Written with the same passion for scientific deliberation and detail as The Martian, Weir turns to the science of moon colonies in his new novel Artemis. Though my background isn’t in astrophysics, I still enjoyed reading about smuggler Jasmine Bashara—a woman who grew up on Artemis, the first moon colony, who is pulled into a world of sabotage and political control—because of the care Weir puts into building the world of Artemis. Nearly every aspect of colonizing the moon appears in this novel, from the funding and political dealings that aided the creation of Artemis to how breathable air is manufactured and other necessities are maintained to the class structure and other social elements. And this incredible level of science-based world building is what makes this novel so fun and interesting to read; the scientific explanations are simple and straightforward and serve the plot, rather than just showing off Weir’s scientific knowledge. It’s fascinating to see all the thought and ingenuity that was required to create Artemis, and to see how much we take for granted building anything on earth (air, water, gravity, and even erosion). But I should note that Weir is far from a “literary” writer. His descriptions, though useful, aren’t necessarily elegant, and sometimes his characters feel a little flat and lack character-driven development. There were times he relies on telling the reader what Jasmine is feeling rather than letting the reader draw their own conclusions, which made the emotional arcs a little less impactful for me. The relationships Jasmine builds by the end of the novel don’t really serve a huge emotional climax, and sometimes even felt like unnecessary bits in a wonderfully intricate world. But Jasmine is witty and intelligent observer, which makes it fun to see Artemis through her eyes, even if Weir does break the show-don’t-tell rule. In all, Artemis is a fun, escapist read for those who loved The Martian and always wondered what it would take to build a colony on the moon.
What did you think of Artemis? How did it compare to The Martian to you? What are some of your favorite books that integrate the sciences? Can science and creative writing co-exist in the same piece?