Review: Andy Weir’s ‘Project Hail Mary’ is an out-of-this-world tale of science and friendship

In an Andy Weir novel, space is both the coolest and most frightening landscape ever, and with “Project Hail Mary,” the modern sci-fi master sends a lone astronaut on an intergalactic mission with existential stakes and a winning sense of humor.

A cosmic cross between “Memento,” “Arrival” and “The Right Stuff,” the newest book (Ballantine, 482 pp., ★★★1/2 out of four) from “The Martian” author centers on the sole survivor of a spaceship sent to save humanity and puts him through his paces in a complex, science-filled story that’s also about empathy and friendship found in the most unlikely of places.

Ryland Grace wakes up with a nasty round of amnesia after coming out of an induced coma, not knowing where he is and wondering why a robotic arm is feeding and caring for him. He starts to regain movement, gets his wits about him and notices a couple of dead bodies in his vicinity. Ryland starts to recall his situation that slowly unravels in flashbacks interspersed throughout “Hail Mary.”

‘Project Hail Mary’:Check out an exclusive excerpt from Andy Weir’s latest sci-fi novel

The cover of Andy Weir's "Project Hail Mary." (Photo: BALLANTINE)

A former molecular biologist and disgraced academic who’s now a popular middle-school science teacher, Ryland has been sent to the solar system of the star Tau Ceti to figure out a way to save Earth. A strange light is discovered between our sun and Venus, the sun’s dimming due to lowering temperature, and the culprits are microorganisms that threaten to send the globe eventually into a deadly ice age. (Thankfully, this same space algae has also been harnessed as fuel for Ryland’s world-saving trip.)

Ryland faces plenty of stressful moments, white-knuckle piloting maneuvers, experiments gone wrong and twists that keep things interesting for him (and readers). Fortunately, he’s not alone in the universe: Ryland meets a fellow traveler, an alien he nicknames Rocky (because of his protective shell and metallic-based anatomy), tasked with a similar assignment and ticking clock for his species. The twosome figure out how to communicate and help each other, and the bond they form is the highlight of “Hail Mary,” as an unexpected hard-science buddy comedy breaks out in the middle of a disaster-movie scenario.

Source: Read Full Article