Sunday, January 14, 2018

Read-Along: Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey, Part 1

It’s time for a read-along of the latest novel in The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey.  Persepolis Rising came out last month, and this January’s read-along is organized in our Goodreads group.  Our discussions will be full of spoilers, so please only read these posts if you don’t mind. The schedule is:

Week 1: Prologue - Ch. 12, Sunday 14th Jan, hosted by @imyril at x+1
Week 2: Ch. 13 - Ch. 27, 28th Jan, hosted by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 3: Ch. 28 - Ch. 41, 4th Feb, hosted by Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Week 4: Ch. 42 - End, 11th Feb, hosted by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow

I won’t be hosting this month, but I am hoping I’ll be able to make enough time to keep up and participate in discussions.  It’s going to be hard to wait for the next in the series, after we’ve finished this one.  Now, to this week’s questions...

1. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
How do you feel about jumping forward 30 years? ...and about where/how we find the Solar system and the Rocinante's crew?

Part of me wants the crew of the Rocinante to stay young and idealistic forever.  I really like this crew, and it’s hard to see them suddenly 30 years older and ready to retire.  I can see it was necessary to jump forward to see the Laconia story, because their technological development would certainly not happen overnight.

2. ...and what are your first impressions of Laconia?

My first impression was that they were megalomaniacal monsters.  I didn’t actually hate Singh, though.  I think he’s too young to have been involved at all in the attack on Earth, and I’m not sure how much he really knows about what his government does.  I might grow to dislike him more as time goes on.  We’ll see.

I appreciate that they appear to be relatively non-violent conquerors.  They do seem to want to bring peace to humanity, and even want to keep the current governments in place.  At the same time, though, the act of conquering requires both violence and an overdeveloped ego, and the foundation of their society is non-consensual experimentation on human subjects.  I don’t think their society is going to be as utopian as they imagine it will.

3. Did you see Holden's actions coming? Do you think he'll stick with his decision now the circumstances have changed?

Are we talking about the retirement, or about arresting Houston instead of blocking off the colony?  I’m assuming retirement, since I guess the scandal about arresting Houston is kind of irrelevant in the face of the invading army.  I didn’t see it coming, but I think it’s a good idea.  Jim and Naomi have fought the good fight for years, and it’s time for them to pass the torch.  They deserve to have some peaceful years together.  I really hope they’re still able to do that, after this has been settled one way or another.

4. How do you think Drummer will react to the Laconian ultimatum? What about the Earth/Martian Alliance and the colony planets?

Well, they can’t really fight them, can they?  Laconia has ships and weapons that can’t be stopped.  They’re way beyond the rest of human society, technologically.  I am thinking that the way to fight back might have to be within the system.  Duarte is making this all about himself as an immortal “philosopher king”, so maybe if he is removed the system will shake apart to chaos.  Or maybe they haven’t quite tamed the protomolecule as well as they believe.  I just can’t see Drummer and the others launching a military campaign against Laconia right now, not with their current level of weaponry.


  1. Yeah, Singh seems like a decent bloke in a terrible system (which I suspect is the point - that terrible governments capable of unspeakable acts are supported by well-meaning loyal citizens who don't know - or who can excuse - the things done in their name). It will be interesting to see how this develops. Given his reporting his senior officer - and knowing the consequences of that action, given why his senior officer needed reporting in the first place - I suspect Singh is a man who will come to have qualms but will do what he considers the Right Thing (which leaves us all screaming at him).

    ...but I studied WW2 from a German perspective (my school had us learn history in our second language, and mine was German), so I've got a whole heap of other context for what being on the wrong side looks like (honestly one of the two most fascinating cultural exchanges of my life).

    1. I hope what he considers the "right thing" is at least somewhat close to our idea. Maybe he could even be the weak link that lets Laconia fall, if he turns against their idea for the future. It will be very interesting to see where Corey takes his arc.

      On a side note, that sounds like a really interesting idea for learning history. I wish my school had done something like that.

  2. I realise now that I actually overlooked Singh a bit, in the face of everything else going on in these chapters - but you're right, he's got the makings of a pretty interesting POV character. I'll be watching him a bit more closely from here...

    1. Yeah, I'll be watching carefully too. After the prologue, I was expecting the Laconians to be wholly awful people. Singh, a rule-abiding guy (in a horrible system) who loves his wife and daughter, is not really what I expected.