Abaddon’s Gate Part III

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 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 27-40, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. So, Ashford is a deranged man with a military force and a religious nut backing him up. Do you think the counter-coup will stick (or even stick together)?

I’m not sure how this counter-coup will play out. I recall that Bull had that Mars mech armor locked up good but I don’t recall where, but I expect those suits will come into play and would change the tide for whoever got their hands on them.

As for Ashford and Cortez being able to hold together this counter-coup, well, I think it depends on who’s the more unstable. If they are about equal, then, yes, they will hold together. If at some point either one of them does a drastic thing that makes the other reconsider his current path, then they will fall apart.

2. So we’re asking this question every week now. It’s a thing, okay? Where are you with the new characters NOW?

There’s some things I like about Anna, like her going over to the Roci and saving the crew (sort of) but then I don’t click with her naivete that all can be solved with love, compassion, and forgiveness. In a day to day setting, I would just shrug my shoulders and go on but here in this extreme situation, I’m not convinced she’s doing humanity a favor.

Melba/Clarissa – wow! OK, someone walked into the deep end and forgot how to float.

Tilly, while a secondary character, is awesome in some ways. I like that she’s willing to share her extravagance and for some reason I like that she’s trying to take Clarissa under her wing as best she can.

Bull – man! I love this guy. He’s so practical and interesting. Even though he’s bullheaded, such as refusing the medical coma, he sees that the ship (even the fleet) may need a strong leader. And that’s proven true with the counter-coup in progress.

3. Confronted by Anna, the crew of the Rocinante have a big decision to make. What do you make of their response(s)?

I’m OK with the crew keeping things quiet for now. It would only serve to anger an already stirred up hornet’s nest. Also, I’m pretty sure Clarissa isn’t playing with a full deck of cards at this point so executing her would bring all sorts of ethical questions into play.

Of course Naomi forgave her because that’s what she does.

I think when the crew said they owed Anna anything they weren’t expecting this. But I also think that out of all of them, Amos really meant it so when Anna asked for them to keep things about Clarissa quiet for now, it was easy for him to say Yes.

4. So Miller’s back then, and it’s all falling apart. Predictions for the finale? Will they get home?

I really don’t know how things are going to play out. In an earlier post, I said that I totally expected the crew to get back to the Solar System but now I’m not sure if that’s how things will end with this book. I don’t expect them all to die and I don’t expect them to be stuck at this big alien way station for the rest of the series, but they might be trapped here for a time, especially if Ashford and Cortez get the automated alien police all pissed.

Other Tidbits:

It was good to see Naomi do something other than be a peacemaker and love interest once again.

Lemonade, anyone? Tilly’s buying!

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.

Abaddon’s Gate Part II

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 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, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 13-26, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) After two books that built mystery on top of mystery, we finally get some answers. What revelation excites you the most?

I like knowing what Miller is, though I daresay all of us half-guessed it. It makes me wonder if Julie was somehow the same thing for Miller (when he was alive)… but Miller and Julie never met in real life.

Intergalactic travel is now possible if only the human species can live long enough to harness the technology.

2) Was Holden right to head off on his own? And how do you think he’ll fare now that he’s been captured by the Martians? And is his crew still alive?

Yes, Holden was right. He’s the one that’s been chatting up Miller/Protomolecule. So he’s the logical choice for going. Plus, he doesn’t have any skills that aren’t matched (or outmatched) by his crew mates. He’s not a mechanic or a pilot.

Well, the Martians will keep him alive provided he doesn’t do anything stupid and if Anna, Bull, or the Roci crew can get them to listen, they will want Melba and the documentary crew much more than Holden.

Yes, I think the Roci’s crew is still alive simple because there’s like 3 or 4 more books in the series.

3) On a related note, how do you feel about the new POV characters now? Are you warming to any?

I’m still intrigued by Melba simply because she’s both obsessed and thoughtful, and yet still has a blind eye towards her dad’s actions and how that created much of this mess.

Bull is still very interesting though now I worry about his survivability. He really needs some serious medical attention but I don’t know if he will be able to get what he needs in time so I applaud him making a tough choice to stay awake and do what he can.

4) Do you think Earth and Mars will agree to the OPA’s plan? Do you think they’ll be stuck forever in this weird starless place or will they get back home?

I think they will hesitate, especially Mars, but will  ultimately agree to send over their wounded. Everyone is desperate and has suffered losses.

As to whether any of them will get home again, that’s a very good question. This series has been full of surprises so far. At the end of Book 1, I expected war between Mars and Earth and possibly the OPA, but we didn’t get a full out war at all. Then at the end of Book 2, I thought that tentacular blob ejected from Venus would head towards another moon or planet to take over; instead, it turned into the big ring gate. So while I don’t expect our key players to be stuck in this starless construct for the next 3 or 4 books, I really don’t know where the story will take us next.

5) Oh, and do you think that destroyer of worlds, strange darkness is still out there?

If this protomolecule could exist for 2 million years in the void of space & eventually take us to this weird waystation in another galaxy, then yes, I think whatever could take out the civilization that created those first two could still be out there. Whether or not it’s murderous is really the question.

Other Tidbits:

Is it just me, or is Naomi having less to do this book? She’s coming across as a little whiny to me and as someone who just pops up when Holden needs his moral compass or sanity checked.

Betrayed Amos is a sad, angry Amos. Poor dude.

Tilly is more than a pretty face and fashionista. I’m glad she’s got some smarts to her.

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.

Abaddon’s Gate Part I

The read along of Abaddon’s Gate, Book 3 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 at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering the Prologue-Chapter 12, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. This time around the prologue shows us what became of The Thing That Abandoned Venus. Any ideas about what the purpose of the Ring might be?

My, I wasn’t expecting that! I was really expecting it to be some seed headed off to another planet or moon in our solar system. So now we have this ring and it seems to be a gate to somewhere very far off. I recall someone contemplating what was known so far, like sending in objects and light waves and also receiving radio waves from the inside of the ring that were older than the Big Bang. Perhaps that was Anna contemplating all that. Time warp? Just an intergalactic gate?

2. New book means new characters! Do any of these newcomers stand out to you at this point? If so, who and why?

Melba/Julie Mao’s sister (Clarice?) is interesting because she feels some regret over some of the horrible things she has to do… and yet she totally doesn’t explore the morality of her dad’s actions.

Bull is fun, coming from Alamogordo, New Mexico. I love that his special treat is some frozen Hatch chili. I liked the way he handled the Pixie Dust problem on the generation ship turned military vessel.

3. It looks like bureaucracy is finally catching up to the Rocinante crew. Do you think they’ll actually lose the ship?

Somehow I don’t think they will lose the ship through court. they have plenty of money and the ship is a moving target. They can hire their own lawyers and one court (OPA) has already granted them salvage rights to it. If Earth or Mars overturns the OPA’s ruling, the OPA could well be insulted, feeling like they aren’t acknowledged as a true sovereign realm.

But I do fear that someone could illegally take it from them or they could have to evacuate due to some sabotage or protomolecule stuff or the need to hurtle a very fast ship into a large alien ring, thereby destroying it….

Other Tidbits:

Brown sludge that looks like feces but smells like the best braised beef ever – yuck! I’ve never been a fan of foods that look like one thing but taste very different – like cakes that are made to look like litter boxes and such.

I think it was good of Ana’s wife to take their little girl to Earth so that she has the choice later on of where she wants to live. She can always return to the Belt or go to Mars, but if she grew up in low G, she wouldn’t have the choice of living on Earth.

I really like how Ana handled that domestic violence issue. Clever! Ana may well be a force to be reckoned with.

Sounds like Holden’s crew all have secrets they don’t want to share with the documentary crew. I do wonder the most about Alex.

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.

Interview: Scott Rhine, Author of the Military SF Novel Void Contract

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Scott Rhine. We chat about what authors we’d want by our sides in difficult times or in a classroom, first book, and plenty more. Enjoy!

1) If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

The Lost Room. My character would give out the items to people who ask me for handouts on the street.

2) If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Jaime in Game of Thrones. I would have had him realize that Brienne could rock his world.

3) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Carrying a beeper for software customer support and having workers in India page me when they had any questions at all. It gave me an ulcer. Writing may have ups and downs, but creating relieves stress.

4) You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Allen Steele, hard sci-fi expert who has written a lot on space.
Carl Sagan, because he knows a little about everything science and math.
Robert Heinlein because I think he actually worked with radar in WWII.

5) If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

NF
Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”
Stephen King’s “On Writing”
Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”

SHORTS/HISTORY
Arthur C Clarke’s “Tales from the White Hart”
Asimov’s “I Robot”
Card “Ender’s Game” the short story.
Gibson “Burning Chrome”

FIC
Zelazny’s “Lord of Light” for incorporating myth.
Kress’s “Beggars in Spain” for taking a simple idea to the furthest extent.
Vinge’s “A Fire on the Deep”
Niven/Pournelle “Mote in God’s Eye”
Haldeman “There is No Darkness”
Williams “Voice of the Whirlwind”
Stephenson “Snow Crash”

mention:
Heinlein “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”
Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5”
Simmon’s “Endymion”
Brinn “Startide Rising”
Vance “Languages of Pao”

6) Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I correspond about once a year with LE Modesitt. I’m a huge fan. When I told him that I modeled the Batman feel of my latest novel “Quantum Zero Sentinel” after his “Flash/Archform” world, he asked me to send him a copy of the paperback.

It’s an awesome world.

7) What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The best strategy for getting experience points in Pokemon Go. My kids both backed me against my wife, who values each monster she has nurtured and doesn’t want to trade any.

8a) Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works?

Guildenstern and Rosencrantz
The dagger in Brust’s Jhereg series

8b) What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

In “Foundation for the Lost”, Eoin goes on a front-lawn Santa hunt with a baseball bat and a pack of Guinness. I end up reading that scene when I visit the local library for events. Elves who hate Santa strike people as funny.

In “Empress of Dreams”, one of mothers of a contestant is the ultimate dirty-tricks mistress. You just have to love Lady Evershade because she is so committed and scares the tar out of the heroes. Though she is a pure product of her culture, and the ideal aristocrat’s wife.

9) What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

10) You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Ang from Last Airbender. If I could make it funny, he’d help me win.

About Author Scott Rhine:

Scott Rhine wanted to find a job that combined his love of reading with math problem solving, so he studied both short stories and computer languages. As a techno-gypsy, he worked on optimizing some of the fastest and largest supercomputers in the world. A couple of degrees, patents, and children later, at forty-eight, he still didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. When his third publication, “Doors to Eternity,” hit #16 on the Amazon epic fantasy list, he decided to become a full-time author. Since then, each book of his “Jezebel’s Ladder” series hit the high-tech science fiction top 100. His new medical thriller, “the K2 Virus,” is his highest rated novel with the first 12 reviews ranking it five stars.

Humor is a part of every story he writes because people are funny, even when they don’t think so. In the real world, something always goes wrong and people have flaws. If you can’t laugh at yourself, someone is probably doing it for you. Strong female characters also play a major role in his stories because he’s married to a beautiful PhD who can edit, break boards, and use a chainsaw.

Website | Facebook

Synopsis of Void Contract:

Max Culp escaped his low-tech home world by serving in the marines as a medic. Unable to adapt to civilian life as a medical intern, he joined Special Forces to track down the Phib war criminals who caused his recurring nightmares. By the time the final Phib is captured, Max has become an urban legend among the aliens. He isn’t sure how to apply those skills to a new life until someone kidnaps his last surviving friend.

Audible ~ Amazon

Interview: Jeremy Flagg, Author of the Children of Nostradamus Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Jeremy Flagg. We chat about his love of graphic novels, the hope for a Salvatore-based tabletop game, and plenty more.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

Currently with the boom of comic book movies and TV shows, I’m honestly surprised the same hasn’t happened in the literary world. I grew up on comic books, in fact, it’s how I learned to read. However, the jump from illustrated stories to novelization seems to be a slow process. With only a few breakouts such as Brandon Sanderson or Peter Clines, the market is vastly underserved. But despite the market having yet to sway in that direction, there are some amazing superhero inspired stories happening. I think the ability to get inside the head of the hero makes it a unique medium that brings a lot to the table for the genre.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’m a superhero writer, I should pick a superhero, but I think I’d have to go with the supernatural. There is something about these myths and folklore that continue to make us wonder. I like the idea that there is a world we’re not quite sure about. I’m curious to see what wonders there are. Granted, with my luck I’d be stuck with a grumpy gnome saving me.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I’m a 90’s kid through and through. I was born in the early 80’s, and loved the music of the time, but nothing will surpass the 90’s for me. My playlists are filled with songs from the late 90’s and even the weird look we had during that period sticks with me. Despite that though, there’s a bit of an 80’s child hiding in there. I secretly like to think I’m a punk in corporate clothing.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

We’re on the verge of so many emerging technologies, I think it’s fascinating to see how much science fiction has simply become science. Still, the thing I’m dying to see is the computer screen from Minority Report. I find myself frequently annoyed that I don’t have enough screen space and constantly flipping through windows. I frequently have my laptop hooked up to a TV and my iPad next to me. It’d be amazing to have it all in one place and just be able to manipulate it with my hand. We’re not far from it, I think this one may actually happen during my lifetime.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Not the worst by a long stretch, but definitely the most difficult would have to be teaching high school. I’ve been a high school art teacher for a decade now and it’s a demanding job. You’re constantly pushing kids to be creative and step outside their comfort zone. It’s extremely rewarding, but after a day of wrestling with kids, you find yourself lacking the creativity to do your own work. There are the hand full of kids who give back as much as you put in, and those have been the ones that continue to inspire. Writing on the other hand, during my off months is a walk in the park. The only temperamental thing I have to deal with is my laptop, and that’s nowhere near as complicated as wow-ing a room of twenty-five teenagers. The only difficulty is in forcing myself to sit down and write when I have the time (which isn’t too difficult for me.)

You’re granted a super power and given the chance to team up with 4 other superheroes (or supervillains). What power do you have and who have you teamed up with?

The obvious answer is teleportation. I will always want the ability to teleport. I hate going places, but I’m always happy once I’m there. As for the others I would team up with? Not that I haven’t thought about this in depth, but it’d be Nightcrawler, Colossus, Magneto (every time needs the slightly villainous character) and Phoenix. That’d pretty much be the unstoppable superhero team. I may have spent more than a little time figuring this out (aka a lot.)

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I would love to see R.A. Salvatore’s Demon War Saga turned into some sort of tabletop game. Salvatore has a wonderfully unique perspective on traditional fantasy and I think it’d make for a great storyline. I’d love it even more if it were turned into a console game similar to Skyrim. I’d want to play Pony, one of my favorite female leads who wields magic and her female intuition like a weapon. That’d be a pretty badass game.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in comics & graphic novels, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I actually teach a college class about graphic novels. There are a variety of great pieces that should be in there. I like to blend great stories such as the Watchmen alongside classic superheroes such as X-Men’s Inferno with things like Maus. My favorite question to pose the class is to ask, do comics influence society or does society influence comics? I like exploring the need for diversity in mainstream comics and how smaller companies are filling in these niche categories. I feel if given enough time, there could be entire concentrations in comics similar to Art History at this point. Unfortunately, I don’t think we respect comics as much as we do novels. I am happy however to see them get more attention thanks to the popularity of movie adaptations.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Marvel beats DC. Star Trek over Star Wars. Sub before Dub. With the company I keep, there are always geeky conversations happening. I’m always down for a geek argument.

About Author Jeremy Flagg:

Jeremy Flagg is the author of the CHILDREN OF NOSTRADAMUS dystopian science fiction series and SUBURBAN ZOMBIE HIGH young adult humor/horror series. Taking his love of pop culture and comic books, he focuses on fast paced, action packed novels with complex characters and contemporary themes.

Jeremy is the Co-creator of Massachusetts Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors and member of the Metrowest Writers writing group. He is also an active member of the New England Horror’s Association and Broad Universe.

Jeremy spends most of his free time at his desk writing snarky books. When he gets a moment away from writing, he watches too much Netlix and Hulu and reading comic books. Jeremy, a Maine native, resides in Clinton, Massachusetts and can be found in local coffee shops pounding away at the keyboard.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Synopsis of Nighthawks:

New England is a walled off radioactive prison. People exhibiting extraordinary abilities are hunted for experiments. The only talent twenty-six-year-old Conthan has in life is his art and knack for sarcasm. When a cop threatens his life, Conthan discovers he has the ability to teleport. Hunted by the military and a woman with her own gifts, Conthan finds exiles in the Boston wastelands with powers of their own. For the first time, he sees potential to become a hero. But as he unravels a conspiracy threatening the world, he must decide between his survival and his humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey

Narrator: Jefferson Mays

Publisher: Recorded Books (2012)

Length: 19 hours 50 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Expanse

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 in the series and really should be enjoyed after having read Book 1.

Several months have passed since the events of Leviathan Wakes. Holden and crew are now working for Fred, basically being his enforcers in their sleek Martian ship the Rocinante. In fact, they’ve become rather humdrum about having to deal with space pirates. The ship’s broken coffee maker is a bigger nuisance than space pirates! But then something horrible happens on Ganymede, the bread basket for the Belters and stations. Holden and his crew are drawn into some protomolecule nastiness and they might not survive as a whole.

Book 1 was really good and Book 2 surpasses that. There are so many great points about this book. First, my only complaint from Book 1 has been addressed. We have more female characters and they affect the plot! Yay! Chrisjen Avasarala is a cross between a Spy Master and a top-notch politician. She’s got her reasons for going after the goals she sets and she’s got a harsh mouth. I loved her commentary. Then’s there’s Bobbie, a Mech Warrior with the Mars Military. She’s a very large Polynesian woman, all muscle with a good balance of brains and skills. Naomi didn’t shine as brightly for me in this book, but I didn’t agree with all her choices. That’s OK; I don’t have to agree with all the heroes to enjoy the book.

Amos got some depth on him and there were several great scenes with him. That canned chicken scene still stands out. Amos likes to fight but he also uses his violence as a tool. He’s not just some angry brawler. We still haven’t gotten much on Alex but he did get some good jokes now that there’s another Martian for him to joke around with. Jim Holden is still the central character and I enjoyed they various scenarios he’s put in that make him question his ethics.

So let’s talk about that protomolecule that everyone thought was safely locked up and in Fred’s custody. Well, somehow somewhere someone got their hands on some and started doing experiments with it. Now Ganymede is another goo zone. Prax, a botanist living on Ganymede before the incident, is desperately searching for his daughter. The crew of the Roci get pulled into this affair and Prax temporarily becomes both part of the crew and a paying customer.

There were so many moments in this book where I thought for sure we’re going to lose this character or that one or a planet or a spaceship. Mobile protomolecule monsters! Plenty of political intrigue. One man very determined to make life tough for everyone. The hunt for Prax’s kid, Mei.

The ending held some surprises. It closed out the big events for this book but set us up for the next one. There’s a character that’s back which I didn’t expect. Also, there’s big stuff happening on Venus and it looks like humanity will finally have to do something about it.

The Narration: Jefferson Mays continues to do a really great job with this series. I love his accents for Avasarala (Indian) and Alex (Texan). His female voices sound like ladies. He’s able to keep all the characters distinct and he pulls off the big and nuanced emotions alike.

What I Liked: Holden and his crew are more cohesive; space pirates!; mobile protomolecule monsters!; the hunt for Mei; Avasarala’s potty mouth; Bobbie’s skills; the ending wraps up some things while setting us up for more; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a lot of fun!

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

SFF World

Geekritique

The Book Smugglers

Beer Rants & Books

Obsessive Book Nerd

Elitist Book Reviews

Adventures in ScFi Publishing

The Sky People by S. M. Stirling

Narrator: Todd McLaren

Publisher: Tantor Audio (2007)

Length: 10 hours 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Lords of Creation

Author’s Page

In the 1960s, probes to Venus discovered something completely unexpected – life on Venus. Subsequent probes revealed plenty of animal life including dinosaur-like creatures and human-like people complete with civilizations. Now in the 1980s, the US and it’s allies have set up a small scientific outpost on Venus. The Soviet East Block has done the same thing. Venus comes with plenty of dangers but now it seems there might be a saboteur among the American & Allies crew.

Marc Vitrac, born in Louisiana and complete with Cajun accent, is the hero of this tale. He’s got the smarts and the muscles and the skills while also being friendly to Venusian canines and respectful of women. It’s rare to find such a man in science fiction (and even rarer to find one in real life). I really enjoyed this character partially because of all that stated above but because he’s also put in extraordinary circumstances in which he manages to keep his wits about him.

The setting was gripping. First, we know today that we are very unlikely to find Earth-like people and animals on Venus, but imagine if we had? Wouldn’t that raise all sorts of questions? That’s partially what these scientists are here to investigate. They also simply need to explore Venus, learning about it’s peoples and resources. I loved all the geeky science stuff about archaeology and paleontology.

There’s dinos! Yes! I loved seeing Terrans and Venusians interact with these beasties in all their variety. There’s also some intimidating predator mammals, like this large canine. In fact, Marc gets himself a puppy, Tyo, who becomes quite the novelty and Marc’s best wingman.

Meanwhile, the Venusians have several different cultures going on. There’s the ‘civilized’ Venusians of Kartahown city which is nearby the US outpost Jamestown. There are other cities as well. Then there’s the semi-nomadic and mostly peaceful human-like groups, such as the Cloud Mountain People lead by Teesa, a princess and shaman all rolled into one. Lastly, there’s the mostly nomadic and violent Beastmen, which are Neanderthal-like. Toss in tensions with the Soviet outpost, Cosmograd, then you’ve got some politicking as well (most of which happens behind the scenes).

The cast has a fair amount of diversity. Cynthia Whitlock is an African American geologist, and resistant to Marc’s charms. Christopher Blair is our British bloke with the RAF. Much later in the story we get a Russian woman who is doing her best to retrieve a downed Russian outpost exploration vehicle that had her husband, Captain Binkis, on it. Teesa has her moments, sometimes leading her people and sometimes playing the helpless princess.

Despite the well traveled tropes in this story, I got much enjoyment out of it. For me, the weakness is in the women. Sometimes these ladies are well drawn out with skills, brains, and opinions. Yet sometimes they fall into helpless damsels in distress that need rescuing (and I felt that was too easily done and just for drama). Still, I really enjoyed the story.

The Narration: Todd McLaren makes a really good Cajun Marc Vitrac. He kept all the characters distinct and had feminine voices for the ladies. There were some emotional moments in this book and McLaren was great at expressing those emotions through the characters. I liked his various accents (Cajun, standard American, British, Venusian, Russian, etc.).

What I Liked: Dinos and people!; Venus has much that needs exploring and much that is deadly; the variety of peoples on Venus; the political tensions between America & Allies and the Soviets; the deadly mammal predators; Tyo doggy; the very botched rescue mission; left me wanting more; great cover art.

What I Disliked: The ladies sometimes fall into helpless damsel mode.

What Others Think:

Dragon Page

RPG.net

Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased

SF Reviews.net

Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3) – Read Along 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 3, Abaddon’s Gate.

Here is the current schedule:

Week 1: Prologue to Chapter 12, Friday 4th August, hosted by Over The Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Chapters 13 to 26, Friday 11th August
Week 3: Chapters 27 to 40, Friday 18th August
Week 4: Chapters 41 to End, Friday 25th August

Book Blurb for Abaddon’s Gate:

For generations, the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt – was humanity’s great frontier. Until now.

The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus’s orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

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.

Caliban’s War Part IV

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 at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 43-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Bobbie’s idea turns out to be sneakier than I expected! Do you think this is a case of brains as well as muscle power, or is she learning a thing from Avasarala?

Yes, definitely. Bobbie has been watching Avasarala maneuver and I think this has pushed her to rely on more than her mech suit and military training (tho both serve her quite well). I don’t expect she will ever become the great political chess master that Avasarala is, but she’s learning to step outside her comfort zone.

2. The crew split up to take on various missions, all different but all important. Holden, Prax, Bobbie… Which final battle POV sticks with you most, and why?

I was holding my breath until they found Mei as I was definitely concerned that she was a goo monster. I was also worried that Holden wouldn’t make it through this book. I agree with him shooting what’s his face on the ship instead of negotiating with him. Time was of the essence and I felt that man needed to be executed by someone. I hope Bobbie gets a new mech suit.

3. “What’s that?” What indeed. What do you make of whatever the heck just lifted off from Venus, and where do you think it’s going?

Oh my! I think it’s headed for either Mars or Earth. I expect it’s a giant protomolecule ball built to infest whatever it lands on. I really hope they can stop it. If not, humanity will either fall or expand further out into the galaxy… and since the series is called The Expanse…. well, that Mormon generation ship may well be more important than we first thought.

4. Speaking of what was on Venus, let’s discuss THAT ending. When you’re done (presumably) flailing, of course… Thoughts? Reactions? Theories?

Yeah! WTF? Either Holden is starting to lose it and his mind is doing it Miller fashion because that’s the best example it has or he really does see some version of Miller. Could the protomolecule have psychic abilities? Who knows. Either way, I’m intrigued and in many ways it’s good to have Miller back in the mix because he balances out Holden’s Justice For All attitude with a solid dose of reality.

Other Tidbits:

I love Bobbie’s banter with Holden’s crew. She jokes with Alex and calls Amos out on his open appreciation of her battle suit one piece.

I want to hug Avasarala for giving her backing to Prax, ensuring him and his daughter have a secure future.

I hope Bobbie stays with the crew even if she and Alex never hook up.

The crowd funding campaign for Prax to find his daughter was awesome, though I don’t like how his wife tried to turn it (I expect she was both threatened and paid to do so).

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 III

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, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 28-42, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) So a lot happened this week! What do you make of all the POV characters meeting up? Do you think there will be any new additions to the crew of the Rocinante?

I was hoping that Avasarala would join the group at some point. The Rocinante needed someone with great swearing abilities! But I doubt that she will end up staying with the crew long term. She doesn’t really like changing gravity, does she? Also, she’s got her career (which might be on the rocks at the moment but she could have a come back).

I half hope that Meng will join the crew. I think the crew could really use a botanist/scientist on the crew, especially with the possibility of more unexpected labs holding bits of the protomolecule.

2) Holden has had some self realizations. Do you think he’ll really change his ways? And how does it tie into the new decisions for the Rocinante?

I’m on the fence about this one. Yes, he’s not the great thinker he was in Book 1 but is he a violence-happy man? No. Amos enjoys violence a lot more than he does, tho we do see him using it judiciously here (like when he insults the port security so they don’t notice how nervous Holden is). I felt a lot was made of this little storm in a tea cup.

3) What do you think they’ll find on Io?

Goo. Lots of dangerous goo. And hopefully clues to finding Mei. I really hope she isn’t one with the goo.

4) Apparently, the UN was involved after all, and now Avasarala’s been out maneuvered! But Bobbie thinks she has a plan to save their skins. Any ideas what her big revelation was? And do you think they’ll succeed?

I really like how Avasarala can reflect on the ‘how’ of being outmaneuvered and still keep her eye on the ball – she’s moving forward. Bobbie has a mech suit. I think she’s going to go all Iron Man on us. Yay! I do hope they succeed and I think they will win this one but will they both survive the end of this book? Not sure. After all, the first time I read Book 1 I didn’t expect Miller to go out in a blaze of glory.

Other Tidbits:

I think it’s very telling that Amos chooses to stay with Holden instead of following Naomi off the ship. I think she’s leaving for the wrong reasons and it’s more about her instead of it being all Holden.

Bobbie is my new favorite hero.

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.