Artemis, Andy Weir

Friday, February 16, 2018

In the next century, people have colonized the moon. The city of Artemis was built by the Kenyan
space agency and runs through international cooperation from most of the major economies in the world. Pretty much everyone in Artemis is an immigrant from somewhere else because apparently, it is not healthy for babies or mothers to be pregnant on the moon (who knew?).

Jasmine Bashara, aka Jazz, has lived on the moon for as much as her life as it's possible to. She and her father moved to the moon when Jazz was six years old. Mr. Bashara is a welder, and a devout Muslim, and tried to make Jazz into both. Let's just say he did not succeed. She is now a smuggler, working as a porter so she can meet shipments as they arrive at port, giving her access to contraband smuggled up from Earth. When one of her richest clients asks her to help him sabotage the oxygen-making operation of a company he is hoping to buy, Jazz can't resist the prospect of quick money. But her get-rich-quick scheme quickly falls apart when she discovers that the company she's been tasked with putting out of business is owned by organized crime. She finds herself on the run, trying to figure out a way to stay alive and on the moon.

For all of the science in Weir's novel, this is essentially a good, old-fashioned thriller. And there is a LOT of science. I learned more about how things work (or don't) in the lunar environment than I even knew there was to learn. The tension was only increased by the fact that Artemis is basically inescapable. You can't just run off to some non-extraditing country to avoid capture, nor can you lay low in a place where almost everyone knows you. There are long scientific explanations of engineering, welding, and the imagined tech that allows people to go outside of Artemis without dying. Weir definitely knows his stuff-or at least, I assume he does, because I couldn't tell you if any of the science was real or not. But if not, he's pretty convincing. Given how meticulously The Martian was researched, I'd have to say he's probably not bluffing.

The main character is just that; a character. Jazz is brash, sarcastic, overconfident, incredibly smart, and pretty good at self-sabotage. Because the novel is told from her first-person perspective, you get a lot of information about her inner life, and that definitely makes her more endearing as a character, even when you think she's being reckless or just plain stupid. My one criticism is that Weir writes her as though she is a man who just happens to be female. I don't mean in the trans* way; I mean her attitude, way of speaking, reactions to events, etc...just felt stereotypically masculine to me. I'm certainly not one to believe biology is destiny, and I applaud anyone, male or female, who can break the bonds of expected gender roles. But I spent most of the book thinking that Weir decided to write a female character without actually figuring out how that would change the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the said character. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed following Jazz on her (mis)adventures, and if you are a fan of science fiction that is heavy on the science, this book is for you.

I listened to the audiobook for this one, because I read that Rosario Dawson was the narrator, and she did an admirable job. I'd give her an eight out of ten for her performance, so audiobook-lovers, check it out!

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