We ended on a cliffhanger last week, with Holden and Miller in a tight spot after a series of traumatic experiences. The action picks straight back up – and remarkably, races right up to what feels like a climax. But the story isn’t done yet. There’s still a week to go. My word there’s a lot packed into this one… So let’s talk about it.

For those new to the Read-along concept – we read a certain number of pages or chapters and blog weekly in response to a host’s prompts. Then we generally share our enthusiasm or ranting – it’s fun, and if you fancy joining in, the schedule is at the bottom of this post – grab a copy and read along (you don’t have to keep to the time table). I’m hosting this week, so time to answer my own questions…

Be warned – There Will Be Spoilers.

 

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?

I rather enjoyed Miller finally getting to confront Holden about his habit of spraying information out into the ether willy-nilly without a thought for the consequences. Jim is given to knee-jerk emotional responses and is hopelessly naive – and I believe in thinking about the impact of your actions (Jim’s not really accepting any consequences for the escalating hostilities, is he?)

However, I also appreciated Jim’s impassioned defence of whistleblowing: those pulling strings can only do so by taking advantage of ignorance. True enough, so I’m sympathetic, but there’s more ways than one to make information public. I was desperately pleased when Jim finally had the sense to kick it up to Fred instead.

 

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

On the one hand, Antony Dresden falls neatly into the bag of Disappointing Corporate Villain: he’s almost incidental as a character except as a plot point (although I raised an eyebrow at the aside on his European breeding; not all Europeans are rich or villainous? Or was this meant to be a dig at Hollywood?)

Good speech, though. Well, sort of. I couldn’t help but think as he went on about Ancient Enemies and Alien Threats and First Strikes and so on that if the attack was launched 2 billion years ago then firstly, it wasn’t aimed at us because we didn’t remotely exist; and secondly, they can’t have been that serious about it or they’d have had another go. Honestly, as business cases go, it just isn’t very convincing, so I’m rather disappointed in our cast going wide-eyed and swaying a bit. I saw Prometheus (heck, I have a soft spot for it, flaws and all), and if there’s one big takeaway it’s let sleeping aliens lie. If they’ve not come back, they probably won’t unless you go poke them with their bioweapon.

As an excuse for some appalling behaviour and villainous over-the-toppery though, I guess it will do.

 

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

Reading this book could make me think I’m a bad person, but I already knew I had flexible ethics and an Old Testament streak. Yes, I believe in the rule of law and in the principle of justice, and yes, I’m totally glad Miller shot him. There’s no punishment harsh enough to make up for what he’s done, and when you’re responsible for the deaths of over a million people I’m really not interested in your redemption. Stop wasting oxygen better people could thrive on.

And while I like Holden’s morals – and how he clings to them – I think he’s a hypocrite. Miller felt bad about killing the civilian staff in self-defence; Holden said they deserved it because they’d helped engineer a bio-weapon. I don’t really see how you can hold that position and castigate Miller for shooting Dresden – he was responsible for all that and more. I think Miller just makes Jim uncomfortable, and the sooner he gets better acquainted with his own urges the sooner he may achieve emotional honesty (see also: Naomi).

 

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

I was a bit taken aback when this week made it to Thoth, stormed the station and moved right on into aftermath. We know what’s going on, the architect is dead, what else is there to do? Oh yeah, right, there’s an incidental war on. And Protogen really need sorting out. And something needs to be done about Eros. So, uh, I guess there’s quite a lot to squeeze in – although my money is on Protogen quietly disavowing Dresden and claiming he was a rogue executive.

Crucially, I’m not convinced a big reveal about Protogen would suffice to stop the war – too much bad blood, and this is a conflict that’s been decades (if not more) in the making. Short of the Belt threatening both sides with unleashing Phoebe on them (and I guess Fred could threaten that, not that I think he’d go through with it), I’m not sure how you stop the war.

But I don’t expect the Engineers aliens to show up. More fool me, maybe. I mean, that’s certainly a big enough thing to stop a war (you’d think).

 

Any other thoughts this week?

HELL YES Naomi tearing Jim up one side and down the other with his protestations of love and puppy dog eyes. I will admit to being a little disappointed when she later propositioned him, but at least she made clear that it’s her choice and sex is not love and he can figure it out on his own time. But honestly, I was hoping she’d shack up with Sam 😉

…and can we have a moment to consider a station sport that’s ‘a cross between darts and soccer’. My mind, it boggles. I guess the tame version involves kicking a ball at a darts board; but I don’t think that’s how Golgo works…

 

Take a tour of our responses this week:

  • Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
  • Sarah at The Illustrated Page
  • Susan at Dab of Darkness
  • Feel free to join in in the comments on our blogs or on Goodreads – but no spoilers!

 

Our reading schedule if you’d like to jump aboard: