Page 1 of 1

Logical Martian Speculation

PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:13 pm
by TorqueStone
Assuming this isn't shot down as a bad idea, I thought it would be good to have a place to post problems that Mark may run into, and how he could overcome them. I'd prefer this to be logical speculation, with references to the story itself for every problem. Half-cocked guessing's your prerogative, but you can make a new topic for that.

The inspiration for this idea came from noticing during a re-reading that on Sol 25, Watney talked about there being five times the protein necessary in each food pack, so he'd be all right if he carefully rationed the portions. The problem is, on Sol 402 he mentions having been eating potatoes for weeks, having run out of the food packs except for five he kept for special occasions. Maybe these five meals, spread out over "Departure" (Sol 464, referenced on Sol 493), "Half-way" (Sol 493), "Survived Something That Should Have Killed Me" (possibly Sol 513, after the rover roll), "Arrival" (Should be Sol 516, referenced on Sol 499, but this was before the rover roll, which will likely delay him a few sols. Say Sol 520), and "Last Meal" (Sol 564 is when he needs to be ready by, referenced on Sol 495) will have been enough for his protein needs, but I'm betting he's somewhat protein deficit. The Ares-4 MAV is no help on that count; on Sol 246 he recognized that the MAV will not have supplies, even air or water. "NASA" tells us that there were Ares-4 supply missions en route around Sol 42, but "NASA 2" explained that there's nothing at Schiaparelli except the MAV, so the supply missions must have dealt with the MAV. "NASA 2" also mentioned that the presupply probes were not ready to send which set up the whole rushed and failed protein-loaded "Project Iris". So there's no food waiting for him at Ares-4. Protein deficiency isn't life threatening, but it would affect his general health. If it becomes an issue, he might experience mental slow-down, poor fluid distribution, or even (though improbable) diarrhea. The mental retardation could have already been a factor, as he's doing rough calculations to determine his route; a mistake wouldn't have been surprising, as he's expecting error. It could easily be brought up later as an explanation for his failed attempt bypass the Marth Crater on Sol 489.

So, basically I analyze things and rationalize them as they are. I'm not trying to point out inconsistencies; although as a written work they are possible, the genius of the rest of Andy's stories makes me try to find a logical explanation within his work. Maybe the protein was forgotten, but it would not be out of character for Mark to have been the one who forgot, as he'd recognized a potential problem and found a solution, but then forgot to enact it later, after a whole slew of other problems and the months it took to grow the potatoes to use as an alternative food source.

Oh, and as an author's note, although more to than from: Andy, the best parts of your works come from the well-thought-out surprises, or even the inevitable expected parts of a story. I enjoy and look forward to every update in all your stories. Explaining what you meant or recognizing a mistake you might have made will blunt the edge your work presents. It may be my predilection against spoilers, but I don't think it would be the best option, unless you want to make this forum, or a part of it, a sounding-board for your writing.

Re: Logical Martian Speculation

PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:02 pm
by Andy
By all means, speculate away! Also, though it isn't your intention, it's helpful for me when people point out plot holes. What you're seeing is a rough draft, after all.

The actual answer to the protein issue is that I didn't explain Mark's solution well enough. Basically, Mark worked out early on that he had enough protein in the meal packs, but not enough calories. So he saved high protein portions of the meal packs (like peas and beans) for rationed use down the line.

But I didn't explain that well, and his constant complaints about eating nothing but potatoes imply he's not eating anything else. Basically I marked that issue off in my mind as "solved" then forgot to account for it later.

I'm flattered that you put so much thought in to it. :)