50 pages 1 hour read

Andy Weir

Artemis

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2017

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

Andy Weir’s science fiction thriller Artemis, published in 2017, focuses on an imagined lunar city, Artemis. Weir’s background as an engineer supports the technical details that drive the plot. This hero’s journey follows Jazz, a smuggler, as she battles to save Artemis and herself. Artemis won the 2018 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and the 2019 Geffen Award for Best Translated Science Fiction Book. As of 2022, Artemis was being adapted for the screen by Geneva Robertson-Dworet.

Content Warning: This guide includes discussion of sexual assault/sex with a minor.

Plot Summary

Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara is a smuggler and porter in Artemis, the first lunar city, and is struggling to lift herself out of economic hardship when wealthy businessman Trond Landvik, approaches her to take a sabotage job. Trond hires Jazz to break the four harvesters belonging to Sanchez Aluminum, which the company uses to extract anorthite. Trond’s stated motivation is to take over the operation and set himself up as the oxygen provider for Artemis (oxygen is one of the byproducts of aluminum smelting of the lunar anorthite rocks). Jazz initially turns the offer down, as she thinks it’s too risky. Trond then offers her one million “slugs,” the currency on the moon, to complete the task. Jazz takes the job.

Jazz’s caper involves borrowing welding equipment from her father, Ammar, with whom she has a tense relationship. Jazz takes the train to the Apollo 11 landing site visitor center to get her HIB, or Hull Inspection Bot, onto the lunar surface so it can later open an external hatch for her without authorization. She then contracts her scientist friend, Martin Svoboda, to make her an “alibi machine.” This device will use her Gizmo—an all-in-one ID, keys, watch, etc. used by Artemisians—while she is on the job, creating a digital alibi.

Jazz travels to the harvesters in her extravehicular apparatus, or EVA. She successfully sabotages one harvester, but an error with her oxygen tanks alerts Sanchez Aluminum to her presence. The company sends the EVA masters—those certified to walk on the moon’s surface—to stop her. She blows up three of the four targets and then flees back to Artemis. The EVA Guild does not chase her. Instead, they guard all the entrances to the colony, knowing that Jazz must come back inside to survive. Jazz circles back to the train, holding on to its side as it travels to the visitor center. She thinks she has found a way in, but Dale, an EVA Guild member and former friend who slept with her boyfriend, catches her. He offers to let her go in exchange for rekindling their friendship. Jazz reluctantly agrees.

As she makes her way back through the city, she recalls encountering Trond’s associate, Jin Chu, during her first meeting with Trond. The tourist had a box labeled ZAFO. Jazz’s curiosity spurs her to ask her father, Svoboda, and the internet what it means. She then heads to her favorite bar, Hartnell’s Pub, for a beer. Her pint is interrupted by messages from Trond asking about the fourth harvester. She heads to his house to discuss options to take it out, but when she arrives, she finds the door forced open and blood on the wall.

Jazz flees the scene, informing Artemis’s sole law enforcement officer, Rudy. She then breaks into Jin Chu’s hotel room, hoping to question him about Trond’s death. There, she finds and fights off an assassin; she also finds the ZAFO box, which contains a fiber optic cable. Jazz takes the cable to Svoboda and then hears from Chu, who thanks her for fighting off his would-be killer and asks to meet. She agrees to meet Chu at her father’s welding shop, only to find that Chu has led the assassin to her in exchange for his own safety; he works for the company that manufactured the cable and he sold out Trond, though he didn’t intend for anyone to die. Jazz manages to incapacitate Chu and the assailant but leaves herself trapped in an air shelter to do so.

Jazz awakens to find herself, Chu, and the assassin in Rudy’s custody. Rudy tells her that a Brazilian crime syndicate, O Palácio, controls the killer and Sanchez Aluminum. The administrator of Artemis, Fidelis Ngugi, decides that Chu should be sent home to Hong Kong, the assassin extradited to Russia or Norway (the home countries of his victims), and Jazz let free.

Meanwhile, Svoboda’s tests show that the fiber optic cable has zero attenuation, meaning data lost in travel. The cable will change Earth’s telecommunication infrastructure and earn the manufacturer billions of dollars. The cable also needs to be made at a lower gravity, making Artemis and Sanchez Aluminum the perfect suppliers. O Palácio would run the colony if they ran the ZAFO manufacturing factory. Jazz determines to destroy the smelter to prevent the corruption and destruction of her hometown. If Jazz succeeds, Lene Landvik, Trond’s daughter, will take up her father’s plan to buy Sanchez Aluminum.

Jazz puts together a team to destroy the smelter. She includes her father, Svoboda, Dale, the EVA guild master trainer, and Lene. The plan does not run smoothly: The explosion Jazz creates causes the air in Artemis to turn toxic, and she has to race against the clock to save the population. She manages to do so but nearly kills herself in the process.

The book closes with Jazz’s reconciliation with her father and Dale; she has also started a relationship with Svoboda. O Palácio loses control of the aluminum industry, and Lene successfully purchases Sanchez Aluminum. Jazz reaches out to her smuggling partner on Earth, Kelvin, to find Chu’s company. She plans to invest heavily in Chu’s company before ZAFO becomes public.

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