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TIAMAT'S WRATH - Book 8 of Expanse (SPOILERS)


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On 3/29/2019 at 2:42 PM, larrytheimp said:

And damn, I suspected what was going on with Amos as soon as all the repair dogs were present, but I was surprised at how much he seemed like Amos afterwards (especially in his convos on the roci with Holden).  It's been awhile since I read Strange Dogs and thought the kid was less obviously together.  

Cortazar explicitly says at one point that issues arose from the drones not being aware of the difference between maturation and aging, and that he really needed an adult test subject to get a better idea so I think him being an adult is part of it.

On 3/30/2019 at 8:44 AM, Kalbear said:

Book 7: Duarte, unlike the rest of those fools, knows what's up and knows that he has to unite Earth and needs a naval power to do so, so he messes with things that he's never messed with (seriously, they fired the magnetar cannon how many times? How did they never see the blackout effect? ), and then proceeds to piss things off in surprising ways. Also, he uses awesome goop to gain power.

I'm pretty sure it said in this book that they hadn't fired it at all until the slow zone which seems... Awfully confident your tech is going to work. 

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9 minutes ago, karaddin said:

Cortazar explicitly says at one point that issues arose from the drones not being aware of the difference between maturation and aging, and that he really needed an adult test subject to get a better idea so I think him being an adult is part of it.

I'm pretty sure it said in this book that they hadn't fired it at all until the slow zone which seems... Awfully confident your tech is going to work. 

Nice catch!  

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When is the next book due? 

I am here nodding as i read the thread, this book is altogether awesome.. Numerous wtf moments.. The poking the bear thing had me stopping reading for a bit.. Evil Holden.. Would holden have been this manipulatively evil in earlier books? Chrisjen dying offscreen was a kicker and Arjun poem had me misty eyed. Bobbie going out all guns blazing both literally and figuratively was hair raising, and Zombie Amos.. What the fuck did Duarte do to Cortazar.. Is this like what happen to individuals when the ships goes Dutchman? Too much.. Best book i have read since..dunno.

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4 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

I don't think Holden was being particularly evil.  He was using the only tools he had to try to save himself and take down Laconia.

Yeah. I'd call it pragmatic and ruthless in a way we haven't seen from him before, and no I don't see him doing it before the time skip.

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Working my way very slowly through the book, basically a chapter-and-a-half at a time. I just had to mention that I love some of the imagery and turns of phrases in these books. 

"He carried a black and white ball the size of a severed head." Just had me giggling in the line at the cafeteria.

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On 3/31/2019 at 4:51 PM, shortstark said:

Is this like what happen to individuals when the ships goes Dutchman? Too much.. Best book i have read since..dunno.

Back to this -maybe. With dutchman, what appears to happen is that the substrate creatures appear to simply take the matter as atoms...somewhere. Eat them maybe? Wipe them out? The atoms appear to just go away. When a ship goes Dutchman, there is absolutely no sign of it - so it presumably either disappears completely from the universe into their substrate zone, and is there - or more likely, it goes into the substrate zone and then is eaten.

In the slow zone, my suspicion is that it's carved out from the substrate zone and is basically kind of an outpost in that zone. It normally holds things at bay via the station, but when it had a huge amount of energy thrown through it via the black hole the substrate creatures were able to break through, albeit briefly. The energy eventually dissipated enough to where the station could reinforce the borders, but the atoms were already claimed. 

When Cortazar gets...whatevered, it looks like part of him is simply gone as well. The left side of his face, his chest save his ribcage. It's turned into nothingness. It's probably what it looks like to an outside observer when the substrates hit something and they're not experiencing the view of atoms. 

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17 hours ago, Kalbear said:

Back to this -maybe. With dutchman, what appears to happen is that the substrate creatures appear to simply take the matter as atoms...somewhere. Eat them maybe? Wipe them out? The atoms appear to just go away. When a ship goes Dutchman, there is absolutely no sign of it - so it presumably either disappears completely from the universe into their substrate zone, and is there - or more likely, it goes into the substrate zone and then is eaten.

In the slow zone, my suspicion is that it's carved out from the substrate zone and is basically kind of an outpost in that zone. It normally holds things at bay via the station, but when it had a huge amount of energy thrown through it via the black hole the substrate creatures were able to break through, albeit briefly. The energy eventually dissipated enough to where the station could reinforce the borders, but the atoms were already claimed. 

When Cortazar gets...whatevered, it looks like part of him is simply gone as well. The left side of his face, his chest save his ribcage. It's turned into nothingness. It's probably what it looks like to an outside observer when the substrates hit something and they're not experiencing the view of atoms. 

Yeah.. I was wondering what it looked like from Cortazar final perspective. But Duarte should be a creature of the protomolecule by now, so how is it possible for him to have substrate creatures powers, did he get co opted during the last attack on human consciousness? And if he has indeed been taken over by the substrate creatures shouldnt he be acting against the protomolecule systems? 

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29 minutes ago, shortstark said:

And if he has indeed been taken over by the substrate creatures shouldnt he be acting against the protomolecule systems? 

Well, part of the issue might be that whole the "substrate creature(s)" attack broke the protomolecule's creators consciousness, it doesn't break human consciousness.  This is what Elvi points out, I think.  It also doesn't break the protomolecule itself, as we see by it not really effecting the "zombie" kids all that much (IIRC).

Now, the issue is, Duarte is not one of the kids, protomolecule imitating human biology.  But he also isn't just human.  So, it seems the attack did partly break his  his (maybe/sort of) dualistic consciousness.  Apparently, one of the side effects of being a partly broken consciousness might be access to something of "substrate powers?"  Or at least, partly broken in this unique way.

What if, bear with me here, this only just came to me, it's the case that the "substrate entity(s)" aren't the enemies of the "Romans" (protomolecule makers) but rather, what they became after/when they went too far down the Duarte-like path?

OK, maybe enough non-lucid thinking for the moment...

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I think also that you need to separate the effects from the entities. 

As far as I can tell, the substrate entities exist in the between spaces of the universe. Those between spaces are what the gates manipulate in order to enable FTL travel via gates, they appear to be what is used with the magnetar cannon, and they appear to be what the protomolecule uses to communicate with other parts of itself (as we saw with things like Caliban's war, and more recently here with the Catalyst).

Hypothesis: every single time these are used, it's basically akin to driving through the substrate's house. 

So yeah, Duarte can manipulate this just like the gates do, just like the protomolecule does, because he's got a lot of protomolecule in him. The substrate entities can also manipulate this - by firing their black bullets, by consuming things in substrate space, and by causing the more recent 20-minute blackout. The substrate entities want to stop anyone else doing it because, well, they don't like their house being a drive by. 

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15 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

The substrate entities want to stop anyone else doing it because, well, they don't like their house being a drive by. 

Yeah, I mean, that makes sense, and it aligns with the seeming FTL way the protomolecule can "talk" to itself.

I'd still throw out the "blind" guess that this might just be the "Romans" themselves, since if the "substrate technology" is used by the protomolecule, it could be the case that they ended up corrupted/merged/whatever by/with it.

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10 minutes ago, .H. said:

Yeah, I mean, that makes sense, and it aligns with the seeming FTL way the protomolecule can "talk" to itself. 

Another nice side thing this explains is why Amos and Cara and Xan are unaffected by the first kind of blackouts but Duarte was - because they don't have this connection to the substrate via the protomolecule. They were repaired and improved, and given some information about things - and perhaps they're a receiver like many of the other protomolecule techs are (which require active protomolecule to work) - but they aren't a transmitter like Duarte is. 

10 minutes ago, .H. said:

I'd still throw out the "blind" guess that this might just be the "Romans" themselves, since if the "substrate technology" is used by the protomolecule, it could be the case that they ended up corrupted/merged/whatever by/with it.

I think corrupted might be a better way of thinking about it, or subsumed by it. It might be that as they became more and more wedded to the substrate itself they became more and more diseased by it, somehow. And now they're actively attempting to stop others in some way. It's possible, but I don't think it's likely, just because I think the series has been leading towards this group of ultraadvanced aliens who got killed by something they couldn't understand, and using that as a parallel to us. 

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3 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Another nice side thing this explains is why Amos and Cara and Xan are unaffected by the first kind of blackouts but Duarte was - because they don't have this connection to the substrate via the protomolecule. They were repaired and improved, and given some information about things - and perhaps they're a receiver like many of the other protomolecule techs are (which require active protomolecule to work) - but they aren't a transmitter like Duarte is.

Hmm, well, in a straight "materialism" way, consciousness is just a property of matter.  So, the case of all the "zombies" protomolecule just supplied matter to "reconstruct" the same structure and therefor the same consciousness as a human already has.  Which begs a bunch of questions as to how the "zombie" remembers anything, but I guess we can say that Amos' brain, or at least his memory, somehow was not significantly damaged by his head wound.  That's kind of a different point altogether.

The thing might be that even proto-zombie humans still have functionally human-like consciousness, but Duarte had a consciousness that was somehow different, that is, closer to whatever "Roman" consciousness was.  So, when that broke, it (maybe) left him with something maybe akin to what the "substrate entities" consciousness now is.  I think I need to reread that chapter with Elvi talking about this stuff again...

17 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I think corrupted might be a better way of thinking about it, or subsumed by it. It might be that as they became more and more wedded to the substrate itself they became more and more diseased by it, somehow. And now they're actively attempting to stop others in some way. It's possible, but I don't think it's likely, just because I think the series has been leading towards this group of ultraadvanced aliens who got killed by something they couldn't understand, and using that as a parallel to us. 

A possible allegory about post-humanism and/or limits to human understanding?  I think that seems plausible.  Or maybe just as simple as, "things are vastly complex, don't mess with things you can't/don't understand."

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4 hours ago, Kalbear said:

 

As far as I can tell, the substrate entities exist in the between spaces of the universe. Those between spaces are what the gates manipulate in order to enable FTL travel via gates,

This wasn't as clear in the text, but in the TV show there's a shot of Holden as they pass through the gate and it looks like he "sees" something briefly.  Wonder if that was some hardcore foreshadowing.

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Finished. I really enjoyed the book, but there were a few things that irked me.

Story and characters

First, I enjoyed the pace of this book, but I was worried there for a moment, about two thirds in, that after the craziness with the slow zone, and the destruction of the Tempest, that the story would fizzle towards a smaller ending, but nope. The siege of Laconia was brilliant. Naomi was a badass, and I loved that what we got was an evolution of the tactics and strategies born from the conflicts that preceded it. Naomi brilliantly combined the creative tactics of the Belters with the grit and strength of Mars. The fact that she had Bobbie's voice in her mind, all the lessons that she took from Bobbie, was beautiful.

Speaking of Bobbie - fuck, fuck, FUCK! But it was a beautiful ending. I should have seen it coming, but it would have still hit me hard, even if I had. 

With Amos, I was like WTF, surely Amos doesn't just die in a cave. I was thinking whether Wes Chatham is reading the book, and what his thoughts are. (Same with Frankie Adams, after Bobbie's death). So one of the parts that irked me about the book was that only at the end we get to see if new Amos is still Amos, or just a weird fabrication. Imo, it's still Amos, despite the different look. The dog still liking him confirms it, if nothing else does. And while I haven't read all the novellas, I'm glad I read that one, because instead of reacting with "huh", I was like "heey, I remember that." I'd say that what the repair drones do is simply improve upon a living construct. The human body has its imperfections, and probably the drones are just improving on that. The eyes the resurrected people get seem to be superior to normal human eyes, for example. So I don't think that what makes a person themselves changes, they just get physical upgrades. It was hard to judge with the kids because we didn't know much about them, and they hadn't developed full lives yet.

The only POV I didn’t really like was Teresa’s. Sure, a lot of interesting stuff happened, but I didn’t care for the moody, rebellious teenager. Though thinking about it, I’m not sure how else they could have painted a complete picture of the Laconian inner workings without her. Holden was a prisoner, so his view was limited. And then there’s Drummer. Another thing that irked was her absence. I get that she had lost a lot of her political power, being mainly a figurehead, but it would have been nice to see her a bit more. Wasn’t Saba her husband? We don’t even get a reaction from her. Also, is book Drummer a Belter like show Drummer? If so, how the hell is she fine on Laconia? I hope we see her again in the final? Book.

And clever Holden. When did he become so sly? But I liked the little twist at the end with Elvi, though I feel like we weren’t quite given enough there to have a chance to figure it out on our own.

My thoughts on the big mystery with the ‘Goth’ aliens

It may have something to do with antimatter. The Magnetar battleships use antimatter to power their super weapon. The protomolecule aliens figured out how to produce it in large quantities and may have used it to power the slow zone station, and much of their tech. I’m wondering if Dan and Ty are drawing from one of the scientific mysteries of our time, why isn’t antimatter present in equal amounts with matter in our universe. The belief is that at the Big Bang they were equal, but then our universe grew with almost entirely matter particles, while antimatter particles disappeared.

I found it interesting when shit got crazy in the slow zone that Elvi and the Falcon were still active, which allowed Elvi to issue a command for the ship to move towards the gate. So despite what Elvi was visualizing, they weren’t literally broken apart. I see this mention of a “substrate” that exists where the Goth aliens are. I think the slow zone is a substrate, kinda like hyperspace or subspace in other SF works, but what happened to the Falcon was maybe an out-of-phase process, crossing in a parallel dimension, but still connected to our dimension. Except there’s something living there that (not sure if on purpose) gobbled up atoms. So maybe there’s an antimatter universe, parallel, and occasionally interacting with the matter universe. And maybe the protomolecule aliens tapped into that, which allowed them to create their great technology, but at the same time resulted in their extinction. The book title kinda ties into this. In ancient Babylonian mythology, Tiamat and her husband, Abzû, are the creator gods, one representing the salt water, the other fresh water. (Matter and antimatter).

I’m not sure what the effect of the Goth aliens is as we see displayed with Duarte. Maybe the entire basis of the protomolecule aliens technology is rooted in what’s in the antimatter universe, and over time the aliens integrated into themselves, thus becoming vulnerable.

On the TV show’s influence over my reading experience

Thanks to the show, I now visualize the ships and space actions better than before. The Roci on the outside is firmly  in my mind as shown in the TV show, while the inside is a combination of the show set and my original picture. Same with other ships. Still can’t really picture the Laconian ships, though.

But for the characters, thanks to the great time jumps, I mainly don’t see the actors, I still have the original mental images with added ‘wear & tear’. Drummer is the only character I see as in the show; Cara Gee really embodied the defiant spirit and strength of the Belters. I have a mental image for Alex, but now I hear Cas Anvar’s voice when he speaks; he nailed that accent.

 

 

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