Humanity is streaming from the solar system to the stars, and not everyone is as happy about it as you might expect. The Rocinante – fresh home from Ilus / New Terra – needs 6 months of repairs. The enforced pause grants her crew some rare breathing space, but time to reflect is also time for the past to creep up on you – and only Jim Holden, the most public man in the galaxy, has no skeletons rattling his closet doors…

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. The story takes a pretty sharp turn from any of the previous sorts of narratives, by dividing up the Roci crew and (finally!) giving us the POVs of Naomi, Alex and Amos, as well as Holden. What do you think of this twist? Are you enjoying a particular POV more than the rest, so far?

I can’t actually find an animated gif that captures just how delighted and excited I am.

ALEX

AMOS

NAOMI

AMOS

HOLD ME I MAY EXPLODE I AM SO HAPPY

…and yes, it’s Timothy Amos who is winning hands down. His predictable intervention aboard the shuttle to look out for Wendy and her dads (and his casual threatening of them if they don’t put the savings into the Wendy fund OMG); his little chat with Avasarala:

“I’m mostly a mechanic. But the idea that the UN has a file on me somewhere that lists me as the Rocinante’s killer? That’s kind of awesome”

Then there’s that beat in his conversation with Erich – who is fairly badass as well as being a criminal kingpin – when it becomes clear that Erich is shitting himself at the thought of Amos being back on the Baltimore scene and would really rather find a way that doesn’t involve violence to get him the hell out of town again. I mean, Amos has always come across as ruthless and competent, but this was a level of respect (as I guess Amos would see it) that just pushed him even further up the ladder of badassery for me. Which – belatedly – gives me a smidge more respect for Murtry, as one of the only people who has ever bested him.

…and honestly, I thought I broadly had Amos pegged, but when he decides there’s one more person he’d like to see before he leaves Earth and it’s Peaches? My heart. MY HEART.

I am nothing but Murdersnuggles fandom and ALL CAPS JOY.

…in spite of the fact that HALLO NAOMI (I guessed her relationship to Filip, but YAS YAS YAS WE’RE FINDING OUT ABOUT HER PAST AT LAST).

 

2. Holden, meanwhile, has to tackle the mystery of some disappearing ships, without the rest of his crew. Do you have any theories about the disappearances, and how do you think Holden will handle flying solo on this one?

Oh jeez he’s going to get himself in trouble. Right? SO. MUCH. TROUBLE.

Holden has no idea when he’s in over his head, and it’s never stopped him going further than he can get himself out of, and there’s NOBODY AROUND TO STEAM IN AND HELP HIM.

…so if Bobbie and Alex don’t get their asses to Tycho stat, I think Jim is in for serious pain.

…but I’m sort of loving how he’s now actively channelling Miller all by himself, right down to wanting a hat.

I am absolutely blaming Marco and his little gang of terrorists for the disappearances (I don’t hold out much hope for those colonists, and I’m sorry Fred, but I’m pretty sure you’re not in control of all of Medina), but secretly of course I’m hoping it’s actually THE TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAWN OF TIME. Because, aliens. I’m never going to give up hoping for more aliens and less human awfulness. But I’ve been trained. I expect it’s human awfulness.

 

3. Before leaving the Rocinante, Naomi raises the point that it might be time they considered expanding the crew. Do you think she’s right?

100%. They’ve been flying by the seat of their pants since they first stepped onto the Cant‘s shuttle and it’s a miracle they’ve only lost Shed. Cibola Burn made it abundantly clear that there’s really not enough of them to cope, although I’m pretty sure Naomi (and probably Alex) was already conscious of this as a nagging worry.

Besides, remember when they had Bobbie aboard as a gunner and she was epic? Obviously I’m hoping for developments there, but generally – yes, yes of course they should take on some colleagues. And it’s going to be weird for everyone, because it’s really tough joining a family, but redundancy is essential in space – and there’s room to expand their expertise as well as double up on it. So – how about a gunner (cough cough). And/or a medic?

 

Other thoughts for the week…

Just a moment to consider that Naomi reflects that she likes Amos because he’s a monster. She’s consistently been the one made of empathy and conscience, the one who avoids violent answers to hard questions. I get Alex liking Amos for being ‘a man without subtext’ (that sums him up so perfectly too), but for the first time I had a little wonder about just what makes Naomi tick. Maybe Amos reminds her of Cyn and the Belter bad asses of her past, and Jim is – after a fashion – a way of turning her back on all that? I guess we’re about to find out…

 

Take a tour of our responses this week:

 

A round-up of the weekly discussions for Book 5: