“Artemis”: Michael Crichton 2.0


Source: Vox

Will Teare

Author: Andy Weir

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Rating: 4/5 

Andy Weir is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I was a massive fan of the movie The Martian by Ridley Scott, and upon hearing it was originally a book, I had to get my hands on it. After giving it a read, I thoroughly liked it! It’s so obsessed with the scientific process that Astronaut Mark Watney needs to use it to survive. It’s so fun, procedural, and, dare I say, a real page-turner. Once I heard he had a new book, Project Hail Mary, which, despite its very recent release, it’s film adaptation is already slated to be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (my guys) and starring Ryan Gosling (my main man), I had to read it. But I also wanted to read the novel he wrote between The Martian and Project Hail Mary. So I now present my first book review of Andy Weir’s Artemis. 

Artemis is about Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, a 20-something smuggler on the moon colony Artemis in the near future. Jazz is an intelligent, sarcastic, troubled, and down on her luck woman who is just here to make a quick buck. When she’s asked to do a job for a massive payout, she accepts. When this job goes wrong, the entirety of Artemis, from the authorities, criminals, and everyone in between, descends on Jazz. Leaving her on the run and on the hunt for the truth behind it all and maybe learning that Artemis isn’t what it seems. 

Andy Weir sure does love his science. Much like his previous work, he wants you to know EXACTLY what’s happening. How does Artemis produce air? Weir can explain. How do you get oxygen from aluminum? Andy has ya. How could you possibly take down a massive anorthite harvester in a vacuum while not being detected by the authorities with nothing but welding tools? Andy Weir has the perfect explanation. The back of the book is even an economic explanation of how affordable space travel is in his future. He shows you all the math he’s done and all the research; it’s all right there in the book. Andy’s level of detail is stunning.

Our prickly protagonist, Jazz, is both a strength and weakness of the book. We follow her narration as we travel throughout the bubbles of Artemis and the surrounding Sea of Tranquility. Sometimes the sarcasm and never-ending jabs at other characters took me out of the story a little, but it also worked in its favor? If this is supposed to be a pulpy, fun space adventure, then some kind of jaded rouge sounds like a great fit! Sure it was all a little too corny, and every now and then, I was wondering how I or any actor could deliver that line. Because this movie is inherently cinematic. I mean, realistically, it’s a bit too cheesy and a bit too expensive for a perfect adaptation. Still, I’ve been wrong about that before (Dune anyone?).

I see Andy becoming a new Michael Crichton, meaning an author who writes books so that people will buy it up for the big screen before it even hits bookshelves. Sure, that’s happened with plenty of other authors, but both have a knack for hard science fiction and pretty good storytellers to boot. 

As for the storytelling itself, it has some certainly memorable moments in there. I mean, there really are some parts where I found it hard to put it down, and Weir really showed his abilities as a writer of set pieces. I didn’t find the characterization to be anything nuts. I’d go as far as to say everyone is quite one noted. I mean, part of the book is a heist, so you get the tech guy, the muscle, the usual run-of-the-mill heist fare. Certainly nothing negative exactly but a sizable hurdle for a future film adaptation and detracter from peak quality for sure. 

Again, I can gather that this is supposed to be a very light and fun read, which it certainly is. It does that with that Andy Weir flair of exquisite detail and some genuinely great, grounded worldbuilding. Props to Mr. Weir, I hope to get to Project Hail Mary as soon as I read the few books I’m powering through.