Books Like The Martian
There is just something about survival stories and persevering against all odds that resonates deeply with a lot of readers. This is one of the reasons why The Martian by Andy Weir is such a firm favorite for a lot of people. The trials and tribulations of astronaut Mark Watney as he is stranded on Mars has kept many readers on the edge of their seat and the novel also gained new fans after the release of the film adaptation by Ridley Scott. If you have already read The Martian and need more tales of space, bravery, survival and science fiction, then be sure to clear some space in your schedule for the following books.
No Man Friday
by Rex Gordon
There is a lot of similarities between The Martian and Robinson Crusoe, but Andy Weir wasn't the first to come up with a science fiction take on the classic tale. Back in 1956 a British writer by the name of Rex Gordon released No Man Friday, a book that has a lot in common with the Daniel Defoe story. It is about a British rocket that crash lands on Mars with one surviving astronaut, Gordon Holder. However, unlike Mark Watley, Holder not only has to survive on Mars, but also deal with the Martian creatures. His stay on the red planet is also quite a bit longer than that of Watley as due to the secret nature of the trip there is no rescue mission coming for him.
by Frank Herbert
If you don't mind a bit of political intrigue along with the survival elements, then Dune by Frank Herbert should not be missed. The planet Arrakis is every bit as inhospitable as Mars, but it is also the only place in the universe where the spice "melange" can be found. This spice is the most valuable substance in the known universe, which makes Arrakis a very sought after asset, despite its many dangers. Paul Atreides, of House Atreides, ends up fighting for his survival on the planet after his family is betrayed by the emperor. It is only with the aid of the Fremen, nomadic tribes that are native to the planet, that he has any hope of staying alive. Herbert later expanded the scope of the story in later books, but the original remains a favorite with fans.
by Ben Bova and Les Johnson
Not only is Ben Bova a New York Times best-selling author who is known for his science fiction stories, but for Rescue mode he also teamed up with Les Johnson, a NASA space scientist. This resulted in a gripping book that is scientifically accurate, but still features enough action and drama to keep you turning the pages at a rapid pace. In Rescue Mode the crew of the first manned mission to Mars ends up with a crippled ship after it is struck by a meteoroid. Since turning around is no longer an option, the crew must survive long enough to make it to Mars where they might be able to make the repairs in order to return home. Unfortunately for them, there are a lot of political forces back on Earth that would love to see them fail in order to scrap the human space flight program. The combination of hard science fiction and survival, along with the political intrigue, ensures that Rescue Mode belongs on your must-read list.
by Geoffrey A. Landis
The red planet is once again the backdrop for a story of survival in Mars Crossing by Geoffrey A. Landis. The tale is set in 2028 and sees the crew of a ship named the Don Quijote set out on an expedition to Mars. Two earlier attempts by American and Brazilian teams ended in failure, so it is no surprise when the things go badly wrong for the new crew as well. After losing their ship, the only hope for the survivors is to make it to the ship that was abandoned by the Brazilians. Unfortunately, the ship is not just on the other side of the planet, but can also only hold three of the five survivors. As the survivors make their way towards the ship using vehicles, it quickly becomes clear that in addition to dealing with the hostile environment, they also need to be on guard against each other. This is because someone is determined to ensure that there is space for themselves on the trip back, no matter the cost. Landis does a great job with the technical details of the story, but certainly doesn't skimp on the human elements either.
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Instead of focussing on the survival of a single astronaut or crew on Mars, Red Mars is about the colonization and terraforming of the red planet. In the year 2026 a crew of colonists are sent to Mars as things on Earth begin to deteriorate. They perform a number of terraforming actions, such as releasing subsurface heat, thickening the atmosphere and even detonating nuclear explosions to release water from the sub-surface permafrost, but not everyone is in agreement about the project. Things grow even more tense when Earth begins squabbling for resources and some people on Mars believe that they should not be subjected to the same rules as their mother planet. This results in an inevitable rebellion and swift retaliation from the transnational corporations that runs Earth. In addition to Red Mars, Robinson also wrote two more books about the people who make the planet their home and fight for survival.