Project Hail Mary Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Winner of the 2022 Audie Awards' Audiobook of the Year
Number-One Audible and New York Times Audio Best Seller
More than one million audiobooks sold
A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Martian.
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission - and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn't know that. He can't even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he's been asleep for a very, very long time. And he's just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that's been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it's up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian - while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.
PLEASE NOTE: To accommodate this audio edition, some changes to the original text have been made with the approval of author Andy Weir.
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|Listening Length||16 hours and 10 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 04, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #42 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Hard Science Fiction (Books)
#1 in Science Fiction Adventures
#1 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2021
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Top reviews from the United States
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With that said, I was REALLY looking forward to Artemis. It was good...but, it was certainly not in the same caliber as The Martian was (at least not for me). I enjoyed it a lot, however and appreciated how author Andy Weir chose to go in a completely different direction and not just rehash another similar story, which I am certain would have been great as well.
As a result, I was cautious regarding Project Hail Mary. It sounded a little too close to The Martian, but yet, also different in that the circumstances simply could not be more opposite and the stakes so much higher. I'm trying to figure out the best way to summarize without giving too much away from this utterly compelling novel. As I read several reviews, I noticed a recurring theme: SCIENCE. Lots and LOTS of science. Holy cow, they were right. Many years ago I read Apollo 13 and Jim Lovell and his co-writer, try as they might, simply could not dumb down Orbital Mechanics anywhere near enough for me to have even a minor clue as to what they were attempting to say...I just skipped 90% of it and hoped that the sentences written afterwards, would help to make sense of what I had just skimmed over. I'm a lot of things, but a math wizard is definitely not one of them. Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) had an amazing talent for dumbing-down the science of what he was trying to explain in ways that genuinely made sense (most of the time). Not everyone has this talent, and I would say Andy Weir falls squarely in between. He's certainly better than Jim Lovell, but not quite as good as Crichton. But then again, outside of a science textbook, I haven't really read anything with quite as MUCH science as Project Hail Mary. So maybe he's just as good, but he just puts more science into his books than Crichton, maybe that's it...? Either way, be prepared for a lot of astonishingly interesting science within the pages of this novel...and I DO mean a LOT. I don't say this to make you wary or steer you away...on the contrary, Andy Weir has a special talent for making hard science truly entertaining.
The book opens with an absolutely amazing and frightening premise: an astronaut awakes from an induced coma to find the only other two people on board have died at some point along their journey...but it gets worse. He has no idea who he is, or why he's on the ship, and oh yeah, they look to be a long way from home. A really, REALLY long way from home. In fact, the sun he sees isn't actually OUR sun at all. He's managed to leave our solar system entirely. And he has no idea why.
((Minor Spoilers)) The book goes through some clever flash-backs, which set the stage for why the mission happens, and slowly, carefully explains how they managed to get so far away from earth in such a short amount of time. Basically, earth's sun seems to be dying. At the rate of decay, we have maybe 19 years left before the gradual cooling has catastrophic consequences resulting in the death of billions (best guess). Why the sun is dimming is quite the conundrum in the first place. Turns out it really isn't dying, it's being killed by an outside source...which turns out to be easily the greatest find in history. It's alien life, and they are using the sun for food, essentially. It's alien life, but not intelligent life. But still, wow! ALIENS, right???
After this monumental discovery, and some tremendous research done by the most improbable scientist, the investigation into what is happening and why and what to do about it expands exponentially to other nations in order to pool all the resources possible to hopefully save the sun, and by extension, the human race as well. They learn. A LOT. A plan is put together, and with the help of the newly discovered microscopic alien life, which can also double as a power source (along with a few other nifty surprises), they begin to create one last, Hail Mary that could very well be the last chance we might have to save earth. It's audacious. It's dangerous, and it is absolutely critical that it succeed.
As our astronaut's memory slowly unravels, so does his identity: Ryland Grace. He's a teacher on earth. Just a science teacher. Not even a college professor. He's amazingly smart, though. But he's no astronaut...and certainly not one who would volunteer to go on a one-way mission to another solar system to "try" and save humanity. Yet here he is. Alone. light years from earth, trying to solve the biggest riddle in all of human history. Ryland accepts his situation, such as it is, with relative indifference (for the most part). It doesn't matter HOW he got here. He's here now and he may as well use that time to be as productive as possible, right? Along the way, he unravels even more information regarding the microscopic alien life which is slowly dimming our sun during some additional flashbacks. The aliens, dubbed, "Astrophage" are quite the galactic plague as it turns out. Stars all over the galaxy are also losing their light, all due to the little buggers. All that is, except one particular star named, Tau Ceti. Now why would that one star be unaffected by Astrophage, when every single star around it has been affected to some degree. The plan is to go there and figure it out and send the information back, hopefully in time to save the sun before the damage to earth is beyond repair.
There is an incredible amount of stuff going on. The story switches from Tau Ceti to flashbacks of how the whole mission was planned and implemented (which is VERY entertaining, especially Director Stratt, who may actually be my favorite character in the entire novel). Weir is becoming quite adept at building tension, and abruptly switching the story from Tau Ceti back to earth and building more of the backstory then switching back to Tau Ceti. Keeping it all in check and most importantly, interesting all while mixing in a healthy dose of science, which I am to understand is pretty much all genuine, is quite the juggling act. I have long known science can be astronomically entertaining (see what I did there?) when done right...but unfortunately very few people in a position to teach science actually know the best way to create that interest in others. I can say without reservation, Andy Weir definitely knows how to do it...at least in written form.
There is so much I want to say more regarding this truly phenomenal story, but I simply cannot without ruining a lot of the fun and surprises revealed along the way...and it is killing me to keep it locked in. Though I labeled a spoiler warning earlier, I don't think it gave away any more than what the author himself has revealed in interviews he has done regarding the book, and what you can glean from reading the summary here and just a couple other reviews. Tying all of that science together is truly astonishing to me. The creativity to put it into a novel that is remarkably exciting to read is nothing more than incredible talent. Kudo's to Andy Weir for not just hitting a home run, Project Hail Mary is a Grand Slam all the way. I truly did not want this story to end. By the way, I enjoyed the ending quite a bit. I don't know if everyone will. But it was fine for me. I think the ending screams "sequel" at some point too. A lot was left open-ended (IMO) and I wouldn't mind reading a follow-up to this. It doesn't HAVE to happen, but there are a lot of ways where the story could go if Andy chose to do it. Just sayin'.
Just run out and buy this book.
The storytelling method Weir uses to revel the current story, and the connected backstory, is very clever. He reveals things “just in time” by alternating back and forth to the main character’s recall of his forgotten past. This keeps the backstory hints closely connected to current story solutions. The “ah-ha” connections this creates for the reader are very satisfying. I found myself constantly assuming things about the character’s past which the character himself was assuming, to only later learn of a twist or new revelation about his assumptions. This made the story a fun walk along side the main character which felt very much like I was living it out with him in real-time. Project Hail Mary has a similar “problem/try again/find a solution” feel to The Martian. I really loved that about his first novel and loved it here too.
All the characters are terrific. I love the humor in some of the two main character’s interactions as they get more established and get to know each other better. The main alien character is wonderful! He’s definitely very non-human in appearance and thought patterns – very strange at first – but I started getting a feel and love for his character as the story progressed. I think readers will easily learn to understand his personality and reactions quickly and even empathize with him in spit of his very in-human appearance.
The action and pacing is great. There are more than a few times when I thought, “good, they’ve solved that problem” when another seemingly insurmountable problem comes up. In this way it is very much like the beats of The Martian. The fun is in seeing how the problems are resolved.
There are a few minor things here and there that I felt it were a little too TELLING – characters explaining things that maybe they would not really do in real life – but these are minor and few and far between.
There’s one thing (I won’t give any spoilers here) that I did feel were kinda… unresolved… or maybe I just missed it, but the tying up of promises/problems and answers/solutions is handled very well. The one thing I still wonder about is maybe not really in need of an answer.
Overall, I loved this book and think Andy Weir has hit a home run again. I’m not sure if this would translate as well into a movie like The Martian did, but it made for an excellent novel and a very fun read!
That being said, my emotional reaction to the book was far better. I loved the interactions of Grace and "Rocky" and didn't really want anything bad to happen to them--plausibility be darned. I made time while on my exercise bike to listen to the last 3% just because I really wanted to know what would happen. That's the mark of a good book, despite implausibility, despite a lot of science that goes over my head, and despite a character who talks like Ned Flanders for...reasons.
A special criticism is one that has been leveled at some of my books: Grace cries way too much. In my books it's usually a man who's turned into a woman or something like that causing a lot of emotional reactions. I don't know what Grace's deal is that he's always crying. And other than his academic background, we really don't know that much about him at all.
Anyway, if you want a description of the plot, think if you mixed Interstellar, Arrival, and Danny Boyle's Sunshine and wrote it in the style of The Martian. What resulted was better than it really should have been.
But you have to wonder if Weir is typecasting himself by doing another heroic, lovable lone survivor in space book. Time will tell, I suppose.
Top reviews from other countries
He has to work out why he’s there, and what he has to do, from scratch. And then work miracles. Or in the words of Mark Witney in the Martian, ‘science the s*** out of it’.
Written in a similar style to the Martian, with sections alternating between Ryland-on-Earth and Ryland -in-Space, it’s hard not to picture Matt Damon as Ryland, but though they share the same love of science trivia, and self-deprecating humour, they are very different.
There’s loads of geeky science as he McGyvers his way from one situation to another. Maybe a little too much if you’re not a science nerd or sci-fi fanatic but I loved it.
I loved the quirky characters of all the ‘supporting actors’ (This is so definitely going to be a film!), especially Rocky. Oh, Rocky! Just... read it, ok?
Project Hail Mary succeeds everywhere the Martian did before it, with a slick-ly executed plot, great prose, genuinely good humour and of course a tremendous amount of science. As a microbiologist, I perhaps enjoyed Project Hail Mary even more, and (avoiding spoilers) absolutely loved the attention to detail in the main conceit of the story, as well as the internal logic and experimental approaches used by the main character. So refreshing to see research written in this way, and so well!
The story itself is gripping from beginning to end, and reminded me a lot of Dennis. E. Taylor's 'Bobiverse' mixed with a bit of 'Arrival' for good measure. The narrative flips between the present day on the Hail Mary, and the events that lead up to Ryland Grace waking up alone and with no memory at the beginning of the book. I can honestly say the plot surprised me so many times, and I loved the way Grace develops as a character by the end of the novel. The central friendship between two characters in the story was a joy to read, and had me tearing up by the end! I spent the last third of the book on tenterhooks as the stakes continue to escalate, and really struggled not to read the whole thing in one go.
If you enjoy hard sci-fi or liked the Martian, you will definitely love this book. Even if you think you're not interested in a science-heavy story, I think the pacing and the optimism of the writing is more than enough to make this book a wonderful, exciting read. I will certainly be reading again soon - the biggest struggle now will be waiting to see what Andy Weir writes next!
The Martian was amazing. Artemis was awful, really, really, awful. This is somewhere in-between. It's trying really hard to be as good as The Martian but also feels like it's trying really hard to be something the author is unable to achieve on his own. It's clunky, cliché and just a little too much like it was written to get another movie deal.
‘It took me a long time to be established as ‘the cool’ teacher’.
‘Hey, I’m a science teacher, science teachers know stuff’.
‘The amount of times I want to slap parents for not teaching their kids the most basic things’
And on and on and on.
Other reviews talk about ‘the science’, almost intimidated by it, but all of this ‘science’ mentioned needs to be integral to building the strength of the story, not just continuous flappings about random facts and ‘math’ that Weir has researched and desperately tries to crowbar in at all costs to make the book come across as ‘smart’. Instead, why not try to develop the main character’s emotional depth a little? Because this character has almost none. There is no real contemplation or reflection over the solitude of him being in space alone in the first days of waking up from his amnesiac coma (pffff), the impact of waking up with his crew mates dead around him, the confusion of not knowing why he was there in the first place.
The Martian was story-driven. The main character was smart and tenacious, and the story was strong enough to support his witticisms and intelligence to make it plausible. You want the character to succeed. This character in Hail Mary could spiral out into space for all I cared.