The Martian is the debut by college drop-out Andy Weir. The book was originally a free, self-published serial on his own website before positive feedback and response inspired him to publish the serial on Amazon.com which he originally priced at 99 cents. The tremendous response on Amazon caught the attention of Crown Publishing, which published The Martian in its full physical book version in 2011. Weir disclosed that he wrote the novel while working as a computer programmer in California.
The book is a genre bender. It can certainly be described as a science fiction novel, given that it the events happen in a (not too) future time and a lot of science is incorporated in the narrative. The science however is not all that high-brow. Basic chemistry, physics, and life science that can easily be grasped by any junior high school student. With a lowered science bar, the book can also be classified as a tightly wound action/adventure/thriller. The action is frenetic where it seems that every action by the major characters builds on, and affects future events. There is no decision or deed made by the main characters that seems inconsequential.
The book has been developed into a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox with Matt Damon playing the role of the lead character, Mark Watney. It will be released in the fall of 2015.