Andy Weir, the author of the smash best-seller “The Martian” which became the even bigger hit movie starring Matt Damon as an astronaut marooned on Mars, has graciously released the first chapter of his upcoming novel. “Artemis,” on Read it forward. The initial reaction is that Weir has done it again if the rest of the book measures up to the quality of what is available. He is, without fear of contradiction, the Heinlein and Clarke of our age, rolled into one.

Jazz Bashara is a really appealing character

We find the main character, a dockside porter and part-time smuggler living on a lunar colony named Jazz very appealing.

In some ways, she is like Mark Whatney in her tendency to use sarcasm to deal with life’s travails. She is on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder of a community that caters to wealthy tourists and super-rich residents. She is calm under pressure and is not intimidated by being in the presence of the rich and powerful. She was also born in the future’s version of Saudi Arabia, but does not, at least in the chapter we have available, exhibit any signs of being a Muslim. Perhaps that detail will come later. In any event, she does not seem to be someone who would take to the Kingdom’s patriarchal culture very well.

Weir is paying attention to technology and science, as usual

Just as with “The Martian” the author pays close attention to the technology and science of living on the moon.

We learn about moving under one-sixth gravity, why moon dust has to be kept out of the colony, and why anything that involves fire, like cigars, is considered contraband in a place where everyone breathes pure oxygen. The rest of the novel will likely be a learning experience as well.

Pop culture references

The chapter has a couple of pop culture references.

One line, “The Moon is a Bitch,” is an obvious nod to the late, great Robert Heinlein who famously wrote about a moon colony back in the 1960s. Another reveals that one of the characters is a “Star Trek” fan. We’re pretty sure that the franchise is not still going strong a century or so from now. But, when Jazz snorts that “Star Trek” is so old, the fan sniffs that the classics are always great, and, besides, no one gives Shakespeare fans any grief.

The line is certain to send Harlan Ellison into a fit of one of his famous rages, for reasons that anyone who knows the writer of “City on the Edge of Forever” would know. In any case, the book and the movie that will be based on it cannot come soon enough.