The writer who made such a splash with “The Martian,” Andy Weir, is sharing the first chapter from “Artemis,” a crime caper set on the moon – and the thrills start hopping on the very first page.
You can get up to speed with the exploits of twentysomething porter Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, thanks to an excerpt posted to the “Read It Forward” website. The story is set decades from now, when “Star Trek” is studied as intensely as Shakespeare.
To whet your appetite, here are five features of the future moon you’ll find out about in the excerpt:
How Artemis is laid out: Artemis is “the first (and so far, only) city on the moon,” spanning about a quarter of a mile. It consists of five half-buried domes, known as “bubbles,” that are named after five Apollo moonwalkers: Armstrong, Aldrin, Conrad, Bean and Shepard. Conrad is where the grunts live, Aldrin is where the tourists stay, and Shepard is where the super-rich make their homes.
Who’s in charge on the moon: The city is the property of the Kenya Space Corporation, or KSC. Standard time in Artemis is Kenya Time, and a huge Kenyan flag flies just in front of the airlock. (For what it’s worth, property rights are likely to become a big issue as commercial operations extend to the moon. Like the U.S., Kenya is a party to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.)
What to do for fun on Artemis: Tourists get a kick out of taking a half-hour train ride to the Apollo 11 Visitor Center and seeing humanity’s first landing site on a world beyond Earth. But there are racier things to do: Because the moon’s gravity is one-sixth of Earth’s, sex is totally different – and that’s a novelty for married vacationers as well as trust-fund boys looking for “moon poon.”
What to use to pay the bills: The electronic coin of the realm isn’t dollars or bitcoin. It’s slugs, which is short for “soft-landed grams.” One slug gets one gram of cargo delivered from Earth to Artemis, courtesy of the Kenya Space Corporation. On the moon, slugs serve as the de facto currency: A single night at the Ritz-Carlson Artemis costs 12,000 slugs, which is more than Jazz makes in a month as a porter.
Which smartphone wins out: The hand-held device used in Artemis not only lets Jazz transfer slugs between banking accounts. She also uses it to pick up jobs for her porter gig, check the schedule for KSC freighter arrivals and unlock the door on her coffin-sized sleeping quarters. Any bets on whether it’s Android, iOS or Windows?
Maybe we’ll find out in later chapters. The whole book is due for release by Crown Publishing on Nov. 14, and Fox has already picked up the movie rights.