“Artemis,” Andy Weir’s moon-based sophomore effort, is another entertaining novel set in a realistic depiction of life in Space. Like his first book, “The Martian,” half the fun of this novel is knowing that Weir is dedicated to making the science as accurate as possible. It’s like going to the movies knowing the actors are doing their own stunts. It makes the story and action feel more intense.
The qualities that made his first novel a great read and a Hollywood movie are present again. The premise of “The Martian” is simple and classic—a survival tale set on a hostile planet. In “Artemis” Weir challenges himself and tells a different type of story set on the hostile moon – a heist story. It is considerably more challenging from a narrative point of view.
Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara lives and works on the moon, which is both a tourist attraction and a place of industry. When she is offered a chance to make serious money in a heist, she of course says yes. It wouldn’t be a novel without the ‘yes.’ The heist is only partially successful, and soon Jazz is on the run from shady characters and the moon’s system of law. After her co-conspirator is murdered, Jazz needs to figure out who the killer is and, equally important, what is really at stake.
Jasmine narrates the action, and she is my main misgiving. She’s a non-practicing Muslim born in Saudi Arabia and raised on the moon. She’s an immature smart-ass who is down on her luck and makes bad life decisions. Her family and friends suffer from her constant barrage of immature comments.
Unfortunately, Weir doesn’t quite channel a convincing female voice. I appreciate that Weir makes a young Muslim woman the protagonist, but I found that I’m not fully convinced of her as a character. (But I think with a little massaging and a good actress, she could become a quite compelling character in a movie.)
The setting on the moon is completely convincing. Artemis is a moonbase with five domes, some fine hotels, a little industry to provide jobs, and a mixture of rich and poor inhabitants. Weir gives us plenty of fascinating facts and speculation about living on the moon. For instance, it’s a challenge getting a decent cup of coffee on Artemis due to water’s low boiling point on the Moon. Water doesn’t get hot enough. Whenever Jazz is telling us about life on the moon, the book is fascinating.
The book’s norish plot is executed well-enough, though the prose is often clunky, as if it needed another proofread. This clunkiness can be frustrating, but strangely it also gives this novel some zip and energy. Weir’s enthusiasm for the science shines through the prose. The bottom line is that if you enjoyed “The Martian” then you’ll find much to enjoy here. Weir is carving out a genre niche for himself by writing realistic science fiction that appeals to an audience outside of science fiction readers. Plus, I’m sure “Artemis” will make a fine movie.