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Literature / Artemis

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"Building a civilization is ugly, Jasmine. But the alternative is no civilization at all."
Administrator Ngugi

Artemis is the second novel by Andy Weir in 2017.

Jasmine "Jazz" Bashara is a small-time criminal trying to make a living on the first ever lunar colony. When one of her wealthier customers offers her a massive payday in exchange for assistance in a corporate takeover (consisting of epic vandalism) she jumps at the chance, desiring more from life than her current lot. Alas, her plan doesn't exactly work out and she is forced to improvise another solution... until she finds her benefactor murdered and is caught up in a conspiracy concerning the future of Artemis itself. Definitely not what she signed up for.

Artemis takes some creative liberties, but it still is a hard science fiction.

Also, there's welding. A lot of welding.

A film adaptation was announced on May 2017, with Phil Lord & Chris Miller announced as directors, and Geneva Robertson Dworet writing the screenplay. No official release date has been announced.

This novel provides examples of:

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    A - L 
  • Allergic to Routine: Jazz in spades. She seems to have a natural acuity for any profession, but she'd rather work as a delivery girl and a smuggler to avoid normal work. Note that she's not Brilliant, but Lazy; she is Artemis' criminal underworld and has to work exponentially harder than anyone else she knows to stay afloat.
  • Alliterative Name: Lene Landvik.
  • The All-Solving Hammer: While Jazz is incredibly stubborn, rude, and has poor life planning skills, she's very good at welding. She uses those skills to the hilt when planning her two sabotage missions.
  • All the Good Men Are Gay: Downplayed. Jazz is still rankled that her first serious boyfriend, Tylar, turned out to be gay. She's especially angry that Dale, who's a pretty stand up guy himself otherwise helped Tyler realize this. But Jazz finds an acceptable guy who isn't gay at the end.
  • Attention Deficit... Oh, Shiny!: As they're fleeing from the destruction of the smelter, Jazz fixates on the fact that her weld held out against the explosion.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Jazz was a textbook case in her youth. Notably, in the present day she despises herself for being this.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jazz initially had a high opinion of Administrator Fidelis Ngugi. That is, until she turns out be involved in the shady dealings going on in the background and serving her own agenda.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Rudy manages to be also a Cowboy Cop, sometimes in the same scene.
    • Of particular note is the scene involving what to do with the in-custody Alvarez. Artemis has no formal court system; severe offenders are subject to deportation back to Earth, usually to the victim's home country to stand trial. Alvarez has murdered two people; one Russian, one Norwegian. Russia has the death penalty. Norway does not. Where Rudy decides Alvarez gets deported to depends on how cooperative he is with Rudy's investigation.
  • Call-Back: A meta example: as she begins her task of disabling the harvesters, Jazz loses her reserve air supply and briefly wonders "how fucked" she is, recalling the attention-grabbing opening line of Weir's previous book: "I am fucked."
  • Caper Crew: At the climax of the book, the conspiracy has been revealed and the stakes laid out; in order for the future of Artemis to not be tied to organized crime, the Sanchez smelting facility has to be destroyed. Jazz has a plan, but she needs help to make it happen. Luckily, she knows all the right people for the job.
  • The Cartel: The Big Bad. Administrator Ngugi got Artemis built by acting as a tax haven and money laundering hub. Now that Artemis is self-sufficient, she's trying to get them out and the tech investors in. They're not budging without a hell of a fight.
    Jazz: This isn’t a new thing. New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Moscow, Rome, Mexico City—they all went through hell to control their mob infestations. And those are the success stories. Big chunks of South America are still under cartel control.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: The best jobs in Artemis are outside the domes. To work outside the domes, you need a license from the EVA guild. To get a license, you need to pass their exams... and pay for your own suit. A new suit costs more than any middle-class Artemis colonist makes in a year... unless they work outside the domes. Jazz nearly dies on the first page trying to do an end-run around their racket with a used suit, leaving her having spent thousands of slugs All for Nothing.
    • Bonus points; the precise reason that EVA jobs pay so well... is because there aren't enough certified suit users. It's textbook protectionism.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Everything that is introduced at some point of the novel ultimately assumes more significance. Well except the condom. That one is just a joke and never gets used.
  • Comm Links: "Gizmos" are used for everything from communications to identification to tracking to financial transactions. They kind of have to be — all organics on the moon are imported, so it's a No-Paper Future, at least there.
  • Continuity Nod: Jazz has contentious interactions with the Aldrin Park gardener. Apparently he likes plants enough to grow grass on the frickin moon, traveled a lot in his old job so retirement to Artemis made sense, and his name isn't Mike despite what Svoboda thinks. Who could he possibly be?
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Jazz disguises herself in a headscarf and face covering while she takes the train to Tranquility. When authorities review security footage later, they notice that she bows to another passenger at one point... but a devout Muslim would only ever bow to Allah.
  • Cowboy Cop: Rudy manages to be also a By-the-Book Cop, sometimes in the same scene. His Establishing Character Moment shows him pummeling a wife beater in the exact same spots he'd hit his wife before deporting him.
  • Daddy's Girl:
    • Lene Landvik is a completely straight example. Trond's original reason for moving to the moon in the first place was to give his daughter the ability to walk again after a car accident left her paralyzed.
    • Jazz has a decidedly more complicated relationship with her father than Lene does, but Ammar still cares deeply about her, despite the history of broken trust and disappointment. This becomes clear to Jazz when Ammar spends an excessive amount of time on welding together the capsule that is meant to protect Jazz from dying in vacuum on her mission to destroy the Sanchez smelters. He's widely considered to be the best welder on Artemis and could probably have done it right in a reasonable amount of time, but this is his daughter's life; he's not going to risk shoddy workmanship.
      • Note that despite some growing pains in her teenage years, by the present day, Jazz is equally devoted to her father—while her initial motivation seems to be petty greed (with a stated goal of exactly 416,922 slugs — roughly sixty-seven thousand dollars), it turns out Jazz has been saving that money for years to rebuild a workshop of her father’s that she inadvertently destroyed in a fit of teenage rebellion.
  • Dirty Cop: Subverted. Rudy unexpectedly shows up when Jazz is trying to smoke out her would-be murderer by turning on her gizmo to see who is monitoring her movements. When Alvarez shows up shortly after, she assumes Rudy is working with him, and she bolts. She later learns that Rudy didn't chase her, but instead went after Alvarez, proving he is not dirty.
  • Disaster Dominoes: A good chunk of the last fifty pages of the book is Jazz actively trying to undo the damage caused when she sets one off through her second act of sabotage.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Dale asks Ammar (a devout Muslim) if he hates him because he’s gay or Jewish. Ammar replies that he hates him for breaking his daughter’s heart, which Dale admits is fair.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When discussing Rudy, Jazz has a tendency to trail off with comments about rippling muscles and how great he looks in uniform.
  • Eternal Prohibition: Tobacco is illegal on Artemis, as it's a fire hazard (and fires in a city with a pure-oxygen atmosphere are a Very Bad Thing). Jazz smuggles it in anyway. Nastier drugs like cocaine and heroin don't exist on Artemis at all, as Jazz controls virtually all of the smuggling on the colony and refuses to import them.
  • Fair Cop: Rudy. Against her better judgement, Jazz actively fantasizes about him.
  • Former Teen Rebel: A mild example, given that adult Jazz is still a petty criminal, she does say at one point that "there is no one I hate more than teenage Jazz Bashara. That stupid bitch made every bad decision a stupid bitch could make." Sort of a non-time-travel I Hate Past Me.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Jazz's plan to earn a million slugs with one act of sabotage. She succeeds, but between replacing the workshop she accidentally wrecked years ago and fines, she loses most of the money. But on the other hand, she also comes out with a hot stock tip on an industry that will soon be worth trillions.
  • Hide Your Children: There are explicitly no children under twelve living on Artemis, as it is believed that the low gravity could impact the development of children younger than that. Pregnant women are even expected to travel back to Earth so that the baby can gestate normally. Jazz moved to the moon when she was six back when the laws were looser, has never been back to Earth since, and doubts she'd even be able to function in Earth's gravity after so long in space.
  • Hiding in a Hijab: Jazz does this when she needs to conceal her identity from Artemis security.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Jazz manages to figure out the safe combination used by a complete stranger that she met once, several days ago, almost entirely because they just happened to discuss Star Trek at the time.
  • Husky Russkie: Irina Vetrov - Trond's housekeeper/bodyguard - fits this trope. In fact, she doesn't seem to have much of a personality beyond being aggressively Russian.
  • Inspector Javert: Rudy is absolutely dedicated to getting Jazz deported for her smuggling activity, almost to the point of distraction, but he also knows that he needs evidence and she's very good about covering her tracks. And when he does catch her red-handed, Administrator Ngugi gives Jazz a pass, much to Rudy's confused anger.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Initially Jazz is furious at Bobby for failing her on her EVA exam due to her suit developing a malfunction. Later she privately admits that his reason for doing so was completely valid.
    • Sure, Dale was the reason Tyler left Jazz. However he points out that Tyler was never going to be happy with a woman, and would have broken off the relationship of his own accord sooner rather than later. Jazz acknowledges that he's right but still struggles to deal with her anger towards him.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Jazz's narration is full of these.
    I knew what I had to do - I just didn't like it. I'd have to blow the remaining two at the same time. Please don't quote that last sentence out of context.note 
  • Lightworlder: While there are no true native-born citizens of Artemis (it's mentioned that pregnant women are transferred back Earthside to prevent the gravity from causing complications), Jazz has lived on the moon since she was six, and occasionally mentions that it would probably take years of physical therapy for her body to adjust to a 1G environment after spending at least three-quarters of her life in a .17G environment.
  • Like Father Like Daughter: Downplayed, in that Jazz is not the hardworking blue-collar professional that Ammar is, but they do have the same sense of business ethics. Rudy exploits this when, trying to get the truth out of Jazz, he offers to pay her for the truth, concluding that she is lying when she refuses the money; he surmises that she will lie to his face all day if they're just talking, but by offering her money, he makes it a business transaction, which she cannot accept in good conscience if she isn't being truthful.
    • Again paralleled with Lene Landvik, and even foreshadowed by her father's comment, "You'll be a cut-throat business asshole soon enough." While she doesn't have quite his level of ruthlessness, she definitely shows evidence that she's capable of it before it's all over.
  • Loveable Rogue: Jazz, a smuggler and saboteur. Shines through most clearly in the climax: Jazz is absolutely unwilling to let anyone die because of her sabotage, rescuing a worker who did not evacuate in time at the risk of her own life, and ultimately attempts a Heroic Sacrifice, exposing herself to vacuum to flush the colony’s life support with fresh oxygen after accidentally poisoning the colony with chloroform because of her actions.
  • Lunarians: Given this is modern hard Sci-fi the inhabitants of the moon are operating out of concrete domes that're essentially make a Frontier town, with company stores and venture industries monopolized by close knit groups of family and friends.

    M - Y 
  • Manly Gay: Dale, who works as an EVA specialist.
  • Master of Disguise (partial): During the story, Jazz acquires Multiple Identity IDs and creates several cover identities, including a devout Muslim woman (see Hiding in a Hijab) and a prostitute. She makes use of her own ambiguously brown skin for one of her cover identity's Fake Nationality.
  • Meaningful Name: Artemis itself is named after the Ancient Greek goddess of the moon. Its bubbles (large domes where the residents live) are all named after astronauts who went to the moon: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, and Alan Shepard.
    • Billy Hartnell, the owner of Jazz's preferred pub, shares a name with William Hartnell, the actor who played the First Doctor in Doctor Who.
  • Mission Control: In addition to being Jazz's Earth-side smuggling partner, Kelvin also helps Jazz out several times, setting up several false identities over the course of the book and providing her with crucial information.
  • Moon Base: Artemis itself.
  • Moral Pragmatist: Administrator Fidelis Ngugi. She built Artemis and turned Kenya into a world power by selling space as a tax haven. One of her customers is a drug cartel who uses Artemis for money laundering. Now, a couple of decades later, she permits a venture capitalist to sabotage that cartel's operations in exchange for a cut of the profits from the Unobtainium. In the end she accepts Jazz's proposal that they need some smuggling, so she declares Jazz — nonviolent and careful to keep weapons and hard drugs out of Artemis — as Artemis’s unpaid, unofficial, import regulatory body. She also fines Jazz most of the profit for the caper, so she "stays hungry" — if she ever made too much money, she might retire.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Welding!
  • My Greatest Failure: For Jazz, it's inadvertently causing the destruction of her dad's second workshop. It haunts her so much that the main motivation behind her get-rich-quick schemes is to pay back her dad for the damage.
    • Dale views sleeping with Tyler while he was still dating Jazz as this, to the point where he choses rekindling his friendship with the former over the promise of 150,000 slugs.
  • No Endor Holocaust: At the climax of the book, Jazz must rush to save the city after her sabotage of the smelter inadvertently floods the domes with chloroform for about fifty minutes. Somehow this fails to kill anyone, though it's reported that three elderly residents suffered cardiac arrests. Even if you assume most of the population are healthy adults, Jazz's narration notes that she saw at least one young teen who was knocked out. Breathing chloroform for such an extended period should have resulted in dozens, if not hundreds of deaths, and damage to the livers and kidneys of many others.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Disaster Dominoes incident in the third act would not have been possible had certain safety precautions been taken - many of which Jazz explicitly points out. This is pretty much the only thing that saves Jazz from an angry mob after it's revealed she was largely responsible for the incident.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jazz, Dale and Dr. Sanchez's reaction when they realize that the destruction of the smelter created a chemical reaction that flooded Artemis with chloroform.
  • One-Word Title: Also The Place, as it's the name of the lunar colony where the story takes place.
  • Pen Pals: In between chapters, the book shows letters sent between Jazz and her smuggling business partner Kelvin, with whom she has been corresponding since they were kids.
  • Percussive Shutdown: A necessary component of Trond's plan. It won't do to simply shut down the harvesters. Sanchez can simply get them running again. In order to ensure his takeover plans are successful, the harvesters must be obliterated.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Throughout the book, Jazz hovers around having three thousand slugs in her pocket; less than five hundred bucks. When she completes the Sanchez job, she gets a million slugs; a hundred and sixty thousand dollars. However, she spends four hundred thousand and change on replacing the workshop she destroyed as a teenager... and is fined five hundred and fifty thousand for the job. By Ngugi, who gave her the job. Net profit for the events of the book: thirty-three thousand slugs. Five thousand, two hundred and eighty dollars. And a signed confession so the woman who got Artemis in hock to drug cartels in the first place can deport her back to Earth where she can't stand up unaided whenever she wants.
  • The Place: It's the name of the lunar colony where the story takes place.
  • Ponzi: Ngugi mentioned that Artemis' actual economy was a giant Ponzi scheme - their primary source of income was immigrants transferring over their bank accounts. But now that the population was leveling out, that was starting to collapse, so if Artemis is to survive, they need to do something to create a real, sustainable economy. Enter ZAFO.
  • Practical Currency: "Slugs" or soft-landed grams. S-L-G. One slug gets one gram of cargo delivered from Earth to Artemis, courtesy of Kenya Space Corporation — which at the time costs roughly sixteen cents. Notably, they aren't coins or paper, but simply electronic certificates for pre-paid cargo space on the shuttles. They're custom-engineered for money laundering — part of how Ngugi financed KSC and Artemis.
  • Really Gets Around: Unfortunately Jazz has gotten this reputation thanks to a couple of bad choices in boyfriends.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: For all that he's trying to get Jazz deported, Rudy never once steps out of line, and in fact helps her several times when the stakes are higher than her smuggling operation. He in fact appears apologetic when he tells her to get ready to be deported for her sabotage at the end of the novel.
    • Administrator Ngugi seems to be entirely reasonable whenever she interacts with Jazz. This is because she's well aware of Jazz's illegal activity, but allows it to keep the Artemis economy rolling, justifying a small black market as necessary for economic growth.
  • Running Gag: Svoboda asking "Have you had a chance to test the condom?" every time he sees Jazz. Also Jazz promises that she'll eventually get round to teaching him how to talk to women.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Upon finding the front door of Trond's mansion forced open with a crowbar and blood on the walls Jazz's reaction is this. To quote her directly "Nope. Nope Nope Nope Nope." right before she calls Rudy about what she saw.
  • The Sheriff: Rudy, who is apparently the sole source of official law enforcement on Artemis, with much of the slack taken up by vigilantes, such as the EVA masters who try to chase down Jazz.
  • Shout-Out: More than a few references to classic science fiction, including in character references to Star Trek and plenty of Heinlein references such as a villain named Alvarez.
  • Shown Their Work: By the time a reader has finished this book, they'll know a lot about welding.
    • Also true in smaller details, like getting the trivia detail about Kirk's sexual history right.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Jazz is cynical about her life in particular, but an idealist about Artemis in general. She loves living in Artemis and will do anything to stay there. Administrator Ngugi, on the other hand, leans towards cynicism while presenting herself as an idealist: she proposed Artemis as a way to boost Kenya's economy, by providing tax havens for wealthy people, and money laundering for criminals, and the whole city itself is a Ponzi scheme on the verge of collapse by the time of the events of the novel. When salvation and an economic future are presented in the form of ZAFO, she works with Trond to illegally destroy the business of a cartel that was the city's primary economic driver in the early days, to keep the promise of a new economy out of the hands of the cartel. When the plan fails, she seems to give up, believing that any chance to save Artemis is now doomed to failure.
  • Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism: Very much on the Libertarian side — at least at the moment — but with a note that the scale is supposed to slide from Libertarianism to Authoritarianism before going right back to Libertarianism;
    Administrator Ngugi: It’s all part of the life-cycle of an economy. First it’s lawless capitalism until that starts to impede growth. Next comes regulation, law enforcement, and taxes. After that: public benefits and entitlements. Then, finally, over expenditure and collapse. Yes, collapse. An economy is a living thing. It’s born full of vitality and dies once it’s rigid and worn out. Then, through necessity, people break into smaller economic groups and the cycle begins anew, but with more economies. Baby economies, like Artemis is right now.
  • Straight Gay: Dale, who Jazz first assumed was trying to get into her pants when he offered a place to stay while she was homeless. Any suspicions of that nature were quashed after Dale seduced her boyfriend away from her.
  • Super Window Jump: Rudy goes through a third storey window in his pursuit of Alvarez. Thanks to lunar gravity the drop doesn't faze him as much as it would on Earth.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Rudy, the "sheriff" of Artemis, has a personal wish to deport Jazz on account of her smuggling, but is constantly hindered by Ngugi for reasons that make no sense. Turns out that Ngugi knows that a functional economy needs a black market, and also knows that Jazz is keeping things under control. Jazz uses this against Ngugi in the denouement.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: It may be cheaper to boil the water out of liquor, ship up the remaining essence (everything shipped to Artemis is charged by mass, and all but the strongest of alcoholic beverages are more than 50% water, so removing the water removes half the weight of the liquid, and can then be shipped in a smaller - and lighter - bottle), and reconstitute it on the moon, but it definitely doesn't taste the same as shipping the actual beverage.
  • Unobtainium: The box marked "ZAFO" which the conspiracy centres around. Turns out it's an acronym for Zero-Attenuation Fiber Optic (fictional and silica-based version of ZBLAN, which is heavy metal fluoride glass); the light equivalent of a superconductor. Bonus; though it's made from common elements, it can't be manufactured in a gravity well. This is world-shaking; in Svoboda's words, "Normal fiber-optic lines can only be fifteen kilometers long. After that, the signal’s just too weak to continue. So you need repeaters. They read the signal and retransmit it. But repeaters cost money, they have to be powered, and they’re complicated. Oh, and they slow down the transmission too.” Everyone on Earth will want it, it can't be made on Earth, but the primary component is silica, which is everywhere on the Moon. ZAFO is an economist's dream product; a low-cost high-demand product that can only be constructed in one isolated location.
  • Vetinari Job Security: At the end of the story, Jazz tells Ngugi that she doesn't dare deport her because Jazz occupies a key part of the colony's criminal underworld. If she's gone, someone else will take over the smuggling industry, who might be less scrupulous about smuggling weapons and hard drugs. Ngugi reluctantly agrees.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Kelvin. Except that his communications with Jazz are all done over email, due to the 4 second speed of light delay making voice communication impractical.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Rudy's establishing character moment is him hiring Jazz (as a Porter) to deliver something from a specific location. Upon arrival, they go inside together, and he proceeds to list off a number of injuries suffered by the wife of a person at that location, before giving that person matching injuries and clarifying that Jazz is to deliver the guy to the infirmary.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: A teenaged Jazz flees home after accidentally causing the destruction of her father's workshop, due to being wracked with guilt over the event.
  • Your Mom: When peeved, Jazz is not above taking the low road.
    Nakoshi: (having just increased his fee without warning) What's in there, anyway?
    Jazz: Porn, mostly. Starring your mom.