Andy Weir is a great writer, and finding books like The Martian has become a popular pastime for bookworms. Prior to the book’s success and acquisition by an agent, Weir published The Martian on his own website. Nevertheless, Weir, like the majority of aspiring writers, started out on his journey all by himself.
As Mark Watney, the protagonist of The Martian, is stranded on the red planet, the film’s entire plot is dominated by the themes of isolation and loneliness. Although the odds are stacked against him, Watney’s stubborn determination to survive reflects the struggle of nearly everyone to learn, keep going, fall and pick themselves up.
In books like The Martian, the author uses humor, despair, and joy to entice the reader. However, if you’ve already read The Martian, you might enjoy other books with a similar theme.
5 Books like The Martian
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandell
One of my favorite books of all time, Station Eleven is similar to The Martian in theme and style. Because it doesn’t fit entirely into science, dystopian, or contemporary fiction, Station Eleven could be considered a “slipstream genre.”
After a global flu pandemic wipes out 99 percent of the world’s people in 2014, the book follows a group of survivors. It’s been twenty years since the end of the world, but the Travelling Symphony, a nomadic troupe of actors and musicians, continues to perform across North America.
Station Eleven’s underlying message is to remind us all of the importance of culture and community through its exploration of loneliness and friendship. The motto of “The Travelling Symphony” is “survival is insufficient,” a quote from Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager.
Z for Zachariah, by Robert C. O’Brien
O’Brien’s 1974 novella about nuclear war survivor Ann Burden is a great choice if you’re looking for books that compare to The Martian. Ann takes us on a lonely and terrifying journey of survival in a world where there is no one else to talk to but yourself, told exclusively through her diary entries.
Ann is protected from nuclear fallout because she lives in a valley protected by weather patterns. When a stranger in a radiation suit walks into the room, tensions rise. Unfortunately, Ann learns the hard way that being alone is sometimes preferable to being in the wrong company after her husband becomes sick after bathing in radioactive water.
Z for Zachariah is a haunting tale of a girl’s survival in the face of adversity, echoing the theme and first-person narrative of The Martian. When I was seven years old, I read this book for the first time, and it had a lasting impact on me. Ann’s story still resurfaces in my mind from time to time, and I wonder how any of us would fare in a similar situation. The end of the book is a wonderful way to bring the story to a close, and it’s definitely worth your time.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
The Martian is a good example of science fiction and fantasy authors fighting back against their critics. Race, gender, and friendship are all cleverly skewered in The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. As a science fiction novel, it can be hard to tell at times that you’re reading one, and I often refer to this book as proof that science fiction does indeed reflect current events.
New file clerk Rosemary Harper has joined the crew of ‘The Wayfarer’. A small space ship is making its way toward a sub-space tunneling job, and the crew members all have secrets of their own to hide as the ship travels at a slow pace. Each crew member could be someone you know who is struggling with their identity, mental health issue, heritage, family trauma, or something else entirely..
One or two characters may be the focus of other books similar to The Martian’s, but I challenge anyone to find a book that can transport you through the emotions of at least five different characters.
When Chambers needed to take time off from work to finish the book, the crowdfunding campaign The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet was launched. In this wonderful tale of what it means to be alone and human, even in the far distant future, her faith in what she had written is admirably reflected.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
A bad day for Arthur Dent. A new hyperspace bypass has caused the earth to be demolished in order to make way for his house to be demolished by the council. A galaxy filled with weirdos, poetry-reading aliens, and the former President of the Galaxy who stole the first Probability Drive space ship is the setting for the first book in this hilariously inaccurate trilogy of sci-fi books about Arthur Dent.
Ford Prefect and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are the only constants in Arthur’s life, a travel companion that you wouldn’t leave your planet without. You’ll never read a six-book trilogy again. Listening to live poetry readings is something you’ll never want to do again. When dolphins leap out of the water and wave their flippers, you’ll never again wonder what they’re saying.
There are a wide variety of books like The Martian to choose from. Mark Watney’s struggle to survive in a hostile environment may not be taken as seriously as Arthur’s loneliness in a galaxy full of unknowns and absurdity. This humble Englishman’s courage and resolve in the face of terrible poetry, depressed androids, and ships that run on probability rival anything Watney has to deal with on Mars.
Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
The literary landscape is dotted with books like The Martian. Spin is one of the most intriguing characters. What would it be like if you were stargazing one night only to see every star in the sky vanish at once? It was first published in 2005, and that’s the premise of this sci-fi classic.
Many readers have a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to award-winning books. Although Spin won the Hugo in 2006, it’s not hard to see why.
Earth is encased in a permeable membrane that effectively ‘locks’ the planet out of time with the rest of the universe in this novel, which follows several characters’ lives. In the rest of the universe, 3.17 years go by every second that passes here on Earth. Fear and isolation can quickly send some people spinning’ out of control while others reach up to learn more, as shown in the movie “Spin.”
With their realistic portrayals, Tyler, Jason, and Diane perfectly balance the uncertainty, regret, and loneliness they experience as they try to make sense of the world around them with optimism, curiosity, and love. Many of us have a deep-seated apprehension about becoming socially isolated. To put it another way: Wilson only takes this fear to the extreme while highlighting the potential we all have to face our fears and conquer them. To deepen our understanding of one another, our planet, and the larger cosmos in which we live.