Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

May 25, 2021

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Just when I thought Andy Weir was a “one-hit wonder” for his great and exciting “The Martian”, he comes along and writes something that completely blew away my mind.

“Project Hail Mary” is spectacularly well done, features even more “scientific vibes” and despite being deeply rooted in science fiction, everything in this book feels (shockingly) plausible and believable.

Earth is dying from climate change… Dr. Ryland Grace, a grumpy (ex-)scientist gone school teacher, is Earth’s last line of defense and her last hope. As part of the crew of the interstellar spaceship “Hail Mary”, tasked with finding a solution for the afore-mentioned climate change issue, Grace ships out into space.

How this came to be and Grace’s exploits in space are narrated alternatingly (mostly) between chapters. First, we learn how Grace wakes up after an induced coma and then – by witnessing his memory coming back in flashbacks – the book tells the entire story in two parallel but ultimately converging storylines.

Weir masterfully entwines the two storylines with each other and reveals piece by piece. He starts slow (»A teacher! I’m a schoolteacher! I remember it now!«), spins his story and material up to a riveting, amazing, fantastic middle part that dumbstruck me and comes furiously to a wonderful, brilliant, humane and alien ending.

“Project Hail Mary” was compelling, funny, made me laugh out loud at some points and sob and/or cry at others. Its broad angle of humour from the amusingly simple…

»I clench my teeth. I clench my fists. I clench my butt. I clench every part of me that I know how to clench. It gives me a feeling of control. I’m doing something by aggressively doing nothing.«

… to the subtle irony and sarcasm (examples omitted to avoid spoilers).

Grace is discernibly human: He is childish, yet serious. Realistic, yet optimistic. A selfish nerd, and optimistic scientist. In other words, he’s basically a good guy; nerdy, weird but a nice guy. Not as selfless maybe as he’d like (to imagine) at times… But maybe there’s hope for Grace yet…

Because he never loses his basic optimistic outlook (it may be impaired and buried at times) despite seemingly unbeatable odds and, ultimately, that’s what I believe in, too. That despite our Earth starting to die from climate change, we will eventually prevail.

»I bet they did work together. Maybe it’s just the childish optimist in me, but humanity can be pretty impressive when we put our minds to it. After all, everyone worked together to build the Hail Mary. That was no easy feat.«

Nor was it an easy feat to surpass “The Martian” and compose a masterpiece that’s even better. And yet, Andy Weir did it.
If you have even a tiny bit of a nerd inside you, if you like your science fiction somewhat plausible, if you’re not turned off by science – if any of that applies, go and read this book. It’s really, truly brilliant.

Six out of five stars. ♩♫♪♪♫



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(Reminder to anyone not reading German: There’s a link to translate this (and every) page at the very bottom.)

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