Welcome to week 4 of Through the Pages: Wool, a weekly discussion on various chapters in Wool as we reread the book in anticipation of the upcoming adaptation and log in our predictions on what will stay, what will go, what might be added, and what lines we want to see make it in. Will beloved small characters be cut? Merged? Will seemingly small characters gain a bigger role?
This week’s piece covers chapters 11 through 14. Join us as we make our way through the pages and comment with your own predictions!
Through the Pages: Wool will be published each Thursday, covering a group of chapters in Wool. The six Through the Pages: Wool contributors will include five Wool veterans and one Wool newbie.
Ah! We meet the famous (infamous?) Juliette, and she’s every bit the tough and clever enigma she was foreshadowed to be. I love that she managed to get exactly what she wanted before she gave in to what Jahns wanted. In addition to opening up the character list a little, I’m really excited to see the TV show’s portrayal of the down deep, especially in contrast to the upper levels and mid levels. I’m hoping for color changes, shape changes, accent changes, and little details that show the difference in what people care about at every level of the silo.
Added to that, I love the idea that Jahns and Marnes are basically an inconvenience once they are down beyond the middle of the silo or so. Even without a lot of detail, it was very clear that everyone down there really just wants them gone so they can continue on with their work without the interference of “tourists.” This set of chapters also opened up the strange relationship with Jahns and Marnes! I wasn’t expecting the two of them to have feelings for one another beyond being longtime coworkers, but they clearly do. I guess it’s not so strange, to develop that sort of attraction when you’ve known someone for so long, and in such a stressful situation.
Marnes’s tenderness with Jahns is particularly sweet, and I hope that comes through on screen. And speaking of sweet things, can I just mention how cute I found it that silo-dwellers call skyscrapers “those ancient aboveground silos”? Just goes to show that we all have different perspectives. On a final note, that conversation about the heat tape seemed quite important. I’m curious to know why…
I’m already sort of loving the idea of Rebecca Ferguson in the role of Juliette. She’s exactly what I pictured, and we’ve seen both a hefty amount of versatility from her as well as experience in sci-fi.
Lines that should make the show:
Marnes: “You just lean into each step, and before you know it, you’re home.”
Marck: “Because she’ll damn well do [the job]. Even if you don’t really expect her to.”
Angela Traficante, freelance editor and author
Angela Traficante is a freelance fiction editor, urban fantasy author, and general lover of all things fantasy and sci-fi. When she’s not fiddling around with words, she’s making time to travel, figure skate, and bake sweet treats. This is Angela’s first time reading Wool.
Follow her on: Twitter | Lambda Editing
The four chapters we looked at this week are huge and key chapters for the story, BUT…I could certainly see some huge changes here for the TV show. It really depends on how deep (pun mildly intended) the producers want to get into silo life.
In the first chapter and a half, Jahns and Marnes navigate the stairs down to the bottom of the silo—Mechanical. In those chapters, we get details on what is contained in the levels of this huge vertical tunnel they call home. We get details on the 144 floors and what is on floor 100 (a giant bazaar). We learn about the farms and all the people that work and inhabit these floors. It’s very informative and chews up a good chapter and a half, but if they need to move the story along, I could definitely see them cutting a lot of the detail here in favor of getting to Juliette faster.
OH, and speaking of Jules, this is the big part of the second half of these chapters. We finally get Marnes and Jahns down to Mechanical, and we meet Juliette for the first time, and almost instantly we can see why Marnes liked her for the sheriff job. She’s tough and no-nonsense. She doesn’t want the job, which is probably what makes her perfect for it. I do think the show will spend a little time down deep with Jules to get a good introduction to the character and to establish just how far away her life is from the job she eventually agrees to on Level 1.
Casting: Juliette is the only known cast member as of this writing, and I think it’s brilliant. The things I really remember her from are The Greatest Showman and the Mission Impossible films. In each of those, she seemed to be well composed and clean. With our first meeting of Jules in Mechanical, I’m fascinated to see her getting into the work of keeping the silo running. Great choice and I look forward to seeing her in the role.
Lines that should make the show:
I don’t know if it’ll make the show, but when Marnes and Jahns are talking about the afterlife and where Holston’s soul has gone, Jahns says “It’s still with us. That’s what they’d say, anyway.” Could be a really interesting conversation on the stairs. Later, when they reach the lower levels, Jahns thinks to herself, “It was like another world down here,” and I could see that becoming dialogue in the show for sure.
Will Swardstrom, speculative fiction author
Will Swardstrom is a speculative fiction author of multiple novels and many short stories on an indefinite hiatus from publishing due to teaching, family life, and an international pandemic. He read Wool in the summer of 2012 and has written multiple short stories in Hugh Howey’s Silo Universe.
Follow him on: Amazon
As Jahns and Marnes make their way down to Mechanical to meet with Juliette, the trip continues to serve as exposition for silo life, detailing the various floors and customs as day-to-day life goes on around them. I’m looking forward to these scenes and can’t help but wonder if my mental picture of the silo will match that of the production. I hope they don’t go for anything drastically different. The Down Deep and Mechanical especially should be impressive.
I think a lot of the Jahns/Marnes dialogue will be cut for shorter more succinct scenes showing their increasing desire to act on their feelings for each other. We finally get to meet Juliette, who immediately uses the situation to negotiate what she wants, before eventually agreeing to take the job. Jahns and Marnes finally have a moment before another confrontation with Bernard changes everything.
I think Cameron Britton would make a great Knox. He’s got the stature and the acting chops to pull it off.
Lines that should make the show:
Jahns: “I’ve been married more to his ghost than to him.”
Eamon Ambrose, science fiction author
Eamon Ambrose is the author of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi serial Zero Hour and the novella Love and Other Algorithms, as well as several short stories published in Samuel Peralta’s Future Chronicles and Daniel Arthur Smith’s Tales From the Canyons of the Damned anthologies.
I have a confession to make this week, and it makes me feel both thrilled and clueless: I don’t think I picked up on the mentions of Jahns’s husband in my previous readings of Wool. Did I only read Wool once, and not again after Shift or Dust? I can’t remember, but rereading these chapters, I audibly gasped at the mention of Donald. Consider my mind blown. I can’t wait for this to play out.
Reading these chapters reinforced in my mind that unlike “Holston,” we won’t see “Proper Gauge” take up a single episode. I think they’ll use the trip into the down deep as a worldbuilding method, plus build up IT, plus introduce Juliette, plus build up Marnes and Jahns, over the course of at least two or three episodes, and we won’t see its conclusion until at least midseason.
As I mentioned, though, the simple trip down probably only works in a book, and more would have to happen than just them walking down and building their cute senior crush on each other, so again, I think this is where we’ll see story expansion. I mentioned an up-top scuffle with post-cleaning tension release before, but maybe we’ll also see Marnes’s infamous rabbit turned into a full farm-level episode. We might also get some kind of porter expansion, with some drama there. I could see a full episode being dedicated to convincing Juliette to accept the position, along with expansion behind the heat tape.
I can’t wait to see Juliette come to life. She is arguably the character who saved me from book fatigue (I was sick of YA protags and just wanted a book to star a grown-up for once, with a grown-up mentality, and boy did she deliver), so she’s important to me in a reader sense. For Knox, there are a bunch of Hey, It’s That Guy! actors who could fill his shoes, but Kristian Nairn (Hodor) comes to mind. I’m not sure if we’ll see much of Marck and Shirly, so I have no guesses there.
Lines that should make it in:
Juliette: “Down here, we joke that this place was laid out to keep us well out of the way.”
Marnes: “They make the best ones. The ones who have no interest in it.”
Crystal Watanabe, freelance fiction editor
Crystal Watanabe is the owner and lead editor of Pikko’s House, writer of the weekly editors webcomic SimpleMarkup, creator of the Book Lovers Box®, and co-author of the Yum-Yum Bento Box cookbooks. A longtime fan of Wool, Crystal originally founded TheDownDeep.net in 2012. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, with her husband, three kids, and three dogs.
The overwhelming visual feel in these episodes would be that the Silo is like a space station—albeit located underground instead of in outer space—an engineered shelter, cramped, self-contained, with sections contributing to different aspects of the balanced ecology. This balance is precarious—even a single unaccounted-for rabbit in the agricultural section can throw a wrench in the delicate cycles of the Silo.
That rabbit is symbolic of the havoc that someone like Allison or Holston could cause to the Silo’s precarious balance of power, of peace. Three sections of forty-eight sections, and the descent is as much an exposition of the Silo’s ecosystem as the relationship between Jahns and Marnes. The book focuses on the tediousness and weariness of the stairwell journey to emphasize the size of the Silo, and the adaptation has to be careful to balance this against what this is all leading to: the introduction of Juliette, the deepening mystery of why IT does not want her as sheriff, and her inevitable acceptance of the job. This is our heroine, and this is her call to adventure.
Rebecca Ferguson will be perfect as Juliette.
Lines that should make the show:
Juliette’s monologue on the machines that keep the Silo running—that provides the power, the oxygen, the waste removal—is telling, and prophetic. Most of this should make the final cut for the adaptation. In addition, Shirly and Marck’s exchanges with Marnes and Jahns as they consider Juliette’s suitability as sheriff contains touchstones of character illumination and foreshadowing:
Marck: “I guess what I’m sayin’ is that if you want to give Jules a job, be very careful.”
Marnes: “Why be careful?”
Marck: “Cause she’ll damn well do it. Even if you don’t really expect her to.”
Samuel Peralta, bestselling author and editor
Samuel Peralta is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, series editor of the acclaimed Future Chronicles anthologies, editorial director for Gravity City digital magazine, and producer of the Emmy® award winning film Real Artists. He is the principal on the Lunar Codex mission launching time capsules carrying the work of over 3000 creative artists—including a story from Hugh Howey!—to the Moon.
The silos in WOOL are more than simply skyscrapers underground. They’re entirely self-contained, self-sustaining communities, spanning 144 floors. Within those floors, there needs to be ever conceivable support for life, from power to sewage to air recycling to farming to schools, hospitals and nurseries. Out of all of this, though, we learn that 1/4 of all the power produced by the silo goes to IT. A bunch of computer servers don’t feed people or heal the sick. Within the silos, they barely do anything at all. And so we see the disparity and tension continuing to grow. There’s more than one world beneath the surface. There are two. There’s the world that’s seen, full of dust and grime, and there’s IT. With hundreds of years stuck below the surface and a history of violent uprisings to counter the abuse of power, life in the silos is fragile. The problem with the supply of heat tape being hoarded by IT exposes how life in the silo isn’t all what it seems.
Lines that should makes the show:
I suspect the role of Knox will be expanded beyond what’s in the book. He’s just too distinct and important later in the story to be a sideline character at the moment.
“Good luck getting IT to power down shit” captures the frustration Jules (and others feel) about the murky world of IT “I guess what I’m sayin’ is that if you want to give Jules a job, be very careful.”
“Why be careful?”
“Cause she’ll damn well do it, even if you don’t really expect her to.”
“We joke that this place was laid out to keep us well out of the way.”
Peter Cawdron, bestselling science fiction author
Peter is the Australian science fiction author of the First Contact series of novels exploring the concept of humanity’s first interaction with extraterrestrial life. He specializes in making hard science fiction easy to understand and thoroughly enjoyable. Peter is a fan of classic science fiction writers such as Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Crichton, and their influence on his style and storylines is readily apparent.
Follow him on: Amazon
And that’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our show predictions for chapters 11–14. Join us next week for our analysis of Chapters 15–17. Reread along with us and comment below with your own predictions!