A self-proclaimed “longtime space nerd,” Weir grew up in the Bay Area, where his father worked as a particle physicist. After his parents divorced at the age of 8, Weir and his mother, who worked as an electrical engineer, moved frequently and he entertained himself with computers. He studied computer science at the University of California, San Diego, but ran out of tuition before graduating. In search of a steady income, he got into programming and worked at video game company Blizzard Entertainment and AOL.
When he came up with the idea for “The Martian” in 2009, Weir was living alone in Boston, working for a mobile game company. He began to think about what it would take for a person to survive, completely alone, on a hostile planet. (It involved a lot of biochemistry, duct tape, swearing, and farming with human waste.)
“One of the main reasons that isolation is such a recurring theme in my books is that I have spent a lot of my life alone and didn’t want to be,” he said. . “I was alone and that ends up being a factor in my stories.”
Weir has started posting free chapters of “The Martian” on his website. At the request of readers, he uploaded the full text to Amazon, charging 99 cents. In a few months, it had sold 35,000 copies.
When a literary agent offered to help him get a book deal, Weir was skeptical, but agreed to send the manuscript to a publisher at Crown. Soon after, he sold the book and the rights to the film within a week.
After its release in 2014, “The Martian” sold some five million copies in North America. The film adaptation, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, has grossed over $ 630 million worldwide and received seven Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.
Weir, who is afraid of flying, battled his phobia to attend the film’s Toronto premiere, a star-studded event that drew Hollywood celebrities as well as astronaut Chris Hadfield and NASA chief scientist Jim Green.