• James Hewlett

Project Hail Mary - (Definitely Not) A Review

I just finished reading the new novel by Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary, after receiving an advanced review copy of the book from the publisher.

The book isn’t available until May and they have asked that all reviews run on or after the release date so as to not give away the plot. The problem with that is I really fucking loved this book and want to talk about it and won’t be writing every day in May, so I’m going to write something now.

If I end up going more in-depth than I think is appropriate I’ll cut those parts out, put them in another post and schedule it to drop on the same day as the book is on shelves around the world.

For now I’ll try and keep it vague.

Andy Weir has a distinct style and with this book, his third, has really honed in on what made his debut novel, The Martian, such a massive success.

A long time space and science enthusiast, Weir now as a trilogy of books mostly set outside the atmosphere of our little blue ball and they all are led by a sole protagonist. In The Martian, Mark Watney is left on Mars to survive when the rest of his crew believes him dead. In Artemis, Jazz Bashara is somewhat of a loner working in a full fledged city on the moon. Project Hail Mary follows suit with our hero waking up onboard a space craft unable to remember his name, where he is or why he’s there, but he is very much alone.

This amnesia doesn’t last forever though and as the protagonist, whose name I purposefully am leaving out of this to avoid any spoilers at all, begins to remember aspects of his life and mission we learn it along with him in the form of flashbacks.

It’s through these scenes we find out that the scale of this story is the grandest yet for the author.

If Watney failed to grow potatoes on Mars, he’d die and we’d be sad but earth would keep spinning. If Jazz hadn’t stopped getting into trouble with gangsters and authorities on Luna, not many people would have been hurt.

If the titular Project Hail Mary fails, well, that’s lights out for everybody.

Despite these high stakes Andy Weir still has a jovial sense of adventure with everything he writes. His characters are flawed, they get frustrated, they fail. Then they pick them selves up, get back to work and fix whatever just went wrong.

And things most certainly do go wrong.

I don’t think this book has the same trappings as The Martian did; use science to fix problem A, celebrate, feel good, last line of chapter sets up problem B, but that definitely does happen at least a couple of times.

This book takes its swings in slightly different directions though and while it feels like a spiritual successor to The Martian it is in no way a carbon copy.

Weir has established himself as one of the most accessible and commercially successful sci-fi authors of the last decade or so and, for me, it is because his type of science fiction follows the likes of Michael Crichton and leans into the science part of the genre.

His first two novels, while set off planet, relied almost entirely on technologies we either have at our disposal, are in active development or have already been theorised. This book reaches a little further into speculative fiction and I’m happy to say that it works.

If Crichton had an affinity for theme parks that wanted to kill you, Andy Weir has that with space. I am eager to see if he ever decides to tackle and story at a stable 1g, but if he chooses to float around in the atmosphere he has found himself most comfortable in going forward, I’m all in as well.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that if you enjoyed The Martian, this is a must read, but if you like something with a little more depth like, oh I don’t know, the movie Arrival, then don’t sleep on this either. At least without someone watching over you while you do...

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is scheduled for release on May 4th and is published by Random House.


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