Sent to me by Penguin – Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 14/11/17
Publisher: Del Rey
Format: Hardback, 320pp
Summed up in a word: Caper
I missed out on both The Martian novel and it’s movie adaptation so I went into Artemis not really fuelled by the hype. I thought Artemis was a brilliant space caper that, though there is plenty of science floating around (pun intended), doesn’t take itself too seriously. Artemis is a blast and Jazz is a great main character for this novel, without her cheeky and audacious presence I think with wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. Andy Weir clearly knows his stuff and the ability to thread scientific technicality into the narrative without switching my brain off is a huge achievement. I highly recommend Artemis to SF/Action readers and those who love a bold and brash plot in a unique setting.
Official Book Synopsis
Ever had a bad day? Try having one on the moon…
WELCOME TO ARTEMIS. The first city on the moon.
Population 2,000. Mostly tourists.
Jazz Bashara is a criminal. She lives in a poor area of Artemis and subsidises her work as a porter with smuggling contraband onto the moon. But it’s not enough.
So when she’s offered the chance to make a lot of money she jumps at it. But though
planning a crime in 1/6th gravity may be more fun, it’s a lot more dangerous…
Andy Weir certainly has a knack for combining bold and brash plot lines with accessible and enjoyable science fiction. Artemis is a perfect combination of high-stakes action and captivating physics and technology. With a brilliantly unique setting that is successfully fleshed out to the point of ‘oooohs’ and ‘ahhhhhs’, Artemis ticked all the boxes for me. This is a heist-novel but taken to another level, or astronomical body in this regard!
The story takes place within Artemis, the first city to be built on the moon. Based near the Apollo 11 landing site, Artemis is a scientific success. It is also the number one tourist destination for planet earth. A playground for billionaires and criminals. Jazz Bashara grew up on the moon from the age of six. She is a proud Artemisian (though originally from Saudi Arabia). Jazz has chosen to lead a simple life, even with her outstanding intellect, and works as a porter for citizens of Artemis and incoming travel and trade vessels. With a contact on Earth on her payroll, she is also Artemis’ number one smuggler. Even under the watch of local law enforcement, Jazz always delivers. Jazz is saving up to get herself out of the slums and get a spot on one of the nicer areas on Artemis. Local Billionaire and Jazz’s number one customer has a job for her, a job that will set her up for life. But she will have to put her life on the line to deliver the goods. When Jazz fails to complete her job, she becomes the most wanted person on the moon. People want her dead and there is no where to run.
I enjoyed the plot, I thought it was multi-dimensional and was developed well throughout the novel. But it is the setting and Weir’s writing that really made this novel shine. Andy Weir has fleshed out the moon city setting out so well. With a captivating and descriptive writing style, the reader is taken on a sociological, economical and scientific tour of human’s first civilisation on Earth’s number one satellite. AW takes his science very seriously and, while I can’t fact check the information provided as I am not smart, the result of his writing, for me, was pure fascination. The details of elements like the physics of existing on the moon, how the gravity affects movement and physiology was engrossing. The limitations of the air, how it changes taste and how it can be incredibly dangerous if the chemistry was to alter etc kept me glued to the page. I am a sucker for science, but I am sure this will appeal to huge audience, just like AW’s first novel did. The moon city setting was always going to be the main event and AW aced it. There is plenty of out of this world exploration to be had for the reader.
This is all done via the medium of Jazz. Jazz, for me, was a brilliant main character (though I can see her potentially getting on people’s nerves). Initially coming across as wasteful and immature, AW slowly divulges what has happened to her over the years on the moon and elaborating on the choices she has made. I ended up amazed by how much I really enjoyed her story and how well AW built her up over the course of the narrative. Jazz is actually an intellectual genius who ignores her talents due to pressure from her father and the promise of easy money through smuggling. As soon as things go south though, she gets the opportunity to use her mind wisely over the course of this chaotic and high-stakes plot. Her attitude was continuously making me laugh, Jazz is blunt, audacious and has a knack for innuendo and outright smut. The dialogue in this book is fantastic and Jazz always has a quip or retort on the tip of her tongue. Jazz tries to keep her existence a simple one but life, especially on the moon, is never that easy.
Jazz enters herself into a scheme of espionage and sabotage that will make her rich, but the mission in question puts her in the sights of one of the biggest organised crime syndicates in the world and they are coming for her. Where can she run? She is trapped on the moon. Only her smarts and connections can help her figure out the depth of the trouble she has stirred up. The secondary cast of characters in Artemis are hit and miss. I enjoyed a few of them but apart from the mad Ukrainian scientist Svoboda, they were largely forgettable. This is why I am putting so much emphasis on Jazz being a well thought out lead, because she really is the glue that holds this story together.
Overall, Artemis is a science-fiction treat that is packed with action and adventure. There was very little that I didn’t like about this novel. I love science so AW’s approachable SF technicality was always going to go down well with me but I think a lot of other readers will find plenty to appreciate here too. Highly recommended to all calibre of reader. Have fun with this novel.
About Andy Weir
ANDY WEIR built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian, allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time.
He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.