Andy Weir’s new novel ‘Artemis’ mis­fires

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Magazine - By Stephanie Riten­baugh

Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette

Like a lot of broke, rud­der­less 20-some­things, Jas­mine “Jazz” Bashara is try­ing to make enough money to climb out of a tiny apart­ment and into a bet­ter place and bet­ter job. Maybe even patch things up with her dad after her rebellious teenage years soured their re­la­tion­ship —and torched his work­shop.

Ac­ci­den­tally set­ting fire to part of your blue-col­lar fa­ther’s busi­ness is fraught enough on Earth. A blaze on the first colony on the moon is an­other is­sue; it’s not like you can run out­sideto es­cape.

“Artemis” (Crown, $27) is Andy Weir’s sec­ond novel after 2014’s best-seller “The Mar­tian,” but his lat­est work strug­gles to find the kind of easy charis­mahis de­but novel cap­tured.

Be­fore it be­came a hit, Mr. Weir self-pub­lished his first book, the story of a lone as­tro­naut stranded on Mars who must rely on his wits, hu­mor and lot and lots of pota­toes in or­der to not only sur­vive the Red Planet, but also find a way to com­mu­ni­cate with NASA to re­turn to Earth. What started as a se­ries on his web­site be­came a self-pub­lished e-book. Soon, “The Mar­tian” burned up the best-seller list and was adapted into the en­ter­tain­ing 2015 film star­ring Matt Da­mon and di­rect­edby Ri­d­ley Scott. The story was heavy on the science, show­ing how re­source­ful (and lucky) even the most highly trained as­tro­naut would have to be to sur­vive a hos­tile, alien en­vi­ron­ment.But Mr. Weir suc­cess­fully in­te­grated those de­tails into a fun,fast-paced yarn.

Aself-pro­fessed “space nerd,” Mr. Weir re­turns to an ex­trater­res­trial set­ting for “Artemis,” and this time, the story is a lit­tle closer to Earth — the first moon set­tle­ment of the late 21st cen­tury. The city is a se­ries of in­ter­con­nected dou­ble-hulled domes named for the first five men to walk on the moon: Arm­strong, Aldrin, Con­rad, Bean and Shep­ard. Each neigh­bor­hood is the stomp­ing ground for star­ryeyed tourists, the in­sanely wealthy, and the work­ers who keepthe colony run­ning.

Jazz, the nar­ra­tor of “Artemis,” is a broke porter and small-time smug­gler who is

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