The Martian, by Andy Weir. Unabridged audio.
I tend to not read a ton of “hard” science fiction, preferring the more “space opera” style of SF stories. But I had heard so many good things about this book, from literature podcasts, from reviewers, from my librarian daughter … that I had to give it a listen.
The plot is pretty simple: a team of astronauts escapes Mars ahead of a huge sandstorm, but one of their crew (Mark Watney) is lost, presumed dead. Everyone presumes him dead. There is no way he could have survived. But he survived. And his crew is on their way back to Earth.
The novel is story of survival. Can this man stay alive long enough for NASA to mount a rescue mission? All he has are the food and supplies his crewmates left behind, their vehicles and hab unit, and his skills as a botanist and engineer.
Much of the novel is told from Watney’s perspective, including his regular log entries. As soon as this format starts to drag, Weir brings in NASA scientists, who through satellite imagery determines that Watney is alive. They develop a rudimentary communication system, and the book is off and running.
Despite the amount of math and science that Watney uses in figuring out how to extend his life, the book is quite readable. The tension inherent in the situation is nicely balanced by the humor that Watney bring to his situation. A novel of this nature runs the risk of falling apart at the end, but The Martian stays strong throughout and is a satisfying read from start to finish.
The movie rights for this book have been sold, and a Ridley Scott film starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain is currently scheduled for a Thanksgiving 2015 release.
Source: public library