Weir’s follow-up, Artemis, is out now. So, how was that?
It was…very familiar, let’s put it that way.
The setting for the book is the title location of Artemis, the to-date only city on the moon in whatever year this book is set. Our narrator/protagonist is Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara. She’s a courier on the legal end of things and a smuggler on the less legal end. Her father immigrated to Artemis when she was very young from Saudi Arabia, so this is the only home she’s ever known. And while she is something of a tech genius with a lot of knowledge on the fine art of welding (a trade she learned from her father), she’s looking for one big score to set herself up for life.
That score comes when one of her regulars, a wealthy Norwegian businessman, offers her something she can’t refuse to do a job the likes of which she doesn’t normally do. It’s out of her area of expertise, but hey, she could use what he’s offering. As can be expected, things go a bit south in a hurry, and Jazz finds herself way in over her head with her life in danger.
Weir’s strengths are he really does know all the science involved. Much like The Martian, the science is laid out and is probably accurate (I wouldn’t know, but it sure sounds good). The caper involved had a lot of science-based problems involving chemistry, physics, and engineering, and it never feels as if it were wrong or dull. The caper itself isn’t bad. The problem is Jazz. She sounds exactly like Mark Watney, The Martian‘s protagonist, with fewer pop culture references (though she does know her Star Trek), and the somewhat frequent reminder that she is in fact a woman. Should a Saudi woman in some unknown future time speak exactly like an American man today? I don’t know, but it was a little disconcerting. It made Jazz a less compelling heroic figure than she should have been, and that makes for a less fun book when I don’t sit there worrying about the heroine’s likely survival.
So, if you want a bit of fun, just enjoy it, but try not to think too hard about how unconvincing a female Weir’s heroine actually is. Seven and a half Gunk meals out of ten.