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Science Fiction

Artemis

When I read The Martian, I was sucked into Andy Weir’s plausible science fiction story. His resourceful hero was funny and appealing and readers rooted for his survival. So I eagerly looked forward to his next book and was pleased to find a heroine in his second novel. Imagine my dismay when my opinion of the book plummeted chapter by chapter.

The book started off strongly, as Weir introduced Jazz Bashara, a Moon inhabitant since she was a child. Jazz is a young woman who is a porter for shipped in cargo, which enables her to smuggle goods on a regular basis. She hopes to curtail her hustling by passing an EVA certification that would enable her to take tourists on moon outings, but she fails. She is then open to an offer from a billionaire to sabotage some equipment of a competitor. She takes him up on it, ignoring all the red flags and moral issues about doing so, as she is only intent on the payoff. In typical Weir fashion, everything goes to hell, and Jazz veers from one catastrophe to another.

When Jazz was first introduced, her intelligence was established, and some diversity is added to the equation: she is a lapsed Muslim originally from Saudi Arabia. She has a sense of humor and her conversation is laced with obscenities and sarcastic quips. I thought she was refreshing at first, and I was amused at her attitude. She voices things that I sometimes think. Most people would be surprised at how salty my thoughts are about certain people or situations, but where I smile and keep my thoughts to myself, Jazz does not, and it got old fast. Real fast. I don’t have to completely like a main character to enjoy a book as a whole, but when you start to HATE the raunchy main character, there is a problem. In addition I did not understand why she had so many male friends willing to help her out of problems, yet she did not have a single female friend. Why do so many authors not know how to show authentic friendships between women? Why????

Despite my dislike of Jazz, there is strong world building with descriptions of the bubbled city of Artemis. A conversation occurs between two characters about the original TV series Star Trek, mentioning how it occurred about 100 years ago, which places the book’s events in the  near future of the late 2060’s. Weir certainly knows his science, as everything about the Moon colony seemed very authentic and credible. I listened to the audio edition that was voiced by Rosario Dawson, who delivered the narrative well. So considering how much I enjoyed his first book, I will try to balance my feelings about this one, and if he writes a third book I will certainly give it a go.

-Nancy

The Martian

Survival story on steroids!

Astronaut Mark Watney gets accidentally left on Mars during a mission that went haywire and needs to try to survive until a new mission can be launched to save him. Luckily as a botanist and all around problem solver he is just the guy to survive this catastrophe. Constant disasters abound, but no problem, Mark can handle it. Each chapter- Disaster! Crazy solution! Resourcefulness! Duct tape! Humor! Rinse, repeat!

Once NASA discovers he’s alive, then they too start the cycle of setbacks that can always be fixed, with lots of plausible sounding science thrown in to explain everything. I scoffed at how easily other astronauts, the public and other countries pitched in to help him (at such cost!) and how Mark never showed mental deterioration during his time trapped on Mars. Even though sex was just a quick mention, Mark is guaranteed some lovin’ when (and if) he gets back home due to the public’s rapt attention to his struggles. Taken in parts, the book has it’s weaknesses, but as a whole the story is great and I enjoyed listening to the audio edition.

Although I read this book by Andy Weir two years ago, I am currently listening to his second novel Artemis, and figure both sci-fi books match our blog’s theme of geeky awesomeness.

-Nancy

Ready Player One

RPO
Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One. 2011.

As an avid reader, I’m always excited when a new book vaults to the top of my favorites list, and this book did so! While not a graphic novel (but, God, it would make a great one!), with all the 80’s pop culture references & geek culture throughout…this book was made for me.

The year is 2044 and the world is in shambles, with society choosing to live their lives online, in a massive multiplayer world called OASIS. The creator of this virtual game, James Halliday, has recently died and has left an “easter egg” hunt for players to compete for his estate worth billions. The gamers have to decipher his many layered riddles, having to study pop culture and Dungeons and Dragons mythology to understand the clues. Years have gone by with no one solving the puzzle, so enter Wade Watts, a young man with no real life who spends all his time trying to find the clues to Halliday’s first riddle. Amazingly he figures it out, which puts him on the scoreboard and brings the world’s attention to the hunt for the egg. Wade’s online friendships are tested, and his real family is threatened as professional gamers go to any lengths to beat Wade to the next level. Quests are mounted, battles are fought, betrayals occur; but also, a real romance is brewing between Wade and Art3mis, a competitor of his. You must read to find out how his online and real world’s collide and how things turn out. While at times the story almost veered into ridiculousness, it stayed the course, and was just so flippin’ awesome!

Wil Wheaton (Star Trek TNG) narrates the audio version of the book, and him reading it was a stroke of genius, for it was so meta-he even mentioned himself…swoon, I just had a nerdgasm. This EPIC book should be on everyone’s to-read lists, and I eagerly look forward to the movie based off the book that is being directed by Steven Spielberg and slated for release in 2018.

-Nancy

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