Welcome to week 2 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?
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.
One of the most effective and poignant devices that Hugh Howey uses in the novel is the way Holston and Allison’s scenes play out like mirror images of one another. This will work incredibly well visually as well, so I’m hoping to see that on screen.
Allison’s scenes are a one-two punch: not only are they flashback memories for Holston as he suits up and gets ready for the journey outside, they are also foreshadowing that journey. Each scene—past and present, present and future—plays against each other like a Greek drama, pushing and pulling each other inexorably towards the final tragedy. That final chapter, though, that’ll be an amazing trick on screen without dialogue. The final revelation of betrayal inside the helmet, as Holston takes it off, in the world outside the helmet, and his discovery of his wife’s remains—all are beautifully composed. But will the viewer understand, without the ability to read Holston’s thoughts? One could imagine a new monologue would be written for this scene, or a new dialogue with someone inside the Silo, or perhaps some of Allison’s past revelations about what she knows could be reused as voiceovers in this scene… but wouldn’t it be amazing if the director were able to communicate this final part without words? It would be breathtaking.
Lines that should make the show:
“I want to go out. I want to go out!”
“IT. Eye, Tee. They’re the ones. They know.”
This line, or something like it, should make the final cut. It deepens the mystery, raises more questions than it answers, propels the viewer into the next chapter of WOOL. My guess for the final scene is that prevous dialogue between Holston and Allison will be voice overs outside the silo and Allison’s final resting place, something like: “You and I know something new, and now it all makes sense. It makes perfect sense.”
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.
All novels start with an inciting incident. It’s something that spurs the protagonist into action and sets them on their journey. In the case of WOOL, though, that inciting incident impacts the entire community rather than the protagonist. In fact, we don’t meet the protagonist until we’re 8-10 chapters into the book. This gives WOOL an eerie feeling.
As the reader, you’re not sure who you should rally behind. I expect this will play into the TV series as well, with Jules being an unlikely hero rather than a strident one. As the book includes flashbacks of Holston’s past and the death of his wife, I suspect this, too, will play into the TV show really well. My expectation is that the first seven chapters will be one episode as there’s so much world-building and the twist would make a great hook for the next episode.
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
I fervently hope that this set of chapters is as much of a punch to the gut to viewers as it was to me. I expect that these initial seven chapters will make up the first episode of the TV series, and they were a rollercoaster ride, a cruel string of betrayals.
I’m excited to see if the TV show will play with color—there’s so little mention of it in the story that it should be an important detail of the set design. The color-coded pockets on the suit. That yellow airlock door. Those blue skies. The gleaming, shiny skyscrapers. I also expect sound to play a huge part here. I’m imagining a lot of shots from Holston’s perspective inside the suit, so I’m eager to see how they use noise to amplify or diminish tension. The klaxon, the hissing, the metal groaning, birds flying through the air, Holston’s own breath. I can’t wait to see a shot of him whirling around in surprise, scanning the horizon. It would be such a triumphant moment, only to be followed by the soul-crushing wreck of the final minutes and that “boulder” that will block Holston’s path.
There’s so much imagery in the first few chapters that I feel will likely come into play as the story progresses. The idea that the silo is very, very deep and only a tiny portion of it is visible above the ground. The idea of grime covering what is real—or isn’t real. The idea of who may or may not be interested in watching cleanings. I hope we see subtle nods to all the important themes at the beginning of the show. And more than ever, I hope we get a big-name actor and actress for Holston and Allison, if only so that their deaths will be all the more shocking to the audience.
Lines that should make the show:
“It should give you more time out there than anyone has had before.”
“You’ve felt that, right? That we could be anywhere, living a lie?”
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.
These chapters—the remainder of the original “WOOL” short story—they really are the springboard on which the entire book (and then trilogy) is based. And these chapters showed us one very important thing: Hugh Howey was a man who could not be trusted. Throughout these chapters, Hugh is dancing around one of the central ideas of the whole book: What is the truth, and who gets to know it? Through a series of flashbacks and present-day narratives, we see glimpses of Holston and Allison’s marriage. We are left with a fleeting but very real sense that while these people live in a place that is safe, that safety comes with secrets. What are those secrets?
Originally, that question was very open-ended, as Hugh left the questions up to the minds of his readers, but when the story took off, all of a sudden those secrets gave birth to an entire world that we’ll continue to delve into in the coming weeks. As I’m rereading the story now, it certainly has some Snowpiercer vibes that didn’t exist when I first read the novel (since the film came out after Hugh’s novel). I can definitely see some of the same visuals here in this TV series, to a certain degree.
Casting: I didn’t cast Marnes or Nelson last time, so I’ll cover that here. Marnes – I picture an older, grizzled deputy. The obvious choice would be someone like Sam Elliott, but I don’t want to go obvious. Let’s go with Viggo Mortensen, famous for Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. He can be gruff but also have the range that we see in the coming chapters. Nelson – he’s only here briefly, but the name brought Tim Blake Nelson to mind, and he might be an amazing choice for this role.
Lines that should make the show:
The best lines here all go to Allison. The lines by Allison that start Chapter 5, showing the desperation some in the silo feel about what they believe is outside compared to the lives they have.
“I want to go out. I want to go out. Iwanttogoout.”
“Nothing you see is real.”
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
This part’s the clincher, the one that, not unlike the silo’s denizens, locks you into this world and refuses to let you leave. One of the more unusual aspects of Wool is that the story should, and did, end here. If Hugh had decided never to write another word about the silo, it would still have been a perfect short story. The fact that we now know this is only the beginning of the saga is an insanely good bonus. It’s essentially two important events—the day of Holston’s cleaning and a flashback to Allison’s heartbreaking demand to leave the silo, and her explanation why.
It’s hard not to feel for Holston on both counts. Holston’s cleaning will be really interesting, as there is little to no dialogue, so it will rely on visuals and music to play this out. The music will be so important here, and I don’t envy whoever gets to score it, because it will be a huge challenge, but man, if it’s done right, it will be mindblowing. Visually, color, of course, will be the big factor here, the mundane concrete grey of the silo and the deathly grey of the outside will briefly be replaced with abject beauty—and then comes the sucker punch. There’s so much betrayal going on here it just leaves you reeling, and I really hope that’s portrayed effectively. The advantage they have here is that people who don’t know the story will expect Holston to live, as he’s essentially the main character at this point, so it will be a big shock to many. Can’t wait to see the reactions after this plays out!
Lines that should make the show:
Nelson: “It should give you more time out there than anyone has had before.”
It’ll be interesting to see how he looks when he’s saying this. He’s had plenty of practice at this stage.
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’m really looking forward to this part of the theorized single first episode, mostly because so much of it is in Holston’s thoughts, and I don’t think they’ll go for voiceover narration, meaning some of his thoughts will need to be transferred to dialogue or subtle visual cues. It’s possible Nelson will simply get merged with Marnes, but I don’t think that’ll happen, as Nelson’s presence itself is a nice clue to the structure of the silo, which needs to be packed into this introduction to the world.
I think the “why do they clean?” question is important enough that this will make it into dialogue, whether between Nelson and Holston or Holston and Marnes, I’m not sure, but I think it will be there. It’s needed to build the anticipation. If I had to guess, they’ll do it with Nelson, and like in the book Holston will see the fear in his eyes, but instead of only thinking it, he’ll simply say aloud to Nelson, “You think I won’t do it.”
Allison’s cleaning is pretty important for building anticipation for Holston’s as well, so I think we’ll see quite a lot of it and the buildup to it, with Allison’s theorizing trimmed down to the most essential, because she does say more than needs to be said for TV. I don’t think we’ll see Holston’s gradual descent to where he is in the present, as viewers will be able to fill in those holes themselves based on how Holston looks in comparison to the flashback. I think Holston will have been relatively quiet in the present up until he gets outside, and then he’ll start talking a lot in the suit, whether to himself, to Allison, or to the people inside who (he thinks) can’t hear him.
Holston’s cleaning is probably the part of the episode that I think is the hardest to pull off, simply because so much of it is in Holston’s head, and smart TV viewers will have their poke-a-hole-in-the-plot brains churning. This is where I think things will likely change for TV, because people will ask: If he sees the world in green, why wouldn’t he just rip his helmet off right then and there? And it’s a valid question, one that’s more easily answered in book form. The show will need more, so I think IT (unbeknownst to viewers) is fully monitoring Holston, and just when they think he’s about to remove his helmet to possibly mouth warnings or rebellion, “Allison’s” voice will crackle on. She’ll tell him it looks safe, but it’s not just yet. She’ll sound overjoyed and tell him to head up the hill, that she’ll meet him there. This would, of course, be a fake voice from IT, but viewers won’t need to know that just yet. I think Holston’s death in the book translates to screen fairly well, and we’ll see a lot of it almost exactly as written.
Lines that should make it in:
Allison: “IT. Eye. Tee. They’re the ones. They know.”
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.
And that’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our show predictions for chapters 4–7. Join us next week for our analysis of Chapters 8–10. Reread along with us and comment below with your own predictions!