Project Hail Mary: High Science, Low Feels (a review for #SciFiMonth)

Welcome! If you’re here because it’s Wednesday, and I normally review books on Wednesday than you’re correct. Great work!

But if you’re here because you’re following the #SciFiMonth tag on twitter and happened to see that I reviewed Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary . . .

Well congrats! You’re also correct.

Everyone will get what they want, which is (hopefully) a review of Project Hail Mary.

Anyway, moving into the review, it feels right to say that I was approaching this title with quite a bit of enthusiasm. I loved The Martian, and generally enjoyed Artemis (though apparently did not write a review of it. Curse past me!!).

So as soon as I heard about this book, I placed a hold on it at my local public library, and then proceeded to wait . . . months . . . Maybe even a year? No, it still hasn’t been a full year since it’s been published. Looking at Goodreads, it appears I waited about five months for the book to finally arrive and to begin tearing through it.

I don’t suppose this isolation would be comparable to barreling through time and space for years on end with nothing to think about except the fate of all humanity and how any mistake in your own action could doom said humanity to certain death . . .

(Someone had a rough quarantine).

But it did feel like an especially long wait considering that almost everyone seemed to be talking about this book. Brandon Sanderson sang the book’s praises in a YouTube video, while his Writing Excuses partner and co-author of The Original, Mary Robinette Kowal, seemed to think the book had some issues. Kirkus regarded it highly, while Fantasy Literature‘s review was mixed.

It would seem, that I have to make up my own damn mind about it (yessss!!)

So I did.

And live tweeted my progress through the book with whatever came to me. It seems I was quite excited by the fact there was a 3D Printer (I’m going to try to start tracking this on twitter with the tag #3DPrintingInFiction):

But not happy with the way Weir seems to recognize the importance of gender when attempting to interact with an alien species for the first time, but then just brushes it off as too difficult a problem to attempt to solve (yet Grace IS smart enough to solve a problem that will save humanity):

So . . . recommend?

Yes. Despite some hiccups, I did enjoy the book over all. The reviews linked to above seem to describe Project Hail Mary as Science Fiction for science-y people, and this is definitely true (although I don’t have much science in my background other than from fiction and I found it perfectly accessible). Ryland Grace is an excellent problem solver, likable and very funny (although often bordering on Dad-joke level). When he’s in the throes of solving a problem, it IS exciting to watch him figure things out, to marvel at his knowledge.

I would love to know what Weir’s process was for coming up the aliens in this book. I think he struck a perfect balance of making them incredibly strange, but familiar enough that we could still empathize and feel for them.

In general, there were a lot of great moments to feel feelings in this book, but I’m not sure that Grace (or Weir himself) trusted himself to really experience them. This was perhaps the most frustrating part for me while reading. So many scenes could have had such emotional impact, but ultimately it was more important to be funny and do science.

I still rated this book highly however, because I still think it’s of a vein that we should continue to nurture. Fun stories that inspire people to ask questions and (maybe) even learn some science. We can get the feelings part right eventually. As long as we try . . .

Welp. That’s it everyone. Have any of you read this novel yet? What did you think? Should I live tweet more books? What other books have you read that showcase 3D Printing? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments and I’ll see you next time!

One thought on “Project Hail Mary: High Science, Low Feels (a review for #SciFiMonth)

  1. Pingback: #SciFiMonth Mission Log: week one

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