Short review: Kind of but not exactly Leverage in space. I liked it; not as much as The Martian but hey — economic caperism on the moon. Hard to argue with that.
We all know The Martian, of course; Artemis is probably not related to Mark Watney’s story in any way (though there’s nothing that says it couldn’t be in the same universe). Artemis is the story of Jasmine Bashara, daughter of a welder on the moon city of the titular name, who has gone into smuggling rather than follow in her father’s honorable footsteps. Artemis the city is one step up from an old west town in terms of law enforcement, its economy is (apparently) based strictly on tourism, and the oxygen allowing people to live in its domes is a byproduct of the aluminum smelting operation kept separate from the city in its own dome. Smoking isn’t just frowned on, it’s illegal (fire + smoke = bad for air-breathing creatures).
So Jasmine, in an effort to earn an oddly specific number of slugs (Artemis money, a sort of “soft” currency) makes sure smokers can get their puff on. And a few other types of valuable contraband. Which is why one of her regular and most valuable customers approaches her when he wants to make sure he can buy out the oxygen-generation contract from the aluminum outfit by buying their factory. Using whatever extra-legal method Jasmine (Jazz to almost everyone) decides is the best to use.
As you might imagine, things go straight to hell from there.
Crashing your pressure vessel into things is bad. It can lead to unscheduled dying. (p. 229)
As in The Martian (comparisons are invidious but inevitable so I’ll just go there), the science feels solid (I don’t know enough metallurgy, chemistry, or economics to even begin to know if it actually is), and Jazz is the kind of snarky we all wish we could be on demand. Weir continues to be good at creating characters who belong in their various environments and their various positions, from the extra-vehicular activity specialist who was one of Jazz’s earliest friends (until he stole her boyfriend) to Jazz’s father to the economist who essentially created Artemis from scratch to the lone (as far as I can tell) city security specialist to the techie Jazz might or might not want.
And like all good plans, it required a crazy Ukrainian guy. (p. 55)
(Peter Stormare is, unfortunately, too old to play the crazy Ukrainian guy. But I had a younger version of him in my head while I was reading and he fits.)
But Jazz isn’t Mark Watney, and she doesn’t feel like Watney; she feels like herself — a young adult, brilliant and aware of it, who’s carved out her niche in her hometown and who doesn’t want to leave. Artemis is her home, and she’ll fight for it.
I’d forgotten to account for the other explosive in there: the hydrogen fuel-cell battery. All that hydrogen had met the oxygen at high temperature and they’d had a brief chat. (p. 117)
If she doesn’t blow it up, first.