It has been nearly 6 years since author Andy Weir ‘officially’ published his novel The Martian. That story set of a renewed interest in popular hard-science fiction and spawned a Ridley Scott movie. Now the author is back with Artemis – another hard sci-fi novel, this time set on the moon. Artemis is very different from The Martian. It focuses on a female protagonist, professional under-achiever Jazz Bashara. It is also a heist story, of sorts, whereas The Martian is a survival story.
Set in the late 2080s Jazz must try to live on Artemis base. Despite being smart she has so far only worked menial jobs, something her peers remind her off. Jazz leads a busy private life and as a porter she known almost everybody on the small lunar base. Eventually she gets the opportunity to earn a big, through the sabotage of industrial rovers. Her partial success however lays bear a plot to take control of Artemis and a strategic resource.
NOT The Martian
With Artemis author Andy Weir does not quite convince the reader they should pay attention to the hard Sci-Fi. While there is plenty of exposition on topics such as airlocks, chemistry and metallurgy reading about it feels awkward. With The Martian the reader was invested in the well-being of astronaut Mark Watney. By comparison Jazz is not that interesting, unlike some secondary characters. Now don’t get me wrong, she has a sharp wit and an interesting private life. Yet. there is no sense of urgency in her actions, the plot is set in motion because she needs money. Jazz would have made an interesting protagonist in a short story or novella. But her exposition feels self-serving and not important. This is especially noticeable during the latter half of the story when, frankly, there is no mystery left.
I suppose more criticism of Jazz is in order. Despite being in her mid-20s she comes over as a juvenile. So does the plot. Author Andy Weir creates an interesting conspiracy of Lunar authorities put up against earth-based organized crime. However, the unraveling of this conspiracy is too easy, without any significant sacrifice on the part of the protagonist. Throughout the story we are privy to Jazz’s inner thoughts and they reveal a character that is oversexed, juvenile and somewhat stupid. I can’t help but feel this reflects the author to a degree. I think it is inevitable that a relatively in-experiences author should end up describing a woman as a girl. Ultimately, Artemis starts of well, but is ultimately forgettable as it tries too hard to establish an interesting, witty and sexy protagonist.