EP 30: Andy Weir on The Martian, Project Hail Mary, Matt Damon, becoming a bestselling author, and creating an alien world!

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“Mark Watney in The Martian is just purely me. Jazz Bashara in Artemis is also just me.”

On this week’s episode, we geek out with the legendary Andy Weir, software engineer turned bestselling author on The Martian, Project Hail Mary, Artemis, and everything sci-fi! We have been long term fans of Andy so this was a delight for us and Andy didn’t disappoint.

We cover: Andy’s journey from a software developer to a writer, getting a movie deal for The Martian, writing Project Hail Mary, creating an alien world using first principles, Dark Forest Theory, his writing process, and much more!

Notable Quotes: 

  1. “I had the same tale of woe that every author encounters, such as no one’s interested, can’t get an agent, just couldn’t get any traction. After three years, I went back into the software industry.”

  2. “When AOL merged with Netscape, they laid off a whole bunch of people, including me.”

  3. “I accumulated about 3,000 regular readers, which sounds impressive until I tell you that it took me 10 years to do that.”

  4. “I still don’t understand how a book that is basically a whole bunch of algebra word problems ended up becoming a bestseller”

  5. “I figured out how to self-publish through Amazon. I set the price to the minimum that Amazon allows, which is 99 cents. Then from there it really took off.”

  6. “All this stuff happened really quickly. The book deal and film deal came together four days apart.”

  7. “Any actor is excited by the idea that 75% of the screen-time is just him alone on the screen.”

  8. “Studios spend almost as much money on marketing as they do on the film.”

  9. “I was still an engineer. I was in my cubicle fixing bugs and stuff, and then periodically running off to a conference room to take a call about my movie deal, and then back to fixing bugs.”

  10. “My books are the books that a software engineer would write.”


  1. The Martian, novel by Andy Weir

  2. Science the shit out of this, clip from the movie: The Martian

  3. Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov – on his early influences

  4. World of Warcraft II by Blizzard Entertainment, AOL, MobileIron – on his career

  5. Theft of Pride, Andy Weir’s second book

  6. Cancellation of the Batgirl movie

  7. CBS TV series: Mission Control

  8. Eva Stratt, Project Hail Mary

  9. Artimus, Zhek – novels by Andy Weir

  10. Brandon Sanderson on programming and writing

  11. Hydrazine transfer scene, The Martian movie

  12.  Project Hail Mary, novel by Andy Weir

  13. 40 Eridani, triple stellar system 16.38 ly away from the Sun

  14. Arrival by Ted Chiang

  15. Project Hail Mary, audio book narrated by Ray Porter

  16. Klingon, Star Trek

  17. Elon Musk’s obsession with inhabiting Mars

  18. Foundation on Apple TV

  19. Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem

  20. Dark Forest Theory: why we haven’t heard back from aliens yet

  21. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

  22. Brandon Sanderson: are you an outliner or discovery writer

  23. Three laws of robotics by Isaac Asimov

  24. Recursion, Dark Matter, Upgrade by Blake Crouch

  25. Nick Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis

In this episode, we cover:

[01:45] Andy’s journey: software developer to bestselling author

[09:20] Getting a movie deal for The Martian

[13:25] Casting Matt Damon in your movie

[21:26] Does life change with Hollywood?

[26:12] Relationship between coding and writing

[30:40] Involvement in the creation of The Martian movie

[35:45] Project Hail Mary

[43:53] Creating an alien world: Erid and Eridian

[01:01:16] How does humanity get off Earth?

[01:07:56] Dark Forest Theory

[01:14:30] Andy’s writing process

[01:23:00] Andy’s review of other sci-fi authors (Asimov, Clarke, Crouch)

[01:29:49] What’s next?