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17 Sci-Fi & Survival Books Like The Martian 

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Louisa

The Martian is one of my favorite Andy Weir books. Mark Watney’s journey against all odds had me glued to the pages. Once I finished this book I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I found a similar type of book to read.

The Martian is the perfect blend of survival, defying the odds, and science fiction. action. It has themes of isolation and loneliness, as well as man vs nature.

One of the things I love about The Martian is how Mark finds ways to overcome some of the most challenging obstacles you could ever imagine. If books like this are your tea, you’re on the right page.

In this guide, I’ve listed by best books like The Martian for anyone on the hunt for something to read next. These similar books to The Martian have elements of sci-fi or survival, or sometimes even both!

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through any of these links. 

Quick Answers: Top 3 Picks!

Need a book fast but don’t have much time? Don’t worry. Here are my top three favorites!

Our Favourites!

Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos)

#1 Best Highly Acclaimed Book

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

  • A sci-fi story about galaxies at war with one another
  • Winner of the 1990 Hugo Award for Best Fiction
  • Winner of the 1990 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction

Dark Matter: A Novel

#2 Best Sci-Fi Book

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

  • A sci-fi thriller story about a physicist who is kidnapped and sent to a parallel universe 
  • International Bestseller
  • To be turned into a TV series by Apple TV

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

#3 Best Comedy Sci-Fi Book

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

  • A comedy story about a man who is taken on a hitchhiking adventure across the galaxy after Earth is blown up
  • A story so good Douglas Adams had to turn a trilogy into a five-book series because fans wanted more
  • Selling more than 15 million copies worldwide

Summary of The Martian

Before I get into the best books similar to The Martian, let’s quickly recap the story. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal any spoilers if you are still reading.

The story follows Mark Watney who finds himself stranded and alone on Mars after a terrible storm causes his team to flee the planet, presuming him dead and leaving without him.

With no means to even notify Earth that he’s alive and only a meager number of supplies, Mark must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet.

But Mark doesn’t give up hope that he won’t survive and hopes he will still one day return to Earth.

He faces impossible challenges after another, drawing on his resourcefulness, engineering talents, and relentless, tenacious determination to survive.

Will his ingenuity be enough to overcome the overwhelming obstacles stacked against him?

The Martian story will have you on the edge of your seat until the end. It’s good for sci-fi fans and anyone looking for a unique and exciting story about survival.

Books Like The Martian By Andy Weir

The Martian is an amazing survival sci-fi story. If you’re wondering what you should read next, check out one of the titles below.

1. Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson

The Martian was an interesting story because it showed how a person would survive on Mars. If you would like to read about a community on Mars, then keep reading.

For an interesting read, you should check out Red Mars. This is the first book in a trilogy focusing on colonization on Mars.

It begins when 100 people travel to Mars on a mission to establish a community.

Group members have different points of view on their goals since landing on the planet. This forces the group to split into 2 as tensions rise.

One group wants to keep Mars, while the other wants to transform it. Will they be able to overcome this conflict to create a society?

I really enjoyed the character dynamics in Red Mars. The differing opinions made you think deeply about topics of rules and order, as well as how humanity impacts nature.

Like The Martian, this book had me contemplating how we look after our own planet.

2. The Wanderers – Meg Howrey

My curiosity about outer space is what inspired me to read The Martian. If you enjoy books like The Martian because of the themes of exploring space, you should add The Wanderers to your list. 

This book follows 3 astronauts training for their first mission to Mars.

Each character has a specific reason why this journey is so important to them. Yet, it could be more than they ever imagined.

Throughout their journey, they blur the lines between reality and the unreal. We love this novel because each character discovers more than space while exploring.

Like The Martian, The Wanderers is about life on Mars, but it has a more action-packed storyline than The Martian. It’s fast-paced and gripping throughout.

3. Hyperion – Dan Simmons

Fans of The Martian will love reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons. This exciting pick is from 1989 and is still incredibly popular among readers today.

The story is set in a Hyperion world where everyone knows the story of a creature called The Shrike. Many people fear it, while others want to destroy it.

On the eve of Armageddon, while the entire galaxy is at war, 7 pilgrims escape discovering the secrets hidden within Hyperion.

However, each pilgrim has their own secret that’s driven them to where they are now. This novel is the first story in the Hyperion Cantos collection.

It’s similar to The Martian in that it also touches on themes of morality and humanity’s place in the world.

It has been beautifully written in a poetic style and is often described as a kind of “space opera.” Deeply moving and unforgettable.

4. Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams 

Did you enjoy The Martian but would prefer something more humorous for your next pick? If so, I recommend reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

This hilarious novel begins when Earth is about to be demolished. Just seconds away from crumbling down with the planet, Arthur Dent is rescued and taken into space.

It turns out, his best friend, Ford Prefect, isn’t an out-of-work actor. Instead, he’s been writing The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy in secrecy all this time!

Now, Arthur, Ford, and a crew of unforgettable and quirky characters must follow quotes from the guide to make it through space. This is the first of 7 books in this critically-acclaimed series. 

This is a clever and incredibly funny book that was an instant hit when it was published in 1979, featuring at the top of the Sunday Times Bestseller list and winning a Golden Pan Award in 1984 for selling over 1 million copies.

5. The Explorer – James (J.P.) Smythe

Are you interested in reading more novels like The Martian where people are stuck in outer space? The Explorer by James Smythe (aka J.P. Smythe) is another similar book that will have you hooked until the end.

The story follows Cormac Easton who is a journalist who has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to deep space with a crew of astronauts.

When the crew wakes up to find the captain dead in the fail-proof pod, things turn for the worst. Nothing is going as planned.

As more crew members die, Cormac finds himself alone in a world he doesn’t know and must find a way to survive.

The Explorer is beautifully written, but it is much darker than The Martian since it features a main character with limited survival knowledge. It’s a little claustrophobic and thriller-inspired and would suit fans of dark sci-fi novels.

6. The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

If you enjoyed The Martian because it takes place in outer space, you should add The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers to your reading list.

This story follows Rosemary Harper, who joins Wayfarer as a file clerk to flee her old life. The crew gets offered a job to tunnel through wormholes in space.

As the crew travels deep into space, they face a number of mishaps where they have to learn to work together.

While Rosemary didn’t expect to risk her life while joining this crew, she learned the value of working together and being part of a group.

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet has been described as an “optimistic space opera” and is fun and easy to read. The story is very character driven and the world-building is excellent.

It won a Hugo Award for Best Series in 2019 and was nominated for a British Fantasy Award in 2016 for Best Newcomer.

7. Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

Throughout The Martian, Mark Watney finds a way to survive in a world without other people. The characters in Station Eleven have that in common.

This story is set after a flu pandemic results in the collapse of civilization. A twist of fate brings 5 characters together.

As the story continues, readers will glimpse each character’s past and future after society has been wiped away. 

This is a beautifully written story with a masterful plotline. It cleverly portrays the end of the world, but Emily St John Mandel has based it on the world we live in now which makes it feel more real and plausible.

8. Artemis – Andy Weir

What I loved about The Martian is that it takes me to another planet You can see what living on the moon is like when you read Andy Weir’s other hit novel Artemis.

Artemis is the first city on the moon. It’s mostly inhabited by billionaires and visited by rich tourists.

After a falling out with her family, Jazz turns to a life of crime. However, the perfect crime put Jazz in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

As she gets caught up in a conspiracy, Jazz must risk everything to survive.

This is an action-packed, sci-fi thriller with an adventure that’s so fast-paced you’ll find it impossible to put this book down. It’s clever, fun, and entertaining.

9. Earth Unaware – Orson Scott Card

In The Martian, Mark was all alone in space. For a different turn of events in space, you should grab a copy of Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card, which is about other living beings in the galaxy.

The story follows a family of asteroid miners who detects an alien spaceship heading toward the solar system.

No one knows what to make of it at first. However, they soon discover what this means for their planet. 

This spaceship is just the beginning. Along with the alien race comes the world’s first Formic War. This is the first novel in The First Formic War series.

If you’re looking for an action-packed sci-fi novel with great characters and a storyline that has you hooked on every page, this is a great option. This book was the premise of the movie, Ender’s Game.

10. Z For Zachariah – Robert C O’Brien

Do you enjoy stories where the main character has to find a way to survive all alone? After reading The Martian, you should pick up a copy of Z For Zachariah which is all about one man’s survival.

This story follows 16-year-old Ann Burden, the only survivor in the valley after a nuclear war.

For a long time, she thought she was the last living person in the area. However, she soon discovers that a man is heading toward the valley.

Ann has no idea whether she can trust him or not. After all, what does he want in the valley?

What I loved about this book is that it was written in a diary format, which made it all seem more real and plausible, despite being set in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s a great young adult sci-fi novel with some coming-of-age themes in there too.

11. The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu

If you’re looking for books like The Martian that take you into another realm of the galaxy, then I suggest The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu which is all about an alien invasion.

It begins when a secret military project in China makes contact with an alien race.

This isn’t the amazing discovery that everyone thought it would be. The alien civilization is on the brink of destruction, and now the aliens want to invade Earth.

On Earth, many people get ready to welcome this new species, while others prepare to fight for their planet. This is the first of 3 novels in The Three-Body Problem collection.

Unlike The Martian, this novel gets more into the science and has more “revolutionary” themes. I enjoyed the character development, the Chinese history lessons, and the mind-boggling turn of events.

12. Farside – Patrick Chiles

The Martian tells the story of a trip to space that didn’t go as planned. If these stories are the kind that keeps you glued to the pages, you should check out Farside by Patrick Chiles.

The human race is building an observatory on the side of the moon that doesn’t face Earth. They’ve detected an Earth-sized planet and plan to use the observatory to get pictures of it.

However, building this observatory proves to be more difficult than planned, especially when fatal accidents occur.

A missing spacecraft and a cryptic message could reveal something the human race wasn’t ready for.

This is a fast-paced novel filled with hard science that drives the plot forward. It starts with a bang and doesn’t slow down until the end.

13. After The End – Amy Plum

The Martian’s lead character found ways to live off the land in space. In After The End, the main character and a group live off the land after a nuclear war.

For the last 30 years, Juneau and a group of people have been living off the land outside Alaska.

When Juneau returns to their sight after a hunting trip, everyone is gone. Things get even more twisted for her when she leaves their boundaries for the first time.

The nuclear war never happened. Civilization still exists, and somebody knows the secrets of the group’s past. As Juneau searches for her group, she learns that there’s someone out there whom they have been hiding from.

This book is well-paced, packed with mystery and twists and turns. It also has a romance element between two star-crossed lovers trying to find their way back to each other.

14. The Final Six – Alexandra Monir

In books like The Martian, survival in space is mandatory to make it to the end. For another exciting novel like this, you should read The Final Six by Alexandra Monir. 

Climate change has made the Earth no longer inhabitable. To survive, humanity will have to move to another planet.

The Europa mission will explore a planet to see if it’s inhabitable for humanity.

On Earth, 24 teens are competing for a spot in this mission. Only 6 will be chosen.

As the competition to get to the final 6 goes on, the tests become increasingly more difficult. Some tests become deadly, eliminating the competition. 

Like The Martian, this book will have you thinking about humans vs nature in a new way and how we are impacting our own planet.

15. Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

If you enjoyed the thrilling story of The Martian, I suggest grabbing a copy of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch next.

This thrilling sci-fi story will have you hooked until the end as you discover the importance of paths not taken.

Jason’s life is quiet and predictable. That is until he’s knocked unconscious by a stranger and wakes up in a strange reality.

In this new world, his life is completely different. He’s no longer a college professor, his wife isn’t his wife, and his son doesn’t exist.

This mind-bending story has Jason questioning which life is reality. Does he live in this dimension? Was his previous existence all just a dream? 

If you love fast-paced sci-fi books with hints of adventure, this one is for you.

16. Red Rising – Pierce Brown

Of course, I couldn’t miss Red Rising off my list.

Embark on an enthralling journey with Darrow, a hardworking miner of the Red class on the red and dusty terraformed planet Mars.

He believes that his people are helping build civilization, only to later discover that humanity has already established cities and towns thriving generations ago.

As the color class system divides the human race with Golds on top, the suspenseful scenes, tension and unexpected turns will keep you hooked until the end.

Don’t miss out on Pierce Brown’s incredible first book in this thrilling Red Rising series, a collection of books similar to The Martian.

Related Reading: Books Like Red Rising

17. I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore

Although not completely similar to The Martian, for those that love a good science fiction book to read next, I Am Number Four might be your new favorite read.

Get ready to be immersed in the story of John Smith, an alien from a special planet, and his companion Henri.

Follow them on their mission to take over Earth, blending into the shadows as they attempt to stay undetected.

Told through the first person perspective, I Am Number Four is an intriguing novel that was even turned into a movie!

For the full experience, make sure you read the book before seeing the film.

Related Reading: Books Like I Am Number Four

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books like the martian

Final Words On Books Like The Martian 

So there you have it, those are my favorite similar books to The Martian and I think you will agree there are a lot of diverse options on this list.

Whether you’re into action-packed sci-fi or you’re looking for a moving novel that gets you thinking, there’s something for everyone on my list.

There are so many sci-fi survival stories out there that will keep readers glued to the pages. If you think I missed one of your favorite books, let me know about it in the comments below.

Headshot of Louisa

About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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