The Expanse Read-along: Cibola Burn – Week 1

Cibola Burn - The Expanse read-along (background fro cover art, explosions in space)

The Gates are open. Humanity is expanding beyond our solar system… but with corporations claiming entire planets and independent settlers taking up arms to defend their claims, our proudest, most exciting moment appears to be just another opportunity to revel in our worst nature. Will we inherit the stars? Or is there a threat out there terrible enough to unite us?

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). Our host this week is Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow.

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


1. Bobbie Draper is back! Though we don’t get much more than a re-intro scene with her in this section … Any thoughts on what form her role in this book might take?

I… am so disappointed that we’ve seen nothing more of Bobbie than this intro. I feel flirted with. Used, even. Okay, I’m being melodramatic. But I do hope we get to see her again – I’m not really feeling Cibola Burn so far, so a familiar face would go some way to getting me on board. And given the months of travel between Ilus and Mars, it seems unlikely she’s going to suddenly appear unless we have an unexpected hiatus…


2. We also get to see Havelock again, and in a larger role than before, as we’re set up with a colonisation/(another) ‘evil’ corporation story this time. How do you feel about those kinds of stories? Does this one grab you, and what are your thoughts on Havelock’s role in particular?

I am also disappointed that it’s back to a worst of humanity story. Murtry is a cookie cutter gung ho corporate security ‘let me play with my weapons’ antagonist; I’m really hoping Havelock will see sense and tell him to suck it. But I’m also remembering that I like Havelock on tv a whole lot more than I ever liked Havelock in the book, where he was mostly naïve and a bit sorry for himself.


3. We’re given perspective on both sides of the battlefield here, as it were – not only with the colony vs. Murtry and his goons, but with the teams of scientists (and Elvi as a new POV character) who are there for their own reasons. What were your first impressions of Elvi, and your thoughts on the general attitude of the scientists present?

I do like Elvi, thankfully (I needed to like someone – Basia didn’t endear himself to me in Caliban’s War and he’s not exactly doing much to improve my impressions of him here either). She’s got an Ivory Tower naïveté, but it plays well – she’s passionate about her science and the opportunities for knowledge; of course she’ll be frustrated by the colonists just doing what the hell they like and contaminating the environment. I like that she’s also impulsive (running off to yell at someone for being in the Ruins) – I do tend to like well-meaning but impulsive characters – in spite of being someone who generally wants to play by the book (not wanting to write a reference for Felcia when she doesn’t actually know enough about her). I don’t feel this is a good situation for any of her character traits, however.

I don’t feel we’ve seen enough of the other scientists to really comment much; clearly they’re not all as straight-laced as Elvi though – which tends to make me think they stand a higher chance of surviving. So hopefully Amos will adopt her.


4. Once again, Holden appears to have the crappy end of the stick, trying to mediate between these two sides. Do you think Avasarala is setting him up, expecting failure, or is there some way he can actually make this work…?

I rather suspect Avasarala thinks he’s expendable – so if he can pull the rabbit out of the hat, great; if he can’t, at least she loses no political capital (and he’s doubly expendable by virtue of not being UN at all, which is also true if he makes a decision she disapproves of – she can sever ties and denounce him as an OPA sympathiser).

I don’t think there’s any mediating to be done with Murtry now, however. So it does look like a doomed mission.


Other thoughts for the week…

I’d like to take a minute for appreciating the crew of the Rocinante, please. Scene of the week:

“You said to gear up for the drop.”

“I meant, like, underwear and toothbrushes.”

“Later,” Amos said, “when you’re wishing we had this stuff, I am going to be merciless in my mockery. And then we’ll die.”

In other thoughts, I am so intrigued by the casual remarks about the planet being entirely manufactured – the geology makes no sense, the lithium makes no sense… I wonder whether the wildlife even makes sense. TELL ME MORE ABOUT THIS PLEASE.

I am mostly struggling to engage with Cibola Burn so far. I desperately need something to get excited about. So, erm, aliens would be good, yes?


Take a tour of our responses this week:


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