We had a Q&A session at a Boston event last weekend, and a reader wanted to know if they could ask questions about DUST. Most of the audience had only read WOOL, so I suggested we do something online at a later date. And then yesterday, I received an email from a reader with a load of questions, and after firing off my responses, I thought they would make a good launching point to really dive into the trilogy.
I have blogged about this before, but I should say again that I write primarily for myself and for the repeat offenders. I have in mind the readers who might go back and revisit a text and catch all the foreshadowing and layers of meaning. Assembling a novel is like building a crossword for me. There’s a great review and response on Amazon for A WALK UP NAMELESS RIDGE that captures some of this. What follows is a discussion about the thought processes I had while writing this series. Feel free to chime in with your own questions.
Dear Mr. Howey,
I have just finished reading the trilogy and thoroughly enjoyed the entire series. However, some threads were left unexplained and I would be most grateful if you would be kind enough to answer the following questions so I can sleep at night!
1. No explanation was given as to what happened when they first went into the silos. I’m curious as to why the women meekly agreed to be put to sleep, or did they offer some kind of resistance?
Almost everyone was put to sleep, not just the women. Only a single shift remained. There were pockets of hysteria, but most of these people were prepped for this from the beginning. Donald was an exception, as he joined just the day before.
Exactly. The good nanos. Everyone in the original silos had them (it was why they didn’t die on the day that everyone on planet Earth did). They got more during each sleep. Both men were ravaged by the outside air, but both were given treatment and put back in the pods. Donald got out early and didn’t get more treatments, which was why he went downhill.
She was very curious, but worse things were happening. Silo 17 received a massive dose of good nanos from Silo 1 (with Silo 40 assisting). It was why anyone (like Solo) survived there. Passing through Silo 17 gave everyone from 18 a dose of the stuff. It’s questionable whether they would have survived the journey overland otherwise.
4. When Donald destroyed silo 1, wouldn’t this have caused the catastrophic failure of all the other silos? He was effectively killing mankind, not saving it. Was this his intention? Am I right in this assumption?
Silo 1 collapsed, but the sequence to collapse other silos would have to have been engaged. Donald knew how this worked, having done it once himself. He was destroying the place that could destroy the other places, leaving them to live their lives without threat or intrusion.
5. I don’t get why the devastation only occurs around the silo areas. If the world was destroyed, how come they are able to walk to a perfectly safe area just a short distance away. How come the bad nanos did not pervade everywhere. I don’t get this part of the story at all. I was hoping this would be explained by the end of the book but I feel as though either I’ve missed some important hint in the story to resolve this or I’ve been left hanging which is weird and a bit frustrating.
The nanos were able to target based on species (the original threat was based on race, made by elements in the Middle East and Israel). All of mankind was infected over the years. Invisible bombs lie in every person’s bloodstream. Only those inoculated (by visiting the nano treatment chambers) survived the day the nanos went off. Planes would have plummeted from the sky, cars would have swerved and crashed, but the people at the national convention and every other living thing were perfectly okay. This is all technically feasible and probably 100-200 years from being possible, btw.
The length of time spent underground was to ensure that no pocket of humanity anywhere else survived, and also to kill off the memories of those who might whisper across generations. The nanos were programmed to create a dome of death around the silos to prevent any silo from escaping early. Everywhere else, nature was thriving.
6. The storyline surrounding religion is a little weak and not developed enough if you don’t mind me saying. it appears to go off on some kind of strange tangent in the third book that doesn’t really add anything to the story or fit with how the silos are organized. Where does that story go in the end?
It was meant to highlight the dichotomy in the Bible of salvation or damnation. Juliette could have used the blast charges to go out and get revenge and kill. She used them instead to open up the 51st silo, which was their salvation. We make choices like this every day. Do we use our energy to build things up or tear them down? How is religion used? How should it be used?
Some of the church members left with Juliette. Some stayed. Is it better to live a harsh life in the hopes of some eternal reward? Or is it better to work hard to make this world a better place?
I hope you don’t mind my asking all this. I really did love the books and now have my son and daughter hooked on them. I can’t wait to see how the film turns out and best of luck with it all.