Project Hail Mary

Rocky and Ryland by Laney

Quick question to ponder: What happens when our sun starts to dim? And that solar dimming is being caused by material, aptly named Astrophage, literally sucking the life out of it? And it’s happening at such a rate, Earth will find itself in an ice age and all the fun disaster that comes with it in less than two decades? What do we do? We can’t even get people to wear masks during a pandemic so this is a loaded question. But for the purposes of this post the answer is Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir.

Ryland Grace, a molecular biologist/junior high school teacher turned astronaut is our main protagonist. The story swaps from everything leading up to the launch of Project Hail Mary, to Grace’s experiences in a spacecraft charged with finding a solution to the impending disaster by traveling to a solar system unaffected by the Astrophage. Without giving anything else away, he makes amazing discoveries that make this into an adventure worth reading.

My recommendation is to listen to the audiobook. There is a lot of technical “stuff” that can seem overwhelming to understand if science fiction isn’t your thing. And even if it is your thing, voice actor Ray Porter does a great job narrating the confusing or mind numbing portions to help you grasp the science behind a decision made in Project Hail Mary.

I’d also say the reader should be prepared to understand that Ryland Grace is far from what any person could measure up to. He’s a genius, scientist, mechanic, teacher, linguist, and…everything else? His versatility allows the story move forward, but pushes the boundaries of what could be considered realistic. The things Ryland figures out would take a normal, even a genius human being, months or even years to figure out. That said, this was a fun book to get into.

One last thing: Ryland may be our hero, but the real star of the show is Rocky. I’ll say nothing more.

Rating: 4/5 Stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Dream Cast 🍿 🎥 :

Ryan Gosling is already attached to the movie for the role of Ryland Grace. I think he’s a great choice. I also thought Riz Ahmed would be a perfect.

Rocky: Ray Porter was a perfect Rocky

Eva Stratt: Tilda Swinton

Inspiration: ‘Whisper’ by Lynette Noni

Jane Doe aka 684 aka The Creator.

Science fiction in Sydney, Australia! Stranger Things crossed with The Fortress crossed with X-Men?

For two and a half years, Subject 684 — “Jane Doe” — has been locked underground in a secret government facility, enduring tests and torture. In that time, she hasn’t uttered a single word. Not even her real name. Jane chooses to remain silent rather than risk losing control over the power within her. She alone knows what havoc her words can cause. Then the authorities put her in the care of the mysterious Landon Ward, and Jane is surprised when he treats her like a person rather than a prisoner. Ward’s protective nature causes her resolve to crack in spite of her best efforts to resist. Just as Jane begins to trust him, though, a freak accident reveals the dangerous power she has concealed for years. It also reveals that the government has been keeping secrets of its own. Now Jane’s ability is at the heart of a sinister plot for vengeance, and she has to decide whom she will trust … and whom she will help.

Art inspired by ‘Under The Whispering Door’

The above are illustrations created by me based on TJ Klune’s latest novel Under The Whispering Door. Released on September 21, 2021.

Description of book:

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.

Inspired by the ‘Arc of the Scythe’ Series by Neal Shusterman

Who knew death could be so much fun? What a creative and unique world Neal Shusterman invented for us through his Arc of the Scythe series. I ate this post-mortality concept up. How did he do this? I’ve read a lot of dystopian literature, and I think this one might be my favorite. It gave me the same feeling that The Hunger Games did, in that I was transported into a world far from where we find ourselves now. This reminded me why books are magic. In a year where we are inside all the time because of a deadly pandemic, you will feel far from quarantined once you enter the world of the Scythedom.

The breakdown: What would happen if we became so technologically advanced that disease and death were eradicated? Where if we were hit by a car and rendered “deadish” we could be sent to a “revival station” and be brought back to life? Wanna look younger? That can happen, too. The one problem: How would we control the population? Shusterman gives us the answer with his creation of the “Scythedom”: a superior and respected group of people who kill others in order to prevent overpopulation.

At the center of this amazing series are two teenagers, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, who undergo training as apprentices to Honorable Scythe Faraday (I loved Faraday so hard). Each youth struggle with the “art of killing”, and eventually become extremely important to the future of not only the Scythedom, but to life on Earth as we know it.

Technology is also the star of the show. An advanced computer system known as the “Thunderhead” controls society. Who is preventing plane crashes, sinking ships, and terrorist attacks? The Thunderhead, that’s who. Yep, and it’s watching when you accidentally electrocute yourself and need to be brought to a revival station? The Thunderhead sends reinforcements to bring your fried ass back to life. The Thunderhead is a form of AI that does not make mistakes or have regrets, and serves the population in life, while the Scythedom serves us through permanent death. It operates separate and apart from the Scythedom. In the second and third books, we see how this AI tries to save humanity from itself after the Scythedom goes rogue. And how it’s inability to interfere with the Scythedom complicates matters. What a testament to show that even without disease and death from violence, the same things lead us to hurt one another: greed, power, jealousy, and groupthink.

I loved these characters, even the horrible ones. I also liked to imagine what life would be like if this were real. Would I be a Scythe? Hell no. Would I enjoy getting the 18 year old version of my ass back every few years? Hell yes.

As an aside, I loved the words and concepts Shusterman created. Examples: “Gleaning” (permanent killing), “MidMerica”, “Tonists”, “Revival Stations”. It goes on. The names he gave the Scythes, too. So much fun.

The Arc of the Scythe series is worth your time. Read (or listen) to all three books. If you choose to listen to the audiobooks, you won’t regret it: Greg Tremblay does a fantastic job bringing each character to life.

Dream Cast:

Scythe Faraday: Liam Neeson

Scythe Curie: Viola Davis

Citra aka Scythe Anastasia: Jenna Ortega

Rowan aka Scythe Lucifer: Alex Lawther

Scythe Goddard: Mads Mikkselson

Scythe Rand: Lucy Liu

Greyson Tolliver: Levi Miller

Jericho: Jade Hassouné

Monira: Selena Gomez

Thunderhead: Morgan Freeman