Conspiracy on the Moon drives this scifi heroine #bookreview #review #sciencefiction #scifi

Artemis book cover

Not the most exciting cover I’ve ever seen

If you enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian (the book or the movie) you’ll find his style carries over to Artemis. The story (with maps!) is set on the Moon, in an established (if small) lunar city. The main character, Jazz, is a young woman of Arab and Islamic descent. Her background contributes to the story, but she’s not observant and this isn’t a lecture on religion. It’s a crime story, with more than one criminal, and some of them are willing to murder. What the criminals are after is satisfyingly wonkish and believable, but no spoilers here. You’ll see when you read the book.

Despite being in a completely different setting, Jazz shares some traits with The Martian’s Mark Watney. She uses technology in her schemes, never gives up, wise-cracks a lot, and swears. There are references to sex, though nothing steamy in the story itself.

But Jazz is not a sympathetic character. She’s a young smuggler ready to commit larger crimes. Weir gives her a backstory to explain her willingness, but it never made me like her much.

The story flows well. I enjoyed the lunar colony, which relies on imports from Earth in an economy based on tourism. The Apollo 11 site is a major draw and fun to see through the story’s eyes. The lunar city itself is well presented along with its inhabitants – exactly what I’d want on the Moon.

In an interesting twist on flashbacks, messages back and forth to Jazz’s Earth-bound pen pal provide background and then catch up to the story to participate in the action. Nice touch.

Details of the technology Jazz uses were fun through most of the book, but in the climax I skimmed along, wanting to see how the story turns out.

One odd thing: the story is described as a heist, but it’s not. At least, not in the usual sense of a robbery. My thesaurus claims the word heist can mean attack, so I guess it applies, but why use a secondary definition?

Here’s another thing I find odd. The title of the book is Artemis: A Novel. I didn’t need to be told it’s a novel – there are plenty of clues (read sarcasm here.) I’ve seen other books add “a novel” to their titles, so I guess it’s a fashion of some sort. Doesn’t hurt anything – I just think it’s odd.

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who likes realistic science in their science fiction, and enjoys a bit of an anti-hero. And would like to visit a small city on the Moon.

What others are saying
At 3.9 stars, with over 1900 reviews on Amazon, it’s no surprise this book is in the top ten (not 10%, but top ten books) in its Amazon categories’ sales ranks. Although, in another oddity, the day I checked one of its Amazon categories was “time travel.” Huh?

Some reviewers had trouble following the science part of the story, while others thought it was too low-tech! Like me, some felt the main character wasn’t likeable, and one said Jazz was “what young boys THINK women are like.” Bit of an ouch there. But most readers enjoyed it,” Mr. Weir’s got humor, wit, snark” and “loved the plot, characters, and one liners.” Artemis by Andy Weir.

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Dove Arising – Teens in a Double #Dystopia #ScienceFictionBook

DoveI must admit that I did not finish this book. It belongs to the “teens fighting in dystopia” science fiction genre like its more famous sister The Hunger Games. I think I’ve OD’ed on this genre for the moment, so my reaction may not be fair to Karen Bao. Her book includes two dystopias – one on the Moon and one on Earth. The idea of a Moon Base set up by people escaping conflicts on Earth is neat and I enjoyed reading about the base. The young-teen protagonist enters military service for an admirable reason: to earn money to save her family and especially her mother, who has been quarantined for expensive medical care.

Bao’s book is published by the Penguin Group, a well-established traditional publisher, so my comments refer to Penguin’s editing as well as Bao’s writing. I compared the book to a few of the bits of writing advice I keep running into.

  • First is a trend I’ve read about to avoid or at least reduce descriptions of characters. The idea here is that modern readers want to create their own vision of a character. Bao bucks this trend (if it really is a trend) by including descriptions, though they are not detailed. For example: “awkwardly tall body resembles the skinny tree,” “eyes so dark I can’t tell where the pupils and irises meet,” “eyes the…shade of onyx,” “full cheeks and black hair.”
  • A more established writing tip is to avoid saidisms – that is, avoid any words other than “said” or “asked” as dialog tags. Bao tags a lot of her dialog with action as the tip advises:”‘Ah!’ When he spots Tinbie, he hurries to the table.” Though, tips do advise avoiding exclamation marks. But she also uses quite a few saidisms: whispers, drawls, continues, cries, rasps, sobs.
  • Show Don’t Tell, a well established tip to avoid narrative explanations. Bao “tells” quite a bit, especially about how her world works and its history.

So my bottom line is: a traditionally-published author and her publisher are willing to ignore some standard writing advice and still be fairly successful – three and a half stars from thirty-nine reviews on Amazon – a record I would be happy to have. And while I didn’t finish the book, if you are looking for a book in this genre, I’d say give it a try.

More of my posts on writing tips:

Successful Novel Defies Standard Advice – Never Let Me Go

Sphere: Hit SciFi Novels Follows Some Advice, Flaunts Other

Stephen King’s Writing Advice

Maze Runner and Writing Advice

“Star Wars is the ultimate example of Rule of Cool. None of the technology in Star Wars makes a lick of sense, but we love it anyway, because it is awesome.”
http://monsterhunternation.com/2010/05/14/ask-correia-3-sci-fi-weapons/

Sci-fi “guns” http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/sidearmintro.php

Writers’ Resource: Critiques Available