Artemis, by Andy Weir (2017)

Science Fiction
Artemis, by Andy WeirOh how we have been waiting for this book! Weir won international fame for his first novel, The Martian, which (as I, ahem, predicted) then blew us away as a blockbuster movie. Sophomore efforts often pale after such a success, and Weir makes a pretty good effort here. Set in the not-too-distant future, Artemis is a small colony of about 2000 on the moon. Jazz Bashara has lived there for two decades, since she was six years old. A non-practising Muslim, she makes a living as a deliveryperson with a profitable side gig as a small-time smuggler. Despite the constant hussle, her bank balance is dismally low, a problem as she has a debt to pay, and wants a better place to live where she doesn’t have to pad down the hall to a communal bathroom. To that end, Jazz hopes to qualify to do EVAs and earn more slugs (moon coin), but her sass and impatience keep getting in the way, despite being smart as a whip. What everyone calls “so much potential” – which just pisses her off to no end. But her need for money is palpable, and when one of her regular customers offers her a pile of slugs in exchange for a little criminal sabotage, she hesitates only briefly before agreeing. But of course it doesn’t go as planned, and soon Jazz is running for her life from the Brazilian mob, with almost no place to hide. This was a fun choice just a couple of weeks after reading Scott Kelly’s autobiography. So let me start with the good: it’s a caper, it’s on the moon, and it’s fun. There’s enough science to meet my post-Martian expectations, and the plot is complicated but not convoluted. Extra points for creating a world where Kenya manages moon travel. The supporting characters are diverse, well-developed, and add depth to the novel. Then there’s Jazz. I wasn’t sure I’d like her at first, but soon I was smitten – she’s lippy, ethical, funny, and bitchy. What’s not so good: despite getting help from several women with writing in a female voice, Weir delivers more than a few painfully awkward lines and juvenile jokes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who winced when Jazz opts for a niqab as a disguise during her heist prep-work, then refers to it as a mask. And if you found Watney’s sarcasm a bit grating, you’ll probably hate Jazz. Finally, the plot is a bit predictable. So overall it’s not The Martian, but still pretty good, and quite enjoyable. As in his first book, Weir does a great job describing the setting and explaining the science in an accessible and enjoyable way. I feel like I could design a space-worthy outer hull myself now, and take a decent stab at welding. Weir also won me over with a minor reference to Killdozer, my first b-movie discovered on 1970s Saturday afternoon television. (I cherish that memory and don’t dare wreck it by even considering watching it again! It can’t possibly hold up to the appreciation of a nine-year-old.) So he gets bonus points from me, just for that alone. My thanks to Crown Publishing for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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2 thoughts on “Artemis, by Andy Weir (2017)

    • Thanks! If you read the book, please let me know what you think. It’s always good to hear different views.

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