‘Martian’ author lands at BC


Mario Saldana, Reporter

The Cerro Author program, the annual event sponsored by the Bakersfield College library in which an author comes to campus, was held on Oct. 25-26. The program started with a donation from Delores Cerro in 2007 and made it possible for students, staff and faculty to listen to authors from around the world.

The author invited to speak this year was Andy Weir, the author of “The Martian,” which The New York Post called “the purest example of real sci-fi for years.” The book was a hit and was quickly adapted to the big screen in 2015.

Marci Lingo, a retired BC librarian, introduced Andy Weir, who spoke at BC three times. While speaking to a packed audience in the Fireside Room on Oct. 26, Weir talked about the book, the science of it, how it came to be, and gave some insightful tips on how to become a better writer.

The book was a huge success, not only to people who love space or astrophysics, but even to average readers who have no clue about space. The film featured big names like Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain and many more. Though Andy Weir had so much going for him after the publication of “The Martian,” it did not come easy for him, or quick, for that matter.

“The Martian” is about a man named Mark Watney, a Mars astronaut who ends up being left behind by his colleagues due to a dust storm and has to find a way to survive on Mars and communicate with Earth to be rescued.

Weir opened up the discussion with the beginning part of his life being raised in Northern California by his father and mother who were both very into science. His father was a physicist and his mother was an electrical engineer, so he knew he was going to be some kind of nerd as he grew up.

Though Weir loves space and admits he is a nerd for it, he prefers the idea of space travel and spaceships rather than the whole astrophysics of space. He really likes the idea of mankind doing significant things in space.

His love for science fiction and writing really came from his father after reading his collection of 1950s-60s sci-fi paperbacks. He loved those books so much as a kid, he found authors that inspire him today, even though most of those books to him now feel outdated.

When he was only 15, Weir worked in a laboratory as a test tube cleaner, which he liked a lot. Weir then joked about working at the lab, saying, “I only worked on cleaning test tubes. Yeah, I was a straight A student, but they didn’t hire me, a 15-year-old, to become a scientist, so don’t think too much of it.”

He started writing science fiction at age 20. His first project was “Observatory,” which he said was terrible and there was no way anyone was going to read it. He needed a better way to make money, so instead of just writing he went to school in UC San Diego with a major in software engineering. He went to school for four years, but due to financial reasons he dropped out to find a job as a software engineer. Since it was 1994, he found it easy to find a job, because the demand was so large. He worked with Blizzard on the popular videogame “Warcraft 2.”

After having a good amount of money, he started writing again and worked on three stories which he posted chapter by chapter. One of them was “The Martian.” He started getting a lot of feedback and a growing fan base due to the story. He finally finished it, but people wanted Weir to release it as an E-book to make it easier for people to read the book as a whole. He posted it and sold it for only 99 cents.

The book suddenly had a success in the market, becoming a top seller on app stores and many lists. Eventually he had a book publisher to help with book sales and soon got a movie publisher to help him land a deal with Fox Entertainment. The film became a hit summer movie and was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe award.

After going through the whole process of the book, he then gave students a chance to ask questions about the book or about him. Many students raised their hands giving out some great questions about back stories, how to write stories, what inspires him, and if he has anything coming up soon.