“I’m just saying a little humility’s good on an EVA.” I stared out the side window. “Believe me, this past week has been humiliating enough”
Artemis is written by Andy Weir, author of the bestselling book and movie ‘The Martian‘.
Artemis is science fiction, starring Jazz Bashara, an underachieving smuggler/porter on the Moon. Humanity has a base, Artemis, on the moon which survives mainly on tourism. Jazz Bashara is a snarky Saudi Arabian woman who has made a lot of bad life choices and is looking for a big score. She gets involved in a criminal enterprise which leads to the uncovering of a conspiracy to take over Artemis.
Artemis is an ok read. It could have been the next ‘Martian’. Instead, it is a lost opportunity due to a number of faults that I will explain below.
I loved the Martian. I mean who didn’t? It had a classic storyline – man surviving against all odds. The addition of excellent writing and furious pace made it an instant classic. The Martian rode on Mark Watney’s shoulders. Andy Weir has unfortunately taken this formula and screwed it up by making main character an asshole. Mark Watney was likeable while Jazz Bashara comes across as a spoilt brat. When Mark Watney was profane, we could empathize while Jazz Bashara just sounds puerile. Mark Watney had to battle against all odds while Jazz Bashara has only herself to blame for all her poor life choices. This is the primary issue with Artemis – an unlikable protagonist.
Even if we do not compare Jazz to Mark, she is still poorly developed as a character. Andy Weir could have constructed a unique believable sympathetic hero – I mean, look at her origins. Instead she is presented as any other generic white hero (not even heroine). Her gender is wasted as is her origin. This is the second issue.
I liked the world building to a large extent. Andy Weir made the technology sound believable. But he failed at convincingly explaining the socioeconomic drivers behind Artmis. Why do specific nations control guilds? Would the superpowers would let Kenya control the only Moon Base? Or would they let a criminal organization use Artemis, which has only a population of 2000. All of these go unanswered. As long as its engineering and tech, Andy Weir does a great job but he does poorly at other aspects.
The plot was a little dumb. I will address it in the spoilers section. The pacing was spotty. It had an uneven mix of fast and slow portions.
In conclusion, I recommend Artemis. It is an average science fiction read. And as long as you go in with low expectations, you will not be disappointed.
Other Thoughts (Spoilers warning)
Spoilers below. Continue reading at your peril.
The plot did not really make sense.
Other nitpicks. Would you really be willing to sabotage the oxygen supply on a moon base while you are on it? Wouldn’t people find it suspicious that the company that you were looking to buy suddenly suffered a mysterious catastrophe? Why does Jazz Bashara get a get out jail free card in spite of cocking up multiple times? Would you really have poor people on a moon base – what is the ROI for the KSC to retain such people? Where are the freaking robots? I can’t believe that you have guilds in a Moon Base.
Also published on Medium.