Andy Weir hit the headlines with his first novel The Martian, a tale of early exploratory missions to Mars going just a bit wrong, leading to a movie featuring Matt Damon and some potatoes (you may have found it hard to spot the difference). It was always going to be interesting to see how he followed that up, and the answer was to stick to a near-future SF novel with a decent grounding in plausible “what if” science.
Artemis is set on humankind’s first lunar colony and is primarily the story of Jasmine (Jazz) Bashara and her initially anti-heroic efforts to cope with life and relative poverty in what is described realistically an expensive place to survive. We see life on Artemis very much from Jazz’s perspective and she is a fun character but it doesn’t hide that her life is a mess and she is regarded by others as wasting her skills with petty criminality. Then things go rapidly to hell when she ends up over her head in plot that affects Artemis’s most valuable resource – the oxygen market. And that’s when extreme welding becomes a major plot point. If you think you’ll ever need to know how to weld on the moon this is definitely the book for you!
It’s not a perfect book, there are some very broad brush racial stereotypes (the Ukrainians are crazy inventors, Latin Americans are criminal gangs, and the Canadian cop does still dress like a Mountie), but damn Andy Weir can put together a page-turner. This book is just solidly readable with engagingly flawed characters and a rapidly moving plot. If you have a science background you’ll spot the flaws but I’d put the accuracy in ahead of the plot-necessary errors. I just hope that they keep the running condom joke in the inevitable movie version.