Andy Weir moves closer to Earth with Artemis, the follow up to his phenomenally successful sci-fi novel The Martian. Sabotage, smuggling and petty crime on The Moon.
In 2011 Andy Weir self-published his first novel under his own name. Three years later Crown Publishing picked up the rights to the book and re-published ‘The Martian’, presenting the book to a far wider audience.
With his easily accessible first-person style of writing, willingness to routinely break the fourth wall – and with a meticulous attention to scientific authenticity – the story of an astronaut stranded on Mars became a phenomenal success and a New York Times Bestseller.
In 2015 ‘The Martian’ was adapted into a blockbuster motion picture directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
Two years on and Weir moves slightly closer to the planet Earth with his new sci-fi novel, ‘Artemis’.
In a future where The Moon colony, Artemis, has existed long enough for a generation to have been born there, Weir introduces a bright but stubborn, underachieving young Arabic woman, Jazz, as his protagonist.
Though likeable, Jazz often chooses the path of least resistance and struggles to carve out a living with a career as a porter, supplemented by an illegal sideline in smuggling goods from Earth to The Moon.
When a regular client offers Jazz a risky job beyond her usual skillset, the potential life-changing payout is enough to persuade her to try her hand at industrial sabotage. When her plan hits a glitch Jazz finds herself being pursued by the mob and the law. Worse still, she stands to be deported to Earth.
Andy Weir isn’t the most eloquent of authors, but with ‘The Martian’ he managed to present a very human tale of a man’s battle to survive in extraordinary circumstances. The book is filled with peaks and troughs as his protagonist tells the story, in the first person, with a journal as a method for delivery. It worked well for a man stranded on a planet fighting for his life.
The author adopts the same style for his second book, ‘Artemis’. Jazz tells the story in her own words, often breaking the fourth wall. Whilst this method makes the character accessible, and likeable, this style of writing loses impact when a wider cast of characters is involved and the protagonist is responsible for narrating events in retrospect as a way to justify the knowledge.
As with ‘The Martian’, Weir weaves science fact through the story of ‘Artemis’. His ability to explain, often complex physics and biology in layman’s terms is much to his credit. Where the science is complex, the basic premise of the book is not.
If anything ‘Artemis’ is a rather old fashioned science-fiction story told in a similar tone of voice that’s become common amongst Weir’s contemporaries. John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow and Ernest Klein all have a tendency to gift their characters improbable good fortune and unprecedented coincidences that work in their favour at just the right moments, leaving the reader feeling somewhat spoon-fed.
‘Artemis’ is light on peril and threat, a little lacking in substance, but actually works quite well as a fun, disposable read. Weir settles for mediocre after the success that was ‘The Martian’ when we were all expecting him to take one giant leap forward.