Still A Harsh Mistress – Andy Weir: Artemis

Few months ago I wrote an article about the prospects of self-publishing in Hungary. Two authors found me who were disillusioned with the firm they have chose to publish their works. Anyways, in the article I used Andy Weir’s story as an example for a successful self-published author. He is an obvious choice: The Martian was published in the regular way after it became incredibly successful through self-publishing, and it was also quickly adapted to a big-budget Hollywood movie.

At its heart, The Martian had every component needed to become popular: Mark Watney, a talented, brave hero who was also funny as he leads us through the technical and scientific difficulties of his journey to survive on Mars; a huge, international rescue operation to save his ass; and of course extraterrestrial potatoes. So a lot of humour, a lot of science, a pinch of bravery, and the perils of discovering the Solar System: this was the world champion mix.

The question is: can Andy Weir repeat this success?

In Weir’s next novel, Artemis, we are on the Moon, or in the city of Artemis to be more precise - the only human colony on our pale-faced satellite. The protagonist is Jasmine Bashara, aka Jazz, the very talented, very clever resident of Artemis who works as a… porter? Yeah. Every friend of Jazz thinks she is wasting her potential. But, as a matter of fact, Jazz is responsible for the smuggling operation which supplies every Artemisians with contraband goods. So she hasn’t really been wasting all her potential for the last twenty years.


Nevertheless, Jazz needs money. Very, very much. And that’s the point when one of her old clients, a Norwegian billionaire businessman comes up with a plan. It is complicated, but it’s a piece of cake for a woman as talented as Jazz. The job pays a lot of money. It is also illegal as hell. And as it turns out, it can really affect the future of Artemis. By the way: why everyone is suddenly crazy about the failing aluminium industry?

The start is a bit bumpy, but after we learn more about Jazz and her ways, the novel shifts to full throttle. The elements are almost the same as in The Martian: a lot of fun in the narration by the badass protagonist and loads of Moon-science instead of Mars-science. Also with some sparkling dialogues and one-liners, the Brazilian mafia, and a collection of misfit friends of Jazz. Jazz is doing a lot of illegal stuff, so forget about the heroism of Mark Watney. And also say goodbye to space potatoes: all you got in exchange is algae-based food called Gunk, which is awful by all accounts.

Weir manages to recreate the atmosphere and tone that maybe every one of his fans expect in a way that it also feels totally different from The Martian. The novel can also be considered as a good source material for a movie adaptation. In the end, Artemis is a light-hearted, entertaining read which won’t revolutionize the genre, but it can seduce newbies to read sci-fi, while it is also could be an interesting read for veteran readers of SF.

One question remains though: why there are no security cameras on the Moon? Good for the plot, bad for law & order.

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(Thanks for the advance review copy to the Ebury Publishing and NetGalley. Artemis by Andy Weir will be available from 13th November. In Hungary it will be published by Fumax.)

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