Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
...no one is likely to imagine it as vividly as Andy Weir has in his debut novel, an interplanetary adventure story about an astronaut facing the ultimate worst-case scenario ... The solutions Watney finds may be fictional, but they’re grounded in scientific fact (Weir is a software engineer and astrophysics buff). And this 21st-century Robinson Crusoe is appealingly pragmatic and funny ... In Weir's hands, even the driest scientific topics take on a taut urgency because the stakes are so high.
This is techno sci-fi at a level even Arthur Clarke never achieved. It's also a celebration of human ingenuity ... But human ingenuity, as Mr. Weir demonstrates, can do things you wouldn't believe possible. Like take off from Mars on a booster patched up with canvas. Just do the math. The Martian must be the purest example of real-science sci-fi for many years. Just one character most of the time, no dialogue. It's utterly compelling.
In The Martian, I found myself skimming through many an explanation of how the hero got something up and running, including his description of how he was able to take a bath ... Comic relief in the face of this relentless exposition of the mechanical and the scientific is provided by the astronaut’s watching crappy 1970s television sitcoms for diversion. The hero’s self-deprecating sense of humour is also an ingredient in preventing the seriousness of the situation from getting out of hand ... The Martian is true in that sense to the genre, in its manufacture and resolution of suspense carried on to the final pages.