Reason.TV did this, and it’s well worth your time for a number of reasons.
First, before we even get into the meat of Weir’s subject matter and the question of sending people to Mars (and within that, how and why it could be done), the story of how Weir wrote the Martian might be the most interesting part of the interview.
The book actually came about as a series of blog posts. Weir posted chapters of it on his website in serial form, and as he says he ended up with 3,000 factcheckers giving him feedback as he went along. And eventually his readers drove him to make an e-reader version of The Martian, then to post it at Amazon in a Kindle version – which took it from being free to costing 99 cents and Weir pocketing 30 cents in royalties for each copy, and that ultimately resulted in it becoming a bestseller, his finding a literary agent and ending up with a movie deal.
There is something fundamentally entrepreneurial in what Weir did with The Martian. This is a major blockbuster motion picture which has resulted from a self-published novel that began as a serial from a blog. It proves that humble origins mean less in America now than they’ve ever meant, and it means that beyond whether The Martian is a particularly good story it says something about what we could be as a people and a society. Hope still springs eternal, even in the drag reality of the Obama economy.
Of course, Weir did this as a hobby. He’s a computer programmer by trade, and made a good living doing that. And it’s his living which gave him the appreciation for science necessary in a science fiction novel.
He goes on in the interview to forecast the future of space travel, but we’ll leave that for the video.