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by Andy Weir
Crown/Penguin Random House, $27.00, 305pp
Published: November 2017

This is terrific science fiction from the author of “The Martian”.

Jazz has lived on the moon all her life.  And all of her life she’s been told that she has “potential” and she “could do so much better” but seriously:  all she wants is to be left alone…and maybe her own bathroom and a bedroom she can stand up in.  When a teenage stunt costs her father much of the tools of his trade and his workshop, she slinks off with a serious case of guilt.  Finding work as a porter, someone who fetches and delivers whatever, is satisfying but it doesn’t exactly pay well.  Smuggling contraband from Earth also helps but it still doesn’t get her an apartment bigger than a closet.  So when the moon’s billionaire offers her both a puzzle to solve and a caper that will make her rich, she doesn’t turn it down; a little larceny never bothered her.  Trouble was, Jazz didn’t ask too many questions or do enough research…

The caper didn’t go exactly as planned and while she got two-thirds of it done, the other third is a deal-breaker.  She escapes incognito but not without someone trying to kill her.  And it doesn’t stop there; that someone sends an assassin after her and she has no choice but to seek help from the only form of law on the moon:  Rudy.  She and Rudy have had a complicated relationship for years since Rudy started trying to find enough evidence of her criminal activities to deport her to Earth.

But Jazz isn’t without friends or resources.  And after her billionaire patron is killed, she has to rely on those friends – and her father – to save both her own life and the way of life for everyone on the moon; because someone is trying to take over the whole moon.  She discovers protection and support from the unlikeliest of people.   She also discovers that many people feel the same way about the moon as she does; and will do anything to protect it.  But she’s the only one who can do anything about it.

This had just enough science to satisfy and not too much to overwhelm and send me to the dictionary.  The worldbuilding included information on how habitat bubbles might be created and how people might learn to live within the confines of an airless world.  And…this was big for me…how oxygen could be created.  Stories of the moon or Mars always seem to include the problem of poor humans having to pay for the precious and scarce resource of oxygen (think “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” or “Total Recall”).  This one offers a practical solution to free oxygen for all.

The plot was solid and tight, the characters were well-described and the worldbuilding sound.  The pace was perfect, in the hands of an experienced writer.  Not an epic but very enjoyable. ~~ Catherine Book

For other titles by Andy Weir click here

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