The most entertaining book I've read in the past few months is The Martian, by Andy Weir. It tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney, a member of a six-person mission to Mars in the near future. After an accident early in the mission, Watney is stranded alone on the surface of Mars. The book is the story of his quest for survival.
For a science geek like me, the book was a treasure. Not only is the main character Mark a fun guy to spend time in space with (he evens maintains his good humour and wisecracks throughout the book), but everything that happens in the book happens according to real science and real technology that we have today. The author Andy Weir is an Android programmer, and even went to the trouble of writing a simulation of the ion-drive-propelled spaceship in the book to make sure the orbital mechanics were all correct (check it out starting at 14:30 in the video below).
If you haven't read the book, you can hear the first chapter read by the author at the beginning of the video above. Or, check out the fan-made animation below, which visualizes some of the key scenes from the book. The scenes are technically spoilers, but think it gives a good sense of what Watney has to overcome in the story without giving away many of the details. And if you've read the book, it may help you conceptualize some of the scenes a bit better (especially the last scene, for me).
The book has apparently been optioned for a movie, which I'd love to see. I loved the movie Gravity, and I think The Martian would make a great movie too. I just hope they cast James Franco in the lead role — after his performance in 127 Hours, he'd make a perfect Watney.
[Update Nov 17 2014: Ars Technica has an excellent interview with Andy Weir about The Martian. And also the movie is already in production, with Matt Damon as an acceptable Franco substitute. :) ]
That's all for this week. See you on Monday!