"I've got a gun, and I'm telling you, you can't stay," says author Andy Weir, describing a hypothetical sci-fi role-playing exercise where subjects are forced to board a time machine and strand themselves at any one-hundred-year increment in the past (1917, 1817, 1717, and so on).
His point is that most people, correctly in his opinion, would choose the most recent era available, 1917. Why? "On a century-by-century basis, the quality of life for humanity just improves," he says. Hence the inherent optimism of Weir's brand of hard sci-fi, which believes in both the power of advanced technology and in the long-term good intentions of at least a large segment of humankind.
CNET Book Club, Episode 3: "Artemis" by Andy WeirYour browser does not support the audio element.
A more pressing question may be: How do you follow up a massive blockbuster like "The Martian?" That book started out as a self-published serialized online novel in 2011, became a viral hit, was picked up by a mainstream publisher, and ended up as a hit Ridley Scott movie.
For Weir, the answer was to move the action a few decades further out into the future, but closer to home. "Artemis," his new novel, is set on the first city on the moon. Part vacation hotspot, part mining town, the city of Artemis has a healthy underground economy in smuggling and vice, all following the tourism dollars flowing in from Earth.
Protagonist Jazz Bashara is a far cry from the earnest botanist of "The Martian," Mark Watney. And instead of using an encyclopedic knowledge of space travel to survive the elements, she rounds up an eclectic team of slightly damaged moon citizens to pull off a daring (but well-intentioned) criminal caper. The elevator pitch might well have been "Ocean's 11 on the moon."
Andy Weir joins us for the podcast, and talks about how he got from Mars to the moon, why other first-city-in-space stories generally don't make any sense and just how you follow up one of the biggest publishing industry success stories of the last decade. But first, we kick off the episode with an exclusive clip from the audiobook version, narrated by Rosario Dawson.
For another take on the book, available now, we turn to CNET's Nicholas Tufnell, who says this in his review:
"After nearly eight years of waiting, fans of Weir's debut can rest easy. If you liked "The Martian," you're going to love "Artemis," a fast, engaging and at times funny lunar caper that will pull you in from the first page with its unique setting, memorable characters and staggeringly detailed scientific scrutiny."
About CNET Book Club
The Book Club is hosted by a pair of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman (author of the 2016 nonfiction book "The Tetris Effect"), and Scott Stein, who is both a playwright and screenwriter. We'll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott.