Good-hearted smuggler Jazz leaps at the chance to make a million, but discovers that both mobsters and zero gravity are unforgiving in Weir’s light-hearted lunar caper.
Artemis—Andy Weir, 2017. Rating: 4/5
People on Artemis, humankind’s first and only city (so far) on the moon, know that Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara is the go-to gal for illegal goods. No drugs, guns, or live plants: Jazz has her standards, and she loves her hometown. According to her estranged father and her few close friends, Jazz is wasting her genius scientific mind. Jazz has always wanted to make it rich quick, but so far that hasn’t happened. She lives in a coffin-sized ‘capsule domicile’ and aspires to join the EVA Guild and be one of the elite few who are sanctioned to leave the city’s domes and lead lucrative moonscape excursions for tourists.
When she fails her EVA test, Jazz takes a job for the wealthy entrepreneur Trond Landvik. It’s a tricky bit of industrial sabotage, but Jazz has the guts and brains to do it. Finally, she’ll be able to get out of her hovel and live in style. Piece of cake…Not. Soon Jazz has the local lunar law and a deadly assassin on her trail. On top of that, she’s run afoul of both the South American mob and Administrator Ngugi, the formidable leader of Artemis. Jazz rallies an eccentric group of specialists including the gay frenemy who stole her boyfriend, the rule-bound head of the EVA guild, a cheerful Ukrainian microelectronic whiz, and her reluctant dad, to help save Artemis—because the future of their world is now at stake.
Artemis is a blast. Weir’s vision of the first extraterrestrial city is both innovative and familiar; a scientific wonder and tourist destination. Artemis is as diverse as its earthly homeland, and at times as fractioned. Varied ethnic groups control different vital industries like glassblowing, smelting, and oxygen production. There is lots of enticing science behind the creative detail of daily moon life that readers will savor—if you can manage not to be swept away by the caper’s breakneck pace. Weir packs a lot of action into the science, or maybe that’s vice versa. I learned a great deal about welding (that’s a positive thing!) while rooting for Jazz and her ragtag crew. Jazz is a sassy, spunky, sympathetic character, with vulnerabilities and flaws that make her easily relatable. Artemis is a great escape: A science-fiction thriller that will energize your imagination and lift you out of those winter doldrums.