The Expanse Read-along: Caliban’s War – Week 2

Banner: glimpse of a space station in orbit - text reads Caliban's War Read Along

As Holden and his crew search Ganymede to try and find Prax’s lost daughter, the negotiations on Earth stop abruptly. Although Avasarala is tempted to figure out who is pulling the strings – and why – she knows someone needs to keep an eye on Venus. She’s not wrong…

For those new to the Read-along – we are working our way through The Expanse from beginning to end, reading about a quarter of each book per week and blogging weekly in response to a host’s prompts. Expect enthusiasm and/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 the questions are all my doing.

Be warned – if you keep reading, There Will Be Spoilers.


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?

I was musing last week that Jim seemed to have become comfortable shooting people – and was surprised to realise he now thinks of himself as a cop (HALLO JIM HAVE YOU RE-EXAMINED YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT MILLER RECENTLY?) – when along comes this week and he’s suddenly Mr Gung-Ho Grab-A-Gun (although I liked how he talked the Pinkwater crew around). As usual, I was mighty relieved when Naomi called him out on it – and specifically referenced Miller! – although there’s a little bit of me thinking ‘it’s okay, Mr Corey, we all got it. You don’t need to be this explicit’.

…and there’s nothing subtle about Amos, is there? We always knew the big man was capable of extreme violence and had a dark and shady past, but I spent a good portion of this week shouting WHAT WOULD NAOMI DO, AMOS? WHAT? WOULD? NAOMI? DO?

…I don’t think he had a suit on when they went to see the hacker though, so she may have missed out on the full devastating impact Amos made on him. Although she certainly got the gist. Still, I have to love both his sympathy for Prax (do you smell back story? I do) and his pragmatic approach to dealing with him when it proved a bad choice.

Still, I think character deconstruction may be closer to the mark than character development. And I did feel for Jim when he saw what had been in the tank. His epic freak out was appropriate (and now we know just how deep his Eros scars are).


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

I… don’t think I could work for Avasarala. She’s entertaining to read (although I’m still 50/50 on when the swearing is funny and when it’s wearing), but I don’t like a bully – and she knows she’s behaving badly, she simply doesn’t care to divert energy to stop herself. She lets glimpses of affection shine through, but she’s a terrible boss.

If Bobbie wavers though, it’ll have nothing to do with Avasarala’s leadership skills – it will all be down to her loyalties and inner damage. I’m sure she’s had worse in the military. However, now she’s recognising how terrible her decision making has been (and it has, objectively, even if I think she’s ended up in the right place to make a bigger difference), I do hope she also recognises that she is now in the right place to make a bigger difference. And that Avasarala’s power politics don’t just piss her off.


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?

Oh, my. So Nguyen re-started the war, but I don’t know who he’s in bed with – it feels like we have a mysterious fifth column at work, as I don’t believe there’s any way to forge an alliance with Venus(!). And I don’t think Venus has set up labs on Ganymede – that’s someone picking up Protogen’s vision and trying to ‘jump start evolution’.

But Venus clearly has some innate sympathy with the lab monster, so it’s fair to assume that whoever the mysterious fifth column is (because I don’t think Fred is behind it) – they’re in for a shock. By this point in Leviathan, there had been clues about Protogen – either I’ve missed something in Caliban, or it really is Fred (see my disappointed face, Fred. Disappointed in YOU) – but my money is on a Previously Unknown Actor. Or Actress.

The bit that does my noodle is whether the monster escaping the lab to start the war in the first place was intentional or a terrible mistake. But my money is on the latter.


4. Is it dead? Do you think putting it out an airlock was the right decision? 

…I think we’ve been explicitly told that vacuum doesn’t bother it, right? So it’s totally alive and floating out there. And sure, space is a big place and it has no way to move through it (OR DOES IT), but that gives me the heebie-jeebies. This can’t end well. I don’t know whether that means some poor ship stumbling across it, or it being able to get back aboard the Roci or some weird crazy web of horror between the asteroids – but aaaaaaaaagh.

Still, I’m not sure what the alternatives were. Flying around with it in the cargo hold was only safe until it wasn’t – and it’s not like you could in good conscience take it anywhere! So, erm.


Other thoughts for the week…

I will admit to a little air punch when Bobbie went outside and promptly had a fit of agoraphobia. Hooray for sensible world building!

“The intensity of your feelings isn’t evidence.”

Naomi, you wonderful woman, please don’t leave. Just stay around and make pithy comments.


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!


A round-up of the weekly discussions for Book 1: