Book Review

Artemis by Andy Weir

Ah! A new year, a new me! A new reading challenge perhaps? I skipped resolutions; they do not work for me. Sure I might have deleted the mindless games from my mobile devices and put screen time limits on social media, but in no way does that mean I will refrain from committing heinous crimes. In RDR2 I mean. It sounds more impressive than it is really… Most of the time, you can find my character avoiding direct confrontation—this sounds familiar—and simply parkour around finding hideouts or rooftops where I can snipe people who unwittingly run through my scope, with perfect headshots. It is beautiful…

Apart from that, I decided that I really do need to confront and wreak havoc on whoever wronged/hurt me, read more and shoot more—with a camera, not a bolt action rifle. And while so far, I failed in picking up my Canon for a dedicated few hours of eternalising, I did start leafing through Artemis by Andy Weir.

Artemis is set on the moon and is a light read compared to the works I usually reach for but the story was fast-paced and interesting. Interesting, because it felt like it was a very near and believable future Weir was writing about. Perhaps potential grandchildren might one day decide to go live on the moon, who knows?

There was something weird about being on the moon and fighting for your life with a stick and some fire.

The protagonist is Jazz Bashara, a 26 year old ‘moon gal’. I would have loved to imagine that a woman her age would at least have gotten over being an enfant terrible for the most part, but perhaps in a community with only about 2000 people, things… stagnate?

Jazz is quick-witted, not unlike Mark Watney, the protagonist from Weir’s bestseller The Martian. But while Mark is likeable, Jazz is smug, petulant and wildly inappropriate. It is not fair to compare different books from the same author. Stories are different, settings and characters are different, yet people have a tendency to weigh things up against each other. I really should try not to fall in that trap, even though I did pick up Artemis only because I enjoyed The Martian. But let me be honest: Artemis is not a new The Martian.

Everything, except for the correspondence from Jazz’s friend on Earth, is written in first-person narrative, and when you consider Jazz’s sarcastic nature, it makes for very stereotypical views on almost all of the secondary characters. Sometimes I caught myself rolling my eyes and go into full Data-mode: ‘Sorry, sir. I seem to be commenting on everything’ (Star Trek: TNG S01E01—I am not so much of a Trek fan though, much more a Wars).

“I’ve always been a fan of science fiction. I grew up watching Star Trek. Now I get to live it!”
“Star Trek?” Trond asked. “Seriously? That’s like a hundred years old.”
“Quality is quality,” Jin said. “Age is irrelevant. No one bitches about Shakespeare fans.”

What I really liked about Artemis is Weir’s worldbuilding. I loved the history, the description and the livelihood of the inhabitants of the city on the moon throughout the story. I found it to be exactly how I imagine it could be. Sadly, even in this fictional setting, we seem incapable of eradicating greed and corruption. I did learn a few things about welding however!

Artemis seems to be adding fuel to my cynical view on humankind. I am trying not to be too much of a pessimist, and it takes a lot of effort mind you, but in this story humans also have a knack to be an utter disappointment. And I am not referring to the individual, but our species. Perhaps I should find a rather uplifting book to read next so that I can get out of my a ‘I told you so’-routine.

Andy Weir has gotten conflicting reviews for his second novel. And I could be dismissed in similar fashion for my somewhat grumpy review, so in the end, the only thing that matters is: did I enjoy reading Artemis? Yes. Yes, I did. All too much, people tend to want to find fault with only… everything these days. And sometimes you just have to take things at entertainment value.

“Light shirt, dark pants with a yellow stripe?”
“Oh, Han Solo pants. Yeah, he had those on.”
“Okay, thanks.” Pfft. Han Solo’s pants have a red stripe. And it’s not even a stripe—it’s a bunch of dashes. Some people have no education.

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