Unless you have been unplugged from social media for the past month, you’ve heard of “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon. You know that the reviews are stellar and that it’s pulled in over $200 million dollars worldwide.
What the internet (and also the public) tends to forget is that this movie is based on the Andy Weir novel, The Martian. While I’m a firm believer in the-novel-is-always-better mantra, I do understand the hesitance to find, purchase, and read a novel of which you know the entire story.
I can recall sitting in a theater in Georgetown watching “Gone Girl” on the big screen and silently cursing myself afterward for not having read the book before seeing the book’s adaptation. Not being particularly interested in reading a mystery/thriller without any surprises, I immediately went to the library to check out any other books by Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl. I got lucky; she had two more. Both were fantastic.
But I digress.
I am sure many of my fellow book nerds were dragged to “The Martian” by a friend or family member and are now wishing they could have let their own imagination take the lead instead of Ridley Scott’s. For all of you page-turning enthusiasts who now have a SciFi itch and no book with which to scratch it, fear not. Here are three Sci-Fi novels with which to curl up, if you fell in love with Matt Damon growing food on Mars over the weekend.
Must-Reads if You Loved The Martian Number 1: SEVENEVES, NEIL STEPHENSON
The moon blows up and splits into seven pieces…within the first ten pages. Do I even need to continue? I will, because I’m thorough. But we both know you’re hooked already. Other than the 7 large pieces of moon section, moon fragments from the “split” are set to start raining down into Earth’s atmosphere within a few years, bringing certain death to anyone on the surface. The international space station currently in orbit, connected to a large earth-orbiting asteroid, becomes the beacon of hope for humanity. The plan is to send a selected population to this station and hope that humanity can survive the “hard rain.”
The novel is set in the near future. Neil Stephenson is one of the most thorough fiction writers out there. The technical aspects of the novel speak to his preparation and research. Everything in this novel seems so plausible, and that is one of my favorite characteristics of it. Do yourself a favor. Go read Seveneves.
Must-Reads if You Loved The Martian Number 2: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, ROBERT A. HEINLEIN
Going old school – Heinlein published this novel way back in the 1960s, and it’s set in the United States, after a third World War. Here’s the gist: a space expedition that is headed to Mars loses contact after landing. A child, Valentine Michael Smith, was born to two of the astronauts en route to Mars. A second expedition heads to Mars 25 years later and finds Smith. Even though he was raised by them, the Martians order him to go back to Earth with the crew. Throughout the novel, Smith showcases superhuman abilities that he acquired while growing up with the clearly advanced Martians. However, he knows nothing about human culture and how important his abilities are.
This book is more of a thinker than The Martian or Seveneves, but it is just as enjoyable. Reading it in 2015, you get the unique perspective of being in the future while reading what Heinlein thought the future could look like. Sit down, relax, and learn human culture right alongside the man raised by Martians in Stranger in a Strange Land.
Must-Reads if You Loved The Martian Number 1: ENDER’S GAME (SERIES), ORSON SCOTT CARD
Yes, Ender’s Game has already been made into a feature film. And quite unsurprisingly, the film did not do the novel much justice. If you have not seen the film, great! Go read the novel. If you have seen the film and still want some Ender in your lives, great! You can turn to plenty of other novels in the saga. Ender’s Game chronicles the tale of Ender, one of many child geniuses who were trained military tacticians in order to prepare for any future attacks by an alien species named “Formics,” or “Buggers.” The Buggers have attacked once before (and nearly won), and the Earth has been preparing for the next battle ever since the attack.
The great part about the Ender saga is the volume. There are 5 books that follow Ender on his journey, most of it off of Planet Earth. There are also 5 more books that follow the perspective of the other child geniuses who were included in Ender’s Game as well. If you’ve read Ender’s Game, I recommend starting with the first “Bean” novel, Ender’s Shadow, to get your feet wet. Then I recommend reading Speaker for the Dead, the second novel in the Ender series.