The Martian by Andrew Weir is amazing in that it is fiction that it has an impressive amount of solid science woven into the story. Apparently, Weir did a fair amount of research to make sure that he had the fact right, only disregarding the facts at one point for the narrative. The story itself is a classic man versus nature survival tale, just taking place on a completely different planet. Astronaut Mark Watney, mechanical engineer and botanist for the Ares 3 expedition to Mars, find himself in a precarious position. His crew had to abandon their habitat and leave him behind in a terrible storm that holed mark’s suit a storm and swept him Mark away. Now, Mark has no way to communicate with Earth, he has to figure out how to make a few months worth of food last a few years, how to keep the Hab running, how to travel a few hundred kilometers in a rover designed for a tiny fraction of that, and, worst of all, how to survive on the disco and old sit-coms that are the only entertainment on hand.
Comparisons have been made with Apollo 13 and Castaway (apparently Tom Hanks would be a killer Mark Watney). Being the more literary type, I mentally compared it to the survival elements seen in Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and the scientifically accurate adventure seen in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Frequently, science fiction reads just like fantasy, just with lasers and spaceships instead of magic and dragons. Really good science fiction is a gem, but it’s even better when you find a science fiction novel that is so heavy on the science part.
It might be worth noting that apparently, The Martian has already been optioned out for movie production with Matt Damon, not Tom Hanks, cast as Mark Watney and with Ridley Scott directing.