Project Hail Mary


Andy Weir


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

April 24, 2022

ndy Weir's first novel, The Martian was terrifically good. It was made into an equally excellent movie. Weir's second novel, Artemis was not so good. It struck me as too contrived. The problems encountered and the desperate solutions employed never seemed convincing to me. I am happy to say that his third effort, Project Hail Mary, is a fun read. Although The Martian was based entirely on known science and realistic problems, Weir turns to pure science fiction in Project Hail Mary, both for the main problem and the solutions. To this long-time science-fiction reader, it sounded plausible enough that I willingly suspended my disbelief and enjoyed a well written tale.

It is perhaps best if the reader knows very little about the plot before starting the book. Skip the book flap. Skip the rest of this review. A good portion of Project Hail Mary is learning just what the predicament the protagonist finds himself in, and how he works out an answer to each question.

In case you need a bit more convincing to try Project Hail Mary, the hero wakes up in a silent high-tech recovery room, attended by robots. He cannot even remember his own name. As he struggles to understand the situation and regain his strength and wits, the hero determines that he is in an empty room, with two other occupied beds much like his - except that the two individuals in those other beds are long dead, to the point that their bodies have partially mummified. So he finds himself alone, puzzled by his extraordinary circumstances.

If I have any quibble with this story, it is that the hero remembers things just when it is convenient to advance the plot. It seemed to me that he ought to have consulted the on-board computer much sooner, but I guess that would have eliminated some of the fun problem-solving narrative. I also think that at least one of those Beatles-probes ought to have been fired off sooner, to inform Control Center of the status of Project Hail Mary, just in case subsequent issues destroyed the ship and all the information gleaned to-date.

There are numerous flashbacks to the crisis that caused the creation of Project Hail Mary. It depicts the nations of Earth all banding together, working all-out to confront the dire threat to humanity. I have to admire Weir's optimism in humanity - that, when faced with such a crisis, that so much of Earth would respond in a positive manner. My own world-view is more skeptical.

I look forward to whatever book Weir writes next. Hopefully someone will make a movie out this one.