The socks are Sweet Georgia sock yarn which I really like----soft and sturdy. The pattern is just a basic sock using the Fish Lips Kiss Heel (which costs $1 and is totally worth the money for this easy heel pattern and the tips on how to make socks that fit!), Judy's Magic Cast-on (for toe-up socks that don't require any seaming!), and Jeny's Suprisingly Stretchy Bind-off, plus a basic 2x2 rib. I combined all those features for a men's size 12 sock that didn't need a pattern. I love that with toe-up socks you can just keep trying them on to see if they fit----which I did to all the size 12 men around except the gift recipient!
All those tips just might turn me into a sock knitter! Except that there is still the pesky problem of gauge when you want to go a little crazy, knit a little faster, and use a size 3 needle!
Mark Watney is part of the Ares 4 manned mission to Mars, and on the 5th day there's a disaster that (supposedly) causes his death and the mission is aborted. The other astronauts must leave the surface quickly and don't have time to search for his body. As you might have guessed, he's not dead and the crew has no way of knowing that. Mark knows that he has to find a way to survive for 4 years until the Ares 5 arrives---3200 km away.
The Martian is really well thought out in terms of the scientific realities of what conditions are like on Mars and what kind of gear Mark would have available. It could have gotten dull with just his log entries and long, scientific explanations of what he's doing, but Weir manages to vary the storytelling and keep the explanations understandable for us (extremely non-scientific types).
Now I need a new book to read....got any recommendations? I know, I can just go read all the Yarn Along posts at Ginny's!