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Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey

Credit: Orbit Books

"And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon." - Revelation 9:11a, King James Version

The three political factions of the solar system: the Terrestrial UN, the Martian Congress, and the confederate Outer Planets Alliance must face an historical challenge to humanity never before experienced. Will they set aside their differences in the interest of self-preservation, or will their long-brewing hatred for each other doom their children to a post-Apocalyptic future?

Each organization sends a contigent to investigate a new phenomenon born from the evolution of the protomolecule on Venus. Comprised mostly of military ships, the UN contigent also sends an advisory group of religious leaders, philosophers, and other important civilians. The Martian response is solely military. The OPA send the only ship they've got: the repurposed Mormon generation ship, the Nauvoo, now renamed the Behemoth. Mixed among the political agendas, there is one independent voice: A Luna-based TV crew making a documentary about the phenomenon. Their choice for transport is the apolitical crew of the Rocinante.

Abaddon's Gate covers plot lines we've seen before in The Expanse series; however some newly-introduced characters bring a refreshing depth to the plot not previously seen in the first books. Notably, an unassuming Europa-based Russian Methodist minister, Annushka 'Anna' Volovodov. It is Anna's internal musings that give real meaning to what each political faction wants to accomplish. Case in point: Anna's rhetorical questions about the protomolecule:

"They invade our solar system, kill us indisciminately, steal our resources. All things we would consider sins if we were doing them. Does that mean they're fallen? Did Christ die for them too? Or are they intelligent but souless, and everything the protomolecule's done is just like a virus doing what it's programmed for?"

Juxtaposed with Anna's questions are Holden's thoughts regarding the protomolecule:

"Holden was starting to feel like they were all monkeys playing with a microwave. Push a button, a light comes on inside... Push a different button and stick your hand inside, it burns you... Learn to open and close the door, it's a place to hide things... So here the monkeys were, poking the shiny box and making guesses about what it did."

So what, exactly is this phenomenon, Abaddon's gate? Is it an agent of indiscriminate destruction? Can it be overcome, or at the very least, subjugated? Or will human hubris be the catalyst for the Apocalyptic end of humanity?