Caliban’s War Part II

The read along of Caliban’s War, Book 2 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 13-27, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) So – lots of character development this week, and not necessarily in a good way. What do you think about Amos and Jim’s behaviour?

It’s nice to see that Amos has a soft gooey center for kids even if it is rather tiny and hidden under lots of armor and probably full of hard pebbles. However, he’s not the great thinker of the group, is he? In a twisted way, I like that he enjoys bar fights and can be so casual about violence. It makes him immensely useful.

Jim has gotten lazy. He’s been flying around on the Rocinante with all her big guns and hasn’t had to do much quick thinking and smooth talking to get what he wants lately. It’s made him a little too quick to reach for his gun but I don’t feel he’s off the deep end. I wonder why Naomi is so put off by it as I don’t feel it’s extreme. After all, she’s been Amos’s boss (‘friend’ seems like the wrong word) for years now and he’s quick to violence (tho his discernment of when to dish it out seems to be better than Jim’s right now). I think Jim is many far steps from being Miller.

2) What do you make of Avasarala’s management style? Do you think Bobbie will go the distance?

Ha! She makes me laugh. I wish I had more bosses like her because she’s pretty direct about what she wants and how she wants it and she doesn’t mind if you verbally spar with her as long as you’re useful. I hope Bobbie goes the distance. She managed to get this far which is further than I expected.

3) Okay – we’re halfway – time to place our bets. Who do you think is behind the situation on Ganymede? What do you think they are trying to achieve?

I think the protospore has been modified and this is yet another petri dish to see what it does. As to who is behind it, I’m not sure. Holden seems convinced it’s OPA behind it but I’m not sure. Yes, the only publicly known mess of this alien spore was in OPA hands but there’s all that stuff on Venus (and I bet there’s a way to get a probe to steal a bit of it) and then there’s the corporation that placed the goo on Eros. Perhaps they held back a sample that fell into other hands or is still in the hands of the remnants of that corporation.

I don’t know how these kids tie in. They lack a real immune system unless they get regular meds and I think that lack is the key. If you wanted to see what this alien spore could do to human tissue, probably best to find some human tissue that can’t defend itself (lacks an immune system).

4) Is it dead? Do you think putting it out an airlock was the right decision? (…although if you can think of any better ideas, I’m all ears)

I don’t think they had any other better choices in the moment. If they had another friendly ship nearby, I guess they could put the Roci on autopilot for the nearest uninhabited rock or the sun and evacuate. But they didn’t have a nearby friendly ship and it would be a shame to lose the Roci. I hope it’s dead or they just spread bits of this alien spore all over the space near Ganymede. Can it latch onto other ships or even rocks and survive a drop through burning atmosphere? Perhaps.

Other Tidbits:

We haven’t gotten much of Naomi or Alex this round. Tho Naomi’s ability to control that food riot was pretty awesome…. but then folks get food only a few hours before Ganymede starts falling apart. I hope folks died with full stomachs.

I like Prax’s full name (Praxidike Meng).

Holden’s ability to hire security on the fly was great. Amos using canned chicken to get the info was brutal but efficient. Prax’s use of his gun wasn’t particularly useful. I like Amos’s casual acknowledgement that it was his bad.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Caliban’s War Part I

The read along of Caliban’s War, Book 2 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering the Prologue through Chapter 12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Holden and crew are back! What do you make of their situation, what they’re up to and how they behave/interact now, compared to how it began?

Ha! They are privateers in a way, even if their main focus is hunting down space pirates. I  love that they work really well together, being very comfortable with each other. Amos is coming along learning to trust Holden, even sharing coffee with him. I did enjoy Holden grumbling about not wanting to deal with pirates until he had some hot caffeine. We haven’t gotten much more about Alex but I hope that will come.

2. We meet some new characters in this book, and 2 out of 3 are women with important roles. What are your first impressions, given the general concern over the roles/lack of women in the first book?

Well, I’m not sure how long Bobby will be around. She seems to be in a very dangerous job and then currently in a dangerous position where some people might find it inconvenient if she talked. I hope she sticks around because she’s awesome both in physicality and in her skills. Then there’s Avasarala – she’s amazing in other ways. I say that the authors definitely made up for their lack of women in Book 1.

3. “No one starts a war unless I say they can.”

In particular, we learn that Chrisjen Avasarala is using the power she has to pull strings and dig for information behind the scenes in UN government, and she appears to want an end to the war. What do you think of her methods – and her motive?

I like that she wants to end the war as quickly and with as few corpses as she can. However I do wonder if it’s the sheer challenge of the endeavor that attracts her to it more than the end goal. Time will tell. I was really looking forward to meeting this character in the books because she appears in Season 1 of the TV series The Expanse. She swears quite a bit more in the book than in the TV series and I love her for that. Sweary and intelligent is a great mix that I seem to always enjoy in characters.

4. We also meet Prax, scientist and starving father desperate to find his daughter. In terms of the bigger political picture (remember Miller and Dresden), how much of an emotional wild card do you think he might be?

This is a bit hard to tell right now. He’s determined but also rather timid. I do like that he’s not giving up easily. While there’s this big picture theme of a father wanting to locate his daughter (Julie Mao’s dad tasking authorities to find his daughter and now Prax searching for May), there’s not really any similarity between Prax and Miller at this point. I think if he trusts Holden, he will take his lead from him and that will minimize any wild card behaviors.

Other Tidbits:

Those mech suits are awesome! I want one.

WTF? What is this monster that was set loose on Ganymede? And why did it eventually explode? Is that natural, kind of like a pustule popping and spreading the protomolecule? Or was it designed to do that? Or was that totally unexpected?

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Caliban’s War – The Schedule

I read Leviathan Wakes (Book 1 of The Expanse series) some years ago and I have watched the first season of The Expanse as well. Now the wonderful folks on the SF/F Read Alongs GoodReads group have put together this group read and we’re into Book 2, Caliban’s War. I know I’m a bit late in sharing the schedule and getting my discussion posts up.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Friday 7th July, Prologue to Chapter 12, hosted at Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Friday 14th July, Chapters 13 to 27, hosted at There’s Always Room For One More
Week 3: Friday 21st July, Chapters 28 to 42, hosted by The Illustrated Page
Week 4: Friday 28th July, Chapters 43 to End

Book Blurb for Caliban’s War:

James S.A. Corey’s best-selling hit Leviathan Wakes earned Hugo and Locus Award nominations. In Caliban’s War, the second chapter of Corey’s Expanse series, a desperate Earth politician works tirelessly to prevent war from reigniting. Meanwhile, upheaval takes root on Venus and Ganymede. And amidst this tumult, James Holden and his crew on the Rocinante are charged with the impossible task of saving humanity from a terrifying fate.

 

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes Part IV

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 44-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

 

1. So first off, what do you make of what Miller found inside Eros?

What a big gooey mess! For whatever reason, this alien protovirus (?) had enough time to bond with Julie to the extent that some of her personality and intelligence is now melded with it. It’s a sentient life of sorts and if this was Star Trek, then we’d have to preserve it, coddle it, give it a name… unless it had a Borg-like need to assimilate all known life.

I still feel that folks are jumping to conclusions about what this thing is.. but they had to in a way just to make decisions about what to do with it. I hope we get more science on it in the next book.

2. Was Miller’s end a noble sacrifice or was it the act of a suicidal man? Is Holden right in wanting Miller to be presented as a person, not a symbol?

I think Miller had suicidal tendencies for some time now, perhaps even before we meet him. Recall he used to talk to his ex-wife’s image at the beginning of the story the same way he came to talk to Julie’s image. However, something always held him back from doing something truly suicidal, so I think he needed to make a difference for someone somewhere before he gave up the ghost.

I love Holden’s insistence that Miller be presented as a real person (which makes me think of Speaker for the Dead) but I also think Earth, Mars, and the Belt are headed for war. Perhaps the right symbol would help stop that, or at least minimize the body count.

3. Do you believe war between Earth, Mars, and the Belt is inevitable? Will the they achieve peace, even peace for now?

We haven’t really seen Mars and Earth in this book but the Belt and even Mars talk as if Earth (and the Moon) are the rich, opulent neighborhood, Mars is for the mid-economy folks, and the Belt is for the poor grunts working their lives away. However, we see that there’s those that are better off than others within the Belt and I suspect that’s going to be the same for Mars and Earth… but will Earth have slums? Hmmm…  Anyway, perception really counts here and is a major factor in the brewing war. Belters can’t live on Earth without some serious medical care (since they grew up in a much lower gravity) but Earthers can travel the solar system and do OK. I think the best the Belters can hope for is better trade agreements with Earth and Mars. They can’t successfully invade and take over, nor can they break off completely from the two and survive for more than a generation.

4. Do you have any predictions for the next book? Things you want to see more of or find out about?

I too would like to see the fish farms in space. I saw a documentary about tilapia farms in the desert, so I expect some of the same techniques are used.

I’ve watched the first season of The Expanse and it takes things from Book 2, mostly the Earth politics (according to my man who’s caught up on the books). So I look forward to reading about that.

I’d also like to know more about Alex, especially with war brewing. Will he feel loyalty to Mars and decide to leave the crew?

Of course I want to see what happens with the Julie/Miller/Alien mashup. It’s already making crystal towers so I wouldn’t be surprised if it started talking soon.

Other Tidbits:

If Julie and the alien virus are now besties, what about those people on the ship which is now in the hands of Fred and OPA? Did they not have enough time to bond with it? Julie took care to reduce heat and radiation exposure, so perhaps that is what made it possible for her. But perhaps when they thaw those folks, they will get a nasty surprise, right?

I loved Amos’s response to Holden and Naomi being in a relationship. Ha!

Throughout this book, I have noticed these little snippets that I think could be nods to other great scifi works. Near the beginning of the book, there was a reference to voices in the whirlwind (a Walter Jon Williams novel), then this thing with Miller being seen as a real, flawed human in death (Speaker for the Dead), and finally this line about ’till human voices wake us’, which is the title for 1 scifi novel and 2 short SF stories by various authors. Did anyone else catch such nods?

I did feel a bit sorry for the Mormons losing their big generation ship, especially since it missed it’s mark and didn’t get to be a big piece of saving the solar system.

 

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. Also, we’re planning the group read for Book 2. So check over there for updates.

Leviathan Wakes Part III

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 29-43, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. After a skin-crawling start, our crew get back into space with information in their back pocket – and our two POV characters disagree on whether it should be shared. What do you think?

Right now, I agree with Miller. From the start, Holden only had a piece of info, one at a time. He’s been sharing with everyone as he comes upon stuff instead of collecting all the data, analyzing it, and then sharing the findings. At first, I think part of this sharing (like the Martian bomb) was to keep himself and his crew alive. But it’s lead to widespread riots and now a war. So at some point, Holden should have noticed that his efforts to keep the solar system in the loop was just leading to more deaths. Now they have all the info but things are already in motion. Sharing this info and implications now won’t matter to many folks because they have already made up their minds, some have committed acts of war, and they have taken sides.

2. The villain is unmasked! What did you make of Antony Dresden’s little speech?

He liked having power and this gave him a supreme excuse to wield that power.

On the other hand, he does have a point about some alien race planting the Phoebe Bug in our solar system as much as 2 million years ago.

On the other hand, (and yes, now I have 3 hands, so I guess I caught the Phoebe Bug!) do we really know that the Bug was intended as a weapon? Was it really placed in our solar system intentionally? And does that alien race even exist anymore? So many questions! And because we don’t have those answers, Dresden’s ‘justification’ for his actions don’t hold water.

3. After the action, we get another round of comparative morality: this time on the act of killing. Whose view do you sympathize with more (and why)?

While Holden had the right to kick Miller off his ship and crew, I can’t say that Miller was wrong in this case. This Bug scares people, even hardened folks. Dresden is smooth, assured, convincing. If he wasn’t executed then and there, he would have ended up helping one faction or another gain control of the Bug and use it for their purposes. Plus, Dresden wasn’t disgusted or disturbed or regretful over his actions. He wasn’t going to change as long as he lived. I grieve for Miller and what this act cost him.

4. Somehow, this rollercoaster isn’t over yet. What do you expect from the final act?

I recall some of the big things that happen in this last section. Let’s just say I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you all think and then also reading book 2. I hope everyone would like to continue the series.

Other Tidbits:

Amos and Miller are similar in many ways. Amos has a limited moral compass but he has put his trust in Naomi, and to some extent Holden. If Naomi tells him to do something, or not do something, he obeys. Amos is using Naomi as his moral guidance. Without that, he could be Miller. I think Miller might be seeking that in Holden but he’s got this ghost Julie in his head that could be pushing him towards retribution.

Who else cheered when Naomi turned Holden down? Who else groaned a little in dismay when she invited him over for the night?

I love all the medical science bits concerning the radiation sickness and continuing treatment.

That story about the cheese! Did anyone else picture the crew of the Firefly sitting around in the galley having a meal and sharing stories?

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes Part I

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 1-14, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. First impressions! We’re given two main POVs here, a lot of important information, and a big fat (intriguingly political) murder mystery in space. What’s your take on the setup so far?

I think there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. Perhaps one hand doesn’t know what the other 6 are doing. So the Canterbury is annihilated and that gets broadcast everywhere and perhaps multiple groups see it as a sign to act, and then of course we have government agencies reacting to try to tamp things down. While I read this book several years ago, I truly have forgotten a lot of the details. I would be delighted to find out that there’s some mastermind orchestrating everything but odds are against that.

2. Regarding the narrative: we get the bulk of the story so far from the POVs of Miller and Holden. What do you think of each character, and how do you think they compare to one another? Do you think their paths might cross or are we looking at more of a Game of Thrones style approach to the story’s arc? For that matter, which might you prefer?

I think it’s giving us a good balance of what space freighter life is like versus a stable space station existence. Really, we just need someone living on a planet that has a sky (even if you can only see it thru a bubble) to complete the picture. Holden seems like an upright, always attempt to do the right thing kind of guy. Miller’s morals are more flexible but his core seems to be good; he always works towards stability of his little home station Ceres (spelling?). I do recall the answer to whether or not they will meet in this book, so I will hold my tongue on that.

3. Let’s talk about Julie Mao, and THAT prologue. Given what we know about her by the end of chapter 14, do you think Julie might just be a victim of circumstance or is she more deeply involved in whatever is going on?

Now Julie’s story arc for this book I do recall. Let’s say there’s more going on here than nearly anyone knows and Julie is caught up in it, partly due to her own actions and partly due to other people’s goals.

4. Chapter 14 ends with Miller contacting Julie’s father; do you think his hunch about dear old Dad knowing some things is right, or should he listen to Shaddid on this one?

Tough question! So for my entertainment, of course I want Miller to keep digging and find a way to Julie. However, for his own safety and a future that involves decent medical coverage, I would tell him to drop it.

Other Tidbits:

I love all the bits of SF throughout the book. This isn’t just some light-hearted space opera. This story has real cutting edge tech to far flung hypothetical stuff. The sense-heightening lozenges that the Mars Military guy used when chatting with Holden is a good example.

Back when I first read this book in 2013, I was a bit sad that there weren’t any major female characters. There are several good secondary female characters and my Bill, who has read the rest of the series, says the female characters do get more prominent even with Book 2. So I find myself paying more attention to them during this reread.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes Read Along – The Schedule

I read Leviathan Wakes (Book 1 of The Expanse series) some years ago and I have watched the first season of The Expanse as well. Now the wonderful folks on the SF/F Read Alongs GoodReads group have put together this group read. I couldn’t resist. Anyone is welcome to join in the fun. I’ll be listening along with the audiobook.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Friday 9th June – Chapters 1-14, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Friday 16th June – Chapters 15-28, hosted by The Illustrated Page
Week 3: Friday 23rd June – Chapters 29-43, hosted by There’s Always Room For One More
Week 4: Friday 30th June – Chapters 44-End, hosted by The Illustrated Page

Book Blurb for Leviathan Wakes:

Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

As always, folks are welcome to jump in and join us. You don’t have to be a host or a blogger. You can always choose the easy route and tackle the weekly discussion in the comments of the hosting blog. We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

CoreyLeviathanWakesWhy I Read It: The authors of Leviathan Wakes (Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck write under the the pen name James SA Corey) were at Bubonicon 2013, so I had to check out this book.

Where I Got It: Own it (audible.com).

Who I Recommend This To: Love epic fiction? Love space opera? This is a great mash of the two.

Narrators: Jefferson Mays

Publisher: Recorded Books (2011)

Length: 19 hours 9 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Expanse Series

Author’s Page

Holden and crew mine ice on the rings of Saturn and transport it to the Belt. During one of their runs, they find a derelict ship, with a secret, that puts them smack in the middle of a political conundrum. Meanwhile, down and out Detective Miller has been hired by rich parents to find their daughter Julie. Still having a few wits about him and haunted by the image of Julie he tracks her to the derelict ship Holden & crew found.

And then the shit got real. Yeah. the book starts with this sweeping, fantastic colonized solar system with interesting people and complicated politics. But then the fates throw in something unforeseen and it just takes this book to the next level. This was one of my favorite books of the year and it is because of what happens in the second half of the book.

i also enjoyed the few nods to other science fiction greats, like a few lines about fear from Frank Herbert’s Dune and a reference to voices in the whirlwind (Walter Jon Williams). Not only that, but sometimes the dynamics and the back and forth dialogue between Holden and his crew were reminiscent of Firefly. While none of these things were so prominent to make me say, ‘oh, try this because it is just like…..’, there were these little hat tips or chin nods to other works and I loved that. Now I wonder if I missed some…. Perhaps this will turn into an annual read.

If I have any criticism with this book, it is that there were few female characters. Julie and Naomi (from Holden’s crew) appear more than 2-5 times but are still secondary characters. There are a handful of other ladies that make brief appearances (by turns they are competent and /or ruthless).

Now that I got that out of the way, I can continue to gush about this book. I read a lot of epic fantasy because I love the detailed character development, the depth of world building, and the intricate plots. So take those three elements and squish them together with a space opera and you get the magnificence that is Leviathan Wakes. Yeah, it’s that damn good.

The Narration: Jefferson Mays was a good fit for this book. He was the perfect fit for Holden. I don’t think I can imagine another voice for him after hearing this performance. One little niggling thing: the title was off by a single letter – Leviathan Awakes instead of the correct Leviathan Wakes and I heard it at the start of each downloaded section, so it stuck with me. I am guessing the narrator was handed the typo and Audible/publisher either didn’t catch it or didn’t think it worth the money to record it correctly.

What I Liked: Damn near everything; huge sweeping world as backdrop for our heroes to save the world; Holden and crew; messed up Miller; the mystery (which I won’t spoil for you) but it was awesome!; the ending (totally wasn’t expecting that!).

What I Disliked: Few females and none in major roles.

2014SFExperienceI’m taking part in the reading event of the season, The Science Fiction Experience 2014, hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.

What Others Think:

The Little Red Reviewer

Attack of the Books!

SF Signal

The Book Smugglers

Tethyan Books

52 Book Reviews

Neth Space

Walker of Worlds