Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Genre: sci-fi

I read it as a(n): audiobook

Narrator: Ray Porter

Length: 16:10:00

Her Grace’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Ryland Grace is an astrobiologist who wrote a paper that speculated that life didn’t necessarily need water to evolve. People laughed at him so he left academia and went to teach middle school science. A friend from his academia days remained in touch and eventually she told him that there is a line of particles beaming from the sun to Venus. It has the unfortunate effect of dimming the sun, which will decrease in luminescence by about 20% in a matter of a couple decades. That would effectively mean the end of humanity. Eventually it is discovered that the particles are actually life forms. Unfortunately for Grace, they’re still made out of water. They get named Astrophage.

Fortunately, a top scientist remembered Grace’s paper and was in a position to recruit him to her project to save the Earth. By recruit, I mean conscript and by project, I mean desperate, seat of your pants, last-ditch attempt to save the world. Hence, Project Hail Mary. Grace and 2 other crewmates get launched out of the solar system to try to discover why Tau Ceti, the star at the hub of the Astrophage lines isn’t getting dimmer, and in that discovery, to find a way to save Earth. Except Grace is the only one of his crew to survive the years-long trip via medically-induced coma. So now the fate of the entire planet rests solely on his shoulders. Good thing he meets a really cool friend to help him out. 

I really fucking loved this book! I’ve heard some describe it as The Martian on a spaceship but I didn’t think so at all. It was fun and anxiety-inducing but in different ways from The Martian. I really, REALLY loved Rocky. He is my favorite character entirely. 

I loved the interactions between Rocky and Grace, even though I thought they learned each other’s language awfully fast. Though I suppose when you’re in dire straits, you can do a lot of things you didn’t expect. The humor was exactly right and exactly what I expect from Weir. The action was fast and exciting, the plot was engaging. There were a couple times I cried. 

SPOILER NEXT!! I think literally the only thing I didn’t love about this book was that it wasn’t clear to me if Ryland sent all his info about the Erideans back to Earth along with the data on the astrophage and taumoeba. Maybe I missed it somehow but if he did not send that, then I think it was a missed opportunity. If he did, then it is totally an opening to a follow-up book from Weir about how humans and Erideans become interstellar friends. 

Favorite lines:

  • “So…when you say ‘a certain amount of authority’…” 

“I have all of the authority.” (39)

  • I gasped. “Wait a minute! Am I a guinea pig? I’m a guinea pig!”

“No, it’s not like that,” she said.

I stared at her.

She stared at me.

I stared at her. 

“Okay, it’s exactly like that,” she said. (58)

  • I check the corresponding star in my catalog: It’s called 40 Eridani. But I bet the crew of the Blip-A call it home (149).
  • “And just like that another climate denier is born. See how easy it is? All I have to do is tell you something you don’t want to hear” (234).
  • We have an unspoken agreement that cultural things just have to be accepted. It ends any minor dispute (279).
  • Sample device radio signal strong,” Rocky says. “Getting closer. Be ready.

“I’m ready.”

Be very ready.

“I am very ready. Be calm.”

Am calm. You be calm.” (317)

  • Usually you not stupid. Why stupid, question?” (347)
  • “We’re as smart as evolution made us. So we’re the minimum intelligence needed to ensure we can dominate our planets” (349).
  • “Rocky, you can make screws, right?”

Yes. Easy. Why, question?

“I dropped one.”

Hold screws better.”

“How?”

Use hand.

“My hand’s busy with the wrench.”

Use second hand.

“My other hand’s on the hull to keep me steady.”

Use third han…hmm. Get beetles. I make new screws.

  • “Good. Proud. I am scary space monster. You are leaky space blob.” He points to the breeder tanks. “Check tanks!” (421).
  • Erid will live! Earth will live! Everyone live!” He curls the claws of one hand into a ball and presses it against the xenonite. “Fist me!” 

I push my knuckles against the xenonite. “It’s ‘fist-bump,’ but yeah” (422).

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