Oh that’s a wonderful book. If your read and enjoyed The Martian , you’ll almost certainly love Project Hail Mary . The sense of humor mixed with scientific/engineering problem solving is the main strength in both. Great fun.
It’s got a wonderful sense of humor:
Ten-foot ladder. I think in imperial units. That’s a clue. I’m probably an American. Or English. Or maybe Canadian. Canadians use feet and inches for short distances. I ask myself: How far is it from L.A. to New York? My gut answer: 3,000 miles. A Canadian would have used kilometers. So I’m English or American. Or I’m from Liberia. I know Liberia uses imperial units but I don’t know my own name. That’s irritating.
And it’s chockfull of random SCIENCE:
Cool thing about pendulums: The time it takes for one to swing forward and backward—the period—won’t change, no matter how wide it swings. If it’s got a lot of energy, it’ll swing farther and faster, but the period will still be the same. This is what mechanical clocks take advantage of to keep time. That period ends up being driven by two things, and two things only: the length of the pendulum and gravity.
It only gets better from there.
I think the most ambitious part of the story is that the core of the story (outside of admittedly common) flashbacks is set with only a very very limited cast (read: 1 at first ) a long long way from any sort of help. It worked for the Martian, so let’s do it again! And it really works here.
What really shines to me though gets a bit into (what I consider minor) spoiler territory. Since it turns out: our main character isn't alone after all, there's a very alien alien out there with him, trying to solve the same problem . Which leads to even more humor and SCIENCE, even better than the first part.
And the best part yet: it’s positive. Absolutely terrible things are happening/do happen throughout the book, don’t get me wrong, but there’s always a feel of ‘we can fix this’, which I hadn’t realized how much I love in Sci Fi. Up through the very ending–I don’t know if I would have made the same choices, but it really works for the book.
Overall, one of my favorite books this year (if not ever). Makes me want to re-read The Martian!