The best books about life on Mars as we’ll soon know it

The Books I Picked & Why

The Martian

By Andy Weir

Book cover of The Martian

Why this book?

The beauty of The Martian is how its simple premise—man gets stuck on Mars and needs to find a way to live and get home—can include so much science yet be so accessible to a mass audience. Following Mark Watney’s plans for survival from growing potatoes from poop to rebooting Pathfinder is an endlessly entertaining journey. 


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The Martian Chronicles

By Ray Bradbury

Book cover of The Martian Chronicles

Why this book?

Bradbury’s classic explores a future in which we populate Mars, but being the conquerors we are, we end up killing off all the native Martians. From there, Bradbury reminds us that even if we can escape Earth, we can’t escape ourselves. We face the same old human problems, they just happen to occur on a new planet.


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The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must

By Robert Zubrin, Richard Wagner

Book cover of The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must

Why this book?

This is the one non-fiction book on my list. Zubrin wrote The Case for Mars in the mid-1990s with a plan to get to the Red Planet, utilize its natural resources, terraform the planet, and build a society. That idea may sound like science fiction, but Zubrin lays out specific scientific details on how it could all be possible. 


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Red Mars

By Kim Stanley Robinson

Book cover of Red Mars

Why this book?

The first book of Robinson’s trilogy follows the first hundred settlers of Mars. Similar to Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, we see how humanity’s baggage can never be left behind. But Robinson goes much deeper into the issues and the science, and creates a remarkable vision of what may come to be.


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The Alternate Martians

By A. Bertram Chandler

Book cover of The Alternate Martians

Why this book?

There are so many science fiction books about Mars, so I wanted to choose at least one of the more obscure ones. This one is particularly interesting because it explores the idea of a universe in which the many famous Martian tales that came before it, like John Carter of Mars, were based on actual beings and events—the details were just embellished and perhaps misremembered a bit by the authors.


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