A lot of the books I review are ones I think that Rob, my other half and an occasional guest reviewer on this blog, would probably enjoy so I try to press them on him when I’ve read them. He, however, doesn’t read at quite my breakneck speed so often doesn’t get round to them. Sometimes I get books which I know he will enjoy even more than I would so, because I am a good wife (well, not a terrible one), I let him read them first. One of the books I did this with was Andy Weir’s first book, The Martian and, as you can see from his review, Rob loved it. I did too so, when I got sent a copy of Weir’s new book I decided that I would get to read it first. A little bit selfish? Maybe, but I did pass it straight on after…
Obviously I was pleased to see that Weir has stuck with the extra-terrestrial setting he established with the Martian – this time the novel is set on the moon. The difference, however, is that we are in an established colony with shops, offices, workshops, tourists (lots of tourists, mostly the super-rich) and, of course, a little bit of crime. Our main character, Jazz Bashara, is one of those criminals: a porter who makes cash (or rather credits – like all futuristic societies everything is credit based) on the side by smuggling in items considered as contraband by those in charge of Artemis. She is getting by, although her personal relationships (particularly the one with her dad) are a bit of a disaster area, and it looks like she’ll take years to raise the amount she needs. But then she is offered a life-changing amount to do one big job and her troubles really begin.
I quite liked Jazz – although she is a very abrasive character – because I could see that she wanted to be better than she is. She’s very intelligent but rebellious, immature but with a strict sense of her own personal morality. If Jazz Bashara makes you a promise she will keep it – even if it costs her. There’s plenty of action scenes, a lot of dark humour and some interesting secondary characters, including a Ukrainian nerd and a former best friend, and also, as you would expect from the author who taught us how to grow potatoes on Mars using our own waste products, there is a lot of science. Which I loved even though I’m not that hot on science myself. I trust Andy Weir to do it right. This my favourite sort of sci-fi – clever, funny and as much about how people learn to live with each other as the technical details of how to live on the moon.