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SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Andy Weir flops into a plush chair, pulls a lever to recline and throws his arms out wide as if to embrace his recently purchased home on a Silicon Valley cul-de-sac.
“Martian money!” says a beaming Weir, 45, whose self-published 2011 book The Martian eventually sold 5 million English-language copies and spawned a 2015 Ridley Scott movie starring Matt Damon that has earned more than $600 million worldwide.
“The apartment I rented before gave me a sweetheart deal because I used to do the maintenance, but now I live in this house, which is pretty cool,” he says. “You could say my life has changed dramatically.”
And things could well change some more for the onetime software engineer turned full-time writer. If The Martian was his runaway version 1.0 hit, it remains to be seen if his 2.0 offering vaults him into a new income bracket or pegs him as a one-hit wonder.
Weir’s new novel, Artemis, out Tuesday, again takes to space to anchor a story that features another inventive protagonist, this time a Saudi-born woman who makes ends meet as a smuggler.
Instead of Mars — where Damon’s marooned astronaut character had to find ways to science his way off the barren planet — the setting now is the moon and the vacation resort of Artemis that is home to both rich tourists and a squalid underworld.
One scientific leap
As with The Martian, Weir says Artemis is not only heavily researched but also based on technology that exists today. With one notable exception.
The price of shipping heavy things to the moon such as nuclear reactors — critical to turning the natural ore on the moon into the metal used to build the novel’s spherical habitats — is prohibitive right now. If that plummeted, Artemis the resort could be a reality, he says.
The Martian New Year comes every 22 months or so, when spring arrives on the red planet.
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“Artemis is built on the conceit that the price…