Friday, September 8, 2017

Read-Along: Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey, Part 1

It’s time for another read-along!  This time, I’m joining the in-progress reading of James S.A. Corey’s “The Expanse”.  I’d already read and reviewed the first three books: here, here, and here.  Now we’re going to read Cibola Burn book four of the series.  The schedule will be as follows:

Week 1: Prologue to Chapter 12, Friday 8th September, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Chapters 13 to 27, Friday 15th September, hosted by There's Always Room For One More
Week 3: Chapters 28 to 42, Friday 22nd September, hosted by The Illustrated Page
Week 4: Chapters 43 to End, Friday 29th September, hosted by Tethyan Books

As you can see, this week’s questions cover through chapter twelve, and are provided by Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow. Beware of spoilers below! I’ve been listening by audiobook, so I’ve already read a little in advance to hedge for not being able to keep up (my commute is not that long).  I’m trying very hard to keep everything straight, so that I don’t accidentally let any extra spoilers slip.

1. Bobbie Draper is back! Though we don't get much more than a re-intro scene with her in this section ... Any thoughts on what form her role in this book might take?
It was great to see her again!  I felt a bit bad for the beggar that she humiliated (I think the specific stories are usually false, the real story is simply “I need help”), but I can see how his claiming to be a veteran hit a nerve.  I really don’t see how she’s going to be involved, since she’s apparently not going to the new planet.  I hope we get to see more of her!  

2. We also get to see Havelock again, and in a larger role than before, as we're set up with a colonisation/(another) 'evil' corporation story this time. How do you feel about those kinds of stories? Does this one grab you, and what are your thoughts on Havelock's role in particular?

Hah, I didn't remember him at all until you said that.  He was Miller's partner back in the first book, right?  I don't remember much about him except that he was an Earther.  Since Havelock’s on the ship, I don’t really see yet how he’s going to be involved.  I hope this doesn’t devolve to ships shooting at the surface.

I’m not necessarily seeing this as an evil corporation story, though I’m not averse to them. Corporations are often evil, after all--capitalism is not a particularly good moral structure.  In this case, however, it seems like the corporation was trying to do everything right and proper. They seem to have been planning to work with the illegal colonists as well, given that they hired them to build the landing platform. The security team, on the other hand...

3. We're given perspective on both sides of the battlefield here, as it were - not only with the colony vs. Murtry and his goons, but with the teams of scientists (and Elvi as a new POV character) who are there for their own reasons. What were your first impressions of Elvi, and your thoughts on the general attitude of the scientists present?

I like Elvi.  She seems naive, but well-meaning and competent at the same time.  I felt bad for her when she was trying to get the colonists to limit their impact on the planet.  She was not a politician, but she stepped into a political problem.  I’m generally positively biased towards scientist characters, though, as long as they don’t fall into the old “mad scientist” trope.

4. Once again, Holden appears to have the crappy end of the stick, trying to mediate between these two sides. Do you think Avasarala is setting him up, expecting failure, or is there some way he can actually make this work...?

I’m not sure anyone knows what will happen out there.  I think Fred and Avasarala wanted him because he’s famous, so it would be hard for either side to kill him, and because he’s known for being super transparent.  I’m not sure if they expect him to succeed, or if they just need him to buy time while they push forward some more devious plans.

On a final note, I feel like I should mention our other viewpoint character, Basia.  I feel a little bad for him, because he’s in way over his head.  I’m glad we have his perspective, because we can know for sure that he genuinely never intended to hurt anyone.  He just sorely misjudged his comrades, and now I can’t see a way this will go well for him in the end.  I hope he at least chills out enough to let Felcia go to college.


  1. I didn't feel sorry for the beggar and I think that's because he got a little defensive at first, even if he eventually walked away. Also Bobbie works for the organization that helps veterans out and most likely he isn't utilizing those services.

    Yes! I agree, here at first blush, it looks like the corporation is trying to do the right thing, working with the illegal colonists and all. Too bad the security team is going to break any remaining good warm fuzzy feelings between the different groups.

    I want Felcia to make it to college too.

    1. Oh, I doubt he was a veteran at all, so probably he couldn't have used those services. I assumed it was just a story for eliciting sympathy.

      The more I'm reading, the more I really don't like Murtry and his security force...