Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Artemis, by Andy Weir (author), Rosario Dawson (narrator)

Audible Studios, November 2017

Jazz Bashara has a challenging life. She lives in Artemis, the only city on the moon, and there aren't that many opportunities to make money. She's working as a porter, and that barely covers the rent.

So she also smuggles. Raised by her father, Amar Bashara, one of the most respected welders in Artemis, she's a very honest, ethical smuggler. She delivers on her deals, never squeezes her customers for more than the  agreed price, and she doesn't smuggle dangerous contraband No guns. No dangerous drugs. Flammables very tightly limited.

She could make more money welding. Why isn't she? She freely admits, poor life choices, but she's tight-lipped about the details.

Then Jazz gets drawn into a plan that's more than smuggling. It's sabotage. One of her best customers is rich, connected, and has a clever plan.

Trond wants to take over the aluminum industry. He won't say why, and it doesn't seem like a booming business opportunity, but he says if he can get Sanchez Aluminum's contract, there's a new business opportunity about to break, and he'll be able to take advantage of it. He'll pay her a million slugs (the local not exactly currency that everyone uses) to wreck the four rock harvesters that Sanchez Aluminum uses to gather the rock that it smelts down for aluminum and oxygen.

That's too much for Jazz to turn down. There's too much she can do with it, including repair some of the damage she did with one of her poor life choices when she was sixteen. Also, live someplace bigger and more comfortable than a sleeping coffin with a shared bathroom.

Jazz pays her debts. She's very honest and ethical.

This is in many ways a very Heinleinesque story, of the Competent Man variety. Or rather, in this case, the Competent Person. Unlike a Heinlein woman, though, Jazz seems to have a normal sex drive, and does not seem likely to put her plans on hold when she meets a guy suitable for having babies with. It's almost like Andy Weir has met more women than just Virginia Heinlein. (Note: I have no idea whether or not Weir ever did meet Virginia Heinlein.)

Artemis is a city with very little real law, and a very self-help approach to enforcing necessary norms outside the limited reach of the law. What's different here is Weir, unlike Heinlein, recognizes that while this has some real advantages, especially in a small and essentially frontier community, it also has some serious disadvantages. Artemis is Jazz's home, and has been since she was six. Gravity isn't the only reason she doesn't want to go back to Saudi Arabia. It's not perfect, though. It's sometimes rough and dangerous.

From my point of view, this is a book with lots of the Good Parts of what I loved in Heinlein books when I was teenager, and without a lot of the stuff that at first mildly annoyed me, and over time, eventually seemed outrageous, creepy, or both. Does this make it Great Literature? No. Does it mean I enjoyed it a whole heck of a lot? Yes, yes, YES!

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.