MacGyver in spaaaace!
Mark Watney from The Martian has been reincarnated as Ryland Grace, an astronaut who is tasked with saving all of Earth’s humanity! Can he do it? Well, golly gee-willikers, with science, he can!
The book opens with an amnesic astronaut waking up from a coma. He quickly discovers his two shipmates are dead, but he can’t remember who he is or what the mission is. The onboard computer won’t give him the information, so he ever so slowly starts to piece together what happened. His amnesia is a plot device that is clunky but effective in helping readers gain background knowledge at the same time Grace does. As his memories start to slowly slip back into place, he realizes he is on a suicide mission to help Earth fight back against an extinction event, as the Sun is dimming because of some space organisms eating its energy.
You will need to establish a suspension of disbelief at how Grace got involved and his part in the research, but afterward, Weir world-builds up a storm. The author certainly knows his science, as everything about the space mission seemed very authentic and credible. Earth is doomed to a deadly ice age within a generation if something isn’t done to prevent it, so world leaders band together to send a ship off. In space, Grace learns that Earth is not the only planet that is being affected, and meets an alien he nicknames Rocky (love him!), who is also trying to save his species. What I liked about this story, is the practical steps Grace and Rocky had to establish to be able to communicate. Although a science fiction story, this is no Star Trek where you can just beam yourself onto alien ships or planets, and use a translator to understand one another. Slowly, step by step, the two learn how to work together, despite constant malfunctions in their ships. There is a twist at the end in regards to how Grace came aboard the ship, and a realistic outcome of what happens to him after the mission is over. The conclusion doesn’t have a pretty bow on it, and we have to surmise some details about Earth’s outcome.
Taken in parts, the book has its weaknesses, but as a whole, the story is hopeful and optimistic and I enjoyed listening to the audio edition. This book joins Weir’s two other books, The Martian and Artemis, as matching our blog’s theme of geeky awesomeness.