Artemis

A Novel
Hardcover

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The bestselling author of The Martian returns with an irresistible new near-future thriller--a heist story set on the moon.

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Praise

Praise for Artemis:
 
“An action-packed techno-thriller of the first order…the perfect vehicle for humans who want to escape, if only for a time, the severe gravity of planet earth. The pages fly by.”USA Today
 
“Revitalizes the Lunar-colony scenario, with the author’s characteristic blend of engineering know-how and survival suspense...Jazz is a great heroine, tough with a soft core, crooked with inner honesty.”Wall Street Journal
 
“Smart and sharp…Weir has done it again [with] a sci-fi crowd pleaser made for the big screen.”—Salon.com 

“Makes cutting-edge science sexy and relevant…Weir has created a realistic and fascinating future society, and every detail feels authentic and scientifically sound.” --Associated Press
 
“Out-of-this-world storytelling.”—Houston Chronicle 
 
“Weir has done the impossible—he’s topped The Martian with a sci-fi-noir-thriller set in a city on the moon. What more do you want from life? Go read it!”– Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter
 
Everything you could hope for in a follow-up to The Martian: another smart, fun, fast-paced adventure that you won’t be able to put down.” – Ernest Cline, New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One

“A superior near-future thriller…with a healthy dose of humor.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“An exciting, whip-smart, funny thrill-ride…one of the best science fiction novels of the year.” Booklist (starred review)
 
“Narrated by a kick-ass leading lady, this thriller has it all – a smart plot, laugh-out-loud funny moments, and really cool science.” Library Journal (starred review)

Excerpt

Chapter 1

I bounded over the gray, dusty terrain toward the huge dome of Conrad Bubble. Its airlock, ringed with red lights, stood distressingly far away.

It’s hard to run with a hundred kilograms of gear on--even in lunar gravity. But you’d be amazed how fast you can hustle when your life is on the line.

Bob ran beside me. His voice came over the radio: “Let me connect my tanks to your suit!”

“That’ll just get you killed too.”

“The leak’s huge,” he huffed. “I can see the gas escaping your tanks.”

“Thanks for the pep talk.”

“I’m the EVA master here,” Bob said. “Stop right now and let me cross-connect!”

“Negative.” I kept running. “There was a pop right before the leak alarm. Metal fatigue. Got to be the valve assembly. If you cross-connect you’ll puncture your line on a jagged edge.”

“I’m willing to take that risk!”

“I’m not willing to let you,” I said. “Trust me on this, Bob. I know metal.”

I switched to long, even hops. It felt like slow motion, but it was the best way to move with all that weight. My helmet’s heads-up display said the airlock was fifty-two meters away. I glanced at my arm readouts. My oxygen reserve plummeted while I watched. So I stopped watching.

The long strides paid off. I was really hauling ass now. I even left Bob behind, and he’s the most skilled EVA master on the moon. That’s the trick: Add more forward momentum every time you touch the ground. But that also means each hop is a tricky affair. If you screw up, you’ll face-plant and slide along the ground. EVA suits are tough, but it’s best not to grind them against regolith.

“You’re going too fast! If you trip you could crack your faceplate!”

“Better than sucking vacuum,” I said. “I’ve got maybe ten seconds.”

“I’m way behind you,” he said. “Don’t wait for me.”

I only realized how fast I was going when the triangular plates of Conrad filled my view. They were growing very quickly.

“Shit!” No time to slow down. I made one final leap and added a forward roll. I timed it just right--more out of luck than skill--and hit the wall with my feet. Okay, Bob was right. I’d been going way too fast.

I hit the ground, scrambled to my feet, and clawed at the hatch crank.

My ears popped. Alarms blared in my helmet. The tank was on its last legs--it couldn’t counteract the leak anymore.

I pushed the hatch open and fell inside. I gasped for breath and my vision blurred. I kicked the hatch closed, reached up to the emergency tank, and yanked out the pin.

The top of the tank flew off and air flooded into the compartment. It came out so fast, half of it liquefied into fog particles from the cooling that comes with rapid expansion. I fell to the ground, barely conscious.

I panted in my suit and suppressed the urge to puke. That was way the hell more exertion than I’m built for. An oxygen-deprivation headache took root. It’d be with me for a few hours, at least. I’d managed to get altitude sickness on the moon.

The hiss died to a trickle, then finished.

Bob finally made it to the hatch. I saw him peek in through the small round window.

“Status?” he radioed.

“Conscious,” I wheezed.

“Can you stand? Or should I call for an assist?”

Bob couldn’t come in without killing me--I was lying in the airlock with a bad suit. But any of the two thousand people inside the city could open the airlock from the other side and drag me in.

“No need.” I got to my hands and knees, then to my feet. I steadied myself against the control panel and initiated the cleanse. High-pressure air jets blasted me from all angles. Gray lunar dust swirled in the airlock and got pulled into filtered vents along the wall.

After the cleanse, the inner hatch door opened automatically.

I stepped into the antechamber, resealed the inner hatch, and plopped down on a bench.

Bob cycled through the airlock the normal way--no dramatic emergency tank (which now had to be replaced, by the way). Just the normal pumps-and-valves method. After his cleanse cycle, he joined me in the antechamber.

I wordlessly helped Bob out of his helmet and gloves. You should never make someone de-suit themselves. Sure, it’s doable, but it’s a pain in the ass. There’s a tradition to these things. He returned the favor.

“Well, that sucked,” I said as he lifted my helmet off.

“You almost died.” He stepped out of his suit. “You should have listened to my instructions.”

I wriggled out of my suit and looked at the back. I pointed to a jagged piece of metal that was once a valve. “Blown valve. Just like I said. Metal fatigue.”

He peered at the valve and nodded. “Okay. You were right to refuse cross-connection. Well done. But this still shouldn’t have happened. Where the hell did you get that suit?”

“I bought it used.”

“Why would you buy a used suit?”

“Because I couldn’t afford a new one. I barely had enough money for a used one and you assholes won’t let me join the guild until I own a suit.”

“You should have saved up for a new one.” Bob Lewis is a former US Marine with a no-bullshit attitude. More important, he’s the EVA Guild’s head trainer. He answers to the guild master, but Bob and Bob alone determines your suitability to become a member. And if you aren’t a member, you aren’t allowed to do solo EVAs or lead groups of tourists on the surface. That’s how guilds work. Dicks.

“So? How’d I do?”

He snorted. “Are you kidding me? You failed the exam, Jazz. You super-duper failed.”

“Why?!” I demanded. “I did all the required maneuvers, accomplished all the tasks, and finished the obstacle course in under seven minutes. And, when a near-fatal problem occurred, I kept from endangering my partner and got safely back to town.”

He opened a locker and stacked his gloves and helmet inside. “Your suit is your responsibility. It failed. That means you failed.”

“How can you blame me for that leak?! Everything was fine when we headed out!”

“This is a results-oriented profession. The moon’s a mean old bitch. She doesn’t care why your suit fails. She just kills you when it does. You should have inspected your gear better.” He hung the rest of his suit on its custom rack in the locker.

“Come on, Bob!”

“Jazz, you almost died out there. How can I possibly give you a pass?” He closed the locker and started to leave. “You can retake the test in six months.”

I blocked his path. “That’s so ridiculous! Why do I have to put my life on hold because of some arbitrary guild rule?”

“Pay more attention to equipment inspection.” He stepped around me and out of the antechamber. “And pay full price when you get that leak fixed.”

I watched him go, then slumped onto the bench.

“Fuck.”

 

I plodded through the maze of aluminum corridors to my home. At least it wasn’t a long walk. The whole city is only half a kilometer across.

I live in Artemis, the first (and so far, only) city on the moon. It’s made of five huge spheres called “bubbles.” They’re half underground, so Artemis looks exactly like old sci-fi books said a moon city should look: a bunch of domes. You just can’t see the parts that are belowground.

Armstrong Bubble sits in the middle, surrounded by Aldrin, Conrad, Bean, and Shepard. The bubbles each connect to their neighbors via tunnels. I remember making a model of Artemis as an assignment in elementary school. Pretty simple: just some balls and sticks. It took ten minutes.

It’s pricey to get here and expensive as hell to live here. But a city can’t just be rich tourists and eccentric billionaires. It needs working-class people too. You don’t expect J. Worthalot Richbastard III to clean his own toilet, do you?

I’m one of the little people.

I live in Conrad Down 15, a grungy area fifteen floors underground in Conrad Bubble. If my neighborhood were wine, connoisseurs would describe it as “shitty, with overtones of failure and poor life decisions.”

I walked down the row of closely spaced square doors until I got to my own. Mine was a “lower” bunk, at least. Easier to get into and out of. I waved my Gizmo across the lock and the door clicked open. I crawled in and closed it behind me.

I lay in the bunk and stared at the ceiling--which was less than a meter from my face.

Technically, it’s a “capsule domicile” but everyone calls them coffins. It’s just an enclosed bunk with a door I can lock. There’s only one use for a coffin: sleep. Well, okay, there’s another use (which also involves being horizontal), but you get my point.

I have a bed and a shelf. That’s it. There’s a communal bathroom down the hall and public showers a few blocks away. My coffin isn’t going to be featured in Better Homes and Moonscapes anytime soon, but it’s all I can afford.

I checked my Gizmo for the time. “Craaaap.”

No time to brood. The KSC freighter was landing that afternoon and I’d have work to do.

To be clear: The sun doesn’t define “afternoon” for us. We only get a “noon” every twenty-eight Earth days and we can’t see it anyway. Each bubble has two six-centimeter-thick hulls with a meter of crushed rock between them. You could shoot a howitzer at the city and it still wouldn’t leak. Sunlight definitely can’t get in.

So what do we use for time of day? Kenya Time. It was afternoon in Nairobi, so it was afternoon in Artemis.

I was sweaty and gross from my near-death EVA. There was no time to shower, but I could change, at least. I lay flat, stripped off my EVA coolant-wear, and pulled on my blue jumpsuit. I fastened the belt then sat up, cross-legged, and put my hair in a ponytail. Then I grabbed my Gizmo and headed out.

We don’t have streets in Artemis. We have hallways. It costs a lot of money to make real estate on the moon and they sure as hell aren’t going to waste it on roads. You can have an electric cart or scooter if you want, but the hallways are designed for foot traffic. It’s only one-sixth Earth’s gravity. Walking doesn’t take much energy.

The shittier the neighborhood, the narrower the halls. Conrad Down’s halls are positively claustrophobic. They’re just wide enough for two people to pass each other by turning sideways.

I wound through the corridors toward the center of Down 15. None of the elevators were nearby, so I bounded up the stairs three at a time. Stairwells in the core are just like stairwells on Earth--short little twenty-one-centimeter-high steps. It makes the tourists more comfortable. In areas that don’t get tourists, stairs are each a half meter high. That’s lunar gravity for you. Anyway, I hopped up the tourist stairs until I reached ground level. Walking up fifteen floors of stairwell probably sounds horrible, but it’s not that big a deal here. I wasn’t even winded.

Ground level is where all the tunnels connecting to other bubbles come in. Naturally, all the shops, boutiques, and other tourist traps want to be there to take advantage of the foot traffic. In Conrad, that mostly meant restaurants selling Gunk to tourists who can’t afford real food.

A small crowd funneled into the Aldrin Connector. It’s the only way to get from Conrad to Aldrin (other than going the long way around through Armstrong), so it’s a major thoroughfare. I passed by the huge circular plug door on my way in. If the tunnel breached, the escaping air from Conrad would force that door closed. Everyone in Conrad would be saved. If you were in the tunnel at the time . . . well, it sucks to be you.

“Well, if it isn’t Jazz Bashara!” said a nearby asshole. He acted like we were friends. We weren’t friends.

“Dale,” I said. I kept walking.

He hurried to catch up. “Must be a cargo ship coming in. Nothing else gets your lazy ass in uniform.”

“Hey, remember that time I gave a shit about what you have to say? Oh wait, my mistake. That never happened.”

“I hear you failed the EVA exam today.” He tsked in mock disappointment. “Tough break. I passed on my first try, but we can’t all be me, can we?”

“Fuck off.”

“Yeah, I got to tell you, tourists pay good money to go outside. Hell, I’m headed to the Visitor Center right now to give some tours. I’ll be raking it in.”

“Make sure to hop on the really sharp rocks while you’re out there.”

“Nah,” he said. “People who passed the exam know better than to do that.”

“It was just a lark,” I said nonchalantly. “It’s not like EVA work is a real job.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Someday I hope to be a delivery girl like you.”

“Porter,” I grumbled. “The term is ‘porter.’ ”

He smirked in a very punchable way. Thankfully we’d made it to Aldrin Bubble. I shouldered past him and out of the connector. Aldrin’s plug door stood vigil, just as Conrad’s did. I hurried ahead and took a sharp right just to get out of Dale’s line of sight.

Aldrin is the opposite of Conrad in every respect. Conrad’s full of plumbers, glass blowers, metalworkers, welding shops, repair shops . . . the list goes on. But Aldrin is truly a resort. It has hotels, casinos, whorehouses, theaters, and even an honest-to-God park with real grass. Wealthy tourists from all over Earth come for two-week stays.

I passed through the Arcade. It wasn’t the fastest route to where I was going, but I liked the view.

New York has Fifth Avenue, London has Bond Street, and Artemis has the Arcade. The stores don’t bother to list prices. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The Ritz-Carlton Artemis occupies an entire block and extends five floors up and another five down. A single night there costs 12,000 slugs--more than I make in a month as a porter (though I have other sources of income).

Despite the costs of a lunar vacation, demand always exceeds supply. Middle-class Earthers can afford it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience with suitable financing. They stay at crappier hotels in crappier bubbles like Conrad. But wealthy folks make annual trips and stay in nice hotels. And my, oh my, do they shop.

More than anywhere else, Aldrin is where money enters Artemis.

There was nothing in the shopping district I could afford. But someday, I’d have enough to belong there. That was my plan, anyway. I took one more long look, then turned away and headed to the Port of Entry.

Q & A

A conversation with #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian, Andy Weir, about his exciting new novel
ARTEMIS
(Crown, on sale November 14, 2017)



Q) Tell us a bit about Artemis and the inspiration behind it.
A) Artemis takes places in a city on the moon in the late twenty-first century. The main character is a woman who is a small-time criminal, and she gets in way over her head.

Q) You’ve already taken us to Mars. In Artemis, you take readers to the moon. Why the change in location?
A) Because this story is about colonization, not exploration. And I think we will colonize the moon before we colonize Mars. While Mars has more raw materials, the moon is just so much closer it’s considerably easier to colonize. Also, unlike Mars, the moon could be a tourist destination due to the comparatively short travel time to get there.

Q) What are some of the similarities between The Martian and Artemis? And the differences?
A) They’re similar in that they both involve scientific solutions to complicated scientific problems, but The Martian was a straight-up human versus nature story, where the goal was simple survival. Artemis is a crime story with mysteries involved—a plot that was harder to write but also more interesting, I think.

Q) Mark Watney’s voice defined The Martian. In Artemis we meet Jazz Bashara. Tell us about her.

A) She’s another first-person-smart-ass narrator. But, while Mark is just a hard-working scientist trying to stay alive, Jazz is a sneaky criminal trying to get ahead. She was sort of a delinquent growing up, and now she realizes that she made a lot of mistakes in her youth and she’s trying to make up for some of them. She is very flawed in a lot of ways, but hopefully also very likable. So, very different personalities and priorities.


Q) How did you go about creating this fictional world on the moon? Walk us through your process: What kind of research was involved, do you have a map of Artemis, did you create a character storyboard?
A) Creating Artemis was actually a lot of fun. It’s one of those things where I spent weeks and weeks carefully crafting all the details of the city, of which the reader will see about 1 percent in the story. I worked out the foundations of the economics and why it works, why the city actually exists there, why everything is. And yes, absolutely, I have a pretty detailed map of Artemis.

Q) When beginning a new project, do you start with a story idea and then research the science behind it, or do you come across an intriguing scientific concept and then see if there’s a story there? Something in between?
A) I usually start with the setting. In the case of The Martian, I started by imagining how a manned mission to Mars would work. In the case of Artemis, I designed a functional city on the moon. From there, the plot tends to develop and present itself.

Q) In Artemis, the population lives in various bubbles named after famous astronauts— Aldrin, Conrad, etc. What kind of research did you do when thinking about the kinds of habitats/architecture we would need to construct for people to actually colonize the moon?
A) I wanted to make sure the structures could be made from locally available materials. That means aluminum, pretty much—it’s incredibly plentiful on the moon. And also, I wanted to ensure that a breach was incredibly unlikely. After all, an entire city’s population will die if there’s a leak. Because of this, Artemis has a double-hull system with a meter of crushed lunar rock between the hulls. Also, I did extensive research on the processes needed to smelt anorthite (a mineral found all over the place on the lunar surface) into aluminum and oxygen.
                                                           
Q) Artemis is set sometime in the late twenty-first century. Is lunar colonization something we could see within the next fifty or a hundred years?
A) I think so, yes. Artemis is based on the presumption that commercial space travel, and competition within that industry, will drive the cost of putting mass into low Earth orbit down low enough that middle-class people can afford a trip to space. Once that becomes a reality, lunar tourism becomes a viable business model. And that’s the economic foundation of Artemis.
 
Q) You’ve been a vocal fan of The Martian movie; what would you be most excited to see from a film version of Artemis?
A) I’d love to see the visual representation of the city itself. It would be a fantastic visual.
 
Q) What do you hope readers will take away from Artemis?
A) I hope they have a fun time reading it. That’s all I ever want when I write a story. None of my stories have a moral or a point to be made. I just want the reader to think “well, that was cool” when they’re done.

Q) And finally: What if Jazz Bashara meets Mark Watney in Hartnell’s Pub in Artemis. Would they get along?
A) If Jazz met Mark, I imagine they’d be really, really smart-ass toward each other.

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