The publishing history of Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian, might be the craziest literary story of the 21st century. Bored with rejection letters from traditional publishers, Weir decided to post the book, chapter by chapter, on his website, free for anyone to read. The posts built a following of fans who convinced Weir to self-publish an eBook. in just a few months, that eBook sold enough copies to attract the attention of traditional publishers and Hollywood producers. The hardcover edition, published by Crown, debuted on the best seller list and, a year later, the movie adaptation starring Matt Damon took home a bunch of Golden Globe and Oscar nominations and wins.
Now a literary elite, Andy Weir has been keeping us guessing about his follow up to The Martian. He wrote some Ready Player One fan fiction and a fantastical science fiction novel called Zhek was announced and then disappeared. But now, almost eight years since the original website posts of The Martian, Andy Weir is finally back with a new novel, Artemis. And it’s a doozy.
It’s the near future, maybe 2070, and humanity has finally colonized the moon. Well, there’s one city up there. A small city. Artemis is a series of domes that serve as a tourist destination for those who want to see the original Apollo 11 landing site. If they can afford the trip.
Like most tourist destinations, the economy of Artemis is based on the service industry. The domes are filled with restaurants and hotels. One of the best jobs to have is with the EVA Guild. Tourists will pay almost anything to get outside the domes and walk on the lunar surface. There’s also a black market.
Our protagonist, Jazz Bashara spends her days as a porter, hauling deliveries all over Artemis. Her connections at the space port allow her to make some extra “slugs” selling contraband items. One day she hopes to have enough slugs to move out of her single occupancy “coffin” and into an apartment with a real bed and a private shower. It’s going to take a while. Then her customer Trond Landvik, one of the richest men on the moon, offers her a deal she can’t refuse. A million slugs to sabotage the Sanchez Aluminum’s smelting plant so he can buy the company at a discounted price.
A million slugs is too much to turn down. But pulling off the impossible crime forces Jazz to take on the Brazilian Mafia, face her estranged father, make up with old friends, and navigate a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.
Like The Martian, Artemis is loaded with scientific jargon that makes its setting believable. It also has a snarky lead character and a faced-paced plot that makes the pages fly by. I’m looking forward to the inevitable movie adaptation and the next book by Andy Weir. Hopefully it won’t be another eight years.