Project Hail Mary Movie: Is the Book Worth Reading? Will There Be a Movie? What’s Next for the Author?

A computer programmer turned author, Andy Weir, is best known for his self-published science fiction debut novel The Martian (2011). With the not-at-all unique premise of an astronaut finding himself stranded on Mars, the story proves to be captivating enough to find a sizable audience, including in Hollywood. In the successful big-screen adaptation of the same name, the main character, Mark Whitney, is portrayed by Matt Damon. Released in 2015, the film was a major box office hit and received seven Academy Award nominations. All in all, the novel has brought Andy Weir into the circle of sci-fi excellence. His latest novel, Project Hail Mary (2021), is also about a stranded astronaut, but this time he is on a mission to a fictional planet rather than Mars. Just like what happened with The Martian, once again Hollywood is set to produce Project Hail Mary movie.

Project Hail Mary Movie

The main character in the novel and the upcoming film is Ryland Grace, a teacher tricked into joining a space mission. He is aboard the Hail Mary spaceship along with a few crew members, but they all die en route. Grace did not initially want to take part, but the person in charge of the mission forced him to come along. He was put into a medically induced coma prior to launch and then wakes up only to find no one else survives the journey. Grace is now all alone; at least until he bumps into an alien named Rocky.

His mission is to discover the solution to the ongoing “global cooling” problem that threatens to send the Earth back to a prolonged Ice Age. The sun is consumed by alien microbes known as Astrophages that have also attacked nearby stars, except for one: Tau Ceti. When Grace wakes up, he doesn’t remember his name or why he is on the spaceship. Discovering the corpses of the other crew members doesn’t help him much, either. The good thing is that Grace is able to reconstruct his memories piece by piece from random recollections and rediscover the true purpose of the mission. He might not be the most qualified person for the job, but his background as a former molecular biologist will help him unveil the mystery of Astrophage and Tau Ceti.

While it remains unclear whether the film adaptation will be entirely faithful to the source material, the major plotline is expected to be the same. Astrophage is breeding without control and consumes (literally) the energy from the sun. As every other star is getting dimmer, Tau Ceti seems uninfected by the microbes. Nobody knows why they stay away from the star. Grace must go there and send a report of his findings back to Earth—but only the report can return. It is a one-way space trip for Grace.

Project Hail Mary movie is not mere speculation. It is in production and expected to be released sometime in 2024. MGM had purchased the rights to make a film based on the book for a whopping $3 million, even before it was published. To improve the chances of scoring big, the production company has also enlisted Drew Goddard as the screenwriter. Goddard was nominated for an Oscar for his work in The Martian, so it makes sense MGM wants him to work on another adaptation of another novel by the same author. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are set to direct the film. To portray Ryland Grace is Ryan Gosling.

As far as the book is concerned, isolation remains a major theme, as in The Martian. A depiction of an individual in the vast expanse of outer space does promise a thrilling spectacle although in this case, Weir seems to use it as a simple excuse to stay away from the always-intricate interpersonal issues. It is convenient and easy to organize plot progression in the absence of conflicts among characters, without sacrificing the storytelling itself. The narration also is science-heavy; it is hard sci-fi, and yet readers will likely go through every bit of exposition with ease thanks to Weir’s clever writing. Unfortunately, the delivery of facts at times feels like it hinders the development of the character’s emotions. Grace’s reactions to extraordinary revelations are often too short, technical, and perhaps nerdy.

Keen readers may also notice that Weir uses a formula eerily similar to The Martian. Our main protagonist is stranded in space, and yet there is no problem because he is competent and a brilliant problem-solver. Of course, Project Hail Mary talks about an entirely different story, but Ryland Grace might sound like a recycled personality to some extent.

We think Project Hail Mary (the novel) sits comfortably in the hard sci-fi category. It pays respect to the laws of physics to the point where it can easily make other novels read like mere fantasies in comparison. However, there are sacrifices to make so that the story is scientifically accurate. Project Hail Mary doesn’t really deliver a world of strangeness and interstellar wonders, although the film adaptation will easily overcome those imperfections with awe-inspiring visuals.

How about you? Do you like the sound of the Project Hail Mary Movie? We’d love to hear from you!

Other things you might want to know:

How does the book compare to the film?

At this point, it is impossible to say because the film is still a work in progress. As mentioned earlier, the book has its drawbacks, but this is not to say Project Hail Mary is not a good read. It is a captivating space odyssey, sprinkled with numerous (and exciting) deliveries of scientific facts. The plot is quick and engaging so that most readers won’t mind the lengthy exposition.

What other books did Andy Weir write?

Weir has so far written four stand-alone novels, more than a dozen short stories, a few graphic novels and comics, and several ongoing series. Apart from The Martian and Project Hail Mary, his most popular works include The Egg, Artemis, and Randomize.

Is Andy Weir involved in the film adaptation project?

In an interview with in May 2021, Weir said he would be listed as a producer in the film but only in credit. He would not be heavily involved with the actual production process.

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