Andy Weir, author of The Martian, put out his second novel late last year: Artemis. Artemis is another space-based adventure for the one-time computer programmer, but he takes it in a different direction this time. While The Martian is a one-man tale of survival on Mars, Artemis is a high-stakes caper on the Moon. And it’s a great ride all around.
My rating: 5 out of 5.
In the late 2080’s, Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara is a porter (and part-time smuggler) in Artemis, the Moon’s one and only city, a short distance south of the Apollo 11 landing site. After flunking her moonwalking test that she needed to supplement her tight income, she is approached for a much bigger and more lucrative job, and she soon descends into a web of political intrigue with the fate of the entire Moon hanging in the balance.
In Artemis, Andy Weir is still in top form. His story is both compelling and well-researched, with the characters and the science and technology of living on the Moon driving the story in equal parts. Even though it’s a very different story from The Martian, he makes it just as much fun and really shows his versatility without sacrificing the realism of hard sci-fi. Put it all together, and Artemis is a thrilling tale that will keep you engaged to the very end.
If you’re a fan of classic sci-fi, you’ll note a lot of parallels between Artemis and Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Indeed, in the first chapter, EVA Master Bob echoes Heinlein’s classic by saying, “The Moon’s a mean old bitch,” as Jazz relearns multiple times over the course of the book. From that line, I have to think some of the parallels were deliberate. Of course, a hard sci-fi story set on the Moon is going to have a lot of the same elements anyway, but either way I daresay Weir has written a worthy companion to that story. To be sure, there are major differences. Heinlein went into much greater depth with his Luna, with its own culture and politics, and with a healthy dose of the idiosyncrasies that pervade his works. Artemis and its Lunar city are much more straightforward in comparison, but it’s just as entertaining, so if you’re a fan of Heinlein’s work or just hard sci-fi in general, I definitely recommend it.
Also, a movie version appears to be in the works, and since they did so well with The Martian, I’m eager to see it. Stay tuned.