Author Andy Weir does a wonderful job telling the story. The language may be offensive to some, but I think the tone, language and rough humor are realistic and human. At least, Weir captures the atmosphere I have experienced throughout my life in barracks, locker rooms, and other shared spaces where groups of competitive people are pursuing big goals under intense pressure. It is clear Weir has done his technical homework, as well. The book offers a terrific insight into the equipment available today that make missions to Mars possible. As most of us know, the only thing lacking to send people to Mars is the will to do it. The exploration of conditions necessary to make agriculture possible on Mars was particularly interesting to me.
At the individual level, there is something uplifting about an individual facing overwhelming odds who refuses to give up. Watney's continuous use of brains and brawn to meet seemingly insurmountable challenges is inspiring. I guess this will be true for most of us. After all, the storyline of people journeying to a distant, seemingly inhospitable place in order to build a better future for themselves is central to our national narrative.
And face it, there are no shortages of challenges facing our societies here on earth that rise to the level of being a threats to long-term survival. Some of them could quickly become short-term threats as well. From the perspective the individual, these threats may seem remote or impossible for us to overcome. Here is where we find one valuable lesson of The Martian for each of us: Mark Watney doesn't wait for NASA or some government official or other supreme power to solve his problems for him. He identifies his options, and the likely consequences of each, and relentlessly pursues the best solutions within his power to control and implement those solutions. Ultimately, we should all do the same. The solutions to our global challenges lie within the realm of behaviors we can control ourselves--our own behaviors--whether it be writing your own Accountability Citizenship or acting on the positive ideas gleaned from someone else's.