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The Martian: A Novel Hardcover – February 11, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804139024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804139021
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5,249 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

8 Tips for Surviving on Mars from Andy Weir

So you want to live on Mars. Perhaps it’s the rugged terrain, beautiful scenery, or vast natural landscape that appeals to you. Or maybe you’re just a lunatic who wants to survive in a lifeless barren wasteland. Whatever your reasons, there are a few things you should know:

1: You’re going to need a pressure vessel.

Mars’s atmospheric pressure is less than one percent of Earth’s. So basically, it’s nothing. Being on the surface of Mars is almost the same as being in deep space. You better bring a nice, sturdy container to hold air in. By the way, this will be your home forever. So try to make it as big as you can.

2: You’re going to need oxygen.

You probably plan to breathe during your stay, so you’ll need to have something in that pressure vessel. Fortunately, you can get this from Mars itself. The atmosphere is very thin, but it is present and it’s almost entirely carbon dioxide. There are lots of ways to strip the carbon off carbon dioxide and liberate the oxygen. You could have complex mechanical oxygenators or you could just grow some plants.

3: You’re going to need radiation shielding.

Earth’s liquid core gives it a magnetic field that protects us from most of the nasty crap the sun pukes out at us. Mars has no such luxury. All kinds of solar radiation gets to the surface. Unless you’re a fan of cancer, you’re going to want your accommodations to be radiation-shielded. The easiest way to do that is to bury your base in Martian sand and rocks. They’re not exactly in short supply, so you can just make the pile deeper and deeper until it’s blocking enough.

4: You’re going to need water.

Again, Mars provides. The Curiosity probe recently discovered that Martian soil has quite a lot of ice in it. About 35 liters per cubic meter. All you need to do is scoop it up, heat it, and strain out the water. Once you have a good supply, a simple distillery will allow you to reuse it over and over.

5: You’re going to need food.

Just eat Martians. They taste like chicken.

6: Oh, come on.

All right, all right. Food is the one thing you need that can’t be found in abundance on Mars. You’ll have to grow it yourself. But you’re in luck, because Mars is actually a decent place for a greenhouse. The day/night cycle is almost identical to Earth’s, which Earth plants evolved to optimize for. And the total solar energy hitting the surface is enough for their needs.

But you can’t just grow plants on the freezing, near-vacuum surface. You’ll need a pressure container for them as well. And that one might have to be pretty big. Just think of how much food you eat in a year and imagine how much space it takes to grow it.

Hope you like potatoes. They’re the best calorie yield per land area.

7: You’re going to need energy.

However you set things up, it won’t be a self-contained system. Among other things, you’ll need to deal with heating your home and greenhouse. Mars’s average daily temperature is -50C (-58F), so it’ll be a continual energy drain to keep warm. Not to mention the other life support systems, most notably your oxygenator. And if you’re thinking your greenhouse will keep the atmosphere in balance, think again. A biosphere is far too risky on this scale.

8: You’re going to need a reason to be there.

Why go out of your way to risk your life? Do you want to study the planet itself? Start your own civilization? Exploit local resources for profit? Make a base with a big death ray so you can address the UN while wearing an ominous mask and demand ransom? Whatever your goal is, you better have it pretty well defined, and you better really mean it. Because in the end, Mars is a harsh, dangerous place and if something goes wrong you’ll have no hope of rescue. Whatever your reason is, it better be worth it.

From Booklist

Remember Man Plus, Frederik Pohl’s award-winning 1976 novel about a cyborg astronaut who’s sent, alone, to Mars? Imagine, instead, that the astronaut was just a regular guy, part of a team sent to the red planet, and that, through a series of tragic events, he’s left behind, stranded and facing certain death. That’s the premise of this gripping and (given its subject matter) startlingly plausible novel. The story is told mostly through the log entries of astronaut Mark Watney, chronicling his efforts to survive: making the prefab habitat livable and finding a way to grow food, make water, and get himself off the planet. Interspersed among the log entries are sections told from the point of view of the NASA specialists, back on Earth, who discover that Watney is not dead (as everyone assumed) and scramble together a rescue plan. There are some inevitable similarities between the book and the 1964 movie Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but where the movie was a broad sci-fi adventure, the novel is a tightly constructed and completely believable story of a man’s ingenuity and strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Riveting. --David Pitt

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Customer Reviews

This book is a page turner that I could not put down!!
Carolyn Szoke
When I say science it's actually more engineering than science, though there is some very interesting botany in this book as well as Mars details.
Dana Nourie
A very enjoyable read with great characters, good story and well written.
Mark Ohgair

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

360 of 381 people found the following review helpful By Ian J. Miller on October 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A futuristic Robinson Crusoe! Due to a dust storm, Mark Watney is left for dead in the Acidalia region of Mars when the Ares 3 mission is aborted 6 days into the scheduled two months. What follows is largely a logbook of living in a large tent or a small rover for about 550 days on what was supposed to be two month's rations for 6 people. Fortunately there were some potatoes for thanksgiving that were alive, so Mark starts dividing them and growing them. But first he has to make soil, and then water, and so on. Generally speaking, a logbook is a poor technique, but here it is brilliant. You cannot have conversation, and you cannot develop other characters, but did I mention he was abandoned? Alone? You might still think that 550 days stuck in a tent or rover could get boring, but no, this book is absolutely gripping.

Watney was resourceful, and the book is very good at showing the scientific approach to problems, putting numbers to them, and showing what happens if you do what, so in a sense it is also a book of puzzles: this has gone wrong, how can it be fixed? Tension is maintained well because Watney has an unseen companion: Murphy. If it can go wrong, it does, sometimes because of Watney's own lack of knowledge. To make water, first he makes hydrogen. This is not a good idea, and Watney finds out why. Because I have also written a book centred on Mars, I know the author has really spent a lot of time understanding the nature of Mars, and this book shows quite well what being on the surface of Mars would be like. There is the odd error, probably intentional for effect, for example the effects of the dust storm are too great.
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135 of 143 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"I'm stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I'm dead. I'm in a Hab designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I'll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I'm f----d." - Mark Watney

As the two-hundred thirty-fourth reader to review THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, I have no illusion that I can add anything substantive to the plaudits already heaped on this intelligent work of space sci-fi. Simply put, it's a nail-biter that'll trim your finger nail plates down even with the nail beds.

My reading tastes usually don't encompass space fiction because the vast majority of it seems to fall within the realm of extreme fantasy with worlds and ETs of the most fantastical sorts. I prefer my off-Earth stories to have some plausible connection with realistic, albeit extrapolated, technology and situations, and the one book that remains embedded in my memory as simply terrific is from all the way back in 1975 when I was much younger and perhaps more impressionable - Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. With films, I'm the same way; Outland and Silent Running come to mind. THE MARTIAN is my kind of SF.
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194 of 211 people found the following review helpful By Brian P. on September 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Follow the adventure of an astronaut as he tries to survive being left on Mars.
During a mission abort of the Ares 3 Mars landing, astronaut Mark Watney is thought dead as the rest of the crew does an emergency evacuation from the surface of Mars. Follow Mark as he fights to survive on a planet that really doesn't like living things.
The author, Andy Weir, wrote this over a long period of time in a serial format and I waited patiently for every chapter. Now that it is complete it is even better. Thank you Andy.
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130 of 140 people found the following review helpful By Bob on January 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a hard-science science fiction fan and would rather read hard sc-fi than almost anything. I love stories and movies about Mars, and I'm a fan of survival, castaway, and man-against-the elements stories. I loved Robinson Crusoe, so it should not surprise you that I loved the movie, Robinson Crusoe on Mars. I realize it's not Academy Award material, but to me, it's everything I want it to be, as was this book, The Martian.

The main character, Watney, presumed dead, is accidentally left by his crew mates when an intense Martian dust storm forces them to abort their mission. What follows for part of the book is a logbook style narrative that describes in great technical detail Watney's efforts to extend his life until the next scheduled mission arrives in 4 years. After reading just the first 20% of the book (my Kindle has no page numbers) one can't help but be impressed by the author's depth of knowledge in this regard. In fact, the entire book is an astronaut's primer on extraterrestrial and deep space survival and rescue.

The Martian isn't without its typos and editorial glitches, and I'm not sure if this was a result of a bad Kindle conversion or just a shortsighted editor. For me, though, typos and editing issues paled in comparison to the snowballing storyline, which I gladly admit is not for everyone.

This is not a touchy-feely book about love, romance or relationships. There is no overpowering angle between characters. No good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats. There's no room for cliches. It's all very business like and scientific. So, if you're looking for Twilight in Space. Or Fifty Shades of Mars. Or Tom Hanks making himself a friend by drawing a face on a soccer ball, you'll probably want to skip this one.
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