Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I generally don’t care for hard science fiction. By which I mean, sci-fi steeped in scientific accuracy and logic.

Blame a lifetime reading superhero comics. 

Superman has incredible abilities because solar energy from the yellow sun is the source of energy for Kryptonian power. That explanation is enough. You want to explain how his body metabolizes that sunlight? Ugh. Please — don’t.

Same goes for Green Lantern’s power ring: a weapon capable of transforming the wearer’s thoughts into physical constructs through sheer willpower. I don’t need a physics lesson. That’s all I need. 

But somehow, Andy Weir has this ability to make what I’d otherwise consider mind-numbingly tedious explanations on quantum physics, rocket science, chemistry, engineering — basically anything remotely scientific and mathematical — absolutely enthralling, and more often than not, insanely nail-biting. He dumps his heroes in life threatening predicaments, and works with the reader through the solution, which is always constructed around veritable science, and deciphered for the layman. And when things get speculative, you buy into it, because he’s earned it.

“Project Hail Mary” will be one of my favourite novels of the year. 

I know it will be, because as I raced through its pages I was combatting conflicting urges to read faster, and to slow down; to savour it. That’s always special. And honestly, I think the less you know about it the better. If the logline has you intrigued — a sole surviving astronaut, Ryland Grace, is on a mission to save Earth — jump in. Don’t read reviews — too late if you’re here, obviously — and go in as blind as you can. 

This is smart, compulsive, addictive science fiction. It’s destined to be adapted into a blockbuster flick, but with so much of its tension derived from Grace’s inner-monologuing and puzzle-solving, it’s not going to be an easy translation. So jump on the bandwagon now. The hype, I am happy to report, is totally justified.

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