Weiriverse -

Andy Weir has written 3 published novels. While they are separate stories they do share a lot of themes.

They are also my favorite books of recent memory. I really like his writing style, the positive vibes, his nerdy humour, and his attention to detail most sci-fi authors seem to gloss over. I read The Martian years ago and has also re-read that as I enjoyed it so much. A hacker news comment (some mild spoilers in the replies) got me to pick up Project Hail Mary and after reading that I somewhat randomly[1] came across Artemis at the library and read that.

The Martian

Summary: In 2035 a manned mission to Mars for a month long stay goes wrong. They have to evacuate and astronaut Mark doesn't make the escape rocket. Using his botanist and engineering skills he manages to survive, establish communication with earth, and attempt an escape.

My thoughts: This book is mostly written as journal entries by Mark himself. He documents what he has been up to and how that went. Despite this style, that you know he has written the entry, it is still quite exciting to follow the events as they unfold. The book jumps between his part and what happens on earth once they start discovering that he is in fact alive and stuck on Mars. How they troubleshoot his problems locally to help him out and how they plan to try and save him. Both parts are good, but to me the journal part is usually more entertaining. I doubt it would have worked as well without breaking it up though.


Summary: Following Jazz, a porter and part-time-smuggler, trying to survive on the expensive and only city on the moon. She gets an offer that is too good to refuse and ends up in a conspiracy to control the oxygen flow to the city.

My thoughts: I love the description of how the city works and the economics of this world. The parts about moon tourism and how expensive and hard everything would be when you have limited resources. I don't really like the characters though. Jazz and the local bad guys/business people doesn't seem to care about anything other than earning money. The local government, guilds, and police are just there as minor hassles for Jazz to deal with. The major threat is not really present in the moon city. While the action is exciting and Jazz vs. the moon surface is great I do struggle a bit to care about any of it. It redeems itself a bit towards the end of the book where it turns out the locals do care, after all.

Project Hail Mary

Summary: Ryland Grace awakes from a coma with no memory and 2 dead companions on a space ship pretty far from earth. He is on a mission to save the Sun from a star eating organism by exploring the star system where they think the organism originated. As the mission progresses he starts remembering the events leading up to the mission and the story swaps between ongoing events and what happened before launch.

My thoughts: This was fun. I was about to claim that Ryland is a bit of a Mary Sue, but when reading that page I'm not sure I had the definition correct, or that there even is a definition. Anyways, he seems to always immediately know what to do and how to do it. In the before-launch-days he was a high school teacher and therefore knows a lot about many different scientific fields. But there is some disconnect between what he was and who we follow on this mission. I really don't want to say much more and would recommend to keep away from spoilers. I knew a tiny bit before I started reading and was a bit distracted until I caught up to that event in the story.

Common themes

Humans cooperate: In all of these books, humanity itself, or just a smaller section, come together and easily cooperate without any problems. I find that refreshing when there are so many Battle Royal stories trying to pit humans against each other. All trying to prove that humans will stop at nothing to save just themselves. Usually those stories have a setup to provoke that behavior and that is not present in these books. It's humanity saving a single human (The Martian). All the humans on the Moon protecting their way of life (Artemis). Humanity saving the solar system (Project Hail Mary).

Human versus environment: Most of the action comes from the protagonist struggling with equipment, circumstances, and the physics of the environment. This is where Andy Weir's attention to detail shines, as he'll point out to the reader what makes it all problematic before letting the character have a go at solving it. I never find any of this boring, usually both fun and funny. Artemis has a lot of this as well, but there are more characters present so there is also some Character vs. Character.

It's never easy: When a lot of things can go wrong they tend to. Despite all the positivity in these books the struggle is real. Harsh environments and equipment used in ways they maybe haven't been designed for. All of this makes it exciting to find out how the protagonist will overcome this new problem.

Near future Sci-Fi: His stories are set in the close future (within 100 years) and he usually sticks to technology we are familiar with. You get an induced coma instead of suspended animation (Project Hail Mary). There is never a "magic" technical solution to any problem that I can think of. While imaging these magical solutions are a lot of fun I really like the situations that comes up with "given this problem, how do we solve that with what we have".

  1. If me browsing the Sci-Fi section of the library and finding a Sci-Fi book can be considered random.

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