Welcome to week 8 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 26 through 30, wrapping up “Casting Off.” 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.
WOOL is a piece of science fiction, some of the very best there is. But at its heart it is also a mystery, a detective story, with clues laid in front of the story’s sheriff—with their badge or stripped of it—and what propels the story forward is how our protagonist takes us on the journey to put all the clues together into a satisfying reveal. These chapters lay out more of the clues for us—the note Scottie sent to Jules before his death, the software program’s image size and resolution, the pumps and seals and heat tape engineered to fail—some subtly and not so subtly, and Jules begins to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
But before she can act with what she has realized, Bernard and IT act—and the image we’re shown at the beginning of Jules’s series, of her waiting in the anteroom for her turn to go outside the Silo and clean—that scene becomes real. And yet, her very weakness—her being from Mechanical—is what turns the tables on everything at the end of this episode, that enables her to refuse to clean, and to go where no venturer outside the walls has gone before. It’s a redemption that provides viewers the fist-bump and shouting of “Yes!” that leads you straight into the next season of WOOL.
Josh Brolin is my first pick for Walker. He could pull off being a master mechanic, but with a sensitive and protective heart, who never forgave himself for failing Scottie, and who would swear to protect Jules at all casts. If Brolin’s unavailable (or unaffordable, more likely) then I’d tap Michael Chiklis for the part.
Lines that should make the show:
If I were Hugh, I wouldn’t be able to resist keeping this exchange in, because—SPOILER!—it teases us with the solution to the problem. It’s Agatha Christie putting a big clue right in front of our noses.
JULES: Walker, what kind of screen would be eight inches by two inches? Do you have anything like that?
WALKER: Eight by two? Maybe a readout?… Be the right size to show a few lines of text, internal temps, clock cycles… But you’d never make one with this kind of pixel density. Even if it were possible, it wouldn’t make sense. Your eye couldn’t make out one pixel from the other if it were right at the end of your nose.
And then: WALKER (voice over): No fear. Now is for laughing. The truth is a joke and they’re good in Supply.
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.
I’m having a lot of fun re-reading WOOL. My only regret is, in offering these reviews, we’re invariably leaking spoilers. It’s probably safe to say those reading these comments have already read the book, but as much as possible, I’ll try to talk about the pacing and style rather than anything that might spoil the story too much. WOOL succeeds because it’s a slow burn, and this is why I’m excited to see it as a series. Far too often, movies are only concerned with cheap thrills and quick hits. WOOL is more interested in character development and pacing.
In this section, we get to understand the deep relationships Juliette has with others in mechanical, such as the leaders Walker and Knox. Not only does this show us a contrast in leadership styles between various parts of the silo, it sets up later chapters. We’re beginning to understand the heartbeat of the silo. We’re seeing what makes the silo function like a well-oiled machine. Bernard sets up Juilette for cleaning, but he does it by pulling levers. He’s nowhere to be seen and yet his presence is everywhere. He’s eliminating any threats to his power, but he’s doing it in a way that is in harmony with the supposed ethics and processes within the silo. He’s hiding in plain sight, as it were, hiding behind the way the silo operates. This leaves him blameless—not in our eyes, but in the eyes of those that inhabit that world.
It also leaves Juliette powerless. She could scramble and argue for her life, but she knows it’s pointless. She’s trapped in an unjust system. Walker, though, understands what Juliette has uncovered. He knows the weakness in the system is its very corruption, and he turns that against itself. Juilette is sent to clean, but for the first time, a cleaner has a chance at surviving and Juliette walks out of the crater surrounding the silo entrance.
Our view switches to Bernard and he immediately understands the implications of someone walking out over the hill instead of dying on the slope. In his world, it’s a tectonic shift akin to an earthquake. It demands he reports in to his superiors… His superiors? When the whole world is one silo, who else could be in charge? At the close of this section, the slow burn continues as “Silo 18” reports an unsuccessful clean to “Silo 1.” Given we’re over 1/3 of the way through the book, this is a nice way of expanding a world we thought we understood, giving us a glimpse into a far larger and more sinister conspiracy. This is a cliffhanger. I doubt this would be the end of the first season, but it very well could be. Either way, this revelation is an episode that leaves viewers intrigued and longing for more…
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 absolutely loved the steady building of tension in this climax, with Juliette coming to terms with the cleaning and Bernard thinking he’d won, only to have Walker and Supply enter the picture and completely upend the entire thing. I think on screen, we’re going to see a lot of cuts between Juliette, Walker, and Bernard as the pieces fall into place. There’s a lot of love in this book, and I hope that carries through to the TV show. Holston and Allison, Jahns and Marnes, Walker and Juliette, Lukas and Juliette, Juliette and Scottie—all of these varied relationships show the resilience of human emotion even in the face of extreme circumstances.
I have a lot of trust that the acting and direction will allow for much of that to be shown, especially when it comes to gestures and facial expressions. And can we talk about that ending? I have no idea how much of the book Season 1 of the TV show will cover, but I could absolutely see Bernard’s call being the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers for a season finale. As a first-time reader, I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting the world to open up and reveal something like this, but I think it might just be that Howey distracted me handily with a lot of shocking events, and I didn’t have time to consider the greater impact of why a silo would exist in the first place.
It also offers a nice twist for Bernard’s character. He’s the “bad guy” of the novel so far, but is that really the case? I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing some opposing goals and principles that make sense on both sides. As a final note, I enjoyed the title of the part (“Casting Off”) because it works in a couple of ways. In knitting, it’s the creation of the final binding column of the knitted work, so it has this connotation of making it so that something can stand by itself. But in boating, you also have this idea of “casting off” as untying yourself from one place and heading to another. I think both definitions work for Juliette as she leaves behind Silo 18 for whatever comes next.
For Walker, I’m getting a Danny Glover, Mel Gibson, or Christoper Meloni vibe. Someone gruff, with a commanding presence and a no-nonsense attitude.
Lines that should make the show:
Walker: He loved you. Damn, how that boy looked up to you.
Walker: They’re good in Supply.
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.
This. This, this this! Here, it REALLY gets interesting. There are definitely arguments to be made that WOOL is a slow burn. Hugh definitely racks up the body count, but he gets there slowly and methodically through the first third of the book. But towards the end of “Casting Off,” we start seeing the puzzle coming together, and Jules is finding those pieces in unlikely places. If I recall, this is probably about the time I realized I can’t put this book down and probably did about everything I could to keep WOOL in my hands until I finished it. It’s really interesting, and I can see many of the events we see in these chapters up on the small screen.
We pick up in these chapters with Jules getting arrested, but we find out that Bernard has manufactured this arrest. She just needs to leave and go back to the down deep and he’ll let her go. With shame looming over her, she goes and tries to get back to her old life. But a ghost from the past—Scottie has sent her one last message that she sees and things start clicking for her. As an audience, we can kind of understand that Holston and Allison had only a small glimpse of this information and it was enough to drive them to clean. Jules is on track to lead a full-blown rebellion… and then Bernard has her arrested and sent to clean. What a gut punch.
Like I said, we were barreling towards something, and we saw Jules becoming something… only for the rug to get pulled out from her right at the worst time. But what a double-fake. We don’t get all the info here, but clearly Juliette has friends in key places, so her suit doesn’t get sabotaged like previous cleaners. She finally learns the truth as she heads outside and this section ends with one of the biggest moments of the whole series—that there is more than one silo (and at least 18 of them!) Wow. What a moment, and I can’t wait to keep reading.
Walker could be a really fun part that they may expand for the show. Someone with experience and maturity like maybe a Lou Diamond Phillips.
Lines that should make the show:
Walker: You think they killed Scottie?
Juliette: Walk, I think it’s worse than that. I think they kill everybody.
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 is really where it all clicks into place, and the all-important big reveal comes into play. The big mystery we’ve been waiting to be solved finally is, but instead of a satisfying conclusion, we see a now-disgraced Jules banished back to Mechanical, only to face another upheaval, this time a life-changing one. Instead of a conclusion, everything shifts gear, wheels have been set in motion, and we’re on an irreversible course in the story, as the tension is piled on to the point where it’s almost unbearable. This is why Wool is such a genius story, There’s always something bigger around the corner, and this will play brilliantly into any screenplay with the right people at the helm.
For Walker, I’m looking at Edward James Olmos.
Lines that should make it on the show:
This will definitely be done as a voiceover when Jules reads the note: “No fear. Now is for laughing. The truth is a joke, and they’re good in Supply.”
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.
It’s been too long, and I don’t remember precisely what I felt reading through this set of chapters the first time. I do remember the goose bumps I felt when I reached the end, however, when Bernard says those insane six words that changed everything: “Silo one? This is silo eighteen.” Just wow.
So with that in mind, I think that will be how Season 1 ends—with Juliette mysteriously walking into the distance and Bernard’s frenzied run back down to IT. It’s such a great season-ender, and I really hope that’s what they go with. I can see Jules’s arrest and suiting up taking up the back half of the episode, but much of her waiting to clean is internal, so the amount of book space taken up is, I think, much longer than what we’ll see translated to the show. It’s more likely that we’ll see her actively investigating things, chasing clues, talking to people. This is one place where we’ll probably see more new content, simply because a show has to give viewers different things than internal contemplation to stare at, so Jules will need to be doing actual things, and I think it’ll need to be more than just reading notes and talking to Walker (though I do think we’ll see that). People like Shirly and Knox will probably start to shine through as recurring supporting characters.
For Walker, I could see someone like Mickey Rourke playing him. I most recently saw him while re-watching Iron Man 2, and he’s got the grizzled tough guy look that I’ve always defaulted to for Walker. I don’t think Hank or Marsh will be anyone known, so I’ll withhold fan-casting them.
Lines that should make it in:
Bernard: Silo one? This is silo eighteen.
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 26–30. Join us next week for our analysis of Chapters 31–34. Reread along with us and comment below with your own predictions!