Persepolis Rising: The Rocinante crew discuss their options

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Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey science fiction book reviewsPersepolis Rising by James S.A. CoreyPersepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey

(Some of these lines are direct quotes from Persepolis Rising (2017), the seventh book in James S.A. Corey’s series THE EXPANSE.)

Holden looked at Naomi over the cloud from his coffee. “I think it may be time for us to do something else. For me to do something else, anyway.”

Naomi stopped eating and looked up at him. “Walk me through it.”

“Pirates. Martians. The Protomolecule. The OPA. Gates to a thousand worlds. Dead men talking in my head. Belters. Earthers. Colonists. Ancient alien artifacts.”

“We’ve seen a lot, yeah.”

“We have. And I’m just not sure I have it in me to handle the same number of POVs I used to. I’m feeling … old.”

“Well, we did jump forward a bunch of years, decades even, since the last book.”

“And now we’re looking at what five, six-hundred pages? And an unresolved ending? Meaning —“

“Another book.”

THE EXPANSE by James S.A. Corey

THE EXPANSE

“Another book.”

Naomi leaned forward. “Well, have you thought that maybe, just maybe, the universe, not to mention a book or two, could get along with a little less James Holden?”

“Hey! I don’t, I mean, of course. I never … “

“So maybe you don’t need to take so many POVs. Maybe, say, you hand some over to Bobbie. She’s slowed down, sure, just like the rest of us. But don’t you think she’s ready?”

“There’s nobody I’d trust more with one of my POVs than Bobbie.”

“Well, there you go. Hand things off to her; we go retire on Titan.”

“Living in a dome on Titan with you sounds like the single best idea anyone’s had.”

Alex walked through the door. “What’s the best idea? Bringing back a villain from an earlier book as an existential threat? Or teasing the return of the biggest of Big Bads — whatever it was that knocked off the things that built the protomolecule and gates?”

Amos followed behind him, carefully assisting Clarissa, still weak from her med treatment, over the threshold and into a chair. Once she was settled, his cold eyes looked flatly at each in turn, finally resting on Holden. His fingers curled at his sides. “Big bads? Bring ‘em on. Just give the word, Boss.”

Holden looked at him, unsure even after all these years, of how Amos would react. “Thing is, Amos, the word is Bobbie’s now.”

Amos tilted his head slightly. “Bobbie, huh? All right.” He turned his head as Bobbie entered. “Just say the word.”

Bobbie paused in the doorway. “I get a word?”

Holden’s warm eyes caught and held her own. “You get a whole bunch.”

She looked at them standing there, all of them looking at her like she’d spilled coffee down her armor or something. It was an odd group of people to fall in love with, to adopt as your own kin and tribe, but there it was, and she wasn’t ever going back.

She smiled back at Holden. “So I —“

The communicator crackled and spat.

“Hold the black balloons, gold watch, and the retirement speech, Golden Boy. You aren’t done yet.”

Naomi looked up as if she could see the old woman’s face floating in the ceiling above. “He’s retiring, Avasarala. You can’t just —“

“Give it a fucking rest, girl. I can do whatever the fuck I want. Who’s going to tell me not to? You? You’re about to fuck up and I can keep that from happening. So you can either continue this mawkish love-in with these poor fucking shit-heads, or you can humor the crazy old bitch with a cup of tea and listen.”

Alex started. “You’re on the Rocinante?”

“Of course not, vacuum-brain. It was a metaphor. Jesus, this is what I have to work with to save humanity? Holden’s right, Bobbie deserves way more POVs and she’s gonna get them. As for you Holden, I don’t care how old you feel; I’m in a fucking wheelchair but you don’t see me taking up knitting. So yeah, we’ll cut down your page time, but fans aren’t ready yet to wonder what the universe looks like without James Holden trying to ride to the rescue. And sorry, Naomi, you too. Titan wouldn’t have agreed with you anyway, trust me. Fucking methane rain is hell on your hair. Hell, even flyboy and Killer McGilligutty there will get a POV or two — yeah, yeah, I see your flinty eyes; I’ve got parakeets that look scarier. Stuffed ones. They sit on my mantle.”

Alex looked at Naomi and Holden. “Well, shit. Sorry about the retirement, guys. At least we’ll all be together a little longer though, right?”

Avasarala barked out a laugh. “Who said anything about together? This little gang is going the same way as your marriage did between books six and seven. Hell, some of you will even be fighting each other by the time this one’s over. The bad guys will love that.”

Holden felt he should step in. “About those villains —“

“Oh, you’re gonna like the new guy, whole buncha resonant timely shit in his POV about insurrections, terrorism, and politics. Singh.”

Alex winced. “We have to sing? Can’t we —“

“Orion’s balls, no I don’t want you to sing. Singh. That’s his name. No wonder you pilots fly by the seat of your pants — it’s where you keep your brains, apparently. Now just to warn you — we’re outgunned and outplanned, and I don’t see how we win.”

They all just settled their shoulders more firmly. Nothing new there.

The communicator went quiet a moment as Avasarala paused.

Uh oh, Holden thought, This is going to be bad.

“And not all of you are going to make it.”

Holden looked at them one at a turn, looking for any sign of backing out. He saw none. He nodded once, and when he thought his voice was in control, he spoke. “I don’t see any way we can stay out of it.”

“Well, you’re not hopeless, you people. You’re right, we can’t stay out. None of us. We will fight to the last breath because living with someone else’s hand on our necks is intolerable, has always been intolerable, will always be intolerable. Because we’re human, and humans are mean, independent monkeys that reached their greatness by killing every other species of hominid that looked at us funny. We will not be controlled for long. Not even by ourselves. Ok, any stupid questions? Good.”

Alex spoke up. “I just, I don’t know if … “

“Spit it out, this review’s runnin’ long as is.”

“Have we said whether people should read the book or not? I mean, this is —“

“Neptune’s spit. You think someone is looking at a review of book seven in a series to decide if they’re gonna read it or not? Of course they’re gonna read it! And if they’ve liked books one through six they’re gonna love this one too. Space battles. Internal tension between crewmates. A creeping sense of mortality. Characters spinning out into new roles. What’s not to like?”

Holden couldn’t stay quiet. “That ending, though. It doesn’t really resolve things. They’re going to have to wait a while for book eight to see what happens. Don’t you think that’s a little, I don’t know, unethical?”

“Pluto’s pisser. What the hell do you think the TV show is for? I have to explain everything . …” Her voice faded away, then disappeared altogether.

Holden looked at them all, embarrassed. “I admit, I forgot about the show.”

Naomi took his hand. “Well, it hasn’t been on in a while.” There was a moment’s silence while they pondered all that Avasarala had said.

Alex stood abruptly. “Binge watch? I’ll pull it up.” He left for the lounge.

Bobbie smiled. “I’ll make the popcorn.” She moved toward the galley.

“I’ll get the booze,” Amos said, heading out the door.

Clarissa followed Bobbie. “I’ll make the coffee for after the booze.”

Naomi looked at Holden. “Rain check on the retirement, then?”

Holden smiled warmly at her. “A methane rain check?”

Naomi laughed. She listened to the sound of Clarissa and Bobbie in the galley. “I guess you can’t retire from family, can you?”

Holden pulled her close. “No. I guess you can’t.”

Publication date: December 5, 2017. The seventh novel in James S. A. Corey’s New York Times bestselling Expanse series–now a major television series. AN OLD ENEMY RETURNS. In the thousand-sun network of humanity’s expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace. In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices. On the lost colony world of Laconia, a hidden enemy has a new vision for all of humanity and the power to enforce it. New technologies clash with old as the history of human conflict returns to its ancient patterns of war and subjugation. But human nature is not the only enemy, and the forces being unleashed have their own price. A price that will change the shape of humanity — and of the Rocinante — unexpectedly and forever…

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who’s been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the “Notable Essays” section of Best American Essays. His children’s work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he’s not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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4 comments

  1. Stuart /

    Hilarious review! Having just watched the entire Second Season of the Expanse on Netflix this weekend, I was careful to skim over bits that might be spoilers. At least in this series the books are way ahead of the TV series, unlike Game of Thrones…

  2. Honestly, Holden, did you think we WEREN’T going to read the book???

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