Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Incredible. I have really enjoyed Weir’s previous books (The Martian, Artemis) but this one – I have to say – is probably the best. I feel a bit like I’m betraying The Martian here, which was previously one of my favourite novels of all time… but this one, probably, just about, beats it.
It has the intoxicating mix of science lesson, humour and hope that combines so brilliantly in all of his novels. It is also my kind of science fiction – while I enjoy a good space opera as much as the next guy, I feel there is a real gap in ‘pure’ science fiction. The Ben Bovas and Kim Stanley Robinsons of the world fill it magnificently, but there is always room for more – and Andy Weir rightly sits alongside those giants now in that field.
This book, not to give out too many spoilers, sees – essentially an intergalactic virus spread to the solar system and threatens to extinguish the sun. In steps ‘Dr. Grace’ a high school science teacher and on a three-man mission to the only star in the region that doesn’t appear to be affected by the virus. The ship, Hail Mary, encounters its fair share of problems with the only solution being the usual mix of Weir’s brilliant ad-hoc science fixes, workarounds, and patch-ups. They also discover something hugely unexpected which leads to a very emotional, and moral, tale.
I could not recommend it highly enough. This book (and indeed all of Weir’s books) should be required reading and a prerequisite for graduation from every high school on Earth.