There are lots of stories about being trapped and isolated on deserted islands or in the wilderness. These stories are often harrowing adventures of survival looking for food and shelter. But what if we took the story even further and added in the needs to find oxygen and heat as well? That’s exactly what Andy Weir did in The Martian by setting his tale of survival on Mars.
Astronaut Mark Watney was part of the third manned mission to Mars (Ares 3). After a deadly storm hits, Watney’s crew believes he is killed; Watney wakes up to find himself alone on the alien world. Watney has to figure out how to survive with gear and supplies meant to last for only thirty days. He also needs to find a way to communicate with Earth and let them know he’s still alive.
Luckily Watney was the Ares 3’s engineer and biologist, which is how he was able to think through all the immediate problems on his own (like how to grow food on an alien world which does not have viable soil). Of course, all of his solutions involve a lot of hard science, but don’t let that turn you off from the book if science isn’t your thing: The Martian is written in a very accessible way so that everyone can understand Watney’s thought processes. This is helped by Watney himself, who is hilarious; he manages to stay mostly upbeat no matter what Mars throws at him.
If you’re looking for a good survival story or a fantastic hard science fiction, Weir’s The Martian is for you.