Rhom

Babylon's Ashes: The Expanse Book 6 (Spoilers)

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Won't be able to start it until this weekend, at best. I will also read The Vital Abyss before it.

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5 hours ago, Rhom said:

You and your fancy new media. Hmph.

And you were the one all "Wah Wah Wah Wait to give spoilers for a couple weeks Wah Wah Wah."

;)

I didn't say I started it. In fact, I'll planning to read The Liberation which downloaded at the same time first. If I ever get the book I've been reading since the end of October finished, that is...

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Went over to B&N and was nowhere to be seen.  Asked one person who wasn't sure, then asked another and he remembered seeing them on a cart in the back waiting to be brought out.

Should be able to get started later tonight.

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14 minutes ago, Rhom said:

Went over to B&N and was nowhere to be seen.  Asked one person who wasn't sure, then asked another and he remembered seeing them on a cart in the back waiting to be brought out.

Should be able to get started later tonight.

This unfortunately seems standard for B&N. The last three times I've tried picking up new releases on, gasp, their release dates, they were nowhere to be found. Hell, Sharp Ends wasn't placed on the shelves until three days after its release date. Needless to say, I no longer give B&N any of my money.

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I wish I had an alt to B&N, but its that or, um, well all we have is B&N. One of the two we have is immensely better than the other though. (They also have a weird habit of putting Orbit books out early. )

You know Daniel and Co have hit it big when stores start actually honoring street date. :P

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There are 6 B&N's within a 20 mile radius of me. All but one said they had a copy in stock, so I drove to the closest. Sold out! I could even see the empty spot where it used to be (also, they must've had 1 copy). Put it on reserve at the next closest B&N and picked it up a couple hours later. Success!

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4 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

My book has shipped. :)

Kindle edition is still not shipping. I’ll post on this thread when I have it, so you all know when you can start reading without committing a grave social blunder.

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6 hours ago, Astromech said:

This unfortunately seems standard for B&N. The last three times I've tried picking up new releases on, gasp, their release dates, they were nowhere to be found. Hell, Sharp Ends wasn't placed on the shelves until three days after its release date. Needless to say, I no longer give B&N any of my money.

For the Great Ordeal, B&N had it on the shelves here a week early!

 

Okay some more BA spoilerifics :. 

 

 

the Filip chapter where he's in the docked ship at Ceres by himself was really poignant.  Really fucking good.  Making the complex simple in a subtle way. Like Tom Petty subtle.  Super digging it.  

Edited by larrytheimp
Making ensure coding was legit

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Was going to go to B&N and pick this up today, but figured there was a decent chance they wouldn't have it out yet and I'd walk away pissed. I'll go snag a copy Thursday.

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Just got my hands on it.  Can't wait until I get my kid to bed tonight!

Snuck a quick read of the prologue so far.

Very light, vague spoiler for very start:

Spoiler

Prologue and first chapter feature new POV characters who have been partners, in one way or another, of previous POV characters.

 

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I got this on Tuesday and finally had a chance to start reading it now that my bf is out of town. I am through the first four chapters, so basically seen all the POV characters AFAIK. I am a little less than enthused about the POV choices. It's a very tricky aspect of the series, as the different POVs can certainly make or break a book. The POVs in Nemesis Games were great, but now it looks we're back to (minor spoilers)

Spoiler

Holden (ugh), and 3 Belter terrorists. I do appreciate trying to show even horrible things from everyone's perspective, but it gets exhausting. Especially since I don't particularly like Holden so he isn't much of a respite. So I feel like I'm going to be slogging through a rather bleak book that is just going to piss me off.

But I do enjoy this series, so I'm not going to discount it just yet.

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2 minutes ago, Starkess said:

I got this on Tuesday and finally had a chance to start reading it now that my bf is out of town. I am through the first four chapters, so basically seen all the POV characters AFAIK. I am a little less than enthused about the POV choices. It's a very tricky aspect of the series, as the different POVs can certainly make or break a book. The POVs in Nemesis Games were great, but now it looks we're back to (minor spoilers)

  Hide contents

Holden (ugh), and 3 Belter terrorists. I do appreciate trying to show even horrible things from everyone's perspective, but it gets exhausting. Especially since I don't particularly like Holden so he isn't much of a respite. So I feel like I'm going to be slogging through a rather bleak book that is just going to piss me off.

But I do enjoy this series, so I'm not going to discount it just yet.

Spoiler

 I'm digging Michio so far. Granted I just started the book, but I usually dig a strong female gray character.

 

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Would anybody care to give a spoiler-free summary of the political situation at the beginning of BA?

Free Navy, separatists, Michio Pa, “the Martian,” etc. It’s been a while since last book, and I’m afraid to google for fear of rotting my soul with BA spoilers.

Edited by Happy Ent

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4 hours ago, Happy Ent said:

Would anybody care to give a spoiler-free summary of the political situation at the beginning of BA?

Free Navy, separatists, Michio Pa, “the Martian,” etc. It’s been a while since last book, and I’m afraid to google for fear of rotting my soul with BA spoilers.

I've been struggling to piece that together in these first few chapters as well.  The part I completely had forgotten about was the portion of the Martian fleet that went AWOL but weren't stolen by the Free Navy.  I think I remembered the really cool scene at the end of NG where they were all deconstructed at the atomic level, but had completely forgotten that they were Martian navy.

I think my best synopsis is what I've put together after the first few chapters of BA.  The legit governments of Earth and Mars are holed up on the moon.  Both fleets are essentially in defense mode and can't go on offense.  The OPA took over the ring gate and isn't allowing anyone to go out to the colony planets.  They are running the Free Navy and trying to coordinate relief efforts to the various Belter stations. 

As I say, that's mainly pieced together from the start of this book.

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Are there really no online plot summaries? The Expanse wiki only contains blurbs instead of synopses. 

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8 hours ago, Rhom said:

I think I remembered the really cool scene at the end of NG where they were all deconstructed at the atomic level, but had completely forgotten that they were Martian navy.

That's not what happens. Only one ship (albeit an important one) of the rogue Martian navy fleet is deconstructed by whatever is lurking at the gates. The rest get through to their destination and you can find out a bit about them in BA.

13 hours ago, Happy Ent said:

Would anybody care to give a spoiler-free summary of the political situation at the beginning of BA?

Free Navy, separatists, Michio Pa, “the Martian,” etc. It’s been a while since last book, and I’m afraid to google for fear of rotting my soul with BA spoilers.

Obvious spoilers for Nemesis Games, but I guess that's OK in this thread:

A Martian admiral (Winston Duarte) made a deal with a Belter terrorists (Marco Inaros). Marco got a bunch of Martian ships and instructions on where to steal advanced technology such as stealth paint (stolen by Filip Inaros, son of Marco and Naomi Nagata). Duarte went off somewhere beyond the gate (his fleet losing one ship in the process as mentioned above). Marco used the stolen technology to bombard Earth with stealthy rocks (effectively creating an asteroid apocalypse scenario), then declared that his Free Navy now rules the Solar System. He also tried to have Fred Johnson (a moderate OPA leader) and some other people (including the Martian prime minister) killed, but he failed. The result was that Earth is devastated and, since most of the other leadership is dead, Chrisjen Avasarala is in charge. The ships of Earth and Mars are defending their respective planets from further rock strikes and the Free Navy roams unimpeded. Michio Pa is one of Marco's inner circle and commands one of the Free Navy ships.

I've finished reading the book just now and while on the whole it is pretty good, I share Starkess's concerns. A more detailed post with spoilers a bit later...

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I just started the book.  I don't think it's really a spoiler to say that many of the POVs are from the terrorists.  I hope the first couple chapters aren't an indication of how things will be for the rest of the book.  I ended up having strong feelings of hatred towards Filip during the last book, and he doesn't seem to be doing anything to convince my otherwise yet. It's like 9/11 happening, and then getting to read about the further adventures of Al Qaeda from their own POVs.

 

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So, first just my thoughts on people who artificially create an asteroid apocalypse. Again, spoilers for Nemesis Games which I think are allowed in this thread, but not yet for Babylon's Ashes. Basically, people the people who do this and those who help them or take their side are good contestants for the title of As Close as Fictional Characters Come to Irredeemable. There are two reasons for this.

The first is the body count which amounts to multiple billions of human beings, the overwhelming majority of which had nothing to do with the conflict, could not have done anything about it even if they wanted to and were quite likely to be oppressed by the same forces as were oppressing the Belters. For comparison, the greatest bloodbath in the real life history of humanity so far is World War II which, if one adds up all of the casualties from all sides and all theaters, still only amounts to on the order of 100 million (actually, somewhat less than that, but close). Billions of lives taken is... insane -- and anyone who participates in such an action or willingly aids the people who did it is a monster.

Second, unlike everything humanity has done so far, the asteroid apocalypse rolls the dice on an existential risk. The natural risks have always been there and we have created artificial ones as early as the mid-twentieth century, but nobody has actually ever played one of them out (and hopefully nobody ever will). The people who put this plan into action are effectively gambling the fate of humanity as a whole.

So, with all of that in mind, here are some spoilers for Babylon's Ashes:

Spoiler

 

The points of view from the perspective of Marco and those associated with him don't really do it for me. I guess the authors are trying to humanize them, but every time I find myself thinking they might not be so bad, I remember what they did and it goes away. Even when Michio Pa turns on Marco, I don't really feel better about her -- especially because she only does it when he starts sacrificing Belter lives (i.e. it's not the monstrous crime that bothers her, but that he does not value people important to her). Ironically, the only one of them I eventually feel any sympathy for is Filip who, while undoubtedly a spoiled brat, at least feels guilt over what he has done.

Regarding the overarching plot: this book continues the long tradition of science fiction stories about people in glass houses throwing stones with nobody returning the favor. To be fair, this is an old and honored tradition that goes back to at least Heinlein... but Heinlein's characters deliberately refrained from doing truly catastrophic damage precisely because they were trying to avoid drawing catastrophic retaliation (and also because they weren't monsters). Here, the attack is apocalyptic from the start... but no retaliation in kind is forthcoming. Even at the end, when the Free Navy is thoroughly defeated, the Belters get the most generous peace treaty in the history of humanity and the most that happens is that some (not all!) of Marco's associates go on trial. You helped kill 10 billion people? Meh, whatevs, it's cool -- we're not going to hold a grudge.

In general, this series has a bipolar attitude towards the nature of humanity. On the one hand, there are CEOs and Belter leaders who sacrifice millions or even billions of lives for their cause without any mercy or remorse. On the other, there are Reasonable Authority Figures who refuse to play out their part in an MAD scenario and nobody so much as calls them on it. Given the reaction to real-life events such as Pearl Harbor and 9/11, I don't find this plausible. In fact, the entire reasoning behind MAD is that no side will hesitate to retaliate even though the retaliation harms everyone -- including one's own side (the more radioactive dust in the atmosphere, the worse for everyone since it tends to spread and every additional strike exacerbates the nuclear winter).

Finally, I think the sheer number of points of view is a bit overwhelming: going through the table of contents, I counted 19 of them altogether. To be fair, some of them are closely related stories from different points of view (like the prologue and epilogue or the technicians on Medina Station), but the result is that the only ones who get significant development are Holden, Pa and, to a lesser extent, Filip. I think the earlier books with fewer points of view were better.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Altherion said:

A Martian admiral (Winston Duarte) made […]

Thank you very much, Alt!

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