Bonus: The Martian Zombie

I adored the idea of this story from the moment I first heard Barbara was working on it. I loved, loved, loved that it subverts the typical “survival story” trope – all the effort Mark Watney (in the original The Martian) puts into surviving is just irrelevant because this protagonist is already dead. And it inherently presents a new challenge – how do you raise the stakes if death isn’t the looming threat? I was beyond delighted when Barbara asked me if I’d like to partner on the project!

Click to read 35 amazing facts about Mars!

Click to read 35 amazing facts about Mars!

This was my second crack at Mars, having researched it for Lexi. I had a lot of fun writing scenes I would never, ever, ever get to write in a typical book like, can you help me sew my head back on? That cracked me up. And I liked poking gentle fun at The Martian – Mike’s instructions to Kristen about how to use a knife to shave off some arm hair in order to start a small fire to follow the smoke to check for leaks is a condensed version of events in Andy Weir’s book.

What really grabbed me, though, in Barbara’s early draft was a sense that zombies were like second-class citizens and the ways Mike tries to act more human to make himself acceptable to them. When Kristen presents Mike with the choice in the book, she’s assuming he wants to be “fixed.” One of my favorite things about the story is that when Mike does change and start to become human, there are all these perfectly normal human things, like sweating, or crying, or sneezing, that he finds absolutely gross, so ‘disgusting’ turns out to be a matter of perspective. In the end, both of them find value in him being himself.

It was really that core about honoring the “other” that makes the story for me. There’s a tremendous amount of technical, engineering, sophistication to Andy Weir’s book I could never replicate. Our story about zombies on Mars is silly, but I think it has a message, ironically, about human dignity.

Plus Barbara’s idea for a “Gag reel” at the end is hilarious!!

NASA’s  Opportunity,  Jan. 2004 - Feb. 2019, the rover that was built to last 90 days and survived 15 years. Science reporter Jacob Margolis poetically rendered the rover’s last transmission as “My battery is low and it's getting dark,” which has got to be one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. You can read the true story behind this at:  https://www.newsweek.com/nasa-mars-opportunity-rover-new-york-daily-news-jet-propulsion-laboratory-1334615

NASA’s Opportunity, Jan. 2004 - Feb. 2019, the rover that was built to last 90 days and survived 15 years. Science reporter Jacob Margolis poetically rendered the rover’s last transmission as “My battery is low and it's getting dark,” which has got to be one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. You can read the true story behind this at: https://www.newsweek.com/nasa-mars-opportunity-rover-new-york-daily-news-jet-propulsion-laboratory-1334615

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