I love science fiction/fantasy. I love reading about different worlds and all the struggles of being in space. I mean, space is really scary if you think about it because it’s unknown and you can’t breathe without an apparatus and there’s no sound or direction or anything. It’s just floating stuff. Isn’t that crazy to think about.
So it’s obvious why space lends itself to writing some really crazy novels and because it’s so unknown you can literally write an entire universe in space.
For a while, I mean a long, long time, I took a break from reading science fiction. I like to read a little bit of everything, but science fiction sometimes lends a hand into my anxiety. It’s all the stories about existence and life and I feel my heart beating faster and my forehead begins to sweat. It’s tough to manage anxiety when you read anxiety-inducing reads.
I think the last science fiction novel I read was The Martian by Andy Weir, which I read in October 2015. It’s kind of funny how I’m back to reading science fiction and it’s all because of Andy Weir yet again.
I was a huge fan of The Martian even with all of the science and math. My husband had to explain a lot of it to me, but I really enjoyed the idea of a man trapped on Mars and figuring out how the hell he’s going to survive and get off the red planet. It was clever and smart and even nerds like my husband loved how close to accurate the book was to reality. The only difference being is that no human has ever been left behind on a planet before that is something that probably would never happen.
And here we are, full circle, and I’m reading Andy Weir’s second novel Artemis.
Elon Musk recently made a comment in the news about how we’re years behind in the space race. He believes that we should have a colony on the moon by now and even proposed images of what the base should look like. It’s funny that he says that because that’s pretty much what Artemis is about.
The whole story takes place on a moon colony where a 26-year-old woman named Jazz Bashara spends her days as a porter delivering packages to locals. She also happens to be a smuggler bringing in prohibited items from Earth. Jazz is also an untapped genius and while she has the potential to be anything she wants, she’d rather deliver packages.
Jazz accepts a mission to destroy these harvesters that are used to collect minerals and make aluminum, oxygen, and silicone. It was really unclear what all of this was about and the rest of the story spends its time trying to figure out what that is. All we knew at this point is that she’s doing this for a big amount of slugs (the currency of the Moon) and that’s about it.
The whole book read like some action movie slash whodunnit about a girl from the “wrong side of the tracks” trying to make some money and then saving the world at the end. It’s a pretty common trope that you see on TV and movies and if you’re into that kind of thing then you’ll like this book.
In all honesty, I felt super underwhelmed by this novel. I thought that with space being the main antagonist here there would be a plethora of directions Andy Weir could have gone, but this story felt like it could have easily taken place on Earth with some large research center in the middle of the desert or something. I wanted some bi-product of smelting that people used to get high. I don’t know, I just wanted more.
Also, I think the way he wrote Jazz and the way the character acted and spoke just felt like a caricature. There wasn’t any depth there and there was no understanding as to why a woman who excelled at something most men can’t do would give that all up to be a porter. I get that she’s supposed to be this rebel, but rebellion looks different to everyone.
Why not have her working on some underground lab making science stuff or like even being the person who makes drugs from like space dust? Why not have her working as a mechanic fixing robots and air systems or something where her intelligence matches her career? It just feels like we’re past the place where untapped genius is hidden somewhere inside a character like in Good Will Hunting and especially for women who are underutilized ALL THE TIME.
Andy Weir uses his sense of humor to make Jazz this smart-mouth “bad ass chick,” which read more like a high school fantasy than a real woman. Honestly, just because you’re a woman, you’re not reading gossip magazines and commenting about your own breasts like you were surprised you had them in the first place.
I finished reading Artemis and what I thought was how this was a great adventure book. I don’t know if adventure books are a genre because they probably fall under another category of books, but this felt like an adventure. There was a task, it got messed up, people died, make a plan to fix it, try and fix it and something goes wrong, need to fix that, save the world.
This book had the fun of an adventure. I honestly feel like Andy Weir wrote his own version of Total Recall or Blade Runner. You’re sitting on the edge of your seat and you’re hoping the next minute wouldn’t go wrong, and then you breathe a sigh of relief. But even in Blade Runner and Total Recall there’s some amount of depth there and turmoil and some secret underground group working with the government to destroy the thing in space.
However, I think I learned a valuable lesson here. After I read this book, I decided that I will never want to take up any offer to be in space. I don’t care if Elon Musk is offering free space rides for $20, I’m not going to space. I don’t know what’s with Andy Weir and his obsession with putting humans in space and seeing what they can do when the circumstances are against them, but it’s thoroughly freaked me out. No thanks. I’m not going to the moon.
I received this ARC of Artemis as a free ebook on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid to write this review.