by ANDY WEIR
Nov 14, 2017
Crown Publishing Group
Hardcover, 384 pages
ARC from Edelewiss and Crown Publishing
I live in Artemis, the first (and so far, only) city on the moon. It’s made of five huge spheres called “bubbles.” . . . Artemis looks exactly like old sci-fi books said a moon city should look. . .It’s pricey to get here and expensive as hell to live here. But a city can’t just be rich tourists. . . It needs working-class people too. . . I’m one of the little people.
Jasmine Bashara (Jazz)
Porter and Part-Time Contreband Smuggler
Andy Weir’s The Martian and Matt Damon’s depiction in the movie makes it a hard first book to top! As I prepared to write my thoughts about the newest book, Artemis, I came across an interview with the author that matched my sentiments about the two books.
[Artemis] is my second book. . . It’s likely that The Martian is going to be the most successful book I ever write. . . If [readers say Artemis] is not as good as The Martian, but it’s a good book. I’ll call that a win.
The Martian focused on the science of traveling to and living on Mars. Artemis is loaded with science but it primarily focuses on life in the vacuum of space and the richness of the mineral deposits on the moon.
Unlike Mark Watney’s status as the sole inhabitant on Mars, Jazz Bashara, our main protagonist, is a permanent resident of Artemis, the moon’s first city with a current population of 2000. As a low level employee working as a porter (delivery girl), Jazz aspires to become an EVA trained tour guide for outside the domed city. Don’t ask me what EVA stands for…I couldn’t find the answer but it is obvious that it implies equipment necessary to sustain life outside the oxygenated city.
Artemis, the city, is much like any Earth city: upper class living with access to casinos and upscale hotels, suburbs with shopping centers, recreational sports and theaters, poor district with slum housing and low-paid worker bees. Crime, drugs and a laissez-faire view of whorehouses and sexual activity has been encouraged by the local organized crime syndicate. The city is a mecca for tourists but the resources and low-gravity setting on the moon is the real reason for it’s success. The biggest money maker is the Sanchez Aluminum operation.
Jazz and her father moved to Artemis when she was six years-old. Her father is a master craftsman specializing in welding; a skill in big demand in the city. When you live in a welding shop, the lingo and skills become part of your daily life and Jazz is a talented welder in her own right. She was more than a handful in her teen years leading to a break in their relationship. Those rebellious years have stymied her future now that she is in her mid-20s.
Lying to Dad transported me back to my teen years. And let me tell you: there’s no one I hate more than teenage Jazz Bashara. That stupid bitch made every bad decision a stupid bitch could make. She’s responsible for where I am today.
Part of her left-overs from her delinquent years are routine run-ins with Rudy DuBois, Artemis’s head of security. Rudy quit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to become “what passes for law in town”. He still wears his Dudley Do-Right uniform but he is anything but a bumble-foot. Rudy is sharp, smart and tough.
If you commit a serious crime, we exile you to Earth. For everything else, there’s Rudy.
These days, Rudy is trying to nab Jazz when she delivers smuggled contraband. She has an extremely efficient smuggling operation going with a friend back on Earth. Nothing really naughty…simple things like cigars, lighters – anything flammable. Flames and oxygen are not compatable.
Out of the blue she receives an offer for a major job that would solve all her financial problems but could get her expelled to Earth. Accepting the challenge leads to exponentially larger problems that threaten not only her family but the city.
The remaining cast of characters, unlike The Martian with Mark Watney’s solo act, provide tension, humor, love, friendship, fisticuffs, terror, and randy dialogue.
I had a hard time liking Jazz. Her behavior seemed very immature and reminded me more of Gavorche, the street urchin in Les Miserables than a mature adult. It seemed to conflict with her well developed problem solving skills and her talents in improvisation. What was quirky and funny on Mark Watney was less fun on Jazz Bashara.
On a positive note, there were moments when Jazz showed that beneath the baudy banter was a caring soul. She was especially kind when dealing with a troubled teenager.
The science and technology aspects of the story were well researched and rang true to this space novice. I wished I could tour old moon landing sites pedaling in my own oxygen inflated “hamster ball”.
Would I read another Andy Weir novel? You betcha! But I sure hope it has nothing to do with welding and chemistry. I learned all I would ever need to know from Jazz.