‘Artemis’ is the highly anticipated second novel by the science fiction author Andy Weir. Following the enormous success of his first novel ‘The Martian’ Weir found himself under considerable pressure to prove that he was something more than a one hit wonder. He needn’t have worried; ‘Artemis’ is every bit as meticulously detailed, imaginatively described and fast paced as ‘The Martian’.
Artemis is mankind’s first, and at the time of the novel only city on the Moon. (Artemis is the Greek Goddess of the Moon by the way) With a population of 2,000 and an economy heavily dependent on space tourism, the Apollo 11 landing site is only 40 Kilometers away; Artemis is a frontier boomtown with resemblances to both Tombstone Arizona and living on board a nuclear submarine.
It’s in the descriptions of Artemis and the surrounding area that Andy Weir is at his best. A dozen pages into the novel and you really feel as if you’re right there on the Moon. The way Andy does this is simple, like the engineer that he is before he wrote a single word he made certain that Artemis worked. In his mind everything from the design of an EVA suit to where the city’s air and water come from. Hey, he even drew himself a map of Artemis and it’s surroundings that is provided at the very front of the novel.
Just to give you an example of how much thought went into the way things work the city is composed of five pressure domes that for safety are all doubled walled with lunar material in between for packing. The inside pressure is 21 kilo Pascals, that’s only a fifth of Earth’s pressure but with pure oxygen it’s all you need and the lower the pressure the less air you lose because of leaks. Outside is a vacuum and Andy makes the pressure between the walls only 20 kilo Pascals so that if a pressure sensor detects a drop in pressure then you know the problem is with the outer wall but if the pressure goes up the problem is with the inner wall. Figuring out things like that is called engineering!
The main character in ‘Artemis’ is Jasmine Bashara, a young, and rebellious Saudi woman who was brought to the Moon by her father at age 6. Jasmine’s, Jazz for short, legitimate job is as a porter delivering goods to the various businesses in Artemis. Jazz is also a small time smuggler bringing in cigars and other contraband, although she draws the line at guns or hard drugs. It’s when Jazz gets involved in a big time criminal conspiracy that the novel’s plot gets going with murder and mayhem aplenty.
Now I have to warn you. I grew up watching so many crime dramas; my mother loved them, and I’m sick of them. To me the weakest part of ‘Artemis’ is the crime related plot, but once again that’s just me. However, at the same time I must admit that Weir packs in so much action that the crime aspects became a background issue.
All in all I certainly recommend Artemis. The novel is clever, beautifully detailed and described and packed with plenty of action. Andy Weir’s second novel is undoubtedly a worthy successor to ‘The Martian’.
The movie rights to ‘Artemis’ have already been sold although I don’t suppose production has started yet. Since so much of the story depends on how the conditions of living on the Moon differ from that on Earth it will be interesting to see how they manage the special effects. Still, in a year or two I hope to be reviewing the movie version of ‘Artemis’.