If you know Wool, then you’re already counting the days until Saturday. Hugh Howey’s epic about the last remnants of humanity living in massive underground silos — and the horrifying truth of why they’re there — has sold over half million copies online alone. The trilogy finally comes to a close this August 17th, with the release of Dust. Here are nine Wool questions we desperately need answered.
Note: If you haven’t read Wool or the second volume Shift, expect spoilers.
1) What is Juliet’s plan?
When we last saw Juliet, she had returned to Silo 18, inadvertently helped overthrow Bernard the head of IT, been elected mayor, and had spread the word not just that she lived after being sent on her Cleaning, but there were other silos and other people out there. When we last heard from Juliet, she had called the head of Silo 1, Donald, and made a not-at-all subtle threat that she was going to lead an assault on the silo that had been controlling their lives for centuries. Is Juliet really planning an attack? Does she plan on trying to contact the other silos for support first? Does Silo 1 have defenses that the other silos don’t? Given how far ahead Thurman and the World Order Operation Fifty (W.O.O.L., where the the Fifty is the Roman numeral “L” — W.O.O.F. doesn’t have quite the same ring to it) creators thought, it seems likely they’re protected in some manner that perhaps even Donald doesn't know about.
2) What will Donald do?
Donald is pretty much the one person in all 50 silos who actually knows what’s really happening, including who built the Silos and why, and as the head of Silo 1 he’s in charge of pretty much everything, so he has some major decisions to make. He hates the silos and the W.O.O.L. operation completely, but he's still seemingly is following The Order. He’s definitely against the Final Pact that will destroy every single silo except the best one (including Silo 1), whose people will essentially restart humanity, but when Juliet calls he’s still really cagey instead of immediately teaming up with her to put an end to the tyranny of the silos. Also, while Donald seems to want as many people as possible to live, we can’t forget he murdered both Thurman and Thurman’s daughter Anna in revenge for making him complicit in the silo scheme and separating him from his wife Helen, respectively. Donald is not a well person, and it’s impossible to know how he’ll handle Juliet’s revolution. Can he come to a truce with Juliet? Do either of them really want one?
3) What’s going to go horribly wrong?
If there’s one thing we can’t count on in Dust, is that things are going to get worse before they get better — way worse. Sure, the second volume Shift ended with Juliet in control of Silo 18 and Donald in control of Silo 18, both of whom want to end the sSilo system. So you’d think that they’d quickly team up to figure out what’s going on outside, fixing it, and then start rebuilding society. Except this is a series where the first two protagonists died quickly and brutally in the first two chapters. There is no way the process of surfacing will be easy or without bloodshed.
4) Will Solo and the kids of Silo 17 be rescued?
One possibility for quick and effective tragedy? If something happens to Solo and the kids of Silo 17. Solo lived alone in the darkened silo for 34 years before Juliet blundered in, at which point they found a small family of child survivors huddled together (and their situation is even more awful than Solo’s; let me put it this way — their parents had died long before they told their kids why they shouldn’t have sex with each other). Juliet promised she’d return for them all, but she’s spent many, many weeks in Silo 18, recovering and then planning. It seems that she’s been keeping in contact with Solo and the other over the radio, so they’re not as alone as they had been previously, but I wouldn’t call them safe until they’re all inside Silo 18 with actual people — and possibly not even then.
5) Will the other Silos be for or against them?
One thing Juliet seems to assume is that the other surviving silos will instantly overthrow their IT overlords and join in the fight. This is probably a mistake. Not just because each silo will have its own, extremely well-equipped IT Department, who would rather destroy their silos before losing control, but because surely some silos will be so freaked at the news that there are other people out there that they’ll instantly decide they're enemies. As horrible as Thurman’s plan was, he’s not wrong about humans too-quickly developing an us-vs.-them mentality — it's why the Final Pact says only one silo can survive at the end. I severely doubt all silos will happily join in Juliet’s revolution, regardless of what their IT departments say.
6) What happened to those 11 rogue silos?
Some silos are an even bigger question mark than others — specifically, the 11 silos that Donald woke during his third shift to discover had effectively gone dark. It began with Silo 40, which began communicating with other silos first. Silo 1 tried to destroy Silo 40, but the inhabitants had killed Silo 1’s camera feeds and destroyed the failsafes that allowed Silo 1 to destroy it, rendering it essentially dark to Silo 1. Since then, 10 more silos — all close to 40 — have gone similarly quiet, and no one knows what happened, what they’re planning, or why. We do know that someone at Silo 40 accidentally contacted the young Solo at Silo 17, so whatever happened, its inhabitants are still alive, and waiting… for something.
7) What's the deal with outside?
Perhaps the biggest question in the series is exactly what happened — and what is still happening — outside. We know that before the silo incident, pretty much everybody on the planet had been infected with nanomachines that Thurman believed terrorists could and would one day use to wipe out all of America, if not the world. We know that Thurman bombed the area to drive people into the silos originally, which presumably included most of Atlanta, since its ruins are visible to the Cleaners. We know that Thurman activated the nanomachines to wipe out everyone on the planet except the silo inhabitants. We know whatever Thurman did it included “resetting” the planet, but whether that’s metaphorical, or part of the nanomachine thing, or something else altogether is unknown. We also know that the area outside the silos is definitely poisonous and deadly for those without severe protection. What did Thurman really do? What is killing the people who venture outside? And most importantly, can’it be reversed?
8) Why could Donald and Thurman breathe outside?
And the biggest mystery of the outside? Why Donald and Thurman and the other members of Silo 1 could breathe outside. We know for a fact that the outside is harmful to all the other silo residents — and it seems to have hurt Donald and Thurman a little, because Thurman returns from the surface with a nosebleed and when Donald wakes up for his third shift — since he ended his second shift by running outside in a failed suicide attempt — he begins coughing up blood. Presumably the nanomachines that allow the inhabitants of Silo 1 to enter the deep freeze, so the same groups can oversee the entire Silo project over its 500-year process, protect them somehow. Is this the key to humanity’s return to the surface? And why did Thurman imply that the inhabitants of Silo 1 were no longer human?
9) What's beyond the silos?
In the end of Third Shift, Donald freed his drone pilot sister Charlene to pilot a drone to see what was beyond the 50 silos. What he found were blue skies and green lands, completely unlike the hellscape of the silo area. Is this area inhabitable? Is anyone still living out there? Are their pockets of survivors who were somehow immune to Thurman’s nanomachine plot? What about all the structures and technology and civilization? The W.O.O.L. project was about resetting humanity, not only sociologically, but preventing them from building weapons like nanomachines as long as possible — surely Thurman had something planned for the rest of the world. But what was it? And what’s out there now?