The Bossy Bookworm
Review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Andy Weir offers the fascinating story of a desperate space mission, creative innovation, and enduring optimism, with an enormous amount of heart that surprised me.
It's time to learn Eridianese. Yes, I just made up that word. No, I don't feel bad about it. I'm doing a lot of things for the first time in human history out here and there's a lot of stuff that needs naming. Just be glad I don't name stuff after myself.
Ryland Grace wakes up as the sole survivor of a last-chance effort to save Earth and its inhabitants.
But he doesn't know that yet. He seems to be in space and isn't sure what has happened, and not only does he not remember his own name or where he's from, he also doesn't remember his scientific expertise or anything else that could help him survive and succeed in his quest. The memories are beginning to slowly shift back into focus, but he needs them now.
He's millions of miles from Earth, and he's got two dead crewmates, a chatty AI robot caregiver, a lot of complicated equipment, and a mysterious mission whose purpose and execution he'll have to unravel if he's to possibly survive--much less save humanity.
Weir provides Grace with unexpected company, fascinating collaboration, fantastic interpersonal relationships (Rocky!), incredible innovation, and wonderfully big-hearted moments. The present-day story alternates with peeks back in time to life before this space mission, which show Grace as an interestingly faulted but incredibly valuable team member on the project of a lifetime.
As in his book The Martian, significant page time in Weir's Project Hail Mary is spent on creative problem-solving, particularly scientific experimentation and high-stakes trial and error, and while it slowed the pace of the story, it felt warranted--and I was hooked by all of it.
Weir is also asking most of the big questions here, about faith and belief; selflessness and selfishness; and meaning and worth. Through exploring seemingly impossible routes toward understanding and communication, he presents a story that illustrates universal expressions of emotion, desire for purpose, and love--across life forms.
In Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir has created another irresistible story of hope, resilience, wonder, and discovery.
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Andy Weir is also the author of The Martian and Artemis.
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