Amy Goldschlager Reviews Artemis Audiobook by Andy Weir

Artemis, Andy Weir; Rosario Dawson, narrator (Audible Studios, $29.95, digital download, 9 hr., unabridged) November 2017.

Jazz lives on Artemis, the only city on the Moon. She is an intelligent young woman with a good heart, a hot temper, a penchant for making rash decisions, a fierce desire for money, and a really, really poor ability to read people emotionally. All of that explains why, despite a high aptitude and several previous good opportunities, she works as a porter and smuggler on the edge of poverty, just waiting for that next big score. And she thinks she’s found it when one of her clients offers to pay her a fortune to perform a little industrial espionage. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong, and Jazz be­comes the target of an organized crime family, des­perately keeping just a step ahead of a dangerous plot that threatens all of Artemis.

I have always adored actress Rosario Dawson, who has a fine geek cred, with roles in Men in Black 2, The Gemini Division, and Deathproof, among others. She is an able voice for Jazz; she also does credible accents for Jazz’s Saudi Arabian dad, her Ukrainian tech friend Martin Svoboda, and various others. However, she has some difficulty sustaining those accents, and outright drops them during prolonged dialogues.

There were a lot of expectations attached to this follow-up from the author of the popular novel The Martian, and I don’t think Weir quite lived up to them. Jazz’s continued survival depends a bit too heavily on people still being fond of her, despite the many ways that she’s screwed up in the past. The continual science infodumps are actually pretty interesting, but either Jazz’s or the author’s drive to explain things to the reader/listener can border on the condescending. (At one point, Jazz bets that her audience doesn’t know what a niqab is; at that very moment, I was sitting on the subway, looking across at a woman wearing one.)

In all, it’s a pleasant, if insufficiently convincing, little caper.

This review and more like it in the January 2018 issue of Locus.

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