Books of 2017, #5: Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey (The Expanse #4)

Cibola Burn is my least favorite book in The Expanse.

I think, in the end, it comes down to the primary antagonist, Murtry—he’s not just an antagonist, he’s a villain; too obviously a psychopath, too mustache-twirlingly pleased with behaving in an almost inhuman manner.

Even Captain Ashford in Abaddon’s Gate is clearly…well, at this moment in time, I have to say, he’s Trumpian—obviously mediocre but placed in high position for reasons other than competence, and thus given to defensive, authoritarian, megalomaniacal behavior, because he mistakes being a strongman for being strong. It’s ugly, but it’s all too understandable. Also, he’s just not in the story that much, so you don’t have an opportunity to get tired of him.

Murtry, on the other hand, quickly outstays his welcome.

But his malign presence did make me start to think a bit; if you look at who the villians are—as opposed to merely antagonists—they’re generally corporations and their representatives: Protogen, Mao-Kwikowski, and Royal Charter Energy. Is that simply because, in our post-2008 crash world, the amoral venality of corporations is the evil most visible to us?

And what does that say about our current President?

Anyway, while I found the first half of the book fairly interminable, it does pick up the pace somewhat in the last half. We do see the last of Miller, which is perhaps a little sad, but also, I think, a necessary precondition to moving on to stories set in a somewhat different arena.

One more to re-read and then on to new material.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.