“I’m one of the little people… if my neighbourhood were wine, connoisseurs would describe it as “shitty, with overtones of failure and poor life decisions.”” When Andy Weir wrote Artemis, he likely wrote main character Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara as an impoverished petty criminal just trying to get by in Artemis – the first city on the moon – and all her actions seem justified since it’s her only option to scrape up what little money she can. The main driving point of the story begins when Jazz is offered 1,000,000š (slugs, the currency on the moon) to sabotage the leading corporation that runs energy production on the moon so another rich business owner can take over the industry. This is Jazz’s big break, a way out of poverty, and so one would think that this is way to have all her criminal activity performed in order to complete this task would be somewhat justified, but this is not the case. Jazz Bashara commits crimes (throughout the book, not just for the reason of getting the 1,000,000š) that are irredeemable, and she shouldn’t just be fined or even imprisoned, but deported and put away for a long, long time.
Everyone has family problems. The first example of Jazz’s misgivings is at the cost of her relationship with her only living family: her father. This takes place before the book even starts, when Jazz was younger, but is revealed a little over a quarter of the way through the book, on page 88. Jazz and her previous boyfriend, who she was dating at the time this took place, got their hands on illegal pot and decided to host a party with it. The city of Artemis has always been very careful of fire, so the only place Jazz knew to have a secret smoking party was in her father’s brand new, expensive, enclosed welding shop. While there, Jazz showed no care whatsoever, and she and her friends, thanks to their unobservant selves not noticing a gas leak and proceeding to play with blowtorches, causing “the whole room to catch fire”. Since her father spent over 400,000š getting it built, he is unable to get his precious shop replaced, is unable to expand his business, and is now in financial debt. Jazz does end up paying her father for the damage years later after collecting enough money, but this does not make up for the lost business and reputation that her father had to deal with. Still, this is only the first of Jazz’s misdoings, and certainly not the worst.
Jazz does many things after she fails to hold up her end of the 1,000,000š bargain and the man hiring her is assassinated. She goes homeless, steals supplies, and more, all of which are illegal on Artemis. Despite all of her little crimes, nothing even comes close to the time she, in an effort to take down a mobster run aluminium company to stop the Brazilian mafia from coming after her (trying to save her own skin), finds out she accidentally released deadly chloroform gas into the entire city, with her and a couple others safely outside the city on the moon’s surface in a rover, and with everyone else inside unconscious with an hour until the gas reached fatal amounts. Chloroform, unlike in movies, is not a knockout gas, but is actually lethal in large amounts. It should be mentioned that Jazz does manage to save the city, almost sacrificing herself in the process, but this is all just saving others from a mess she created. After all of this, on page 297, she manages to avoid getting deported by essentially bribing the prime minister by promising to keep contraband out of the city. She does get a hefty fine that essentially eliminates most of the money she’s earned over the course of the book, but she doesn’t seem too concerned, saying, “I could always make more money, but I couldn’t get un-deported.” If the punishment doesn’t truly affect her, then it is not effective, and she will likely continue her criminal activity in the future since she hasn’t been properly taught her lesson.
Jazz’s desperate antics may generate a sympathetic viewpoint from some readers, but they shouldn’t. She deserves none of the rewards or benefits she would get from her actions, and deserves to start from square one and work her way up through non-illicit methods, or simply go to jail. While Jazz is arguably a likeable protagonist who readers may end up rooting for, from a story perspective, Jazz is a criminal. Jazz shouldn’t be running around eyeing all the biggest crime opportunities from the street. She should be doing that from behind bars.