Digital Painting Inspired by The Martian

Painter and photographer d. yee was inspired to re-interpret a scene from The Martian as a digital painting:

d. yee.
d. yee.

Says artist:

“Was thinking to use this as a reference for a large format painting (in acrylic). After working on this digital painting over a couple of days I’m starting to rethink the feat. My right hand is not happy.”

Beautiful. Reminds me stylistically of some SF book covers I like. I hope a large format acrylic is coming (and published on their website)!

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.


Sean Bean on the LotR Joke in The Martian

Finland’s national public broadcasting company Yle interviewed actor Sean Bean (article in Finnish; the 4-minute video in English) during his promo tour for The Martian.

Yle Sean Bean Interview
Yle Uutiset.

(Note: I wasn’t able to share the video; you’ll have to follow the link to Yle and play it there.)

Bean mentions that the Lord of the Rings reference – Project Elrond – was something he didn’t know how to react to. My partial transcription from the interview (from ca. 1:50-2:30) picks up with Bean’s answer to how it came about:

“I don’t know. I think it was in the script originally and it stayed in there, and it was very funny ’cause I’ve never been in a f– I was in a film that– then– which was– within a film. So it was very funny. [Laughs.] And, erm, you know, I just kind of listened to it, I didn’t know how to react, really [laughs], to that. It’s an unusual kind of situation I was in. But it was great, it’s great. I love that, it’s nice.”

When asked whether they joked about the reference on set, Bean answered:

“Not really, no, you said it and everyone went, like– [indistinct; laughs.] You know, I couldn’t kind of go, like, ‘Oh yeah, I was in [that]’, you know. But I– So I just kind of– [makes a gesture of playing it cool] went on with it.”

Other questions touch on the large number of team leader roles he’s played or characters who die (which Bean doesn’t seek out, specifically), how Bean built the character of Mitch Henderson with director Ridley Scott, and the kind of roles Bean would like to play in the future.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

The Martian and Tolkien

The Martian got me thinking about Tolkien (and not just because of the Council of Elrond reference, although I loved that bit). On a basic level, The Martian is about the same thing that The Lord of the Rings is about. No, Mark Watney doesn’t have to destroy a magic ring and Frodo and Sam weren’t planting potatoes in Mordor, but the question that both works keep coming back to is the same: how do you make good decisions when you don’t have the information you need?


I was thinking about The Lord of the Rings recently after listening in on a conversation between a couple of fantasy geeks about why they don’t like Tolkien. Their complaints were that Tolkien’s writing moves slowly, people talk about things instead of doing them, and most of the action doesn’t even happen on the page. These are all perfectly valid points, and if you prefer action to talking, they are good reasons to read something else. We all like the things we like and there’s no right or wrong about it. What struck me, though, was that the things they didn’t like about Tolkien are precisely the things I love.

There is a rich vein of fantasy literature all about heroes who charge boldly into the thick of battle and remake the world by sheer force of their will. Tolkien’s heroes are not of this kind. For him, what makes a hero is slowing down, thinking carefully, and making the best decision you can, even when you can’t be sure your choice is the right one.

My favorite part of The Lord of the Rings is the Council of Elrond. I know that I am in a minority in this and that even many people who love Tolkien find the whole chapter tedious. I understand the objections, but I can’t help loving the fact that dealing with the ring is something the heroes have to puzzle over and work out. Some fantasy writers would just slip in a helpful ancient prophecy or have Elrond drop a little exposition on the party and get the Fellowship on the road as soon as possible. (Peter Jackson, working within the constraints of film, understandably comes pretty close to this.) But Tolkien lets them take their time, piecing together scraps of information that are all fragmentary and biased. What they end up with is not a perfect answer but the best they can do with what they have. The courage of Tolkien’s heroes is less about facing the danger of Sauron and more about facing the fact that the best decision they can make might still be wrong.

And that’s what I love about The Martian. Mark Watney is a Tolkienian hero. He has to make the best decisions he can even when he can’t be certain what NASA is doing a planet away, or if anyone even knows he’s still alive. He survives not by strength or force of will but by slowing down, thinking things through, and facing the inescapable uncertainties of his predicament. He does the best he can with what he has. Or, as he puts it: sciencing the shit out of things.

I could use a few more heroes like this. We have enough heroes who swing swords, shoot guns, drive cars, and punch things. Let’s have more heroes who plant potatoes. Sam Gamgee would approve.


Images: The Martian via Sam Gamgee via

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

The Martian Cast & ISS Crew Chat

File 770 has a nice roundup of ten clips from and about The Martian, ranging from teasers and trailers to interviews and talks. The coolest is perhaps a 20-some minute call between two The Martian actors and two of six members of the International Space Station crew:

Space Station Crew Members Talk to Cast of The Martian

From the ISS, Expedition 45 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren were on the horn; from the movie cast, Sebastian Stan and Mackenzie Davis during a visit they made to Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in September.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

The Martian Final Trailer

The final trailer for The Martian is out!

The Martian Official Final Trailer by CBR Trailers

The more I hear about this adaptation, the more excited I get – and I’m not big on survival flicks! I’m looking forward to seeing more of Donald Glover (whom I only know from Community), Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sean Bean (who better not die in this one!). I’m also curious about Kate Mara (whose performance I liked in the otherwise deplorable Fantastic Four reboot). I think I also noticed Michael Peña – Luis in Ant-Man – get some space shuttle time.

In any case, it’s going to be especially good after a weak movie August and a disappointing September.

The Martian Release Date Pushed Forward

A film adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel The Martian, written by Drew Goddard and directed by Ridley Scott, is being released ahead of its original schedule. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will now debut October 02, 2015 (instead of November 25).

It’s unprecedented for the opening date of a science-heavy SF film to be pushed forward only a few months from release. There must be sufficient buzz about the movie to warrant the move. The announcement has certainly made me more excited to see it!

In case you missed it, here’s the first trailer:

The Martian official trailer from 20th Century FOX

“I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” Oh, yeah!