Andy Weir’s The Martian is a great introductory book for new sci-fi readers while still being an entertaining read for veterans of the genre. There’s hard science and adventure, even though most of the story is constrained to a tiny space and the main character spends most of the book in isolation. If you enjoyed the book or movie and want more of the same, here’s four books to keep The Martian vibe going:
The crew of an ice harvesting vessel follow one of Saturn’s moons as it inexplicably jettisons itself out of orbit and shoots off into space. Pushing Ice follows the crew as they reach the point of no return — and further into the abyss, evoking the same feeling of isolation of The Martian. Reynolds’s books are usually hit-or-miss with me, but Pushing Ice stayed with me long after I turned the final page.
Sentenced to Prism
Alan Dean Foster
Sentenced to Prism is technically a part of the same Commonwealth universe shared by Alan Dean Foster’s Pip & Flinx series, but can be read as a standalone sci-fi adventure. The book follows a man tasked with finding a scientist lost on the crystalline world of Prism — the man becomes lost on the alien planet himself, with only his exo-suit and his wits to keep himself alive. Sentenced to Prism is both haunting and richly-detailed, and a good example of stranded-on-an-alien-planet sci-fi literature.
Tunnel in the Sky
Robert A. Heinlein
Tunnel in the Sky is one of the more well-known books in his Heinlein Juveniles series, and rightfully so, as it invokes all of the thrills and imagination that young readers search for in sci-fi adventure literature. The story follows a group of young survivalists — a cut-throat galactic Boy Scout troop, in a way — who find themselves stranded on an alien planet, cut off from home. Tunnel in the Sky isn’t just a sci-fi adventure; the book also explores the sociology of the small group of survivalists and how their roles develop over their time on the alien planet.
Gravity is a combination of sci-fi and medical thriller about a NASA medical doctor who is stranded alone aboard the International Space Station after a series of mishaps kills off the rest of the crew. A deadly microbe on the I.S.S. prevents her from returning to Earth; the doctor must contain the bacteria while undergoing hazards from a damaged space station — all while surviving in isolation long enough to be rescued. Similar in many ways to The Martian but published a decade earlier, Gravity is a fun, tense read.
- Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear
- Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick
- Icerigger series by Alan Dean Foster
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe