I just finished the novel The Martian, and I enjoyed it. The title may be a little off-putting to people who aren't fans of science fiction, so you'll have to accept my reassurance that this book is science-y and fiction-y, but is for the most part very grounded in reality.  That is, of course, if you can suspend any disbelief regarding mankind's ability to put together a manned mission to Mars.

The title character, Mark Watney, isn't a little green guy, he's an astronaut that suffers an accident during a Martian storm. His crew mates believe he is dead and are forced to evacuate the red planet while they can. However, Mark survives his injury and wakes up all alone. To make matters worse his communications equipment is also destroyed in the storm and no one even knows he's alive.

The good news (for him and us) is that Mark is a resourceful guy. He was the mission's botanist and, like all astronauts, well versed in engineering and chemistry. The book describes in great detail the science behind Mark's method's of tackling the problems that arise. The first problem? Find a way to grow enough food to keep him alive until the next Mars mission visits ~2 years later.

In the end, this book is a bit of a cross between Apollo 13 and The Castaway. If you enjoyed watching the engineers in Apollo 13 pull out their slide rules to solve problems you'll like this book. The author obviously gave a lot of thought to how things would work on Mars, what problems would arise, and how they could be solved. Some may be critical of the detailed technical descriptions of what Mark Watney is doing, I liked it, and the book is definitely a page turner.

AuthorTodd Zarwell