by Andy Weir
The core problem of science fiction today is that no thoughtful science fiction writer can really envision a future of any sort, much less one that fits with the SF’s expectation that understanding problems will solve them. The Martian attacks the problem by writing a science fiction story that is so thoroughly near-future that it’s scarcely speculative: a Mars landing mission that’s basically a scaled-up long-term Apollo lander gets caught in a windstorm and aborts, losing one astronaut. That astronaut miraculously recovers, wakes up, and there he is, alone, on Mars. He sets out to make the best of things, and things are not quite as dire as you’d think. The science and engineering is mostly familiar and it’s deployed cleverly; indeed, in this world our privatization of space travel hasn’t yet occurred.
This interesting mix of techno-utopian dreaming, escapism, action, and good sense was written to be a movie and will shortly be one.