Artemis is the second novel from sci-fi writer, Andy Weir. Weir’s first novel, The Martian, was the international bestseller that started out as a self-published book distributed by his own website.
The Martian was subsequently made into a film starring Matt Damon, making a follow up that could achieve the same level of success seem almost impossible. It has been called the most scientifically accurate fiction book about space ever written, so for Weir to even venture into space in fiction is a brave move.
Weir obviously likes a challenge – Artemis takes place on the moon. Jazz has always lived on the moon, well, since she was six as you weren’t allowed to move to the Moon before your sixth birthday because your bones aren’t strong enough to cope with the reduced gravity before that age.
She messed up at High School, got into trouble – a good amount of trouble considering she’s living on the Moon – and now she is working as a full time Space Porter, and part time smuggler of contraband from earth to the Moon. The money isn’t good though, Jazz is living in a coffin sized room with a shared bathroom, and so when the chance to make more Slugs (Moon money don’tcha know) than she could live off in a life time, she chooses to take it.
This book takes you on a journey through the inner workings of the only community (yet) built on the Moon. Humans may have taken some of their impurities, such as greed, corruption, and the capitalist desire for more at the expense of anyone – but the book really pays homage to the Moon as a pure being, to the history of it, but it does show the future treating it in a less than respectful manner. I can’t imagine that I’ll see people inhabit the Moon, or indeed anywhere else, but I do image that when/if it happens then Artemis will read more like a textbook than a work of fiction.
There is a chance, within the pages of this book, to visit the first Moon landing site. Though you can’t go within ten metres of it and radiation has long since bleached all the flags white – however, when Jazz sets out on her mission to commit a perfect crime in exchange for making more money than she could spend, she sets off from this hallowed site. Her estranged friends, and her estranged father, come to the rescue of Jazz as this monumentally huge task she has taken on proves impossible on her on. Jazz leaves us on the last page in a much better place than we found her, richer in mind, in spirit, in friends and family, and for a time, richer in pocket too.
This book isn’t just for those who love sci-fi – much like The Martian, this book is an examination of the human psyche. The difference between this book and The Martian is that us, me and you, can’t conceive of living on a different planet, of never seeing grass growing from mud, of not being able to breathe anywhere on the planet. We can however dream of, or visualise to an extent, space travel, as it’s been a part of our lives for 50 or 60 years now.
You will devour this book whole, it is beautifully written, full of heart, and although I don’t know the science – he’s got a decent track record so I’ll trust in him.