Let me start with a simple example. Ryland is on a space mission in which they put people into a coma, knowing their brains might be mush when they wake up. That’s an interesting premise and carries an inherent tension. But there’s an essential element missing: When the astronauts are sent out, there are no checklists. If you know anything about NASA, or flying, or the military, or hospitals, then you know that checklists are essential and baked into the culture. Checklists are there to ensure that every aspect of a complicated aerospace feat can go off safely. Without them, something is likely to go wrong, and guess what happens in “Project Hail Mary”? It may seem like a small thing, but the lack of checklists is what sets everything in motion.