In the final scenes of Caliban’s War the protomolecule launches itself from the surface of Venus into the outer reaches of the solar system. About the same time, Jim Holden and his band of misfits aboard the Rocinante have declared themselves free agents and have sworn off loyalty to any of the warring political parties. Fast forward a year or so and you arrive at the opening pages of Abaddon’s Gate.
The crew of the Rocinante have spent the past year taking contract after contract, making money hand over fist as they escort other ships, deliver goods, and protect dignitaries or other high-ranking corporate officials. As a result, the ship is in great condition, they can buy whatever they want, and spirits are generally through the roof. Holden can’t believe how lucky they have been, but then it all comes crashing down. The guy just can’t catch a break when it comes to living a happy life. It seems like every force in the universe is working hard against him.
Back in the first book, Leviathan Wakes, the secondary viewpoint character was Detective Miller, who died as he rode the protomolecule down to the surface of Venus in the concluding events of that book. Well, guess what? Apparently Miller isn’t as dead as originally promised. As a matter of fact, Holden has been seeing vision of Miller from time to time over the past few months and Miller has been trying to get him to do certain things without actually telling him what’s going on.
Ultimately, Holden, the Rocinante, and just about every other person in the solar system that has a spaceship finds themselves bee-lining for the big fancy portal ring the protomolecule has created after disappearing from Venus. Nobody knows what’s on the other side, and everyone is trying to prevent everyone else from being the first one to go through the ring. It’s an old-fashioned stand-off. Of course, given the incredible bad luck that the Rocinante suffers all the time, it wasn’t hard to see that Holden and his crew were going to be the first ones through, albeit, not by choice, rather by an intense desire on their part to remain alive despite the stupidity of others.
Leviathan Wakes was a cop investigation type story, Caliban’s War was a straight up space adventure, and Abaddon’s Gate became a thriller as the pages went by. I’m really enjoying how each one of the books in this series uses a different kind of storytelling to keep things fresh and new. I’m sure the trend will continue with each additional volume as the years go by as it doesn’t seem like the author is planning on wrapping things up any time soon. I’m fine with that.
At the start of the book humanity is confined to its own solar system. By the end, that paradigm has been shattered beyond recognition and the action of Holden and the Rocinante crew open up galaxy upon galaxy to be explored by humanity. That’s going to make the next book, Cibola Burn, which arrives later this year interesting indeed.