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18 Books Like The Martian

Books Like The Martian

Since its publication, Andy Weir’s “The Martian” has arguably been the perfect survival tale against the harsh backdrop of a different planet.

Mark Watney’s ingenuity and resilience have made him a beloved protagonist, and readers have eagerly sought out similar stories that blend science fiction with thrilling survival narratives. 

Whether you’re drawn to the challenge of surviving in space, the triumph of human spirit, or the intricate details of scientific problem-solving, this blog post will introduce you to a selection of books that will satisfy your craving for adventure beyond Earth’s bounds. 

From tales of stranded astronauts to journeys through the cosmos, these books promise to transport you to distant worlds and keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Books Like The Martian

1. Artemis by Andy Weir

“Artemis” is a thrilling science fiction novel also by Andy Weir, set in the late 21st century. It tells the story of Jazz Bashara, a cunning smuggler living in Artemis, the first and only city on the moon. 

The narrative is filled with the same kind of detailed, scientifically grounded speculation and gripping plot twists that made “The Martian” a success. Jazz’s life gets turned upside down when she’s drawn into a conspiracy to control the city’s resources.

Major Similarities: Like “The Martian,” “Artemis” features Andy Weir’s trademark attention to scientific detail and realism, set against the backdrop of space exploration. 

Both novels share a sharp-witted protagonist who relies on their ingenuity and knowledge of science to navigate through life-threatening situations. The humor and first-person narrative style make “Artemis” feel very much in the same vein as “The Martian.”

2. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

“Seveneves” begins with a catastrophic event that leads to humanity’s realization that the earth will become uninhabitable in two years, prompting a global effort to preserve human life in space. The story is split into two parts: the immediate aftermath of the disaster and the world thousands of years later. 

Neal Stephenson combines his extensive research and detailed world-building to create a compelling narrative about survival, innovation, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Major Similarities: 

“Seveneves” shares with “The Martian” a strong emphasis on the science behind space survival and colonization. Both novels meticulously detail the logistics and technological innovations required for humans to live in space, focusing on problem-solving and the importance of scientific knowledge. 

The themes of human perseverance and ingenuity in the face of insurmountable odds are central to both stories.

3. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

In “Project Hail Mary,” Andy Weir returns with another science-based thriller that tells the story of Ryland Grace, the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission to save Earth from disaster. 

With no memory of his own identity or his mission, Grace must piece together the puzzle while millions of miles from home. 

The novel is a blend of mystery, science, and adventure, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.

Major Similarities: 

Like “The Martian,” “Project Hail Mary” is driven by a deep appreciation for science and the problem-solving process. Both novels feature a lone protagonist who must rely on their scientific expertise and resourcefulness to survive in space. 

The narrative is infused with humor and a sense of awe about the cosmos, making it a spiritual successor to “The Martian” in tone and theme.

4. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

“The Calculating Stars” is the first book in the “Lady Astronaut” series, set in an alternate 1952 after a meteorite destroys much of the eastern United States, accelerating the space race. 

The story follows Elma York, a mathematician and pilot, as she fights to become the first Lady Astronaut. The novel explores themes of sexism, racism, and the climate crisis, while also delving into the technical and emotional challenges of space exploration.

Major Similarities: 

Both “The Martian” and “The Calculating Stars” emphasize the scientific and technical aspects of space travel, albeit from different historical perspectives. 

They share a focus on the human element of space exploration, highlighting the determination, ingenuity, and courage required to venture into the unknown. 

The protagonist’s struggle against external challenges and their own limitations resonates strongly with the themes in “The Martian.”

5. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

“Aurora” tells the story of a generational starship on a mission to colonize a distant planet in the Tau Ceti system. 

The novel is a deep dive into the complexities of such a journey, exploring the ecological, social, and psychological aspects of a small society isolated in space for centuries. 

Kim Stanley Robinson’s detailed research and vivid imagination bring to life the challenges of sustaining human life in a closed ecosystem far from Earth.

Major Similarities: 

Like “The Martian,” “Aurora” focuses on the realistic challenges of human survival in space, from technical issues to the psychological strains of isolation. 

Both novels are grounded in scientific realism and explore the potential for human ingenuity to overcome daunting obstacles. 

While “The Martian” concentrates on the survival of one man, “Aurora” expands this theme to the survival of an entire community, offering a broader perspective on humanity’s place in the universe.

6. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

“2312” is a visionary and complex novel set in the year 2312, where humanity has colonized the solar system. The story follows Swan Er Hong, a resident of Mercury, who becomes involved in a galaxy-wide mystery following the death of her grandmother. 

The novel is rich in detailed descriptions of space habitats, terraforming, and futuristic technologies, all woven into a narrative that explores political intrigue, environmentalism, and the evolution of human society across different worlds.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “The Martian,” “2312” delves deeply into the science and technology of space travel and colonization, offering a plausible and intricately detailed vision of the future. 

Both novels share a fascination with the challenges and triumphs of human adaptation in space, although “2312” expands the scope to include a wide range of environments and societal structures. 

The emphasis on problem-solving and innovation in the face of environmental and technical challenges links the two works closely in theme and approach.

7. The Expanse Series by James S.A. Corey

Beginning with “Leviathan Wakes,” The Expanse series is a sweeping science fiction saga that unfolds across the solar system. 

The series is known for its realistic portrayal of space travel, complex characters, and a gripping plot involving political conflict, a mysterious alien technology, and the gritty realities of human expansion into space. 

The storylines interweave the perspectives of a diverse cast, including a ship’s captain, a detective, and a politician, to explore themes of survival, governance, and the human condition in space.

Major Similarities: 

The Expanse series shares with “The Martian” a strong foundation in the realistic portrayal of life in space, emphasizing the scientific and technical aspects of space travel. 

Both stories are deeply grounded in a plausible future where humanity has ventured beyond Earth, dealing with the consequences of that expansion. 

The focus on survival, the application of science to solve problems, and the exploration of human resilience and ingenuity under extreme conditions are key similarities.

8. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

This novel is the first in the “Wayfarers” series, focusing on the crew of the Wayfarer, a tunneling ship that travels through space creating wormholes. 

The story is character-driven, exploring the diverse backgrounds and cultures of its crew members, their relationships, and their adventures across the galaxy. 

The novel stands out for its emphasis on the social and emotional aspects of space travel, alongside a backdrop of a richly imagined future universe.

Major Similarities: 

While “The Martian” is more focused on the survival of an individual using scientific knowledge, “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” shares the theme of space exploration and the challenges it presents. 

Both books emphasize the importance of problem-solving and ingenuity, though Chambers’ work leans more towards the interpersonal dynamics and cultural exploration in space. 

The sense of adventure and the exploration of the unknown are common threads that fans of “The Martian” might appreciate.

9. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

“Old Man’s War” is the first book in a series that begins with the story of John Perry, who joins the army on his seventy-fifth birthday to fight in an interstellar war. 

The novel explores the transformation of the elderly into super-soldiers using futuristic technology and their battles against alien species. 

Scalzi combines action-packed sequences with philosophical reflections on aging, consciousness, and humanity’s place in the universe.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “The Martian,” “Old Man’s War” is grounded in speculative science fiction, exploring the implications of advanced technology and space travel.

Both novels delve into the resilience of the human spirit when faced with the vastness and danger of space. 

While “Old Man’s War” has a stronger emphasis on military science fiction, it shares with “The Martian” themes of survival, innovation, and the exploration of new frontiers.

10. Cibola Burn (The Expanse Series) by James S.A. Corey

“Cibola Burn” is the fourth book in The Expanse series and directly tackles the challenges of colonizing a new planet. 

The story revolves around the settlers of a new world and the conflicts that arise with the arrival of a new ship, bringing corporate interests into direct conflict with the settlers’ desire for independence. 

The novel dives deep into the logistics of colonization, the ecological impact of human presence on a new world, and the moral dilemmas of exploration and exploitation.

Major Similarities: 

Like “The Martian,” “Cibola Burn” focuses on the scientific and logistical aspects of human survival in an alien environment. Both works emphasize the importance of problem-solving, resourcefulness, and the use of science to navigate and overcome challenges. 

The themes of colonization, the human drive to explore, and the resilience required to thrive in hostile environments are central to both stories, offering readers a blend of adventure, science, and ethical considerations.

11. Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds

“Pushing Ice” is a science fiction novel that begins in 2057 when one of Saturn’s moons suddenly departs from its orbit and heads out of the solar system. 

The story follows the crew of the Rockhopper, an ice mining vessel, as they are redirected to chase and investigate this anomalous object. What follows is a gripping tale of discovery, survival, and the evolution of the crew as they face unimaginable challenges far from Earth.

Major Similarities: 

Like “The Martian,” “Pushing Ice” is deeply rooted in the challenges of space exploration and survival in an alien environment. Both novels focus on the ingenuity and adaptability of their characters in the face of unforeseen and potentially deadly circumstances. 

The emphasis on hard science fiction elements and the detailed exploration of human dynamics in isolation echoes the themes found in “The Martian.”

12. Blindsight by Peter Watts

“Blindsight” is a hard science fiction novel that explores first contact, consciousness, and the nature of intelligence. Set in the late 21st century, the story follows a crew sent to investigate a mysterious alien object that has entered the solar system. 

The novel is renowned for its exploration of complex themes such as the evolution of human perception and the potential for non-human intelligence.

Major Similarities: 

Both “Blindsight” and “The Martian” share a commitment to the hard science fiction genre, with a strong emphasis on scientific accuracy and exploration. 

While “Blindsight” delves more into the philosophical and cognitive aspects of human and alien existence, it shares with “The Martian” a narrative driven by the challenges of space exploration and the use of scientific problem-solving to confront the unknown.

13. Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein

“Saturn Run” is set in the year 2066 when an object is detected accelerating out of Saturn’s orbit, suggesting an alien spacecraft. The United States and China rush to intercept the object, leading to a tense and competitive space race. 

The novel combines thrilling action with detailed scientific speculation, focusing on the technological and political challenges of interplanetary travel.

Major Similarities: 

Like “The Martian,” “Saturn Run” emphasizes the realistic aspects of space travel and the technical challenges involved in a mission to the outer solar system. 

Both novels are grounded in current scientific understanding and extrapolate into the near future, offering a plausible and engaging vision of humanity’s expansion into space. 

The themes of international cooperation and competition, as well as the focus on problem-solving and innovation, are also shared.

14. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Children of Time” is an award-winning novel that spans millennia, focusing on the evolution of intelligent life on a terraformed planet and the remnants of humanity seeking a new home. 

The narrative alternates between the perspectives of the evolving species on the planet and the humans aboard the last ark ship from Earth. It’s a grand tale of evolution, survival, and the potential paths of different civilizations.

Major Similarities: 

While “Children of Time” spans a broader scope in terms of time and evolution than “The Martian,” both novels explore the theme of survival in alien environments. 

“Children of Time” shares with “The Martian” a deep interest in the scientific basis of its storytelling, particularly in the fields of biology and ecology, in contrast to “The Martian’s” focus on physics and engineering. 

The exploration of humanity’s place and future in the cosmos, alongside the challenges of establishing a foothold in new worlds, provides a thematic link between the two books.

15. The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

“The Space Between Worlds” is an innovative take on the multiverse theory, exploring identity, privilege, and survival across different realities. 

The story follows Cara, who is dead in all but eight of the multiverse’s worlds. Her job is to traverse these worlds, gathering intel and observing the differences. 

However, her survival hinges on the stark realities of her existence across these universes, blending existential questions with the thrill of interdimensional travel.

Major Similarities: 

While “The Martian” is a tale of survival in a harsh, alien landscape, “The Space Between Worlds” offers a survival story across the cosmos’s vast and varied tapestries. 

Both novels engage deeply with the science fiction genre’s potential to explore complex themes through the lens of speculative science. 

The focus on the protagonist’s resilience, intelligence, and the use of science and technology to navigate dangerous territories connects them.

16. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter” is a mind-bending thriller that explores the path not taken. The story follows Jason Dessen, a physics professor who is abducted and wakes up in a world where his life has taken a very different path. 

This novel combines the elements of quantum physics, parallel universes, and the exploration of identity and choice, crafting a narrative that’s both thought-provoking and emotionally engaging.

Major Similarities:

Both “Dark Matter” and “The Martian” delve into the realm of scientific possibility, using their respective premises to explore deeper human questions. 

While “The Martian” focuses on physical survival and the application of scientific knowledge, “Dark Matter” explores existential survival and the impact of scientific discovery on personal identity. 

The emphasis on science as a tool for solving problems and the protagonist’s struggle to return to his own reality echoes the themes of survival and ingenuity found in “The Martian.”

17. Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse Series) by James S.A. Corey

As the first book in The Expanse series, “Leviathan Wakes” introduces readers to a colonized solar system on the brink of war. 

The disappearance of Juliette Andromeda Mao links a washed-up detective and the ship’s officer of a freighter in a series-spanning mystery that involves political intrigue, a deadly alien virus, and the fragile peace between Earth, Mars, and the Belt. 

It’s a story that combines elements of detective noir with high-stakes space opera.

Major Similarities: “Leviathan Wakes” and “The Martian” both offer a realistic portrayal of life and politics in space, grounded in the potential future of human colonization of the solar system. 

The focus on detailed scientific and technical realism, the use of wit and humor in the face of adversity, and the exploration of human resilience and ingenuity in overcoming extraordinary challenges connect the two works. 

While “Leviathan Wakes” expands these themes into a broader narrative involving multiple characters and interplanetary conflict, it shares with “The Martian” a deep appreciation for the science fiction genre’s capacity to explore complex, real-world issues.

18. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

“An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” is a contemporary science fiction novel that explores fame, social media, and humanity’s reaction to the extraordinary. 

The story kicks off when April May stumbles upon a mysterious sculpture in New York City, making her an overnight celebrity. 

The novel delves into the implications of sudden fame and the global puzzle of the Carls, the sculptures appearing all over the world, combining a fast-paced plot with thought-provoking commentary on the human condition and our interconnected world.

Major Similarities: 

While “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” diverges from the hard science and survival elements of “The Martian,” it shares a fascination with the impact of extraordinary events on ordinary lives. Both novels delve into the theme of human ingenuity and the power of collaboration in the face of the unknown. 

The exploration of societal reactions to unprecedented challenges and the role of technology and media in shaping those reactions present a thematic overlap, offering readers a blend of speculative fiction with a keen observation of contemporary life.

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