Project Hail Mary is the third sci-fi novel from bestselling author Andy Weir. Most readers are probably aware of his great debut The Martian, but if not you can read my review of that book here. Continue reading “Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (Book Review)”
A few years back – sometime around the release of the film – I read Andy Weir’s debut novel The Martian. It was exactly what you would expect from a science fiction novel, and I loved it. From the technical science, to the feelings of isolation and the inventive survival strategies that kept poor, stranded Mark Watney alive. I was hooked on the suspense and comedy quips, and you can read the full review of The Martian here.
It should therefore come as no surprise that I was thrilled on discovering that Andy would soon be releasing a second sci-fi novel, Artemis. However, at the time of its release money was tight, so the book has been sitting on my to-be-read list for what feels like forever. But finally, over ten months after its release I’ve obtained the e-book of Artemis, on loan from my local library.
Initially I was really excited to dive in to this fictional story, set in the first city built on The Moon, Artemis. However, this is probably the most interesting aspect of the book: the detailed description of what life would look like if mankind colonised The Moon, is exactly as science fiction fanatics would probably expect; Giant half-sphere shaped bubbles surrounding breathable cities interconnected by narrow walkways.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book didn’t really impress me much. Rather than being a proper science fiction novel, it comes across as more of a crime thriller set in space, with some science haphazardly thrown around. A lot of the technical science is offered as background information from email conversations between the main character Jasmine and her penpal, Kelvin, which are confusingly inserted into the narrative at the end of chapters. This prevents the story from having a natural flow.
Also, I absolutely detested the ridiculous side story about the reusable condom, and its associated sexual content; therefore this is not for young adults. This bothered me so much that I almost gave up reading due to that one aspect alone, never mind the tedious dialogue, stereotyped characters or idiotic plot.
All in all I would give this a miss and with a rating of 1 out of 5 stars, I’m only glad I rented this book from the local library rather than having spent any money on it.
Mark Watney is the lowest ranking astronaut on the crew of the Ares Program’s third mission to Mars. Less than a week into a month long mission on the surface of the red planet, a vicious sandstorm roars across the Martian terrain surrounding the Habitation quarters, damaging the communications network and placing the entire crew, and mission, in jeopardy.
Fearing the crew may end up stranded on Mars, Houston Mission Control orders an evacuation off of the surface of the planet, and has the crew abandon the mission and return home to Earth. As the crew fight their way through the storm to the space vehicle that will transport them off of the isolated planet, Mark Watney is involved in a near-fatal accident.
With the biological sensor on Watney’s spacesuit declaring him dead, there’s nothing the rest of the crew can do but flee to safety on the Hermes, abandoning their colleague to his unfortunate fate. However, Mark Watney doesn’t die that day, through a sheer stroke of luck he survives, only to discover that he is all alone on Mars with no way to communicate with either his crew on the Hermes, or mission control on Earth.
The Martian is a story of survival against all odds, as a lone man becomes the very first human to colonise Mars. Mark must find a way to adapt to his new surroundings, while waiting patiently for either rescue or eventual death. Will Mark ever return home, or will it be his fate to die on Martian soil after all?
There is a LOT of rather technical scientific facts within The Martian’s 369 pages, but don’t let that put you off reading this fantastic story of survival, as it contains some nice comedy quips to make you laugh and help tone down the seriousness and isolation of the situation.
We follow Mark Watney’s personal log as he attempts to remain upbeat despite facing impending death and an utterly hopeless scenario. He uses both his engineering and botany skills to persevere and problem solve in order to stay alive on the harsh and unforgiving terrain of Mars, although no matter how hard he tries the red planet continually attempts to kill him and sap his morale.
If you don’t mind the first person narrative, and can look past the slightly complex but well researched science jargon, The Martian is a very engaging read at 5 out of 5 stars, well worth all the hype that surrounded its transformation onto the big screen.
Andy Weir’s The Martian has also been adapted into a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox and Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon, and Sean Bean.
The film can be a little slow in places, but draws on the viewer’s intrinsic fear of loneliness and isolation and is definitely one of those ‘must see at least once’ type movies.