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Artemis: A Novel Hardcover – November 14, 2017
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Praise for Artemis:
“An action-packed techno-thriller of the first order…the perfect vehicle for humans who want to escape, if only for a time, the severe gravity of planet earth. The pages fly by.”—USA Today
“Revitalizes the Lunar-colony scenario, with the author’s characteristic blend of engineering know-how and survival suspense...Jazz is a great heroine, tough with a soft core, crooked with inner honesty.”—Wall Street Journal
“Smart and sharp…Weir has done it again [with] a sci-fi crowd pleaser made for the big screen.”—Salon.com
“Makes cutting-edge science sexy and relevant…Weir has created a realistic and fascinating future society, and every detail feels authentic and scientifically sound.” —Associated Press
“Out-of-this-world storytelling.”—Houston Chronicle
"Weir excels when it comes to geeky references, snarky humour and scenes of ingenious scientific problem-solving.” —Financial Times
“Weir has done the impossible—he’s topped The Martian with a sci-fi-noir-thriller set in a city on the moon. What more do you want from life? Go read it!”– Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter
“Everything you could hope for in a follow-up to The Martian: another smart, fun, fast-paced adventure that you won’t be able to put down.” – Ernest Cline, New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One
“A superior near-future thriller…with a healthy dose of humor.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An exciting, whip-smart, funny thrill-ride…one of the best science fiction novels of the year.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Narrated by a kick-ass leading lady, this thriller has it all – a smart plot, laugh-out-loud funny moments, and really cool science.” —Library Journal (starred review)
Praise for The Martian:
“Brilliant…a celebration of human ingenuity [and] the purest example of real-science sci-fi for many years.” —Wall Street Journal
“A gripping survival story.” —New York Times
“Terrific…a crackling good read.”—USA Today
“A marvel…Robinson Crusoe in a space suit.”—Washington Post
“Impressively geeky…the technical details keep the story relentlessly precise and the suspense ramped up.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A story for readers who enjoy thrillers, science fiction, non-fiction, or flat-out adventure.” —Associated Press
“Utterly nail-baiting and memorable.”—Financial Times
“A hugely entertaining novel that reads like a rocket ship afire.”—Chicago Tribune
About the Author
ANDY WEIR built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, THE MARTIAN, allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.
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Jazz Bashara grew up in Artemis, the moon's only human colony. Tourists flock there for the chance to spend their life's savings on a guided tour of the lunar surface-- which involves wondering about in a high tech hamster ball-- and sampling the local delicacy known as Gunk, a flavored algae no one voluntarily eats a second time. But for the full time residents, Artemis is a small town with the same problems as any community. It's the kind of place where everyone knows everyone. And everyone knows Jazz Bashara is up to no good.
Jazz has a brilliant mind, but saw more fit to rebel against her traditional Muslim father than to apply it to her future. At 26, she finds herself the lunar equivalent of an errand girl, living in an apartment the literal size of a coffin, and smuggling contraband from earth just to make ends meet. She dreams of the day she'll have a home she can stand up in, and access to non-communal bathroom, but Artemis is expensive. There's a sharp divide between the haves and have-nots: those who can afford to have an earth standard of living shipped into city and those at the mercy of the natural restrictions of living on the moon.
So when one of the wealthiest haves, a sketchy businessman who employs Jazz's smuggling skills on the regular, offers her a huge sum to take out a competing business, she takes him up on it. What starts as a complicated, but doable, task quickly spirals out of control. Jazz soon finds herself in the cross hairs of some powerful enemies and discovers Artemis's dirty secrets.
Any expectations I had for this book were purely speculative, because, unlike most of the rest of the world, I have not read The Martian or seen the movie. That said, I was surprised 1/3 of the way through to realize I was reading a lightweight heist novel with some heavy handed commentary on wealth inequality. Yes, it's set on the moon, and the author does not let you forget it, but it's the backdrop to the real issue: Jazz needs money.
One of the largest problems of this book is Jazz herself. She's supposed to be a grown woman, but she narrates like a teenage boy. She's as obsessed with her sex life as everyone else in Artemis seems to be, and I have to wonder if author Andy Weir has ever met a woman before. She's also really chatty and familiar with the audience in a way that grates over time:
"Getting the contraband to Artemis... well, that's another story. More on that later."
"Okay, you can stop pretending you know what a niqab is."
The whole book has a very YA vibe to it. It's lightweight and the heist gets a bit ridiculous. I mean, they plan out every detail on an ipad-like device that their enemies have proven to be able to hack, but I digress. Between chapters, we get letters between Jazz and her earth penpal that date back to when they are children, but this has little relevance to the story at large and often feels like filler. And we get moments that read like a bad cable movie:
"He's right, Dad. I am an jerk. But Artemis needs a jerk right now and I got drafted."
Artemis has it's moments. It's fast paced and often fun. The descriptions of the moon colony, and what life might be like were anyone to attempt settling it, are interesting. But if you're expecting anything more of this than a forgettable caper tale, you might be disappointed.
As I was beginning it, The Housemate read me a highly critical review by the AV Club. Most of the review was about how the main character didn't feel like a woman. I felt that was relatively unimportant, that gender wasn't an issue in the story as far as I'd read, and honestly I still feel that way. Weir could have made his protagonist male and changed almost nothing about the narrative. Had this book been about women's issues, I might have felt short-changed, but as it is, this is a pretty standard thriller, and representation is way down on the list of things one expects from this genre.
However, irony is ironic. When I picked the book up again after hearing the review, I found that it had been close to being right. Not spot-on, just close. None of the characters had any depth for me, mostly they were interchangeable plot devices. Again, that's standard fare in the genre, so I'm willing to shrug and let it go in spite of the fact that I know Weir can create dimensional characters. But what flummoxed me was that the action sequences were so dull. They were highly technical, and where that worked in The Martian, it does not work here.
I found myself racing through those parts to get to the human interactions, which if they didn't have the depth I could have hoped for, were at least more interesting than all the tech stuff. I found myself thinking that someone told Weir that "people loved all that technical stuff in The Martian, so maybe you should do it again, and do more of it." Yeah that worked when it was a single man against the elements and ultimately against technology. But here? It's kind of flat. At least that's how it felt to me.
So in the end, while I enjoyed parts of it, those parts proved greater than the whole, and I can't be super enthusiastic the way I was about The Martian. That makes me sad. It doesn't mean I won't read the next thing Andy Weir publishes, but I'm not going to be so quick to pre-order it next time.
Jazz lives on the moon, in a city called Artemis. Named after the moon, of course. Travel between the moon and earth is consistent, and the moon has become a vacation hot spot for people of all types, though the only ones that afford to live there year-round (other than those who work there) are filthy rich. She is a smuggler, and works offloading cargo ships as well. When one of her smuggling regulars asks her for a shady job, her first inclination is to say no. Then he names his price, and she runs with it - she has a specific goal she's saving for, and this will clear it and then some. But that's when things get crazy, and the book takes off like a rocket (put totally intended).
This book does have a few puzzle pieces missing. There are some choices that Jazz makes that will obviously be very bad ones. There are a few things that will happen that readers will see coming. Having said that - the book is a fun ride from beginning to end, even *with* those puzzle pieces missing. Jazz as a character was interesting, particularly as it would be difficult to create a character more opposite from the one in Weir's first book. The science sprinkled throughout was a little harder for me to understand than in the first book, but for those who appreciated it then - you will appreciate it here as well.
Overall, if readers go into this book just looking for a good read, then this might fit the bill. Again - it's not The Martian, but it has strengths and weaknesses all its own.