Artemis by Andy Weir
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Publication date: 14 November 2017
Pages: 320 pages
Format: Paperback proof
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
So if you’ve seen my Beginner’s Guide to Science Fiction, you’ll know that I love The Martian. It was the book that really got me into reading sci-fi and it holds a very special place in my heart. So when I heard that Andy Weir was coming out with a new book, I was so incredibly excited. My expectations for Artemis were high, and I’m so happy to say that they were surpassed.
Jazz Bashara is a criminal.
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.
Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of Jazz’s problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself – and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even more unlikely than the first.*
I’m going to start out by saying you shouldn’t come into Artemis expecting The Martian 2.0 because that’s not what you’re going to get. While they’re both science fiction novels, they’re in two completely different subgenres. While The Martian is based in or around our time, Artemis is set in the not-so-distant future. The Martian’s Mark Matney is a goofy yet heroic man who must survive on the surface of a lifeless planet. Artemis’s Jazz Bashara is a criminal who’s goal in life is to become rich. Different books, different characters, different times, different kinds of sci-fi. Despite this, it’s going to be really difficult to not compare them.
There is not much to say about the setting of Artemis that isn’t said in the above copy. The timeline is a little unclear, but the book takes place about 100 years after the moon landing in Artemis — the first city on the moon. Weir has, of course, constructed an incredibly cool and feasible world for this book down to mundane details like the fire safety protocols and maintenance of the lunar city. Because of this, everything about the setting feels so real, down to the everyday lives of the people living here.
A question I think a lot of people will ask about this book is whether or not the science is realistic. I know there was some debate over the science in The Martian, but honestly I am not the right person to ask. One of the best things about The Martian was that the science was easily understandable, and Artemis is very much the same way. The physics of this unfamiliar environment are adapted into the plot so incredibly well and as usual, Weir explains what’s going on pretty clearly.
What really makes this book work is Jazz Bashara, our leading lady. She is an absolutely astounding character. Jazz is not a good person — in fact, she’s criminal. She’s the perfect character for a setting the verges on mundane and gritty. She’s a foul-mouthed smuggler who is so incredibly intelligent and talented, but has chosen to live her life in the exact way she wants. She actually sounds like a particularly unpleasant person to be around — except maybe as a drinking buddy. She’s the kind of friend who would always be hitting you up for money and who you’d have to shove into a taxi at the end of every night out. So what is it about her that works so well? Jazz is a brilliantly written character. I found that everything about her was just so believable from her terrible taste in beer, to her untapped potential and pride, her backstory that will be so familiar to many of us, to her wildly cheesy personality and jokes. You root for her every step of the way, particularly as her backstory is revealed. She’s no Superwoman, she’s no hero. She’s just a normal person, and I think that’s what makes her brilliant.
Artemis is a fast-paced adventure that is an absolute blast to read. Weir retained the humor and intense plot that made The Martian such a great book, but managed to step out from the shadow of his bestselling debut. If you go into this book expecting a rehashing of The Martian, you’re going to be disappointed. If you are hoping for a fantastic science fiction story, look no further.
I highly recommend this book — whether you’re a sci-fi reader or a newcomer to the genre, it is sure to make you laugh, keep you riveted, and demand your attention.
You can buy Artemis here (affiliate links):
Have you read Artemis or are you planning to? What did you think? Have you read The Martian? Let me know!
*Copy is courtesy of Goodreads