Writer Andy Weir made a name for himself with his successful debut The Martian, a self-published novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars that went on to make the New York Times Best Seller list in 2014 when it was reprinted by Crown Publishing. The science fiction tale was a hit with readers, and was later adapted for the big screen with Matt Damon as the ill-fated spaceman. Now, Weir is back in the cosmos with his follow-up novel, Artemis, another scifi story, this time set in the near-future on Earth’s first and only colony on the Moon. For the audiobook edition from Audible Studios, actress Rosario Dawson (Marvel’s Daredevil, Sin City, Clerks II) provides the narration.
Whereas The Martin centered on an injured astronaut struggling to survive on an inhospitable planet with little to work with except some potatoes and his smarts, Weir’s new book introduces us to Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, an intelligent young woman living on the Moon colony Artemis who has repeatedly made poor life choices. Basically, she’s a fuck up. She’s incredibly smart and can teach herself how to do anything by watching a YouTube video or reading a book or manual, yet instead of following the straight-and-narrow path laid out by her honest and good-natured father, she lives an impoverished life working as a courier, making extra money under the table smuggling in innocuous contraband from Earth. Over the years, the 20-something year-old has heard countless times from various people that she’s wasting her potential. It’s something she really hates hearing. But, the truth is, she’s totally wasting her potential!!! The problem with Artemis is that we never really learn why she’s followed such a destructive path. But then again, in real life, we don’t always get to figure that out about people either.
But Jazz does have hopes of one day having a better life, but that means getting her hands on some big money relatively soon. That’s why when a billionaire offers her a lucrative sum to commit sabotage against a company he plans to buy, Jazz jumps at the chance, even though it will be a risky crime to pull off and how exactly she’s going to do it remains to be seen. But once she begins her plan, it leads her down a path that’s even more dangerous than she could have imagined that puts the entire fate of Artemis in jeopardy.
Jazz is not The Martian‘s golden boy protagonist who you root for; there are times you wish she’d hit rock bottom already so that she could finally go up. She’s a seriously flawed character, but she has a heart. You want to maybe take her to an AA meeting or get her a better job — something! Because like everyone else who encounters her, you see her potential; you know there could be more for her, but why doesn’t she see it? It’s frustrating. She perhaps is a Han Solo type: witty, excellent smuggler, discrete, potentially lovable.
Dawson solidly takes on the role of Jazz, and if she was ten years younger, she would absolutely be perfect to play the role in the planned film adaptation, which, by the way, is being directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo who initially helmed the upcoming Han Solo film.
The book, like The Martian, contains a lot of real-life science and can get a little complicated for the novice but, like its predecessor, it’s all explained first-person by the main character. Since Jazz is so intelligent, she knows a lot about science and how things work, so she’s the one revealing this information to the reader. For the audiobook, Dawson makes it even more interesting. She also, for the most part, nails the many accents she does for the multi-ethnic cast. The actress reportedly worked closely with a dialect coach for this project, and her hard work shows; there was only a few times where I heard a character’s accent drop, and the only reason why I even noticed it was because the voice work was so consistent throughout. This audiobook comes across like a well-done radio play, and I found it very easy to become fully absorbed in it. I listened to it every day while working out at the gym, which is a big deal because I typically rely heavily on thrash metal to get me through my cardio. I found the narration so enjoyable that I ended up doubling my workout time so that I could listen to more blocks of the 9-hour audiobook at a time. It was really great to listen to during the boring task of counting reps on the weight machines. (Unlike with music, you don’t run the risk of losing count because you’re singing along in your head or counting along with the beat of the music instead of the actual reps).
With Artemis, Weir clearly has another hit on his hands and Hollywood has another fantastic story to adapt. I did actually also read some of the physically book, and like The Martian, it’s a fast-paced page-turner that’s very entertaining. But the audiobook does take the storytelling to the next level.
Artemis is a crime caper that features smart, detailed world-building based on real science. The lead character, Jasmine Bashara, aka Jazz, is just another too-smart, devil-may-care twentysomething chafing at the constraints of her small town and dreaming of a better life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon. Life on Artemis is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself – and her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first. Andy Weir’s near-future, fast paced thriller, Artemis performed by the inimitable Rosario Dawson is now exclusively available for pre-order at www.audible.com/artemis, set to release next week on Nov. 14th!
Behind the Scenes with Rosario Dawson, narrator of Artemis
It may be a man’s world. But Jazz Bashara proves it’s a woman’s moon.