Andy Weir: "Artemis" | Talks at Google
Hi. Everyone welcome, to the talks at Google here in the Kirkland campus thank, you all for coming out today, today. We've got a really exciting author here to talk to you we, have Andy weir author of the Martian here to talk about his new book Artemis. Thank. You huh. Wow. This. Is my first trip to the Pacific Northwest I've literally never been up here before in, my life I I live, in Northern California I, live in Sunnyvale, so not too far from the Googleplex. But, yeah, so basically I'll talk about my, extremely. Unlikely, and bizarre trip, to success. Basically. I, always wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little kid I think the first thing I ever wrote was a Henry Higgins fan fiction the. Beverly cleary books, children's, books I think, I was eight it. Lacked depth but. But. I you know I had fun with it and growing. Up I had my dad's inexhaustible. Science fiction collection to work with he. Had a bookshelf. That's about six, feet tall three feet wide and a foot deep and it was jam-packed, full of old sci-fi books, that he'd collected over his life so, strangely I grew, up reading kind, of baby boomer era sci-fi, despite, being Gen X I'm 45, but, I was reading books that came out in the 50s 60s and 70s and. Which is interesting because you know I'd, be like halfway through a book and then there'd be this glossy, ad for Kent cigarettes. So. It looks like my, dad also had this cool map, of the moon but it only showed the nearside I'm like well why doesn't it show the. Far side of the Moon he's like check the date and the date on the map was printed was 1959. So that, was at the time they printed that map that's literally all they knew about the moon like. Weird, huh. So. For. Me when I was growing up my Holy. Trinity of authors, was. Asimov. Heinlein, and Clarke those, are the guys that I it so I ended up it's weirdly, being one generation, off and a, lot of that stuff doesn't. Stand, up to well to. Modern morals especially. With like the, role of women in, space travel and stuff like that but a lot of it does the hard sci-fi aspects. Of it like the actually paying attention to. The details of orbital. Mechanics or, the complicated, of the complexities, of living, in space or the effects on the human body of long-term zero-g, habitation, like, they did a lot of really good work on that so, that those were inspirations, for me anyway. When. I was 15, years old I got hired to work for Sandia. National Labs, in Livermore which is where I was growing up Livermore California it's. About 30 miles east of San Francisco, if you don't mind swimming directly across the bay and. That. Makes me sound like I was some sort of genius child that uh National, Lab is hiring him at 15 no it was it was like a community. Program where they hired local teenagers, to clean test tubes you know that sort of thing but, the lab I ended up in they're like well we don't really need a gofer but what we do need is some. Method of analyzing, large. Data sets. Basically, what they needed was Microsoft. Excel but it didn't exist yet so. They said all right well we, have our data sets in these files. There's. A computer here's a book on how to program computers work, that out and then come back to us and we'll tell you some software we want you to write thus, began a 25-year.
Career As a software engineer for me. When. It came time to go to college I you. Know I'd always wanted to be a writer and so I considered going into you know being a litter but. I also decided, that I really, really, liked eating, regular, meals. So. I, I. Went into CSE, Computer Science & Engineering for, those of you here at Google who don't know what that stands for. And, that, was a, fight, I went, to college for four years and then, like. Many in my generation promptly. Ran out of money and I, didn't finish college because. My options at that time now at, this point it's about 1994. My. Options at this point we're either finished. College and go deeply into debt or, go. Into the now, now. Developer. Hungry tech industry, and get paid but. Back then in 94 I mean the tech industry is just starting, to blossom and it, was like if, they figured if you were clever enough to open the door you were clever enough to work for them I mean it was really easy to get a job back then and so, I'm like okay so I entered the workforce and. Mmm. Let's see I worked, for a bunch of places in 1995. I worked for Blizzard I was one of the programmers on Warcraft, 2 that's. That's, a long time ago. Very, very, very long time ago. And, if, you're curious working, at Blizzard was a miserable experience. It. Was back before kind, of some, of the unwritten rules of the engineering industry came into play that was back when oh if you're a software engineer if you're awake you're at work, like. Basically. I remember, when, I was there I had to tell. People weeks. In weeks, and weeks in advance that, I was going to take a Saturday, in a Sunday off to go hang out with my friends and even, then they called me about 20 times during that weekend with questions and I was not a senior engineer I was an tree-level I was like a low, man on the totem pole, so it's not like I was like super, important, and they couldn't do things without me that was just the the, atmosphere, of engineering. At the time was very different than it is now, so. Anyway I ended, up staying in the engineering industry and then in 1999. I was, working, for America, Online, yes. And, I. Got laid off along. With 800, of my closest friends when they merged with Netscape, she, kind of shows you gives. You a time reference they're the. Macarena was popular. And. So. I, ended. Up with a fair, amount of money and stock options because, I hadn't, been paying attention to them because I'm an engineer we don't pay attention to anything and I. Like. Oh I've got enough money where I can actually live for a few years without going back, into the workforce so, I'm gonna take a sabbatical which, is a fancy word for staying, unemployed, for a long time and, I'm.
Gonna Write a book I'm gonna break into the publishing industry it's what I've always wanted to do so. I took three years off I wrote a book that, book is not the Martian you've never heard of it it didn't get published. Standard. A standard tale, of woe that every author will tell you you know I couldn't. Get an agent couldn't. Get any publishers, interested, just couldn't get any traction and, that was actually the second book I wrote the first book I wrote was, when I was in college and that was really bad. That. One that one I don't let anyone see I. Think, I wrote it in WordPerfect and. That. There were no surviving. Copies, well there's one my mother has it and, she. Won't tell me where it is. So. There is I suppose some evidence, remaining. But other, than that the second book was actually decent. But I still had a lot to learn about writing, and so it's painful to read the plot flow is pretty good if, I rewrote it from scratch it might be good but anyway. Like. I said standard, tale of woe after three years of not being able to get an agent not being able to get a publisher, interested, just not being able to get any traction at all I went back into the tech industry and this, was not some sad Charlie, Brown music, hang your head shuffle, forward I like programming I like being, a software engineer it's a job I enjoy it's one I always found rewarding, I'm pretty good at it and so, I was I was like okay this, is not a bad thing it's like I, took. Those I took that time off I followed my dream I never have to wonder what might have been now, I've done it now I can move on with life and get back into programming which I enjoy so. Then, I around. This time though as this newfangled internet, thing was starting to get popular and I. Realized oh I can I can just write, as a hobby and I can post things online and I, can I can, people can read it why, not so. I started doing that I made a website and I posted, short. Stories and web comics, and serial fiction and. I did that for like ten years and very slowly, built. Up a a, mailing. List of about 3,000, people now, that sounds like a lot but 10 years is also a lot so this isn't some fantastic, performance, here you know and. It was my hobby. Around. 2009. I was, I. I. Started, one, of three, serials, that I had going on on my site at the same time I started writing the Martian and it was just another, serial, the, idea of the Martian came about because I was sitting around one day thinking, how could we do a manned mission to Mars I'm. Gonna work out the details of that not for a fiction story enough for anything just how would we do it how do we get the astronauts, there how do we keep them alive when they're there how do we get them back what. Do we do if this thing breaks what do we do if that thing's breaks what what if these two things both break how, do we build redundancy, into the mission such that the people don't just die at the first sign of trouble and I'm like well what if all these things break what if all these things go wrong and the, kind of increasingly, desperate things, that the crew would have to do to stay alive I was, like oh this might make an interesting story so. I created. An unfortunate, protagonist, and subjected, him to all of them. For. I am a small petty little god. So. Anyway I, started, writing that as a serial and it was doing really well you know I get a lot of feedback from my readers and science. And math Corrections, from my readers because, my readers are all dorks like me and there's, nothing to dork likes doing, better than double-checking, the math in a fictional story. Dear, sir. I noticed. On page 14, yeah. But, that, was great because it was like unintentional. Crowdsourced fat checking, and it was fantastic it, helped it helped me make the Martian accurate and while I was writing it accuracy, was really important to me because I'm a science, dork and I, love, scientific.
Accuracy. Well. But it's you know it's actually it's not a requirement, for me what, is a requirement, for me to enjoy a science, fiction or even fantasy story is, consistency. If, you set up the rules of the universe I want you to follow the rules of the universe that you set up you, got a spaceship that can go warp 9 no, problem you can go way faster than light no problem, those are the rules of the universe you set up but, then later on and there's an episode of Star Trek classic, Trek where they got to go from Mercury to earth and it takes a while I'm like no, Mercury's. Eight light, minutes away, from Earth if, you. Can go warp 9 it's not going to take a while, dear. Sirs. So. For, me it's all about consistency, and I've found that the easiest way, to be consistent, is just to follow all the laws of physics in the first place because physics, is very good at being consistent. Rather. Aggressively. So. So. I did a bunch of research and I made sure all the science was accurate or as accurate as I could make it I did, make a few concessions. For. Starters it's. Now rather famous, the sandstorm, at the beginning that causes. All the problems in the Martian could, not actually happen on Mars. They do get sandstorms, of a hundred and fifty kilometres an hour but, the. Density. Of the atmosphere is, less than 1% of Earth's so, if you were standing out in a sandstorm, on Mars it, would feel like a very gentle, breeze it. Would have a difficult time knocking over just a folded, piece of paper let. Alone a 27, ton spacecraft, and I knew that that that when I was writing it that that was bullshit I knew it but. I'm like I had. Another idea for, a beginning I considered, oh they're gonna do an M a V engine test and then there's like something goes wrong and then they have to launch it's, kind of like Space Camp where they have a thermal curtain failure or something like that I don't know but, I could have come up with some some. Some. Equipment, failure that caused the problem rather than a natural event but, it's a but it's a it's a it's a survival, story it's a you know person versus nature story and I wanted nature to get the first punch in so, I just said I'm gonna be inaccurate, on this most, people don't know this anyway it's, not really an effect anything so, yeah, and then later the book got really popular got made into a movie and now everybody, knows that that's really unrealistic.
So. I kind, of shot myself in the foot there, but that's okay I'll, take it, let's. See other things other. Things in the book are inaccurate, because. Because. They became, inaccurate. After I wrote them so I wrote the Martian it was already in the production pipeline, and. Only. When it was actually at the printers at Random House where, they did. JPL land curiosity. On Mars and, you. Know in the Martian he's like oh there's at the time I wrote it it was believed that Mars was like almost completely, arid, that there would be no water available except maybe a little bit at the poles and then, so, in the story Mark has to you know do chemical, reduction of hydrazine delivery at the hydrogen then collect carbon, dioxide from the Martian APUs atmosphere, separate out the carbon now he's got the hydrogen, and the oxygen and, he carefully puts them together and accidentally, blows himself up a little bit but then we, have water yeah, and he can grow his crops so. Then curiosity, landed on Mars and took one scoop and what there's a shitload of water in this soil. Turns. Out for every cubic meter, of Martian, regolith there, is about 35, litres of water in it so. If you filled your refrigerator, with Martian soil and then pulled. The pulled, all the water out of it you'd have 35 two-liter bottles full, of water so, all you had to do was heat up some dirt. But. That's not my fault. And. Because. That was that was the prevailing knowledge at the time I wrote the book however I will, say that curiosity, is is, running, around in, Gale Crater right, now at the base of Mount sharp which is on the other side of the planet from acid ellie upon isha which, is where mark Watney was and so I can. Just say that just, as Earth has various, different tropical and. Biological. Zones I can, claim that Mars does as well so, I can say that acid alia Planitia is a desert no one can prove me wrong till they send a probe. They. Also almost, landed. Curiosity. Right, in Mars Valles, they. That was they had when they narrowed, down curiosity's. Landing site, to one of four spots one. Of the four finalists, was Martha Ellis they eventually chose Gale.
Crater And where, it is now but Martha. Ellis was one of the things, and I'm like oh god please don't land it in Martha Ellis because, mark goes right through marvelous. I would, have to explain why he went around curiosity. And continued, on his like isolated. Quest. Fortunately. They didn't, anyway. Going back to where I was I was writing the, Martian as a cereal and it came out you know I post, a new chapter maybe once. Every six, to eight weeks and I get a lot of feedback from my readers and I could tell that was the cereal they liked the most and. Being. The you know external, validation junkie. That I am that encouraged me to write more of the Martian more quickly. Eventually. I finished it and I. Posted the last chapter and said like hey everybody I hope you enjoyed the Martian I'm just gonna continue. Working on my other cereals, or whatever and then. I start to get email from folks they'd say like hey Andy I, love, the Martian but, I hate your website which. Is fair. If. You've ever been to my website like I made it all by myself. And it's, just like a white background with blue hyperlinks, that are left justified, literally that's it and it's like you click a chapter and it's like here it is wall of text enjoy, this, like nothing, you know it's like no no. No dick whore no nothing it's really an unpleasant, experience and so. They said like so. I don't really like reading it in a web page can you can, you make an, e-reader, version can. You just, do that and so I'm like sure so I figured out how to do that and I made an ePub and a mobi version and I posted them on the on my website and I'm like there you go folks you, can, you. Know you can read it in the website or you can download, an e-reader version knock, yourself out okay. So. Then I got other email from people saying like hey Andy. I love the Martian hate your site. I'm. Not very technically savvy and, I don't know how to download a thing from the internet and put it on my e-reader can. You just post it to Amazon, can. You just put it up so that I can get it through Kindles, stuff, and then, then I then I can do that I'm like okay, so, I figured out how to do that isn't that hard put, it up on Kindle direct publishing, but. They do make you charge. You can't give things away for free Amazon, actually loses money on every Kindle they sell they make their money off of the book. Sales the, e-book sales so they don't want people giving away content for free you're not allowed to so. I set, the price to a minimum ninety-nine the minimum of $0.99, which earned me a cool 30, cents a copy I'll have you know. And, then. I I posted, it to, posted. It to Kindle and then. Nothing, happens for about 48, hours amazon. Would have a human has a human-like, scan, through what. You post real quickly just make sure it's not a bunch of goat porn or something and well. Don't judge you know, but. Then. When they're done then. When. They're done just making sure it's correctly, categorized, if it does I put goat born then, they then. They'll post it up there for sale and so, then I'm like okay everybody now you can read the Martian for free on my website or you. Can download, the e-reader, and side load it onto your Kindle or you, can pay Amazon a buck to put it on your Kindle for you and people.
Paid The buck it's, just like I guess, first, off $0.99, is not a lot of money and second. Off it's just people are much. More willing to part with $0.99. Than they are to figure out how to sideload things onto a Kindle. So. It, started selling well I got, around good word of mouth, people. Start giving it really good reviews, and started, climbing up and do the best sellers of science fiction and then the best sellers on all Kindle, and then, that. Started to get the attention of the. Big shots in New York in the publishing industry and I got an email from, a guy named, David Fugate, who said like hey do. You have an agent and, I'm like no I don't I was never able to find one he's like I'm an agent you want one. I'm. Like sure, and then. I got contacted, by penguin Random House saying like hey we're interested in maybe doing a print edition of your book and I'm like talk to my agent. So. Everything, went backwards, for me I mean usually an author has to work his ass off to get those things and then, I have them coming and knocking on my door and those, two started negotiating, you know my agent and Random House start negotiating, the deal for the print edition, and, because, I can see from the publishers point of view it's like well this is a proven seller we. Don't we're not taking a risk on a new author we've we see, that this is going to sell so. It, was it was a safe bet for them um. Then 20th. Century Fox came and said we'd like to film rights and I'm like go. Talk. To my agent, and my agent said talk to my colleague, who, is a film agent specialist, so, now I've got people. And. They're and they're all working on this and so the, you know my, literary agent is, talking to Random House about my book deal my, film agent is talking, to, Fox, about the movie deal and I, am, sitting, in my cubicle at work fixing, books because. That's what I still do for a living at this point I mean my cubicle fixing bugs running off to take a call, about my movie deal then back to fixing those very. Surreal. Experience and. Those two deals came together four, days apart. Yes. Everyone. Told me don't get excited about the movie deal you. Know the, movie studio is common option, pretty much any book that they think it's gonna do well they're. Probably never gonna make a movie don't worry about. So. Anyway. The book we. Went through an editing process that, was fairly simple wasn't that complicated. Got, through all the edits the editor was really cool it was a neat process although.
Kind Of frustrating at the time but. Most, of the most. Of the editing notes are like okay you you can't, just have a conversation you can't just have a scene be nothing but a conversation, you've got to tell me where they are you've. Gotta tell me are they in a meeting room are they walking down a hall what give me some context, so, just kind of rookie writing, errors here and there but. Got. It got it cleaned. Up a bit and then then. It went off to print and then I had to wait a year which. Is just the. Publishing industry it, just, moves like snail. Snot in September, it's just painfully. Slow and then. But. Then it eventually came out during. This time the film industry is like yeah Martian whatever yeah, we, have we have the film. Option if we care which we don't. So. Anyway the book came out and it, sold really well it got it climbed up the BET in New York Times bestseller, list it, we'd started doing, really really well getting, a lot of press and a lot of attention that made them the film industry start to pay more attention as well they. Got the, lovely, and talented Drew, Goddard in. Who's. A veteran. Hollywood. Writer, and director he, he, directed cabin in the woods he, wrote chunks, of Cloverfield, he wrote he was one of the staff writers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He's, a kind, of in Joss Whedon's, orbit partially. Ends, up working on a lot of stuff that for. Those of you who saw dr. Horrible's sing-along blog, he. Was one, of the evil League of Evil evil, members he was fake Thomas Jefferson, so. Yeah. That. I told him was what I considered his, true, seminal role and he he. Agreed. But. Yeah, so he wrote, he. Wrote a fantastic screenplay. For. The Martian and he was set to direct it to he was gonna direct and you. Know, everything, is subject, to getting, green lighted by the studio but you basically the way things work is they kind of work on a movie half-assedly. Until the studio says like okay we're doing this here's, a big pile of money actually make it happen so. He wrote the screenplay he, was going to direct it and then, they, were also ship shipping, the screenplay, out to. You know big-name actors, to, be the lead because, the. Studio said like look this is such a one-man. Show like the Martian is so heavily, focused, on one character that, we. Need a big-name to, be that guy there's, no way we can do this unless we have a big-name actor, in that spot so they sent him out to like these a list actors and Matt, Damon said like yeah, that sounds cool I'll play that role and so he was like okay fantastic.
And Then Drew Goddard left the project because he had to go because. He had been offered the director's chair for, the next spider-man movie, by Sony so, now we went from having a director and nose start having a star and no director, and so. The studio said like alright well we're looking for a director and Ridley Scott said I'll direct and they're like okay. So. Then they had like Ridley, Scott and Matt Damon attached, and that that's when they really started to take it seriously all these other major major, names started, taking, an interest in the project, we got an unbelievable, fantastic. Cast and at some point in there there's never like a point where they're just like this movie is green-lighted, it's just you, keep edging, toward, it there's no point where you realize that you pop the champagne there's, just a point where you realize oh yeah. They apparently made this decision a few weeks ago that we're doing this because eventually one day they're like oh you know they're building sets now oh my, god it's, good that's good and then it's like okay but. When, it's really kind of officially. In progress, is when they start shooting because. Once they start shooting all the contracts, activate, so, once they shoot that first scene they're on the hook to pay the actors for. All their for, all their through the whole project and stuff at, that point they're pretty much committed and so finally I was just waiting on the phone for, them, to tell me that they shot that first scene and they did I was like. They. Shot the whole film in boot, all. The studio, work in Budapest. Hungary at the, at this huge, huge, sound stage called Cormac Orbis studios it's, in Budapest, and it's like one of the biggest sound. Stages, in the world a lot, of the shots that you probably, thought, were done outdoors were. Indoors, so the whole hab the. Exterior, of the hab and the surrounding, area, was all inside, of a studio is, really. Incredible, and Ridley. Is such a fan, of practical. Effects that like a lot, of that stuff that you think is CGI isn't. So. Like the astronauts, like, walking through the sandstorm, and stumbling, around and, stuff like that they were stumbling, around because, they, had these huge freaking. Fans pointed, at them blowing sand in their faces. And. The only reason they could breathe was because they were in spacesuits. Which. Is kind, of cool and everyone in the cast and crew had these breather masks, and goggles on, and all the cameras had to have all these baggies, all over them to keep them protected from the sand, that's how Ridley rolls. So. Anyway yeah. You kind of know the rest the movie came out it was a huge success oh they. Shot they shot the location. Work. In desert. Called wadi rum in Jordan northern, Jordan and so, those, exterior, --zz those. Aren't those, mostly, are not CGI, those are just that, that's. What wadi rum jordan looks, like it's. Awesome they did they did CGI, the sky to make it red like Mars is supposed to be and get rid of the clouds and stuff and and they, add, a few. Like, kind of craggy mountains in the background but for the most part it was just straight-up shooting. And Wadi Rum. I. Did. Not go to the set they invited, me to go I'm afraid of flying and I didn't want to go to do Budapest so.
How'd I get here I flew my, buddy valium valium. Is my friend I popped. Valium like Pez now to do these freaking, book tours. I've. Been all over the country only, the most will traveled, you know Avia phobes you'll ever meet. But. Yeah. So I. Did, get to meet all the famous people though at the premiere I got to go to the premiere and so, I got to meet Matt Damon. Scott. Scott Chastain it was really cool and you, kind of you fantasize. About these things but you never really think they're gonna come true and it, just seems like now. It just seems like a dream like it was some weird thing, I daydreamed. About and then, just. Kind of then it passed you know though the movie finished. It left theaters the Martian went, back down to like, nominal, sales, and the in the great hockey stick that his book state sales and then. Everything, kind of returned to normalcy and it. Was like did that even happen, and according. To my bank account yeah it really happened, so. Then, of course the publisher is like alright great good job what's, next I'm, like mmm. And they're like yeah so, write, another book I'm, like oh yeah. No definitely not a case for me to get really nervous and suffer through a. Year, of imposter syndrome and. Yeah. There's. A saying in the writing world which is given, man a book and you entertain, him for a night teach. A man to write and you give him crippling self-doubt for life. And. So. I spent a year working. On another, book and this one was called Jack it, wasn't Artemis this was called jack zhe, k and i got seventy thousand words into it over the course of a year for, reference the Martian is a hundred and five thousand, where it's long so about like three-quarters, of about two-thirds. And. At, about the seventy thousand word mark I was like oh this. Sucks, I mean. I was like I can't it's, fighting me it, wasn't fun to read it wasn't fun to think about it with the pots weren't, coming together right the characters were not interesting, and and, and, it broke my cardinal rule which, is if you're, writing you should always write a book that you yourself, would enjoy reading and I'm, like I would have put this book down fifty pages ago and never, picked it up again and I could not figure out how to fix it so I went to the publisher and I'd been kind of in the back of my mind thinking of Artemis how this how the city, would work I didn't have characters, or story or plot but, I was like what. What will humanity's. First city in the same way with the Martian I you know it started out with, me daydreaming, about how to do a manned mission to Mars well, Artemis I was like how does humanity build its first city on the, moon and I, thought about all the details of how to get there how. You build your city you'd need nuclear reactors, because you need to smelt a North eight and our site is a mineral that's extremely common on the moon and it gives you a lumen amande oxygen. When. You when you break it apart so, it gives you aluminum to build your moon, city and oxygen, to fill it it's like the moon is just saying. Kemah colonize. Me you, know you want it, and. So, I was working on all that stuff kind, of when, I should have been working on Jack and it was way more interesting, to me and I'm I called. The publisher and I'd been feeding them chapters, you know of Jack, and I called, him up and they said look look I I, want. To hit the big red reset, button I want to put. Jack on a back burner and I want to work on a completely different story and I want you to add a year to the deadline if. That's, okay and they, said yeah sure way. More quickly than, I feel was comfortable. They. Wholeheartedly agreed. That Jack, should be put on a back burner and that I should work on literally anything else. So. I feel like it was really a good decision, and. So, that's what I did I put Jack on a back burner then turned off the back burner and then, I worked. On Artemis. So. For her diamonds like I said I started I I defined, the entire city. In, advance, I worked out first. Thing I to do is work out its economy I'm like okay why build a city on the moon what, what are you doing what why, the hell would anybody move to the moon cities. Don't get built just because it's awesome cities get built for economic, reasons so, what is what is the economy of Artemis, why does it exist and you.
Go Through the standard science fiction tropes and they they don't really fit you're like oh well because we needed to mine the moon it's like well then send robots nobody. Cares if your robot dies people do care if uncle Hank dies right, so, send robots or well, the, earth is overpopulated, then, colonize, the ocean any, part of this planet is easier to colonize than any part of the moon I guarantee you it's like oh there's. Political, oppression, well, if you can get to the moon if you can afford to build a city on the moon you're, not the oppressed and. And. So on all these ideas like oh the environment, of Earth is I'll fuck you it, is so much easier whatever. Our problems may be on earth however bad the environment, gets it's always gonna be easier to fix the environment than it is to colonize, another planet. If. Nothing else you could colonize earth right, I mean you could literally just whatever you're gonna make on on the moon make it on earth right. So. I decided. The only plausible, explanation, for Artemis's, economy would be tourism, because. Tourism is by definition humans, being somewhere so. I said how do you get a tourist economy on the moon well the only explanation, is that the price to low-earth orbit, has been driven down by, competition. In the commercial space industry and I. So I did this whole economic analysis, there's a three thousand, word essay I wrote that Business Insider has you can find it on their website if you like about. What, I think the price to low-earth orbit, could get driven down to if, the, commercial space industry got. As efficient, as the commercial airline industry, and. I define efficient, as being they, spend the same percentage of their revenue, on fuel as the commercial airline industry, and I. Also assume that technical, that a profit hungry industry would solve all the technical and. Engineering challenges. Of making you, know the reusable rockets making, full use of the specific, impulse the hydrogen oxygen fuel and all the other fun stuff that's, going on in the space industry right now all the other unsolved, questions and I. Came up with it actually doesn't, cost that much it, would end up if, it if it followed the model of the airline industry it would end up costing you about seven thousand bucks to put a human into low-earth orbit, about. Thirty five bucks per kilogram, which, is about 1/100. Of what it costs right now by the way so huge. Room for improvement. Of. Course this is amateur.
Hour. Economics. But I'm not you know an entire country, isn't going to go into a decade-long recession if, I'm wrong I'm just trying to make the basis of a fiction story. But. With that you have an opportunity, for the middle class to. Afford vacations, to the moon it's, a lot it's, not it's, not casual grand, total I worked out that in twenty fifteen dollars which is when I did the math. You. Could take a lunar vacation, you could go there spend. Two weeks there then come back and. It would cost you about seventy, thousand dollars in twenty fifteen dollars now. That's a lot of money but, a lot of people would get a second mortgage on their house if it meant they could go to the moon for two weeks I think and so. That's. The economy, of artemus and it wasn't until I work. Out the entire city I'm like okay that's the economy to, build it you need to smelt anorthite, which is a mineral that's found all over the place in the lunar Highlands a, smelting. Anorthite takes a ludicrously, huge amount of energy so, you have to have nuclear reactors it's. Give, up on doing this with solar power you would need to ship so, many solar panels, to the moon to power an. Aluminium smelting facility, that it would be cheaper to ship the, city to the moon. And. Ok. So now I know I need nuclear, reactors, and I'm, gonna want to, protect the people inside from radiation and and. Whole punctures, so Artemis's. Holes are 6 centimeters of aluminum followed by a meter of crushed, lunar regolith. Followed, by another 6 centimeters, of aluminium and that's, mainly to protect artemis, from the people who live inside because. Some idiot with a rivet gun can pop your hull well, he. Can only pop one of them. Anyway. So once I only once I design the entire city did I start thinking. About plots and stories and I went through a whole bunch of revisions, before I finally landed on the one that that. I have there so. And now. It's just released and I just found out it's gonna be I think number six on the New York Times bestseller, list this upcoming week this. Is when you class. Okay. So. That's kind of the end of my kind of prepared bit I'll take questions until, about 1:45. Or so so, you described, the whole process of, you know. It. Was happening, at. What point did you say okay. Now I can quit my day job, yeah. Well. That's a good question so at the time I was working for a company called MobileIron, and we. Did like I mean I could tell you what we do but it would put you to sleep but basically. B2b. Mobile, phone security stuff but, I really liked my job so I actually hung on to my day job a lot longer than I needed to the, Martian was already out in bookstores. On. The New York Times bestseller list before I finally quit, my day job to go full-time on writing because, I I liked it I liked, being a programmer and that's one of the biggest things I miss about being. An engineer as being part of a team I miss, an Auton, office, atmosphere I'm, an extroverted, guy I like to come. Into work in the morning say hey how you doing hey let's, get some coffee hey how's your dog he was sick is he better you know just. That, part, of life and that social experience of, being part of a team and we're all working together on a project that's. Gone now I'm, just by myself in, my office I mean it's not I'm not in a little, basement with a flickering, fluorescent, light I live with my girlfriend and stuff like that but it's, it's still I miss having that, kind.
Of You, know work-life social. Group and it's it's gone now and so I didn't, want to let that go and so I hung on to the job way beyond where I needed it to make money I was just hanging. On. But. I did finally leave I mean in about. Two. Months after the book came out, because. I needed to work full-time on well, at the time Jack because. I had signed a deal with Random House so. That was my job now uh. About. A year ago Sam, Ramsay, Jordan, yes. Ramsay. As a VP which makes him my boss's, boss and he sent me with a question ran boss yes exactly right. He sent me the question he wants to know if you polished, his dice oh yes absolutely. So Sam Ramsay and I and what. Is Sam Ramsay was one of my closest friends he, and, he, was one of my college, buddies. And we've been together we've been buddies ever since. He. Was he was our GM, when we played D&D and, so. One time he went away for. Like a couple of weeks and he. He, had he, we we. Were really into this D&D campaign he's a fantastic, GM, he's best GM I've ever had and we, were really, into this campaign and we didn't want to stop playing, but he he was going like the Netherlands for a couple of weeks when we were in college and so. He he. Basically, he, had his friend Aaron. To. Be the GM for, us and. So we. All played, with Aaron as the GM and Aaron was a terrible, GM it, was just as confrontational, like, actively, wanting to kill the players kind of thing and so, he. Was just terrible we had a terrible time with him and so we when he came back when Sam came back we were making all these jokes like hey we polished your dice for you. So. That's that's what he's talking about so he actually, he. Also said that you had 90%, of, his embarrassing, stories, and, reviews. Are coming up and I was curious if you'd like to share any of them oh. Boy. Yeah. Well I could really do some damage I. Think. I shouldn't. Just. Uh just. At. Some point, tell him Schrodinger, you must be kidding, you'll. Know. So. You, said that you really agent Lee check, and decided, it's not good but usually. It's really hard for people to look critically at their own work and so, what, was the process how. You. Were able to make this decision by yourself. Well. It turns out I'm very good at self doubt. Arrogance. And overconfidence. I don't think anyone will accuse me of those traits so. If. Anything I'm usually way too critical, on my work and kind, of like frozen in analysis paralysis without, being able to kind of move forward. It's. Hard I guess, it's just you put yourself in a mindset of okay. Clear your mind and pretend I never read this this, make believe that this is brand-new material to me and I, read it and that's how I try to analyze the book and one. Of the tricks I do is I when, I'm when, I'm reading my own work as I say like I want to imagine that it's 2:00 in the morning and I'm. Like laying in bed reading a bit before I go to sleep and I'm. Like at, what point do I put the book down for the night like what point do I go like okay I'm tired I got to sleep this, getting a little slow now so I'm gonna put it down if. That's the point where I put it down why is it in the book I want. To keep you bastards up all night. So. If, there's like a long bit of exposition, I'm like no no, no no, no. Nappy for you, so. I may. Use parts of Jack at some, point in the future I may harvest, like, there, are certain plot elements, that were actually, really clever I feel that, are really useable and there was one character Sheen just one but one character in there that's really cool and I would love to use her in another story so I probably will, side. Side, story last, night I was at an event in Bellingham oh sorry Bellingham, and.
For. Some reason like, when. Talking to the audience the, metaphor. For Jack being my baby it's, like oh you had to give up on your baby it's been so hard everything like that and like we're really gonna want to give up on the baby metaphor, here because. The next thing I have to tell you is I might use Jack for parts. Also. I aborted jack about 3/4. Anyway. Everything. Did. They do anything in the movie that you found particularly, annoying, or, did. They do anything in the film the Martian that I found particularly annoying somebody. Clapped at that no I don't know. The, only thing I didn't like was that they left out the Aquaman, joke that's. Not in the movie my beloved Aquaman, joke there's a joke in the book and it where we're. Venkat. Kapur he's named Venkat in the book not Vincent, he. Looks up at the stars and goes huh you stranded up there what, must he be thinking what must be going through his mind and then in the book the log entry Watney, says like how come Aquaman can control whales they're, mammals it makes no sense right. And, I thought that was funny right but, in the book but in the movie they have that exact scene but, they change what he says he says I'm gonna die up here if I have to listen any more disco and. I'm like oh come on you had it you had it it was right there just do the damn Aquaman, joke so. That's really the only thing that irritated, me. The. Omission. So, your newest book is about Earth's, first colony being up on the moon mhm, seems like there's a lot of popular, fascination, lately, with, Mars, kind of being the first site yeah so. Why, doesn't what do you think that's the case I, thought. Well I started off with just saying I want to write a story about humanity's, first city that's not on earth I hadn't, specifically, chosen the moon yet and but, I considered, some options option, number one low Earth orbit okay, option number two the moon option number three Mars those are really the those. Are really the only viable options, right I mean I suppose solar orbit, is one possibility but it doesn't seem likely so. I looked, at those possibilities well the closest and easiest to do is low Earth orbit but there, are no natural resources at all so. Literally every gram of that city would have to be lifted off of Earth and put into space and put. Into low-earth orbit and station, kept you know the orbit would decay over time and that that means your entire city could plummet, to its doom if you didn't like properly maintain it a city sitting, on the, ground on a planet, or planetary, object, doesn't. Have that problem but. The main issue on that is mass getting, all the mass of a city up in the low Earth orbit is unreasonably, expensive. So. You're gonna want to build on the, Moon or Mars because. Then you can use local materials you can smelt it the vast vast, vast majority of the mass of Artemis is just. Stuff. They got from the moon aluminum, that they harvested from the moon the, inside is full of oxygen that they got from the moon they they use, rock. To do like masonry, and stuff on the inside for the decorations, on the inside they, can make glass. Anorthite. Is aluminum, silicon, calcium, and oxygen you, break those apart, you've got aluminum to build the base oxygen, to breathe a lot of oxygen by the way so much that, the city cannot possibly breathe it as fast as you're smelting it and so, you mix some of that oxygen with the silicon now you've got glass and so.
Yeah. You you have to do it on either the Moon or Mars so now between those, two candidates well I want you to imagine you're. Standing on a football field and you're at one goal line and you're, looking, at the other the other goal line I want, you to imagine Mars is at the other goal line if that's, the scale then the moon is four inches in front of you so. It's glued a chrisley closer the, idea of colonizing Mars before we colonize the moon would be like if the ancient Britons colonized. North America, before they colonized Wales. It, it does not make sense so. That, was. A South Park reference what do you. Freakin. Millennials alright. So. Kind of a corollary to a previous question I'm, curious what your interaction, was with the screenwriters in the development of the movie. Version of the Martian life well. My, only my only real job on the film was to cash the check I, didn't. Have any authority or any say over anything, I was you, know just an excited guy peeking in through the window while there were you know but, drew. Did call me almost every day with technical questions, because. He's a great writer but he had a lot of questions about the math and science and physics and he wanted it all to be true and accurate so. I called me with a lot of that the occasional, creative question but mostly technical, questions, and then. While they were shooting it occasionally Ridley would would call or email, with, like, more, other technical, questions like oh we want to have a scene where we're showing mark do this out on the surface Mars does that work could you do that is that realistic Ridley. Scott definitely does not need my creative advice right, but, but. So I was included in that way so I guess you could say they utilized, me as a as a resource. For fact-checking, kind, of but. Yeah. For the most part I was just hey. Guys. But. You do know there. Sure. Thing hi. Um I was this morning as a fan of you know hard science fiction when you were trying to get the book published, are their pressures, to sort of like try. And make it more accessible to a more general audience or do they just sort of give you free rein and say write. What you want we'll, publish it are, we talking about Artemis, no, well. In the Martian it they came to me you know they're like we like it as is so. They didn't have any pressure to change it to make it more accessible for. Artemis, they also, no pressure, they. I, guess the Martian proved to them that I that. A hard sci-fi novel could sell one thing, I will say is that like I had hoped after the Martian did so well I'm like awesome, now, other authors are going to start writing hard sci-fi and I will get to read hard sci-fi and they, didn't. Where. Are my freaking, copycats. I've got nothing, so I still, don't get to read any I'm the one person in the world who doesn't get to read this stuff. Which. Is it's nice I'm in and I mean an economic niche, all by myself and I make a big pile of money but I want other, hard. Sci-fi books to get written, yeah. Is. That it further questions looks like okay. Well, I only, ran five minutes over that's pretty good so, thank you everybody. You.