Welcome to the read-along of the sixth book of James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse, Babylon’s Ashes! We’re doing this read-along as a part of Sci-Fi Month, and you can see all the info at our Goodreads group. This week’s questions cover the prologue to chapter 13, and I’m our host this week. Beware of spoilers from here on out!
1. We have a very different approach for viewpoint characters in this book! Do you like the change to having many different perspectives? Is there any one that stood out to you in particular?
I think it’s an interesting choice, but I’m not sure how much I like it so far. The benefit is that you can see the events from many different perspectives, but the drawback is that it can kind of make you feel like the story is grinding to a halt. I’ll wait and see how this works out as things progress.
So far, Holden’s chapters are the most memorable to me. Naomi’s meeting his parents resolves a small subplot that’s been going on for I think a few books now. I feel like we haven’t really seen much personal racism in these stories, so it was a bit of a shock.
2. We’re also beginning to see a bit more into the “Free Navy” ranks. What do you think of the people who have thrown their loyalty to Marco, and is his charisma is enough to keep the group from collapsing?
I really have very little sympathy for the people who’ve joined up with Marco. They’re not helping the Belters, and they seem mostly engaged in piracy, extortion, and mass murder. The moderate Belters must be starting to realize now that this new “navy” doesn’t have their best interests at heart. Between that and the disillusionment of Marco’s subordinates, I think we’re seeing the beginning of the end of the “Free Navy” as a coherent group. Marco’s charisma and grandiosity is effective for big gestures, but he doesn’t seem to be capable of governing something as complicated as he’s trying to build.
3. There’s still some discussion of the Rocinante crew. Do you agree with Holden’s perspective on Clarissa and Bobbie?
I’m pretty happy to see that the two of them are going to be on board the Rocinante! I see where Holden’s coming from, and I think it would have been a problem that came up even if the person in question were not Clarissa. I think they really need to figure out how they’re planning to treat any new crew members. Michio Pa’s sections show an interesting example of how one could run a ship that has a core family and then also non-family employees. I am curious if they’re going to try something like that approach in the end, and whether Holden will consider Clarissa family by then.
4. Two sections have featured the inner thoughts of two people responsible for many deaths—Filip and Clarissa. What do you think of them now, and do you believe they are redeemable?
At this point, I think Clarissa is a lot closer to it, because she wants to be redeemed. It was not a good idea to put her in combat, both because of her inexperience and because she currently has some mental issues with violence. I don’t think Amos is really capable of seeing what she’s going through, so I hope she finds someone else on the crew to confide in (maybe Naomi?). I think she’s headed in the right direction, at least.
Filip, on the other hand, is so thoroughly indoctrinated by his father that even his fellow terrorists think he’s creepy and violent. I don’t see any hope for him right now, because he doesn’t even seem aware that he has any kind of problem. For Naomi’s sake, I hope that he eventually breaks free of Marco’s view of the world. Still, after being proud of helping cause the deaths of over 15 billion people, I don’t know whether there will be much redemption on offer for him.