Book Review: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Pages: 305 (Hardcover)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommendation: It’s a well-written, profoundly-researched science fiction novel that makes you wonder what life would really be like on the moon, and teaches you the struggle of a newborn economy.
Our latest read comes at a perfect time: It is National Moon Day and we’ve just wrapped up Andy Weir’s Artemis, a sci-fi story about the first lunar colony containing approximately 2,000 of Earth’s former inhabitants and the many obstacles they have to face when living on the Earth’s natural satellite.
The story begins with Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, a young woman who is a porter of Earth’s goods and a part-time smuggler making money off of the contraband she skillfully has sent over to her from Earth. She’s a beautiful, albeit promiscuous girl, with a questionable moral compass. Although Jazz is a bit rough around the edges, with a “won’t take shit from anyone” attitude, underneath the harsh exterior lies a good heart. And she’s ridiculously smart – like, wasting-her-potential smart.
She has big dreams and a dollar amount in her head to match those dreams. In order to achieve her goal, she smuggles contraband into the moon for whoever wants to pay to receive it. She has dodged the “law”, which is just Artemis’ pseudo police chief/enforcer, Rudy, for years and saves her money while living in a room the size of a closet. She had a huge fall-out with her father, and the only person she trusts is a scientist that helps her understand what different machines can do and a pen pal from Earth that has problems of his own.
Her biggest client is Trond Landvik, a wealthy businessman that enjoys the finer things in life and is not shy about getting any of them. His favorite contraband is cigars, as the authorities on the moon do not allow any type of fire due to the oxygen they need to pump into their capsules to survive. Let’s backtrack a bit.
The moon has no oxygen and in order for humans to live there, they must reside in a large dome-like structure – a city they call Artemis – that has oxygen reservoirs that work tirelessly to pump it into the structure. The areas within it are broken off into different “neighborhoods,” based on wealth. No one can go outside unless they are certified to do so and have an oxygen tank and a suit so they can breathe. Back to Jazz and Trond…
The plot begins to unfold when during a delivery of Trond’s favorite cigars, she meets his guest, Jin Chu- a mysterious man from Hong Kong with an even more mysterious box labeled “ZAFO”. Jazz learns of Trond’s plan to take over the moon’s booming aluminum industry, which will allow the powers that be a chance to create a product that can only be formed on the moon and make a ton of money in the process. Trond needs her criminal know-how to get the job done. With a million slugs (lunar currency) on the line, Jazz can taste the financial freedom she’s always longed for and agrees to do Trond’s bidding.
After her first mission to handicap the aluminum plant goes awry (of course), Jazz comes back to discover that a murder has taken place and now she has landed herself in the middle of a web of lies, a hunt to uncover the mystery behind the ZAFO box, and a conspiracy to take control over the city of Artemis. To make matters worse, she is Rudy’s main murder suspect, while the real murderer also knows her involvement and is out to get her before anyone else does. The story takes a cat and mouse turn, with Jazz dodging both the authorities and the criminals to not only save her life, but the life of everyone else in Artemis. Now, she must become the city’s unlikely hero and do everything in her power to save the only home she has ever known.
The best part about Artemis is the thought Andy Weir put into creating life on the moon. He delves into the details so well, it makes you believe that it is an entirely feasible life to live. From the major problems one will come across in building the structure to the minor details of reconstituting food and drinks, and making them palatable, Andy Weir put every ounce of his research and creativity skills into building this seemingly unattainable life on the moon. If you’re looking for an emotional storyline, you won’t find one here. But if you like facts, figures, a heist, and a seemingly logical creation of life on the moon, this is your book.