It’s not that Research isn’t aware of the ethical implications of its line of inquiry. It’s just that they really don’t care.
Not to spoil anything, but people who experiment on other living, breathing people and unleash a strange, alien lifeform just to see what happens next, are probably going to be total dicks. I’m just saying.
And yeah, Paolo Cortázar totally fits that bill. He is not a good person. As his narration begins and you start to get a glimpse of his life, you may start to wonder if the text will argue that is who he is because of the inequity, poverty, and tragedy he grew up with and overcame. And then you realize that, nah, all of that just set the stage, made him susceptible, and put him right in the path of a rich guy with a brain laser.
Yeap, you read that right, this villain’s origin story pretty much begins and ends with a brain laser.
Damn do I love science fiction.
Tangentially, I really dig the inter-series novellas that Corey’s been turning out. I love getting a deeper look into this particular universe and getting the viewpoints of otherwise tertiary or tangential characters. They give both Corey and the reader the chance to spend time with narratives that otherwise wouldn’t get a lot of attention in the main series, expanding and explicating background concepts that would drag down the novels’ excellent pacing.
Worldbuilding is definitely my jam.
Also, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to give, say, TV producers more info about the ‘verse they’re constructing for the small-screen. If someone were thinking about turning your successful series of novels into a (hopefully) successful TV show. I’m just saying.
If there’s a running theme in the Expanse novels it would be that us humans are our own worst enemies. Or, more accurately, our infuriating ability to put an individual’s needs/wants over those of the community-at-large. There’s the elite level, full of people who have all of the money and make all of the decisions, and then there’s everybody else, scraping to get by. We’re all just rats, scratching and clawing and fucking and dying, trying to make it to the top of the heap.
Was that nihilistic enough for you? Because, yeah, when you peel away the sci-fi adventure these books are pretty flipping bleak. It’s the darkest timeline and everyone is wearing beards.
But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Technology doesn’t change humanity, it only gives us bigger toys to destroy ourselves with. Or, you know, weird brain lasers that turn you into sociopaths. Because that’s a fun idea, let’s invent something that makes us even more self-interested. That sounds like a great idea.
It’s not. It’s a horrible idea. I can’t believe that there’s any ethics board anywhere that would okay that particular line of research. But YOLO, I guess.
This novella did its job very effectively–it deepened my understanding of the universe Corey is constructing, it hinted at inexorable political forces going on behind the scenes, it whetted my appetite for Babylon’s Ashes, and it reminded me that, for as complacent as we (that is, we the readers AND we the characters) might have become about the protomolecule, there are still larger and stranger forces at play than any of us really understand.
Nice. Bring on the next installment. I’m ready.
(I’m totally not ready, am I?)