Sunday, October 22, 2017

Read-Along: Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corery, Part 3

In the second-to-last week of the read-along of James S.A. Corey’s Nemesis Games, the suspense is killing me!  I really want to know how things can possibly be resolved, and I’m afraid things will get worse before they get better.  This week’s discussion covers from chapter 26 to 38, and I provided the questions. Beware of spoilers from here on out!

1. Marco has finally made his declaration. What do you think of it, and how Earth, Mars, and the Belt might respond?

I am glad that we got to see his announcement from Bobbie and Alex’s point of view, just so that they could immediately comment about how megalomaniacal he sounded.  His declaration was pretty horrifying, and also he had a lot of gall to pretend his side were the victims immediately after he probably killed the home planet of humanity.

Obviously, Earth and Mars can’t accede to his irrational demands.  I would also hope that the majority of the Belt would not answer his rallying cry.  It seems to me that the only reasonable response is to root out his terrorist group and eradicate them. They are guilty of murdering over a quarter of a billion people--they have proven that they are too dangerous and violent to be allowed to continue to exist in human society.  That might mean that they send more asteroids toward the Earth, but I bet more would die in the long run, if they continued uncontested.

2. It looks like most of the Rocinante are making their way to Luna! Which of the four stories is most intriguing you at this point? What are your favorite highlights?

Naomi’s story has been really compelling, and I’m really hoping it’s leading up to her breaking into and taking over the ‘trap’ ship, and then flying it to Luna. Right now hers is the most intriguing, because I’m really not sure what she’s going to manage to do next.  In terms of highlights, I really enjoyed seeing her square off against Marco and call him on his lies.  Based on Holden’s section, I’m pretty sure Marco’s plan was always to kill Holden, he just wanted to manipulate events to try and bludgeon Naomi into feeling guilty about it.

3. All the Rocinante crew are being put through a wringer. What do you think of the choices they’ve made? e.g., do you agree with Naomi’s priorities? Are Amos’s post-apocalyptic morals justified? Is it a good thing that Holden is keeping to the mission?

I think Naomi’s doing the best she can with what she has.  There’s no way she could have stopped Marco’s plan in it’s tracks, so she’s trying to mitigate damage to the people she loves--the Rocinante crew and her son. I don’t think there’s much she can do for Filip at this point, but I’ve been impressed so far with what she’s pulled off for the Roci.

Regarding Amos, I feel kind of bad about him killing the survivalist, but I guess the guy was showing signs of planning to murder them for their imaginary water recycler.  I was glad that he managed to avoid violence with the other groups.  I was kind of surprised that he went back to Erich, but it looks like it was the right decision.

I am happy with Holden’s new maturity, not blinding shooting all his information off into space and not running after Naomi.  I hope this saves him when the fake distress call is sent out.  I’m wondering if he’ll suspect it’s a fake.  

4. The protomolecule has yet to rear its ugly head. Do you have any speculation on what Marco might be intending for it?

I was thinking it would be a follow-up threat after the asteroids, but he didn’t mention it in his broadcast.  I’m wondering now if they might have a more complicated plan than just “dump the protomolecule on people”.  Maybe they’re planning to follow up with the super-soldier research and turn themselves into creatures that can live in space without a suit?

5. Seeing how the story is shaping up, which (if any) of the supporting characters do you think would make good additions to the Rocinante crew?

Since that conversation between Holden & Naomi, this has been on my mind.  I think Bobbie would be a good new crew member, and she’s shown signs of wanting to be part of a group again.  Erich would probably take to the life as well as Amos did, and he might like being part of a famous crew.  I guess Clarissa and Filip could only be included if the Roci got permission to keep them there in life-long house arrest or something.  I think it would be an interesting development if any of them ended up joining the Rocinante!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Short Fiction: June 2017

It’s time to talk about my favorite pieces of short fiction published in June 2016! This month’s batch is full of science fiction short stories, including tales of memory manipulation, space exploration, and even both in one case.  As for the authors, I recently reviewed Allen M. Steele’s novel Arkwright, while Jamie Wahls and Pip Coen are new to me.  All the stories for this month are available to read online, and I have linked to their locations accordingly.     

Utopia, LOL? by Jamie Wahls (Short Story, Strange Horizons): The writing style in this story is probably going to be the polarizing point.  The narrator is a far-future human, who mostly lives her life darting through near-infinite virtual worlds.  She’s serving as a guide to a newly woken human from the past, who is confused and upset by his new surroundings.  Her voice is just adorable, and I loved her infectious enthusiasm.  Beneath the silly narration, there is actually a bit of a serious plot driving the action of the story.

Welcome to Astuna by Pip Coen (Short Story, Apex): This is one of those clever stories, where all the details line up neatly at the end.  A near middle-aged woman wakes up in a hotel, missing sixteen-years-worth of her own memories.  In this world, you can gamble with your memories at a casino, though it’s uncommon to lose as much as she has.  The mystery involves how she lost the memories, and what she will uncover when she gets them back.  It feels kind of like a heist story, where you can see at the end how everything was arranged for the ultimate goal.  

Sanctuary by Allen M. Steele (Short Story, This short story is comprised of a colonization ship’s logs, detailing their arrival at their chosen planet.  The format of the logs gives it a certain detachment, as does the framing of it as a historical document.  The story is pretty interesting though, involving an alien lifeform that spells disaster for our society’s technology.  It feels like a beginning to a larger story, and I’d be in for reading more about the colonists’ experiences on the planet.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Read-Along: Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey, Part 2

James S.A. Corey’s Nemesis Games is getting very intense, very quickly!  It’s time to discuss the second quarter of the novel, which includes chapters 13 through 25.  This week’s questions are provided by There’s Always Room for One More.  

If you’re interested in getting involved in the read-along, feel free to check out our Goodread’s group, and/or to follow SFFReadAlongs on Twitter.  From here on out, beware of spoilers!

1) Woah. Okay, was anybody expecting this level of drama? Prediction time: what will Marco do next? Any thoughts on who his mysterious allies are?

No, I was definitely not.  It was foreshadowed with all the talk about the Belters’ feelings about the gate and thousands of habitable planets.  It was also foreshadowed by the discussion of the militant sect of the OPA and Naomi’s past involvement in it.  Marco’s request for Naomi was also a clue.  It seemed like a really minor thing to call her out for, just to charter her son a ship.  I was trying to figure out what was the real purpose.  The prologue, also, gave us some hints toward what they were up to.  Despite all this, I did not see the attacks coming at all.

As for the rest, I suspect his next plan involves the protomolecule.  Their goal seems to be to actually wipe out planet-bound humanity, so I suspect he plans to unleash the protomolecule on Earth.  I’m not sure if it will do the same thing as it did on Eros or Venus, now that the gate is built, but I don’t know.  I have no idea who his allies are.  Maybe aliens?

2) So Earth is full apocalypse. The Secretary General is dead. The Martian President may be dead too, but Mars was pretty much flailing anyway. What Should Fred Do? (and will Holden approve?)

I think Fred should unilaterally side with Earth and Mars, and focus the full military might of the planets to wipe out the militant OPA.  At this point, I’m not sure if even infiltrating the OPA terrorist cell is useful.  Anyway, Naomi’s in there.  If they can establish communication with her, she would gladly pass on any information she could uncover.  Also, I think that publicly acknowledging the OPA terrorists as a legitimate political force would cause more damage than he could possibly balance by any good.  They are not legitimate, they are mass murderers, and they should be treated as such.

3) All of Naomi’s past is laid bare for us now. Will she save Filip’s soul? Is she right to try?

I wouldn’t say she’s ‘right’ to try, but I understand why she wants to.  I think the guilt will get to him eventually.  Right now, he’s high on ideology and indoctrinated to not think of Inners as people.  Once he really understands, in his heart, what he has done?  I think it’s very likely he’ll at least try to kill himself.  I hope she is able to save his soul, but I don’t really see any future for him besides suicide or execution.

4) Who are you most worried about/for?

Right now? Amos.  He’s on Earth, being bombarded by rocks, surrounded by violent body-modified criminals. If I’m right about the OPA’s plans, he might be stuck on a dying planet poisoned by protomolecule.  I think he’s in the toughest spot right now, even though the whole crew is in danger.