Continuing my obsession with this sci-fi series, we have book three Abaddon’s Gate. Because the summary is going to be a bit spoilery for previous books, I want to start with why you should pick this series up.
First, it’s just a really good operatic sci-fi series with enough elements of ‘hard’ sci-fi to give it a believable feel. I think I initially avoided the series because I’m not particularly fond of ‘hard’ sci-fi books where the author gets so lost in his science research that he/she forgets to tell the story. That is never an issue here. While the world these characters inhabit is a believable futuristic one, they drive the story not the science.
Second, and this is something I noticed with this one, with each book the authors highlight a different element of operatic sci-fi story telling. And throw in elements from other genres to create a series of novels that gives each book a unique feel. Leviathan Wakes was a murder mystery/plague outbreak story. Caliban’s War was a political thriller. Abaddon’s Gate was more of a military/seafaring novel. I’ve started book four, and it looks like it’s going to have western elements. I really like this technique as it gives each book a different feel, and the authors use these genres to highlight the things they want to say about humanity.
But really, the biggest reason you should read these books is that they’re just an excellent look at the fallibility of man. For all that the books are about the spread of humans throughout the stars, and thus ultimately hopeful, they’re also very cynical about some of humanities worst traits. It’s as though the authors are saying that we succeed in spite of ourselves, and ultimately I find that a very hopeful message. That even though we’re a very war drawn species, the better half of our nature does occasionally succeed.
“The Ring didn’t put us on alert,” he said. “It’s the Martians. Even with that thing out there, we’re still thinking about shooting each other. That’s pretty fucked up. Sorry. Messed up.”
“It seems like we should be able to see past our human differences when we’re confronted with something like this, doesn’t it?”
Anna had walked on a moon of Jupiter. She’d looked up through a dome-covered sky at the great red spot, close enough to see the swirls and eddies of a storm larger than her home world. She’d tasted water thawed from ice as old as the solar system itself. And it was that human dissatisfaction, that human audacity, that had put her there.
Anyway, Abaddon’s Gate is the beginning of the space exploration. The protomolecule has left Venus and gone to make a little ring near Saturn. When an illegal pilot decides to be the first one through the ring, we discover that the ring is a gate. Events conspire to get Holden and his crew, along with several representatives from Earth, Mars, and the OPA on the other side of the ring where they discover the remnants of an ancient alien wormhole system. The protomolecule has also resurrected Miller from book one, and he plagues Holden as a kind of hallucination as the protomolecule tries to figure out what happened to the beings that created him.
My one real complaint is that the points of view used to tell the story seems to be expanding with each novel. I understand why, it’s hard to tell the kind of all encompassing story with the scope the authors want from one single POV. But because of this, we’re spending less and less time with Holden. And guys, I really do love him. Of the new characters POVs, I really did like Anna and Bull. My fear is that we’ll never see them again. And it makes sense, in an operatic story like this that characters will be introduced to never reappear, it’s just hard to get attached to a character and know that they’ll never be seen again.
Also as a note, while the actual death toll is probably the smallest in this book, it’s one of the more bloody and the body count seems higher because it’s more visceral. Which makes sense given this was the military sci-fi novel of the series, but there are several gut-punches that I am just still not ok with.
Highly, highly recommend this series.