Tag Archives: Andy Weir

Andy Weir on writing The Martian, sex lives of slugs, agency and female characters and more {From My Haphazard Twitter Files, No. 9}


It’s about time for another edition of From My Haphazard Twitter Files. Here are some links I’ve shared on Twitter since the last edition. This week there’s Andy Weir, the sex lives of slugs, agency and female characters and more!

How Science Made Me a Writer.  In this engaging piece, Andy Weir talks about how he came to write The Martian (which he initially serialized it on his website and then self-published it on Amazon).

… as I wrote, I bungled my way into a revelation: Science creates plot! As I worked out the intricacies of each problem and solution, little details I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed became critical problems Mark had to solve. No need for meteor strikes — the surprises, catastrophes and narrow escapes were coming fast and furious on their own.

The Sex Lives of Slugs—and Other Mysteries of the Animal Kingdom. Seriously, how does one resist a title like this? In this interview posted at National Geographic, Simon Worrall interviews author Simon Barnes about his new book, Ten Million Aliens: A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdom, a book I added immediately to my to-read list. Oh, and those slugs?

Slugs start as hermaphrodites, so they’ll be both male and female. One courting ritual will often involve two slugs circling around each other, each waving its penis. The penis, relative to body size, is quite massive, about half the size of the body. So they circle around, waving a giant penis overhead, then mutually enter each other and fertilize each other in a process that will go on for hours and hours.

When it’s all done, they then have to break it off, and this, alas, is not always a mere metaphor. Sometimes the penis, which is corkscrew shaped, will be reluctant to come out, whereupon one of the slugs will kindly perform the favor-you may cross your legs at this point—of nibbling it up. It’s called apophallation.

The Road to Little Dribbling: Bill Bryson is releasing a new book and I can’t wait.  I can’t wait, either – a new Bill Bryson travel book is coming later this year!

This Twitter Rant Might Change How You Think About Female Characters. On agency and female characters. A few highlights, from writer Ada Hoffman’s Twitter feed:

… agency is a component of plot. Who is and isn’t able to make choices that have an effect on events is a component OF PLOT.

So what often happens is that a female character seems very cool, and then THE PLOT IS CONSTRUCTED so she can’t do anything.

Down and dirty fairy tales: How this rediscovered stash of darker-than-Grimm stories destroys our Prince Charming myths

Schönwerth just refuses to homogenize the stories, and so you find that there’s a lot more gender bending in Schönwerth. There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms. The Grimms don’t have a male Snow White, for example, whereas Schönwerth does. Schönwerth has a male Cinderella. He has a boy who wears out iron shoes while searching for the woman he loves, a figure who is a girl in “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” He has a prince who gets under the bedcovers with a frog so she can be turned into a beautiful princess. You just don’t find that in the Grimms at all.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy. A fusion foodie celebration I’d never heard of before. It doesn’t quite tickle my taste buds, but I’ve never been too fond of haggis.

At Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a holiday that melds Chinese New Year with Robbie Burns Day, we eat gung haggis dumplings: Chinese dumplings filled with haggis—the savory pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs; minced with oatmeal, suet, and spices; stuffed into the stomach lining of the sheep; and usually plated as a football-sized lump. They’re a fitting tribute to the undeniable cultural amalgamation of Vancouver, where the celebration was founded.

I confess, I’m always surprised when I go back over the links I’ve tweeted on Twitter. Each time, I’m reminded of why each link caught my eye in the first place!

[TSS] Bookish Bliss: Buying Bookish Gifts That Are Hits

I can’t help it. I love to give books almost as much as I like to receive them. So every Christmas, I end up buying at least one or two books for everyone on my list. And since some of the people receiving the gifts are non-readers (like my daughter), it can be hit and miss.

This year, though, I’m patting myself on the back. Because I picked some bookish gifts that turned out to be hits on the receiving end!

First up: my daughter Hayley. Hayley’s a filmmaker, and she’s far more into visual stuff than she is into reading. Two years ago I gave her Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, because I’d read it earlier that year and I loved it (plus I cried a lot while reading it). Definitely a fail, unfortunately. She tried reading it, but it just wasn’t her. Last year, I tried again with Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, another book I’d loved. I thought this one would be a hit, because Hayley’s big on diversity, and Park, one of the main characters, is half-Asian. But I don’t think she’s gotten around to reading it yet.

This year, I got smart. I bought her all graphic novels – she’s particularly fond of Batman. And I’m definitely on the right track, because the day after Christmas, she told me how much she liked this book:

the shadow hero

The Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, features The Green Turtle, the first Asian American superhero. Hayley had finished it by Boxing Day – definitely a hit!

Next up: Dylan, my eleven-year-old. He prefers graphic novels to regular books too.


Earlier this year I’d gotten a copy of Smile by Raina Telgemeier from the library, and he’d seen it lying around, picked it up and loved it. So this year I bought him both Smile and Sisters. On Christmas Day, right before bed, he said, “Wow! Sisters is SUCH a good book.”

Yes! Another hit!

This last gift, for my son Sean, qualifies as a quasi-hit, I think. Usually it’s easy to get Sean books, as he likes a lot of the same thriller/action books I do. Last year, for example, I got him Dr. Sleep, N0S4A2 and the Jack Reacher novel Never Go Back (he’s read most of the Jack Reacher books), and all of them were hits with him. This year, though, I didn’t think Revival would be a good fit for him, and I’d started listening to the most recent Jack Reacher, Personal, and I didn’t really like it as much as previous ones in the series.

The Martian

So I ended up getting Sean, among other books, The Martian, by Andy Weir, because I’d simply LOVED this book (I listened to the audio version and it was just so very, very good). Sean hasn’t started reading it yet, but one of his good friends is absolutely thrilled that I gave Sean this book – his friend has been trying to get him to read it for months now. When Sean told him I’d given it to him for Christmas, he wanted my phone number so he could text me “thank you”. So I think that counts as a quasi-hit!

2.5 hits is pretty good, I think …

Do you buy books as gifts? Do you find your bookish gifts are big hits, or not really much of a hit at all?