I loved Andy Weir’s The Martian, and happily dug into Project: Hail Mary (I still need to read Artemis), and was completely wowed by it. I haven’t had this sense of wonder and sense of discovery and exploration since I read Clarke’s Odyssey and Rama series.
Ryland Grace, former biologist turned teacher wakes up and has no memory of who or where he is. But through some clever use of science, and a slowly returning memory, he not only begins to recall his past, but where he is. He’s alone, on a spaceship travelling to a distant star (Tau Ceti) in an effort to save humanity and the Earth from an extinction level event.
Weir makes the science at work in space travel, and biology easy to understand, laces his narrative with pop culture references, and tells a story about being human, sacrifice, and friendship.
The mystery that permeates who he is, is slowly revealed, along with an compelling tale of what efforts humanity will put forward to save itself, and the sacrifices and the cost of such an endeavour. The mystery gets so much bigger though, when Grace finds help in the most unlikely of places.
I love how Weir doesn’t talk down to his readers (write down?), he lays it all out, and from there takes us on a truly human adventure. And much like The Martian, the story takes its time, letting you get to know the characters, and the events that put Ryland on this ship, what the mission is, and what it is going to cost him.
I don’t want to reveal too much of what happens, but the things that happen put me wonderfully in mind of Clarke, and that sense of wonder and excitement one can get from the works of Clarke. This one fired my imagination, and I was more than happy to buckle up and join Grace on his mission, discovering his reasons, his thoughts, and his ultimate fate.
It was a helluva ride, and the stakes couldn’t be higher, and yet, it’s written so well as to be completely plausible. I so enjoyed this one!
I love that Weir’s science fiction is heavy on the science, and filled with interesting facts that allow one to look at the world in a new way. Much like his creation Ryland Grace, Weir feels like a teacher in his novels, but just like Grace, he’s the cool teacher that everyone wants.
Weir had a fan in me with The Martian, this has merely cemented my fandom, and leaving me impatiently waiting his next novel. It’s a good thing I still have Artemis to go back and discover. And if you haven’t read his graphic novel Cheshire Crossing, I recommend that one heartily as well.