This review was originally written in July of 2016.
Halfway through another book it dawns on me that I neglected to write up a brief review for Cibola Burn by fictional author James S.A. Corey…and that was silly of me.
With the fourth installment of The Expanse series, the previous novel’s full blown space opera narrative leads us to a story that takes place almost exclusively on an unfamiliar planet an unknown distance from Earth.
Human nature takes its natural course when early settlers from the devastated Europa base established a colony on the new planet prior to a joint corporate/scientific exploration colony arrives under charter from Earth government.
Terrorist acts from the settlers and attempts to establish authoritarian control by the newly arrived corporate interests produce a tense and untenable relationship that prompts the governments of Earth and the outer planets to send James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante through the gate and to this planet to serve as a mediator. The whole thing goes about as well as anyone familiar with the previous three books would expect.
The shame about this book is that, much like the scientific personnel who arrived, I didn’t get nearly enough opportunity to explore the planet. It’s a planet which has been geoengineered by the godlike aliens who had created the protomolecule that led to the gate from our solar system into the realm where hundreds of other gates lead to systems with hundreds of other planets. Containing presumably it’s own biodiversity combined with organic machines developed by the disappeared aliens, it would have been a fascinating planet to have experienced in greater depth.
That is my only dissatisfaction with the book, and realistically the authors couldn’t have actually written the sort of detail I would have liked without including an actual xenobiology textbook along with the story…and I suspect most people would have been far less inclined to read it if that were the case.