Welcome to week two of the read-along of James S.A. Corey’s Cibola Burn! This week’s reading covers chapters 13-27, and the discussion questions are provided by The Illustrated Page. Beware of spoilers through that point from here on out!
1. How do you feel about Naomi being taken captive?
Well, she has kind of been ‘damselled’, hasn’t she? It does make sense with the plot, and I’m glad that the Rocinante’s plans are meeting with as many setbacks as everyone else’s. But now Naomi, the only woman of the Rocinante crew, is confined to a small cell to await rescue. I have hope that she’s going to turn Havelock against Murtry, and convince him to use his ‘extremely free hand’ to de-escalate the situation instead of whatever it is Murtry is trying to do.
2. What are your thoughts on our new POV characters: Basia, Elvi, and Havelock?
I feel like we do not have any new heroic characters in this book at all. Holden and Miller were both driven by their convictions, and Bobbie and Chrisjen were powerful in their own ways. Anna, Clarissa, Prax, and Bull were all risk-takers, or able to be driven to it by their principles. On the other hand, Basia, Elvi, and Havelock are all pretty ordinary, and they are not currently rising to the occasion.
I like Elvi, but she is kind of naive and emotional. I’d like to hear more about the weird stuff happening on the planet, and less about her frustration or her crush on Holden. Also, is it not odd that the scientists don’t seem to have regular meetings to discuss their findings? As a scientist myself, I couldn’t imagine being in an environment like this without daily group meetings to discuss new discoveries.
I like that Alex is forcing Basia to take ownership of his mistakes, because he was starting to slide into self-pity there. I don’t yet see how he can have much of an impact on this situation, and he is a terrible judge of character. At the same time, I think he may be a little pessimistic about his chances with the justice system. He didn’t actually murder anyone, and his crimes are likely to look pretty minor next to Murtry’s.
Havelock hasn’t really done much of anything so far, aside from just following Murtry’s lead. I’m guessing he might be here as a link to Miller, and as someone to turn on Murtry at a crucial moment. I’m glad he chose to call out anti-belter sentiment directly, but his problems seem kind of small compared with a melting moon, murderous security and possibly an entire hidden biosphere of protomolecule.
3. So, do you think we're going to encounter aliens? The thing that destroyed civilizations? Is there something larger going on than the conflict between the colonists and the corporation?
At this point, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to meet sentient aliens, at least. The fact that the protomolecule flinched away from some area of this planet makes me think we might meet the civilization-killer. I think the background story, Miller’s search for what happened to the gate civilization, is going to come to foreground. And if previous books are any indication, a lot of the people on the planet are going to die.
4. Speaking of the conflict, what actions do you think Holden can take to resolve it?
I’m not sure he can do anything against something that destroyed the gate civilization. Concerning Murtry and the colonists, his hands are pretty tied as well. If Murtry were taken out of the picture, in some legitimate and non-violent way, then maybe that would help to defuse the tension. The colonists’ resistance is stamped out at this point, so the only violent problem remaining is Murtry.