Welcome to week 7 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 22 through 25. Join us as we make our way through the pages and comment with your own predictions!
Through the Pages: Wool will be published each week, covering a group of chapters in Wool. The six Through the Pages: Wool contributors will include five Wool veterans and one Wool newbie.
I mentioned last week that I could see Marnes as being someone they deviate from the book for, leaving him alive, and I still think that’s a possibility, given that it would be easier to explain the complicated un-relationship Marnes and Jahns had if he were there to actually talk about it instead of having it all be speculation. Jules’s inner drive to find out how things work is mostly in her head, and we need to see and hear that in a way that books don’t always need. Having Marnes be a live, active partner and someone Jules can ping things off of would help draw out her character in this medium.
That said, I also think Peter Billings will still be in the picture, so I can see Marnes being relieved of duty, or maybe he resigns so that he can dedicate more time to figuring out how Bernard did it. I think we’ll end up seeing Peter as a more malicious character than he is in the books, and he’ll be a clearer Bernard crony. I am optimistic about our chances of seeing the funeral, and I can see the service being the center point of an episode somewhere in the early second half of the season.
Scottie fills a fairly typical role as the jittery tech friend, so I’d like to see them try to change it up some. Possibly merging Scottie with Lukas? That said, I’ll still fancast Scottie separately just in case they do keep them separate.
I really liked JJ Feild in Lost in Space recently, so I’ll fancast him as Peter Billings, as he’s got a trusting yet suspicious look about him. For Scottie, maybe someone like Asa Butterfield but not Asa Butterfield, since the role is fairly small.
Lines that should make it in:
Jules: Listen here, you blasted runt, I’m coming through these gates or I’m coming over them, and then through you.
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.
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Hugh Howey is a magician, and in these “episodes,” he ramps up the audience’s tension the way an escape artist increases the tension—he’s handcuffed, wrapped in chains, blindfolded, dangled from the ceiling by his feet, submerged upside-down in water, and he has to get out before his lungs run out of air!
Bernard makes his presence and power felt as both interim mayor and IT head; he appoints a favorite, Billings, to shadow Jules, as she closes in on the mystery that both Allison and Holston seemed to have discovered—and then paid for with their lives. As does someone else in the final part of this episode, someone even closer to Jules than the four people who have already died because of the secret.
But before that, in an amazing sleight of hand, another magician’s trick, an important reveal: the hidden files in Holston’s computers are deciphered as something so simple, and yet so insidiously dangerous. When I first read this, and even now, I marveled at how a simple program that almost anyone in the audience would be familiar with (especially now with the prevalence of Instagram filters and image-altering apps) could be so explosive to the balance of life and power in the Silo. This is the aha moment that, if done well, will completely hook the audience to watch WOOL to its end.
I’d like to see Robert Pattinson as Scottie, and maybe have Peter Billings played by someone like Jonathan Del Arco.
Lines that should make the show:
The reveal, when Scottie and Jules talk about the meaning of the symbols and gibberish in Holston’s files—that conversation should make it to the screen. And more, because Jules’s thoughts in this scene would vocalize to help the audience through the realization of the import of Scottie’s revelation.
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.
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Bernard is a case study in how abusers use a position of power to extend their reach. On the surface, he seems to care about the elusive Pact and the structure it provides the Silo, but it’s a con. Like so many politicians, power itself is the goal. For Bernard, power isn’t a means to the end of service or helping others. Power is the reward. There’s no desire to improve life, only to maintain the illusion. In Bernard, we see someone intent on maintaining the status quo. For him, change is bad. There can be no progress. We get glimpses into an erased history where uprisings threatened the stability of the silo.
Bernard uses this to justify his oppression. For him, change invariably leads to disaster. The irony for both the silos and modern life is it’s impossible/detrimental to maintain a status quo. Time moves on. Time demands change. No amount of rigid control can contain a society, be it in a silo or on a hill. WOOL shows us how power should be questioned. If it can’t, it deserves to be powerless. That’s the struggle I hope to see in the TV series.
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.
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And here’s Wool at it again. I was so excited to meet Scottie in person… only to have him die a chapter later. Why, Mr. Howey, why? I want to get attached to someone. I love that Juliette is digging into Allison and Holston’s story a bit here. I think this is a great opportunity in the TV show to remind the viewer of the entire inciting event of the series, as well as to collect some of the information in one place as a launching pad for the rest of the story.
I’m interested to see how the TV show will choose to show this kind of low-tech research that Juliette is doing, and how they’ll compare it to the advanced wonders of IT. Much like the difference between the upper levels and the down deep, I think there’s a similar disparity between IT and basically everyone else. I imagine IT being this shiny, white, sterile part of the silo with lots of lights and blinking servers, whereas everyone else is dust-covered and carting paper notes to one another. Given that there seems to be a war brewing between factions, I’m expecting the TV show to drive some wedges into the setting as well as the characterizations.
Juliette constantly refers to Scottie as young, so I’m thinking he’s late teens or early twenties. Tom Holland comes to mind immediately. Since this is such a small role, I could also see it being gender-swapped, and I could see a talented young actress like McKenna Grace or Zendaya doing well.
Lines that should make the show:
Juliette: “It’s not going to be a very productive night for either of us, looks like.”
Lukas: “Oh, I don’t know. That depends on what you came up here for.”
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.
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We’re at the heart of the mystery now. What happened to Holston in the first few chapters, what happened to Allison before that—this is the mystery at the heart of everything, and we see Jules start to unravel it. She doesn’t know what she’s looking for or if there is anything even there, but after Marnes’s suicide at the end of the last section, Jules is overwhelmed by her position and the questions that seem to pop from around every corner. I loved that we’re still keeping the threads connected to Allison since that’s where the story starts and we see the mystery that she supposedly solved, although it’s fairly clear that there are still plenty of questions that are left unanswered.
The absolute power-grab by Bernard here is ballsy and probably a little unbelievable when I first read the book all those years ago. However, the political climate of the last five to six years has shown me that power is the one thing that some people can never get enough of. Perhaps that’s at the heart of why WOOL is getting picked up for a series now more than ever—the fascist tendencies of Bernard echo much of what we see in our country and across the world.
I’ve got to laugh a bit: I thought perhaps we’d get through four chapters without another character dying, but nope! R.I.P. Scottie. He was an important character, but one that was very short-lived for the book. I’ll cast him below, but since he’s very limited I could definitely see the producers just combining his role with someone else. Maybe Lukas and eliminating that character altogether. Peter is a great addition too. Like is he trustworthy? Is he just Bernard’s plant or does he truly care about the law in the silo? Not really a ton of action in these chapters so I could see them abridged a lot for the show, but some important information being learned by our protagonist.
Glen Powell (Scott Glenn in Hidden Figures) – He’s got that frat-boy kinda look to him that I just see when I picture Peter Billingsly. Someone like that. A white frat boy is how I see him in my mind. Jordan Fisher as Scottie. I can see him as the slightly nerdy, anxious IT kid who gets in way over his head and it would add some color to the silo.
Lines that should make the show:
Peter: I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m supposed to take you into custody.
Jules: What did you say?
Peter: I’m just doing my duty, Sheriff, I swear.
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 the mystery unravels, an unexpected visit from the increasingly unpleasant Bernard introduces Peter Billings to Jules as Marnes’s replacement, just as she’s settling into her Sheriff’s role. Although he’s essentially Bernard’s puppet, he seems like an affable enough fellow. As Jules delves deeper into Holston’s past, it becomes obvious there’s something much bigger at play, as she realizes when Scottie contacts her and a trip to meet him in IT brings a chilling revelation.
Of course, Hugh keeps killing all the nice folks, and poor Scottie falls afoul of Bernard, and we now know just how far he’s willing to go to not only keep his power over the silo, but increase it. The more I think about it, the more I reckon we’re going to have a much more linear form of storytelling on the TV show, going right back to Holston and Marnes’s initial investigation with Jules, then to Holston and Allison’s story up to his cleaning, and then on to Juliette’s arc. These characters are too valuable to waste over an episode or two.
I think Jesse Plemons would be perfect as Peter Billings. He’s got that polite everyman thing going. I think we might see a little more of Scottie in the TV show, so I think Umbrella Academy‘s Aidan Gallagher would be great.
Lines that should make it on the show:
“He ate a neighbor’s rat.”
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.
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And that’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our show predictions for chapters 22–25. Join us next week for our analysis of Chapters 26–30. Reread along with us and comment below with your own predictions!