thank you for watching. We’ll see you in twenty, twenty one. It has to be better than this year. 


Alexander Winn and Lacey Hannan continue to discuss Andy Weir’s The Martian, in which Mark Watney almost blows himself up and Lacey firmly believes Mindy Kaling would make an excellent NASA employee.

𝕋𝕙𝕖 π•Šπ•ͺπ•Ÿπ•₯π•™π•–π•€π•šπ•€ is a live talk show that aims to find the relationship between science and fiction in pop culture. We’ll discuss a book, movie, or show each week that’s science-focused and talk about just how realistic it is, where reality is cooler than fiction, and exactly where certain liberties were taken.

[00:00:03] Hey, folks, this is Alexander Winn, Lacey Hannan, and we’re here to talk about chapters four through six of the Martian picking up from last week, Lacey is putting the finishing touches on her read through right now. And that’s what you were going to be laughing is freaking love this book, right? So we did the first three chapters last week and we’re doing the next three chapters today. So first off, general impressions, what do you think of this section?Β 

[00:00:38] OK, yeah, I still love Mark Watney. Yes, he’s still my favorite. And and we get to we get to meet new characters. Yes. And big development. Yes. And of course, then we see a narration change. Yes. Which is fun. Yeah. Yeah. I’m I’m really excited about about the mixing it up and changing it, because I even pointed out in my notes that there’s some things that I could see getting a little old. So I’m excited to dove in to the other side of this story. 

[00:01:08] Yes, indeed. But first we start off with Chapter four. And I did actually notice something that doesn’t get mentioned in the book unless I just glossed right over it, which is Chapter four starts log entry SOL thirty two, which means he has officially been on Mars longer than he was supposed to. This was a thirty one day mission and chapter four starts on day thirty two or SOL thirty to solving the term for a day on Mars. Yeah. So I just thought that was a funny little thing that they just kind of glossed over. He’s too busy. Yes he’s got, he’s got to do. That’s certainly true. So a bit of behind the scenes for you. I have one line here in my notes that says starting off with deep chemistry, but still a still approachable but definitely taking the gloves off with the science. What I put in one line, I get the impression that you have more than that. 

[00:02:00] Oh, yeah. So you guys, I have like pages and pages and pages and pages on on my. Well, listen to that long list, mine or not. Listen, if you think my husband can be verbose. Oh, I can be to know. I guess it’s a lot of it has to do with. I want to walk through his water. Yes. Yeah. OK, can we do that. Yes. 

[00:02:30] Do you want me to just launch into it or do you have. No. Oh no. OK, I’m going to be here for a while. 

The martian

[00:02:35] So before we even get there, I really like how he approaches this because he like lays some some information out and then he’s like, I really like how he approaches. 

[00:02:46] This is like the tagline for this book, like that’s all this book is. I really like how he approaches this. 

[00:02:52] So he lays out some information for us and then he lays out his plan. And, you know, OK, you can follow it. Yeah, of course. But then he says, as you can see and I’m sitting here going, oh, that’s so nice of you. I really appreciate you. Like I this is this is exactly the thing that I that I want to see from entertainment is believing that the audience is smart enough to follow along. And it’s we don’t see entertainment like this very often that believes in the intelligence of its audience, for example, like it’s not that a lot of movies or TV shows or anything like that actually like specifically condescend to their audience. They find new and interesting ways to condescend to us, like gravity. Were they just like remove all of the details and they gloss over everything and it’s like this is boring because I don’t you’re only making the story about the character’s emotional reactions then you are to what? Why are they here? 

[00:03:55] Yeah, it’s the lowest it’s it’s literally the lowest common denominator in the sense that if there’s anybody in the audience who isn’t going to get it, we’re not going to do it at all. 

[00:04:02] Yeah, and it makes the characters so much more interesting when they know their stuff, like everybody in the world has something that they know a lot about. And I mean, you might not be an expert. You might not have, you know, even a bachelors. And you don’t have to, like, go to college to know a lot of things about the things you’re interested in. 

[00:04:22] Yeah. And it’s not always science, like some people know a lot about Star Wars, and that’s cool. But if you’re then making a Star Wars product, you want to appeal to those people, to you can’t just make everything for the people who don’t know. 

[00:04:37] Yeah, yeah, exactly. And so I, I really appreciated this and I actually read that line, like just that first phrase, as you can see, like multiple times, because it just charmed me that we were like, oh, he thinks we’re following along. And I sort of am. Yeah, but the whole the, the whole line is, as you can see, this plan provides many opportunities for for me to die in a fiery explosion. And my thought process was, no, I can’t see that. Not really. I could see I could see one way. One way was pretty obvious. Yes. But many I was like, that’s a lot of confidence in me. I appreciate you. That’s more confidence than any of my science teacher has had in me. So you’re very kind man. So but both funny and heartbreaking. Welcome to being a woman. Yeah, but but for the sake of the story, I’m I’m glad that he goes on to actually outline all of it. But that doesn’t mean I totally understand all of it. So I would like to step through. Step through it. Yeah. OK, so I’m going to say what I think is happening and then you tell me what’s actually happening, OK? Yeah. Yeah, OK. I don’t think I’m an idiot, you guys. I just think that like. 

[00:05:55] No, it’s this is complex. It’s complex. And like I said, the still approachable, but definitely taking the gloves off. Yeah. This is. 

[00:06:02] Yeah. And it’s OK. So just to most people have never heard of hydrazine. So just to be really clear, Alex, while knowing a lot about science and happily being willing to talk about it a lot is not actually an expert. So we’re going to give us all like a lot of room to make mistakes. And if we do feel free to play out because you’re intelligent and you can do that. Yes. And you can do it with kindness. 

[00:06:28] If we can be here having studied like film and stuff, talking about real science, we invite you to join in as well. Yeah, that’s the to me, like, honestly not to like, veer off too much, but that’s the fun part of science for me, is that it’s not just about being wrong, it’s about learning what’s right. And so if we say something on air that is wrong, then, hey, jump in the comments and tell us what we missed, because, you know, that’s cool. 

[00:06:55] That’s fine, I. I want to learn it. That’s why I’m asking. OK, so step one. Yes, the MAV, which is the Mars ascent vehicle, I’m going to figure out what all vehicles are here because I keep getting really confused. OK, let’s go. Hold on. Let’s just go through them real quick. We’ve got the movie. So the Mars ascent vehicle, the MTV, the ascent vehicle, which is. Which one? 

[00:07:21] Wait. So they so they came in from the Hermes, the Hermes is the interplanetary ship that they were on, OK? The really big sort of space station looking thing from the movie, the MTV is a ship that they took from the Hermes down to the surface of Mars. The AUV was there waiting for them. Right. So they do their thing on Mars for a while and then a dust storm hits and they have to evacuate. So they get in the way of Mars ascent vehicle. 

[00:07:46] They go back to all that’s left. There is like the the essentially like launch pad aspect of it, like the there’s a portion that does not go up with it. 

[00:07:55] Yeah. The Navy landed like a couple of years ago in preparation for this mission with essentially like a launch pad, like you were saying that that launch pad portion includes something that can create fuel. But it’s a very slow process, which is why it’s been here for so long. Exactly. So well, that and also just sort of prep. They want to make sure that it’s there and ready before they send any. So it’s it lands and starts making fuel. They blast off, but it leaves the fuel plant behind. 

[00:08:26] And then there’s also the MTV, which he’s been stripping for. And there are two rovers and there are two rivers and a hab. And yeah, that’s that’s all the structures in the area. Yeah. I mean, unless you count the solar panels, which are, you know. Well OK, but these are the big things. Yeah. The things that you can get inside Mavie MTV have two rovers. 

[00:08:49] OK, but the movie is mostly gone. Got it. OK, so from that, from what’s left over of the maybe the here is pulling out the fuel plant which has CO2 in it and he’ll release that CO2 into the air in the in the hab and the Habs oxygenation system or oxygen will turn it into oxygen at its normal rate. 

[00:09:14] Yeah. So. So just to start out with the the the challenge here is make water. Yes. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make water and pretty much everybody knows water is H2O, two hydrogen atoms, one oxygen atom. So basically the problem that we are trying to solve here is how do we get those ingredients? How do we get oxygen? How do we get hydrogen? And so his solution for the oxygen is, hey, this thing over here has been collecting CO2 from the Martian atmosphere. And inside the hab, I have a tool that’s supposed to take my CO2 and recycle it back into oxygen. So if I just go take this tank of CO2, take it into the lab and just open it and it just vents all this CO2 into the atmosphere, into the atmosphere of the habit, the oxygen later kicks in and goes, whoa, there’s way too much CO2 in here, starts pulling it out and making oxygen. So now he has the O for his H2O. Great. 

[00:10:09] Yeah. OK, so step two. Yes, he’s he’s also pulling hydrazine. And how do I pronounce this the catalyst. The Iridium. Yeah, iridium. Oh look at that gomi. OK, so. He gets that from the end of both of those things, right? And he says that a hydrazine is super toxic and it will burn him so he doesn’t want to breathe it and he doesn’t want it to spill on him because then he’ll have chemical burns because of his life. 

[00:10:40] This is rocket fuel. You don’t want it to touch you. Right. Anyway, he also refers to the iridium. 

[00:10:47] Catalyst as a reaction chamber, it’s the same thing is he using these he’s putting Iridium in a reaction chamber. So basically a catalyst in chemistry, a catalyst is a thing that starts a chemical process but does not actually participate in the chemical process. So in this case, he’s got a bowl because hydrogen hydrazine is a liquid. He’s got a bowl. He puts a radium in the bowl. Iridium is just like it’s like a metal like in the picture rocks. And then he pours hydrazine into the bowl. The iridium makes the hydrazine react, but it doesn’t actually use iridium in that reaction. So the iridium is still left behind and he can keep using it. And in the meantime, hydrazine, which the the chemical formula for hydrazine is Enta H for. And what happens when so what happens when hydrazine meets Iridium is it starts a reaction that splits it in from end to age four into one molecule of N two and two molecules of H to. So he’s already got the O for his water and now he’s going to take that that hydrazine hydrazine and for every molecule of hydrazine, the iridium will split it into two molecules of H two. 

[00:12:05] And so what he’s done is he’s taken all of the bags and he’s put it over his little lab setup. He’s got going and he’s duct taped everything. And then he took what it was some sort of air hose, I think, from someone from one of the spacesuits. Yeah. Which I really like how he refers to it, because he says that he is murdering a space suit. And just like I just really enjoyed that. It’s hyperbole can be really fun. Yes. 

[00:12:33] So anyway, so he he makes this tent, he puts the air hose at the top, um, and kind of hangs it essentially. And so that hydrogen is really hot after this. 

[00:12:47] Yeah. The reaction that Iridium causes releases a lot of heat and it rises. 

[00:12:51] So it goes the chimney. And what he’s doing is he’s essentially standing on the outside of it with splinters of cross turned and torch. Yeah. 

[00:13:01] And he’s he’s burning out the top of a chimney. You can literally picture like a chimney, like a house. There’s a bowl with liquid coming in and iridium and it’s creating hydrogen. And the hydrogen is being funneled up through this chimney. And then at the top of the chimney, there’s a flame. 

[00:13:15] Yeah. Yeah. OK, great. Um, so. 

[00:13:22] That what is exothermic again, so reactions, chemical reactions have two different types, endothermic is a reaction that takes more heat than it generates, and so it creates cold. Basically, this is like reactions used to make refrigerators and that sort of thing. Chemical reactions can actually reduce the heat around. And then there’s exothermic, which is like burning wood. The chemical reaction that happens when you burn wood releases more heat than it takes to make the reaction happen. So it produces heat and that heat heats up the wood even more, which produces more heat. And that’s why fire is a self-sustaining thing. So what he’s saying is that this reaction with the iridium and the hydrazine is very exothermic. Yeah, it releases a lot of heat. And so. 

[00:14:11] Right. I’m going to learn so much just from this book. Right. It’s so much fun. So much fun. What? Well, the other thing the thing that kind of made me laugh is he talked about how it’s going to make the have really hot. And he mentions that it’s 30 degrees Celsius in there at one point. And he’s from Chicago. And I get it, he’s a scientist. 

[00:14:33] He he is not using Fahrenheit. Like, that’s just not what’s going to happen. But I like that he’s. 

[00:14:41] Talking to his audience, which obviously for the sake of suspension of disbelief, he’s not talking to us, the audience, he’s talking to NASA scientists. But I still like it’s still made me giggle that he use Celsius instead of Fahrenheit as an American. 

[00:14:57] And one can only hope that by the time we’re landing people on Mars that maybe will we will have actually, I’m sure I’d be I’d be fine with that. 

[00:15:04] But I was just like way not to the or cater to me, man, you jerk. Now, I think if I remember correctly, like from our time in New Zealand, I think that’s like high eighties. Don’t quote me on that. 

[00:15:13] But it’s a little hard. It’s harder than that. 30 degrees I think is a hot day, but not. 

[00:15:20] Yes, but hot is not the same thing in New Zealand as it is here. Like it doesn’t ever really hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit in New Zealand. You look it up. 

[00:15:28] Thirty degrees. Oh, look at that sea. You’re smarter than anybody thinks you are. Thirty degrees is do you. Eighty six degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, I would have pegged it. I thought thirty degrees would be fine. I’m so proud of myself, so proud of myself. Silly Americans and not knowing Celsius. 

[00:15:48] I remembered, um, I just, I just remember that the peninsula is the northern peninsula would get to like the highest of like thirty four degrees Celsius and that’s still, I don’t believe, one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. So, um, anyway, the other thing that gets mentioned here is Martian vampires, and I’m really intrigued. So I if anybody out there is just like I need a writing prompt, I’m really stuck. If you would do a scientifically accurate vampire fantasy on Mars, I would read it. And I don’t like vampire stories. I mean, Buffy’s great. And and the Dresden Files has some great vampire storylines, but I, I’m not really into them and I would absolutely read that. 

[00:16:34] So if you do it, there is so much potential for fantasy stories on Mars. Just putting it out there. You could tell a werewolf story on a planet with two moons. Seems like it just it goes on and on and on. There’s so many different, like, sort of tropes to play with on other planets. 

[00:16:52] I would absolutely read it. So, you know, send it to me if you ever do it. Yes. 

[00:16:56] But yeah. So then at some point. Mm hmm. Um. 

[00:17:03] Where where where are we we’ve we’ve got we’ve got we’ve got our oxygen from the CO2, we’ve got our hydrogen from the hydrazine, and the plan is I’m just going to burn it at the top of this chimney and it’ll basically just get really humid in here. And it’s going to it’s going to create water, but it’s going to create water just in the atmosphere. And then the water reclaimer, which is another tool of the also will pull the water out of the air and put it in tanks so that now and really it’s not going to be the tanks aren’t going to be big enough. 

[00:17:33] So he uses yet another spaces that he laid later calls the system. 

[00:17:39] Yeah. Which just great. I really like that. 

[00:17:42] So I do absolutely love just on sort of the the fun side. He’s burning hydrogen. He’s he’s making water. Things are going great. And there’s this hilariously optimistic moment where he’s just like, I’m feeling good, everything’s going to plan. I really think I’m going to be able to pull this off. And it’s like log entry the next day. And he’s like, I am absolutely going to die. 

[00:18:06] And this is such a perfect just jinxing of his whole situation was like that was one of the things that I pointed out is I this is you know, I kind of said before that he likes to end up on that really high note and then take us down like a couple of pegs. The contrast is just so funny. And this and this is the biggest contrast he’s done so far. And it made me laugh. But simultaneously, like jokes get kind of overdone very quickly for me. So I when we get to Chapter six and we start seeing new people, I was like, oh, good, because I don’t want his jokes to wear out. Yeah. And, you know, he’s a great writer, so maybe they wouldn’t maybe he’d keep finding new ways of surprising us and having fun. But it’s good that he didn’t have to. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. 

[00:18:50] And it is a great way of raising the stakes we cut to the next day. And he is not only sure that he’s going to die, he is hiding in the rover and does not want to go back to the lab like that is a big deal. Yeah, that is a great way of just like instantly raising the stakes. 

[00:19:04] I love that he is like NASA specifically prepares in every way for things to not get on fire. And I’m bringing fire into the hab. Yeah. And I just it’s another way of making it really apparent that this is a hobby. Like you said, it’s a terrible, dangerous idea, but it’s the one he has. Um, there is a line in there that I want to know if it’s a reference. OK, so he says, dammit, Jim, I’m a botanist, not a chemist. 

[00:19:34] It rings familiar, but I don’t Star Trek, that’s there’s a there’s a running joke in the original Star Trek from the Sixties that McCoy keeps getting asked to do things. And he’d be like, damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a lawyer or dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a whatever, whatever. 

[00:19:50] OK, yes, OK. I knew I heard that somewhere. Thank you. 

[00:19:56] So we we catch up the next day and he’s hiding in the rover because and this is one of the notes that I have is I love how he makes plausible mistakes. This is not the story of a superhero who just knows how to handle every single situation perfectly. This is a guy who comes up with really smart plans and is really proud of himself and then misses something and then has to deal with it. And it’s so much fun to watch him do that. And in this case, he made the mistake of assuming that he was burning all the hydrogen that was coming out, and he ended up realizing that there was way too much hydrogen in this area. 

[00:20:38] And this is not the first time he makes this mistake. I mean. Yeah, well, OK. Now what what I really mean is in an upcoming chapter, he makes another similar sort of mistake. Yeah. So it it is interesting to to watch him be human. Yeah. And, you know, this is overwhelming. Like the amount of plans that this guy has had to come up with to stay alive is like, I’m sorry, The Revenant does not compare. No, sorry. 

[00:21:05] Leonardo DiCaprio just putting it out there. Yeah. Uh, um, so yeah. This is he. Oh, I like his ending line of this chapter. OK, are you there. 

[00:21:19] Are you ready. I was just going to say this is one of those moments that every once in a while in this story, I like to take a moment and imagine he could have died here like this could have been. The story is that they they come back and they recover his logs and he’s like, hey, I’m going to try to make water. And apparently he blew himself up and everybody kind of like wonders what went wrong, but he didn’t. Well, that’s just sort of a parallel universe of the Martian is like, oh, yeah, could he have? 

[00:21:47] And he’s trying to kind of stop that from happening. One of the things you said on the last episode is we’re always seeing things after he’s done them. Yeah. And here we’re not. This is he interrupts himself well, but he says I’m going to do this. So in case I die like everyone knows. But this is not something that he’s written in there because he missed it, missed it, so people would still wonder why it’s just kind of this neat little like I’m going to tell you what stupid thing I’m going to do. So in case I die, you know, why it happened? And he was just thinking about, like bringing fire into the hab and making an explosion happen just in case I make the Watney Memorial crater. 

[00:22:26] Yeah. Which is so good. Macabre but hilarious. Oh my. 

[00:22:32] I really liked the the ending line. Yeah. Which was. The hab is now a bomb, and I was just like, it’s so succinct, yeah, it’s so. 

[00:22:44] Yes, it’s so true and I don’t know. I was just delighted by I was delighted apparently Eman Economists’ has has a has a book, no series for us. The Genuine Bastards is a fantasy. Stories that on Mars. So really. Thank you. Thanks. I’m putting that on my list. 

[00:23:04] Yes, exactly. Yes. Thank you. I barely get through this book. So Alex is going to be like, oh, why are you reading? We are here. You’re supposed to be done with, you know, who knows? Maybe we’ll do that next time. Well, yeah. See how scientifically accurate it. Yeah, it is. I like it. Like vampires and stuff. 

[00:23:26] Um, all right. So Chapter five. 

[00:23:29] Yes. So the first thing that I have noted here for Chapter five is I really enjoy that there’s this sort of repeated cycle of presented with a problem. And then he gives us like an index of his assets, like this is what I have. This is what I can work with. This is everything I have at hand. And that is to me, the strength of this story, because so often solutions are presented just as kind of like a fait accompli, like Sherlock Holmes walks into the room, he looks around and he says, I know who did it. And maybe he walks you back through his logic after the fact. But it’s really about him having the answer, whereas this is a story about someone finding the answer. And the first step to that is what do I have? What can I play with? What can I use? Right. Sort of the central tenet of science. And it’s the central tenet of this story, and that is the strength of this whole book. 

[00:24:28] That’s a good way to delineate the two things. I like that. Yeah, I’m going to be honest. 

[00:24:36] My brain stopped working while I was reading Chapter five, so most of my notes are not actually about the science. So I hope you enjoyed Chapter Four’s discussion, because for me, Chapter five does not have as much. 

[00:24:47] Did you did you get what you were looking for? I mean, yeah, you’re you’re fully there. 

[00:24:53] What is hydrazine though. Like what is it used for? It’s rocket fuel. Oh that’s ok. OK then. Yes I’m good. Yeah. I will say that for this chapter I probably can’t regurgitate any of the science. However, I wrote down a lot about the writing and the voice because I loved it. 

[00:25:10] So, you know, well I’ve got a few things about the science, so I’ll show it up. But before we get to that, I will have to say the one of the most important elements of this story gets introduced in Chapter five, and that’s Desco. And I’m so happy because Desco has become like this big part of The Martian, especially thanks to the movie, because they lean on it pretty hard. And we finally got there. 

[00:25:36] And I just it makes me funny thinking that Jessica Chastain likes disco. 

[00:25:41] She just doesn’t smile much. So it just doesn’t sit right with me. 

[00:25:45] I really love it. We’ll get to this when we do the movie at the end of this. But I really love not only do they have, you know, her liking disco the way they do, but like are moments in the movie that aren’t from the book where at the very end her or her husband or boyfriend presents her with like a new record that he found at some, like, record shop. And she gets like really excited. And like even when they’re on their way back to Earth, he’s he’s video chatting with her and he’s like showing her this disco record that he found. And she’s like, really into it. And it becomes this sort of part of her character beyond just the guy. 

[00:26:22] I have to really watch it because I really don’t remember that. And I’d love to see Jessica Chastain. Oh, yeah. That she lights up about a new find. It’s charming as hell. That’s I mean, it sounds like it. I now listen, I will tell you when we’re kind of jumping to the disco, but it’s fine. Whatever I will say. If you were like me, I did not like disco until recently. And I will tell you what did it you learn about the history of disco and you are going to be way more into it. Go find the podcast you’re wrong about and go find the episode titled Something along the lines of Hold on, I’ve got it, I’ve got it. Just Disco Demolition, Demolition, Disco Derby. Those three words are in it. Disco Demolition Derby. Go find that one. It’s from sometime this summer and it’s most excellent. Um it’s, it’s, I love, I love that podcast and it’s news flash. 

[00:27:17] One of the founders of Hedrick’s Entertainment gets more enjoyment out of something by learning about how it works. One film at 11 shut up. Oh, my God. So this chapter is basically about who I diffuse the bomb that is the hab and what he comes up with is there’s too much hydrogen in the air. So he’s going to remove the oxygen for the most part and just sort of burn it off in little bursts. And that sounds like the scariest thing ever, sitting in a giant bubble of hydrogen with a little bit of oxygen and burning it a little bit at a time to try to wear it down. 

[00:27:54] But what did he mean or what did he mean by that? What are you burning it off? 

[00:27:59] So basically, he wanted to make water. Right, and he needed to get rid of the hydrogen because, yeah, that’s too much. And so what? So his solution is. You can’t just burn all the hydrogen away because it will explode, but hydrogen can’t burn without oxygen. So he actually gives the numbers. The atmosphere in the lab is 64 percent hydrogen and nine percent oxygen. So what he does is he removes the oxygen from the air. And so that way the hydrogen just can’t burn like at all. Like you could you could light up, you know, a flame or whatever, and it just wouldn’t burn. But he can then take an oxygen tank and basically do the exact opposite of what he was doing originally instead of an atmosphere of oxygen. And he’s got a little bit of hydrogen that he’s burning. He’s got an atmosphere of hydrogen and he’s got a little bit of oxygen that he’s burning. So it won’t explode because there isn’t enough oxygen to sustain burning the oxygen. I mean, they burn together like that. Right, right. Right. But what he’s got is he’s got a little bottle of oxygen that he’s releasing and he’s got a flame in front of it as he burns a little bit of the hydrogen away, each little burst of oxygen that he’s releasing. And so the the the plan is just over time. Every time he does it, a little bit of hydrogen gets turned into water. And if he just keeps doing that, he can get the hydrogen levels down to the point where it’s no longer an exploding hazard. Right. Which brings us to his next mistake. And I know you have a lot of lines that you specifically quote in your notes. I’ve got one here. Everything went great right up until the explosion. And this is actually this so this is a great moment in the book, but it was also really nice for me because I read The Martian years ago and then I watched the movie and I’ve watched the movie probably 20 times since then. 

[00:29:58] And there was a moment in the movie that I never really got. I never understood it never quite made sense, which is in the movie. 

[00:30:05] They skip this part about the hab filling up with hydrogen and becoming a bomb and he just burns. He does his thing with the chimney and he’s burning hydrogen and he lights the fire and he celebrates and goes, woo! And it explodes. 

[00:30:22] And he’s thrown backward and then he’s later talking into the camera and talking about how I didn’t account for the oxygen that I was breathing, and I was like, what does that even mean? 

[00:30:34] Like the oxygen that you were breathing is the oxygen in the room. 

[00:30:36] There’s no extra oxygen just because it’s coming out of your lungs. It’s just the oxygen that is in. Of course, you accounted for that. That’s the oxygen that you have, man. And he never really made sense to me. And so I was so gratified when I was reading this chapter for this episode, because that’s not what happened in my book. So he wasn’t accounting for the oxygen that he was breathing because he had removed the oxygen from the atmosphere. And so he had his little bottle of oxygen sort of squirting out little bits of oxygen and burning it. But he forgot that there’s a big source of oxygen right here in front of his face. And every time he exhaled, he was releasing more oxygen this way. And so he had his flame here. But there’s a whole bunch of oxygen coming out of his head and it filled up to the point where the whole room exploded. 

[00:31:20] It’s you know, it’s one of those things where the conversation can come back to that age old question, not ages, because movies really only. Yeah, I mean, they’ve only been centuries old tradition. Yeah. Yeah. As is the book. Better than the movie. Yeah. And in this in this way I’m not going to say it’s I’m not going to say one thing’s better than the other. I will just say one things more scientifically accurate. 

[00:31:43] Well yeah, the adaptation was flawed. They wanted to keep the moment of Mark Watney blowing himself up, but they removed the reason that he blew himself up. And they just sort of hope to the nobody would notice. And to their credit, even I didn’t notice, really. I knew that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what was going on until the book. 

[00:32:00] So but, you know, experts would know, but the rest of the world would be in the dark. 

[00:32:04] Exactly. OK, so, yeah, he forgot to account for the accident. He was breathing, but luckily he got enough of the hydrogen burned away that by the time the oxygen built up to the point that it caused the explosion, there wasn’t enough hydrogen to blow up the hab. 

[00:32:19] It just sort of flashed banged in his face and. 

[00:32:24] Yeah, what I like about this part is he plans and he explains to you exactly who is going to do it. He’s going to take out all of the potatoes. They have started rooting, but not sprouting. Yes. And he needs them to not be in the hab because he needs to turn the temperature the whole way down. And so he puts them in the rover. And there’s a moment where he says that he jimmied it so that the heat would stay on. And I loved that freezing again. For me, everything’s about the voice in this chapter. To Jimmy, something is to MacGyver something. And I know a lot of people who use the word MacGyver out here or or different takes on that. But to me, to Jimmy, something I feel so Midwestern to me and I love it. 

[00:33:10] And this guy is from Illinois. He’s like, I don’t know. I’m just like, this is my tribe. This is my Midwestern tribe. And I loved it. 

[00:33:18] Well, and really I mean, to me, to McGyver, something is complex. It’s like you’re you’re creating this thing out of, you know, paper clips and baling water. 

[00:33:27] But it’s like it. Did MacGyver know what he’s tricking NASA? 

[00:33:30] What I’m saying is to MacGyver is a big, complex thing. But what he was saying was specifically that it was like pretty like he kind of the equivalent of hit it with a wrench, like he was kind of hacking it to to stay. You don’t know what you’re on. You don’t know what he did. And in that same spirit, I I have a note here that I really appreciate. When he’s trying to trick the oxygenates into pulling the oxygen out, he tries all these sophisticated things. He’s going to, like, pry it open and hack the operating system or, you know, all these things. And finally, he just has to like tape bags over the sensors like it’s not you know, the solution here is not some big complicated thing I love. Again, just like the fact that Indiewire resisted the urge to make Mark Watney a super hero who knew everything. He also resisted the urge to make every solution brilliant. Sometimes you just need a bag over the sensor. And, you know, there’s a moment in the in the BBC Sherlock series where Sherlock gets tricked by Moriarty specifically because Sherlock always expects everything to have a clever solution. And this wasn’t clever, and so it was like a blind spot for Sherlock, because this is a very simple thing and Sherlock was looking for some big, complex thing. And so I really appreciate that, Andy. We are gives us that. He gives us that. Like, you know what? This is a guy who is really smart in science, but he’s not head in the clouds. Sometimes you just got to hit it with a wrench and that’s good enough. 

[00:34:58] OK, so I’ve read a couple of things about the voice of this that I’d like to add that. So at one point he says there are four different safety interlocks that prevent the regulator from letting the oxygen content get too low. But they’re designed to work against technical faults, not deliberate sabotage. BWA ha ha. End quote. Yes, and. His spelling of wahaha is not normal because he put spaces in it, yeah, well, like when you when are you texting people, those who aren’t aware? 

[00:35:30] Lacey’s reading the book with her eyes. And I’m doing the audio books. Yes. 

[00:35:34] So, you know, I just I love how people have different ways of messing with the written word, especially because we text all the time like we have a friend who when he sends you something that he’s laughing, he doesn’t write lol. He doesn’t do hahaha without spaces. No, no this man does ha space ha space ha. And it drives me crazy because it sounds really condescending. It sounds like ha ha true. You know like and I just, I’m like if I’m watching this stop it. You know who you are. But like I just this is like my mom loves the word funner. I hate it. It drives me crazy. I know. I know now. Yeah. We can talk anymore. Know you have to pretend not to notice. But she thinks that should be a real word. She has decided this to be fair. I don’t actually disagree. Right, exactly. That ought to just be a word. I know it’s not. But why not. Why not? And and that’s her take on. It is like this is a stupid rule that we have. So I’m making my own. Yeah. Which is very much my mother. And what I’m my mother’s daughter and and we all have our little hills that we will either die on or not realize. Our our our hills like mine is in quotation marks. 

[00:36:55] I like when you’re quoting something, if if your ending with a period Vandeweghe grap for saying funner is great. I’ll see. 

[00:37:04] Jay Grave has your mom’s back. He does. Unlike you. Unlike me. Thank you Jay. If you would be a better son in law than I am. 

[00:37:17] We don’t know this man. We just know that funner is excuse me, we don’t know this group. We don’t. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. 

[00:37:25] So like my the hell, I will die on if when things are in quotes. I like the the punctuation to be on the outside of the quote, unless it’s part of the quote. And I have my marketing director who we will get into arguments about this. She’s just wrong and so are the rest of Americans who do this incorrectly. 

[00:37:44] Agreed, Heather. Also, if you’re watching Iran. 

[00:37:47] Oh, you agree with me on this? Yeah, I didn’t know that. 

[00:37:51] Yeah, I just fell in love with you a little bit more. Sorry. Great. So anyway, this is Jacob’s attempt to steal. My marriage is finally coming apart. Found my nemesis. Anyway, so anyway, I just like the little quirk here. Yeah. The the Bahat and the Jimmi and yes they’re just. They’re good. 

[00:38:18] There are good moments of voice in this, and I just keep looking to Andy Weir and saying I’m feeling like he does such an excellent job of doing it, which is it’s going to be interesting to watch the other side of the story and seeing if everybody or specific people get really good voices if their voices. You have a note about that. You you won’t they won’t be quite as strong because it’s not first person. Yeah. And I feel like that is just different. 

[00:38:47] But we’ll see on that same sort of note. My last note here for Chapter five is I really like this thing that he does over the course of the book where he, you know, he’s very careful with his rations and he’s giving himself like half rations. You know, you have to remember that this entire story is taking place and he’s literally starving. You know, he’s eating like half as much as was allotted for him each day. He’s desperately trying to grow food. You know, later in the story, they’re going to be desperately trying to get him more food. It’s all about this. But you know what? Every once in a while, he’s like, I’m having a full portion, like, you know, I earned it today. I just I’m having more food than I am allotted. And I know that that’s not great. But I earned it. And I just it just it keeps tying back to I love that he’s not a superhero. He’s not just this is exactly what I need to do to survive. And so that’s what I’m going to do to survive. It’s like every once in a while and I blew myself up today. I’m having some extra food. 

[00:39:49] But we all he is like I came up with a really all I did today was come up with a plan that’s likely to kill me. I am doing a portion which is a quarter portion. Yeah. So, you know, he he balances it out in a way that feels very real. Yeah. 

[00:40:03] And and very human. Like very sort of forgiving of his, of his flawed nature. Yes. Yeah. 

[00:40:11] Um I like where he ends with this as usual. I like how the chapter ends. Yeah. Which is to say he says that he says I’m reluctant to hang out and I have that has a history of exploding for no good reason. It exploded for a very good reason. You just don’t know what it is. 

[00:40:29] You were the reason, Mark, it exploded because of you. It exploded from watching you. 

[00:40:37] So, yeah. Chapter six we have I don’t know what the word was. I learned it from watching you like a teenager slams the door. Yeah. Anyway, uh, so chapter six, we have a major shift in perspective. Yes. We are no longer following Marwan. We are no longer on Mars at all. All of a sudden, this is a third person novel about a whole bunch of different people living on Earth. And Mindy Kaling. Uh, well, but in my head, it’s about Mindy Kaling. Before that, it’s about, uh, then I think, uh, but one of the things that I really I really hope I can find or maybe one day when we meet Andy, where I can ask him is I wonder how hard this was? Because you have to remember that this book was written as a blog. He was releasing a chapter by chapter and he had established a pattern that we are reading the diary of our main character. And then all of a sudden. We’re not anymore, and we’re following these characters that nobody’s ever met a lot, most of them nobody’s ever heard of. We’ve heard about the crew of the Aries three, but we had never heard about the administrators back at Mass. So we don’t know these characters. We haven’t we haven’t built up to them at all. And it’s a total shift in not just the story, but in the structure of the story. We’re shifting from a first person narrative to a third person narrative. And I just a part of me wonders if this is something that Andy Weir was like wrestling with for a while, trying to figure out like, was there any way to tell this story that I can stick to my format? And then this was like a big compromise, or was this something that he was, like, really looking forward to, like getting out of Mark Whatley’s head for, like you were talking about just to keep it from getting stale? Yeah, I just there’s something I’m curious how this happened, because it is such a sudden and stark change. 

[00:42:20] It’s not like Game of Thrones where every chapter you’re just somebody else said, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a good question. Um, we’ll have maybe we’ll have to see if it’s in an interview somewhere, because I’m sure somebody asked him. It’s been out for years. 

[00:42:32] Exactly. Or maybe we can get him on this show. Um, it is we are pivoting suddenly from science to PR. We are immediately the first conversation is, you know, I don’t want to take photos of the Aries three landing site because there’s going to be Mark Watney is dead body and we don’t want to broadcast that to the world, all of this kind of stuff. But it’s still so smart. You know, we’re not talking about science anymore. We’re talking about PR. But it’s still very clever how these different characters are interacting and what each of them is working towards and the different things that you might not immediately think of. Yeah, we want to take a picture of of the areas three site, except. Oh, how would that play? And, you know, oh, well, OK. If it plays badly then maybe we can make it about bringing his body back and you know, the different jockeying for different and developing tech, because this is why you’ve been keeping me from the satellites for months. 

[00:43:26] Like this is for a month. I guess it would be. But this is so unacceptable. You know, I’m surprised he didn’t think of it himself. It seems like a pretty brilliant man. 

[00:43:37] So I was. But but he’s a scientist, not an administrator. And I think that’s the difference in perspective here. And that’s actually a running theme, I think, in this whole chapter is we’re introduced to four new characters and each one of them has a very different perspective and a very different take. One of them is a is an administrator. He’s basically a white collar, you know, like a government employee. One of them is a project lead from Mars operations. So he’s a leader. But in a science way, Mendi is so that deep science. Yeah, she’s she’s there with his hands on the keyboard. 

[00:44:11] She’s a mechanical engineer who regrets taking this job because it’s boring. 

[00:44:16] Exactly. And then, lady, later we get introduced to Annie Montreaux, who is marketing. She’s from a completely different perspectives, public relations. 

[00:44:24] And she can’t stop swearing. And it makes me so happy. 

[00:44:27] And that’s one of the things that I have noted here, is I love how each of these characters is differentiated. You know, we’ve been given this one lead who is so charming and so smart and so upbeat, but still human and so sort of perfectly rounded out that it would be easy to imagine that Andy Weir might be sort of like another Aaron Sorkin. And don’t get me wrong, I adore Aaron Sorkin. But Aaron Sorkin’s characters don’t live on this planet. They are. They’re all from some other world where everybody is perfectly eloquent and perfectly smart and perfectly everything, perfectly loyal. And like, you know, he has a very distinct voice. I remember somebody when I was in high school, my theater teacher talking about Shakespeare and how he’s this incredible writer. But he doesn’t do everything right. He doesn’t do time. Write characters will say, hey, this is going to happen tomorrow and then it’ll happen in like an hour. And he doesn’t write women. Well, all of his female characters talk like dudes like Juliet is a fourteen year old girl and she talks like a forty five year old man. And, you know, and that’s fine. Like, you know, he didn’t happen to have that one tool in his belt. That’s fine. But I so appreciate that. Andy Weir, does each one of these characters talks differently? They think differently. They have a completely different perspective. 

[00:45:44] And just the way they relate to each other is also well in the middle sized two of the characters, because we’re not introduced to just four characters. We’re introduced to six because we also meet Chuck and Maurice. Oh, yes. Chuck and Maurice are two scientists who are absolutely straight out from the two peas in a pod. Scientists in better off Ted. Yes, they like. And I’m there. I’m sure that there are plenty of other examples that we could come up with of the two in the pod. But just like bickering all the time, bickering and correcting each other. Oh, my God. Yes, it’s charming. It’s charming. It’s I’m also like. I follow their managers train of thought, which is you guys are annoying the shit out of me, like just get to the point, like, I understand 14, 17 doesn’t matter. Just get to the point. 

[00:46:35] Yeah, but we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. Mindy, Mindy. So we have this conversation between the administrators and then all of a sudden we cut to Mindy. And the note that I, I jotted down was somehow demystifying NASA makes it even cooler that she’s sitting here and she’s like, why did I take this job? Like, this is so boring? 

[00:46:56] I’m just sitting here handling satellites and the satellites handle themselves and I’m really just emailing people when satellite images come in. Yeah. And yet somehow it’s still cool. Yeah. I feel like I imagine a very meek Mindy Kaling and I enjoy it. And if anybody tries to take this away from me, I will beat you because I figure if Martinez can be played by the actor who’s a thief and man, that my Mindy can be Mindy Kaling, just putting it out there because. 

[00:47:28] Well, I’ll be interested to see how you feel about Mindy in the movie, because she’s definitely not that meek. They make her a little bit. I mean, she’s still like an underling. She’s not going to get in anybody’s face, but she’s a little more assertive. I don’t I actually really enjoyed the character in the book because she’s kind of like she kind of goes from bored to intimidated by her boss to holding back tears in a way that is not at all condescending to her character. Like she discovered something that is overwhelming and she is overwhelmed by it. 

[00:47:58] And also like this. I mean, I would cry, too. Yeah, I mean, personally, because this is this is the moment that they discover that Mark Watney is alive and they you know, the day before they had his memorial and all of the all of the crew members gave their eulogies. And like, the only person who didn’t give one was Vinnick. 

[00:48:22] And he just he was like, why? Why what, Venkat? Oh, well, Indian guy Venkat Kapoor. 

[00:48:28] Oh, I did not write his name down. I apologize for getting that wrong. Uh, OK. 

[00:48:33] Well, and for those of you who may have only watched the movies, Venkat Kapoor was adapted by Chiwetel Ajay for As Vincent Kapoor and they actually reference at one point they ask a character, asks him if he’s religious, and he says that his mother was Hindu and his father was Baptist. I think which is just a little indication of the fact that they’ve cast a black guy to play an Indian character. So that’s where Venkat Kapoor became Vincent Kapoor. 

[00:49:01] Well, I. I mean, that actor can pretty much do no wrong, in my opinion. Yeah. 

[00:49:06] Um, but anyway, I think this is the point at which we discover that he’s alive. And what I’m what I’m interested to hear is how do you feel about their initial decision to not tell the crew? 

[00:49:22] To be honest, I wrestle with it, I don’t really I mean, like on the one hand, it’s kind of weird to say, but I feel like if I had been in the room, I would have disagreed with whoever spoke first. Like like if you if you if somebody says we need to not tell them, I would have been like, are you kidding me? We have to tell them. And if somebody had said, well, we should tell them immediately, I would have been like, well, hold on a minute, let’s talk this through, because it is such a big deal. It is such a big these these these people are going to be devastated by the fact that they left him behind. 

[00:49:53] I want to know what the what the therapist said, what the you know, because there’s there’s someone there who has looked at all of this crew and has voiced and through like, what’s the what’s what’s that person have to say about it? Because it doesn’t feel like that person has been asked. And I think it’s really important that they do get out. 

[00:50:15] You know, at the end of the day, I feel like the distinguishing factor is sort of along the lines of when Captain America Civil War first came out, there was this huge conversation around, are you on Team Iron Man or are you on Team Cap? Do you agree that superheroes should have should be like regulated or not? And some people argued passionately on one side and some people argued passionately on the other. And the way I always saw it was it sort of depends on how you see this universe, because if this is a comic book universe, then obviously you trust Captain America. He’s going to do no wrong. Like he’s Captain America. He’s perfect. Of course, you just listen to him and you get out of his way. But if this is a realistic universe, there’s no way on this planet that somebody from the 1930s should be trusted to do whatever he wants and not even have to explain why. And so it all just comes down to, do you view this as a comic book universe or as a realistic universe? And that’s kind of how I think this question gets answered for me, is if this is a book where I expect that the hero is going to get rescued by the end, you tell them. But if this is real life and he’s probably going to starve to death, you don’t want those five people locked in a tin can for 10 months while their best friend is slowly dying because they left him there like that would just be so awful, looking down the barrel of not only did he die, he’s dying now. 

[00:51:44] He’s dying slowly. I mean, like that’s so something about there’s something about not letting people be responsible for their own feelings and emotional reactions that I’m like that. Really? Oh yeah. It’s like freaks me out. Yeah, it’s bad. It’s just it’s a tough call. 

[00:52:02] One of the one of the arguments here is, you know, space is dangerous and we need them to be focused. And there’s a part of me that’s like these are still professionals. These and and yes, emotions can cloud their judgment. There’s no denying that. But you take care of them and you do the best for them and you allow them to have an emotional reaction, because I think it would be devastating. And I don’t know, I just feel like there would be trauma and not being told while the literally the rest of the world would know. 

[00:52:37] So I don’t know. I just feel like let people be responsible for their own emotions. 

[00:52:43] We do have a comment here from Soulis. 

[00:52:48] So let’s say I apologize for not pronounce your name correctly because I’m quite confident I did not pronounce your name correctly. But what Alex and Lisa be bored working at NASA. No, no, no, for me, it depends entirely on what my job is, if I had Mindy’s job, I would absolutely sure like if I get to be Venkat, if I get to basically be Elon Musk or, you know, whoever is sort of leading the charge, then no way I would take that job in a second. 

[00:53:19] But I mean, there are a lot of people at NASA whose whole job is just working spreadsheets. 

[00:53:24] I mean, yes, that’s true. But like, give me the job of being an astronaut. And I would I would listen, the adventure would be overwhelming. Tell me I’m going to Mars and all of my work would be about not showing my superiors that I’m terrified. And so I would not be allowed to be bored because I would be so emotionally engaged, just like this woman is really uptight. Yeah, well, she didn’t seem this uptight when we when we took her on. Oh. 

[00:53:54] Speaking of funny reactions at NASA, by the way, I think it’s time that we bring onto the stage any mantras with the funniest just opening line ever. Like for me right up there with Mark Watney is opening line of the book, which is I’m absolutely fucked. 

[00:54:14] And she just you know, we’ve been given the administrator who’s very practical. We’ve been given Venkat, who’s very sort of aspirational. We’ve given Mendi who’s just sort of trying to deal with what’s going on. And then we’re given Annie, who’s just like, I love you fucking kidding me. Just like, do you understand the shit storm that is coming toward us right now and just so absolutely relatable in her own unique way. 

[00:54:41] So can I can I have a downer moment, you guys? I’m a really, really big optimist and I love humans. I’m not one of those people who generally walks around and is like people are stupid. Yes. Yes. Every so often. But it’s kind of rare for me because I really like people. 

[00:54:57] OK, but. But at one point. 

[00:55:03] We we hear that everybody’s coming together and offering all of you know, we’re all of their support and and I’m I’m sitting here going one man, one is stuck alive on Mars. And NASA is getting support from all sectors. And I’m like, B.S., look at 2020. No way there is a McConnell or a Lindsay out there that is pulling strings because they have some nefarious plot to screw everyone over. And absolutely this does not happen. 20/20 has burned this belief to the ground. 

[00:55:40] I will I will pick up the baton of defending the world from really loud. Yes. It is not cause because Apollo 13 like this is clearly the inspiration appeal anymore. 

[00:55:55] I said it, you know, are you being optimistic and bring back. 

[00:56:01] So one of the things in this we jumped ahead of one note that I have, which is I really appreciated the fact that even among these people sitting at NASA. 

[00:56:14] There being scientific, it’s you get this whole conversation, I actually get two consecutive conversations where somebody sits down in front of a monitor and says, OK, prove it to me like you think he’s alive. Prove it. Walk me through. Here’s where the rover was. Maybe they didn’t mention that they moved it here. You know, the solar panels are clean. They could have been cleaned by wind. And it just walks you through how to answer the question. 

[00:56:38] And it’s just I love that this top keeps bringing about tents and there’s no body, and yet they prove it. 

[00:56:44] Don’t tell me what you think. Don’t tell me what you guess. Don’t tell me what you hope. Prove it. Yeah. And that is the strength. 

[00:56:51] That was one of my questions is how how did you feel about I loved that moment of someone putting together it’s a little Sherlock moment of. Well, one of the rovers is like facing the wrong direction for the hose to get to it or whatever cable to get to it. And it’s like, oh, that would never have been done on purpose. Yeah. And except for we have all of these other little nuggets of information and none, none of them are individually a smoking gun. 

[00:57:22] But taken together, the likelihood that he’s not alive is getting smaller and smaller. 

[00:57:26] And and I love that. I love that. One of the things that is said here is we’ve got four different ways of communicating. Why can’t we communicate? Like, how did all four get taken away from us? And they’re like, well, all four are funneled through the map. Yeah. And it’s like, oh, so we don’t actually have four different ways of communicating. We have one. Yeah. And and it broke. And it broke. Well no it’s gone. 

[00:57:51] Well that what three of them were through the MAV and one of them was on the hab and the one on the hab broke so. 

[00:57:57] Right. OK, so um yeah. Because they, they even give the odds of like what are the odds of that happening. And someone says, well based on empirical evidence it’s one in three. 

[00:58:08] Yeah. Because it’s Aries one, two and three and it happened on one of them. So three tests and one at one time it happened. Well I guess you know, yeah. I do love those two scientists arguing among themselves and I absolutely love they’re trying to describe how strong a radio would have to be to get a signal to Mark. And they they describe it as melting pigeons strong, which is just gross. 

[00:58:34] You get this image of like a giant death ray from a from a James Bond film, like trying to beam a message to Mars and just burning everything in its path. 

[00:58:44] Uh, new hole in the ozone layer. 

[00:58:47] Yeah, exactly. I will say, I mean, this whole series of episodes is basically just praising anywhere. But I really am impressed by somebody who is smart enough not only to come up with how do you solve this problem? How do you keep this character alive? How do you get him back home step by step in every way. But Andy Weir is actually like six or seven times because he keeps coming up with other ways that he could have saved him. You know, in this chapter where given this like well, I mean, the Aries four crew could land at the Aries three site and then use the MTV to kind of hop over to their landing site. And it’s really risky, but it could work and it’s like. You just solved the problem again, like as a writer, you just wrote a whole other book of how this could have gone and God, what a genius it takes to not only solve the problem, but solve it nine different ways, nine different ways, but then to also poke holes. 

[00:59:45] And in his own theory. Yeah. Um, I, I love this guy. 

[00:59:51] Yes, you can you can write a lot more. You know, we had Joss Whedon for a long time of going like, oh this is this ah. Nerd guy that we love and you know, we still do. But, you know, he’s got his problematic things and so we need more anywhere’s. Yeah, please. I’m here for it. Like if more sci fi was written by Andy Weir, I’d read more sci fi drama. 

[01:00:13] So, um, so my next note is about the last line of the chapter one. I’m good. I’m ready to go. Right. I love the ending of this chapter. It’s my single favorite moment in the entire book. And I was so crushed that they didn’t put it in the movie, but they did put it in one of the when they released The Martian, they they also made a series of short films that were about the astronaut training program before the Aries three mission. And it was like these sort of NASA documentaries of like Meet the Crew of the area’s three. And they they worked this line into one of those which I really appreciated, which is Venkat Kapoor is sitting at NASA, sort of looking up at the sky. 

[01:00:58] And just talking about, like, how alone Mark Watney must feel and how overwhelmed and how stressful and just what is what does it do to somebody to be that alone? What must be thinking right now? And in the last line of the chapter is a log entry Soul 61. How come Aquaman can control whales, they’re mammals, it doesn’t make sense. 

[01:01:24] End of chapter, and it’s just such a perfect summation of Mark Watney as a character, because not only is it funny, it’s also like kind of a good point, you know, like like it’s kind of a smart question in a funny way. And it just perfectly sums up who this guy is and why he’s the one that is actually going to make it through this. Yes. Well done. Well, though, so excellent. So that is it for this week. That is chapters four through six. We’re going to be picking up a Chapter seven next week. And Chapter seven brings us back to Mars. So we’ve introduced these characters on Earth and we’re leaving them behind and then we’re leaving them behind. We’re getting back to Mark Watney and starting to do some long term planning. We’ve been flying by the seat of our pants for a while, just trying to figure out how we’re going to make food and water. But now that we’ve got that locked down, let’s start talking about the long term plan. 

[01:02:17] The potatoes are sprouting and the potatoes are sprouting, which is very exciting. It’s very exciting. 

[01:02:22] So, yeah, that is going to be next week. We are going to be talking about chapters seven through nine or ten, probably. We’ll see how long they are. And yeah, I think that’s it for this episode. Any final thoughts? 

[01:02:35] No, no. All right, you guys have a great night. Thank you for being with us. We will see you next week. 

[01:02:42] There’s so much fun. Thanks for watching. Be sure to subscribe and hit the bell and everything so you can get our future episodes. 

The Synthesis: Apollo 13 (Episode 1)

Today we’ll be dicussing Apollo 13 in our first episode of The Synthesis. 𝕋𝕙𝕖 π•Šπ•ͺπ•Ÿπ•₯π•™π•–π•€π•šπ•€ is a live talk show that aims to find the relationship between science and fiction in pop culture. We’ll discuss a book, movie, or show each week that’s science-focused and talk about just how realistic it is, where reality is cooler than fiction, and exactly where certain liberties were taken.

In the inaugural episode of The Synthesis, TerraGenesis creators Alexander Winn and Lacey Hannan discuss the science behind the Apollo 13 movie, how close the Apollo 13 movie got to the real life mission, and how the entire ordeal shaped the future of space travel.

Transcript below if you’d prefer to read through this episode of The Synthesis.


Hey, folks, this is Alexander Winn. Hi, I’m Lacey Hannan, and we are the co-founders of Edgeworks Entertainment and the creators of the video game Terra Genesis. And we’re here with our new show called The Synthesis, where we investigate pop culture like movies and TV shows and video games and how they portray realistic science and realistic history.


And books, he forgot books were going to do those, too, I like to read, so I can’t let you forget that we’re going to be talking about both the quality of the product, what did we like, what did we not like?


And we’re also going to be talking about how did it portray events that really happened or realistic scientific principles and integrate them to the story being told.


And now our credentials are mostly that, well, hey, we have a video game company, so we end it. We do science here.


Lacey and I both came up in Hollywood, though. Yes, we both studied film and acting in different ways, and we both worked in Hollywood and we kind of fell sideways into video games. So this is sort of getting back to our roots.


Yes. So I just recognize we will be talking about the acting, the writing, the lighting, that all of it, and the real science, the real history, all that they work together.


Yeah. What’s anything else that we need to tell them about?


It doesn’t know. We’re married.


You need to know that I don’t know if that is a warning or if that is something that you are going to celebrate alongside us, but just recognize that that is the relationship here. So if it gets awkward or awesome, that why. That’s why.


So today we’re going to be talking about Apollo 13, which I had never seen before. I had never seen before. So with that in mind, would you like to give us a quick back of the box recap?


Well, I will start with this movie is not about the challenger.

The Synthesis


It’s true, we’ve got we’ve got real facts here, so I get excited because there isn’t a teacher on board and it doesn’t explode.


So it’s worth mentioning Lacey has a thing about disasters in space. Don’t like them, don’t like them. So she has always avoided Apollo 13. I so she didn’t really know much.


I don’t really know my space or my NASA history, which I really should learn sometime.



And I would have picked it up by osmosis at this point, you’d think.


But like, I really came into this going man, it’s so early and Tom Hanks career for him to die like this is going to be weird to watch. Have we ever seen that? So anyway, that’s not what this movie is. This movie is what year?


What year is it? Movie came out in nineteen ninety nine. What does Apollo 13 take off. I don’t know. OK, well then we’re, we’re doing great.


So anyway, it’s a it’s based on a true story about Apollo 13. They were supposed to be the they were supposed to do the second third moon.


Well OK. But as we know, only one part, one group did it. So, um. Anyway, they were supposed to do that, didn’t work out so well, everything went wrong, like everything, that’s the log line, everything went wrong.


Apollo 13. Everything went wrong. But anyway, I don’t really think you have to know much more about it. I mean, you should probably watch it. It’s pretty good. I can actually tell you that it’s worth watching despite it being about a space disaster.


Yes. All right. So some quick facts released in nineteen ninety five, directed by Ron Howard, written by Bill Broyles and Al Reiner Reiner, and based on a book written partially by Jim Lovell.


So this was semiautobiographical, an incredible cast, incredible cast.


We’ve got Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Kathleen Quinlan.


And they’re all awesome. Uh, we it was nominated for a whole bunch of Academy Awards. I think it won two of them. It won best editing and best sound design. But there were some acting. It was it was up for best picture, lost out to Braveheart and yeah.


Budget of fifty two million and made three hundred and fifty five million. So definitely they did all right. Yeah. Yeah.


One interesting thing before we get into it that I read as I was doing some research is apparently it was written with Kevin Costner in mind for the Tom Hanks role, apparently because he is he physically resembles Jim Lovell so much. And do we know why that switch happened? I don’t know why he didn’t get it, but apparently the studio was more interested in somebody else.


And there’s a quote that I found that I couldn’t find any more information on, but I was so intrigued, which is ultimately Hanks was cast instead in that role because of his knowledge of Apollo and space history. So he’s a nerd, too, so apparently, I mean, I knew he was a huge World War Two nerd, but apparently he might also be a space nerd and apparently it might have gotten him the role, which is just so charming.


Well, he’s charming, so that makes sense.


Yes. Also worth mentioning, Gary Sinise was invited by Ron Howard to read for any of the characters he wanted, and he picked the character of Madingley.


So he did a. Awesome job, excellent job. All right, shall we start?


So, yeah, so first off, what did you think overall before we start getting into the nitty gritty, like you, I had seen this movie several times and I knew what I was getting into.


What what’s your I had a whole top sheet taking that a whole journey around this movie. So do you want do you want the final thought or like do you want the little the overall thought.


The like what’s what’s the general. Thumbs up. Thumbs down.


Uh, definite thumbs up. Yeah. I actually give it two thumbs up for the entirety of the movie and I give it a one thumbs sideways for the first 30 minutes.


All right. Which I found real boring. Well then let’s talk about the first 30 minutes, OK? OK, so one of the first things you see is they go through what was Apollo, which one? Apollo one that had everybody burned alive, which is horrifying.


Yeah, that’s actually the first note that I had, too, which was interesting that they’re starting with stuff goes wrong at NASA sometimes is literally the first beat of the film.


And one of the first images you see is like this inverse Titanic shot where instead of like this beautiful, sexy and handprints on a condensed way. No, no. It is a an astronaut’s glove inside of the shuttle. And and there is fire behind them and they can’t get out.


And it is horrifying. It’s like, what is this? What are we going to get do? So at that point, I knew I’d cry at some point.


So for those of you who don’t know, interesting little history tidbit, Apollo one. The astronauts actually died in the in the training simulator. It wasn’t even in the thing they were they were simulating the flight and the console caught fire. And Apollo one was back in the day when NASA was experimenting with using pure oxygen environments. And because because the thought was humans can survive perfectly well. Earth’s air is twenty one percent oxygen and the rest is basically just filler. It’s nitrogen, which does nothing. And so the NASA was experimenting with the idea of instead of having full pressure with twenty one percent oxygen, you could have twenty one percent pressor, one hundred percent oxygen. And it’s just as good for the human body. But when that happened, when Apollo one happened, that fire spread so quickly in an all oxygen environment that they didn’t have time to react and all of the astronauts died. And that’s why NASA stopped doing all oxygen.


So why did Apollo 13 lie to us or did the movie lie to us? Because I was under the impression that. The astronauts died right before liftoff. They were on the launch pad.


It didn’t lie. It was just kind of ambiguous. They don’t. It’s the whole thing is under like music and voice over. And it just shows a bunch of astronauts in a capsule pressing buttons and then a fire. And so they don’t sort of comment one way or another whether it was an actual flight or a simulator flight. It was a.


Well, I feel like they lied to me and I feel like like Tom Hanks lied to his son later in the movie.


We will get it, because now I have feelings about it. OK, so, I mean, the.


Two things that I got right off the bat, um, is that Tom Hanks is a terrible driver.


He doesn’t multiple times. And for someone who’s supposed to be able to pilot really well, he rides like a jerk. Astronauts are kind of famous for, you know, but Tom Hanks does not play the arrogant astronaut in this movie whatsoever.


But the US also Kevin Bacon has the least subtle like. Sexual innuendo joke I have ever heard, like it wasn’t it wasn’t even innuendo.


No, it was just like it was just an illustration. It was like here’s a diagram of what I want to do later tonight.


Oh, it was yeah. There was so much like male seeping off the screen.


That being said, I do think that the very beginning, those first few scenes, they did a really good job of setting up the yearning of establishing just how much these guys want to go to space. And they really kind of established the the stakes of going to the moon. Guys, this isn’t some intellectual exercise or even a matter of patriotism. This is like their life’s dream and you’ve got that within a couple of minutes, which was awesome.


It’s it is always awesome seeing people be passionate about something. Right. And like, even in that sexual reference, like or illustration, whatever you want to call it, like, he is obviously incredibly intelligent and incredibly passionate. And yes, he wants to have sex with this woman, but he’s using the space.


Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of telling that he’s not just giving her a pick up where he’s describing a docking procedure, why it’s so dorky.


But like I mean, you guys in any like anything we want, this is going to be true for me. I love watching people be really passionate about things, even if it’s incredibly nerdy and dorky, which is a big reason. I think I got married.


Yeah. Love me, those nerds.


Ok, I will say before we move on from this, because it happened in the same scene, I did not remember. There’s a there’s a certain line when when Lovell and his wife are sitting on in the backyard and looking up at the moon, there’s a line that he says, which just sort of captured my heart because I feel like it’s sort of the mission statement, not only of Apollo 13, but of the entire space race. And even Terra Genesis and even EDG Works is sort of our tagline. He’s talking about landing on the moon. He’s talking about Neil Armstrong. He’s up there right now. They’re looking up at the moon. And he says it’s not a miracle.

Apollo 13


We just decided to go. Yeah. And that is such a perfect line for science, like it’s not some magical thing, we just decided to do it. I wrote it down to, um. So the full quote is, from now on, we live in a world where we’ve gone to the moon. It’s not a miracle. We just decided to go. Yeah. And I just. Oh, I loved it. It was it was really powerful to me because I feel like that is always how innovation works. Yes, innovation is rarely accidental. I mean, obviously, science can have big accidents, but some so much of what even takes it takes to get to those accidents are there’s so much purpose behind it. And so I thought it was really beautiful.


I thought that was an incredible line. It’s also sort of a commentary on what you’re about to see in Apollo 13, because the whole point of this movie is solving problems.


And at no point in this movie do they just kind of throw up their hands and say, we’ll see what happens. They are always coming back to this sort of focused, determined work. The problem, figure out how we’re going to do this, make your own luck. It’s really sort of the mantra of NASA throughout the entire film.


One of the other things that I liked from the beginning of this was, OK, first of all, footage of us walking on the moon will never get old for me. It will always make me tear up like my I’m choking up right now. I, I will always love it. Yeah. Um, but the other thing that I really liked, uh, you know, we understand that the. Wives of these astronauts and the families go through so much like I mean, you think of it with military families, like all of the people who are at home are having, like, nervous breakdowns or they’re, you know, worried all the time or whatever. Stressful and how I love how they expressed hers. It wasn’t cliched at all. She says something along the lines of I just vacuumed over and over again. And I was like, it’s funny, but you can totally see it as like she needed to do something. Yeah. And I thought it was just a real clever way of showing her character not nominated for best supporting actress, by the way. Well, she did a great job. Those redheads, they’re great.


She did a great job.


And worth mentioning, she did a great job in a role that you sort of didn’t have to do a great job like that, that with a lesser actress, that could have just been hand-wringing for two hours. But she really had some great moments, even in scenes where she’s just sitting on the floor. She’s she’s conveying along. Yeah.


So then we kind of move into this area where he’s giving a tour to politicians and whatever. And really the only thing that I have to. To say about the scene is those damn politicians, they’re such jerks like the like he said, he says something about, you know, Tom Hanks, his character level. Is that what his name is? Yeah. He is supposed to be on Apollo 14. He’s not even supposed to be on this mission. And this politician says if there is an Apollo 14 and I was like, dude, this is his dream.


Keep your mouth shut. Why are you a jackass? I just sorry.


I was I was so floored that anybody would be like, I’m going to try and wreck your dreams.


Fun fact. By the way, that politician is played by horror director Roger Corman, who was something of a mentor to Ron Howard and

all throughout the film industry. And he sort of had kind of an Alfred Hitchcock thing where he would show up in cameos in various movies. Really? Yeah. So Roger Corman, have you ever seen a Roger Corman film?


He’s that jerk politician from that 13. Fascinating and weird. Yeah, I don’t know. Half.


So we do.


I found myself absolutely marveling at the simulator that they use because it’s all analog. And obviously this is, you know, the early 70s. It’s not they would not have digital simulations or anything like that. But I just as somebody who has spent a lot of hours designing simulations of space, I was watching them like carefully moving joysticks. And then it cuts to this tiny little lipstick camera moving toward a wooden model. And it just blew my mind. You know, people talk all the time about the fact that we landed on the moon with, you know, computers that had less processing power than a graphing calculator. And it just kind of reminded me of that, that you’re sitting in this incredibly sophisticated system that’s got like wooden models.


He says at one point during the tour, computers that fit in one room. And we both kind of giggled because, like, it’s just so far removed from our reality. Exactly. So, yeah.


So I’ve got a question for you. And I would go to your launch. Would you come to my launch?


I would go to your launch now, say it gets better because his wife does, in fact, go to the launch.


But there’s a scene in there in their car where she talks about not wanting to go to launch. And it’s so heartbreaking because you see his face fall and it’s just, oh, now see, here’s the deal.


I totally understand her. And, you know, apparently she is one of the few that goes to has gone to all of the launches. And I. I get it. It would be so there would be so much anxiety that I just I don’t know, I, I get it. But that’s the one where he was supposed to go to the moon. So I. You got to be there. Yeah, I would I would go.


There is another in the world of sort of background research. Funny thing that I learned. There’s a particularly memorable scene where all the astronauts are standing on one side of a street and all of their families are standing on the other side of the street because they don’t want to get them sick. And apparently that is a NASA tradition, but it started after Apollo 13. So that’s a little bit of an anachronism. It started with the space shuttle era.


So, yeah, it’s Roback, I. I do have to say, I was getting a little annoyed that they hit 13 over and over and over again. So everyone’s commenting on how it’s Apollo 13 and why they have to name it Apollo 13. And I think he even says because it comes after 12. Yeah. Which it was a funny line, but for whatever reason, it really felt like in a lot of ways they weren’t giving away the story except for in the writing, but not in the lighting of it, not in the sound design of it. Like not in the editing of it. There were lots of things that were going, OK, maybe this movie’s not going to just be terrifying in trouble.


And so, yeah, I think they were definitely expecting that most people in the audience knew where this was going, at least a little.


Listen, I don’t like disaster movies and I don’t like disaster in space movies.


So next time I will look up, I will go to Wikipedia and find out what things are about. I’ve only done this once before and I actually vowed I would never do it again. I don’t know why I went into this blind because nobody would have expected me to be blind.


I do have a little bit of good news for you, which is there’s a scene early in the film where there’s a nightmare where he gets sucked out into space. There’s his wife. Yeah. There’s also a scene where she loses her wedding ring in the shower. Good news. Both of those happened, but she got her ring back. She was able to fish the fish, the ring out of the drain just a little bit now.


Ok, it’s a bit of good news. I think that would have they should have added that. Yeah, because that would have actually set up what happens because when he says she almost loses him. Yeah, it does, because he says to her, you can’t live without me. And then she goes back to the hotel and loses her wedding ring. And I’m sitting here going, oh, no, he’s going to die, Tom. They’re going to kill off Tom Hanks. And then she’s not going to have, like, the wedding ring, the the symbol that most people want to have and keep forever if their spouse dies, like, oh, this is horrible. So her having gotten it back, would have maybe put me at ease just a little bit. But

then again, putting lives was not their goal. But they weren’t trying to terrify me like, say, gravity or some of the other movies like space disaster movies. So they could have. I think so, too.


Danny, Ron Howard. So do you have anything else before the launch? Um, let’s see here.


Oh. Yes, I do, I do. Oh, I thought Henkes made some really great points about switching out the crew. Um, I, I decided in watching all of this that I really want more team movies. I, I loved this not because there was one genius and they were the he was the only person who could pull it off. No, no, no. I love that everybody in the room knows what they’re doing and it’s redundant and like there’s competence porn in teams.


Yes. It’s that same West Wing, that same West Wing kind of thing, like really everything Aaron Sorkin writes. But yeah.


Yes. And so, like for me, when he was here, when he said, you know, we know each other’s voices. We know we know like every little detail and body language. Yeah. And I’m sitting here going, he’s right.


And then they do a really good job of setting it up. As soon as Kevin Bacon’s in the chair, it feels awkward. Yeah. Like it does not feel like they’re in sync.


Mm hmm. Um, so there was that part. And then the other thing was when they when they have like the stressful moments, their calm voices that everyone does, which they use proficiently throughout this movie, the calm voices are both terrifying. And incredible like I there’s the amount of training you would have to have to be able to manage your stress so well, to be able to keep your voice at that level at all times. And like, no matter what’s happening, I don’t know. I was. I was just I was blown away and it kind of freaked me out. Yeah. So that’s what I have to say. Before the before that.


Before the launch. Before the launch. Yeah. All right. So half an hour into the movie, The Rocket takes off and we are officially starting the story of Apollo 13, as Lacey and I were watching it. The Apple TV freezes at that point and has to buffer. And Lacy, who thought that this was a movie about the Challenger disaster, looks at the timeline and goes, wait, how are we only this far into the moon?


I also didn’t understand how everyone could think this movie was incredible at this point because it was so slow. Yeah. And so I was I was having issues and I had maybe a little bit of an outburst. I’m sorry that you won’t be seeing today.


Too bad. So they get into space.


And one of the things that I remember the best about this entire film is the zero G sequences. This is by far the best zero G stuff from any movie ever. And it’s because they did it for real. Apparently, Ron Howard was really worried about having his guys on wires because it always just looks awkward. And it like if you if you watch the movie, you can tell they’re moving sort of from their center of mass because that’s where the harness is connecting. They don’t sort of tumble and do all the things that you do. And apparently his friend Steven Spielberg suggested that he get the KC 135, which is a jet plane, which goes it basically does like a roller coaster. You get in this jet plane and it’s got a huge fuselage that’s just empty. And they take the plane up and up and up and up and up like a roller coaster.


And then they just nose dive toward the ground and you’re inside this plane. And from an external reference, the plane is flying straight toward the ground. But from inside, compared to the walls, it’s zero g and you can just float around and bounce off the walls. And Lacey’s having a panic attack. Oh, my God. And so that’s how they were able to simulate zero G. But here’s the funny thing, and I can distract you by tapping into your actress for a moment. It only works for 23 seconds at a time. So all of those sequences, because otherwise you hit the ground.

Apollo 13


Yes, because Earth comes up fast. Exactly.


Ok, so every scene throughout the film that you see of those three guys in the capsule where they’re floating around and stuff is drifting around, that’s not computer generated. That is actually like when they’re drinking juice, the juice is actually flying up and getting on Kevin Bacon space, but they’re doing it 23 seconds at a time.


There were no long takes, everything had to be choppy, which is why they probably did it as the broadcast stuff, because then they don’t have to have it be one like attempt to make it look like one tape.


True. But I mean, through the film, like to the very end, everything they do in the capsule, they have those kind of things.


So they filmed it all. Twenty three seconds at a time.


I’m sure there were some scenes where nobody was floating and so they were able to film it on the ground. But any time you see anybody floating around or zero G.


So my thought was. As soon as as soon as liftoff happened. If anything goes wrong, I’m blaming Kevin Bacon, and I was she said it out loud. Yeah, yeah, I it wasn’t his fault.


It seemed like it was his fault. But in the final analysis, in the in the thing that they did, they they ultimately revealed that it was he was the rookie. Yeah.


So I’m blaming her for in the name of hazing. We’re going to blame Kevin Bacon because, you know, he’s just connected to too many people. That’s that’s really the problem with with Kevin Bacon. He’s connected to too many.


I will say that one of my other thoughts when as soon as we saw Ed Harris was, man, this dude always gives me the creeps and there’s no way around it. And you want to know what? By the end of this movie, he stopped giving me the creeps.


Hey, I know you’re not afraid of it, Harris, anymore. It’s amazing, right?


So that was hey, if nothing else, Apollo 13 will help you get over your Ed Harris phobias.


Phobias. Yeah. Oh.


The other thing is this movie is just here to reinforce superstitions. What do you mean? The 13 oh, yes, they hit it, they hit it so hard, and so I just had I just had to get that in there.


I will say this. So we so we go up into space and we’re floating around and they do this great scene where they’re making a broadcast.


And I have to say they do a really good job of making you sort of righteously indignant that the news broadcasts aren’t even covering it anymore. At one point, they say going to the moon is as exciting as going to Pittsburgh. And I was like, I’m sitting here, you know, 50 years later and I’m still disagree with that shit with old.


And you skipped a thing for me. OK, so before they even get to the broadcast part, there’s a moment where there’s an alarm that’s going off. And it was just driving me bonkers. And Hanks says we’ve had our glitch for the mission. And this dude like chuckles to himself, like under his breath, it was very ominous.


And I was like, yeah, like, see, who doesn’t know what’s coming is like, wait, did they just did they not just have their glitch for the mission was like I mean, I recognized drama has to happen.


That is storytelling. Duh. But like the. He just had to scare me, it just didn’t even mean to, but but, yes, I’m good at that. The Cancela, like all of the stations canceling their broadcasts. Yeah. It was just like humiliating. Yeah. And depressing.


Sort of set them up as underdogs, which like, how do you make a NASA astronaut going on his way to land on the moon, an underdog, but somehow they did. And then all of a sudden these guys are, you know, the the ones to root for. I will say as soon as the chaos breaks out. That movie did a surprisingly good job of balancing chaos without disorientation like they were.


They were doing fast cuts and swiping across panels and lights were turning on and we were cutting down to mission control and they were all freaking out. But I never felt like what is happening, right? Like I never got lost. I was following, oh, this guy is over here doing this. This guy’s checking a clipboard. They’re all reporting things. I was I was tracking everything. And it sort of it leaned into that competence porn like you were talking about the sense that everybody in the room is really good at what they do. And so this is urgent, but it’s not uncontrolled. It’s just working the problem really fast.


One of the other things that I noticed with this movie is I never felt like the science was lost. And I think it’s because they often cut to people who are explaining it really well. So it’s I don’t feel like we’re going to have a lot to. I’m not going to have a lot to say about the real science of this, because they do such a good job of explaining it as they’re going. That I was I was really impressed.


And that’s actually the next note I have on my list is it’s amazing how they made watching gages and doing math riveting, like even more than The Martian, which I usually hold up as sort of the gold standard of how to make science cool. This movie, you know, with The Martian, he’s usually describing something he has just done. He’s he’s just explaining it to you. But this movie, you’re just sitting there watching a dial.


Yes, slowly drop and then it stops dropping and you’re like or and then it keeps dropping and you’re like, oh, and it’s so exciting.


Or you’re watching Tom Hanks freeze to death and he’s doing math and he’s erasing it.


And you’re like, no, Donna, you’ve got to figure it out. And like, I got to go faster. Exactly. Like you’re literally just watching a guy do his homework and it’s so exciting.


And then he he asks for everybody else on. Yeah. You know, math leads team to double check his work.


And I would like to go and I was like, great panning shot of the camera going down a counter as like six guys are all jotting down what he’s saying and doing the math to double and triple or quadruple and quintuple check his work. Yeah, yeah.


I, I had like I kind of said this earlier, but I have to say it again. Watching the redundancy that happened there was phenomenal when they were like, you know, normally it takes three hours to do to put up the LEM. Yeah. Yeah. And you have fifteen minutes to do it. There was something incredibly sexy about the idea that they were going to actually manage to do it, because usually it takes three hours because there’s so much redundancy, there’s so much double checking, there’s so much of all of that. But these are professionals who are going to actually move out of their comfort zone and manage to do it at the top of their game. Right. Just I was just like, awesome. It floored me to watch. But it’s on both sides of it’s the guys up in space and it’s actually it’s also the guys in control and mission control. And I was just like, dang, just watching all of them be there working as a team again. Like, I just want more team films because it’s so cool to watch.


People work together and figure things out and not agree on things, the yelling that they did at each other, oh my God, and I was solving problems like there’s so much, you know, so many movies, even movies that are ostensibly science movies are actually about interpersonal conflict. Like if you were to really boil this story down, this is a story about two guys who hate each other. It’s a story about a love triangle. It’s, you know, whatever. And there’s you know, when you live in Hollywood, like we do when you work in Hollywood, you go to these writing classes and they talk about how everything is about human relationships. You have to base everything in human relationships. And that’s one of those things that’s mostly true. But I desperately want more movies like Apollo 13, like The Martian, like like, you know, there are a few stories out there that are about solving the problem. Yeah. And about these people coming together and working the problem. And obviously, in individual scenes, there are moments where two characters are butting heads. But the central through line of the story is here’s a series of crises, fix them.

Apollo 13


I will say with The Martian that they actually do it a little bit differently, because in The Martian, everybody is like there’s one genius they can fix. Yeah, like the Martian is a story of specialists. Yeah. And I don’t love that story as much in comparison to the story of a team who the only way that they got through this is there are so many people that know all of the same information, but they’re also tired. So it’s all about like who remembers what at any given moment?


And they do a great job of interweaving little personal details. You know, like everybody is a professional. Everybody’s here. They’re kind of all clones in the sense that they’re all wearing the short sleeve button up shirt with the black tie. But this guy over here won’t shut up about sort of covering his ass to make sure everybody knows that the engines weren’t designed for this because he’s clearly

a little bit of a coward when it comes to his career. And then over here is the doctor who is just a little bit off, I guess, and doesn’t get the fact that this is a crisis and they can’t work exactly to the manual. And all the different characters had their own little twist and they were professionals.


Yes. And one of the I think one of the awesome things that whenever we’ve gotten to have a larger team of like multiple devs is the only way to have something work super smoothly is when you have more than one idea as the input. You’ve got multiple heads working on the same problem. And that’s what we got to see in this. And I love that.


You know, that’s an interesting thing. I think I never thought about this before, but I think you’re right. I think I probably enjoyed Apollo 13 differently before you and I started Imageworks, because before we started EDG Works, this was a story about astronauts and, you know, all that kind of stuff. But since then, I have a feeling that I am subconsciously connecting with Ed Harris a little bit more because we have a team and we have had, you know, bugs that we have to immediately jump on and fix.


And obviously, it’s nothing on the scale of Apollo.


The stakes are a little bit lower. Yeah, but the I would agree with you, right, again, if you’re watching.


But it’s one of those things that, like you said, the the sort of the camaraderie of problem solving is something that has I mean, when you start a company and you’ve got employees, that is your life. And that’s a big part of the story.


So, yeah, one of my favorite moments was when the when they were all in the little room arguing down at Mission Control and. One of the guys says we have to have this under, you know, we have to have everything running on 12, we’ve got 12 volts or 12 amps. Well, that’s right. Yeah, that’s what it is. And. And everyone is like, what? No, no, no. And he goes, No, I’ve been looking at this for an hour. And again, it comes back to you have all these incredibly intelligent human beings, but it’s there’s so much happening. You have to have so many eyes on the problem. And he has his eye on this problem.


And and as soon as he says, I’ve been working on this for an hour, everybody kind of shuts up. Yeah. Like there’s not it’s it’s similar to something that I say about Star Trek a lot, which is especially Star Trek, The Next Generation, which is sort of my home base. There are so many opportunities where another show would have had characters kind of backbiting or like going behind each other’s backs or talking to the captain, being like, do you think he’s really up for this? Or, you know, anything like that? But in Star Trek, everybody kind of respects everybody else’s professionalism. And even if this episode is about somebody screwing up, it’s not held against them forever. Yeah, and the same way in this in this movie, like, there is one moment where the astronauts kind of start to doubt that maybe mission control might not have their back. But for the most part, when the expert says, I’ve done the math, Ed Harris nods and goes, OK, what do we do next? And there’s no back biting or or any of that kind of stuff.


Yeah, I it was it was super awesome. And going back to the the flight surgeon, I just have to I just have to call this out real quick. You guys, we love Christian Clemson. He is the one who plays Dr. Chuck, but he was also on Boston Legal and he he is incredible actor. This guy is phenomenal. And I could I could watch him all day, but his voice, I could pick it out, like as soon as I heard the voice, I knew it was him. And I could listen to that voice all day, every day, you know, got a beautiful voice.


People use the phrase or use the term underrated a lot. And, you know, people say things like, oh, Star Wars is so underrated, you know, no, it’s not like Star Wars is popular and it deserves to be popular. Everybody knows how popular it is. He is one actor who I genuinely think is underrated. That guy is not doing as much as he deserves to be doing.


We have a pense fly. We do. Give us a second. All right. All right.


Yes, that guy is awesome. And yeah.


Yeah, he’s so again, his name is Christian Clemson. Go look him up on IMDB and then watch everything he’s ever done and then tell me that you agree with me, because if you don’t agree with me, we’re going to fight and I’m going to win. You’re wrong. Yeah.


Ok, just so we’ve made that very clear.


Speaking of characters that are awesome and hilarious and kind of steal the spotlight for a minute, let’s talk about the grandma who grandma that that actress has played the grandma and basically everything you’ve ever seen.


And she’s so good at being kind of dotty and kind of, you know, just out of touch, little old lady. And then one moment in this movie, she has this moment of clarity that is so badass. And I just love that this little old lady who is so typecast gets to have her one kind of hero moment.


I wrote, OK, so the quote is, if they could get a washing machine to fly, my Jimmy could land it. And I just really feel like everybody needs a mom or dad to be that supportive just to believe in you, do you know how far we would probably be in this world if everybody says society like that lady?

Tom Hanks


Oh, my God. So, yeah, that was I loved that.


And on a similar note, we have a moment that is an absolute knife to the heart, which is early in the film. Tom Hanks is talking to his little boy who is nervous about the flight and specifically nervous about Apollo one, the astronauts who burned to death. And Tom Hanks walks him through. You know, a whole bunch of stuff had to go wrong. And, you know, we fixed that stuff. And the example that he uses is the door or the hatch that they couldn’t get open and so they couldn’t get out. And then when things start going wrong, the mom comes in and she very specifically says a bunch of things went wrong with your daddy’s spaceship. And this little boy just looks at her and says, was at the door and oh, my God, it was just so good.


I immediately started crying. Yeah.


And I’m that there are a lot of kids that age who could not have delivered that line that well, like, there’s a lot of there are a lot of bad child actors out there and that kid is not one of them.


Yeah, it was it was excellent. Yeah. Um, there was. Another moment where it’s. Paxton’s family, I don’t remember their names, but, you know, his wife is pregnant and they’re sitting with their family and it’s before they know, like how this all ends. And the little one of the boys who plays her, one of her kids, he, as the little actor, obviously forgot where he was and what he was supposed to be doing because they’re all gathered around the TV listening to you just like this awful news. And he turns and looks at the woman playing the mom and smiles this big, bright smile. And the way she reacts to him was just like heartbreaking because she still stays in it and she gives him a reassuring smile. But you can see in her eyes that’s not at all how she feels. And I was just like, I don’t I don’t know. It just kind of took my breath away because that wasn’t the scene or that wasn’t the big an organic moment. Yeah. They would not have, like, meant for that take to happen. And it totally just did and it worked. And I love it so good. Oh, going back to that voice, that calm voice that they use. Hanks does such a good job of masking in this movie, and that’s like a that’s a term that gets thrown around by actors all the time, which is like when you’ve got this big feeling over here and you’re and you’re pretending you don’t you’ve got this mask on. It’s the it’s the part that’s about to boil over and you’re trying to keep it under wraps. And his ability to go from totally panicked to his calm voice. He just turned on a dime. And I was like, oh, my God.


Yeah. There’s one scene where they’re they’re all yelling at each other. And there’s this term, are we on Vox? Which means just sort of an open mic. Can can mission control here. Everything we’re saying, they’re all yelling at each other and all of a sudden they get a broadcast from mission control. And he says, are we on Vox? And it turns out they’re not. And he reaches down, presses a button and goes, yeah, mission control. We’re reading it. And it’s just this absolute pivot on a dime from high energy, stressed out, yelling at each other to super professional lockdown. Mm hmm.


So it was I loved it. I loved it. The I have to say that when they finally get a hold of cities. Mm hmm. Uh. And get them out of bed and bring him to mission control is like one of my favorite things.


I was like, he’s going to save the day.


And I loved watching him save the day. If they don’t sleep, I don’t sleep like the whole lot. I don’t know. It was just so in it. And I love that towards the end, you see the thing.


So you see.


Tom Hanks as character, there’s an old interview of when has he felt fear and he was lost over the sea near Japan and everything was going wrong and his lights went out in his cockpit and. Because of that, he was able to see the bioluminescence in the water, which allowed him to land on the ship, the aircraft carrier, and he said it’s you never know what it’s going to be that gets you home. And it’s the measles.


It’s purely the measles because like, God bless Kevin Bacon, but he wasn’t going to be the guy who would have gotten them all figured that out. Yes, he would. And Denise wouldn’t have been able to do that up in space. Right. He would have been able to do that work. A good point. I thought about that. Measles saves the day. Yeah, exactly. So it’s essentially measles. Are the lights going out and sneeze becomes the bioluminescence. And I was just like, oh, that was powerful. And I don’t need that in my life. I did. I did.


But like, it kills me for Cleveland. Yeah. You don’t like strong emotions.


I do. I like strong emotions. Just not when I don’t want them.


Like everybody, I will say we would be remiss if we went through this entire episode without talking about the greatest homage to Apollo 13 that has ever been done, which is an episode of community called Basic Rocket Science.


And in that episode, Abed plays the Gary Sinise role and does it absolutely perfectly. And apparently there are a ton of shots in that episode that mirror shots from the movie. They go deep, dive into recreating Apollo 13 specific mannerisms and things I love.


Yeah, that was such a great character. My goodness. Yes, indeed. And we’re kind of jumping all over the place. And I think that’s a lot my fault.


I’m I don’t actually have anything, any notes until the ending and then a few sort of after things. Well, take us through the second act.


Well, I don’t really I’m going to continue being all over the place because I don’t know where we are in the story.


But I’m just going to point out a couple of things that I loved. First of all, I love the little medical muny.


Yes. And like, I guess really mutiny is against the captain and the captain is Tom Hanks. And he starts that. So I don’t know that you’d actually call it mutiny, but whatever it is, I loved it. It made me really happy. And that Cawdor scene where they’re having to figure out how to get into position to enter the atmosphere. So they are there to shallow and they need to manually put themselves in a place where they can come in a little bit at a sharper angle, but not too sharp. And the newscasters use the if if Earth is the basketball and the moon is the softball and the area the corridor that they have thinner than a piece of paper. Yeah, I was just like, again, it comes back to the real science they did, while to me I would have loved to have seen more of it. Um, what we did see was so well done. Yeah. That I, I was still happy with it.


And you know, one of the things that’s nice about using real science is that oftentimes using something real prevents you from going too far in either direction. Because I feel like if this was a fictional movie that somebody was writing, they would have been really tempted to either make the necessary thing that they had to do.


So ludicrously impossible that there’s like a point zero zero one percent chance that they could pull this off and then they do or they would have hedge their bets and they would have been like, I mean, you know, here here’s a baseball. Here’s a softball. In the area that they have to get into is like this big, you know, and it’s not something that seems totally impossible because we needed to be believable. But the fact that this is real means that you don’t have to convince people it’s believable. It actually happened. Yeah. And you can just lean into that. And it sort of veers you away from some of the more cartoony options that a writer could have taken.


And one of the other real science things is they go to the weight. They finally figure out why all of their their calculations are off. And it’s because they expected to have a couple hundred pounds of moon rocks.


Yeah, there’s this sort of running thread throughout the second half of the movie that they keep veering a little bit off course and they can’t tell why do they keep coming in shallow? And oh, it’s because we were supposed to have all these moon rocks and so they end up having to get ballast for the last. Yeah. So they pull apart is that they pull a bunch of stuff off of the LEM. Yeah. Right into, just into the into the command module to just help weigh it down a little more.


And I love that they gave it, they gave that to us, they didn’t go into as much detail and you know, they didn’t spell it out too much. But we got a little taste of that, which I thought was that was really nice because I had forgotten that they were having Calkin. Problems are so much going wrong because you know what, they have a quadruple failure, which is. Yeah, well, I mean, that’s what they say at the top of the at the top is that there’s a quadruple failure. But one of the other things, two of the other things that I just have to say is

Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks just holds our hearts in his hand. He, like, just mush them all together and he holds them and he plays with our heartstrings. And I, for one, never gave him permission to do that. But he does it all the time without reservation. And I would like to admonish him in person while I hug him and cry. I love him. And I don’t know.


Is that clear enough? I love him, OK? In a very angry way.


Very angry way. Yes. OK, last thing before I will let you speak to no. Go for that little moment where they are gathering to watch the reentry. Hmm. And his wife is taking to to the audience. We have no idea who these two men are, but she’s telling them you need to distract his mom while they’re talking about the likelihood of of the crew living. And it turns out to be Armstrong and Aldrin.


And and the lady says, who are you boys in the space program to?


Oh, my God. And they both kind of they have this, like, little hesitation as they kind of look at each other like, is she for real? She is for real.


Yes. Which I just like I don’t know if that happened in real life, but I really hope it did. Oh, God, that’s amazing. Yeah.


Which brings us to heading in for the final landing. Couldn’t let it be too easy because they’ve gotten off so easy this whole time. You’re heading into a typhoon because it’s breaking eye of the storm.


Yeah, incredible shot as this ship flies toward the earth and there’s this swirling vortex like right below them and lightning flashes.


Incredible. If one thing can go wrong, apparently everything can go wrong so that we’re going to be talking about gravity next week.


And gravity, I think, is one of these movies that can be retile. I forgot we were watching the movie and I was like, excuse me, what?


Or just I read Straight Gravity and Gravity, I’ve always joked should be retitled The Story of a woman who just can’t catch a break. And that is very much in the spirit of Apollo 13.


I guys who could not catch a break, I don’t remember much about it except for the oh, you’re going to have a grand old. I’m not. You’re not. And even a little I mostly remember her in the fetal position in front of that weird light. And I was just like.

Apollo 13


All right, yeah. Oh, no, you’re you’re you’re going to be so mad by the end of this month. I know. I remember feeling that way before.


So and in that same spirit as they’re coming down, it starts kind of raining in their faces.


There’s a shot of the dew that has been gathering on the console before we get there, right before we get there, can I say I was so glad when there was finally a body heat hug?


Yes, I was I had been waiting for that because these men are freezing and they’re not touching each other. And like, I know they’ve got a lot to do.


Yeah, but one of them is very sick. Yes. So I was I was pleasantly surprised when I happened because I was desperate for it to happen. But I had kind of gotten to a point of they said this is like a man’s man sort of world and they’re not going to touch.


And I was just like, but Tom Hanks doesn’t live in that world very well.


So I was just, oh, it was a relief. I needed I needed to put that out there. Yes, indeed.


So they re-enter.


And as with any ship entering the atmosphere, there’s always a period of communications blackout where the radio signals can’t get through the ionization happening around the ship. And they they say it’s going to be between three and four minutes. It’s generally three. And the countdown starts happening and they get to three minutes and there’s nothing and it just keeps going. They end up hitting three and a half. They end up hitting four. And it’s just like this slow twisting of tension, as you think. Maybe they actually didn’t make it. And then they finally do, and it’s such a relief and everybody’s cheering, and I just need to read you this quote from Jim Lovell talking about that moment and why they because that’s not Hollywood that actually happened. There was this really long period where they didn’t respond and they could not. And everybody thought they were dead. This is a quote from Jim Lovell. He says, We are working and work and watching the controls during that time because we came in shallow, it took us longer to come through the atmosphere where we had ionisation. And the thing was, we were just slow in responding.


The entire world was waiting with bated breath to see if these guys were alive and apparently they just didn’t pick up the phone for a while.


Oh, my God, if I was his wife, I would have lost my mind when he got home. When I heard that quote, I would have been like, you’re a dead man. You are a dead man. But, yeah, the moment that there is that reentry and it’s literally raining on them. Yes.


That is just just adding insult to injury. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s raining on them. But outside of the capsule, it’s like three to 4000 degrees I think is what they call it.


Yeah, something like that. Yeah. It’s a number of thousands of degrees in there and it’s getting ready. They’re getting ready Don. And I was just like, oh my God, because I mean we’ve been warned about it.


So I love that they kept that detail. It was I liked that.


Another little cameo right here at the end, the captain of the USS Iwo Jima, which is the ship that picks them up. The captain is played by Jim Lovell.


Oh, really? Huh. I like that. Nice. I it was it was funny, I, I was not expecting a shot of someone in all of their scuba gear, like peering in the window. It was I don’t know, there was something about it that it was just really funny. I feel like in the course of, you know, there just there are window images now and they had and so I have the Titanic and I have an astronaut burning and now I have a goofy scuba guy being like, are you guys OK?


You just got in from space. I’m here to help you. Welcome back.


Yeah, there’s you know, it’s funny these days, you know, we we’re saturated with these images of Space X with these rockets that come down in, like, land so gently on their floating platforms. And even before that, we have the space shuttle, which comes down like an airplane and lands very majestically on a runway. And you sort of forget that in the early days of space travel, it was a little bit goofy getting back to Earth like you were in a little pod that just kind of falls into the ocean and then they have to go find you like wherever you landed in the ocean. And you just sit in your pod until some scuba guy comes up and like, knocks on the door and helps you out.


There was a part of me that was like I kind of. So we scuba dive. Yes. And I’ve always been a little not a lot, but a little interested in doing rescue diving. And there’s a part of me that’s like, I want to be that person. Then we go back to this era and I can just be the scuba diver. That’s like, hey, I’m going to help you get home. Yeah, I don’t know why, but that sounds awesome.


I actually did. There’s a moment where the helicopters hovering hovering overhead and a couple of scuba guys step out and when you go scuba diving, whatever you first get into the water, they always tell you to sort of step onto the side of the of the boat and you either fall backwards into the water or they tell you to take this really big step to just sort of stride out and then let yourself fall into the water. And they were doing that. They were stepping out, but from a helicopter. And so they fall like, you know, 20, 25 feet and then go into the water. And I was like, oh, that’s kind of like fun.


Can I do that? Except go scuba diving leaving because Catalina Island went from a helicopter when we were in New Zealand.


Is that where we were? I think it was when we were in New Zealand and we were canyoning, I was the one who was like, oh my God, I want to jump off that thing. Can we jump off that thing? And they’re like, yeah, go jump off that thing. And you were like, I, I don’t want to do that.


It helps when it’s the ocean. There’s no there’s no functional bottom to that when you’re jumping over really high, which, by the way, was about twice as tall as the helicopter that guy stepped out of. And then it’s like a little, you know, pond of water was about three inches. And just want to put it out there then.


This family, I am not the chicken.


Can confirm I wasn’t expecting that. I mean, it’s true, but I was expecting you to say that, OK.


Oh, I loved all of the reaction shots when everybody learns that, hey, they made it. And I have to tell you, I was really surprised by a couple of that. Ed Harris. I love how he said it and everybody else did. Everybody rises and he drops. Yeah.


And I and I was like, oh, that’s like that makes total sense. And they came back to him later and he was tearing up and I was like, man, Ed Harris, like, I love you.


I’ll give you a hug, which is not where I started at the top of this movie. It was a whole journey. You went on with the virus.


And I was really concerned about the the oldest level boy, the oldest son, because he’s whose only introduced at the eleventh hour. Do we see him in the first act?


I mean, I think we see him when the moon landing happens, but I don’t remember because it’s not that age. Right. It’s only like a year later, like, he wouldn’t have been a little kid at that time. It’s only a year or two then maybe we didn’t. But he’s at, what, a military academy or something? He’s at a military academy. And there was a part of me that’s like they’re all watching this.


And this is the 60s, maybe the 70s. And yeah.


So this is 1969, April 11th, 1970. So it’s so a few months like less than a year after. OK, so.


They’re watching this, he’s surrounded by his male peers, is he going to be allowed to be relieved? Is he going to be allowed to cry? Because, like, I really felt like I was going to have to say something about masculinity of that time. That might still be a thing today, but I didn’t have to because Ed Harris cried. Yeah. And so there was this thing where, like, all of the boys got really excited for him and we didn’t see him cry, but he was mostly just stunned. He was just like in shock, which I still totally acceptable. You don’t have to cry.


But there was a part of me that was like, man, if none of these men cry, I’m going to have to call toxic masculinity because, yeah, you got to show your emotions. And this is just some family tears.


Well, yeah, because, I mean, that amount of stress, you’re going to have a bodily reaction and you just kind of have to. So I was I was glad to see it somewhere. I was really concerned that we weren’t going to see the oldest son’s reaction because they don’t show it for the longest time. Yeah. And I was I was mostly interested in his as a teenager at a military school, but I will.


So I’ve got a few other notes, just sort of in terms of general scientific stuff, unless you want to say anything else about the landing. No, no, no. So I did some research on scientific accuracy in Apollo 13, because that’s our thing here on the synthesis and learn some interesting stuff. So apparently they got NASA was very helpful during all this and they offered the use of many of their facilities. They offered Ron Howard to to let Ron Howard film in the actual mission control. And he turned them down. They recreated mission control in a set so that they could perfectly control everything. But apparently they did such a good job that their consultants kept getting lost because the room was perfect. But obviously outside the room it was a studio. And so there was a one particular way to leave, but it was the other way from where you leave actual mission control. The elevator was over here and the exit from the set was over here and the consultants were so they bought into this thing so much that they kept getting lost because they kept heading for the elevator for mission control. That’s neat. And then they also the headsets that all the extras use in mission control, all of their consoles were actually networked so that as all of those actors, the supporting characters and the extras were sort of shouting over each other trying to solve problems, they were actually talking to each other.


They could carry on conversations, sending information back and forth. They weren’t all just kind of saying things to themselves accurately, just which was another interesting choice. The space suits that they wore were apparently perfect. They were space

suits. They were in every single regard. There were no compromises made to the point where they were even airtight. And when the astronauts have their helmets on in this movie, they also have air hoses connecting them because otherwise they would suffocate like these. These are actual spacesuits and they had to have their air pumped in. Oh, yeah. Walter Cronkite, very famous news personality from that era, does a number of broadcasts, some of those were archival footage from the time of Apollo 13. But apparently Walter Cronkite actually rerecorded some news broadcasts for this film because they needed him to say something sort of concisely for the film, because in the actual broadcast, he sort of spread it out over several minutes and he got the script and then rewrote it in his own voice so that it would sound like a real Walter Cronkite broadcast. I love that. Very interesting. And then the last little bit of filmmaking that I have is one of the most famous lines from Apollo 13.


You’ll see it on every time somebody references this, they’ll show this a little bit of B roll. It’s in every trailer. Everything is Ed Harris walking with purpose through a room full of professionals. And he says failure is not an option. And it’s become this line that is very heavily associated with the Apollo 13 crisis. Apparently, he never actually said that the character that’s not a thing that was said during during Apollo 13 there the crisis. But the writers were talking to several of their consultants who had been there, including a person named Jerry Bostik, who they asked him, did you guys ever just like panic? Did you just freeze with how much stress there was? And his response was no. When bad things happened, we just calmly laid out the options and failure was not one of them. We never panicked and we never gave up on finding a solution. And apparently the writers left that meeting, got in the car, and one of them, as soon as the doors closed, he just started screaming. Failure is not an option. That’s the line. That’s going to be the line that people remember from this movie. We just need to figure out who says it. And they ended up giving it to Ed Harris. And he was exactly right.


I can’t believe that you haven’t brought up the square peg in a round hole.


That is one of my very favorite. Before we get to that, I’ve got one other line, which is Houston. We have a problem which has gone down alongside Luke. I am your father. And and play it again, Sam, as incredibly iconic lines from Hollywood, which never happened. All three of those lines, it’s almost right in actual history. They said, Houston, we’ve had a problem and then they go on to describe it. But Houston, we have a problem is so they just changed a little bit. Yeah, it’s close. That being said, Lacey does bring up a good point, which is probably my favorite moment from this movie, which is getting a square peg into a round hole. The team is presented. The team at Mission Control is presented with a problem because CO2 is building up in the LEM and the air filters for the LEM are not designed to support this many people, but the air filters from the command module don’t fit their two different shapes. And so they dump out a bunch of stuff on the table and they say this is everything they’ve got up there. We need to figure out how to use this stuff to get this filter into a hole that fits this. And it’s a very famous moment. And I just love it because it’s so sort of ground level. Like they’re literally playing with blocks. They’re just doing sort of kindergarten level stuff. But lives depend on it.


Yeah. And I love it. I love that scene. And I I’m definitely one of those people who would have liked to have seen it play out a little bit more and not not like the whole thing. I don’t I didn’t need to be for it to be like 30 minutes or anything like that. But he dumps out the stuff that they have available to them. And then he’s like, all right, we have to do this. And then everyone just grabs for it.


And I’m like, wait, wait, wait. Who’s project managing this? No, no, don’t get organized exactly. Like if you just start grabbing things, who’s going to know what you have?


Yeah. And I wanted I wanted to see it play out like I wanted to see.


Yeah. That is one scene that I wish had been done more.


Yeah. Because it’s, it’s cool to see genius’s attack a problem that you can watch because we, most of us aren’t going to follow a math problem. But this is something that’s so physical that we could have seen how their minds work. And I, and I get that it’s you know, it’s it’s not a problem that you got to keep the story moving. Yeah. Yeah. And I and I hear that, but I would have liked it.


It is also, you know, as we’ve talked about, The Martian is we’re big fans and you can clearly see the influence of Apollo 13 on the concept of the Martian. There’s a there’s a clear lineage there.


And I was reading reviews recently and somebody described The Martian as being the perfect movie for people who wish that Earth air filter scene from Apollo 13 had been the whole film, which I feel like the reviewer meant it as kind of a dig at nerds.

Space Movie


But I read it and I was like, yeah, that yes, that’s me. I’m one of those people I want to see scientists, MCGYVER things exactly what could be cooler than McGyver and real. Yeah.


Yeah. So I think overall. Yeah. Are you done.


Well I’ve got one little sort of addendum, a little epilogue on the story of Apollo 13, which is sort of a good news, bad news situation. So after Apollo 13 was so scary, the Apollo program kind of got wrapped up. And that is one of the reasons we never went to Mars is Apollo 13 is after the Apollo 13 crisis. President Nixon and then those who followed decided that space travel was really scary and they didn’t want a disaster hanging around their necks. And so they decided instead of continuing to push the front. We’re continuing to try dangerous new things and go out into the unknown, what they would do is perfect this and they came up with the space shuttle and that’s why the space shuttle program happened, was it was their attempt to get near Earth travel perfected. And so we’re going to make basically like a space plane that we can reuse over and over. And it’ll it’ll be able to land on its own and it’ll have all these things. And so NASA put all of its effort into the space shuttle and near Earth orbit operations like satellites and the International Space Station. And we we retreated from the frontier.


So that is sort of the I don’t like that humans are not good at retreat. And, you know, I don’t like that our leaders are cowards and cowards.


So it’s good that we are now living in an age when, you know, things like Space X and even NASA are starting to pick up the baton again and start moving forward.


Yes, well, I just want it to be NASA. So, yes, that would be nice. That’s a whole other topic. So we don’t need to end on that note. Let’s let’s also a final thought. Final thought. I think it is devastating that Gary Sinise, his character, I didn’t get his dream, but I think it is even. More devastating, heartbreaking to be that close, you can see it, yes, you can, it’s right there.


But it must have been just a knife in the gut for those three guys flying past the moon and just not, I don’t know, like that.


I just kind of keep coming back to that. Thought of dreams should not.


You shouldn’t have to see them without touching them.


It’s just it’s too much for my actor heart because being an actor has far, far too much has to do with hope then and luck than anything else. So, yeah, my my actor heart didn’t handle that very well in incredible movie.


Yeah, right. Fantastic movie. Apollo 13. I mean, obviously hailed as one of the great space movies of all time. Just an absolute masterpiece. And yeah, I think just a plus on the scientific accuracy score. This is sort of the the thing to beat.


This is the standard by which those good judged, I will say accuracy. Yes. A minus for how much science is in it. Fair enough. I would have liked to have seen it ratchet it up a notch. Yeah. So fair enough. Yeah. All right. Well then I think that’s episode one of the Synthesis. Oh yeah. Look at us. That was fun.


Thank you to everybody who’s been watching and who will be watching in the future. This was this has been a fun little experiment. And unless we were completely in the dark, I don’t think anything went terribly wrong.


Who knows? Maybe we’ll we’ll end this thing and then realize that we’ve been broadcasting calabaza. This all done.


Our our producer will let us know. Yeah. Um, so the next episode we will have watched Gravity. So if you want to kind of follow along, follow along. I would suggest watching it.


Yep. Same that time. Same bat channel which is five thirty Pacific Time on Thursday. I’m going to be watching Gravity and talking about that and you’ll get to see Lacy have a slow panic attack which is going to be fun.


So much fun. I am so excited to show that side of myself to you. That’s awesome. All right. Well, thanks for watching. Have a good one.

The Synthesis: The Martian Ch. 1-3 (Episode 3)

Alexander Winn and Lacey Hannan discuss the first three chapters of Andy Weir’s The Martian, in which we learn how Matt Damon… err, Mark Watney’s butt worked as hard as his brain (hint: P O O P P O T A T O E S).

𝕋𝕙𝕖 π•Šπ•ͺπ•Ÿπ•₯π•™π•–π•€π•šπ•€ is a live talk show that aims to find the relationship between science and fiction in pop culture. We’ll discuss a book, movie, or show each week that’s science-focused and talk about just how realistic it is, where reality is cooler than fiction, and exactly where certain liberties were taken.


Hey, folks, this is Alexander Winn and.


We’re off to a good start, and we. You want me to take.


Hi, folks, this is Alexander Winn and Lacey here, and we’re here to talk to you about the first three chapters of The Martian today. All right, so I would never I would never do well on SNL, I would I would break constantly. Yeah. Oh, my God. Sorry. It’s just like it’s on you and Lacey just cracks. I’m sorry.


Hey, listen, there were things happening I about.


All right. So for the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about Apollo 13 and gravity. We sort of accidentally fell into a space disaster series. My favorite. Yep. So why not keep it going? This week, we’re going to be talking about The Martian, the first three chapters. We’re going to be taking it week by week and working our way through the book because this book is dense.


It’s awesome. But there’s a lot going on. There is a lot going on. And I like it for the for that reason. It’s a matter of fact, I’ve been looking forward to doing The Martian because The Martian is fantastic. So while Lacy finds her chill, I’m going to give some background.


Listen, at least I’m obviously the fun one here.


So The Martian was written by Andy Weir. It is the novel on which the movie is based. Of course, he started writing it in 2009. And where is the son of a particle physicist and an electrical engineer? Oh, well, no wonder. Yeah, exactly. If I had parents that smart, I’d be smarter, too. He had a background in computer science. He began writing and in 2009, just for fun to sort of see how this would go.


Apparently I didn’t know this until today, but apparently he had already had a webcomic called Casey and Andy, which had this same premise being stranded on Mars.


I take it Andy is him and Casey is I have no idea.


This is right off of Wikipedia.


He did he did some well researched work for you guys four minutes before we went on on the area.


So one thing that I really love about this story is the response that he had to this series. He started publishing it as a blog and people started finding it in particular, people in the space science community started finding it and they started feeding him information. He would present a problem in one chapter and then he’d start getting emails from people who, like, literally work at NASA, being like, here’s how we would approach that problem. And it became this whole thing. So apparently he had been burned by literary agents before, so he just didn’t even bother trying to get this thing published. So he just started putting it out online and people asked him to


make a Kindle version so that they could read it on their Kindle. You know, that’s nice. But apparently, you know, he wasn’t in it for the money. He just wanted these people to be able to read what he was reading in the most convenient format. But on Kindle, you have to have cost at least 99 cents. So he put it up for 99 cents and it shot to the top of Amazon’s sci fi bestsellers, just like this little convenience thing that he did for his for his fans, he ended up selling the rights to a genuine publisher. It debuted on The New York Times best seller list in both hardcover and paperback versions. There’s a there was an audio book version by someone named RC Bray, but then it was rereleased narrated by Wil Wheaton. And for those who don’t know, Wil Wheaton is super famous in the nerd community. He played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation and now is like a super guru in all things like tabletop gaming and nerd communities. Huge on YouTube and Twitter.


I would be interested why they would do the hard back in the paper back at the same time.


Oh, they didn’t. I just miss it. Now, on when it came out in hardback, it debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. And then when it came out in paperback, it also debuted on the New York Times book. I was very confused. Yeah, OK. And then the last a little bit of background that I have here is on December 5th, 2014, the cover page for the script of The Martian was launched into space on an Orion spacecraft because that’s just cool.


Is it? Yeah.


Ok, so for those of you who have been living under a rock or haven’t read the book or watched the movie, The Martian is the story of an astronaut who is stranded on Mars after his whole crew thinks that he died and they blast off an emergency. Yes.


Reasonably think that he has died and they blast off to save themselves in an emergency situation. They leave him behind. And now he’s presented with how do I survive on Mars alone for what he expects is going to be four years until the next Mars mission arrives. And, yeah, it’s just fantastic.


Ok, can I start with the intro? Go for it. OK, you guys, my favorite part. Not my favorite part. There’s going to be so much more about this that I love, of course. But the very it’s like one of the very best interest to a book ever.


The first couple of lines, I’m going to read them to you. If you have children nearby, cover their ears. This has swearwords.


I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my. Considered opinion fucked.


It’s just the best line, it’s just the best. Like what? Oh, like it just it just captures your attention. Yeah, it’s funny. And I love it. And I, I, I love the humor of this book.


I think that’s one of my favorite things. In the first page you just get so you get so much insight to who this guy like, what this guy’s character is and and his sense of humor, which is super dry. And I love it really.


It’s like the two most important aspects of the book are included in the first line, which is impending doom and humor. Like this is a guy who’s going to be presented with a situation where he’s probably going to die, but he’s going to do it in an upbeat, funny way.


Well, and there’s a third thing. Yeah. His considered opinion. Yeah. This is a scientist who is smart to heck he’s doing. And he has considered this.


Yeah. He’s not panicking. He’s assess the situation. He’s fucked. And it’s funny.


Yeah. Welcome to The Martian. And then you get like a quarter of the way through that first page and you already have so much information. The exposition is phenomenally done. Yes. They don’t. He doesn’t nothing is overwrought. He explains what’s happening. He explains it concisely. But you don’t feel like, you know, you get some of those movies that you’re just like, oh, this is oh, like Gravity where the beginning of it. It’s just like the exposition is so stupid. We’re here because of your experiment, which I know nothing about. Will you please explain the whole thing to me? Like, that’s not what this is. Yeah, that’s what gravity was.


It is helped along by the fact one of the smartest decisions that were made is that it is a it’s not just a first person dialogue. It’s it’s really it’s almost a second person dialogue or second person narrative. He’s telling you this. This is a this is the story of someone writing a journal. Basically, we are reading his logs. And so it’s not a third person narrative where omniscient God is telling us this and

it’s not even a first person narrative. We’re we’re experiencing things as he experiences them. He’s laying it out in his log. And therefore, the whole thing is sort of given a license to be expositional because he’s describing a situation and it still doesn’t feel overly expositional.


Yeah, like crazy. And I so. OK, going back to the sense of humor. Yeah, he has this line where he’s talking about, you know, if he were in command and and he talks about how he’s lowest on the totem pole. He is the last one in line. If everyone else were dead and he was the last one alive, he would be in command. And then he says, what do you know? I’m in command. And and it’s just it’s just a little wicked, which I think is so great anyway. So there’s that. Yes.


And just really like I’m sure we’re going to be coming back to this over and over both tonight and for the rest of the time that we do The Martian, which is he’s just so much fun. The character is fun. And that is like I’m sure that other writers would have approached this and tried to make it dire and grim and like kind of hopeless and really trying to raise the we’ve seen that so many times. We’ve seen it so many times. And at a certain point it starts to strain credulity because you know what? You are fucked, man. You’re stranded on Mars. Nobody’s coming. You don’t have any food. You’re going to die. Why is he not just taking the Vicodin that he specifically mentions he had or morphine that he specifically mentions he has and just ending it quickly because he’s an upbeat guy? Yeah, he’s an optimist. Yeah, exactly. He is. We have established that this is the kind of guy who doesn’t get depressed easily, who approaches situations logically, who tries to work through and who believes that he can pull it off. And that’s what keeps the whole story afloat.


So we have not gotten very far in this chapter like at all.


So moving along, one of the things that I really, really like and I’m going to probably hit this multiple times throughout talking about Chapter one, which is he says it wasn’t your fault. He doesn’t it wasn’t your fault. Note to the crew just in case they ever get to read it or hear about it. And it puts the audience in his pocket because. We love it when people are funny and gracious, even when their circumstances directly argue against them being funny and gracious and forgiving and forgiving. Yeah, and he he lays out exactly why the crew would think he’s dead. And he would he says he would have thought the exact same thing and so would we like he makes a good case.


Clearly, anybody reading this who thinks I wouldn’t have assumed he was dead is kidding themselves.


Yes. Yes. And so the nice thing is, is now we as the audience don’t have to think about it again. We just get to go, OK, this is a good guy. He’s not going to be bitter the entire time. And we don’t have to concern ourselves with his feelings about being left behind. And we have to concern ourselves with his survival.


And we also don’t carry a burden of blame through the whole thing. You know, we aren’t going to get there in these three chapters, but we do eventually meet the rest of his crew and we don’t hate them. You know, like this is, if anything, we feel bad for them because they are the victims of circumstance that, you know, we know they feel terrible about this and it’s totally understandable that they did it. So it really sets everybody up to be a hero.


I like how he he talks about they had four months on the HermΓ¨s and how much fun it could have been. And he says, you know, I could tell you about that, but I’m I’m too depressed right now. And all I could think about was like, who could I spend four months with?


I mean, honestly, like, I don’t know. There are not very many people. Obviously, you.


Well, I love him, but I mean, we don’t know how many people can be, so how many people could be locked in a tin can with for four months?


Yeah, and really, it’s more like 12 months because you have four months there and then a month on the surface and then like four or five months back. And it’s like that’s a lot.


So I don’t know, I just I was just sitting there going, OK, I have a couple of friends that I think I could get through a good while with you. It might wear our friendship thin. But, you know, I don’t I don’t know that the Edwards team would want to spend that much time together.


Yeah. To be fair, they get to go to Mars. The number of people I would want to spend four months with is pretty small. The number of people that I would be willing to spend four months with to go to Mars is a lot bigger.


I mean, no know the inverse for me because I’m sitting here going, but I need everybody to be on the ball and my survival depends on these other people.


No, no, no, no. It’s actually I’d much I’d be much more willing to spend four months with people for no reason at all than on like an adventure. That could be very stressful.


You know, one thing that’s interesting. So I imagine that most of our audience that’s listening to this has seen the movie. Whether or not they’ve read the book, I certainly have. I’m going to try to sort of keep the movie discussion to a minimum. But every so often there are going to be little things that creep in. And one is that the book is based on his diary and it starts after the disaster on page one, his crew has already left. He’s alone. The story has begun in the movie. They naturally started a little earlier and you actually see the crisis that gets them all kicked out. And so as we’re talking about sort of who would you spend all this time with, there is a funny little thing which is in the book. We don’t actually know about these people very much like he mentions Johannsson. He mentions, you know, like a few people. Yeah, yeah. Like he mentions a few people. But we don’t really get a sense of the team dynamic. Whereas in the movie, by the time they leave, we have seen them bantering, we’ve seen them sort of, you know, giving each other a hard time around. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So it’s it’s interesting to start from this place of only knowing him.


I will say for those of you who know Editrix entire Genesis, you might know this, but for those of you who don’t, Terra Genesis came about because of this movie. So like it just as a part of the community, I feel like if you haven’t watched this movie, it’s imperative that you watch it mostly for your own sake, but also because like.


Yeah, there it is. Yeah.


It’s for those who don’t know, I had been thinking about making a terraforming game for a long time, but it was actually during lasing I went to go see a movie and one of the trailers before that movie was a trailer for The Martian. And all of a sudden it occurred to me, you know. I should really have my game about colonizing Mars available when this movie about colonizing Mars comes out, and that was the impetus to start making Terra Genesis and get it going.


So, yeah, it was it was, you know, an integral bit of the history of that game.


So something else about this book that I think is is that is similar to you is this guy, Mark Watney, is going to make science cool. I just kept thinking that over and over again because, like, there’s there’s a lot of detail which I love. Like, we complained about that in Gravity and even a little bit in Apollo 13 that we did find some some areas in which they had a lot of detail. Yeah, but this one, like he talks about how this applies for Aries three being on route while the Aries two crew heads home. And there’s like that fractional portion of me that’s Taipei that loves all of this detail and like the organization and how does it work? And hearing him talk about it is just cool. And I kept sitting here going, where was this? Where were these stories? When I was in high school, I really thought I hated science until this guy came along. And he’s like, no science. Cool. Let me tell you why. And I was like, I’m never going to learn any of this stuff, but you can talk to me about it always. And that’s how I was learning it. Well, I mean, yes, but but Mark Watney, this character makes science cool, which is which is interesting. I just never you know, it’s taken me a long time to recognize that that could be true for me as a non. I was always the the theater kid and the I liked English and history and science was not my jam.


And that is really one of the things that The Martian is rightfully famous for is like we’re going to we’re going to walk you through atmospheric composition calculations and make it really cool, like everything is laid out in a very smart and approachable way. I actually have a note here that it’s interesting how, like from the very beginning, it’s clear that this is going to be a smart story. But it’s interesting how there are certain things that he explains, like how the thrusters work or how the suit’s air cycles work. He goes into a lot of detail, but then there are other things that he just kind of tosses out there and just kind of assumes that you’ll pick up or that or assumes that you already know.


Like he just starts referring to the hab and he doesn’t he never actually says what the hab is. But you you either know or you pick it up, you know, and that I think is a is a sort of a sneaky way of making the audience feel smart, too, that he’s not just teaching you. He’s telling you a story that you’re keeping up with. Yeah.


And that’s also good, too, I feel like and that’s something we talk a lot about at work is is the how do you how how do we have stories that don’t dumb things down for the audience who is not dumb. Exactly. Audiences are not stupid. They’re really smart. And you

might know more about science than I do, but that doesn’t make me an idiot. Right. So don’t talk to stuff is cool. Yeah, it’s cool. So make it cool and make it interesting enough for me to want to watch it and get invested. So I don’t know. I feel like this first chapter just really hits a lot of like this is who we are and this is what we want to be. So it feels really good to read it and see it happen.


So this is a show about scientific accuracy. So we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the one thing in this book that isn’t scientifically accurate. This is a.. Put a huge premium on keeping everything scientifically accurate. In fact, he actually built a physics simulator on a computer to calculate the orbits of Earth and Mars and calculate the acceleration of the HermΓ¨s spacecraft. And you can actually look up on YouTube these simulations of how the ship sort of pings around the solar system and how many days it takes, like when they show up on sold for sixty nine, it’s because that’s actually how long it would take, given the orbits of all that. That’s but Andy Weir did say he gave himself one pass, one thing that is not realistic, and that is the opening incident. So the way Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars is there’s a dust storm, the likes of which have never been seen, and it reaches the thresholds that NASA calls an abort on the mission. They were going to be there for 30 days and instead they’re there for six and they blast off because this dust storm is threatening to tip over the maybe the Mars ascent vehicle, which is what they’re going to use to get back up to orbit. So rather than let it get knocked over and now the whole crew is stranded, they tell them, just blast off now. This is not scientifically accurate, Mars’s atmosphere is half of one percent as thick as Earth’s atmosphere, you could get hurricane speed winds on Mars and you wouldn’t even be able to feel it through your spacesuit like this. It would be a gentle breeze on your face if you weren’t wearing a helmet, because the air is so just whisper thin that nothing is going to get that thing moving with enough force to knock over the Navy. Right, let alone toss people around and rip off antennas and everything that it does. So the dust storm that starts the story is sort of an earth phenomenon. But then from then on, pretty much everything in this story is dead on scientifically accurate.


Well, OK, so let’s go into how does he survive it? Because this is one of my favorite parts is first of all, there’s this quote, which is. Delightful. I really like curse words, so I’m going to read all of them to you, not all of them.


There are many more in the book that I’m going to read and what I’m going to read out loud. But he says about waking up. A steady, obnoxious beeping that eventually roused me from a deep and profound desire to just fucking die. Honestly, it’s it’s just so lovely. It’s just so lovely. But so what he’s talking about is the he starts to describe the hole in his suit and how the antenna went through the zoo and through his side. And and it made a because he ended up on it like upside.


He landed face down in the sand. It created torque, which helped seal the well, the seal came from the gunk of the blood, but it created what the the talk of the thing as he lay on it, sort of pulled the hole closed a little bit.


Yeah. And then his blood falls into the hole. And again, Mars’s atmosphere is so thin that water naturally sublimates it just sort of instantly evaporates. So as his blood hit the hole, it immediately evaporated, which means it basically formed an insta scab that filled in the hole for the most part.


So there is one question that I have, and I feel like I should know the answer to this because we’re scuba divers. Yeah, but why does it backfill with nitrogen?


Ok, so a quick primer on how humans breathe. Earth’s atmosphere is about 70 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen, and then the rest is just sort of other stuff. Oxygen is obviously very important to humans for breathing. Nitrogen, on the other hand, does nothing like literally it’s just filler.


Nitrogen is utterly useless. And so there are situations like with scuba diving where you can actually breathe other things. There’s something called argon, which is oxygen and argon. There’s helium, which is oxygen and helium. You can put a lot of gases in instead of nitrogen. But what nitrogen does is it keeps up the air pressure. So it just sort of fills the air enough to where it has as much air pressure as humans need. And then you keep a certain amount of oxygen. So every spacesuit has an oxygen tank and then a nitrogen tank that it can use to keep the pressure up. So when his suit started venting out into the Martian atmosphere, it was giving him some oxygen to keep the oxygen level up. But mostly it was giving him nitrogen to keep the air pressure up in his suit. OK, and so what? And so as he walks you through the steps of what was happening, it’s venting nitrogen. It’s backfilling with nitrogen, but then it runs out of nitrogen and so it starts back filling with oxygen. But there is actually such a thing as too much oxygen. There’s oxygen system, which is why all of a sudden it starts venting that to sort of try to keep him at the right level of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, everything. And finally, the oxygen alarm is what Weixin is. You’re getting too much oxygen. It might do damage wake you up.


And he says, like, at the moment that he wakes up, it’s like 80 percent. Yeah. So he’s a lot, which is a lot. But he it’s it’s low enough that he should be able to get back to the hab. Yeah, fine. If he gets a move on. Um, so one of the other things that that happens here

is do you guys remember I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Do you guys remember that viral video that went around of the guy who was like trail running and then what, a mountain lion comes out like he sees like the cub and then the mountain lion follows him for a long time, like six or seven minutes of him slowly backing away.


And this thing just getting along and doing like the the thing we’re like scrabbles sort of like, yeah, Beth’s caught him. There’s this moment in the video that makes me laugh really hard because he’s like new and it’s just like it’s something that is so today.


Like that’s that’s a phrasing that we that’s kind of a colloquialism of right now. And I love I love how Andy Weir writes Mark Watney, because there’s a moment where he says that, like he he uses yay and bu in parentheses.




He says, I came up over the ridge and I saw something that made me really happy and something that made me really sad. The hab was intact. Yay! But the Amobi was gone. And it’s just like these little bits kind of keep the whole thing from feeling really depressing and grim or to science like this is this is not a college professor who’s here to just tell you about electrical engineering. This is a guy who’s going to tell you about electrical engineering. But then, you know, 30 seconds later, he’s going, yay, boo.


Yeah, I so he talks about why the the crew leaves like they have to get to the HermΓ¨s and the HermΓ¨s has to go now. Yes. And he says that it’s the orbital dynamics make the trip safer and. The shorter the earlier you leave now, is that true or is that just up the stakes?


No, no, that’s definitely true. So what what he’s referring to is if I’m remembering the the part correctly, he’s talking about why they didn’t come back and get his body because he says, why give that up for some sentimentality?


Well, no, why the Hermes has to leave because he’s already talked about why they you don’t want to have extra weight and the MAV can’t land again because it doesn’t have the parachutes. So that’s just not going to happen. But he’s talking about why I mean, they leave why the Hermes has to go immediately. Like as soon as the crew gets there, they have to leave.


Yeah. So, I mean, it’s sort of twofold. The first is, yes, from a normal orbital dynamics standpoint, you know, Mars and Earth are getting farther and farther away from each other every second. So if you’re trying to hurry back home, you the longer you wait, the longer the journey is. That’s one of those weird things about space that sort of has no analog on Earth. It’s a different islands are always the same distance from each other. They aren’t drifting around, whereas in space, however long you wait, determines how long the journey is going to be. But then the other factor is that, you know, they took the movie. So like, what would you wait for? There’s nothing coming back to the surface. So you just go you just kind of wave at Mars. You’re supposed to be sad. Like you have got four months to get back to Earth. You’re going to plenty of time. Right.


Um, so I guess I don’t know. I’ve got one. I’ve got just like one thing I want to reiterate before we end chapter one. I really like that Andy Weir feels like a magician because he’s he’s laid out this great argument for why why Mark Watney is screwed and why no one is at fault. And so because of that, we can focus on his survival rather than, like we said, all of the feelings that might come up with him being left behind. So it’s like Andy Weir’s like, look over here, look over here instead of over here at what we would normally look at the what what these stories often are in terms of being grim. And we get really caught up in our humanity, essentially, which means we get really caught up in our emotions and our feelings and our emotions and our emotions and that lizard brain instead of our scientists. Yeah, exactly. So I just it really feels like magic in the way that I because I as a person who loves story and acting and all of that, I tend to get very caught up in what’s fair and what’s not. And he’s just completely overridden that for me. Yeah. And that’s that that’s really special in my opinion.


Oh, it’s so good on Andy.


We’re well. And it’s actually kind of the perfect segue into Chapter two, because, you know, on the one hand, he wants to keep this story upbeat. He wants to keep it from just being grim. But on the other hand, you do need stakes. And so one really great way of dealing with that is chapter one. He’s kind of depressed, like he starts out with I’m fucked and he ends the chapter with, yeah, so I’m fucked. And then Chapter two starts and he immediately says, All right, so I feel a lot better after a night’s sleep. And it’s like, OK, don’t we established the stakes. We’ve established everything that’s against him. We’ve established all the reasons why he’s going to die.


Now, let’s get to work like, OK, he’s Mark Watney, he’s he’s an upbeat guy, he’s had a night’s sleep, he’s had some food. Let’s get to work and solve the problem.


And that’s like what this story is about and part of and part of the having a good night’s sleep and thinking of everything logically is he even says pretty up front, as we mentioned before, is I’m not going to slowly starve to death. I’ll tell you that because he’s got morphine, he’s like, I will fight. I will I will take that. Yeah. I’m not going to starve to death. So I just I can’t I couldn’t believe that when I read that it didn’t just sound super grim. It sounded like a logical decision by an optimistic man. Yeah, that’s that’s the baseline. Yeah. Let’s work up from here. Yes. Yeah. So, um, again, go on. Andy Weir. Yes.


Markwayne, the first line that I have here about Chapter two is great inventory of assets and problems. Chapter two starts with just a list. Here’s what I’ve got. Here’s what is arrayed against me. Just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. Here, you just sort of sets the stage so you can almost think of it like a workmans table. Here are all my tools. What can we make with this? Yeah. And it really has, you know, back a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about Apollo 13, there’s a there’s a moment where they have to get an air filter from one machine to work in a different machine that wasn’t designed for it. And they sort of spill all this stuff out onto the table and they say this is what we have to work with. Let’s figure this out.


And there’s a quote that I that I read, which was The Martian, is for everyone who wished that that scene was the whole movie. Yeah. And that really feels true. It’s like that’s that’s what this chapter is that’s laying everything out on the table and saying, OK, what can we do with this?


That scene in Apollo 13 is just so great and it’s so short. So that’s exactly what this book feels like. And it’s just like the in a fun, high stakes way.


By the way, while we’re mentioning Apollo 13, one thing that struck me on so I’ve read The Martian before. I’ve seen the movie. One thing that struck me on this reread is clearly this story is inspired by Apollo 13. And a lot of ways this is, you know, things going wrong in space is always going to have some kind of connection to back to Apollo 13, especially if it’s things going wrong in space and we’re working the problem. But one thing that really struck me this time is there are a lot of pretty direct homages to Apollo 13. Stuff like this is the third mission. He specifically outlines a progression of the Aries missions that parallels the Apollo missions. Apollo 11 was the first to land on the moon. Apollo 12 landed on the moon, and then Apollo 13 was going to be the third mission. And then things went wrong. Aries one landed on Mars. Aries two landed on Mars One.


I just I was thinking back to that episode of Apollo 13. I was like, yeah, we landed on Mars once, like the moon or the moon once. That Alex is like, yeah, we played it on the moon a lot more than that.


I had to pull her aside after the after the be like we landed on the moon.


Was it. I know nothing about space. History is not my job. So that’s why I love like I was thinking of. Oh my God, how embarrassing.


Well I wasn’t going to bring it up but you know, you did. But yeah.


So this is this is clearly, you know, the he specifically says Aries one was the first group to land on Mars. They came back and they had like, you know, tickertape parades and everything.


Aries two landed on Mars and they got like a firm handshake and a cup of coffee, which is kind of what Apollo Twelve got. Like people got jaded about landing on the moon pretty quick. And then Apollo 13 was the one where everything went wrong, just like Aries three is the one where everything went wrong. So it’s definitely drawing a lot from the Apollo 13 experience.


Um, I like I liked this log entry that was, um, and well fed. And I have a purpose. Fix the damn radio. Yeah.


And it’s just he’s so goal oriented and he he explicitly tells you what he’s going to do next and explains how he’s going to do it and what he’s been thinking about. And, you know, you get to kind of see the muling, which is just I don’t know, there’s just something fun about being inside someone’s brain that is so smart and getting to follow along as someone who, while quite intelligent, is not that kind of smart. That’s not that’s not my thing. That will never be my thing. I don’t want it to be. And but but I still get to follow it and I get to understand it. It’s so neat.


That is one of the things that I think this story does better than almost maybe any story I’ve ever seen is it captures the important part of science, because so much of what people think of as science is really memorizing other people’s results. It’s memorizing how the life cycle of a cell works or, you know, like these. Things that scientists have discovered, but that’s not science, science is not a body

of knowledge, science is a process of approaching problems. And this story really captures that, that, you know, when you’re presented with a problem, you don’t need to give in to your emotions. You don’t need to freak out. You don’t need to, you know, reach for any of these things. You just work the problem. And a lot of what he does is beyond what the audience could do. You know, like you need to know electrical engineering. You need to know all sorts of chemical formulas and stuff like that. But a lot of what he does is pretty simple math. You know, like at one point he’s just totaling up the square footage of the hab.


And here’s how much land area I have to grow potatoes. OK, then I’ve also got these bunks that I’m not using there each to square meters. So that brings it up to, you know, one or two. And then I’ve got the the rovers and like, he’s doing this stuff. How much water do I need for this this much soil? Well, that’s something that if you just walked up to somebody on the street and was like, hey, you’ve got one hundred and seventeen square meters of soil, how much water do you need for that? I think most people would be like, I don’t know. But think about it like how much water do you need for one square meter of soil? You can probably just look that up and then you multiply that by a hundred and sixteen or whatever, and then you’re done.


Like a lot of these are not really complicated problems. They’re just not the kind of thing that the average person has trained themselves to just figure out.


Yeah, and that’s the spirit of this story.


And that is what science is.


It goes a little bit further than that, because I think that what we see is a lot of simple problems that are compounded by other problems. Yes. And so he talks about how this is how many potatoes I can grow. And then he comes back and he’s like, no, it’s not. I can when they when they start to Germany, I can push them deeper and I can plant potatoes on top of it, which most move them to deeper soil and then plant new. No, no, no. I think he’s talking about you push them deeper into plants above them, because that’s how a lot of potato growing works is. You can do it in layers, but potato farmers wouldn’t do that because they’ve got millions of potatoes to deal with. It’s not cost effective. It’s not. Yeah. And and so why would you do that? But for him, he’s going to do the potatoes in layers and that’s really smart. I mean, now that was my understanding of it because I think he’s going to have the same depth of dirt for the entire place.


Maybe my understanding was moving them to a different spot, but who knows?


I’m so a lot of from my gardening experience, I know that I think it’s like potatoes and onions. You can do layers of that. Yeah, it’s fascinating. Um. Oh, look at that. I my gardening has come in handy for your botany powers. That’s right. Flowers.


Yeah, it’s that is just what I love about this story.


I mean there’s there’s one log entry soul eleven. Yeah. Where he just says it’s one line. I wonder how the cubs are doing. And I’m like, dude, my dude, my dude, I’m with you.


How are the cubs doing. And I love that Mark Watney is from Chicago and and he’s like rooting for the underdog because at this point.


The Cubs had not broken their curse when this book came out. They had not overcome that. And I was just sitting here going, spoiler alert, my friend, if you live long enough, you will lose your mind, because the cubs were will also be like making this great big comeback.


So you guys can be friends forever. And I’m so like, I don’t know, there’s just something about the underdog rooting for the underdog. And I always love the underdog. And so I was here for it.


By the way, Chicago earned their ownership of Mark Watney because among those people that we were talking about earlier, as people would email in and talk to Andy Weir about how we would solve this kind of problem, apparently a significant contingent of them were from the the University of Chicago or whatever. He mentions his alma mater at one point. And the reason that that is his alma mater is because they had a strong contributor.


So it’s like one person was like, hey, did you guys read this comic? You have to read this. Yeah, exactly. Oh, I love that. That’s awesome.


There is a I made I made a note here, which is, you know, as much as I love the first person sort of or second person kind of diary format of this story, it is an interesting choice because what it means is we never actually see him working out a problem. We only ever see him talking about how I don’t know how I’m going to solve this. And then he shows up the next day and he says, So I figured it out. Here’s how I did it.


I don’t completely agree with that. In Chapter three, he he you get to see I mean, he goes back through how he works, worked out a problem.


Well, that’s what I mean is it’s it’s interesting because these are diary entries. We don’t actually see him sort of trial and error his way through. He mostly it’s just it’s a fait accompli. Hey, I figured it out. Here’s what I did yesterday. And he sort of walks you through the solution, which I think simultaneously, you know, keeps the story flowing because he’s not going down a million false starts. But it also helps contribute to the sense of, again, that term that we keep using on the show competence, porn. And because we sort of only see the successes because he says, oh, yeah, I read a few things, but here’s what worked. And so it’s just a series of him describing the success and it’s just that it’s so good, so good.


There’s another great, uh, there are two great quotes, and you already alluded to one of them, but I have them here. He’s talking about how he’s going to make soil out of Martian dirt. And at one end, he’s talking about how he’s gathered up all of the the bags of poop that have been left out on on on the surface of Mars from his crewmates and how he is going to put them all into all of it. He’s going to open and put into a big, you know, container or whatever, and he’s going to put in his newer excrement and he’s going to put in a little water in the bacteria is going to do its thing.


And he sees how he’s making soil that then his potatoes can grow.


He can he can put in sand and then Martian dirt and then this fertilizer and then, um, uh, earth dirt. And he goes, my asshole is doing as much to keep me alive as my brain.


And I cackled. I got old. I loved it. It was so funny. Oh, good, good swearing.


The asides and the little you know, whenever he gets increasingly invested in the TV shows that his clients brought, like Three’s Company. And, you know, there’s just there’s so many good little sort of character moments and asides that are like this one.


Hell, yeah, I’m a botanist. Fear my botany powers. Yeah. Which, like I said, you just alluded to, but it’s oh again, I’m just like this man is funny. I want to be his friend.


One of one of the great lines from the movie trailers that got played everywhere that I think comes in later in the book. It might have been invented for the movie. Is Mark Watney looking up into the camera and saying, I am the greatest botanist on this planet, which is just one of those great little.


Yeah. Technically true kind of jokes.


Yeah, I feel like I actually was friends with this guy in high school and he talks about how he was like a dead guy, was like, yeah, I don’t know if you if you know this, but I was a big nerd in high school and it just makes me shout out to Travis, who was the biggest nerd I knew and I didn’t fully know it.


But this it just he’s not an optimist like this, but I feel like I would have been this guy’s friend and shout out to Laci, who, if anybody doubts Laci’s nerd cred, she brought me into her weekly indie game. I had never played Dungeons and Dragons until I met her.


It’s is it in this? Oh, yes. OK, we’ll talk about the Dungeons and Dragons stuff in Chapter three because he talks about it more, which I’m all done with Chapter two.


I’m, uh, I think. OK, so my last thing about. Uh, chapter. Ta ta is holding, um, he he Andy, we are got me so caught up in the science

that I managed to forget how anyone connected to this character might feel, which is fascinating because he’s done that. He’s forgotten, like to think about how his parents are feeling. And I was so caught up in the science that I didn’t think about it. And that’s out of that is not normal at all for who I am as a person. And then and then he at the end of the chapter, reality comes crashing back. And we’ve had a lot of fun. This chapter. There’s been a lot of humor and a lot of optimism. And there’s just like this pattern. And I got really upset because I was like, oh, yeah, we’re going he’s going to survive. We’re going to do this. Yes. And then Andy Weir’s like and he comes in and he just like Godzilla’s all over it.


And the rose colored glasses just go like, shatter everywhere. And I, I found it upsetting. I found it really what I do, what he how did he stop all over. I don’t even remember. I mean I can look but I don’t remember exactly what it was.


I think it’s, I think it’s the water. I think he says he has no idea how he’s going to come out, what it is. Yeah, I don’t know, because then chapter three begins as he’s talking about.


Oh yeah. How do I generate water. Oh yeah. He talks about how like he’s got a thousand days.


It’s, it’s the water but it’s the potatoes and he has to continually grow them. And how many calories does he need. And so you end with there’s about a thousand days of food I don’t have and I don’t have a plan for how to get it. Shit. So and you’re just like, oh um.


But luckily he comes through and the Aries three mission was supposed to be on Mars over Thanksgiving. And so the shrinks at NASA, as he put it, decided that the crew ought to cook a meal together rather than having everything just ready to be microwaved or whatever, as astronauts generally do. They sent along a small package of real live non freeze dried potatoes so the crew can cook a Thanksgiving dinner.


The only reason that he would manage to be able to manage any of this is because normally that’s not you know, they would be frozen potatoes and then he’d have been screwed.


Yes. And I think in general, he can generate soil. He can plant the potatoes and grown more potatoes. And that becomes his plan.


Mm hmm. All right. Chapter three. Yep. All right. So he’s doing a bunch of algebra and he doesn’t explain it. And I, I have this thing about the first few chapters. He’s been going through all of the math. And I. What is it? What is he trying to calculate? I don’t see. Listen, you guys, I tried to reread Chapter three, so I was fresh in my mind and my husband kept distracting me like, sure, he’ll be shocked, shocked at that. He was so rude that he would go so far to find that there’s gambling going on in this establishment. Oh, my God, that’s a little. And whatever whatever. Casablanca. Watch it. It’s also. For once, he wasn’t talking to me carry on. I have actually seen it now finally as of this summer. OK, so what is he doing? Because you did ask. So he’s talking about still creating calories. Yeah. Um, so he needs essentially one thousand four hundred twenty five days of food. So anyway, I, I would not have minded him doing the algebra because I feel like if Marwah Mark Watney explained it to me, I would understand it. And he didn’t explain it to me and I don’t entirely begrudge him of that. But so far so good on the explanations. Yes, excellently done.


So he has this plan. He’s going to plant potatoes in the soil that he’s generating himself all over the floor of the hab, but he needs water. And that is sort of the the problem that we are left with, uh, at the end of Chapter three. But he’s working through how do I generate water? And he’s shoveling in a lot of dirt from the Martian surface and trying to maximize where he can grow it. He’s going it on the ground. He’s growing it on his crewmates bunks. He’s growing it on tables. He’s growing it in the rovers and the rovers pop tents, which are for emergencies. He’s really maximizing the amount of area that he can turn into farmland on Mars.


There was one moment where he said that he had prepped the the bunks so that they could carry that amount of weight of soil, and I was like, the soil is going to.


The soil is going to be heavier than a person, really, but, yeah, that’s true.


I mean, well, I mean, I guess you picture a bag of fertilizer that is smaller than a person and it’s heavy as hell.


Yeah, well, I mean, remember, we’ve got these like, I started gardening and we’ve got these massive pots and back that are unmoveable. I don’t know how we’re ever going to move them through. You guys, there are tricks for this. Put up milk, milk bottles at the bottom and then put soil on top. Then you can move them just so you know.


That’s why we fill the entire thing.


Ok, so I felt like he’s done a really good job with the emotional roller coaster just in the in the explaining of all of the math and the science. He’s still he’s not making the science and math super dry. He’s still you’re encountering all of the emotions that come with this and not just his, but yours. And I don’t know, I I thought it was woven quite love. Lovely.


Yeah, that is exactly how I say that, not a word I one thing that I really appreciate because again, this is one of those things that I think any lesser writer would have been tempted to do. And Andy Weerd doesn’t. And it’s so the right choice. And that is he doesn’t flirt with madness. You know, a lot of these stories like Castaway, you’ve got Tom Hanks developing a budding relationship with a volleyball and like kind of going into, you know, crazy guy to say that that wouldn’t happen. No, but it might not. And a lot of writers treat it as sort of a given that if you’re alone for more than three days, then you’re immediately going nuts. And I really appreciate that. No, you know what? Mark Watney is lonely and he’s scared and he’s worried that he’s going to die.


But he’s also like, OK, he’s also got tethers to the outside world in ways that, like, Castaway doesn’t, you know, because you he still can listen to music, he can watch shows and he can, you know, pretend like he’s talking to someone by doing the diary.


It’s true. The volleyball again, I’m not I’m not saying that, like, this had to be.


What I’m what I’m saying is that a lot of these stories, you know, I’ve seen movies and TV shows where somebody left alone for, like, you know, a few months and all of a sudden they’re like super quirky and eccentric. And it’s like, OK, but it’s refreshing that, you know, spoiler alert by the end of this story, he’s still not really going like he’s well. So a pretty resilient guy. And I just think that was the right choice for this.


I think it was the right choice. But I will say there’s a line where he says, um, little hab on the prairie. And for me, I found that really jolting as someone who grew up in the Midwest.


I’m from South Dakota and, you know, Little House on the Prairie takes place in South Dakota. And I hated those books. I hated them because it was too lonely. It was too barren. It was, you know, the the guy up and moves his family because he can, like, see a house and he’s like, no, no, no. That’s not why I’m out here. We’re leaving. So he’s constantly like he’s trying to get away from society.


Now, I could be wrong on some of this because I did not read all the books because I hated it. Sorry, Christina. Um, but I. I can’t stand it. And so the the the fact that he even said that, like, brought up some serious anxiety for me, because I don’t I don’t want that for him, you know, and like he I like I said, he has these tethers to his past life and to the outside world.


But it’s it’s still it’s just it sounds so lonely and it’s so scary. And for me, I found that incredibly jolting. Now, people who maybe don’t have the same reaction to you, Laura Ingalls Wilder might not have that might not be so.


I think that was privatizing like that was meant to be a real zinger line. No, not for not for the boys. Boys are me to read that crap.


So one of the other manages to Apollo 13 is he talks about how the PUP tents, how he would love to be able to use two of the three. Um, uh, what are those called the pup tent. Well, no, no, there are two pop tents and he’s got like essentially three exits out of the airlock, the airlocks. And he would happily do give up two of the airlocks for the PUP tents, but he can’t figure out how the how the hab airlocks are so much bigger than the pup tent. He can’t figure out how to connect the two. And all I could think of was Apollo 13 and how they had to get the two filters to fit together. And I was like, man, if he had access to his Houston, yeah, he he’d have an answer. Someone would figure it out for him. And I don’t know, it just and he has to not do it. He has to choose like, OK, I’m going to have to lose air every time I go in and out of the pup tent, which is actually something that is sort of worth mentioning is that Mark Watney is not a superhero.


There are moments in this story where he comes against a problem and you just can’t do that.


I guess, like, that’s just there’s no there’s no fix.


You just have to work around it or he’s not going to be the one who comes up with the answer. Yeah, he he his his expertise only goes so far. He doesn’t have a roundtable of people.


Yeah. He had to lend their help. He specifically tells us his role in the mission was as the botanist and as the mechanic chemical engineer. And so he’s good at repairing things which is great, he’s good at growing food, which is great. But he’s not going to be the one who, you know, rewrites the code of the rover or anything like that. He has a specific skill set and he’s not a just sort of all around perfect hero who can do anything yet, which again, just makes the story more interesting.


So can we talk about the D.A. part?


Yes, we can talk about the D.A., the D.A. part, you guys, he he he’s talking about how he had played a cleric and he had this spell that was create water and he thought it was stupid. So we never used it. And now he’s wishing he had create water. And all I could think was. What would I want to do?


I always play barbarians, and so, like I mean, you make it sound effects now, but like I just I do I like rages and I don’t those aren’t really things you need in real life.


But you play clerics.


I do. And I have great water. I’ve never used it.


Is there a spell that you wish you could have in real life?


There’s so many spells I wish I could have. And we’re like all of the spells. I wish I could have created water. Even though you don’t use it. Yeah, I don’t use it in the game. I would use it in real life.


Oh man. I’m typing code. I don’t want to go over to the water cooler just for you, so you just get real lazy.


Yeah. This is why we don’t have the budget. This is why we don’t have it. Because you may be lazy assholes. Yep.


That’s the idea. I would be real sneaky. That would that’s what I would do.


I would like create you’re a barbarian in the game but you are a rogue in real life.


We don’t need to talk about that. It’s true, though.


Ok. All right, so we’re nearing the end of Chapter nine. Thank you. What do you get?


Ok, so there’s a moment, um, I, I just.


There’s a moment at the end that’s like sexy as fuck, you know, yeah, yeah, it’s totally weird, but the breakdown of the complex systems and he’s weighing the advantages and disadvantages and he’s explaining it all. And I’m not following it all super well because this guy is distracting me. But I’m still I’m sitting here being distracted by my husband while going, oh, God, this guy’s brain, it’s so sexy.


Leave me alone. That’s that’s a healthy marriage.


Anyway, I just I, I really liked that. I liked the explanation of all of those, how he’s going to get water and why he’s not going to do it this way because it’s not worth it. It’s really like he’s got an idea, but it’s up our whole air supply and we don’t want to. And he’s like, I’ve got an idea. It’s real dangerous and dumb, but it’s not dumb. It’s incredibly intelligent. It’s just real danger and risky. And, um, I, I loved it. I loved that part.


That takes us into Chapter four, which will be next week.


No, no, no. We’re not done yet. He I don’t remember what he says, but he’s at one point he’s like, I’ll be too dead to appreciate it. And I something about the water. But again. Cackling So much cackling you guys. But it ends. Do you know do you remember how Chapter three ends Three’s Company reference? Yes. I simply can’t abide the replacement of Crecy with Cindy. Three’s Company may never be the same after this fiasco. Time will tell.


And I’m just like, oh, my God, look, I don’t the the random. Yeah, old. They’re not pop culture references. They’re like part culture. Yes. Yeah. And I love them even though they don’t all make sense to me because like hell if I watched Three’s Company, I don’t know anything about it.


But I’ve seen in two different contexts people making jokes about how repetitive that show was. One of them is in The Martian where he jokes that I watched the episode of Three’s Company where one of them sees something and takes it out of context. The joke being that that happens in every episode of Three’s Company and then again on Friends. There’s a moment where they’re watching Three’s Company. And Chandler says, oh, this must be the episode of Three’s Company where there’s some kind of misunderstanding. And Phoebe picks up the remote and goes, oh, well, then I’ve seen this one and changes the channel. So like, yeah, I want me to watch Three’s Company. And apparently it’s all the same joke.


But apparently, um, but apparently replacing this character is unacceptable. Yeah. So anyway, so that takes us to Chapter four.


We’re going to be picking up with Chapter four next week and continuing our way through this book. It’s going to be the next several episodes of our show, making our way through The Martian. And then when we wrap up the book, we’re going to have a special episode talking about the movie and how it did, adapting both the science and the book.


So, you know, go get the book, because it’s most excellent and it’s not the exact same as the movie, which is also incredible awesome. But make sure you get it. We’re going to start with Chapter four.


Hmm. Follow along if you want. If you’ve got comments, you can leave them on our YouTube page, where we’ll be mirroring this episode. You can put them on Facebook or Twitter. We’re all over the place, Sedgwicks Entertainment. And yeah, if you have any questions, we can jump in to them in the next episode. And we love for you to follow along.


Yes, yes. Ask us questions and we’ll make Alex explain things to us together.


All right. Thank you, guys. Have a good night.


Thank you. Be sure to subscribe so you get the next episode

The Synthesis: Gravity (Episode 2)

On the topic of the blockbuster hit Gravity starring Sandra Bullock, Lacey Hannan thinks you should get a load of this guy (Alexander Winn) talking about how George Clooney should have been liquefied in a dramatic sonic boom.

𝕋𝕙𝕖 π•Šπ•ͺπ•Ÿπ•₯π•™π•–π•€π•šπ•€ is a live talk show that aims to find the relationship between science and fiction in pop culture. We’ll discuss a book, movie, or show each week that’s science-focused and talk about just how realistic it is, where reality is cooler than fiction, and exactly where certain liberties were taken. Join us!

[00:00:09] [00:00:52]

Hey, folks, this is Alexander Winn. Hi, and I’m Lacey Hannan.


We are the co-founders of Edgeworks Entertainment. And you are watching the synthesis episode two.


Yes. It’s good to be back. It’s good to be back.


We hope you’re excited. Yep. So what is the synthesis? Tell us, Alex. So you’re more concise. So there’s something some days. Not always. Not always true.


So the synthesis is the new show from Hedrick’s Entertainment, where we’re going to be taking a look at movies and TV shows, video games and books and all sorts of stuff, and talk about not only how did they do as popular entertainment, but also how did they represent real science and real history as part of the entertainment.


Yes, that’s that that is that is that is the thing Hedrick’s entertainment for those who don’t know, we are the makers of terror Genesis, which is your dark horse. Once upon a time, it was an indeed.


Can we do we still call it. We’re still in Eddie. I mean, we’ve just gotten a lot of downloads. Yeah. So I was I was going with 20 million downloads. And so based on real science. Based on real science, we do. We like it.


I mean, he loves it. I like it.


All right, be sure to give us a follow if you haven’t already so you can see new episodes as they come out. We’re going to be doing these weekly.


So, yeah, we’re doing I mean, weekly except for next week. Yes. Listen, I don’t. For those of you who aren’t in the U.S., next Thursday is Thanksgiving major holiday. So we won’t be here now. We’re going to be in a cabin in the woods.


We’ll be back way to make its own gravy. We’ll be back right after this. Oh, yeah. Real quick, we’re married. So, like, just this isn’t very important. Delacey that everyone knows.


Listen, I just feel like when people are going to be like, what is this relationship. It’s, I don’t know, it just probably helps people to have that understanding, that base level of knowledge. Yeah. Real history.


All right. So this week we’re going to be talking about gravity, which is a space disaster movie from 2013. We’re coming hot off the heels of our last episode about Apollo 13, which was a real space disaster. And now we’re going to be talking about a fictional space


disaster. And for those of you who don’t know, Lacey is terrified of space disasters. So, Lace, how did you feel about watching gravity?


Oh, gravity tried to give me a heart attack until. Until I started watching it, just for the real science of it all, yeah, and then it mostly just made me mad. All right. So that’s that’s where we’re coming in. The music that we have that like introduces the show so gentle. And I feel bad because I am not feeling very gentle about this movie. So it’s all right. So false advertising from the intro. Yes.


So some quick background notes before we get started. Directed by and I’m going to butcher this pronunciation. Maybe you know how. No, I don’t. Alfonso CuarΓ³n, maybe. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to direct. Written by Alfonso and his son Jonas Onis. Yeah, written by Father and Son, which is the title. I assumed it’d be like brothers. Yeah. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney with a voiceover from Ed Harris. I Knew It. Right. And Music by Steven Price. We don’t always mention the music, but I feel like in this one we absolutely had to because the character of the gut wrenching tension. Yes. Comes from the soundtrack.


Oh, my God. The I also have a note here that the British visual effects company, Framestore, spent more than three years working on this movie and over 80 of its 91 one minutes are special effects from this company.


So definitely a tour de force of what is possible with computer animation. So, yeah, for those who haven’t seen it, gravity is about a space mission. Modern day two astronauts repairing the Hubble Space Telescope when an accident happens elsewhere in orbit. When the Russians are trying to demolish this, I wouldn’t call it an accident. Well, I mean, they were trying to demolish a satellite. They didn’t mean to do all of that. They set off an accidental chain reaction. Right. But that’s because someone wasn’t thinking, yeah, and debris begins flying around orbit. And it’s about these two people and eventually this one person trying to get back to Earth amid this unfolding disaster. Do you have any feelings? Yeah. Do you have any overarching thoughts to get into before we start stepping through the story?


I mean it. Well, let’s I think we should just start with the very beginning, OK, which which the the the moment it opens, you’ve got some words coming across the screen and it says. At six kilometres above planet Earth, the temperature fluctuates between two hundred and fifty eight and negative one hundred and forty eight degrees Fahrenheit. There’s nothing to carry sound, no air pressure, no oxygen. Life in space is impossible. Setting the tone. I was going, all right, like maybe there’s real science in this movie. Crushing blow to my hopes and dreams for it. OK, OK, I will be nicer. I will not I will not just I mean really I don’t have a lot of good notes. No, no. OK, so overall, thumbs down from you. I mean, I like this movie for the art. If you’re just watching it for the art of it all, I think there’s something to it. There’s probably some great things to be said for it. But, um, I think that it’s, um, kind of hammers you over the head with its themes and the allegorical nature of of it. And I find that really frustrating as an artist. Like I come from the film industry and I just I, I like subtlety. And there’s just zero subtlety to this movie. It is beautiful. Um, I do think that there are some solid acting moments. Um, but I, I really struggled with the direction from beginning to end. And seeing as he is the director and writer and producer like that’s all on this one guy. So, um, and from a scientific aspect, like maybe you can tell me that there’s actual real science in it.


But from from my amateur, I there’s just not so, you know, I was actually so I’ve got some notes that I was that I had for the end, but I’ll go ahead and sort of tease them now, which is anybody who is sort of interested in real science and movies and TV shows based on real science, we’ll start to notice a pattern, which is that a lot of movies pat themselves on the back for being historically accurate or scientifically accurate.


And then the experts like Neil deGrasse Tyson or whoever will come in and be like, no, no, no, no, no, no, you’re not.


Here are all the ways you’re not. And you can tell that, like, the creatives are really excited to sort of do do this thing that’s scientifically accurate and it’s just not up to snuff from the perspective of the professionals. Gravity is the first movie I have ever seen where all the creatives were like, I don’t know, it’s not that scientifically accurate. Like we tried to do our best, but we didn’t really do that well. And all of the experts are jumping in, going, it’s incredible. They did so much. Right. And obviously there are some things that they got wrong and we’ll we’ll go through them.


But there are so many things I’m suspicious of this I’ve got I’ve got quote after quote from, like astronauts and NASA professionals and things that that range from the really nit picky, like individual pieces of gear that they have on the space station that like who would have thought to put that particular wrench?


Except they did put that particular wrench and. Yeah, all sorts of stuff.


So I’m I mean, I’d kind of love to hear it. Maybe it’ll help color my review of it. All right. In a positive thing because I have next to nothing positive to say so.


The director said this is not a documentary. This is a piece of fiction. The costume designer made a big deal about how apparently no space suit opens from the front. Whenever you’re putting on a space suit, someone else helps you do it because it sort of buckles up in the back. But they needed her to be able to get in and out on her own. So they had to redesign it and re-adapt all the functions of the suit for a front opening and a bunch of stuff like a bunch of different creatives. We’re talking about the things they had to change or the things that weren’t accurate. But anyway, so Michael J. Massimino, who took part in the Hubble Space Telescope telescope servicing missions, which is to say he’s doing what the characters in this movie are doing, OK, said nothing was out of place. Nothing was missing. There was a one of a kind of wire cutter we used on one of my spacewalks. And sure enough, they had that wire cutter in the movie. Buzz Aldrin, very famous Buzz Aldrin, landed on the moon, said, I was so extravagantly impressed by the portrayal of the real of the reality of zero gravity going through the space station was done just the way I’ve seen people do it. In reality, the spinning is going to happen, maybe not quite that vigorous, but certainly we’ve been fortunate that people haven’t been in these situations yet. I think it reminds us that there really are hazards in the space business, especially in activities outside the spacecraft.


Did a PR company pay for these quotes? I’m pretty sure that’s what happened here.


So let’s see, here’s one. One of them is praising the, uh, the use of 3D, which is not quite, but OK.


Beyond the tools, beyond the gravity stuff like the actual work done. Yeah. OK, let’s just go ahead. We can go back to the top and you can find your notes on it later.


One other quote just in from Cody Coleman said, The only really big mistake they made in the movie is that you if you were up there on a space mission, the last thing you do is let George Clooney go, which, you know, yeah, that was George Clooney call and he made it too quickly.


Let’s start at the beginning of the movie. OK, so I, I this the sound effect that, you know, they they tell you right at the beginning there’s nothing to carry sound. And as soon as you’ve got that sound and that rising, rising, rising tension and then it just cuts out and it’s like the sound effects really set up the the the movie, which is, you know, they they do a good job. I don’t appreciate it because it tries to give me a heart attack. Yes, I feel like.


So my take on this movie overall is only OK. I had a lot of criticisms of this movie too. But I feel like by the end of this episode, we’re going to have ended with you talking about all the things that are terrible of me just trying to shore up the other side. So let’s start with the opening shot is really impressive, 13 minute long without a cut like I have from a filmmaking standpoint. I have no idea how they pulled that off. But one of the things just to point out what you were talking about with sound effects, the music does an incredible job with rising tension. But I did find a note that apparently when the trailers for Gravity came out, they had sound effects in space. You could hear the explosions and all that sort of thing. But that is not true in the movie. There’s no sound in space and that’s how they do it. But I did notice one thing that was very subtly done, but I really appreciated it as soon as I noticed it, which is there is sound in space as long as she’s touching something.


Whenever she’s, like, holding on to the side of the ship, you can hear the ship creaking and shaking and then as soon as she lets go, it instantly cuts out because it’s the sound isn’t being transferred through her gloves.


Yeah, they they do a couple of things really well within the environmental aspect, and that’s one of them. I do have to say that they did a great job of a couple of things like that.


I feel like that’s kind of where probably 60 or 70 percent of their effort went is just evoking the environment of space, whether it’s in the cinematography or in the sound design or in any of this. I feel like the point of this movie was make you feel like you are out of control in zero G.


And that’s maybe to the detriment of other parts of the movie where a lot of the creative effort went into. And you can tell, but you can also tell that, you know, time wasn’t spent on other things. Mm hmm.


I mean, I think time wasn’t spent on the science within the script environmentally, they they did some cool things. But what is she doing with the panels? We have no clue.


She’s installing some kind of prototype. She talks about she’s designed a thing and she’s installing it.


Yes. And and even that comes into question because he’s like NASA doesn’t do prototypes, like they put millions of dollars into this. This is they wouldn’t do something that they are unsure of.


Well, I mean, my read of that was that she was being self-deprecating. She was saying, yeah, I made this thing in my garage and he’s like, they don’t do things.


But that’s what I’m saying is like. Even the stuff that we’re told is walked back. Yeah, exactly, and so we don’t know what she’s doing with the panel. There’s a lack of info that I was I wanted. Like she she warned engineering that this could happen and they didn’t take heed. And then, of course, they don’t apologize. And it’s Mel when she’s right there. And I, I, I was really frustrated with that because I don’t believe. OK, so last week we watched Apollo 13. There’s so much redundancy and there and I fell in love with that. If you watch the first episode, I was severely injured. Yes, I loved that. And I felt like this movie is the polar opposite of Apollo 13.


And they there there’s no redundancy and no no redundancy and a surprising lack of preparation. Yes. The biggest thing like I feel like this is a really interesting movie about what would happen if NASA had lower standards, like, you know, because they’re really good.


But because, you know, the thing is, it’s one of the things that a lot of people talk about with this movie and I know is one of the issues that you had.


It is one of the issues that I had with it, is that she doesn’t seem very thoroughly trained, know it’s like she’s a newbie and she has to be sort of walked through what to do every step of the way. And at first I just thought that was OK. Well, somebody didn’t know how to write really competent characters. Not everybody can be anywhere.


But then I started to notice that even within the script, they kind of hint that she is kind of a new like at one point, George Clooney specifically asks her, how long did you train? And she says, six months. And then the Indian guy says, including holidays. And she goes, Yeah. Which sort of draws our attention even more to the fact that she’s apparently not done as much training as her crewmates would have expected, and not only that, but she didn’t train with them.


You know, they don’t seem they don’t he doesn’t know how long she trained. He had to ask her while they were up there.


And that seems to me I’m highly suspicious.


Yeah, I think that even if they didn’t even if she was like a last minute replacement, which I’m sure, you know, somebody gets away because she went up to put the prototype in. Well, right. Right. But what I’m saying is, like, even if somebody else was supposed to be on that mission and they got bumped at the last minute, like in Apollo 13.


George Clooney would have reviewed her file, like he wouldn’t be asking, what are you installing? How long did you train? Like, why don’t you know this?


Yeah, yeah, that is. And and like I said, the weird part is that it’s almost like the script itself is asking you to ask the it wants you to ask these questions because it keeps bringing up things that you didn’t have to put that in the script. Like all you needed was for George Clooney to not ask that question. And we would just assume that they train together.


And I like I meant to go look up NASA like training protocols because it was I found it so upsetting that they would send someone such an amateur up there. And, you know, it gets underlined again and again that she doesn’t she has always crash landed the I don’t remember what it’s called. So. Yes. Yeah. Like. Excuse me, what like I know she’s not supposed to pilot, but, my God, you you can’t do something that is so only important to your survival or not even important to your survival, because theoretically, they weren’t supposed to use that spacecraft at all.


But I’m surprised that anybody in a in an astronaut training program gets to just fail.


Like if you tried a thing and then you failed and you failed and you failed. And then I guess they were just like a. Like, why didn’t you keep trying?


There’s like there’s a phrase for people who get promoted past their competency. Yeah. And to me, like, I don’t remember what it is, but to me that’s what’s happened is rising to the level of your incompetence. Yeah. And to me, it’s more like she I’ve got an uncle who does who who does project management for for various companies that end up putting experiments on on shuttles and things like that. He’s a legitimate rocket scientist and project manager and he’s never been in space. To me, this would be a project that had been project managed by this woman and she would never have left Earth like she she has. There’s no good reason for her to be up there. And I I found that so frustrating. And I found it kind of insulting to actual astronauts because the amount of work they do and I was like, you didn’t work hard enough to get here.


Yeah, I actually I’ve got a note here at the beginning. So one thing that our viewers will either already have picked up on or pick up on as the show continues is I don’t like just straight up criticizing things like I always try to look on the other side.


Yeah, I always try to spin it in a positive light. And so actually at the beginning, when the crisis starts happening, I have a note here that says Panic. This movie is an interesting exploration of what is totally understandable, but still unprofessional where like, I can’t fault her for hyperventilating when she’s spinning off into space. Like, yes, that is a totally reasonable response, except that the reason that you get to be an astronaut is because you have that trained out of you. And so I kept sort of bouncing back and forth between, OK, this is a reasonable human response, but it’s still unprofessional.


Just like with a soldier, if somebody is shooting at you, it is totally reasonable to want to turn around and run away. But you’re a soldier, so don’t turn around and run away like this is what you trained for. And as the movie went on, I have little indented notes below that line that just get more and more and more critical because as the movie goes on, it’s less and less. You know, when it first happens, everybody’s freaking out. The lizard brain kicks in. Sure. But after a while it’s like, OK, but you got to like, get on, get with the program. There’s a shot when he George Clooney goes out to get her and brings her back and they’re coming in toward the the ruined shuttle. And he tells her because he’s got his hands on the jet controls, he tells her grab the body of the third astronaut who has died. And there’s a thing they do throughout this movie where they cut to a first person camera. And I will have to say, not many movies do a straight first person camera where you can literally see the hands. And this is the best version of it I’ve ever seen. Like they did it and they did it in the movie. They do it every once in a while and it’s always awful. And this time it’s at least reasonably well done, except that she’s flying in and he says, get hit, grab his body. And she’s like, OK. And so the hands are out like this. And then she’s coming in faster and faster and she does like this. Which is like, OK.


You’re you’re trying to prevent an impact, but also like you’re supposed to grab the like so off like three or four times throughout this movie, she’s given instructions to grab on. And when she gets close, she does like this. But that’s not how you grab onto things. That is specifically like that’s the opposite. Yeah, that’s that’s a pushing away young.


One of my biggest frustrations before we even get to the her flying off into space, the the lack of professional voice during high stress moments drove me crazy because especially what’s his name. Ed Ed Harris. Right. Ed Harris, I we talked about an Apollo 13. Ed Harris and Tom Hanks had excellent professional voices like all of these people would, would just go from like high stress into their mask. Yeah, like professional carboy. Yeah. And and we are hearing from Ed Harris the exact opposite a week later of him flipping out.


And I’m saying you’re going wait way, way. Is anybody in control here who did it? Yeah. By the time he’s even yelling at one point.


Yeah. And I was just I was about to like, lose my mind because, like, the lack of following directions when told to abort, I mean, even Kevin Bacon and Apollo 13 followed directions and I was willing to blame everything on him. He does great. But like, I kept going, wow, Hanks is a better leader than Clooney, obviously. But the way they are, accuracy can be more than just about science and history. It can be about the way you comport yourself while in in situations that for other people are actually real life. Yes. And I felt like the director purposefully pushed the drama in a way that was totally unnecessary. The these astronauts could have been professional and competent the entire time and still had all of this happen. And it would have been incredibly dramatic, but it would have been more realistic to me, therefore, more powerful and more powerful. And again, not as like hitting me over the head with the drama.


Yeah, I feel like there’s a there’s a central tenant of the disaster film genre, which. Not everybody picked up on it. I think that the filmmakers here didn’t really pick up on it, which is disaster films are very much like Sherlock Holmes stories, which is the the thrill is watching people overcome stuff that you don’t think you could have. Right. Just like Sherlock Holmes. The whole point of watching a Sherlock Holmes story is watching him solve a crime and being mystified at how brilliant he is. If you’re watching a disaster film and you’re leaning back the whole time going, why are they doing this? That’s not fun. Fun is watching people overcome insurmountable odds. And if they’re reacting with less competence than the audience feels that they would have in that situation, then. The whole thing just becomes a what not to do.


Yeah, and this this entire movie kind of feels like that.


I will say we sort of breezed by the initial crisis. Yeah. Which is worth taking a minute. First off, can you imagine how the fallout from this movie? Like, I kind of want a sequel to Gravity that is not a disaster movie, but is like a West Wing style or like an Aaron Sorkin political legal drama around Hey, Russia, you tried to destroy one missile with a rocket and you instead knocked out the entire planet’s satellite grid. Oh, like what?


I and I wanted to know the fallout from that.


Like, that was way more important to me than this woman getting back to Earth because was alienating at a certain point, if all of the space stations are shredded, we have to assume that all of the communication satellites are shredded. We know that they lost their communications. You’d think that they would have bounced something off, something if there was anything left. But the implication is that there’s literally nothing in orbit anymore except debris. GPS is out. Yeah, communications are out.


This is like apocalyptic kind of stuff.


Like this is the kind of thing where entire power grids start dropping because, you know, this is like Y2K wasn’t but could have been. Yeah. And that is a story worth exploring.


I wrote the explosion kind of sucks. I don’t really know what that means. So if you know what that means, let me know. But just because we’re going back to, like, the actual story of it, there’s that point. There’s a moment where Clunies says doing that thing you’re doing is the point of the mission. What a dumb line that is like the most exposition, but like it’s it’s crap exposition with zero information. Yeah, like what is she doing? What is this mission like? Can we can we talk about that before we get into this disaster?


Because I want to know what she’s good at, man, because you make her look bad at everything.


Also, if that’s the whole point of the mission, why don’t you know what she’s installing? Yes.


I will say, though, on on the upside, one thing that I did have to did have to give it is the speed with which things fall apart, I feel like was perfect.


I feel like a lot of filmmakers would have wanted to absolutely blindside them. Like this is just coming out of nowhere and all of a sudden the world is ending, whereas and then others would have wanted to sort of drag it out and tease it and and make it this slower build. Whereas I feel like so the the debris wave comes around three times by the end of the film and each time. I feel like there is enough time for the audience to recognize what’s happening, you start to see things whizzing by in the background, you start to pick up on, oh, wait, I think it might be here, but then by the time it starts, it’s happening so fast that you sort of can’t respond fast enough. You know, like, yes, she should have stopped what she was doing and headed back to the shuttle. But as George Clooney points out later, they were never going to make it. Like in retrospect, there was no way they had enough time to get back into the shuttle. There was no way, you know, she she goes out at one point to detach the parachute from the Soyuz and you start to see things whizzing in the background and the music starts ramping up. And it’s just like there’s we’ve already established how long this thing takes and there’s not enough time to get.


Well, I think that’s actually part of one of the problems for me is that Houston explains to them that this has happened and that engineering or whoever says it’s not going to hit you. And I’m sitting here going, OK, but it’s going on because it’s the movie. It’s a movie. So it does.


But how are the how are these brilliant minds who are double checking each other? How are they so wrong? It’s again, the lack of redundancy and to me, the lack of competency. And I’m just sitting here going, NASA has some of the smartest people alive working for them. This isn’t how this would go down. Yeah, I mean, this made me so angry for the real people out there doing this job.


I mean, the answer to your question, Ed Harris does say the debris, the initial debris cloud wasn’t going to hit them. But what happens is the thing that happens in this movie is that it hit something and then that one blew up and that’s headed their way. That is so before I watched this this week, four to four tonight, there were two things in my mind that went down as like the major inaccuracies in this movie. And one of them is and this one is like, to be honest, I’m willing to give it to them, because this is just the nature of drama.


I’m not I’m not willing to give them anything right now. So show me your way.


I file this under the same category as the dust storm in The Martian, which is way more powerful than any dust storm on Mars is ever actually going to be.


But we need it for the drama. And that is that space is so big that there’s no such thing as a cloud of debris that comes back around. Like if there was debris, it might hit you. But as soon as it does, it just scatters out into the universe.


And then there’s like a point zero zero zero zero zero zero three percent chance of another one passing within a mile of you.


You know, there’s just no I wasn’t willing to give that to them because it was to me, again, forced the story in a way that I thought was unnecessary. They didn’t have to do the repeat. Coming back around, yeah, they didn’t have to do it again, that that was already going to be hard enough for her to get back to Earth by herself as someone who never trained properly. It was going to be hard enough for her to do that. I don’t think that they had to underline it over and over and over again. Just I mean, I don’t understand what the point was to make it that that bad.


I mean, I think the answer is because otherwise she would have just gone to the soldiers and come back down and like you needed you needed some kind of ongoing threat because the Soyuz wasn’t going to be able to get her to Earth anyway because that parachute had already gone.


Right. True. So she needed to get to the to the Chinese station. Yeah. Um, either way. And that was already going to be problematic. I just I guess to me, they took it so far out of reality that I had a hard time suspending my disbelief right. Enough to to be willing to engage with the movie the way they wanted me to.


This is fun. This is the first time I think I’ve ever encountered a thing where your standards of scientific excellence are higher than mine.


This is weird. You’re freaking me out. Where is my husband? I am. I have concerns.


So quick history lesson, by the way. The Soyuz spacecraft dates back all the way to the 1960s and was designed as part of the Soviet lunar program.


And they’ve been using it ever since. They’ve obviously been updating it and building new ones and coming up with new versions. But it is the most reliable spacecraft ever designed with over one hundred and forty manned flights. Wow. Yeah, it’s the rocket that gets it up into space, was built out of a Russian ICBM, which is to say intercontinental ballistic missile. This thing rides a nuke into space.


And after the space shuttle was retired in 2011, it was the only vehicle that Americans could use to get to the ISS until this year, spring 2020 with space X.


Oh, look at that. We are no longer reliant on Soyuz.


Um, so I think now we are to George Clooney has picked her up. She has headed by the trauma of carrying a dead body, which, by the way, whoa, the guy’s face. It turned into a zombie movie for a little bit with seeing all all of the different dead crew members. I was I don’t do zombies either. Listen, I don’t like space disasters and I don’t like zombies and I don’t like postapocalyptic anything. And this is her.


And yet, weirdly, she loves the experience which has space disasters and zombies.


They get one that is the one that does it anyway.


So I this movie kind of I mean, I know it’s not a postapocalyptic movie, but it is her postapocalyptic like. That’s part of the theme, but OK, so we are now to they are having their little conversation.


They’re heading for the US to take Soyuzes down.


Yeah. And and they’re talking about her trauma. You know, who’s on earth. Yeah.


And I am displaying the fact that he knows nothing about this one, doesn’t know she’s married, doesn’t know if she has any kids or.


It’s utterly bizarre. Yeah. Especially because as we learned in Apollo 13, knowing your crew the way that they the tone of their voice and the way they breathe is so important. It was weird.


Also insists that you keep talking while she’s running out of oxygen, which is.


Oh, so I just I, I had like a hole. She keeps saying, sorry, there’s heavy breathing and she’s swearing all the time and like, girlfriend get it together. Um, she really doesn’t for the longest time.


Although I have to say I did laugh out loud at George Clooney saying we’re going back to the shuttle. Copy that. And she just says, fuck. And he goes, Roger, copy that.


That yes. That is exactly how that would go down.


Yeah. With someone who’s panicking. Yes, absolutely. But they’re talking about her trauma and you guys like, again, towards accuracy. I don’t think NASA would have let this woman up there because this woman needs therapy and therapy, I don’t say is a bad word because I go to therapy.


Therapy is great. People should do that. But she didn’t get it. And she’s got like PTSD.


Yeah, she’s got PTSD. And the other thing that that occurred to me, and this isn’t really something that sort of comes up within the script, but it’s something that once you start thinking about it, they sort of try to have their cake and eat it, too, where on the one hand she’s really sort of depressed and like she’s she what she talks about are symptoms of clinical depression, just driving for hours on end, like her social life is coming apart. She sort of doesn’t exist out of work. These are all big red flags for clinical depression, even suicidal tendencies.


And yet she made it through an astronaut selection program like that. The woman that just drives every evening for hours on end is not the kind of person who beats out a thousand other applicants to go on a space not without help.


And that’s kind of where I kept going, is like the I just drive line. It sounds poignant because the whole thing is she’s lost her daughter to what she calls a stupid accident. Our daughter’s on the playground. She trips and falls, hits her head, and that’s it. That’s the end. And it crushes this woman as it obviously would. Of course it does. And she gets the call while she is in her car. And now what she does in the evening, George Clooney asks her what her evenings look like and she says she listens to the radio while driving. That’s what she does. And I’m sitting here going, she’s putting herself through her trauma on repeat. And you don’t get through a psych eval when that’s the way you live your life. And at NASA, anybody an employer should be like you. We you need leave you. You need help. And out of here, we’ll put you on the next mission. Exactly. But that’s not how she is. She didn’t go through therapy. She shouldn’t be here. And I really frustrated by it because. The the dumb accidents that can happen in space, Russia does this dumb thing and it sets off this chain reaction that they underscore multiple times like. They’re dumb accidents and it’s happening again, and that’s what space is, accidents happen and that’s why you have redundancy so accidents don’t happen.

Gravity Movie


And when they do, they’re dumb, really what they should have done. And I’m just making this up now, but I’m pulling out a little piece of the Mars trilogy in early in the Mars trilogy. There’s this sequence where you learn that everybody on that first mission to Mars was lying through their teeth during their psych eval. And like the way that you get to go to Mars is that you just present yourself as the perfect candidate and you just don’t tell the truth to the shrinks at NASA. And it’s the sort of ongoing joke about how they’re all crazy because you have to be crazy to go to Mars. What they should have done with this movie that would have fixed a lot of problems is lean into her hyper competence early on that she is in control of every situation. She has trained every single situation. And what you realize halfway through the movie is, oh, this was her coping mechanism and that first she has to get to where she is in the movie. First she has to go from hyper competent to freaking out and then she can heal.


Yeah, exactly. And yeah, yeah, yeah. That would have to me that would have worked.


Yeah. If, if, if, if this was the thing that was finally more than she could take because she’d been gripping so hard, handling every situation that nobody can handle this. Yeah. And so it sort of forced her to come to grips with things you can’t control.


Yeah. Um so at this point we are to, we get to the ISIS. Um, well, hold on. ISIS is the first step, right. Yeah. So we kind of get to ISIS. They neither of them manage to grab on, to grab on. And I, I, I was really frustrated by that because he’s like, she’s like, you need to break and he’s like, I’ve only got one good thrust left. And I’m like, dude, you’re a pilot. And I feel like he should recognize they can’t come in too fast because you just I mean he says at one point, oh well that’s it.


That we’re coming in this fast. That’s all I’ve got.


Right. But to me, I feel like they had enough time from where they were to where they were going that he would not have let them come in that fast.


So this is this is one area where I will jump in and defend because there is specifically a line as they’re coming toward the ISIS where she notes, we’re not headed the right direction. We’re going this way. And he says, I’m not firing the rockets yet because I’m running out. And then later, he does course correct. They’re coming into the ISIS and she says, slow down. And he says, that was my last thing. So I was under the impression that the reason they were coming in so fast is because he had to use all of his rocket stuff to keep all of his fuel, to keep them on course. Otherwise they would be going at a reasonable speed in the wrong direction.


See, I was under the impression that he was like, this is all like he was saying as he was doing that last bit, I was under the impression that it was. I’m going to do this one last thing, because it’ll get us there and I’m sitting here going, but we know that an object in motion.


Oh yeah. Like yeah, he was course correcting rather than accelerating. OK, but if you want to hit on George Clooney, I will say this is the next of the two big things that I remember being inaccuracies, because this is one of those things that just.


It’s fine if you don’t.


Like, if you don’t spend all your time thinking about space, if you don’t spend all your time thinking about space physics, then it makes sense.


But the way George Clooney dies. Not only is unnecessary, it’s impossible because what happens is they’re they they go toward the space station, they’re trying to grab on to something, they’re trying to grab on to something they can’t and they end up getting detached.


The cable that connects them gets detached. And so they’re each flying around. She ends up getting tangled up in the parachute netting of the Soyuz, which is deployed. And so she kind of gets stopped and she’s able to grab on to the to the cable that was previously connecting them. He’s on the other side. He keeps drifting, but she’s connected to the to the parachute. And then she’s got his thing. He reaches the end. And then there’s basically a cliff moment where he’s like she’s trying to pull him up off the cliff.


And he’s like, you have to let me go. And then he ends up letting himself go and falling off the cliff.


Except here’s the thing. In space, you’re either moving or you’re not. There’s no gravity that’s going to keep pulling you down, which means that if she’s able to grab that an arrest, his momentum, he would automatically start moving back to her. He would go out and then it would start moving back like she could pull him. But she wouldn’t even really need to do that. She would just need to stop his momentum. And then he would either stop and then start slowly drifting back or and this is what they should have done for for movie drama. He would have cracked like a whip. Which would be so much more of a shocking death, because for those of you who don’t know, when you take a whip and you do like that and it cracks that sound that happens when you crack a whip, that’s actually a sonic boom. What happens is you take a whip, which is thick when you hold it and you use the you use the leverage and the tapering, the tapering with the mass of it. And so when you do like that, the the end moves so fast that it breaks the sound barrier and the same thing that like an airplane creating a sonic boom, that’s the crack of a whip. And so what they could have done is she gets tangled up in the net. They’re drifting, she reaches out, grabs the cable, he’s moving, and all of a sudden all the angular momentum of the parachute and her and the cable and him gets drifted out until he just. And now she’s she will just like basically liquefies it like he’s just all of the angular momentum gets put into his body as the end of the whip.


And now she either lets go because you can’t hold onto that much force or she gets it like wrapped around herself so that she’s still holding on to now his dead body. Right. That is the trauma that they were looking for from that instead of this weird thing where it’s like, OK, but what is pulling him? Yeah. Why? What is he?


Yes. And I was like, is he’s letting go. Was poorly thought through. It was impulsive, which I also like. I think we’ve seen enough astronaut things to know that there is something else, even if they have that fighter jock mentality. Yet however, there they are also freaking scientists and to me there’s an impulsiveness in his decision to die that I found remarkably out of character, even though his character is not set up to seem like the smartest person on the planet or the most capable or whatever. I just found it out of character for what we’ve seen of astronauts.


And they didn’t set him up as outside of that realm enough for me to believe it, especially because the fact that this was not a thing, according to physics, sort of undercuts the drama. But also because even if you don’t know enough science to not recognize that this isn’t a thing. They never really established what was the problem like she’s got him, she’s holding on to it. So why is he going to drift away, like if one of his thrusters was, like, broken and constantly pushing? And so it was like pulling him away from her and she was trying to hold on, then it would make sense. But as it was, it was like he’s just right there and he’s like, you have to let me go.


And it’s like, yeah, I guess I do, because that that the cable is coming loose around her foot. And I think the idea is she’s going to float away, but she’s her momentum is arrested, too.


Yeah. Like just pull him like, what’s the problem. Just get in here quick.


And honestly, you know, honestly, him managing like her pulling him is likely going to get him past her to the parts of the parachute jump. A real Horin.


Yeah. At a certain point she yanks him. He goes past and now he’s pulling her back to we’re not even halfway through this.


And it’s true, you guys, I’m sorry. We like there’s just a lot to kind of dive. It’s interesting how much you can dive into how little there is. And that’s kind of what we’re dealing with.


I will say this. This is not something I think they were trying to do specifically, but it did make me smile. The scene where she’s growing more and more delirious and he’s talking to her, did give me a fond memory, which is a scene from Firefly where Alan Ticketek and Nathan Fillion are being tortured and they’re being tortured by the bad guy. And the whole time, Nathan Fillion is just talking about how he’s going to have sex with Allenton ex-wife because it’s keeping him pissed off and it’s keeping his morale up. And and like, it’s this really funny scene because the bad guys are torturing them and they’re just fighting between each other, like ignoring the bad guy.


And I did think it was well done as he’s drifting away, not dead yet, but beyond help that he kept talking to her. And clearly the way he was talking to her was in that same spirit. It’s like talking trying to sort of keep her engaged, keep her focused so that she can get to safety.


One of the things that I was struggling with, as she’s trying to find the hatch that will allow her into the ISIS is that she keeps stopping to catch her breath. Yeah. And I’m like, no breath to catch. Yeah. Lady, you are breathing CO2. You need to get inside. You don’t get to stop. You are about to suffocate or whatever or CO2 poisoning. I don’t know. But is that what it is. Yeah. OK, so listen, I, I don’t I don’t love science the way he does and so I have to double check.


Sometimes I will say this quite possibly the scariest thing in the entire movie is that gas canister with the blue flame flying around in zero G in an enclosed environment that freaked me out when the ISIS is on fire and that, like fire in space is already scary. But that thing whipping around like a little rocket in the room like that, I would have lost my cool in that moment.


I thought, well, that’s cool, because she, for the first time ever, was calm enough to be like, I’m going to put out this fire, but then somehow didn’t stabilize herself so that she could actually put out.


I was so mad. I was so mad. I was like, you are oh for ten.


And this is the first time you’re going to be calm enough to actually fix anything and not have somebody save you and you screw it up by not stabilizing yourself. You’re in zero g lady. I was.


Oh you guys. I just got real mad. I got real mad.


All right. So at this point she goes out to the Soyuz, she’s going to get it hooked up, but she realizes that she’s still attached to the parachutes. So she has to detach the parachute. And I will say, I think one of my favorite moments in this whole movie is her trying to detach the parachute cables.


And then in the background, you just see one thing was by.


And then two things was by and she hasn’t, like, picked up on it yet, and you just the music starts to build up and build up and she turns and she sees it. And just the way that it revs back up to, oh, it’s here. Yeah, it was really well done.


You jumped the gun, OK? I’m not done with the fire. OK, we can get back to that. It’s going to be four hours.


I have, uh, OK, I the I want to know. How did this fire not?


Like, eat up all of the oxygen, that fire seemed big enough that it seemed like the oxygen would just have been burned away.


Oh, it would have just not I mean, I don’t know how fast fires burn up. Like, I don’t know what the rate of oxygen consumption is, but it would have eventually.


But in the 30 seconds that she was engaged, except for the fact that that fire became a roaring inferno explosion thing behind her. And I was sitting there going, if it’s that big, I just I don’t know that I believe that I am actually.


I’m not enough of an expert. And. All right. I was hoping know. But my but my guess is that if it’s inaccurate, it’s not by much. Because the thing is, the ISIS is pretty big. There’s a lot of air in a lot of different branching hallways. And so even like the the the path that she took through the ISIS was not much of the ISIS. So there was still plenty of air sort of coming into the room. And it may have suffocated itself just, you know, within that area.


But I think it works. I, I think my other problem with the fire portion is they’ve shown us to be shown her to be incompetent enough. That I don’t believe that she’d remember to take the fire extinguisher, which is important that she does.


Yeah, which I’m not in her defense, she didn’t remember. She tried to close the hatch and it closed on the fire extinguisher. So she just grabbed it.


Yeah, I thought she had purposely brought it with her and I was going, but I guess, OK, so maybe I’m right. She wasn’t. And it just was a happy accident. Good for her.


I will say the destruction of the SS from outside was quite spectacular. That was gorgeous to watch just the the destruction physics and the particle physics of all the different pieces flying around in the she’s going around it as it’s sort of tearing itself apart. And that was really impressive from a filmmaking standpoint.


Um, so she’s in the Soyuz. Yeah. And the parachute is keeping her there. And you want to know what the second time she doesn’t panic. It’s the second time of this entire film so far. She wants to swear and she doesn’t. And I was like. Really, I don’t. Again, I don’t believe you. So she’s like you. Yeah, like like, oh, you’ve earned it. I don’t know, I just was like you because you, Sandra Bullock does this nice thing where I mean, she obviously makes it look like she’s going to drop an F bomb and she doesn’t. And I’m sitting here going, oh, that’s a nice moment, Sandra. But that’s not what your character would do. Yeah, you’re alone. Yeah. Hero. Yeah. So, OK, we can we can move on.



All right, so I will point out one thing, which is just kind of fun, which is if you enjoyed the moment of her getting on the radio with Orning Guk, I think his name is and sort of having this moment of human connection, even though she doesn’t understand the

language, which I thought was pretty, pretty poignant and pretty, you know, I enjoyed it is there is actually a short film that is out there, which is from his perspective, it’s he’s like a shepherd or something in Mongolia. And it was written and directed by the son, by the the co-writer of the film. And you can I mean, it’s like Sandra Bullock, Sandra Bullock’s voice coming in through the radio and he’s like holding his baby and, you know, sort of chatting with her. There’s subtitles so you can see what he’s saying. And yeah, it’s just a neat little tie. End of the film I.


I don’t want to take that moment from anybody. But I did have the frustration of why can she talk to him, but not a single space program can talk to her, why? Why is this happening? And. Why is there no fuel and where is the redundancy? I, I that that was my overall question and I made it made me feel like humanity is just incredibly incompetent. And I didn’t like that.


It’s actually one could argue that gravity is a really good advertisement for NASA under the heading of this wouldn’t happen.


Yeah. Like like look at how inaccurate this movie is. Look at how good we are. Yeah. You know. Yeah.


Um, so sitting in that hatch talking to Onaga, I will say the I appreciate that when George Clooney opens the hatch, even though we quickly realized that none of this is actually happening, I appreciate how they portrayed him opening the hatch, because that is pretty realistic. Humans can survive in a vacuum. Yeah, that’s true. And I like that she didn’t get sucked out into space or anything. Like they he sits down, he and he’s kind of like unconcerned. Like he dials up the air and he’s like, I have I got a story for you.


I liked it. There are a couple of things that I like. I mean, OK, first of all, I will go back and say I liked heard her doing the the dog sounds. Yes. It was very it was very human and very mean, sort of primal.


Like this is a thing that the humans who don’t know each other language have been doing for, you know, fifty thousand years ago. You can imagine two people meeting in the forest and just sort of howling at the moon together.


Yeah, it definitely had, like. Yeah. Man’s best friend sort of feeling. And so I did like that. And then going into that to that, um, moment with George Clooney and yeah, I can appreciate it. I did want the end of his Mardi Gras story, so I was hoping we would get that. But no, they took that away from me too. Yeah. You guys, they tortured me.


George Clooney is just so charming. Yeah. It’s hard not to enjoy George Clooney just being George Clooney, but yeah, they’re not killing her with the vacuum was great.


I appreciated that.


While at the same time the abject horror of the moment when he does open the hatch and everything drops to silence and it’s just like, I don’t know about you, but me as an audience member, I was just like kind of took my breath away. How awful. It was like, no, no, no, no, no. You know, and he opens and it’s. Yeah, yeah. They did a good job of that.


Yeah, they did.


Um, so and then I, I mean I’m a I’m a sucker for, for, you know, sort of poignant. Like I’m, I’m, she’s friendly. But I do have to say I really enjoyed him.


Like this this sort of semi spiritual moment of of her, her self-preservation instinct manifesting through him and sort of kicking her into gear, I think that.


There was one of his lines was it’s safe, that’s why he likes space is because it’s safe. And to me, that should have at least got her to crack a smile because no, it’s not like.


Well, I think I don’t think he was saying space is safe. I think he was saying here in this room, we’re safe from other people.


That’s what he’s saying is like. And I’m sitting here going. It didn’t crack a smile. Oh, right, it’s a hallucination. Would her brain have come up with it safe because. I don’t know that it would I mean, I guess she felt like it was safe enough for her to die there, so, yeah, that that at least was part of what he was saying is it’s safe in this room.


It’s safe to just turn down the air and drift off to sleep instead of.


Facing the situation, you know, and I did think so one thing there, there is there are a few things in this movie that I think were really done well. There aren’t very many things that I thought were were done sort of uniquely well. But I did think there was one moment, which was a very interesting take and a very interesting twist on the formula, which is, you know, in in filmmaking, there’s an idea in the three act structure of a screenplay that some people call the whiff of death or or things like that, which is generally around the transition from the second act to the third. There is some kind of a defeat or a a surrender and then you rise up from it. And so in gravity, that is obviously the moment that she almost kills herself and then decides not to. But I thought it was interesting because usually and in moments like that, in movies, what you do, what the character does is renew their commitment to life. They they double down on I’m not going to die here. I’m you know, it’s a it’s a proactive statement. But I thought it was interesting that in this movie, it’s not framed as committing to life. It’s framed as saying goodbye to death. She’s saying, you’re going to meet my daughter up there. Tell her I’m going to be a minute. I’m not going to see her yet. Tell her goodbye for me.


And the whole thing is framed as a letting go instead of as a coming forward, which is exactly what the theme of the movie is, because he tells her, you have to learn to let go. Yes. And so it’s so yeah, I agree with that.


But I thought that was interesting, saying goodbye to death rather than renewing commitment to life.


I, I like that better than some of the stuff that I had to come up with. Um, so, uh, then I think we’ve gotten to the what is it called. The zoo. Yes.


Ok, so, um, the, the Tiangong is the space station and the zoo is the ship that she’s going to take. Right.


Right. Um, I will say one, the one thing that I will defend to the death about this movie that is absolutely perfect is the reentry sequence. The whole period, the the music and the the way she delivers the performance as they’re re-entering the atmosphere.


I’ve watched that probably 50 times. I’ve watched this movie twice. And that little chunk where she’s going into the atmosphere and the the space station is ripping itself apart around her and then sort of writes itself as it comes.


So what I was struggling with is. She’s not even inside, I guess she’s she’s gotten to the space station and it looks like it’s already itself working on falling to Earth. Yeah, kissing at I think she calls it. Yeah. And it’s moving so fast.


How does she’s like there’s no way that she is strong enough to stay holding on to it and she’s leaping around on it because they’re all going fast, like the SS is going thousands of miles an hour, but there’s no atmosphere and that thing is starting to kiss the atmosphere. But there’s very like I mean, obviously, I don’t know the exact stats, but we’re talking about like zero point zero one percent Earth’s atmosphere pressure up there.


And so it’s enough that, like, the panels are starting to shake and things like that. But it’s not actually enough to blow her around yet because it’s just so thin.


Right. But I just. She doesn’t. It doesn’t seem like she’d be strong enough to be able to like because she jumps and holds on to things, and as we’ve seen up until this moment, she’s not good at grabbing. So the fact that she finally figures out how to put her arms out and reach for things is, I guess also.


Symbolism, yeah. OK, well, I.


Well, and fundamentally, it’s you know, again, this goes back to the Martian, the dust storm in the Martian.


There are storms on Mars that are more than hurricane speeds with these winds.


But the thing is, the air pressure of Mars is half of one percent of Earth’s atmosphere, which is to say that when the wind is going at hurricane speeds, it’s like a gentle breeze on your face. It’s not that it exerts no force because the air is so thin. And so that’s basically what’s happening is that it’s whizzing by her at hundreds of miles an hour.


It just turns out that I’m willing to just say I’m wrong about that because why not?


Um, but yeah, that musical theme, the music, the full heroic theme as she’s coming back into the atmosphere is just so gorgeous. I bought the soundtrack just for that one song.


I wanted to know, why is this zoo like losing its mind? It has like all of these alarms going off. And I’m like, no, but you’re made to re- enter because she’s not doing it right.


Like she had the eeny, meeny, miny her. I mean, I saw that. So presumably those I mean, I don’t speak Chinese, but presumably what’s on what’s on the screens there is like, you forgot to do this. You forgot to turn this off, you forgot to do this and this. And you didn’t strap in. And you’re, you know, like all of that, like all the steps of reentry that she’s skipping. Mm hmm. Yeah, I she I did think that Sandra Bullock did a really good job with as she’s doing reentry, she’s like sort of defiantly, I’m going to do this. But she’s still terrified. Yeah. Like the hurt her performance walks the line of screw you space and oh my God, I don’t want to die really.


Well, I felt like so essentially we’re at the end. Yeah. She lands in the water. They at one point ask her to identify herself, which is just. Comically dumb because it’s not as if. I like it’s not like stuff isn’t raining all over the planet, all over the planet, like I just. Are you kidding me? It’s not like there is an alien in there. There is one of five people that could be in there. Yeah, get over yourselves. Um, I just I like the idea that it’s some weird spy mission or like aliens are invading, like, I don’t know what they think is happening, but you’ve just completely detached from giving them any credit.


No, they don’t. I’m sorry, but they don’t deserve it.


Ok, so here she she lands in the water. She almost drowned, which is another one of my least favorite things to see in movies. And then she thinks out.


If I did have a note. Oh, you thought you were done just because we’re back on Earth. You thought that you were going to be OK.

Gravity Movie


No. And so she goes from you know, we saw her in that fetal position with the umbilical cord like thing with light behind her. And now she is being birthed into the world and she kicks off her clothes and she looks like a tadpole and she washes up on the shore and she can laugh and she laughs as she tries to stand because she’s struggling the DeAndre. OK, great. So I just like here’s the deal, I, I, I want to know, a, what is the ending? That’s to me that’s not the ending. That is that is the end of her story. I’m done with her story. I want to know the fallout from this story. And I’m mad that I don’t get it. But I want to know why she had to do this by herself. Why is this a story of one woman who barely manages to make it? That’s not how you make it through the worst point of your life. So few people can do it by like. By themselves, why, why? Because doing it by herself. Why can’t this be a story of a crew?


What you’re asking for is a story about healing. Nobody heals entirely on their own. But I think that this is more a story of someone finding their will to live, which can happen on their own often. Oftentimes, when people are placed alone in situations, they find this kind of like determination to survive.


And I know that that’s true. But to me, that was. It was almost a little bit secondary because to me, this actually felt kind of like an allegory for the Book of Job, you were going to take everything from you and and you like you’re going to suffer and you’re going to you’re going to curse the day you were born and then you’re going to be reborn. And suffering should cause us to look for answers like that’s the book of job. That’s essentially what happens to her. And you you focus on the future and what’s in store for us. And to me, that’s kind of what they’ve done here. But I just don’t. I don’t know, I felt like it was. It was a boring story to tell, honestly, I fear it being as dramatic as it was, if you take out the three debris field, if you take out two of the debris fields and stop trying to like. Make drama happen. The story just kind of falls flat, which I think is why they have to do so much drama. And I found that really. Frustrating. Yeah, which I think ultimately so there’s a show runner named Glen Mazzara. And he was speaking to the art of writing and he wrote on the highly acclaimed Twitter, he said, Your own inner confusion about what to do with your life is probably not as cinematically captivating as you think it is. That’s his advice to other writers, is that inner confusion isn’t great for the screen, which is what they did. They took someone’s inner confusion and then layered drama, drama, drama, drama, drama over it. And it’s the foundation of the story wasn’t strong enough to hold up all of that drama. And that’s why it falls apart for me. You don’t have anything that scientifically you have very little that’s scientifically accurate. You have not a very good story as the foundation, and then you just layered it to how it is cake with too much frosting.


All right. Well, you lost me there because that’s not possible. Yes, it is.


Yeah, it’s definitely not a perfect film, I think if anybody really loves the idea of survival stories, if anybody if that’s like your thing is, is overcoming adversity and watching people almost die, then there’s a lot to be enjoyed here.


But, yeah, it’s definitely it’s one of those stories that sort of extra frustrating because of how close to greatness it came. There are a lot of situations. We’re just changing that. One line would have made this so much better or, you know, give it a little bit more complexity.


Give it give it more detail. I just felt like they used, uh, a big brush for the entire thing.


The main I think the central problem that if they if they could only fix one thing, the central problem was unlike Apollo 13 and unlike the Martian and unlike a lot of these stories, this was actually not the story of someone solving problems. This was the story of someone just desperately holding on. And like it’s almost presented like there is nothing to be done. You’re just in the hurricane. Hold on until it. And yeah. And that’s that’s not quite like you got to give her some credit. She does take action in some moments, but it’s the the overarching. Yeah. The overarching thing is luckily she didn’t get hit by debris, you know, luckily she landed in water. Yeah, exactly. And so there you lose again the competence point that we were talking about with Apollo 13 or with the Martian, you lose the proactive nature of addressing the problem and just hanging on only gets it. It’s only interesting if the thing that you’re hanging on against is huge and overwhelming and awe inspiring on its own, which is what they try to do.


But you need more than that.


Yeah, yeah, you guys, I’m so sorry, like, normally I love I love to love things and I’m willing to be critical.


But this I just I can’t get behind this movie. Not a fan. I know. I mean, in theaters when we saw it, I found it incredibly stressful. So I just struggled with it. And but because of that, I couldn’t go back and look at it critically. And now watching it with a critical eye, I’m just like, this movie doesn’t hold up. It just it just doesn’t. And I’m so sad about it because I want it to. I love me some Sandra Bullock and I love me some Ed Harris now because of Apollo 13. And George Clooney, I thought could do no wrong. And this whole thing was just I maintain director, writer, producer just screwed the pooch. Sorry.


I’m sorry. Well, we’ve gone a little over, but I think that pretty much covers it.


I would hope so, yeah. Oh, what a downer, guys. I’m sorry.


Lacey and Lacey and I will be starting our new YouTube channel called Things Wrong with Gravity, where you can tune in for our twenty six part series.


But yeah, thank you for sticking around.


Be sure to share in the comments what you thought. I’m always interested to hear new perspectives.


I would love for someone to tell me why they love it and like convince me because you guys, I’m that is something that is true. If you love something and you can convince me that the reason I like happened with Ed Harris just last week. Yeah. Like it can be done. So tell me why you love it. Hey, if there’s if there’s a science, anything out there, book, movie, TV show, not the whole TV show probably, but like an episode or two that you’re like, oh my God, you guys will love this and you won’t hate it. He’s like, let us know.


Let us know what we can do it on the show. We’ll put it on the we’ll put it on the list. Yes, OK. All right. Well, be sure to give us a follow and like and subscribe and comment and all that good stuff and thank you for watching.


We’ll see. You will be in what, December and. Yeah. Two weeks. Two weeks. Two weeks on Thursday. OK, all right. Thanks, guys.

The United Nations Space Administration

A closer look at the democratic and humanitarian faction of TerraGenesis

The UNSA Poster

For those who believe that every voice should be heard, the United Nations Space Administration are an international, democratic faction that believe the exploration of space is a special privilege that comes with a sacred responsibility. Consider the UNSA an extension of the global government we have here on Earth.

Their goal is simple: International homonization of entirely new worlds that benefit all – not just those with means.

With great power comes great responsibility


The opportunity to explore space and settle new planets is a fantastic privilege, granted to us through years of technological advancements. The United Nations Space Administration is founded on the back of our history on planet Earth. They believe that with the power to visit new and interesting planets comes the responsibility to behave and develop with a humanistic approach that is beneficial for everyone, rather than individual groups.

A compassionate team, the administration works in a collaborative and democratic manner, in the belief that this is the fairest and most effective method of space travel. Bureaucratic procedures ensure that rogue colonization is prevented. Rules and hierarchy bring order to proceedings in this faction, and this high level of organisation can work well to achieve their goals.

This is an international space exploration faction, following a pooling of resources from the surviving nations of the world after the Sundering. They aim to achieve harmony through new worlds, in the name of humanity across interplanetary realms. They have had some high profile successes, and with a stable economy the faction have been able to invest in high-tech equipment that makes them well prepared to take the big step of uniting humanity.

Sleek and futuristic 


Just how you would expect an intergalactic administration faction to be dressed; well-fitted suits and well-groomed members that bring an air of authority to their appearance. Their equipment is professional and high-tech, making them well equipped for intergalactic colonization. The United Nations Space Administration appears to be a wise and philosophical collaboration. They unsurprisingly are exporters of academia, culture, and art used to unite us all — their goal of interplanetary humanisation. 

Slow and ineffective?


Similar to public opinion of those on planet Earth, some consider the United Nations Space Administration to be a bunch of bureaucratic sissies, who are out of touch with their entrepreneurial spirit, constricted by red tape that prevents them from thinking for themselves. Rather ironic that some consider them to be a collaboration of intellectual geniuses. 

Despite the restrictive nature of their structure, the UNSA is actually a very determined faction who will push forcefully to achieve their goals. They are also a well-meaning team who try and appeal as the saviours to those with less power than them. 

With a seemingly moral appeal, well-organised structure and high-tech equipment, the UNSA might be the right one for your TerraGenesis homonization efforts!

The Life of a Star-Settler: Living on Mars

Life on Mars

It’s been 50 years since the first settlers arrived and humans began living on Mars. 

May 18th, 2452: I’ve lived here on Mars all of my life, but that can’t be said for some of the old timers. They knew a different life before launching into the stars. Earth had been dying. Years of reckless fossil fuel burning, tail-to-tail traffic jams, and plundering Mother Earth of her natural resources led to the planet rebelling. Humanity needed an alternative, and our red cousin provided the answer.

I live in New Canterbury, named after the home of the engineers who designed one of the first transport ships, which is the most advanced of the red planet’s cities. We have a burgeoning population of settlers and Marsborn humans — funnily enough now referred to as Martians. The old timers sometimes look up to the skies and yearn for what once was, but me? Nah. This red rock is all I’ve known. 

Life whilst living on Mars

Life on mars

Life is pretty normal here, my home is stationed within one of the many Hab Complexes that make up New Canterbury. The city is high above what is now sea level on the slopes of Olympus Mons — a purposeful choice thanks to the rising sea levels. Sure, positioning a settlement on the slopes of the solar system’s biggest volcano might not sound sensible, but there hasn’t been a peep from it… yet. 

Our atmosphere is controlled enough that we’re able to breathe freely and walk the surface. In fact, nowadays, Mars looks much like earth. The vegetation and plant life is widespread, as are the oceans. It wasn’t always that way. My father had it hard. He remembers Mars as the red, dusty inhospitable rock that it was for millenia before us.

He worked the nearby silver mine. Tearing through the rusty rock for minerals which in turn we would use for our Martian currency. Thanks to those mines, and people like my father, our colony expanded rapidly. Our very own shining star, the Orbital Surveyor, crisscrossed our sky morning, day and night. It seeks out the most efficient and mineral rich areas to mine and has increased our revenue endlessly. With the help of the satellite, we’ve even expanded our mines deep into Valles Marineris, the monster 4000km long 7km deep canyon. Old timers have shown me photos of what they called β€œThe Grand Canyon” that looks like a small crack compared with this.

At the other end of the spectrum, we looked to the sky for farming. Huge sky farms dominate areas of the atmosphere. Their purpose is simply to produce everything that we need to survive, whilst also maintaining our life-sustaining atmosphere.

What could be next after living on Mars?

We’re all fully aware that our world is fragile. It needs to be perfectly balanced, and constantly. Take, for example, yesterday’s AtomGen Suite shutdown. That caused some headaches, literally, as pressure and oxygen maintenance began to go offline and engineers worked around the clock to stabilize our environment. Thus is life as a Martian. 

What’s next for us? Who knows. Although, I’m beginning to see posters talking of Venus around the Varian V space port. I hear it’s warmer there, naturally. Maybe I’ll sign up to one of the ships there and lead the next terraforming expedition. After all, it’s a great big universe, and I’m here to settle the stars.