I Wanna Be Literated #240

I Wanna Be Literated #240

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Saturday, 05 June 2021
BOOKS

Project Hail Mary
by Andy Weir

I love me a good sci-fi book. Especially hard sci-fi. And Andy Weir’s books are definitely hard sci-fi. I was a fan of the Martian mostly because of the engaging and fun story, but also because Weir asks his audience to think. I had high hopes for his new book Project Hail Mary, and it certainly delivered, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much thinking this book was going to make me do.

One of the things I love about Weir is that he’s an underdog. At least he was back when he wrote the Martian. I don’t know if having Ballentine Books as your publisher makes you an underdog anymore. But, you gotta hand it to the guy when he sticks to what he knows, which is science. Project Hail Mary is definitely driven by science, and is just about the most hard sci-fi book I’ve ever read. This book has a lot going for it, and just may establish what I call “weirisms,” which are incredibly likeable and capable nice guys who are borderline annoying but so good at what they do you can’t help but give them a break. The Martian had that, and this has that. But what Project Hail Mary does is that it takes the science and problem solving from the Martian and escalates it. I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice to say we are once again in a situation where our leading character is all by himself in a life-or-death scenario and the only way out is through ingenious problem solving. This time, the stakes are also higher as all life on earth is in danger.

But our protagonist (even saying his name kind of spoils things a bit), is faced with adversity at every step and things never seem to work out just the way he planned, so it’s constant innovation and using his scientific knowledge to get him out of a bind. It can be a blast to read through his thinking process. The scientific fields this genius knows are many, and he’ll need them too as Project Hail Mary will delve into biology (which, as a biologist I could follow and, as far as I can tell, checks out), chemistry, physics, and quantum physics (which I still don’t get). My recommendation is that readers pace themselves with this book as the science can get a little exhausting at times. Weir definitely breaks things down expertly in a way only a teacher can, and I personally learned a lot along the way, but sometimes you want to forgo all that and just know that he figured it out and we want to see the outcome. My only other complaint (and there are very few in this book) is that the ending, although big on ideas, is a little bit of a cop-out and as a reader I felt a little bit cheated. Oh well, no biggie.

Project Hail Mary is a remarkable and imaginative book, with an engaging story, told at a great pace, and full of surprises and interesting twists and turns. It also relies on some hard science to move the plot forward, and I love that. This is a story that makes you love to learn.

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