To the Moon! in Artemis

One of my artist friends likes to pose various questions each day on Facebook, the answers to which can be well worth the entertainment! A few days ago, he asked for people to list their favorite fictional astronauts. The first one that came to mind was Mark Watney from The Martian by Andy Weir. The second one that came to mind was a woman who lived on the moon and gave off strong Naomi-from-The-Expanse vibes, but I couldn’t remember the character’s name, the book title, or the author. Another commenter came to the rescue and wanted to know if I was thinking about Artemis…also written by Andy Weir. She was right! So I decided to give it another listen on Audible.

Narrated by Rosario Dawson, Artemis is a somewhat grimdark look at life on the moon sometime next century – about 100 years after Star Trek, according to the characters, though we don’t know if that’s from the start of the franchise or the end! The protagonist is named Jazz, and she is a smuggler in the only lunar city, Artemis. What we get starts out as a slice of life among the scum and villainy of the lunar pods and turns into some serious action and suspense with the highest of stakes.

“Coffee’s just a bad kind of tea,” I said. “Black tea is the only hot drink worth having.”

Jazz, after being offered Turkish coffee in Artemis by Andy Weir.

Much like The Martian, Andy Weir delivers more hard science fiction in Artemis, but with more world-building. In a scene where one of Jazz’s clients offers her some coffee, we learn about how the boiling temperature of water is only 60°C because of physics, so hot drinks tend to taste bad to tourists from Earth because they’re too cold. Residents of Artemis are used to it, though.

Written in first-person, Jazz swears a lot (language!) and doesn’t hold back about how she really feels about anything. We also get some letters back and forth between Jazz and her pen pal on Earth, starting from when they were both only 9 years old. It’s a great literary device to break up the scenes, and the letters progress from past to present as the story goes on. Though an oftentimes unlikeable character, I found myself incredibly emotionally invested in Jazz’s story, and I’m sure you will be, too!

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