Hello my dear friends! It’s been quite some time since I last appeared here but I think I should get back into my old groove. And how else would Nephrite return to you but with some science fiction audiobook craziness courtesy of Andy ‘The Martian’ Weir whose work I have previously reviewed on a couple of occasions.
The plot In intentionally vague terms of Project Hail Mary is as follows: Our main character is a Ryland Grace a gentleman who first wakes up inside a spaceship with several tubes in unpleasant places only to realise he has very minimal memory of who he is, what he’s doing here and that he’s been in cryogenic sleep for a LONG time. Early on we discover this is a life or death mission for humanity. The human race needs a solution to the Astrophage and the clock is ticking. Will Ryland find a solution to the problem that has the Solar System at its mercy? And even if he does will the solution get to Earth in time for this last throw of the dice to save us all?
Project Hail Mary? Is one heck of a story! It made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions as Grace attempts to science a solution to each problem as they become more and more horrific and engaging while his memories slowly return and our understanding of the situation grows. Half of the book involves Grace (and later an unexpected friend) going full science nerd to save the world – with Andy Weir’s clear enthusiasm infecting and inspiring the listener just like It did with his original popular favourite – while the second half of the book is entirely told in flashbacks as Grace regains his memories. He remembers pertinent information as the listener or reader learns it allowing us to react to things the same way he does be it with elation or panic.
Grace himself is an interesting character having been a school teacher with a reputation as ‘the fun teacher’ before the events of the book pulled him from his old life and into the role of a somewhat reluctant hero. There is definitely more to him than I can say here and the same goes to the book’s other characters but I find them all very compelling with Grace’s ‘boss’ so to speak having far more depth to her than meets the eye initially.
The audio release of Project Hail Mary is one of my favourite audio releases in quite some time! Grace’s attitude – be it sarcasm, scientific fascination, terror or bafflement at his rather strange form of exclamations – comes through loud and clear with an excellent performance by frequent audiobook narrator Ray Porter who I have mentioned before as he was the narrator for The Luna Missile Crisis which I have reviewed previously.
Porter also does an enjoyable job with the international cast present in Grace’s flashbacks, giving each accent a solid attempt and succeeding with most of them. He also does an excellent job at conveying Andy Weir’s love of science and the various bizarre or complicated solutions required for equally complicated problems in a simple and understandable way with Grace as a conduit. It may seem that Weir is trying to come up with solutions for problems we would never experience on occasion but having seen some interviews or discussions with the man I can promise you the science in this book is very much research based as well as compellingly told.
In all honesty I think I can safely say I prefer Project Hail Mary to The Martian making it my favourite of Weir’s books to date (which may surprise some of you who’ve read my review in the past or had me extoll the virtues of the Martian to them in person.) I certainly hope to see a big budget film or TV adaptation of Project Hail Mary in the relatively near future as this story deserves it.
In conclusion? Listen to or read Project Hail Mary! It’s one of my favourite audiobooks in years and has earned its extensive praise for a reason! I am deliberately trying to be somewhat vague about the specifics of the plot beyond what’s revealed in the blurb or the first couple of chapters so my readers can go in and enjoy the story in the way it deserves. I hope I can persuade some of you to join me aboard the Hail Mary as we experience this rescue mission first hand.
Thank you for reading one of my reviews after an extended absence. It means a lot that some of you will have remembered me. Goodbye for now but I’m not gone for good.