Artemis foul? Well, not quite, but despite a blazing hot start to the book, Andy Weir’s big follow-up to The Martian runs out of steam, fast. Hey, did you hear that Weir self-published The Martian? And that it became a huge success and a movie adaptation starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain was made and Mark Watney said “Yay” all the time and made silly jokes? I’m sure you did.
I got to The Martian way late (though before the movie was made, so perhaps not that late), and I liked it a lot. It was a silly, funny, cute book. The problem with Artemis is that it’s not as silly, funny or cute. The protagonist Jazz Bashera is funny. I liked all the stuff that she did and that she’s a petty crook and a smuggler, and though her jokes are smutty and self-referential, none of it bothered me too much. The difference is that in The Martian, the goal of the book is to save Watney and bring him home while he does silly stuff on Mars. The goal of Artemis, describing a character that grows up on a space station of the Moon is, uh, what exactly?
I see the appeal of the extended metaphor of a city on the moon, and of Weir dipping his toes in a different genre, there combining science fiction with a rescue story, here taking a sci-fi story and mixing it with noir / detective fiction. The issue here is that the villain is fairly obvious, the metaphor is ham-handed and the space stations become stifling rather than expansive (which I guess is the point). In addition, once the intercut “pen pal” letter device becomes an attempt to drive the plot forward, rather than a way to contrast the main story…it’s just a mess and takes up a lot of…space.
I really enjoyed some of the first few jokes. There were some LOL moments and a Saudi female protagonist was certainly more than welcome. The book is set on the moon, but might as well be anywhere in the world (or beyond), and the elements are all there but don’t cohere into a memorable narrative story. It’s fair.
Artemis was provided by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. It may be purchased from your friendly independent bookseller or other fine bookstores.