Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (four stars)

Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (four stars)

“I was alone all along, but now I am truly alone. The sole living human within several light-years, at least. What do I do now?”

I love first contact stories. I especially love first contact stories which do not involve the aliens (or us) trying to eat or exterminate each other. This is one of those better kind of stories. Told with the simple, linear style Weir is famous for.

“You three are going to Tau Ceti. The rest of us are going to hell. More accurately, hell is coming to us.”

The story hinges on not one, but three superbeings/materials. That’s okay, but pushes the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief.

“Well, you’re not alone anymore, buddy. Neither of us are.”

More technical quibbles here than with The Martian, which is a pretty low bar. They detract from the flow of the story, and we expect better from Weir. “CO2 spectral emissions are 4.26 and 18.31 microns. But Astrophage are only 10 microns across, so it couldn’t really interact with light that had a larger wavelength.” Weir should know wavelength is the distance between wave crests, not the amplitude of the waves. “Soyuz capsules are launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is at a high latitude. The safest landing locations are at that same latitude.” Not so. “The chopper took me to Travis Air Force Base, about 60 miles north of the city.” Not so. “Apparently, the entire Hail Mary is at that 40 percent pressure. Good design.” Bad design, since it must be 100% oxygen. Both the USA and the USSR killed astronauts because of that. “Evolution can be insanely effective when you leave it alone for a few billion years.” No, it specializes so completely that the population can’t deal with change. Also, several “As you know, Bob,” dialogues.

“Not all Eridians willing to die for others.” “Not all humans either.” “You and me are good people.” “Yeah. I suppose we are.”

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