The Hail Mary Project, the latest from science fiction author Andy Weir, much like Weir’s first novel, The Martian. It̵
It is very difficult to say more about the book while avoiding spoilers. Like with The Martian, the book opens on a lonely man in serious trouble – our narrator wakes up with a complete loss of memory and has no idea who he is, where he is and what he should do. The process by which he unites his identity and mission occupies the first part of the book, and none of these things can really be discussed without spoiling things.
Thoughts without a spoiler: Should you buy it?
The quick version is that if you enjoyed it The Martianin the style of storytelling, you will probably like it Project Hail Mary. Both books are cut from the same towel – the scientist finds himself alone and must learn what you know from the situation. If this arrogance works for you, the book will work for you. (And as in The Martian, there is already a deal for a film written by Drew Goddard.)
The stakes are significantly higher in PHM, after all, this time all this research isn’t just about saving an astronaut’s life. This time, the whole world — indeed, the entire solar system, and perhaps even our entire star quarter in Orion’s hand — is in danger. There is a plan, of course, but it is long.
Weir’s style and pace are largely unchanged The Martian, and the overall feel of the novel is very similar to this first work compared to Weir’s second novel, Artemis. Prose is accessible and unpretentious, as in The Martian, science is the main character on the home page. The supporting cast of the characters are mostly disposable items collected from easily recognizable tropes; these characters exist primarily to push the story forward to solve problems.
It works because this story is the reason the audience is here. If you are looking for a richly conducted study of the character, filled with complex human motivations, you may do better elsewhere. But if you’re looking for the story of someone who logically makes his way through insurmountable situations with physics and math and a stopwatch and some fast one-lineers, this is the story for you.
And, of course, this time there is a huge structural difference compared to The Martianpoor dirty Mark Watney. This time the story involves solving problems with a my friend“And what a friend he turns out to be.”
There is a lot to talk to this book – and so we will wait a few weeks before conducting a more in-depth (and very spoiler!) review. Check back later this month for our analysis, which should include some thoughts from several different experts – including Andy himself, who was kind enough to spend an hour talking to me on Zoom. Stay on the line!
Project Hail Mary is on sale today.