Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

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Part three of the Expanse - Just as Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante try to distance themselves from politics and wriggle their way out under the OPA’s thumb, events conspire to bring him to The Ring, a giant protomolecule structure hovering in space among the outer planets. As fleets from Earth , Mars and the Belt converge on the Ring, politics are inevitable. Carlos de Baca runs security in the Belter fleet, thoug his Earth-provenance puts him in difficult position. Anna Volodovna is a preacher from the outer planets invited by Earth to join the spiritual leaders in the fleet to make sense of it all. Meanwhile, on a small maintenance ship traveling with the Earth armada, engineer Melba Koh hatches a destructive plan.

As The Expanse progresses, its sci-fi may soften but the tension never slackens. Abaddon’s Gate is similar in structure to the previous instalments, following the story from separate points of view that intertwine as the plot progresses. This creates the series’ signature high pace, skipping from highlight to highlight as experienced by each of the characters at breakneck pace and keeping the reader glued to the pages.

Abaddon’s Gate also follows the series trajectory in moving from more technical hard science fiction to the softer kind where certain story elements are taken for granted and not explained. This also allows Abaddon’s Gate to take The Expanse new and exciting places that a more grounded narrative such as Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars-trilogy could not go.

This, I think, is one of The Expanse’s strengths: even as the core cast of characters remains constant, the backdrop of the development of their relationships shifts just a little every time, keeping the story fresh.

That changement de decor is also, however, taking The Expanse into more generic sci-fi territory. Whether this is a downside is up to you, but I found that it makes me less excited, not more excited to pick up the next book.

That is not to say that I won’t read it or expect to enjoy it – on the contrary. But I’m now reading The Expanse for the smooth prose, quick Hollywood-in-a-book-style action and to a lesser extent, the main characters.

In this particular case, there is something else as well: with the vast array of opportunities opened up at the end of Abaddon’s Gate, I’m very curious to see where Cibola Burn will take us. I already have a copy on my to read-shelf, so watch this space!

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