On the surface, they are almost identical, but when you dig deeper a few key differences do appear. 1

*Spoiler alert*


Overview (if you have not read the books)


The Martian

In The Martian, Mark Watney becomes the first astronaut stranded on Mars with no escape. After a dust storm has forced his crew to abandon him, believing he was dead. Now in an epic adventure Watney battles against all olds to find a way home!3

Project Hail Mary

Whereas in Project Hail Mary, the human race faces the threat of a global famine like no other. Since the suns’ output has dropped threating to disrupt the Earths delicate eco systems. So a space probe was sent to investigate. It finds Astrophage, a single celled microorganism that is living off sunlight stopping it from reaching earth. The human race’s last hope is the spaceship Hail Mary that has been built with new technology. It went to investigate the only star in the galaxy not effected by Astrophage to find answers. On board is the lone survivor Ryland Grace, after his crew perished.2

Astronaut in space

Similarity


Both The Martian and Project Hail Mary where written by Andy Weir and as a result are just too similar. They follow a main character on a space adventurer battling against the odds to save themselves or the human race. Both becoming lone survivors after their crews either die off or abandon them.1

They are both recovering from an injury, Grace from a coma and Watney having been speared by an antenna. They both have a scientific background and are fully trained astronauts.1

It is not just the main characters. Since both stories are set in the near future, and told from a first person perspective.1

Both books are very believable, with every scene following a logical sequence of events, with both having a secondary storyline taking place back on Earth, partly based around a launch site. With the human race setting aside its differences and working together to achieve a shared goal.1

They benefit from Weir’s down to earth writing, displaying his ability to write a moving story with sarcastic wit. He has clearly gone to great length to make everything believable. So often sci-fi writers fall back on technobabble to explain the inconvenient away. Often asking the reader to suspend critical thinking.1

A few differences:


1) Suspense and mystery


In Project Hail Mary, a sense of mystery is created by Grace’s amnesia. Weir cleverly uses flashbacks from Grace’s memories returning slowly to introduce the backstory on earth. This allows Grace’s character to have more development than Watney’s in The Martian. As we learn how Grace went from a lonely passionate teacher to a fearless space adventure, willing to risk everything.1

Image of a Spacesuit

The introduction of an Alien named Rocky in Project Hail Mary adds another layer of mystery. Weir takes the idea of alien life and pushes it to its extreme. Coming up with one of the most original alien concepts, I have ever come across. It is a nice change to have a friendly alien for once. It gets a bit boring when almost every alien wants to destroy the human race.2

The Martian by contrast relies heavily on suspense, with a clear and present danger of Watney dying on Mars. Watney’s character is fully developed, with no further character development. He starts and ends as the funny and fearless astronaut with a desire for space travel.1

2) The Alien buddy and entry lodges


In Project Hail Mary, Grace and Rocky make an unlikely team, bouncing off each other’s differences. They team up to save their respective worlds. With Rocky being the complete opposite from Grace, in every way. Rocky is an engineer, who can make anything, whereas Grace is a scientist, who is out of his depth.2

Just like in all good buddy films, although in book form, the discourse between the two is really endearing. Combining a mixture of heart felt and thought-provoking moments. Their unlikely friendship is the high point of Project Hail Mary.2

Back on earth, Strat, the head of Project Hail Mary, plays the role of the antagonist. Grace’s relationship with Strat is completely different to the one he has with Rocky, With Grace and Strat being mildly hostile to each other. Therefore, the different relationships nicely contrast with one another.2

R7 rocket on launch pad

Meanwhile in The Martian Watney is left to talk to the reader by himself. With the reader becoming in effect Watney’s companion. For some reason this allows for more bleak humour. Probably coming from Watney’s obsession with staying alive.3

A quick side note, The Martian uses Log Entry themed sub-heading as a framing device to tell Watney’s story. It’s a really nice touch. There’s nothing similar in Project Hail Mary, although it is a superficial difference.1

The review is continued in Part Two!


In Part Two I will examine a rather large plot whole in the Project Hail Mary:

“Project Hail Mary” Review: Part Two Astrophage could be eaten!

By Arran Wilkins © 2021 (text only)

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(1) Weir, Andy (Author). Porter Ray (Narrator). Project Hail Mary (Audible Studios, 2021) Amazon Audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Project-Hail-Mary-Audiobook/B08GB2RLKM [Accessed on 29th May 2021].

Weir, Andy (Author). And Wheaton, Wil (Narrator). The Martian (Audible Studios, 2020) Amazon Audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Martian-Audiobook/B082BFHCZ5 [Accessed on 29th May 2021].

(2) Weir, Andy (Author). Porter Ray (Narrator). Project Hail Mary (Audible Studios, 2021) Amazon Audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Project-Hail-Mary-Audiobook/B08GB2RLKM [Accessed on 29th May 2021].

(3) Weir, Andy (Author). And Wheaton, Wil (Narrator). The Martian (Audible Studios, 2020) Amazon Audible, Available at: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Martian-Audiobook/B082BFHCZ5 [Accessed on 29th May 2021].

(Image One) WikiImages. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/astronaut-space-shuttle-space-walk-11050/ [Accessed 13rd May 2021].

(Image Two) WikiImages. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/weightless-float-astronaut-60632/ [Accessed 4th June 2021].

(Image Three) Pexels. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/astronaut-cosmonaut-space-suit-nasa-1840936/ [Accessed 13rd May 2021].

(Image Four) David Mark. Pixabay. Pixabay License. Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/kazakhstan-soyuz-rocket-space-189927/ [Accessed 13rd May 2021].

1 Comment on “Project Hail Mary is almost identical to The Martian

  1. Pingback: “Project Hail Mary” Review: Part Two “Astrophage” could be eaten! – A.W. Book Reviews

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