Welcome to week 6 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 18 through 21. 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.
After the tragic events of the previous chapter, we’re jolted forward in time to Jules languishing in her own cell, preparing for cleaning. It’s quite a shock to the reader, until we’re pulled back again to the aftermath of Jahns’s death with Jules now settling into her job as sheriff.
One thing I think we may see in the TV show is more of Jules on the job. I was always a little disappointed that we never really got to see her as sheriff properly, so I think a few police procedural episodes with her and Marnes will be shoehorned in. I’ve got a feeling Marnes’s tragic death may be treated differently too, in order to give him more screen time with Jules.
Bernard and Jules have their first face-to-face meeting, which is understandably frosty as the tension rises between them. Stargazer Lukas makes his first appearance, and I think that visually, this will be an interesting scene between him and Jules in the darkened cafeteria.
Casting: I’m sticking with the Irish here and putting Domhnall Gleeson forward for Lukas!
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.
Chapter 18, though brief, seemed like something that would be a good teaser opening for an episode, and so I think (and hope) we’ll see it play out that way, then go into a flashback episode. Chapter 19 will probably largely be condensed down into Jules sitting in the cell thinking, and we’ll end up getting to know her through some kind of expansion, possibly Jules remembering the case with Holston and the suspected murder of her former lover. That would 1) give more time to world-build 2) give us more time in the down deep 3) let us get to know Jules. Plus, if they pick a known name for Holston, this would give him more screen time. I’m leaning toward flashbacks interspersed with the present.
Jules’s first meeting with Bernard will, of course, be crucial, and I can’t wait to see it play out, with her fire and his smugness. I think the scene between them will probably be longer, or we’ll be given several, just so that we can understand how important it is that he’s become acting mayor and what kind of power he will enjoy until a new one is chosen.
Although Lukas showed up earlier in IT, the scene in the cafeteria will be good for immediately establishing that he’s not the cold bastard that Bernard is. I’m undecided as to whether they’ll follow the book for Marnes, as he seems like a good choice to deviate from the book and keep alive. I would be on board with that kind of change rather than seeing Marnes succumb to Bernard’s intentions.
Casting: I wanted to wait before fancasting Lukas, and this time I’m going to go with Nicolas Hoult or Logan Lerman. They’re both in the right age range and have a somewhat innocent boyish look.
Lines that should make it in: Jules to Bernard: “I believe we’ll find the party responsible was the one with the most to gain. Mayor.”
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.
History repeats itself as Jules is framed in scenes—preparing to clean, spending time in the holding cell—that parallel both Holston’s and his wife’s journey as they uncovered the secrets of the Silo. But now the stakes are higher. The enemy is showing itself, no longer simply hiding in the shadows. IT. Bernard Holland. Guardians, through the servers, of the history of the Silo—a history hiding a secret so important that those who uncovered it died.
An encounter and long conversation with Lukas, a mysterious man studying the night sky from the viewscreen—and the growing realization that there are wonders outside that no one has imagined (stars!)—portends a growing relationship that will serve as the backdrop as the story continues. By now, viewers have been hammered with the deaths of three major characters, but the death of yet another will bring home the message that no one is safe, and perhaps not even Juliette. Can she break the cycle? Does that opening scene with Jules at the airlock mean that the cycle is inevitable, that she will fail? Or will she uncover the secret of the Silo and avoid the fate of others before her?
Casting: I’m going to stick with my casting of a person of color for Lukas. Last week I called for either John Cho or Harry Shum Jr. This week I’m throwing Michael B. Jordan’s name in the hat for the producers to think about. What say you?
Lines that should make the show: Bernard: “But now I hear you’re investigating for foul play?” Jules: “I suppose you should know, as acting mayor, that we’re treating this very much as a murder.” Bernard: “Oh my. So the rumors are true. Who would do such a thing?” Jules: “I believe we’ll find that the party responsible was the one with the most to gain… Mayor.”
Jules: “What the hell was that?” Lukas (laughing): “A star.”
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.
WOOL is a slow burn, which gives it plenty of time for character development, but once we reach Casting Off, the body count starts to climb. Bernard is the bad guy. That’s been building for a while and becomes more evident in how he throws his authority around, but the intriguing aspect of this portion of the book is the growing awareness of societal bonds with the Pact. We begin to see that Bernard, and indeed all the characters, are part of a system of control. Bernard is enforcing the Pact. Jules is questioning it.
When it comes to the TV series, I’m expecting to see these two diverging threads explored in more detail as they speak to modern life. Laws are set by governments and need to be enforced to have any meaning, but should that enforcement be mindless? Can it be abused? What greater purpose does it really serve? These are the underlying questions in WOOL, they’re the current that draws the story downstream. And there are plenty of parallels in our time when it comes to everything from BLM to COVID to Climate Change. Some people abuse the rules and hide behind them to cling to power. The real champions question them and ensure laws are honestly and equitably enforced and have a real purpose. That’s the course that’s being charted for us in WOOL. I really hope the screenwriters amplify these societal issues underlying the tension as it builds, as this is where the book gets readers to think on a deeper level.
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.
As a first time reader of Wool, all I can say is: How about we stop it with all the heart-wrenching deaths? My poor soul is having a hard time coping.
This set of chapters does a great job of continuing to upset the status quo, both with the framing chapter of Juliette preparing for her cleaning, and with Marnes’s death. It feels like just when we thought that we’d get a chance to breathe with Juliette as sheriff, we are being told, “Haha, nope!” I’m not actually sure that the TV show will use the frame of Juliette preparing for cleaning, and I’m not sure I want it to. I don’t know how that plays out yet, but I think I want to be surprised by it when it happens. Juliette is obviously being set up for the difficulty of her role, and I don’t think I’d like to know in advance that she ultimately fails in some way. I want to see her clash with Bernard play out, and I want to watch as she develops her own methods. I feel like it would be a little hard to root for her in the show if we know the outcome already.
Similarly, I think I’d like to see more of Marnes’s struggle played out in the TV show. Since these chapters in the book are from Juliette’s point of view, it’s a little difficult to show what’s going on outside of her direct understanding, but the TV show should be able to open us up much more to Marnes’s emotions. And I can’t be the only one excited to see Lukas and Juliette’s chemistry on screen. I’m already picturing their meet-cute—the darkness, the stars, the sparse dialogue that still conveys so much. It’s interesting that we get both the final death of a relationship (Jahns/Marnes) and the first bloom of one within the same chapter.
Casting: Although I already did some speculating on Lukas last week, I’ll reiterate my desire for Timothee Chalamet, who I think can bring that sort of enigmatic nature as well as the optimism we see in this chapter.
Lines that should make the show: Lukas: “The longer you do this, the better you see at night.”
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.
I’ll confess: I knew the deaths were starting to rack up, and I knew what was coming, so I had a peek at Angela’s reaction to this week, and it played out about how I remembered my own feelings from this section when I read it years ago. At this point, we’re seeing main character after main character kick the bucket, and then Part III of WOOL (Casting Off) starts with a view of the future with Juliette standing at the airlock looking over her suit, echoing what Holsten did just chapters ago. If I recall my own reading reaction all those years ago, I was probably like “Oh, heck no.”
And that’s Hugh Howey for you. I really think he loved to paint himself into a corner and then figure out how to get himself out. As readers, we aren’t seeing the sliver of hope for our protagonists, but it’s there. Ultimately, at the end of the day, Howey is giving us hope, but we have to cling to it when everything around us is telling us to despair.
Getting back to the book, I do love that right after the vision of Jules in the suit, we go back a few days and see her adjusting to life as sheriff. I think seeing her reaction to outside screens as a contrast to Holsten and those who lived near the top of the silo is really interesting and hope the show explores how different people in the silo view their home differently. We also see that Jules is smart—she knows something is off. Between Holston’s death and then Jahns’s, there is something wrong with the silo, and the first thing she does on her own time is research her predecessor in the job.
The interaction between Jules and Bernard is great, and that first meetup between the two might be one of the great parts of the show—the dynamic between the shadow king of the silo and the girl who believes she has the authority to take him down if need be.
Casting: Lukas gets a nice little introduction here, and I hope they get someone Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) to play him. I think he’d be a fun choice and a nice switch up from his HP persona.
Lines that should make the show: I don’t know if I have any specific lines, but that first conversation between Jules and Bernard. The FEELING of that conversation needs to be in there. It might not translate word for word from the page to the screen, but that awkward feeling and the power dynamic he is trying to hold over her is crucial.
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.
And that’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our show predictions for chapters 18–21. Join us next week for our analysis of Chapters 22–25. Reread along with us and comment below with your own predictions!