Project Hail Mary (2021) – Andy Weir
After being mostly disappointed by Artemis and The Martian I was quite wary of this one. Perhaps my expectations were more reasonable this time around, but I think it was also a better book. Considering how those other books were trying their hardest to stay within a reasonable level of scientific accuracy and plausibility I was completely surprised that there turned out to be an alien in this one. An intelligent sentient species no less. He also just kind of showed up out of nowhere and I was in disbelief that that was the direction the story was going for a bit.
I often found the book to be a bit too light hearted at times. Like it was intentionally written so that it could some day be a PG movie for all ages. There is nothing wrong with this, but it felt off at times as the emotions and tone did not match the current circumstance. I also found it a bit eye rolling at times that the level of competency this supposed average teacher showed in nearly any subject that was brought up. Rocky was clearly the best character in my opinion. If he wasn’t there to offset the lone savior trope like in The Martian and Artemis I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book.
The science bits were a bit too sciencey and not enough fictiony for my tastes, but I don’t think it is Weir’s style to try and make up his own fictional science. Almost all of the science was just real science and math. I think the only thing that was pretty much entirely made up was the idea that something like Astrophage the its neutrino harvesting amoeba could exist. I did like the mostly simple mathematics and science details given for everything Ryland and Rocky were doing.
I’m on the fence about whether I’d read another one Andy Weir’s books as the writing style feels a bit bland to me, but I’m sure I’ll watch the inevitable movie adaptation. I’m really curious to see how they manage to portray Rocky and his and Ryland’s attempt at communication. Jazz Hands ♫ ♪ ♪ ♬
Artemis (2017) – Andy Weir
This was the wrong place to start reading books by Andy Weir. I had already watched The Martian movie and decided it made sense to start somewhere else and possibly go back to read The Martian book another time. I now believe that was a mistake as I did not enjoy this book very much. It seems to be a thing this author does, but the protagonist is unrealistically intelligent and clever. I suspect it will be a trend that they also single-handedly save the day despite all odds against them. This is not even the main problem I had with this book.
The main character Jazz is really annoying due to her unwarranted teenage angst. I also found some of the things she said to be too sexual for the context of the rest of the story. It felt out of place and didn’t add to plot. Similar to what I saw in the movie of The Martian there are a lot of details about the math and science and why it might technically make sense. There is also a bit of global economics in there which was intriguing. However, the science is all too much science and not enough fiction. What keeps me going in a science fiction is the fictional science and not actual science. It’s great when things are based on real science in order for it to not turn into a fantasy, but doing actual science does not feel as creative. Similar to The Martian the story is far too grounded in reality without enough fiction.
Despite not liking the story or any of the characters I didn’t hate this book. There was enough there to help me imagine life on the moon in some hypothetically plausible scenario. One of the main things I remember at the end of reading a book is the visualization of the environment. I can walk around this environment in my head from Jazz’s tiny bunk to the slightly more open park looking up at the domes and the tram going between the domes. I do plan on reading Project Hail Mary so I am going to give Andy Weir another go in a hopefully more fictional scenario without an angsty protagonist.