The Art of Welding

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot like a book. Sorry, Andy. I really loved The Martian, as can be seen here, but Artemis is nothing more than a disappointment. I really wanted to like it, not only because it is your second book, but also because it is the first book after a long time my reading mate and I took up together.

Artemis had everything going for it. I liked where the plot was going, I liked the characters (ok, Jazz was obnoxious at times, but not insufferable). Soon, plot, character and relationship development gave way to welding. Real important stuff, this. Yeah. You know you want to read 20 pages about welding. Fun stuff, that.

I’ll steal a bit from the Martian review I wrote in which I stole a bit from WSJ, quoting Mr Weir as saying:  “If you get down into the deep details, the science tells you the story,” he said.”  He spent “three years working out the details”. I’m sure he spent a lot of time researching the Moon and how life on Moon would look like, but he seemed to have forgotten about it due to serious welding obsession (except for Moon’s gravity). YES, I GET IT. IT’S ONE-SIXTH OF EARTH’S GRAVITY.

There are around 30 mentions of moon’s gravity in Artemis:

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“It’s only one-sixth Earth’s Gravity.”
“…remember the gravity here.” (like you’ll let me forget).
“Gravity”, I said. “Sex is totally different in one-sixth G.”
“Sure, they have six times the gravity to deal with.”

The word “weld” is used 62 times.

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“When you’re in a vacuum, getting rid of heat is a problem. There’s no air to carry it away.”
“When you weld aluminium, you need to flood it with a nonreactive gas to keep the surface from oxidizing. On Earth they use argon because it’s massively abundant. But we don’t have noble gases on the moon, so we have to ship them in from Earth.”
“The city requires all sorts of extra inspections if you weld to the inner hull.”
“Flint and steel won’t work in a vacuum.”
“A welding flame is just acetylene and oxygen on fire.”

For more on welding, read Artemis. If you need more on lunar gravity, you should find a hobby.

For me, the science worked in The Martian was because it was fun and relatable, it was useful for the story (which was rather simple – no cartels there). We cared about Mark and his survival, and science was keeping him alive. Science made The Martian feel more real, or at least more possible. What the fuck is the purpose of all the welding in Artemis? Why would an average reader want to know so much about welding?  

As I was nearing the end of Artemis, I became painfully aware of it having certain characteristics of a “first book in a series”. Primarily, because there were a lot of cool characters (pretty much everyone except for Jazz) who were neglected and could have contributed to the story – immensely. Shockingly, while reading Mr Weir’s Interview I found out that he wants to write a series of books about Artemis, one of which would include Rudy, the most underused and the coolest character in Artemis.

Stop writing installments. Start writing books.

For an actual review of the book (spoilers included) click here: Lacus Oblivionis.

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