A Review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

“Who would have thought saving the world would be so boring?” thinks Dr. Ryland Grace, the protagonist of Andy Weir’s newest novel. Nobody who reads Project Hail Mary would think so. Employing the same strategem of interspersing scenes from space with scenes from Earth (in this case they are flashbacks)  that he did to such marvelous effect in The Martian, Weir has created another New York Times bestseller (as I write, it is currently number fifteen on the Hardcover Fiction list after fifteen weeks).

The sun, as in the 2007 Danny Boyle film Sunshine, is losing energy. If this goes unchecked, of course, ecological disaster and mass extinction are not far behind. And this time just nuking the sun isn’t going to solve anything. In fact, the solution needs to be discovered outside of the solar system, and it needs to be discovered fast. The clock is running out and so the quarterbacks of Earth have this one last chance to heave a pass towards the end-zone.

And far away from the Earth, sometime later, an astronaut awakens from a coma in a room with a robotic care-giver and two corpses, but no memory of who he is, where he is, or why he’s there. As he slowly begins to uncover his past and the readers begin to understand his story, what is revealed is so mind-blowingly entertaining, coolly sciencey, funny, heartwarming, and intense, it is difficult to put the book down. 

It’s hard not to be a Ryland Grace fan (there’s a little bit of the haplessness of Arthur Dent about him, underneath a carapace of competence and daring), and I found myself cheering hard for Ryland and crew to solve the many problems thrown at them. I suppose it’s only human to cheer for the hero to save humanity, but I feel like Dr. Grace is someone even an alien could love.

Other helpful reviews:

By Alexandra Alter Andy Weir's New Space Odyssey, 'Project Hail Mary' - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

By Mary Robinette Kowal Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir book review - The Washington Post


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