For some reason, the Sun is dimming, emitting less energy. In twenty-seven years, Earth will be thrown into an ice age and a mass extinction event that will doom humanity. Ryland Grace, a biologist, is drawn into an international team of scientists to understand what is happening, and if possible, avert a planetary disaster. They identify space borne spores that traveled from Tau Ceti and infected nearby stars, sapping them off energy, but for some reason, Tau Ceti itself has not lost any luminosity. It is vital for Earth to discover why the Astrophage and Tau Ceti have this equilibrium. Grace and two other astronauts are sent to Tau Ceti to unravel the mystery which might save the Sun and Earth. When he wakes thirteen years later – Earth time – he finds his two companions dead, and Grace is left with a terrible burden. An alien spaceship from 40 Eridani is on the same mission, as the Astrophage have infected their sun. After establishing communication, the two survivors of their respective crews set out to find how to neutralized the Astrophage and send the information back to their respective worlds.
Project Hail Mary is not a new concept – alien spores invading the Solar System. However, Andy Weir puts a fresh twist on the theme and takes readers on a fascinating journey of scientific discovery, which the technically minded will relish. However, many readers will find pages of numbers and calculations employed to solve problems irritating stumbling blocks to the smooth story flow. The book is very short on character development, and readers are given only unsatisfying glimpses. When Grace encounters the alien, Andy Weir foregoes a tremendous opportunity to explain something of the Eridani culture and draw readers more closely into the narrative. The technique employed to tell readers what is going on, and provide a historical breakdown of events that led to the Tau Ceti mission, would have been far more effective if readers were not subjected to frequent jumps from present to past. The reader becomes comfortable with a scene in the present where Grace is battling to solve a problem – more calculations! – when suddenly, they are thrust into the past. This becomes jarring after a while. From the first page of Project Hail Mary, readers will have a clear picture how the book has been written – a lot of redundancy and shallow wordage meant to be amusing, but most of the time falls flat. Readers may also find frequent instances where Grace is crying inconsistent with the character’s core behavior, which diminishes respect for him as a character. For lovers of highly technical science fiction that relies on constant action, Project Hail Mary will leave them satisfied. Others may shake their heads with disappointment, expecting something better from Andy Weir.
This book is available on Amazon.
About Andy Weir
Andy Weir built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian, allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time.
He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail.
Andy lives in California.