“Artemis,” by Andy Weir

“Artemis”

Crown/Courtesy

“Artemis,” by Andy Weir, Crown, 2017, 320 pages, $27

Whenever an author creates a monster-hit first novel, a question arises. Can they repeat their feat and produce a second-hit novel?

“Artemis,” by Andy Weir demonstrates he can. The author of “The Martian” is back, with a science fiction tale every bit as exciting as his first novel.

The Artemis, giving the novel its title is a town on the moon; the first lunar colony. It is run by the Kenyan Space Corporation. Kenya’s equatorial location allows it a launch advantage. Its finance minister realized a wide-open approach to lunar colonization could provide Kenya an economic windfall. Technically, Artemis is an offshore platform — far offshore — operating under international maritime law. Despite a population in the thousands, its government is the corporate authorities.

Artemis is also home to Jasmine (Jazz) Bashara. Jazz is a girl on the make, looking to make her fortune, quick. Her fortune is measured in Slugs, Artemis’ “currency.” It is not a real currency. Slug is short for soft-landed gram, and represents the cost of transporting a gram of cargo from earth to the moon, landing it softly.

It evolved into a de facto currency, and is the money of choice for those who wish to keep their cash out the hands of Earth authorities.

Jazz wants lots of Slugs; 416,922 to start. She will entertain almost any get-rich-quick scheme to get them. She will not become a prostitute (legal on Artemis), but other tasks, legal or illegal, promising a high return are fair game. She is Luna’s biggest smuggler, although she refuses to smuggle guns or drugs. Admittedly, many of the jobs she takes are risky and often do not work out. Over time, she ends up making no more than she would have applying herself to a skilled job.

Jazz then gets hired by a steady customer to do sabotage. She finds herself enmeshed in a web entangling her with Brazilian mobsters, Artemis’ authorities and potentially the future of the colony’s existence.

“Artemis” is a fast-paced, amusing and exciting adventure. Weir reveals himself as a master storyteller, one who mixes technology, personalities and entertaining writing with consummate skill.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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