Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail MaryProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Weir has followed his first novel The Martian, with this very sciency thriller. The Earth is threatened by a microbe (astrophage) that is eating the sun. If it continues, in a few decades the Earth will be a frozen world and mankind will perish. Scientists obtain a sample through a probe and identify enough about it that they are able to determine that many other stars in the local cluster are infected, but one isn’t. Earth governments join together to build a mission to that solar system (Tau Ceti). It is up to the crew to determine how that other star has survived the astrophage infection and send back the solution.

{Mild spoiler, although you learn this very early in the book] Only one of the crew members survives to reach Tau Ceti. From this point on it resembles The Martian quite a bit as our hero uses his knowledge of science and engineering to overcome all sorts of problems, although he gets some help from an unexpected source. I’ll say no more on that. I did love the cleverness of much of the science workarounds and I learned quite a bit. It was also nice not to have the gore and violence of many other science fiction thrillers, the so-called space operas.

The book has its flaws, however. It is too long. It is much less plausible than The Martian. Weir gets lazy and just creates crises and then impossible and unexplained solutions. There are many inconsistencies. It’s also too silly. The lighthearted tone doesn’t fit well with the seriousness of the mission. The light tone reduces the suspense by a large factor. It’s as though Weir couldn’t make up his mind whether to write a sci-fi thriller or an travel adventure book. It becomes tedious after page 200 or so. Another crisis, another implausible solution. All in all, though, I enjoyed it and can recommend it.

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