Welcome to week three of the read-along of James S.A. Corey’s Cibola Burn! This is the second-to-last week, and things are heating up. The discussion this week covers chapters 28-42, and the questions are provided by Sarah of The Illustrated Page. Beware of spoilers below!
1. So we've got an apocalyptic scenario. Any predictions on how the characters will make it out alive? Or if they'll make it out alive?
I’m suspecting the viewpoint characters will make it out alive. At the very least, I highly doubt anyone from the Rocinante crew will die. I bet Murtry dies, though. Anyone else, I’ll be a bit sad if they don’t make it. Basia’s family has suffered so much, it doesn’t seem right for any of them to not make it out alive.
2. How do you feel the plot line of Cibola Burns compares with the other books in the series so far? Does it feel familiar? Different?
It still features conflict between different clans of humans, as well as a larger conflict with a deadly and unsympathetic alien force. As in previous books, the humans fight each other until they’re forced to contend with a larger threat. There’s a lot less travel in this one, though, so it was easier to feel like they were spinning their wheels at points. We are also getting past the protomolecule, and to the aliens behind it. That represents some progress in the series.
3. The traditional question, how are you feeling about the POV characters now? Elvi's "crush" on Holden? Havelock's choices? Basia?
My opinion of Holden was solidified before this book, and it hasn’t changed. I like the humor in his perspective, and I like his interactions with the Rocinante crew. He makes decisions that exasperate me sometimes, but he’s a fun character to follow. I’m not too enthusiastic about the other viewpoint characters, though I should stress that I am still enjoying the book.
Elvi’s story seems to be buying heavily into stereotypes about women in academia. She’s brilliant, but has a really low emotional intelligence and seems clueless about sexuality. I don’t think this is the assumed norm for female academics in this universe, but Elvi is pretty much the only one we know well here. I did not like that her arc concluded with a man explaining to her that she just needed to get laid, and that it pretty much solved everything.
Basia feels kind of superfluous right now. I feel like his character could be excised from the story with little loss. So far, he only existed to help us see the colonists as individuals, and to give a brief perspective into the now-dead resistance group. He wasn’t even really necessary for Naomi’s rescue, since Havelock ended up breaking her out. I’m hoping he does something important or notable later.
As for Havelock, it feels like too little too late. I’m glad he finally turned on Murtry, but the way he did it was so inefficient. I feel like there wouldn’t have been any conflict on the ship at all if he hadn’t trained up a bunch of engineers to be loyal goons for Murtry. If he’d managed to create a force loyal to himself, then he could have just announced that he was sending Naomi back to the Rocinante. I still think he has a bigger role to play, but the way he chose to save Naomi seems to have left him with little power or authority to make a positive impact.
4. What are your feelings on the world building so far? We haven't discussed world building in a while, and Cibola Burns is bringing in a lot of new material.
I like the world so far, but I feel like I need more information. The animals are really neat, and I want to learn more about how the planet seems to have been manufactured. I don’t really understand how this ties together with the protomolecule, the precursor race, and the civilization-killer, and I hope I have a clearer picture by the end of the novel.