RogerBW's Blog

Artemis, Andy Weir 06 February 2018

2017 science fiction. Jazz Basshara smuggles contraband into Artemis, the city on the Moon. She gets an offer too good to be true… and of course things go wrong.

Like The Martian, this is a first-person narrative with a quirky main character. Unfortunately it's largely the same quirky main character; she may be a young woman of Arabic descent, but she still talks basically like Mark Watney (or how Mark Watney, or presumably Andy Weir, thinks a young woman of Arabic descent might talk).

"Goddammit!" I yelled to him. "Will you stop whining about your problems during my murder?!"

But Mark Watney was on his own and needed to go a bit strange to stay alive. Jazz has friends (or she would if she didn't constantly sabotage all the good things everyone tried to do for her), and she's still like that. I wondered at times if I were reading another Ernest Cline YA, because it all felt much more like Armada than any good book should.

But by the end of it I had a plan. And like all good plans, it required a crazy Ukrainian guy.

There is lots of detail of pressure suit safety, airlock operations, and welding (one of the many things at which Jazz is superbly good to the point that everyone wants her to work for them, but she'd rather be a smuggler and just barely get by because um), reading at times as if Weir were trying to parody one of Heinlein's technicalities-in-space stories (not to mention the anarchy where things don't turn into rule by the strongest because um). But Heinlein would never have asserted that oxygen is a flammable gas, or that railway tracks which have to survive lunar day and night "never had to deal with the warping effects of weather".

The plot as a whole comes down to a caper where things go wrong, and need to be fixed by another caper. There aren't many twists. It's good workmanlike stuff, if rather less interesting than the setting, but it's spoiled by the constant narration from Jazz, who (it becomes increasingly obvious) is the author of all her misfortunes. One chapter she's deliberately keeping up her boring routine to avoid arousing suspicion, the next she's spending her savings on luxuries to get a taste of what life will be like once the payoff comes, and she doesn't seem to see any conflict.

Oh, and there's a pub called "Hartnell's" where the owner is called Billy.

And at the end, whfg jura fur arrqf n onetnvavat puvc, vg gheaf bhg fur'f gur bayl fzhttyre va Negrzvf, naq fur'f zber rguvpny guna jubrire jbhyq ercynpr ure. Fb fur'f gur bayl fzhttyre vagb n gbja bs gjb gubhfnaq crbcyr. naq fur'f fgvyy whfg oneryl trggvat ol? Hu-uhu.

The welding stuff is pretty good. That's really what saves this from being another Armada. But I can't recommend it.

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