Artemis

[Amazon Link]

You loved The Martian, right? Both the movie and the book? Me too. So I asked for, and received, Andy Weir's new book, Artemis, for Christmas, and … well, I guess I'm surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but still.

What I expected, and got: science fiction so hard you can see the rivets. A wise-cracking ingenious protagonist who goes from crisis to crisis, coming up with improvised solutions necessary for survival in dire situations. (And, spoiler alert for those who can't see the cover image: it's set on the Moon.)

What I didn't really expect, from an author whose previous hero was the straight-shooting all-American scientist/astronaut Mark Watney: a female protagonist, born in Saudi Arabia, … who's kind of a minor-league lunar criminal. And while The Martian was a survival tale, Artemis is pretty much a noir crime thriller.

The narrator/protagonist is Jasmine Bashara, and her primary criminal activity is smuggling illicit items and substances to the misbehaving residents of Artemis, the (so far) only lunar community, set 40 kilometers south of the Apollo 11 landing site on the Sea of Tranquility. (The layout, operation, and economics of the town are all precisely described, of course. Down to the last rivet.)

Jasmine's poor, struggling to be upwardly mobile. But it's tough. And she makes it tougher by some of her, um, choices. (In one amusing bit she suggests what might have been an alternate book title: Attack of the Moon Woman Who Made Bad Life Decisions.) Her motivations and self-imposed morality are made clearer as the book trundles on. When a billionaire offers her the opportunity to make a Big Score by sabotaging a major bit of lunar industry, she's in. And then her problems are just beginning.

Bottom line: it's a very good page turner, Andy Weir shows that he's not a one-trick pony.

Yes, a movie is in the works. Where can I buy my ticket?