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Artemis

Video Length 1:37

Who Should Read It

Anyone looking for a light, sci-fi adventure story with some science facts sprinkled throughout the novel.

Why Should We Read It

The problem-solving is fun, and the emotional ending satisfying.

What Will We Learn

Science is cool!

Book Summary

"I first learned of Andy Weir in 2015 when my then-girlfriend sang praises of his first novel, The Martian, during a date."

I first learned of Andy Weir in 2015 when my then-girlfriend sang praises of his first novel, The Martian, during a date. I remember having a negative first impression of the first few pages of the book. The title subconsciously reminded me of Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (I thought that was a horrible story), and Mr. Weir's novel started with a profanity-laced exclamation. No author worth their salt should need to need to resort to such barbarism. But I soldiered through The Martian so I could make conversation with that girl. I’m glad I did! The Martian turned out to be fun and engaging. It made science sexy, in no part because the story demanded it- the novel centered on an astronaut stranded on Mars after a mission gone awry, with only his scientific knowledge to keep him alive until NASA could find a way to bring him home. If Mr. Weir couldn’t find a way to make photosynthesis compelling, he wouldn’t have the success he is enjoying now.

"...Artemis, a tourist moon base so successful that it spawned an entire permanent settlement and local economy."

I was therefore excited to read Andy Weir's sophomore literary effort, Artemis. In this novel, Kenya has established Artemis, a tourist moon base so successful that it spawned an entire permanent settlement and local economy. While glamorous to visitors, Artemis was a harsh mistress for permanent moon residents like the protagonist Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara. In her meager world, service sector work yielded abysmal pay, with most of it going to a literal box for private quarters and bland algae for food. On the other hand , an Artemis resident could make a quick buck if crafty enough, and perhaps score a life-changing jackpot if desperate enough. Jazz was both. What she lacked was luck, and a simple exercise in identity theft, breaking/entering, and demolitions (it’s really simple when you’re as smart as Jazz) quickly spiraled into a deadly conspiracy with all of Artemis hanging in the balance. Jazz can’t handle this affair alone, but the only people she has on her side include an awkward scientist, a judgmental father, and a former friend/boyfriend stealer.

"Mr. Weir's literary modus operandi is an emphasis on scientific theory interwoven into an action-packed plot."

Mr. Weir's literary modus operandi is an emphasis on scientific theory interwoven into an action-packed plot. I remember pausing my read of The Martian so that I could study the chemistry or physics principle in question, mostly to make sure that it was actually plausible. Mr. Weir certainly applied science throughout Artemis, but I never quasi-fact checked him the way I did in The Martian. I can identify two reasons why: Mr. Weir needed to imagine much more new technology just to enable Artemis base to exist; if I am asked to suspend disbelief and accept that moon tourists can explore the lunar surface in a clear hamster ball (literally), then I won't bother to verify if a certain chemical reaction is voodoo or not. But more important, the true story of Artemis is not its science, but its human connections. Only Jazz can save Artemis, but to do so she needs to navigate and amend multiple strained relationships. I really enjoyed that emotional journey, and for that I look forward to Mr. Weir's next novel. Speaking of relationships- that girlfriend is now my wife.

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