Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. Or does he?
Andy Weir’s novels always end with the subtitle “: A Novel” I don’t know why but it seems redundant.
While The Martian and Artemis are hard science fiction, Project Hail Mary (the novel, not the new multi-million dollar musical) goes more into the classic realm of science fiction. There is some focus on biology and evolution but science of space travel and space living take a back seat to story telling. The story itself is fairly decent.
Ryland Grace is an interesting enough protagonist, a PhD holding junior high school teacher who somehow becomes an astronaut. The book cuts back and forth between the present and flashbacks as his memory slowly returns. There are some interesting surprises and some obvious conclusions. It is hard to say more without giving too much away.
I judge a book on its re-readability, the likelihood that I will want to pick that book up again a year or more down the road and revisit it. With Artemis: A Novel my original impression was that I didn’t like it as much as The Martian: Also a a Novel. However, in the last 3.5 years, I have reread Artemis at least twice, so despite my expectations falling short initially, it is still a good novel. I suspect I will reread Project Hail Mary in a couple of years as well.