SF/F Read Alongs: Cibola Burn, Part 3

As we head toward the finale, things take a very apocalyptic turn. Who will survive, and how…?

This week we’re covering chapters 28 to 42, with Sarah at The Illustrated Page hosting again. You can follow the schedule (and even join us, should you be so inclined!) at our Goodreads group page.

Spoilers below!


Banner by Sarah at The Illustrated Page


So we’ve got an apocalyptic scenario. Any predictions on how the characters will make it out alive? Or if they’ll make it out alive?

I’ll be honest: the rescue scenario is not the thing I’m speculating the most about right now. I imagine the Rocinante crew will manage to rescue the key (POV) characters; what concerns me more is what Murtry is up to and what he might do to endanger the evacuation effort. He doesn’t strike me as a particularly nuanced kind of bad guy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still throw a dramatic spanner in the works. And yes, I’m still hoping he’ll get the Amos treatment. Normally I wouldn’t root so openly for a character to die, but Murtry is nothing but trouble, and he straight up gives me the creeps.


How do you feel the plot line of Cibola Burn compares with the other books in the series so far? Does it feel familiar? Different?

It definitely feels different, though I’m undecided on how much of a good thing that is. On one hand, this is an epic space opera and the expansiveness (heh) of the major-arc storyline will obviously bring a lot of change from one book to the next, where the protagonists are concerned. The introduction and resolution of non-Rocinante characters is just one aspect of that.

On the other hand, when I consider this book individually, and compared to the previous books in the series, it isn’t my favourite, at least so far. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying it, and the apocalypse-level event is definitely a twist on the story that I didn’t see coming, so I can appreciate that. It also raises a lot of questions about what exactly is going on with Ilus, which I’m entirely here for – I like having things to question! But beyond that, something about it just isn’t quite clicking for me. I’m not sure if it’s my generally lukewarm response to the new characters or if it’s the general direction of the book, but there it is.


The traditional question, how are you feeling about the POV characters now? Elvi’s “crush” on Holden? Havelock’s choices? Basia?

Basia is turning out to be largely forgettable for me, which is leaving me puzzled as to why he’s in a POV role here at all, to be honest. To be fair, there may still be time to pull a plot twist and turn things around for him, but if that’s the case I can’t make any predictions. I’m sympathetic to him, but he feels a little paint-by-numbers when he’s even doing something interesting at all. But, we’ll see how that wraps up.

Havelock did turn himself around as I was hoping he would, and I’m glad of it because he really was beginning to frustrate me. Corporate drones who never step outside of that role do nothing else for me, but as with Basia I am wondering what possible deeper reason there might be for involving Havelock, here. If this book follows the pattern of the ones before, we may not be seeing him again. So again, there’s the question of “what’s he good for?” besides the immediate situation’s resolution.

Elvi is, happily, at least keeping me more amused than most of the rest. She strikes me as being very much like Holden in some interesting ways; she’s idealistic and a bit inwardly focused, and very honest. Not a fool, but perhaps still a little foolish? I think she’s generally at peace with her own nature, even if she isn’t very good at understanding her fellow human beings and how to interact with them, the way she understands science. That might make her a character stereotype, but it’s one I generally enjoy provided the character in question isn’t a bad person, which Elvi isn’t.


What are your feelings on the world building so far? We haven’t discussed world building in a while, and Cibola Burns is bringing in a lot of new material.

I am actually enjoying not having a blessed clue what’s going on, most of the time! The approach to worldbuilding here is definitely not small-scale, and I feel like the writers are doing a clever job of balancing the character intimacy with those large-scale concerns and questions. Each book does feel very different from the one before as characters and locations change, and this feeds into making the ‘world’ feel as vast and varied as it should. Yet for all that the scale is so massive, I’ve never yet felt like any of the weight is excess. Every book adds something to that larger arc, but also resolves a small piece of it along the way (Miller, Bobbie, Clarissa).

Given my reservations about the characters brought in with this book, I’m not sure what resolution is coming or what impact it might have, but I’ll happily plod on and find out!


2 thoughts on “SF/F Read Alongs: Cibola Burn, Part 3

  1. I agree with you on Basia. It seems like it would be pretty easy to tell the same story without him as a viewpoint character. I like him well enough, but his perspective doesn’t really seem all that important.

  2. Ooo! I like your comparison of Holden and Elvi. I had not seen them in that light but it totally makes sense. I wonder if it is that mirror in Holden that she is attracted to?

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