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Artemis by Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

More science fiction this week, but rather than an intergalactic space opera, we have something on a much smaller scale that is just a little bit closer to home. Before we begin, full disclosure, I’ve only seen the film and not read The Martian, so I can’t tell you whether Artemis is better or worse than Andy Weir’s first novel.

How best can I describe Jazz Bashara? A platinum rogue, a devil may care career criminal, a scoundrel? I suspect the list would be endless. Jazz is a law unto herself. Though she was born on Earth, she has lived on the Moon since she was six years old. She decides which rules to break and which to keep, anything else is considered guidelines at best. Living on the Moon can be an expensive business. Jazz just about manages to survive by supplementing her meagre porter’s income with a few extra-curricular deliveries. If you need something that is not entirely legit on the Moon, then Jazz is the woman to talk to. When a moderately shady acquaintance offers her a job, it seems too good to be true. Fun fact, it is.

I’ve read criticism that Andy Weir struggles with female characters, but Artemis would suggest the contrary.  It was impossible not to like our protagonist. She is snarky as hell, inquisitive and, the best thing, smart. Lunar law enforcement are convinced Jazz is a criminal but she is too clever for them. The majority of her schemes ensure no evidence exists that can be traced back to Miss Bashara. The one time she screws up however, she screws up on an EPIC scale. Suddenly Jazz finds herself slap bang in the middle of a high-tech conspiracy that has the potential to reshape entire economies.

The other character I found interesting was the head of Artemis, Fidelis Ngugi. Weir describes the Moon as still very much a frontier territory. Whoever is in charge needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty if they want to see the colony flourish. Ngugi has a no-nonsense attitude to her work. Artemis has to continue to function as lives and livelihoods depend on it. Due to a quirk of geography, Kenya has become a major player in the lunar economy, and Ngugi wants to ensure things stay that way.

Based on the descriptions of the giant bubbles that make up Artemis, it was difficult not to picture something like Mars from the original Total Recall movie. The city has evolved in its own unique way. Things like roads are a luxury that requires way too much space. Jazz lives just off a tiny corridor in what is essentially a tiny coffin like capsule. She has enough space where she can sleep and that’s about it. Only the richest can afford a view. Sounds like the Moon would not be an ideal destination if you’re claustrophobic and poor.

I thoroughly enjoyed Artemis. There are some fantastic little bits of world building; the local economy is particularly well developed and the political ramifications of humanity expanding beyond our planet is fascinating. The plot remains constantly engaging and entertaining throughout. Hopefully, in the future, Andy Weir will revisit the Moon. I get the distinct impression that Jazz, her friends and enemies have more stories left to tell. I certainly hope so.

At it’s heart Artemis is essentially a space heist, but there is an undeniable scientific flavour that also runs through the narrative.  With that in mind, the musical recommendation to accompany this novel is the soundtrack to The Martian by Harry Gregson-Williams. Hell, if Mark Watney can “Science the s**t” out of something then I don’t see why Jazz can’t either. In fact, on more than one occasion that is exactly what she does. Remember kids, learning is cool.

 

Artemis is published by Del Rey and is available now. Highly recommended.

Artemis


New From: £6.24 GBP In Stock
Release date November 14, 2017.

1 Response to Artemis by Andy Weir

  • russell1200 says:

    I have been debating this one.

    But I did pre-order Alex Scarrow’s Plague Land when I saw that was next. Last Light, and even more so, the follow up After Light I thought were very good versions of apocalyptic, or just-after the apocalypse fiction. The group interactions and the failures of said interactions were worth the price of admission in the second.

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