Thursday, January 04, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Artemis by Andy Weir

If you were expecting Artemis to be some follow-on of  the story in Andy Weir's breakthrough debut novel, The Martian except that it is set on the Moon I can disabuse you of that notion right away. The Martian was a pretty good book which was made into a fantastic movie, with an amazing cast (Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Jeff Daniels and Chiwetel Ejiofor) and talented director (Ridley Scott).

Artemis is a very different book, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And I could see that it is very possible that it could be made into a fantastic movie (or television series). The main character of Artemis is Jasmine "Jazz" Bashara, an emigre from Saudi Arabia who lives in Artemis, the first "city" on the moon (consisting of five pressurized domes with several subterranean levels where roughly 2,000 people work and live). Jazz moved to Artemis with her father at age 6 and is now something of a petty criminal and ne'er-do well who ostensibly is a porter transporting items around Artemis but is actually one of the premier smugglers of contraband items in the city.

Jazz has a friend back on Earth whom she has never met named Kelvin who acts as her supplier. Kelvin happens to work at KSC (Kenyan Space Center) which is the entity that is responsible for the fact there is a budding civilization on the moon. One of the highlights of the book for me was the unspooling of the details of the relationship between Kelvin and Jazz (as told via email correspondence). Another highlight was the diversity of the cast of characters that we come into contact with as the story unfolds. They are all shapes and sizes and colors.

Jazz has a number of curious relationships with other people on Artemis, such as her Dad, who she stopped living with around age 16 (and who obviously disapproves of her near-criminal lifestyle), her ex-boyfriend Dale and Artemis' sole police officer, Rudy. Since the city is essentially a very small town, Jazz is even familiar with the "town mayor," Administrator Fidelis Ngugi, a Black woman who happens to be the most important person on the moon.

The plot of Artemis revolves around a technological advancement which could upend Artemis' economic equilibrium and provides Jazz with an opportunity to make a LOT of money. But, as usual, if something looks too good to be true, it often is and Jazz finds this out when her erstwhile business partner shows up dead. At this point the story jumps into overdrive and gets very exciting as Jazz is on the run for her life while she tries to figure out the mystery of who will kill to make a killing on the future development of the Moon.

Overall, this book is another example of Weir's breezy, very readable writing style set in a near-future setting based around future space exploration which is chock full of science and engineering details that will appeal to most hard science fiction aficionados.

Title: Artemis.
Andy Weir.
Paperback: 322 pages.
Date Published: November 14, 2017.
Date Read: December 31, 2017.

★★½☆  (3.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: B+/A- (3.41/4.0).


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