"The Red Planet isn't a good bad guy, because the challenges it throws at Watney are forces of nature and, as such, immutable, impersonal and undirected."
I think it was Ted Nugent that said, "Once you spend a little time with her and really get to know mother nature, you come to realize what a stone cold bitch she is. She'll kill you in a heart beat, given the chance." Or something to that effect.
Most people on the planet spend the majority of their time in cities or at 30K feet and are blissfully ignorant of nature.
And that's here on earth. Once you get out beyond the magnetosphere she gets orders of magnitude rougher.
Which brings up the point that Mars' magnetic field is nearly non-existent and that is the major reason we'll never live on Mars for more than a few forays. Unless, of course, the infinite improbability drive pops into our universe.