Book Review: Artemis

The story of Artemis contains a large number of items from the list of things I look for in fiction, as well as some surprises.

Artemis by #1 New York Times bestselling author Andy Weir


Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

(Via Goodreads)

My Impressions

The concept of this book was already fun. A city on the moon, created by the Andy Weir who wrote the #1 New York Times bestselling novel The Martian? Yes, please. Apparently everyone else had the same thought, because with its recent release, this book was checked out at all my city’s library branches, with even more people calling dibs on its return. I only got my hands on it through conniving schemes and shady deals.

I read The Martian earlier this year and found its penchant for scientific accuracy well-balanced with simple, humorous explanations. You don’t need a degree in science to understand it or Artemis by any means. So don’t let its nerdy reputation stop you, because you’d be missing out.

The story of Artemis contains a large number of items from the list of things I look for in fiction, as well as some surprises. For starters, Artemis, the moon-city, doesn’t originate from the United States or even Russia (like one comes to expect from science fiction after a fashion), but from Kenya. A refreshing twist. The city’s population is a showcase of realistic diversity in race, religion, socioeconomics, and sexual orientation. At least five women (that immediately come to mind, though there may be more), each kickass and multi-faceted in their own ways, play prominent parts. There are rich people who aren’t evil so much as cunning and ambitious, and rich people who are spineless cowards. There are enemies who rescue their enemies who in turn rescue their enemies, all in keeping with the complexity of human nature. Romantic allusions spring up all the way through, but the main romance–rather than the fantasized version of love I’ve come to despise–unfolds subtly and naturally, low-key enough that it didn’t leave me rolling my eyes.

Jazz Bashara, the Arabic main character, is the smart, snarky, morally ambiguous woman version of Han Solo I’ve dreamt of all my days. Andy Weir already has a good handle on varied and interesting characters, but Jazz herself comes to bright and vibrant life on the page–a natural conglomeration of flaws, bad life decisions, regrets, virtues, experiences, joys, goals, and individual history, to which she alludes throughout the tale, revealing her backstory as a unique person over the course of time as if the reader were getting to know her. She might be the most relatable depiction of a woman written by a man that I’ve ever read, though I’m sure it helps very much that he consulted an army of women (whom he acknowledged and thanked in the author’s note) to make sure he created an accurate representation. I love Jazz. I would have a drink with her and ask her to be my friend. If any more novels featuring her, or really any more by Andy Weir, crop up, it’ll go straight onto my reading list.

Goodreads rating: 3.73 stars
My rating: 5/5 stars

Dumpster Mimicry

I ran across bait this morning.

I ran across bait this morning.


There are creatures in this world who mimic useful, everyday objects in the hopes that some hapless animal or person will stray too close, or pick it up, and become the mimic’s next meal. I nearly made the mistake of picking up this UPS vest. For what UPS worker would just leave a work uniform hanging on a dumpster? Curious.

It was alluring, attention-grabbing; soft brown and subtle yellow in the dawn light. Out of place enough to pique the interest of human prey. But as I reached for it, I paused. Swallowed the sudden dryness from my mouth as I turned my wide-eyed gaze on the dumpster itself. Only a UPS worker who’d had no choice would leave this behind. Probably one facing the first stages of digestion right now.

When I came back later, intent upon tossing my trash into the dumpster down the alley, I discovered that only my ordinary dumpster remained, UPS vest vanished. The mimic had moved on, it seemed, perhaps having decided that this area wasn’t good pickings after all.

Joshua Edwards: On S.G. Baker

By Joshua Edwards

The first thing one noticed about her was a certain sense of friendly aloofness; she seemed to watch and process the world in a curiously intent manner, spending the spoken word in a rather cautious way that illustrated that mighty currency’s inherent value

2018 Writing Goals Update

I don’t like setting the same goals or learning the same lessons.

Here it is, the second day of the new year, and I’m just now getting a goals post up. New Year’s resolutions about becoming a better person? Please. I’m definitely out to become a better writer, with the hope that the two will somehow equal out in the end. Here’s something of a 2017 recap to segway us into the 2018 future of your lovely scribbling word nerd.

In 2016, I began making a true effort at writing more. Well, writing at all, really. Funny how much getting to college graduation takes from you. At the end of the year, I tallied up my word count to find that I’d written roughly 75,000 words in total. Not too shabby. Like, three quarters of a slim novel’s worth of words. So I made this year’s goal to beat that word count. In an earlier post, I noted that I blew that goal out of the water 9 months in advance of my deadline. So since then, I’ve been keeping track of how much I wrote this year.

2017 Word Count

So… I didn’t get much farther beyond that goal, but 120k is nothing to sneeze at. The first 100k was 4/5ths of a novel. That extra 20k is made up of thirty (30) character descriptions and seven (7) individual short-stories, one of which received publication in Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol. 2–which I’ve written about extensively at this point–and another of which will be featured as an honorable mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition Collection. (Don’t believe me? Go look for the title “Connections” with my name next to it. I’m super proud.) Two were for birthday presents, two are incomplete, and one was a total disaster and will never see the light of day. I don’t regret writing it, because experience points, but wow did it suck.

I can’t say at the moment that I’m too keen to try to beat 120k+ words for this new year. The point of the goal was to get myself writing, because in this craft, any amount of writing equals higher quality and greater skill. Just by setting and meeting that one goal, I expanded my knowledge and understanding of crafting fiction.

Okay, I probably could beat that word count in 2018 if I applied myself. But I don’t like setting the same goals or learning the same lessons. It’s those two incomplete short-stories, as well as the mostly but not quite finished novel, that keep snagging at the fine silk cloth of my accomplishments. I even have another half-done novel from 2016 that’s still awaiting my attention. Clearly there’s a trend here.

So the new goal is this: finish three manuscripts begun in 2017.


Update: Thursday Fiction

In which I update on the future of character descriptions content at Word Nerd Scribbles

The time has come for the Character Description Project, which I began in May of this year, to end. That is to say, I ran out of character descriptions to schedule. For a refresher, over the course of a week of vacation from my day job, I wrote some thirty-odd descriptions of my friends on Facebook as if they were characters in a book. I’ve been posting them here since then to get them outside of my social media privacy settings, and we made it almost to the end of 2017 with Thursday posts for my viewers to read about my awesome friends.

My original post called for Facebook friends to leave a comment if they wanted me to write a description for them. But quite a number of them also took the time to write their own character descriptions about me. At the risk of seeming unfathomably egotistical, I saved all of these pieces and have scheduled them to be posted here each week until we run out of those (with permission and credit). I feel that each of them deserves recognition and a modicum of publication for the thought and hard work that went into them, but most of all for the courage that goes into trying your hand at such an incredibly difficult craft. Each of them is about me, but each writer approaches the task with voices and styles unique to the individual. I’m excited to showcase them here on Word Nerd Scribbles and it will be called The Guest Character Description Project.

I dig the notion of keeping Thursday as the day of the week for posting short fiction, so I’ll  continue posting (if irregularly) my own vignettes and flash fiction under the Thursday Fiction category, which will house any original works, including the upcoming guest-written character descriptions. I’m toying with the idea of opening the blog up to submissions from guest writers and bloggers; more on that in the future. Until then, my readers are welcome to weigh in on whether you think that would be a good idea or not.

Martin Jacobsen: On S.G. Baker

By Martin Jacobsen

Her name is Summer, yet she is a Dame of Fall. Like a deciduous autumn tree, her understated stateliness, firm and reaching upward, presides over her russet hair, and ivory skin in the same way branches undergird similarly colored leaves. Like those leaves, she presents shades of being that detach and give way to the next, hues hewn from her spirit in much the same way she has hewn her thick, flowing hair to herald her ever-active emancipation from the Summer before, a sacrifice descending like leaves to the Earth to nourish the next stage of stately growth, forever firm and reaching upward, seeking the Summer elements from which to again flower verdantly toward the burst of colors she will release and from which she will derive sustenance, the sustenance of her own power.

Book Review: Interworld

Joey Harker not only makes serious, life-costing mistakes, but suffers the consequences of his actions. So much so that at one point in the story, he winds up even further back than square one.

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves

(Via Goodreads)


InterWorld tells the story of Joey Harker, a very average kid who discovers that his world is only one of a trillion alternate earths. Some of these earths are ruled by magic. Some are ruled by science. All are at war.

Joey teams up with alternate versions of himself from an array of these worlds. Together, the army of Joeys must battle evil magicians Lord Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the balance of power between all the earths stable.

(Via Book Depository)

My Impressions

I ran across Interworld at the library by accident, and picked it up because it had Neil Gaiman‘s name on the front, one of my favorite writers. I hadn’t heard of the co-author, Michael Reaves, ostensibly because I never got around to reading the novelizations of the Star Wars expanded universe, to which he contributed. I opened the book because I wondered, how would the distinct style of Gaiman blend with this as-yet-unknown-to-me other author?

Pretty nicely, it turns out.

The narrative unfolds in a quick, no-fluff fashion, following a particularly sensible main character, Joey Harker, who couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper sack but has the special ability to Walk between the trillions of alternate earths within the Alterverse. Despite its size, this small book manages to squeeze in a solid adventure and significant character development for both the main character and his companions, as well as his enemies. It also handles the various explanations of the Alterverse and the concept of transdimensional passage with a blithe, joking tone that makes such complicated concepts both simple and amusing.

I have one problem with the alignment of the main characters. They are so predictably ‘good’ that one of them even says the phrase, “We don’t gloat. We’re the good guys.” I find such a sentiment both unrelatable and desperate for challenge, because that level of certainty flirts with the sort of hubris displayed by most villains. I hope very much that this deep-seated conviction will be shaken sometime in the next two books. However, I appreciate that Joey Harker not only makes serious, life-costing mistakes, but suffers the consequences of his actions. So much so that at one point in the story, he winds up even further back than square one.

Overall, I’d suggest this as a good book for juvenile readers who like sci-fi and fantasy.

Goodreads rating: 3.5
My rating: 3/5