Holden was starting to feel like they were all monkeys playing with a microwave. Push a button, a light comes on inside, so it’s a light. Push a different button and stick your hand inside, it burns you, so it’s a weapon. Learn to open and close the door, it’s a place to hide things. Never grasping what it actually did, and maybe not even having the framework necessary to figure it out. No monkey ever reheated a frozen burrito.
In the first book, the protomolecule made zombies. In the second, it made a Venuscomputer and super soldiers. This time around? A wormhole gate to transit hub in what looks to be a pocket universe where the laws of physics are… flexible.
Despite having the most fantastic scifi setting of the series thus far, Abaddon’s Gate actually feels like it’s more about the people and politics of the Expanse than anything else. It’s an interesting divergence from the balance of the first two books, but I think it works.
Characterwise, Holden and crew is back (of course) and continues to see visions of Miller. That’s what gets him trouble in the first place.
“If it’s the protomolecule wearing a Miller suit, I think that’s actually creepier.”
We also get a few more human moments and conflict between them, which is good to see them grow and change while everything goes mad around them.
Other than that, we don’t get Bobbie or Avasarala which is a bummer. I really liked both of them. Instead, we get overly righteous pastor Anna (who I actually liked) and another Mao (who is a fairly two dimensional baddie throughout the book). Not quite as great as the one off characters we’ve seen before but so it goes.
Worldbuildingwise, the pocket universe is fascinating. Basically, as a defense system, it can lower the absolute speed objects can move through the bubble, including quickly decelerating ships that are moving too fast. One might imagine that slowing down from normal spacecraft speeds to something far slower might not go well for those inside the ship… It’s a bit weird from a physics perspective, but it works from a storytelling perspective.
Finally, the ending. That’s going to be a huge change for the Expanse universe. When I started out, I wouldn’t have expected such a shift, but now I”m looking forward to it. Onward!
Random side note:
Given that I’m listening to Discworld while reading this:
He had a dusting of short white hair and opaque black glasses. His teeth were yellowed like old ivory, and his smile was gentle and humane. According to the paperwork, his name was Elio Casti, but for some reason the documentary team all called him Cohen.