Project Hail Mary was a real interesting thing to read in April of 2022. I struggled with Weir’s premise that the world would come together to save Earth. I switched back and forth between this and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Eyes of the Void (review coming soon), and I think that helped me appreciate Weir’s optimism. Do I think it’s realistic? No. Do I think it’s necessary? Yes I do.
This is going to be less of a review and more of me back on my bullshit about the importance of pop culture. Lit fic gets the lion’s share of the credit for saying Important Things About the Human Condition. But I believe deeply that genre fiction has just as important things to say about the human condition, and is more accessible, therefore probably more impactful. Pop culture tells us so much about who we are and who we want to be. It can be regressive, uphold the status quo, incite hatred, or inspire us to build a better world.
When I first started reading (listening to) Project Hail Mary, I felt resentful because there is no way governments of Earth would come together and put a woman (or a man) in charge of finding a solution to an impending world ending crisis and give her the authority to use any and all resources she needs. Tchaikovsky’s The Final Architecture series feels more realistic with competing factions and the wealthy making sure they get taken care of first. We are surrounded every day by people who say, “the real problem isn’t insert huge problem here, the real problem is these people who are different from me in some way.” We keep letting people like this get elected to office and then they can enforce their non-solutions onto non-problems.
As I was switching between the books, I started to feel like Weir isn’t naively optimistic, he is determinedly and pointedly optimistic. He is showing us that we can problem solve together. We can choose to look at problem that if not solved will kill us all and we can work together to solve it before a whole lot of people die. We already know we can throw each other under the bus, but what if instead, we didn’t? What if governments pooled resources to solve the very real problems facing us? What if in the face of a common extinction threat we worked together?
There is value in showing that option. And if the book is a fun read, more people will read it and have the seed planted in their mind.
If you want an actual review of Project Hail Mary, check out the reviews by my fellow Cannonballers.