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Literary Glance: Artemis by Andy Weir

January 4, 2018

Artemis by Andy Weir was doomed to get some bad reviews.  A few years ago, the author came out of nowhere to write a blockbuster first novel The Martian which was turned into a successful movie.  Critics love success stories, but they often hate the follow-up effort.  When you come out of nowhere and write a blockbuster, a certain percentage of critics will hate the second effort, no matter what.

I haven’t read all of Artemis yet (that’s why this is called a Literary Glance), but I see a warning sign in the first few pages.  The protagonist Jazz Bashara and a character named Bob are running somewhere in lunar gravity on the moon outside the city of Artemis with “a hundred kilograms of gear on.”  Supposedly, they’re in a life or death situation and exerting themselves mightily.  Despite this exertion, they’re carrying on an almost normal conversation:

Bob ran beside me.  His voice came over the radio: “Let me connect my tanks to your suit!”

“That’ll just get you killed too.”

“The leak’s huge,” he puffed.  “I can see gas escaping your tanks.”

“Thanks for the pep talk.”

“I’m the EVA master here,” Bob said.  “Stop right now and let me connect!”

“Negative.”  I kept running. “There was a pop right before the leak alarm.  Metal fatigue.  Got to be the valve assembly.  If you cross-connect you’ll puncture your line on a jagged edge.”

“I’m willing to take that risk!”

“I’m not willing to let you,” I said.  “Trust me on this, Bob.  I know metal.”

After a couple paragraphs the dialogue continues.

“You’re going too fast!  If you trip you could crack your faceplate!”

“Better than sucking vacuum,” I said. “I’ve got maybe ten seconds.”

“I’m way behind you,” he said.  “Don’t wait for me.”

I only realized how fast I was going when the triangular plates of Conrad filled my view.  They were growing very quickly.


Yeah, that last line of dialogue was the only part I found believable.

I’m told that I get nitpicky when I read.  I call it nitprickety because I’m a prick and nitpicky at the same time. Even so, I think the conversation in this scene is very unrealistic.

To prove my point, I tried to have this same conversation while I was running for my life.  I’m not in great condition, but I’m not bad.  I wasn’t wearing a ton of gear like Jazz and Bob.  I was just wearing my normal wardrobe.  I tried it, running for my life, full sprint, reciting the dialogue.

It wasn’t easy.  I had a hard enough time running for my life, even without trying the conversation.  When my friend trailing behind me tried to convince me to stop running, the best I could say (between wheezing breaths) was:

“Shut up… you dick… “  I wanted to mention that I was running for my life, but I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t mention the leak alarm, or metal fatigue or the valve assembly.

I couldn’t even finish a complete sentence (Is “Shut up, you dick,” a complete sentence?), not even for the sake of literature.  Either Artemis has unrealistic dialogue, or I need to start running for my life more often.

Artemis might be a good book, but I have to start up my cardio workouts again before I can judge it fairly.

  1. Artemis suffered from unrealistic dialogue and [spoiler alert]

    a reliance on its readers lacking an understanding of high school chemistry.

    • “…a reliance on its readers lacking an understanding of high school chemistry.”

      Well, it’s a good thing I noticed the unrealistic dialogue because chemistry is not my strength.

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