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General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

Fred Johnson is such an unassuming name. I don't know if I like the choice or not. It's kind of cool to give The Butcher of Anderson Station a 'just a guy' feeling, but it's also a little bit "GM didn't have a list of names written down and had to adlib."

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Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



General Battuta posted:

Fred Johnson is such an unassuming name. I don't know if I like the choice or not. It's kind of cool to give The Butcher of Anderson Station a 'just a guy' feeling, but it's also a little bit "GM didn't have a list of names written down and had to adlib."

I like it. The full name, "Frederick Lucius Johnson", has a kind of a wild west gunfighter vibe to it. John Wesley Hardin. James Butler Hickok. Frederick Lucius Johnson. Sounds appropriate for the Butcher of Anderson Station. Then the informal version is so plain and vanilla that it sounds like a car dealership. C'mon down and check out the low low prices at Fred Johnson Cadillac, etc. It works for me.

Also, I really don't find a problem with Holden not recognizing him immediately from the vid call. Colonel Frederick Lucius Johnson, the Butcher of Anderson Station, is an infamous political figure. You just don't expect somebody like that to give you a call out of the middle of nowhere and be like "Hey, this is Fred Johnson." There's tons of public figures I would recognize on the news but probably fail to recognize if they just Skyped me out of nowhere.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


General Battuta posted:

Fred Johnson is such an unassuming name. I don't know if I like the choice or not. It's kind of cool to give The Butcher of Anderson Station a 'just a guy' feeling, but it's also a little bit "GM didn't have a list of names written down and had to adlib."
I think the Expanse's genesis as a play-by-post online RPG is responsible for a lot of the bigger issues in Leviathan Wakes. Fred Johnson as a whole is one of the bigger signposts.

Khizan posted:

Also, I really don't find a problem with Holden not recognizing him immediately from the vid call. Colonel Frederick Lucius Johnson, the Butcher of Anderson Station, is an infamous political figure. You just don't expect somebody like that to give you a call out of the middle of nowhere and be like "Hey, this is Fred Johnson." There's tons of public figures I would recognize on the news but probably fail to recognize if they just Skyped me out of nowhere.
This baffles me. Fred Johnson is not only a decorated military officer who turned 'traitor' but the head of one of the largest corporations in the system, and is directly compared to two fictional characters that just about everyone in Western society knows of. I'd go so far as to say that our society doesn't really have anyone who matches him. Even then, you'd think Holden's response would be more 'That can't be the Fred Johnson' and less 'Who's that guy?'

Chapter Ten – Miller

We’re back with Miller and Shaddid and we are in her office, even if the mention of it feels a bit blink and you’d miss it. Omi made an interesting note here, that he thinks Franck - who has been handling the Holden chapters - writes introductions better than Abraham. Based on the chapters we’ve seen so far, I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Omi notes that a bit more scene-sitting would make the opening feel less jarring - where are we, when are we, what’s going on? Because remember, the two PoVs are now thoroughly out of sync.

So, Miller is talking to Shaddid. Again, blink and you’ll miss it, but he’s trying to get Shaddid to investigate the message from the family Mao to Julie about the imminent clusterfuck. It happens really, really quick. I don’t really get the sense that taking it to Shaddid means much to Miller, even if he notes it as “the cause.”

Miller and Havelock are back on police work. Omi has thoughts: “I’m a little conflicted about how chapter ten throws Havelock and Miller back into casework. On one hand, it’s important to keep the story moving and not dwell on past events, but due to the disjointed nature of the two POVs I still feel like Ceres is a powderkeg: two chapters ago there was a giant riot where dudes were beating dudes to death and Miller was shooting people’s legs off, and last chapter Havelock was hiding in his office because he had reasonable concerns that his Earth origin would make him a target in public. As a reader I feel like tension is still building up, and I’m not really prepared for them to shrug and get back to business as usual.”

But that’s basically what’s happened. Miller and Havelock go up to sector eight to investigate an extortion complaint. It’s called a ‘hardware shop’ but is then mentioned as being an ‘entertainment franchise.’ It confused Omi slightly, but I think the idea is that it’s hardware in the sense of fancy VR hardware. It’s not a big issue, but it is a little odd. I’m not sure I’d call that an ‘entertainment franchise' as such.

Anyway, they’re there and there’s some pretty basic police procedural stuff. Miller would prefer to work the Mao case, but Omi and I both think the ‘why’ is elusive.

Omi says: “I know he’s fast on his way to becoming unhealthily obsessed with her, and in a lot of ways every time he says that he wants to get to the bottom of things, what he actually means is that he wants a justification to pursue his fascination with her. But it feels like we’re missing a key building block between the lazy, semi-drunk guy who tossed her apartment as part of a job, and the increasingly unhinged guy who’s about to start cratering his life and career to look for her.”

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Ten posted:

If Miller squinted, he could see the seventeen-year old boy he had been under the layers of time and disappointment, and it looked a lot like the clerk out front.
That’s just a great space detective line. Miller gets a lot of great space detective lines.

So, the police procedural stuff gives us some exposition. Long story short, everything’s getting a bit strange on Ceres. One of the big gangs, Loca Griega, has seemingly vanished into the ether. They go to watch the security footage and Miller notes:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Ten posted:

The split circle of the OPA was perfectly clear on the thug’s armband—the same kind of armband he’d found in Julie Mao’s hole.

What kind of company have you been keeping, kid? Miller thought. You’re better than this. You have to know you’re better than this.
I like that Miller’s thought could refer to Julie or this guy. Omi notes that it’s a nice little touch that Miller’s mind goes to ‘Oh, he’s wearing that armband like Julie was’ and not ‘Oh, he’s wearing that armband like a thousand other people on this station.’ But it still feels fast.

From there, Miller goes to visit a known OPA-friendly bar and makes a bit of a mess of everything. He fails to recognize who we will learn if a pretty high-level OPA operative (Anderson Dawes), turns his fact-finding mission into an ideological argument, and basically throws all of his cards down on the table and gets nothing for it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Ten posted:

Miller took another drink of his beer, frowning. An uncomfortable feeling of having made the wrong step fidgeted in the back of his mind.
Hey, you said it, Miller. Honestly, I like it. One of the things I like about all the Miller chapter is how they build to a twist that takes place soon - that Miller is a pretty lovely cop.

Omi, however, has some thoughts on it: “The core issue, I think, is that we haven’t had enough time to see Miller either slide into ineffective obsession or reveal that he’s been a bigger screw-up than his narration thinks all along. With more setup this would be a great chapter for his screw-ups to start snowballing, but as-is it feels like we’ve gone from Super Cop to Sorry Cop in essentially one and a half chapters.”

Miller goes back to his cabin and daydreams about Julie Mao for a little, then wanders down to the station.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Ten posted:

Havelock was waiting at his desk. His broad, short Earther face seemed strangely alien, but Miller tried to shake it off.
Omi: “I honestly kinda like Miller being a way bigger racist than he realizes.”

Then Miller hears about a new homicide - someone’s broken into the extortionist’s cabin and shot him in the face with a shotgun. “Well,” Miller says. “Called that one wrong. OPA’s not moving in on the criminals, they’re moving in on the cops.”

There’ll be more on this later, and we’ll talk about it when the story gets to it more properly. It’s a very strong line to end the chapter on, but it also feels really sudden. Like we’re not seeing the thought process Miller had to lead him to that conclusion. And before we can explore it, we hop back to Holden...

TV Adaptation
Where to begin? By this point, things have been progressing pretty differently for Miller. We might do a summary of this when we get towards the end of it.


Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes

PriorMarcus
Oct 16, 2008

ASK ME ABOUT BEING ALLERGIC TO POSITIVITY


Milkfred E. Moore posted:


Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes

It's interesting to me that you glossed over this, because Jared Harris is basically a masterclass in this role, and either because of direction or his choices is basically the shoes template for Belters going forward.

He takes a kind of dull and forgettable role like Dawes and makes him absolutely magnetic.

I hope the show can use him again in the future, more extensively than the books too if possible.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


PriorMarcus posted:

It's interesting to me that you glossed over this, because Jared Harris is basically a masterclass in this role, and either because of direction or his choices is basically the shoes template for Belters going forward.

He takes a kind of dull and forgettable role like Dawes and makes him absolutely magnetic.

I hope the show can use him again in the future, more extensively than the books too if possible.

I'll be bringing up a lot of Miller's stuff, such as Dawes' altered presence and plots, when we get to the end of Miller's time on Ceres. Unlike Holden, Miller's stuff diverges pretty wildly pretty early and makes it hard to sum up as we go.

Chapter Eleven – Holden

Case in point about the openings. “The Donnager was ugly.”

So, here we are - the Martian flagship is big and ugly and intimidating. This means several days have passed and they’re meeting up with the Martian warship as instructed. But, in true Expanse fashion, it goes on for a bit much. It’s not quite as irrelevant as some of the exposition previous, but it comes back to the thought I have about these novels - there’s a lot you could cut and render more efficiently.

I like this little bit:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eleven posted:

“They say one of those can kill a planet,” Naomi said over the comm. She was at the ops station a deck below.

“Anyone can kill a planet from orbit,” Holden replied. “You don’t even need bombs. Just push anvils out the airlock. That thing out there could kill … poo poo. Anything.”

Tiny touches shifted them as the maneuvering rockets fired. Holden knew that Alex was guiding them in, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that the Donnager was swallowing them.
Holden gathers the crew and tells them what to do - no weapons, no threatening moves, hand terminals might be okay but keep them turned off. And if the Martians say jump, you jump. Alex, who did twenty years with the Martian navy, agrees.

Amos says something that doesn’t feel like Amos:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eleven posted:

“Yeah,” Amos said. “Fuckers killed McDowell, but we have to act nice…”
This doesn’t feel like Amos to me. I know I keep saying this, but he really feels like a different character. Would Amos really sarcastically backtalk Holden, complain about how unfair things are? Omi and I both think that Amos would be more likely to shrug “amiably” and visibly comply while figuring out how to get out of the situation and/or kill people in the process.

Holden and crew enter the Donnager proper. They meet Captain Yao and get patted down for weapons. There’s a bit where Yao asks Holden about the mystery ships and whether they’re friends of his. Holden says he thinks they’re concerned citizens of the Belt out to be witnesses.

A Martian Chief takes them to a holding cell. Amos comments on how clean the ship is, while Holden reflects that Martian warships are just better than Earther ones. Amos says:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eleven posted:

“See, that’s why I work haulers,” Amos said. “Clean decks or get drunk and screw, and I’ve got a preference.”
Yeah, clean decks.

We get a clunky line here that I think paints a picture of Franck’s relative inexperience:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eleven posted:

As they walked through a maze of corridors, the ship started a slight vibration, and gravity slowly reappeared.
Gravity doesn’t reappear as such (you can't see gravity.) But gravity could, say, ‘slowly reasserted itself.’

The chapter as a whole it a bit clunky. It has this real feel of Franck needing to pad out the word count to have a full chapter, and he needs to have a full chapter due to the A-B narrative format of Leviathan Wakes. Omi points out that, really, this chapter would probably work better from Captain Yao’s perspective.

Anyway, the future Rocinante crew are hauled into a holding cell. It’s quite spacious and nice, actually. But one marine grabs Holden, taking him to see a ‘Lieutenant Lopez.’

Lopez feels a bit like a Dune mentat. But instead of juice of Sappho, it’s a little lozenge. Like, Lopez could say something like “It is by this lozenge alone I set my mind in motion” and it wouldn’t feel out of place. Or, as Omi puts it, “It is through drugs alone that I set my exposition in motion.”

I don’t hate the interrogation scene between Lopez and Holden, but I can recognize it immediately for what it is - a somewhat clever way of avoiding any big blocks of expository text to tell us Holden’s own backstory. Instead, we get it in a somewhat antagonistic chat. It’s somewhat clever, but it’s a pretty cheap trick, too. It's not too far from having your protagonist look into a mirror or reflective surface to talk about their own appearance.

Because we do get all of Holden’s backstory - his navy career, why he’s no longer in the navy, why with all that military experience he ended up on the Canterbury, his family, etc. Omi wonders if it would feel better if it had come with Holden talking about it during the downtime with his crew. But I feel like, based on how friendly everyone on the Knight is, they all maybe know this?

During the interrogation, the Donnager fires torpedoes at the incoming ships. Then the Donnager goes to red alert - the mystery ships have shot back.

The chapter picks up when Holden is back in the holding area. Omi and I both really like the sequence where the crew is sitting there and trying to figure out what’s happening based on sounds and such. The battle between six mystery ships and a Martian dreadnaught filled with people we don't really know or care about doesn’t really matter much to me (or Omi) but I do care about these characters, so, this helps keep the focus on them. It’s neat!

I feel like a lot of authors would fill the sequence with paragraphs like “Holden could picture the point defence cannons spinning up and firing a thousand rounds a second.” But I do appreciate how the Corey pair keeps everything about the sequence inside the room. Shed freaks out about the possibility of dying due to decompression and so on, which is neat. Alex points out that without instruments they won’t know the fight is going bad until something punches through the hull.

Shed freaks out a little bit more. Holden goes all ‘Hey, no one can kill the Donnager’ to reassure him. Naomi goes ‘Okay, sure, but those mystery ships should be dead and they’re not.’ The sounds and vibrations of the fight all sounds pretty relaxing, and Holden even falls asleep to it, which is kinda goofy.

He wakes up when the Donnager takes a torpedo hit - and there’s no gravity. Either the Donnager has stopped or it’s engines are gone. Holden wants to find out what’s going on, but their marine prison guards are gone.

Then the Donnager’s gauss turrets start firing, and it works really well to tell us something is wrong. How had the ships survived the Donnager’s torpedoes and closed in to knife-fighting range? In the world of the Expanse, Holden notes, it’s basically unheard of.

We get another Weird Amos Line.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eleven posted:

“Anyone else think this is desperate loving queer?” Amos asked, a touch of panic in his voice.
Omi says: “This feels like a really weird thing for Amos to say. Is the implication supposed to be that archaic (and not homophobic) terms are in common use among spacers? It just comes off like an attempt to have more retro-future space slang that falls flat.”

To me, it feels like something someone would say in Firefly, which I think was one of the biggest inspirations for The Expanse.

Then-

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eleven posted:

The gauss round that killed Shed didn’t even make a noise.
Shed dies immediately and the chapter delivers on that idea that they won’t know they’re in trouble until they take a hit. It’s genuinely a pretty neat moment! But, like a lot of the novel, the show handles it better.

TV Adaptation
So, the Donnager situation is handled fairly differently in the series than in the books. For example, the Knight doesn't so much dock with the Donnager as it is apprehended by the larger ship. Holden and co. don't go out to see the Martians, the Martians come and grab them. As their identities are being checked, Holden says "Go ahead and destroy the evidence, word is already out." So, straight away, it's way more confrontational and dramatic.

They get led to the cells. Holden says they have a right to legal counsel, and he gets thrown in a cell. Naomi gets thrown into a different cell - Amos takes offence to this, attacks the marine, gets tased and sedated. Shed goes in without trouble, but Alex? Alex gets taken away by the Martians.

There's way more tension between the crew. Shed thinks they're going to get framed, and they only really need one false confession. They come grab Holden and he gets hauled in for his interrogation by the Martian Mentat. As a lot of other things in the Expanse's adaptation, the unsettling nature of the interrogator (Lopez) and the way it gives us Holden's backstory plays better. But there are fair differences in the dialogue between the two of them. For example, in the novel, Lopez never does the thing where he repeatedly asks Holden 'Why did you destroy the Canterbury?' Because Alex was never separated from the others in the novel, Holden never angrily asks where he is. We get a reason why Holden assaulted his superior, because his superior ordered him to fire on a Belter ship. "A smuggler ship," Lopez points out. "Smuggling people," Holden responds. "Which you," Lopez says, "had no way of knowing at the time." That's a really good insight into Holden's character!

We also get a mention of Phoebe Station, which is a rather important location that gets hints here and there in the novel, but is mentioned outright in the interrogation. Also, Lopez mentions that Naomi is an OPA operative which, alongside some other things that are mentioned in the first season, draws from the later novels - specifically, Book 5.

There's a funny bit where Shed tries to butter up one of the Martian marines by claiming he dated a Martian and how much he respects the Martian industrious nature, only for Amos to do Amos and taunt the guy to come and fight him. But either in response to Amos' taunting, or just through coincidence, it's time for Naomi's interrogation and she's taken from her cell.

Holden is taken to a larger cell, where he meets Alex who is wearing an MCRN uniform. That's where we get Alex's 20-year MCRN experience thing, and Holden assumes Alex is helping them and they argue a bit. Alex basically argues that Holden is a big idiot for blaming Mars when it was so easy to find the implicating beacon? "By whom?" Holden asks. "Well," Alex supposes, "it's the OPA - I mean, who else stands to gain from a big war between the two major powers?" And, hey, suspicions are cast about Naomi again.

Naomi gets interrogated by Lopez. It's similar to the Holden one.

The Knight crew get hauled into the big cell, except for Naomi. Amos does not take the sight of Alex in a Martian uniform well. Holden asks them what they told the interrogators.

AMOS: "To suck it."

Shed babbles about telling them everything, including making stuff up. He asks if Naomi is really OPA. Amos defends her with a 'Who cares?' and a point that the Martians will make stuff up - like, how they told him that Shed faked his medical records and is only on the Cant to get away from a drug dealer who wants to kill him. Which Shed says is actually true.

When Naomi's brought to the big holding area, they have an argument. Why didn't Naomi let them chase down the ship that killed the Cant? Because Holden was being a reckless idiot. "Or was it because they're friends of yours?" Amos takes offence to that, and Holden points out that no one knows anything about Amos beyond the fact he's Naomi's loyal dog.

"Sleeper agents," Alex says. "Ever heard of them?"

Amos grabs him. "Human shields, ever heard of 'em?"

But before the Martians can storm in and put Amos down, Holden shouts that he's ready to talk - but only to the Martian Captain.

Captain Yao is happy to oblige and Holden is taken up to the bridge. Long story short, Yao says Holden has lied and that lie is going to lead to war, Holden must recant his statement. Holden's fine with that providing they guarantee the safety of his people. Yao is fine with this, providing Holden pins the act on Naomi and the OPA. Holden is not fine with this. As an aside, while Holden is chatting with Yao, the crew wonders if he's setting up a deal for himself.

A big difference is that, at this point, there's only one incoming ship to the Donnager. Yao suspects it's a pickup for Naomi. Holden figures they're guessing and refuses to throw Naomi under the bus. Lopez points out that by blaming Naomi it will change the narrative and allow cooler heads to prevail. Still, Holden refuses.

The incoming ship then jams the Donnager and - splits into six! They were using their drive plumes to hide their numbers! Then the attackers start launching torpedoes. In the cell, we get the bit where the crew has to piece together what's happening by sounds and lighting, it's cool. Seeing the stuff from Holden on the bridge is cool, too, and it informs us a lot about how the Martians see themselves - confidence, maybe arrogance; pride, maybe hubris. I like the bit where Lopez basically goes 'you Earthers have it all with your perfect little planet and you're so unmotivated.'

The Donnager starts taking hits, and Yao basically gets impatient, and orders the railguns brought online. But the attacking ships have railguns, too - but ships that small aren't supposed to have them! And there's nothing matching those profiles in the UN or MCRN warbooks! But there's this neat bit where Holden sees the radar image and goes 'I've seen that ship before...' and the Martians take notice.

Then Shed dies, and it's basically the best execution of the death you could hope for. Alex starts having a panic attack because who would be stupid enough to attack the Donnager, and now the battleship's engine is offline and they're zero-gee. Shed throws him some gum and says, hey, don't worry, everything's going to be just-

CLANG.

And then Shed is just a headless corpse.

The differences stem from the aforementioned change at how friendly the main cast are. In the book, you get the idea they’re all basically friends and can talk through their issues. In the show, they’ve been thrown together under desperate circumstances and don’t really know or trust each other. The Martians aren’t so cordial. Amos feels way more like the character he becomes in later novels. Everyone feels more like a real person with real motivations, whereas the book characters (Martian and otherwise) feel like they’re a bit too talkative, a bit too polite, and a bit too understanding. It’s hard not to see the book’s version of the events as being a first draft for the TV adaptation.


Greg Bryk as Lieutenant Lopez


Jean Yoon as Captain Theresa Yao

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

quote:

“Anyone can kill a planet from orbit,” Holden replied. “You don’t even need bombs. Just push anvils out the airlock. That thing out there could kill … poo poo. Anything.”

I always hate it when SF books say this! It's not exactly wrong, but if you push an anvil out the airlock, it's just going to keep orbiting next to you. You still need to de-orbit your impactor, which will take some retro thrust or big backwards kick.

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?











Not if your ship is already on course to impact

Although a few seconds later you will probably want to apply thrust to the ship, even if you don't have to touch the anvil.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

True but I think anyone who is saying 'from orbit' is probably not including 'orbits with an underground periapse'

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


General Battuta posted:

I always hate it when SF books say this! It's not exactly wrong, but if you push an anvil out the airlock, it's just going to keep orbiting next to you. You still need to de-orbit your impactor, which will take some retro thrust or big backwards kick.

There's a particularly dumb thing Holden says later on in the book (about the 'invisible' ships.) Do you think the Corey guys were trying to establish some kind of pattern in things Holden says? I believe they've said on Twitter (when questioned about that invisible ship bit) that Holden was written to say a lot of dumb things, but that's always felt to me like post-hoc rationalization to Holden saying dumb things, not something he was written with from the beginning.

Chapter Twelve - Miller

Back to Miller.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twelve posted:

For twelve years, Miller had worked security. Violence and death were familiar companions to him.
This line feels a little bit over the top. Both Omi and I love the cynical noir-ish lines you get in Miller’s chapters, but this one is just a little bit too heavy. Omi posits what it’d be like for virtually anyone else on Ceres: “For twelve years, Stacy had worked fast food. Grease and cardboard were constant companions to her.”

Anyway, Miller is apparently watching a war start.

It’s a little strange. I assume he’s referring to the imminent war between Mars and Earth, but with the gang stuff it could be some kind of large-scale turf war. There was an explosion in the docking station of what I assume is Ceres? But I genuinely can’t tell whether it was the OPA attempting to nuke a Martian installation somewhere else or a Martian trying to nuke something on Ceres or any other kind of intersection between the OPA, Mars, and a nuclear device.

Basically, if a nuke went off on or near Ceres, I feel like the writing should make that more clear than making it feel like a nuke went off somewhere else.
Omi is a bit confused too, and says everyone feels a bit too “laid-back” for the explosion. “Do explosions happen often? Miller talks as if this has happened before, but it’s news to me as a reader.”

If a nuke didn't go off on or near Ceres, then I feel like the author should've taken a line or two to properly establish where this nuclear attack took place - or almost took place. Phobos, Deimos? Somewhere on Mars itself? A Mars military installation? Writing this out now, I remind myself that Ceres is an Earth installation which means it's almost certainly an attack that took place somewhere else, but, man, reading that opening, my mind goes to 'someone tried to nuke Ceres.' Why else open the chapter with it, especially after a chapter where there was a riot and talk about bad poo poo going down?

And maybe a bit of 'Ceres is safe from this, we have Earth backing' reflection from Miller would make the later reveal that Earth is pulling out the OPA is taking over a bit more impactful.

Whatever. Miller and Havelock are talking about things.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twelve posted:

Miller licked his lips and leaned forward, elbows on the smooth off-white table. Someone had scratched a design into the plastic. A split circle. And this was a cop bar.
That's the OPA symbol. Part of me feels that Miller noting this should've come before his realization last chapter that OPA is moving in on the cops not the gangs. But maybe this is just part of the pattern that Miller is bad at his job? Like, he's finding all the little clues after the plan is already in motion? Maybe.

Anyway, Havelock’s transfer off Ceres has been held up and Miller wants him to cover for him as he takes some time off (a few days) to investigate the Julie thing.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twelve posted:

Havelock shook his head again, this time in mild disbelief. If he’d been a Belter, he’d have made the gesture with his hands, so you could see it when he had an environment suit on.
Ding!

Anyway, Havelock agrees to cover for Miller and Miller goes off to investigate Julie stuff. It’s another one of those things that makes Miller’s character feel a little weird - is he really ditching work when someone tried to sabotage Ceres with a nuke? Either way, both Omi and I think the bit where Miller says Havelock can just say that he went on a crazy drunken bender is a good bit. As Omi says, “It’s not just funny, it’s a good setup for the eventual reveal that Miller isn’t just pretending to be a drunk, he totally is one.”

Miller heads off to a Ceres gym. There’s a bunch of people using the gym, which feeds into the strange tone of the chapter - is the station chaotic and scared, simmering and threatening to boil over, or is everyone just sort of on business-as-usual? Are attempted nuclear sabotage events, on Ceres or otherwise, a regular thing?

So, Miller has a long conversation with Julie’s teacher that feels a bit loose and rambly. It feels like it could be tightened up and the actual meat of the conversation is pretty thin. Basically, the core thing we find out is that Julie was working on a light freighter.

And that she might’ve been raped at some point.

This was mentioned briefly back in the prologue. Both Omi and I aren’t a fan of it, and I’ll let him cover it:

“It’s really jarring and odd: Miller is the one that suggests it, and I don’t think anything ever clearly establishes whether this is Miller’s tired and crime-obsessed alcohol brain inventing a story, or if it’s a reasonable theory. Given how Julie freaked out when the guards grabbed her in the prologue (presumably to search her, I think, not assault her?), it feels like it was an actual thing.

“I have a few issues with it: my main one is that I deeply dislike sexual violence in fiction. It’s disturbing, often traumatic, and very rarely necessary. There is almost always a better way to traumatize a character or catalyze their resolve, and sexual violence often feels like a lazy and tacky shorthand to create shock value or grittiness in a story.

“In this case, it feels like it doesn’t even accomplish that: as far as I can tell, the only reason she supposedly got raped was so she had a reason to learn jujitsu, which would give her the skills to hurt her guards and antagonize them into tossing her into a space locker instead of with the rest of the prisoners. So, why couldn’t she just be a badass who likes martial arts? She lives a rough life on a rough station and has a tough job on a cargo hauler, that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The surprise sex is going to come up quite frequently, usually in the form of Miller musing on who hurt her and how it shaped what came after, and I pretty much hate all of it.”

If I recall correctly, the TV show scraps this bit of Julie’s character entirely.

That afternoon, Miller’s in his room looking at the news. The science station on Phoebe got hit and people assume it’s the OPA. Miller obsesses over Julie for a bit.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twelve posted:

He hesitated for a moment, torn between answering the door and throwing the bottles into the recycler.
Ding!

Then Anderson Dawes shows up. Who is the guy Miller spoke to in the last chapter. Dawes wants Miller to stop investigating Julie Mao, and we get the reveal that the OPA is looking for her too. We also finally get a direct tie back to Holden’s story when Dawes reveals that she was working on the Scopuli. This is the first time we hear about this, but it’s a pretty nice way to tie everything together. Dawes is interested in it, Fred Johnson is interested in it, Holden’s caught in it, and Miller’s missing girl was on it. Of course, the prologue kind of spoils this because, well, we already know she was on the Scopuli.

Unfortunately for Miller’s case, he’s quite drunk, and botches his conversation with Dawes - again, he basically reveals his whole hand and gets nothing in return. Dawes could be lying when he says he doesn’t know who took the riot gear, or he could be telling the truth. Long story short: poo poo’s hosed, everything’s bad, on the verge of getting worse, and the OPA is worried.

So, Miller calls Havelock and advises him to get off station and find somewhere safe. Havelock closes out the chapter with:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twelve posted:

“Jesus,” he said. “What scares the OPA?”
A little cliché, but an interesting thought to end the chapter on.

TV Adaptation
Still not sure there’s much else to say until we hit the point where Miller is fired, where it might be more simple to just sum up how differently the whole thing was told. Mainly because the differences are more spread out than we see with the Holden one.

Coreyisms
The Belter Shrug And The Origin Thereof
LW: 2.5

Big Meaty Amos
LW: 1

Into the Recycler
LW: 2

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 01:29 on Mar 29, 2020

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Thirteen – Holden

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirteen posted:

Holden froze, watching the blood pump from Shed’s neck, then whip away like smoke into an exhaust fan.
Holden chapters really do begin with a bit more energy and direction than Miller chapters do. Here you are, reader - remember, Shed just died? Let’s get on with it. Omi doesn’t think that’s an accurate depiction of blood under the circumstances, and I don’t have enough physics knowledge to say either way.

There’s a hole in the hull, the crew patches it up. It’s an okay sequence, but I feel like it'd be better if it was more a sign of them coming together under pressure than just... fixing a thing, y'know? From there, the crew wonders how Belt ships got railguns. Holden says “Shed’s been killed” and I’m one-hundred percent certain that the Corey boys desperately wanted to avoid anyone saying “Shed’s dead.”

Lieutenant Kelly leads a bunch of Martian marines in with orders to evac Holden and co. Why? Because they’re being boarded. So, what’s the problem? Well, the Martian marines are losing the fight.

And, to make things worse, the evacuation is on a timer. The attackers are after the Donnager’s CIC, with all the top secret information it holds. If they get it, the defenders will blow the ship and kill everyone.

However, there’s just not much to say about the chapter. It’s an action chapter where the heroes don’t really take part and aren’t really in danger and the tension of the ticking time bomb isn’t really there either. So, there’s a lot of action and it’s mostly okay but the pacing is pretty stop-start because of the Expanse’s love of dropping in exposition and it reads a little bit like a transcript of someone’s tabletop roleplaying campaign (Huh, wonder why…)

I'll admit, though, that part of this probably stems from my general disinterest in action writing. Half the time, it's just filler, really. There's nothing really at stake. Holden will survive, Shed was kind of the least developed dude on the roster, the marines are just cardboard cutouts to get blown away. I feel like you could cut from the evacuation beginning, to them on the Tachi with the marines dead and everyone injured and not really lose anything. Ultimately, the action scene is way less important than how it affects the story, and very rarely does the blow-by-blow affect the story.

That's not to say every action scene in the novels is bad. I quite like a fight scene in the later books, the brawl between Amos and Bobbie, for example.

Anyway, Kelly is leading them to the Donnager’s hanger so they can grab a ship and escape. But the attackers are already there! The attackers are wearing black armor of a design Holden doesn't recognize - that's about all we get on them. Who are these guys - mystery humans, maybe even aliens? It kind of surprises me that we don't get a description of the Tachi in this chapter beyond it being called a 'squat black frigate.'

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirteen posted:

They were halfway to the ship and Holden was starting to think they might make it when a line of smoke crossed the room and intersected with Kelly, and the lieutenant disappeared in a flash of light.
RIP, guy we just met.

For whatever reason, the line of smoke sticks out to me. I guess it's a missile? I'm under the impression that you wouldn't see 'lines of smoke' in atmosphere-less zero-gee environments, but I'll also be the first to admit that while I find space stuff fascinating, the science of it bounces off me like rain off Miller's hat.

TV Adaptation

Continuing on from the previous talk, the Donnager battle is very different in the TV series. In the holding cell, there’s a nice little bit where Alex sedates himself so the crew uses up less oxygen and trusts Amos to carry him out of there. It’s a nice little beat in the sort of ‘crew of people coming together’ arc that the series has and books don’t. Overall, the whole thing just works better in a visual medium.

Much like the novel, the Martians evacuate Holden and co. but they do it with the distinct knowledge that Holden knows about the mystery ships. The man leading the marines is Lopez, who we’ve seen a lot more of and have something of connection to, instead of Kelly. Lopez interrogates one of the wounded attackers (who we definitely get pegged as human), who dies before giving up any information, and something like that would greatly enhance this chapter of ‘We walked, there was some shooting, we walked some more.’

Lopez also mentions that the Donnager was in the area because they were investigating Phoebe - the science station. Something happened to it - it went quiet for weeks then the place was cleaned out with everything incinerated by the time the Martians found it. A cover-up, obviously. But who and why? This is stuff the novel has mentioned, but often in passing and you don’t really get the relevance of it (for example, Phoebe was mentioned in the previous Miller chapter.) Is it related to the plot, or is it just part of the Corey love of exposition?

Then they hit the hangar bay (after rescuing the rest of the main crew) and that brings us to about where we are now. I said this about the last part of the Donnager battle but it really does feel like the version we got in the book was a first draft of the story.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Fourteen – Miller

So, Chapter Fourteen begins with what I think we could consider a Coreyism writ large. That is to say, kicking off a chapter with an information dump that, while fairly interesting, isn’t very relevant to the story. We spend a bunch of paragraphs hearing about how a Belter ship was destroyed by a Martian patrol destroyer and everyone is blaming everyone else, and how this has reached Ceres and resulted in a Martian getting impaled to the wall. Okay, tensions are running high, I get that. But we've already had people being murdered in riots, the thought that Ceres was going to descend into more riots, nuclear terrorism, and so on. I'm not sure adding one more civilian ship to the tally does much.

Omi says: “I’ve said “Perspective, location, context” over and over in this Let’s Read: who am I? Where am I? What’s going on? Like a lot of Miller’s chapters we take a while to get there, and until we do I feel like I’m floating in a disembodied void.”

Really, we could probably begin this chapter at this line Omi picked out:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Fourteen posted:

It always surprised Miller how peaceful dead people looked.
Then Miller could reflect on the situation that led to the guy being impaled to the wall, instead of beginning with the ship 'dying stupid' and meandering over to make it relevant to Miller.

Maybe we’re being a touch too pedantic. Maybe. Like, you can sit there and say ‘But the chapter headings tell you which perspective it is, Milky,’ and, sure, you’re right. But to me, it just feels like a bit of a band-aid. The same way stories that begin their chapters with LOCATION, DATE, TIME are just putting a band-aid over actually establishing those things in the text. Of course, my personal take on these books is - as much as I enjoy them - that they could be cut down in word count by half and still be just as good if not better.

Anyway, whatever. We’re back in Millertown (where drinks and human lives both come cheap, Omi asides) and Miller is investigating the aforementioned dead Martian. Miller’s also got a new partner - Octavia Muss. Which is funny to me, personally, because I remember thinking she was an invention of the TV series, so, I’m assuming she won’t be much of a fixture in the novel. I really don’t remember a thing about her.

Either way, she hasn’t been mentioned at all before this point, which means we get a fairly abrupt summary of who this lady is the moment she's introduced. She’s a tough cop - she’s worked violence, then surprise sex, then crimes against children. That is, solving them, not committing them.

They do some police work for a bit. It’s kinda ‘eh.’ Miller thinks the impaled man will be the first shot of the wider war, Muss disagrees. A part of me, even on a re-read, isn't sure whether I'm supposed to take away 'Miller is fantasizing, Muss is right' or 'Miller is accurate, Muss doesn't get it.' More to the point, and maybe I'm being too harsh, but I don't really see the need for the unrelated police procedural stuff. The opening of Miller's first chapter established really well that Miller is a space cop. A story that was just Joe Miller: Ceres Space Cop could be pretty neat, but Leviathan Wakes has the Julie Mao stuff hanging over all the Miller chapters and the police procedural stuff just has me going 'okay, and?'

It's sort of like Havelock, really. We meet him in the first chapter, a really neat dynamic is established, and then he just kind of exits stage left.

So, Miller and his newer, tougher partner go back to the station-house and we get a fairly entertaining bit that helps show us a bit of the corporate security nightmare life of Star Helix and how calloused Miller has become from exposure to it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Fourteen posted:

He navigated to the form letter, dropped in the new widow’s name and contact address. Dear Mrs. Dos Santos, I am very sorry to have to tell you blah blah blah. Your [he spun through the menu] husband was a valued and respected member of the Ceres community, and I assure you that everything possible will be done to see that her [Miller toggled that] his killer or killers will be brought to answer for this. Yours …
From there, Miller goes to see Shaddid about a thing. The thing in question is that he wants her to requisition interrogation and debriefing transcripts from Mars. Specifically, the transcripts concerning Jim Holden and the Canterbury.

Are Omi and I the only ones who think it’s a bit of a weird request?

Could a private security corporation request such information from a contemporary world government? Maybe in the far future of the Expanse, something like Star Helix could, but they’re working a Belt station that is under Earther jurisdiction. It feels really weird, especially when the transcripts relate to an ongoing investigation into an incident that has implicated Mars and taken out one of their battleships.

Omi says: “It honestly feels a little weird that Miller wants and expects to get them. It feels like the story is visibly creaking when it bends to get Miller and Holden in the same place, since they don’t really know that their stories are related yet.”
Omi actually has a pretty neat thought as to how you could link the two stories a bit more neatly which, as mentioned, is just combining Eros and Ceres.

Basically, Miller wants the transcripts to see if Holden knows anything about Julie. His reasoning is that, if Holden found the Scopuli with no crew and and Julie was on the Scopuli, then she had to leave the ship at some point. Like, it makes sense, but it still feels weird that Star Helix could just get such information from Mars. Miller doesn't even seem to entertain the thought that Mars could, and probably would, just say 'nah.'

Maybe there’s a real-world equivalent for this and neither of us know about it.

Anyway, Shaddid acts like they could get such information from Mars, but the problem in this case is that Mars has no reason to hand over the truth of what happened on the Scopuli. Shaddid says that Mars planted the Scopuli there. Miller asks if that’s Star Helix’s official line, and Shaddid gets pissed. Now, Shaddid wants the Julie case closed and for Miller to get out there and do his normal job.

Omi points out that the exchange where Shaddid asks if Miller’s evidence in the Julie case is solid and on the record is a bit strange given that it’s a quasi-illegal under-the-counter operation.

Miller goes back to see Muss. There’s a nice little bit of foreshadowing:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Fourteen posted:

”Good work,” Miller said.

Muss shrugged. Adequate work, she seemed to say.
Miller goes off shift and has some rice and fake chicken. He wonders what’s more important - the stuff on Ceres or an imminent war with Mars that could split Ceres like an egg? So, Miller’s obviously not going to wrap up the Mao case. He goes back to his little home and runs into Anderson Dawes.

Dawes brings Miller some information - the OPA didn’t lift the gear from the lockers, someone else did. The ship carrying the gear went on to Ganymede but seemingly lost some cargo along the way. Obviously, someone met with the ship and transferred the loot. But to where? Dawes either doesn’t know, or acts like he doesn’t.

In return, Miller holds up to his bargain to drop the Julie case. Or so he says. Because once Dawes is out, Miller turns to his terminal and starts recording a message for Julie’s father. He’d like to ask him a couple of questions…

TV Adaptation

I’m not sure any of this is in the TV episodes. Octavia Muss is actually introduced earlier and has an expanded role, and Havelock took the place of the guy who got impaled to the wall, but I think a lot of this is sort of glossed over or transformed into something else. Dawes, especially, has a different relationship with Miller.

The bit with the Belter ship being destroyed is made more explicit. The Martian ship boards the Belter vessel and roughs up the crew. Incensed, the Belter pilot then hurls his cargo of rocks at the Martian ship, which fires upon and destroys the Belter vessel in response. The only survivor is fan-favorite Diogo.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Fifteen – Holden

Back to Holden.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Fifteen posted:

Holden grabbed for Naomi. He struggled to orient himself as the two of them spun across the bay with nothing to push off of and nothing to arrest their flight.
So, sitrep. The Martian marines are losing. Amos is on the ground, his leg broken, and Alex is helping him up. Holden and Naomi have been blasted into the air. Holden does a fancy zero-gee trick to yank himself and Naomi back to the deck. The crew, and Kelly, manage to reach the Tachi and get inside.
Kelly barks if Alex can fly the ship.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Fifteen posted:

”Why me?”

“Our other pilot’s outside getting killed.”
It’s a nice little beat.

Anyway, they strap in and Alex launches the Tachi and kills the bad guys with the point defense cannons, and so on. Omi says: “It feels like this is the chapter where they figured out what to do with Alex. He’s a nervous smartass with a motormouth who always runs at a hundred miles an hour no matter what’s happening. It’s a little weird, because like his character it feels like this trait went from subtly mentioned to omnipresent in every scene.”

Then:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Fifteen posted:

Holden was imagining what several hundred rounds of Teflon-coated tungsten steel going five thousand meters per second would do to human bodies when Alex threw down the throttle and a roomful of elephants swan dived onto his chest.
As Halle Berry once said: “The same thing it does to everything else.”

I feel like that’s a really clunky analogy. It feels long and awkward (a roomful of elephants? They can fit more than one in a room? Is it a big room? Why swan-diving in particular? Is the press of gravity somewhat graceful?). Hell, the whole sentence feels that way. Sounded good in the head, maybe, but doesn't read well on the page.

So, after passing out, Holden wakes up. Sitrep: The Donnager self-destructed, and the six attacking ships are nowhere to be found - the Donnager either got them before she blew up or, more likely, they were caught in her blast. Naomi and Holden patch up Amos. Kelly is dead.

Later, Holden and co. make plans. Martian ships are speeding towards the site of the battle, but Alex has turned off the Tachi’s transponder. So, to everyone in the Solar system, Holden and co. are presumed dead. Unfortunately, if they keep the transponder off, there’s no port in the system that will let them land. And the moment they turn it on, Mars will come for them. So, of course, they decide to go to Fred Johnson because of the convenient message he sent them before the whole Donnager situation.

There’s a little bit of odd plotting towards the end that I’ll let Omi sum up: “This feels like slightly odd plotting - they agree to go hang out with Fred for no reason, then find the USB, then he calls them back with the deets. At least for me, this section would feel a lot less awkward and forced if they had simply found the USB before calling Fred. They need expert help to decode or interpret it and neither Earth nor Mars is feeling like particularly Holden-friendly places these days, so off to Fred’s Funhouse they go! (Spoiler: Fred’s Funhouse is not actually very fun.)”

And that’s basically it. The thing about action-heavy chapters is that there’s not much to really say. The action in the Expanse books is serviceable enough. I don't think there's every really any lines that make you go 'the human body doesn't work that way' or 'bullets don't work like that' or 'the blocking here doesn't make sense' or so on. But it's also not very inspiring, interesting or exciting either. What would the story have lost had it cut the action detail?

Actually, come to think of it, why don't the heroes go to Earth? Sure, the Tachi is a Martian warship, but if forner navy officer Holden was to just get on the comms and blab 'Hey, I'm Jim Holden, survivor of the Donnager attack, etc.' surely that'd mean something. The crew states they won't go near Mars because Mars will just take the ship back, but absolutely no mention is made of going to Earth. I guess we just have to assume that they think Earth will blow the Tachi out of the sky and/or impound the ship just like Mars would.

Like, their whole train of action seems to be based on 'We don't want to give up the high-tech military ship that we stole salvaged.' As far as I'm aware, conventional maritime law doesn't allow you to just claim things as salvage and thereby keep them. Of course, the legality of the Tachi will come up a few times but I feel like this is another one of those times where the nature of Leviathan Wakes as a tabletop adaptation hangs over it a bit awkwardly.

TV Adaptation

The obvious thing is that Kelly is replaced by the interrogator, Lopez. Otherwise, it’s all pretty similar and, as a big action set piece, comes across better on screen than on the page.

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


Won't you take me to
Bomertown?
Won't you take me to
BONERTOWN?



This thread is great, thank you for doing this!

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?











They can't go to Earth because Earth would 100% throw them all in a brig and give the ship back to Mars (although of course probably not before letting their own engineers go over it). IIRC in the books Earth and Mars are nominal allies instead of rival superpowers at this point, and even if they are in a cold war you can't just go around blatantly stealing bleeding edge military vessels the diplomats seem pretty insistent it would turn into a whole thing. It's like if random pirates had hijacked a Soviet frigate and tried to run to the US or something, sure we're gonna love getting a chance to go over every inch of it but the pirates are going to jail and the ship is getting returned eventually.

Crazycryodude fucked around with this message at 00:16 on Apr 2, 2020

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Crazycryodude posted:

IIRC in the books Earth and Mars are nominal allies instead of rival superpowers at this point, and even if they are in a cold war you can't just go around blatantly stealing bleeding edge military vessels the diplomats seem pretty insistent it would turn into a whole thing.

Even if you discount the diplomatic issues, you still have the fact that governments generally are not too fond of privately owned warships. Keeping the Tachi would be like stealing a Russian bomber complete with armaments and having the USA go "well, finders keepers, enjoy your bomber."

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Sixteen – Miller

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

Miller watched the feed from Mars along with the rest of the station.
Back on Ceres, Miller is watching the new feed. Well, maybe. Technically, he could be watching the feed from the surface of Mars. What? No, I’m not pedantic.

Anyway, if there’s one thing I always find a bit clunky in prose, it’s this sort of ‘character receives exposition or updates via a television screen.’ It’s cliche when you see it in film and it always strikes me as a weird when you get it in books.

It’s pretty expected stuff. Mars is pissed that the Donnager was attacked and lost with all hands. They’re pissed and they’re blaming ‘the Belt.’ Not the OPA, Miller notes, but the Belt as a whole. In response to the attack on the Donnager, the Martian navy has been ordered to “dismantle the infrastructures of evil presently hiding in the Belt, and bring to justice those responsible for the attacks.” It gives me a bit of a Bush-era War on Terror vibe, if I'm being honest. Anyway, while Mars claims they have destroyed eighteen ‘illegal’ warships, one wonders how many of them were really dangerous.

Miller turns off the feed.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

That was it, then. The secret war was out of the closet.
Miller makes a little leap of logic that feels a little bit shaky, implicating Papa Mao in the ‘secret war.’ While this turns out to be true, at this point it feels a little off. Papa Mao knew something bad was going to happen, but I’m not sure Miller knows it’s a ‘secret war’ as such. It occurs to me that I don't think we ever know anything about the transmission Miller sent to Papa Mao last chapter. Did he reply, what questions did Miller ask? Did Mao say something that led Miller to this thought?

Stuff is going to get rough… or rougher… on Ceres. Curfews and mandatory personnel tracking. However, Ceres has run by an Earth corporation and that grants it some degree of protection. While Earth remains neutral in the Mars-Belt conflict, Ceres should remain okay. But Miller notes that it doesn’t mean trouble will ignore the station. Mars or OPA could decide to throw a rock or a nuke at the station to make a point, or...

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

Or by blowing a fusion drive on a docked ship.
This is a reference to what happened a few chapters ago, surely? Like, it feels like Miller's reflecting on something that happened on Ceres? But it seemed like it actually happened somewhere else?

Miller eats and goes to meet with Muss. Muss kinda hopes that things go to poo poo because then she’ll get to wander down to the address of an implied rapist who she could never quite “nail” (poor choice of words?) during her time in “surprise sex squad” and put a bullet in him.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

”Why wait?” Miller asked. “We could go up, put a bullet in him, be back by lunch.”
Reading LW again, this line line stuck out to me, almost as much as Amos’ various lines do. I assume this is gallow’s humor from Miller, but it feels a bit weird. Omi thinks the line should’ve come from Muss because there’s a certain degree of being unsure whether Miller is joking or whether this is something Star Helix cops can get away with on Ceres - killing someone then pretending to investigate it. Like, Miller says it’s just shop talk, but I’m pretty sure in a chapter or two, Muss does start killing people.

We get a bit of talk about the Belt and the OPA post-Donnager. Some OPA cells are taking credit for it, and some of the other OPA cells are freaking out that they’re taking credit. Miller wonders if there’s a schism in the OPA but it feels like things like this in the OPA should be fairly standard given that they're a bunch of individual cells.

Shaddid calls Miller into her office. Dawes is there. Shaddid is annoyed Miller is actually working the Mao case. Dawes tells him he’s basically swinging a pickax at a pressure valve. Shaddid removes Miller from the Mao case “officially.”

Omi wonders something.

“Shaddid is… officially removing Miller from a black book kidnap job that doesn’t exist in their system?”

So, Miller’s message to Papa Mao didn’t go anywhere. And while it’s unclear whether the transcripts of the Holden interrogation got out before the ship went down, it’s clear that Miller won’t be getting them.

Dawes points out that Star Helix is an Earther group and if Earth corporations start poking around the Belt, things could erode such that Earth can’t negotiate a peace between the Belt and Mars. Mao also isn’t on Ceres, so, that’s outside Miller’s jurisdiction. Wherever Julie is, she’s probably in OPA territory. But she is one of their operatives and the Scopuli was their ship - they’ll find her.

Miller mentions that the Scopuli was bait that killed the Cant, and the Cant was bait that killed the Donnager. So, why should he let the OPA cover up something they did?

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

“Conspiracy theories, Mr. Miller,” he said. “If we had cloaked Martian warships, we wouldn’t be losing.”
Well, yeah. Eventually, Miller accepts that the OPA didn’t start it. But who did? Well, that’s what Shaddid wants to find out. And they want Miller to stay far away from it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

“I’m not sold,” he said.

“You don’t have to be sold,” Shaddid said. “This isn’t a negotiation. We aren’t bringing you in to ask you for a goddamn favor. I am your boss. I am telling you. Do you know those words? Telling. You.”
I really like this exchange. I’m reminded of someone talking to a frustrating dog. Which, given that Miller gets compared to a bulldog or something like that later on, is kinda neat. Then...

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

”We have Holden, Dawes said.

“What?” Miller said at the same time Shaddid said, “You’re not supposed to talk about that.”
I figure this is our confirmation that Shaddid is an OPA operative, even though both Omi and I have the recurring impression that she’s a‘company man.’ Still, even as far back as Chapter 2 Miller wonders if Shaddid has any secret loyalties to the OPA, so, bam - that's delivered on. I have to admit, though, some part of me keeps thinking of Shaddid as an Earther. Anyway, she’s is a dirty cop (but, honestly, it feels like just about everyone in Star Helix is) but it feels a bit weird that Shaddid is feeling ‘above’ Dawes. But then Dawes silences her with a gesture, so.

Then Dawes hits Miller where it hurts:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

“We have Holden. He and his crew didn’t die, and they are or are about to be in OPA custody. Do you understand what I’m saying, Detective? Do you see my point? I can do this investigation because I have the resources to do it. You can’t even find out what happened to your own riot gear.”
Here it is. Miller is a pretty lovely cop, delivered by Bad Cop Dawes. Good Cop Shaddid gives this wonderfully insincere ‘you can still do some good out there, Miller, go catch bad guys.’ Miller says he will.

Outside, Miller finds Muss again. He works his way through things, bouncing thoughts off Muss. What do you do with a case you don’t want solved? You give it to someone who probably won’t solve it. And that person is Miller and, what’s worse…

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Sixteen posted:

“For that matter, I need someone to take the lovely partner, I do the same thing,” Muss went on. “You know. Someone no one else wants to work with? Got bad breath or a lovely personality or whatever, but he needs a partner. So I pick the guy who maybe he used to be good, but then he got a divorce. Started hitting the bottle. Guy still thinks he’s a hotshot. Acts like it. Only his numbers aren’t better than anyone else’s. Give him the poo poo cases. The poo poo partner.”
Muss got slugged with Miller because she rejected the advances of a superior. Miller realizes he’s the station house joke. The guy who "maybe" used to be good, and not even his new partner gives a poo poo about him.

I like it, but I agree with Omi that it feels abrupt. I think, on some level, it’s supposed to. We’re supposed to be on Miller’s side, following him around the station, seeing him do all this stuff but rooting for him, until a bit of a reality slap tells us that, no, the guy doing this is just bad at his job. “I wish it had been delivered less awkwardly than in one big conversational block.”

Similarly, there’s a bit of abruptness where, in the next bit, Miller gets drunk at a bar and drunkenly rants to the bartender about Julie. While his obsession with Julie has mentioned, if suddenly, it feels a bit too sudden for him to go to drunkenly ranting about her to his friend Hasini.

TV Adaptation

Almost started talking about Series Miller here, but I think that’ll be the next Miller chapter.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Seventeen – Holden

Back with Holden on the stolen salvaged Tachi. The crew is sitting down in the ship’s galley. Mention is made that they’ve been on the run for ‘weeks’ now, and I’m not sure if that is being determined from the destruction of the Canterbury or of the Donnager. Probably the former. For now, the crew is standing around a neatly-set table, staring at it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Seventeen posted:

Amos solved this by saying, “I’m hungry as a loving bear,” and then sitting down with a thump. “Somebody pass me that pepper, wouldja?”
Still doesn’t sound like Amos and it surprises me how much he’s getting used for easy comic relief. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing - when I read LW the first time, I remember being very entertained by Funny Amos.

Anyway, the crew gorges. Holden has a moment where he’s quite attracted to Naomi.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Seventeen posted:

Naomi gave Holden a sleepy look through half-lidded eyes that was suddenly sexy as hell.
Omi wonders if this is the first time Holden’s noticed his attraction. I think it is. There’s been a few little hints in the story before this point, but this makes it quite obvious. The crew then toasts Kelly’s marines, to Shed, and then to the guys who killed Shed so they can roast in hell. Omi points out that it’s a little weird that they toast the marines before Shed, and not a single person toasts the Canterbury or anyone on it.

Holden asks the crew about the ship. TL;DR: they all love it. The Tachi is very obviously a ‘hero ship’ in the vein of Babylon 5’s White Star or Deep Space Nine’s Defiant. It’s small and fast, packs a punch, and is wickedly advanced. Omi thinks it feels a little bit “too clean, crisp, shiny and awesome.” Previously, we’ve talked about how it might’ve been interesting if Holden and his crew didn’t get a flashy military starship and had to make do with something less cutting-edge. Omi has said in the past that it feels a little bit disappointing how LW sets up this ‘space trucker’ sort of vibe where space sucks and travel is dangerous and so on… and then immediately give the protagonists a high-tech warship.

See, on one hand, the TV adaptation is sort of like a low-key rewrite. 'How would we have done the same story if we knew it was told over nine novels from the start?' But I wonder what the Expanse would look like if the Corey boys got to go all the way back to the conceptual stage, knowing that they had nine books to tell their story in. Would the crew have gotten the Rocinante so quickly? Would there have been more time spent on making the crew a coherent team? Would they have stepped a bit further away from the PbP outline?

I know I've mentioned that a few times without really getting into it, but that's something we'll dive into in Chapter 19.

After the meal, Holden wanders the ship. He goes into every room and touches everything and claims a cabin and so on. It’s a nice little bit. Then, he goes off to find Naomi, who is working on swapping out the transponder (instructions provided by Fred) with the new name (picked by Holden.)

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Seventeen posted:

Holden punched the comm system on the wall. “Well, crew, welcome aboard the gas freighter Rocinante.”

“What does that name even mean?” Naomi said after he let go of the comm button.

“It means we need to go find some windmills,” Holden said over his shoulder as he headed to the lift.
Later, the Rocinante arrives in the vicinity of Tycho Manufacturing and Engineering Concern. Basically, it’s one of the oldest engineering firms in the system. They captured ice from the rings of Saturn decades before the Canterbury had been hauling it. Then, as their next miracle, they built the huge drives that spun up asteroids (like Ceres) to give them gravity. There’re even plans to build floating cities on Venus and space elevators for Mars and Earth. Basically, Tycho is a big deal.
Tycho Station is their Belt headquarters and is the largest mobile construction platform in the system. Presently, they’re working on a ship that’s even bigger than the station: the Nauvoo. A big Mormon generation ship. The crew talks about it a little. Amos gets a bunch of lines that don’t sound like Amos.

The Rocinante docks at Tycho. Holden and the crew suit up and pack weapons. Someone is waiting for them on the other side of the airlock.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Seventeen posted:

An older, dark-skinned man with a heavy build waited for them on the other side. As they came in, he smiled.

“Welcome to Tycho Station,” said the Butcher of Anderson Station. “Call me Fred.”

Omi says: “Honestly I’m struggling to find more to say about this chapter. It’s fine, in fact it’s much better than the last two Holden chapters, but it’s mostly just their wandering around the ship, playing with all their new toys and biding time until they get to the station. It’s necessary setup since the ship will shortly become their new semi-permanent home, but I almost wish this had opened with their arriving at Tycho Station.”

TV Adaptation

Summing up at the end of Chapter 21.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Eighteen - Miller

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eighteen posted:

The death of the Donnager hit Ceres like a hammer striking a gong… …It would have scared Miller more if he’d been sober.
Omi says: “Holy crap, that’s a pretty decent opening! In a Miller chapter! It’s still clogged with unnecessary exposition, but it’s half of two paragraphs instead of, like, two pages.”

But to me, something felt off. I figured the news of the Donnager had already hit Ceres. The previous Miller chapter opened with it mentioning that he was watching the feed ‘with the rest of the station.’ I figured that was for Ceres as a whole, but maybe it was Star Helix only?

Either way, everyone in Ceres is soaking up the news about the Donnager. Miller’s too drunk to care much:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eighteen posted:

The beautiful thing about losing your illusions, he thought, was that you got to stop pretending. All the years he’d told himself that he was respected, that he was good at his job, that all his sacrifices had been made for a reason fell away and left him with the clear, unmuddied knowledge that he was a functional alcoholic who had pared away everything good in his own life to make room for anesthetic.
Shaddid thinks he’s a joke. Muss thinks he’s a punishment detail. Miller reflects that the only person who might’ve actually cared about him was Havelock, the Earther. Miller drops something half-consumed into the recycler.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eighteen posted:

He dropped the bourbon from the bedside table into the recycler without finishing it, just to prove to himself that he still could.
Ding!

He goes to see Muss, but she basically has all the work handled. Willing to live up to everyone’s expectations of him as a lovely cop, Miller sits at his desk and leaps down the Donnager rabbit hole. The battleship is gone but surely there had to be a ship that escaped, Miller figures. But if it had, it would’ve been a media darling.

Unless it was covered up. But then, where had the ship gone? There’re ten ports some surviving ship could’ve gone to and twenty-eight thousand ships between them. Miller winnows away any Martian facilities, then figures the ship would have an Epstein drive, and couldn’t have filed a flight plan before the Donnager was destroyed. He uses some old cases to petition for the data from various places around the system: Eros, Ganymede, Pallas, etc.

I’m with Omi on that the section is both interesting and neat and kind of poorly-handled. It feels like there’s a bit too much worldbuilding between Miller’s thoughts and deductions and so on.

A call for Muss comes in, as does a warrant for the arrest of a rapist. Omi wonders: “Star Helix is a private security company, not a police department, but I always had this vague notion that Miller was a homicide guy, so it’s weird to suddenly see 90% of his day revolve around surprise sex.”

So, then Miller goes off and arrests a guy. To be quite honest, I’m not really sure why this bit was here. I feel like you could just go from ‘Miller looks for logs and waits’ to how this bit of the chapter ends:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eighteen posted:

Two hours later, Miller finished the last of the paperwork and sent Dowd off to the cells.

Three and a half hours later, the first of his docking log requests came in.

Five hours later, the government of Ceres collapsed.
Dun dun!

Later, the Star Helix people are all gathered in the precinct house. Shaddid briefs them. Mars has asked the UN to pull out of Ceres, and the UN has obliged them. Shaddid stresses that it isn’t a coup - Earth is pulling out, they’re not being pushed. For the time being, Ceres is forming a provisional government assembled out of local business owners and union members. Star Helix will remain the law.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eighteen posted:

”You will act professionally and within the scope of standard practice.”
Omi wonders about Shaddid and Star Helix. “Half the time she talks and acts like a by-the-book cop in a lovely situation doing the best she can, and the other half of the time she blithely hands out black book kidnap jobs for cash like they’re candy. Is Ceres security supposed to be a crappy corruption hole, or a bunch of poor mooks trying their hardest to do good?”

I suppose it can be both, but I share the slight confusion. Even reading this again, I have to keep reminding myself that Shaddid is not an Earther. And I suppose Star Helix can be closer to ‘ideal’ space cops than how we think of modern private security contractors and such, but still…

Anyway. Miller wonders, like, who’s paying Star Helix? What laws are they enforcing? And just why is Earth walking away from the biggest port in the Belt?

Muss, on the other hand, quite literally immediately walks out there to go and murder that person she talked about wanting to murder a few chapters back. Omi calls it “muddled.” I wonder how much of it arises from the sort of bait-and-switch that these initial Miller chapters are built upon. That is, that Miller’s perspective on events isn’t very reliable. You think Miller is a cool neo-noir cop guy, but he’s just an old joke of an alcoholic. Miller thinks he’s a space cop, but Star Helix is really just corporate mercenaries with badges. Miller thinks he is enforcing space law, but the only law is the rule of Star Helix's armory.

Or maybe it’s just a story where you’re not supposed to think too hard about it.

Anyways, Miller figures that the OPA will step in now that the Earth is abandoning Ceres. With everything we’ve seen with Shaddid and Dawes, it seems pretty likely. He wonders if someone on Earth - someone rich and powerful, with enough of both to shift the United Nations itself - doesn’t want a negotiated peace.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Eighteen posted:

”What am I looking at, Julie?” he said to the empty air.
Omi notes that this is “the first time we see Miller speaking to Julie out loud (though his chat with the bartender in sixteen might’ve implied he’s already been doing it while sloshed). This will eventually grow into a weird hallucinatory thing where he actually sees her standing there, and she talks back. I don’t think it works very well, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what those scenes were supposed to accomplish."

Personally, even when reading Leviathan Wakes the first time, they struck me as the Corey boys leaning on Battlestar Galactica’s Head Six character. I was not surprised when they cut it from the adaptation. As is, it makes Miller feel like he’s about two seconds from losing his mind. Maybe that’s the point.

The next morning, Shaddid hauls Miller into her office and fires him.

If that feels abrupt, it’s because it’s about that abrupt in the text. It’s supposed to come as a surprise to both Miller and the reader, I think. But that means it feels like we haven’t really seen the seeds planted. Omi says: “As far as we know Miller hasn’t been screwing up more lately, he’s just up to old tricks: a sad, underperforming drinky cop man. I think he and Shaddid needed more friction before this, and we needed to have seen him screw up more frequently on screen. As-is this reads more like a power play by Dawes and/or the author, and I suspect it’s only shoehorned in here to help get Miller where the plot needs him next.”

I figure it is something of a power play by Dawes (but doesn’t he also just call Miller a joke? Hmm…) Even so, Dawes has barely factored into the novel and isn't nearly as memorable as his TV adaptation. Maybe it is just as simple as what Shaddid says - that she doesn’t trust him. I feel like you can read it as the OPA being worried that Miller, like, might suddenly become a good cop again and/or let his Julie fixation screw everything up for them. But then, why just fire him? Why not shoot him in the head? Miller’s been worried about that possibility as far back as the first chapter, and we’ve seen the OPA do as much.

Omi had some thoughts on Dawes’ presence in these last few chapters:

"Since this is the last of Star Helix we’ll see for a while, I also want to highlight how awkward Dawes’ presence has been in the last few chapters. We know that the OPA is trying to move in on cop town from a single throwaway line, and we know or will learn later that Dawes is a pretty heavy hitter… but his near-constant presence in Shaddid’s office doesn’t really make sense given that he’s a) a civilian, and b) essentially a direct competitor for the Star Helix contract. So what gives? It feels like he’s the tip of a plotline that never fully emerged."

More on that in a second.

TV Adaptation

God, where to begin. I said we’d talk about the differences between book Miller and series Miller and his whole plot line and, well, here we are. Compared to the Holden stuff, it has some substantial changes.

So, after the stuff with Diogo and the water bandits (back in Chapter 4’s TV section), Miller finds out that Julie Mao left Ceres aboard the Scopuli. He tracks down Dawes to ask him about Julie, but Dawes basically denies all involvement. Miller pokes around some more and finds out that Julie dated a guy named Bizi Betiko, who is dead in the Ceres morgue. Only he isn’t, because Miller visits a slingshotting den and finds out that Betiko is dying right there on screen. Muss helps him figure out that the guy in the morgue has what amounts to a space fake ID and that he was a data broker carrying government documents. As an aside, this is about where Havelock gets impaled to the wall.

The government documents relate to a ship called the Anubis. Miller figures out that the Anubis was travelling from Phoebe to Eros and the Scopuli matched its flight plan - the Scopuli was going to intercept it. And, after that, the system starts going to hell. What’s on the Anubis? That’s what Miller wants to find out.

Dawes pays Miller a visit. He has the guy who impaled Havelock in custody and is willing to give him up to Miller, providing Miller keeps him updated on the Julie investigation. Dawes also tells Miller that the goal is a Ceres run by Belters for Belters. While Miller is continuing the Julie investigation, and finding a hidden data cube, Dawes has him abducted. Since he won't drop the case, Miller is about to be murdered by Dawes' goons when Muss saves him. The data cube Miller has contains a transmission from Protogen's man Dresden, saying they found something on Phoebe and they need someone to come and extract it so they can move on to 'the next phase.'

Then, Miller takes everything to Shaddid.

The Expanse, Episode 106 Rock Bottom posted:

MILLER enters Shaddid's office. He's still wearing the bruises and injuries from his beating at the hands of Dawes's goons.

SHADDID: (scoffs) Jesus, Miller. Should I even ask?

MILLER: I figured it out... Most of it, anyway. Here.

MILLER plays the recording through SHADDID's terminal.

DRESDEN: It's not dormant, it's giving off heat. I'm seeing molecular reactions... Vibrational resonances all across the spectrum... Can you hear me?

MILLER: Look at this thing.

SHADDID: What the hell am I looking at?

MILLER: You're looking at, uh, I don't know, some kind of bio-weapon?

SHADDID: Where'd this recording come from?

MILLER: Phoebe, that's what I think. Phoebe Station.

SHADDID: No, I meant, where'd you get it?

MILLER: Julie Mao. She bought that from a data-broker.

SHADDID looks visibly concerned. But in the sense of 'How did Miller find this?'

MILLER: (cont) She gave it to Dawes. Dawes crewed up this black-bag ship which vanishes with all souls aboard. And then, (Miller snaps his fingers) the data-broker ends up dead, (snaps again) and ships start blowing up.

SHADDID: (dubiously) We know who's pulling the strings?

MILLER: Well, let's play it through. Scientists on Phoebe discover something, something big that would tip the balance of power. The OPA gets wind of it, they send a crew out to steal it. The mission goes south. Which leaves... someone with a lot of power, a lot of resources, who'll do anything to keep it quiet. Including starting a war. And that man... He holds the key.

SHADDID resumes the recording.

DRESDEN: Radiation levels are off the charts... We're ready for the next phase. We need to get a sample off Phoebe, now!

SHADDID: You tell anyone about this?

MILLER: No. Just you.

SHADDID picks up the datacube, walking around her desk.

SHADDID: What about this? Copies?

MILLER: (with some confusion) No... It's encrypted... You can't copy...

SHADDID locks the cube away in her personal safe and turns to her desk.

SHADDID: Erase Detective Miller's case files and cancel all his clearances.

MILLER: What are you doing?

SHADDID: (calmly) You're fired.

MILLER: (realizing) Dawes... He bought you.

SHADDID: Get out.

MILLER: You're in his pocket. What, did he buy himself a whole police force?

SHADDID: Have it your way. Security.

MILLER: What does it go for these days, huh? Undying loyalty?

SHADDID: I'm tired of speaking to a child.

MILLER: Yeah, well, I'm tired of smelling this poo poo, you know that?!

SHADDID: Help Mr. Miller find the door. (Miller notices the OPA tattoos on the neck of Shaddid's guards) If he gives you any problems, feel free to shoot him.

As you can see there, Shaddid is far more obviously on the OPA payroll. Miller gets fired, but it’s less of a ‘because you’re a drunk’ and more of a ‘because you got too close to the truth.’ I sound like a broken record, but I think the TV series handles the Miller plotline a lot better than the novel. There’s a bit more intrigue, a bit more things happening, a bit less ‘daily life on Ceres’ that isn’t really relevant, and, above all else, more tightly related to the Holden stuff by bringing in Phoebe and such more openly. Everything is a bit clearer. Shaddid is an OPA agent within Star Helix's command structure. She gets asked by her superiors to find Mao, but her true superior - Dawes - doesn't want it handled by the cops. So, Shaddid gives it to Miller, who she assumes will either a. never solve it or b. be satisfied with finding that Julie's not on Ceres, because he's kind of a bribe-taking drunkard. Meanwhile, Miller gets too close to the truth and Dawes tries to have him killed. Miller takes his evidence to Shaddid, who promptly reveals her true colors and strips Miller of everything he has done.

We all get this in the novel, I think, but it's scattered. As I've said, Miller feels like more of a gently caress-up in the novel. Dawes obviously has some connection to Shaddid but it doesn't feel developed. Shaddid gives me the persistent feeling of an Earther woman trying to do her best in a bad situation and not someone who was knowingly conspiring with the OPA to take control of Ceres. Miller reflects that the OPA is moving in on the cops. Miller wonders where Shaddid's loyalties lie. But he never really moves beyond those brief thoughts, so, all of these things feel like fragments of a deeper plot that never really comes together as well as it should.

Does any of this constitute a significant change in Miller’s character? I’ll leave that for you to decide...

Another significant change is that Muss goes from being a kinda crazy space cop who loves killing people to someone who has never killed anyone before until she saved Miller's life. Also, her and Miller may've been a romantic thing in the past.

Coreyisms
The Belter Shrug And The Origin Thereof

LW: 2.5

Big Meaty Amos
LW: 1

Into the Recycler
LW: 3

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 00:52 on Apr 4, 2020

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Nineteen – Holden

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

Fred stood alone, hand outstretched, a warm and open smile on his broad face.
Omi wonders about this: “Kinda like Amos, this doesn’t really feel like something the Fred we’ll get to know would do. He is a politician, so it’s reasonable to think he might be putting on a false front here, but I always pictured him as more of a grumpy, barely polite stoic. Here he’s more a big, jolly guy.”

Holden shakes his hand and says:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

“I’m sorry, but you have no idea how pleasant this is,” Holden said. “This is literally the first time in over a month that I’ve gotten off a ship without it blowing up behind me.”
Now, this line really stuck out to me. I’ll bring it up shortly.

Holden wonders if they’re really safe here. Fred says they are, because...

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

“We make campaign contributions to Earth and Mars politicians in amounts that would make a Hilton blush.”
Now, unless Omi and I are wrong, this is the first real world callout we’ve seen in this novel. Omi says it was weird and jarring enough to take him out of the text. I can’t say it did the same to me, but now that he brought it up, it makes me wonder.

"The call-out to a real business is weird and jarring in a moment when I should be engaged and eagerly learning about a new shady character and where the survivors of the Canterbury will go next."

Fred and Holden chat and then go for a bit of a walk.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

The ride was short but halfway through, gravity reappeared, shifting in a disoriented swoop.
This isn’t the first time Holden’s chapters have mentioned gravity appearing or reappearing. While it works well enough, there’s one thing to note: gravity doesn’t really appear as such. Omi points out: “I think gravity is something that should be described in a more tactile sense: it’s not a visual thing that appears and disappears at will, it’s a weight that you feel through every sense. It asserts itself, or drapes itself over your body, or tugs on bones that were light as a feather until a few seconds ago.”

Even ‘gravity returned’ feels like it’d make more sense.

As they follow Fred through Tycho Station, Holden notes the usage of faux wood:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

Of all his crew, Holden was almost certainly the only one who had grown up in a house with real wooden furniture and fixtures. Amos had grown up in Baltimore. They hadn’t seen a tree there in more than a century.
I think this is one of the few details we get about Earth in Leviathan Wakes. Baltimore hasn't seen a tree there in over a hundred years. I think it's somewhat interesting how little we hear about Earth or life on it.

There’s a whole bit where the author - I mean, Fred - gives us some worldbuilding notes about Tycho Station’s history. But Holden’s not convinced that Fred’s doing this out of altruism:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

“I just don’t live in a universe where Daddy Warbucks swoops in and makes everything okay out of the goodness of his heart.”
That’s two real-life pop culture references. I actually had to look this one up. It feels a little cheap and lazy for the authors to be drawing in real world pop culture so heavily so suddenly. Are these things that Holden would know about in this distant future? Keep the pair of them, and Holden’s ‘literally’ line in mind.

Then, Fred gives Holden and his crew two luxury suites to stay in.

Omi considers this chapter a bit weird and jarring compared to the previous Holden ones, and the surprise luxury digs are a part of it. “They’ve been greasy space truckers in a smelly, gritty survival situation for the entire story, and then suddenly they own an awesome, brand-new spaceship, and then the very next chapter they also have sweet digs on a super-expensive OPA station for cool guys. It’s all a bit much.”

Combine that with the pop culture references, and that one line of Holden’s that doesn’t sound like it fits him, this whole chapter feels like it’s hewing very closely to Leviathan Wakes’ original incarnation - as an online roleplaying game.

If you’re unaware, the genesis for The Expanse was a set of worldbuilding documents for an MMO. When that didn’t pan out, it was turned into a play-by-post roleplaying game, similar to the ones you might find in Something Awful’s own Traditional Games forum. People create a character and a gamesmaster or storyteller guides them through the world, dice may be involved to overcome challenges, etc.

Known simply as ‘2350’, this PbP RP game would become the basis for Leviathan Wakes. Franck ran a private forum where a group of people essentially played through the first half of what would become the first novel in the book series. The game was summed up by Franck as thus: “a crew of a water hauler is caught in the midst of an interplanetary war when they stumble upon an alien protomolecule on the asteroid Eros.”

Pretty much exactly what we get, right?

In a sense, the novels all grew out of this game (Characters, locations, ships, events, etc.), but none more directly than Leviathan Wakes. Even the split story of Holden and Miller came out of it (Miller was Abraham’s character and he joined after the game had already begun.) The crew of the Roci - Holden, Naomi, Amos, and Alex - are absolutely mentioned as growing out from people’s characters. Shed’s sudden death wasn’t so much a storytelling decision as it was accounting for his player suddenly dropping out of the game, for example.

I often wonder how many other elements of LW’s story come directly from the game. According to the Corey guys Leviathan Wakes is about the first half of the game. But one person claiming to be a player in the game (who created Naomi Nagata) claims it is more like two thirds.

Anyway, in LW, the central cast certainly feel like roleplaying characters. As I’ve mentioned, they all have a distinct niche and clear role on the ship and they’re all pretty much one-dimensional. You can practically envision their character sheets: Holden is the charismatic leader (Mal), Naomi is the intelligent engineer (Kaylee), Amos is the strong muscle/comedy relief (Jayne), and Alex is the agile pilot (Wash). Shed is/was the medic (Simon.) The PbP game had, apparently, up to eight members of the Roci crew, but the core four are basically as-is. According to that aforementioned player, Firefly references were pretty common during the game.

As someone who has played no small share of PbP games in my time, the fingerprints are everywhere. Why is there no conflict between Holden’s crew? Because they’re all members of the same ‘party’ and everyone hates inter-party conflict. Why do you get Fred Johnson calling them up out of the blue? Because he’s basically a quest giving NPC and that’s what they do. Why is the Roci such a badass ship and why do they get it so easily? Because the party has to have a cool ship. Why is Fred so accommodating? Because Tycho Station is just the base of operations/hub to tie various planned sessions together, etc.

I don’t want to get too much into supposition, but a reason why Ceres might feel so divorced from the rest of the story could be because it would’ve been, basically, an invention for Abraham’s role in the game and therefore ceased to matter or have any real relevance once Miller left it behind. It might also be why the Miller section of the TV series is much more altered than Holden’s stuff is. A lot of Miller's 'detective work' would've just been dice rolls.

That’s not to say that this makes Leviathan Wakes a bad story - it doesn’t. You can peruse the endless amount of Kindle fantasy self-pub books to find what it looks like when someone adapts their DnD campaign to a novel format and does it badly. The core beats of LW’s story are good, the characters are fun enough, the world is interesting. But I think it’s telling that the TV adaptation does virtually everything better. The Corey boys have said the TV adaptation allowed them to do the story with the benefit of hindsight, but I think it also allowed them to ditch the last vestiges of the play by post outline - or, at least, give it a thorough adjustment to make it more of a, well, actual story.

All in all, my personal opinion is that Leviathan Wakes is one half novelized roleplaying game transcript and one half novel built on that first half. And, to be completely frank, I’d say the fact that it has such a simple roleplaying game esque setup and hook is why it grabbed a lot of people.

Anyway, Fred shows off these spacious suites and it passes by without much comment. I feel it could’ve been a nice opportunity to tell us a bit about, like, what it means for Tycho Station to have these opulent guest suites. Ceres was really cramped and Earth doesn’t seem much better if Baltimore hasn’t seen a tree in over a century. But all we get from Holden is:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

”It’s all right,” Holden said defensively. “My ship has a really nice coffeemaker.”
Omi feels like the coffee references are coming a bit heavy. “I get that that’s Holden’s thing, but at this point it feels like a gag prop that the author holds up whenever they want Holden to have a character trait.”

...just like a PbP character. Anyway, beyond his party role ‘Captain/face’ and his overall personality ‘idealistic idiot’, ‘likes coffee’ is really the only real trait Holden gets in this novel.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

“Don’t worry, Boss, you can bunk with me,” Amos said with a wink at Naomi.

Naomi just smiled faintly.
Really does not feel like something Amos would joke about to Naomi. I believe, in a later novel, Amos says something to the effect of ‘I only sleep with people I don’t like.’ It’s a bit strange, and Naomi’s faint smile makes me think she’s uncomfortable with it.

She asks Fred what’s up, and he lays it all out.

In summary, the Belt cannot take on Mars. Even if they armed every single ship in the Belt, they’d probably only kill a few Martian ships and, even then, only through suicide runs. But there’s something the Belt has that no one else does--rocks. And rocks are the best weapon you can get in space, especially when your enemies live on a planet. Fred says:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

”Einstein was right. We will be fighting the next war with rocks. But the Belt has rocks that will turn the surface of Mars into a molten sea.”
It’s a nice image, evocative. Fred believes it’s only a matter of time before someone does something along those lines - something desperate. Fred claims that he wants to stop the war before it begins, and the way to do that is with a criminal trial. And he needs the Roci crew to be his star witnesses. He lays out his whole plan and his hopes for what is to come - a new set of treaties between the inner planets and the Belt, and himself with a seat at the table.

It’s very game-y. Omi says: “It feels like Fred is going too far in taking them into his confidence when all he really needs is some videotaped depositions with Holden and company. Everything they’ve said and done should give him reason to believe that they’re unreliable idealists with a tendency to go off half-cocked, which is the last group of people you’d ever give sensitive information or tasks to.

It also feels a bit weird that the smart, charismatic politician sits the people he’s using down and tells them exactly what his plans to use them are.”

Later, Holden and Naomi are singing karaoke--well, Naomi is. The two flirt a bit. Alex is off playing darts and Amos is… off with an expensive hooker, whom he told everything is fine because he’s on Fred Johnson’s account. “Amos will be murdered by space hookers,” Naomi jokes, “but at least he’ll die the way he lived.”

I really don’t want to keep banging this ‘doesn’t feel like Amos’ drum, but… Sure, you can argue this doesn’t strictly contradict any element of Amos’ later characterization (he’s just visiting the brothel and perhaps sleeping there, as I think Book 5 or 6 claims he does) but it doesn’t feel neat. Even the second book, Caliban’s War, will point out that Naomi knows all about Amos’ past. Okay, sure, she’s drunk… but this still doesn’t feel like something she’d joke about.

To me, it’d be a tad more intriguing if Holden joked about it and Naomi shot the suggestion down. But I really do think the characters existed as these really basic sketches/archetypes, only really acquiring more depth as the novels go on, and only really happening in Book 5. Amos is actually an exception to this, because we learn a lot about him in the next book. But even reading Caliban’s War the first time, I found myself thinking that it didn’t really mesh neatly with Leviathan Wakes.

Anyway, Naomi goes back to singing, and Holden wanders out. But not after a bit of a weird moment where he thinks about taking advantage of drunken Naomi, reflects that he would - but he’d feel bad about it. I’m not sure I buy Holden doing that and I’m not sure I can buy it as, like, a moment of Holden’s insecurity creeping in either.

We’ll move on.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Nineteen posted:

He gave a little wave, then headed out the door with only ghosts — Ade, Captain McDowell, Gomez and Kelly and Shed — to keep him company.
Man, Shed gets last billing? That’s rough.

Holden tries to go to sleep in his fancy suite, fails. He wanders around Tycho Station but feels like a weird tourist. He ends up going back to the Rocinante to get some sleep, which is a nice little touch.

As he goes to sleep, Holden weighs up his thoughts that Fred was right, that a trial was a good idea, against his desire to kill the people responsible, for them to be just as terrified as Ade was before she died.

Omi wonders something: “This is really nitpicky, but even the first time I read LW it weirded me out that Holden found his ship being completely silent to be peaceful and relaxing. I talked to a guy who used to serve on a submarine, which for all intents and purposes is just a water spaceship, and he said that you really quickly got in tune with the sounds and behaviors of all shipboard equipment, especially the noise of the air circulation system. It got to the point where the noise was reassuring, and things getting quiet would take him from deep sleep to panic-induced adrenaline reaction in moments, because a silent boat is a boat whose essential systems are not functioning.”

Which isn’t exactly an uncommon trope in science fiction. In Mass Effect 1, Tali claims she can’t sleep on the advanced hero ship Normandy because it’s so quiet and it makes her think the ship is breaking down. In Red Dwarf (and probably a few other series), there’s an exchange that is basically:

“Do you hear that?”

“No, I don’t hear anything.”

“That’s the point: you don’t hear anything. The engines are offline.”

I feel like the Canterbury wouldn’t have been a very quiet ship, either. I mean, it was an aging ice hauler for dead-enders and tragics. None of this is major, really, but just thoughts that come to me.

TV Adaptation

The differences are best summed up at the end of Chapter 21.


Chad Coleman as Fred Johnson

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




I've always been vaguely suspicious that the party's visit to Eros was where LW transitioned from direct PbP adaptation to new material. I've been writing up some of those chapters recently, and it's really weird- the story kicks into gear at that point, and a lot of my complaints about forced plotting and such immediately disappear.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Twenty - Miller

I know, I know, I don’t want to keep mentioning this but it’s really interesting how it feels like there’s a better opening sentence for each Miller chapter than the one we get, and it’s usually 2-3 paragraphs after the opening line.

In this case, it’s skipping the bit where Miller is sitting in a cafe and drinking a coffee (Omi wonders if he’ll finish it or throw it away half-full) and reflecting that even Belter kids think the air can’t even hiss away into nothing. Omi feels like it’s a little strange for Miller to think that, because we’ve been told - a few times, I think - that the very first thing that is drilled into a Belter is that environmental systems are king. Some of it, I think, is supposed to be the old man cynicism of Joe Miller, 'grr Belter kids these days,' but still...

Anyway, here’s the line:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty posted:

Five days had passed since Star Helix pulled its contract. The governor of Ceres was gone, smuggled out on a transport before the news had gone wide.
Sometimes I wonder if the long opening paragraphs are a way for the Corey boys to try and make the A-B transitions less jarring. Like it’s giving the reader time to go ‘Oh, we’re back on Ceres, oh, Miller is drinking a coffee…’

So, five days since Earth pulled out of Ceres. The governor of Ceres is gone. The OPA has moved in on the asteroid and no one has pushed back. Miller spent the first day drunk out of his mind, before because it felt safe than any real desire to.

By day two, Miller was over the hangover. By day three, he was actually bored. While Star Helix - or what was Star Helix - is still handling the law, Miller’s got the dubious benefit of being on the sidelines. By day four, his docking requests have come through. About a thousand entries, all in all. Miller has been going through them at about one ship every fifteen minutes.

I’m not sure how necessary it is that we kind of follow Miller as he goes through the ships. I guess it enhances that ‘space detective’ feel and puts us in his shoes, but it is just basically like ‘Miller checked the [ship name]. [Worldbuilding details.] Miller deleted the entry.’ There’s a ship listed to the MYOFB Corporation, though, and that has to be an acronym for Mind Your Own loving Business, right?

Miller gets a phone call from Havelock, who has some fun news.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty posted:

"I’ve signed on with Protogen security, big-company private army bullshit. But the pay is worth putting up with their delusions of grandeur. The contract’s supposed to be on Ganymede, but with the crap going on right now, who knows how it’ll really play out? Turns out Protogen’s got a training base in the Belt. I’d never heard about it, but it’s supposed to be quite the gymnasium. I know they’re hiring on, and I’d be happy to put in a word for you. Just let me know, and I’ll get you together with the induction recruiter, get you off that damned rock.”
  • Protogen having a base on Ganymede factors into Caliban’s War, which is a nice touch.
  • Protogen certainly has delusions of grandeur...
Omi’s thoughts: “Havelock joining Protogen always felt like clumsy plotting to me. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it felt like a slightly awkward move that was largely motivated by not having any other pieces on the board that could get Miller information on Protogen.”

There’s a mention made of a Pinkwater PMC, that Omi found entertaining. “I assume it’s supposed to be a merger between the Pinkerton detective agency and Blackwater PMC, although Blackwater had already renamed itself multiple times before LW was published. (Presumably nobody would’ve recognized the reference if it was PinkerXe or PinkAcademi.)”

From there, Miller wonders about getting another job - if it’s even possible for an old man like him. Omi and I find it strange that, while Miller contemplates working as a shady bouncer or black marketeer, he doesn’t give any thought to what Havelock made sound as a pretty awesome job. “I don’t think Miller’s pride would keep him from taking it,” Omi says, “and he’s definitely not averse to violence for money, so what gives?”

My immediate thought is that it’s just that the authors know that Protogen are the bad guys and, so, can’t put Miller in with them. But wouldn’t that have been interesting? Like, if Miller had signed on with Protogen and ended up on Eros that way? Maybe even been a part of the anti-Holden kill squad?

Miller checks another ship, and then lands on the Rocinante. It’s a gas hauler, apparently. Travelling from Tycho to Pallas. But, wait. Miller knows that Tycho and Pallas are both industries that import gas, so, what is a hauler doing just travelling between two places that consume gas?
And the name… Miller runs that.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty posted:

He did a definition search on Rocinante. Literally meaning “no longer a workhorse,” its first entry was as the name of Don Quixote’s horse.

“That you, Holden?” Miller said to the screen. “You out tilting at windmills?”
Hey, you’re not a terrible cop, Miller.

Anyway, he calls Havelock back and says he might take the job but needs to work some stuff out first. He needs Havelock to pass him any information on the Rocinante.

Nearby, something blows up. Gunshots ring out. It’s a riot, but Miller figures the police can take care of it. Which is a pretty good line to end the chapter on but it kind of keeps going.

Miller goes home. Riots continue to break out. Ceres goes into curfew lockdown. The Solar system is still going to poo poo: a bunch of OPA types seized a facility on Triton and have been using it to broadcast the location of every Martian ship and facility in the system; Earth continues drawing everything it can back towards Earth and then, preferably, to the planet itself.

And all Miller wants to do is find Holden so he could track down what happened to Julie.

So, Miller packs up his little home, and all the while it’s like he’s going mad - he’s talking to Julie, imagining her. He has three pictures of her. He imagines sitting with her and watching the stars.

It’s… a little weird, to say the least, and I can see why they cut it from the TV series. When we read this are we supposed to think 'aww, Miller' or 'eww, Miller?' I can't recall what I thought when I first read it.

Miller packs everything up into a bag. He says goodbye to Muss who, to his surprise, hugs him. Then Havelock calls him and tells him that the Rocinante is heading to Eros. So, Miller heads to Eros.

Omi wonders if it might’ve been neater if Miller had found some connection between Julie and Eros, instead of Holden and Eros.

It’s a bit of a transitory chapter. I feel this is the weakest section of LW, where the plot is really trying to get Miller and Holden together.

Oh, and if you've wondering if you've missed something about the Rocinante becoming a gas hauler, don't worry. Our timelines are a little bit out of sync again, I'm afraid. Next chapter will have Holden come up with the idea. Flight path couldn't have been logged before that happened.

TV Adaptation

In the adaptation, it’s a different character - Sematimba - who calls Miller and passes on the information that leads him to Eros, not Havelock. And funnily enough, it’s not information on the Roci, but information on a shuttle from the Anubis. So, it’s a Julie thing, not a Holden thing. So, it's more like the plotlines converging at the same place and less like Miller is trying to catch up to Holden.

Miller is definitely a shadier cop in the TV series. He takes Julie’s necklace from her apartment and uses his many bribes to cash in passage to Eros. Muss tries to come to Eros with him, but Miller refuses her, saying he has to do it alone. Something to note here is that Muss and Miller are, like, former lovers or something like that. At the very least, they’re attracted to each other. It's a very different dynamic.

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




Huh, putting Miller on the kill squad is a great idea that honestly never occurred to me before.

It solves a lot of the creaky plotting and the obsession that comes out of nowhere- Miller gets fired, and instead of hallucinating Julie he just signs on with Protogen and gets sent to Eros. Miller and the squad leader are undercover in the hotel, when he sees it's Holden he breaks cover and just straight-up goes "Hey you're Holden, right? Do you know anything about any crew members escaping the Scopuli?" Holden does, so Miller coldly executes his boss standing next to him, then calmly turns to confront the remaining members of the fire team while Holden and company dive for cover and frantically return fire.

Then Miller's fascinating/obsession can be less "Here is a random chick I'm fixated on" and more part of Holden's mission to find and stop the protomolecule research. When they raid the base and Holden kicks him off the team after seeing him cold-heartedly murder a scientist, the rest of the crew can go "Dude wtf, you just fired Miller for doing literally the exact same thing that caused you to hire him."

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Twenty-One – Holden

The chapter opens with Holden reflecting about ship space in space ships. Everythings cramped, no one can be claustrophobic, etc. etc. and getting off at a space station can lead to a professional sailor being giddy enough to, well, get off.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-One posted:

Like all professional sailors, Holden had sometimes ended long flights by drinking himself into a stupor. More than once he’d wandered into a brothel and left only when they threw him out with an emptied account, a sore groin, and a prostate as dry as the Sahara desert.
Uh.

Omi says: “Holy poo poo. TMI, dude.”

We both wonder, thought, if Holden is really a ‘booze and whores’ kinda guy. Omi never got the impression and I can’t say I ever have, either. Like, what we saw with Ade is that he’s basically a tragic romantic. Doesn’t Naomi later on mention that Holden was always in a semi-serious relationship with someone on the Cant? Okay, maybe it meant during his navy days, but it just doesn’t feel like it matches the mental image we have of Holden, either in the text as a first-time reader or on a second readthrough.

It’s kind of up there with Holden’s thoughts about Naomi in the previous chapter. They’re like character beats that got thrown in and then weren’t really examined.

I’m just going to say that I’ve never watched much Firefly. I think I’ve seen two episodes and the movie. Does Mal visit brothels? Because when I first read Leviathan Wakes, even though I read it third, I got the distinct impression that the characters may’ve been based on or inspired by (or existing in that nebulous creative grey area) of the Firefly cast. I know I've mentioned it, and the player who created Naomi said that comparisons were made during the game itself.
Case in point:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-One posted:

So when Amos staggered into his room after three days on station, Holden knew exactly what the big mechanic felt like.
Again, we’ll find out later that Amos doesn’t have sex and this doesn’t really contradict it - it’s just Holden thinking that Amos went on a three-day long gently caress-bender. But I think the thing a first-time reader is supposed to take from this is that Amos is a guy who fucks, and likes to gently caress, and fucks often. Amos sits down and groans about never drinking again.

It’s a minor thing, but a part of my mind lights up when we have Holden, Amos, and Alex on the catch and Naomi is the one - quite literally - putting food on the table. Oh, it’s lampshaded as ‘her turn’ to get the food, but it’s just… Y’know.

Then it’s kind of like Holden remembers there’s a story that needs to go on.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-One posted:

Holden felt a sudden and irrational annoyance at his crew for being so comfortable.

“Everyone had enough of sucking on Fred’s teat yet?” he said. “I know I have.”

“What the gently caress are you talking about?” Amos said, shaking his head. “I’m just getting started.”

“I mean,” Holden said, “how long are we going to hang around on Tycho, drinking and whoring and eating sushi on Fred’s expense account?”

“As long as I can?” Alex said.

“You have a better plan, then,” Naomi said.

“I don’t have a plan, but I want to get back in the game. We were full of righteous anger and dreams of vengeance when we got here, and a couple of blowjobs and hangovers later, it’s like nothing ever happened.”
But were they?

One of the things I really like about books is being able to compare what a character says and does with what they’re thinking. It’s why I compliment the neo-noir cynicism in Miller’s stuff but am kinda ‘eh’ on how Holden’s chapters are presented. Whenever a character says something like this, I like going back and seeing if it holds up.

I’m not sure Holden is being accurate. If I had to sum up how he was feeling when he arrived and spoke to Fred, it would be relief. Then a bit of sadness or melancholy when he’s out with Naomi. Then he has a brief bit of daydreaming about vengeance before he goes to sleep.

So, it’s a little bit weird, but I think it’s easily enough read as Holden just suddenly getting on his ‘everyone but me is an idiot’ high horse about things. Holden is a fine character, but I’ve never really been sure if the audience is supposed to be on his side or not, especially in the early novels. The writers have said that he’s supposed to be a bit of a dick and not right all the time, and I think that comes across much better in the TV series, but in the novels?

Alex points out that they have no idea where the stealth ship is and have nowhere to find it. Holden claims that not doing anything about it is driving him nuts, but he seemed pretty content up until, oh, let’s say twenty seconds ago. Naomi says they deserve some time to recuperate, but doesn’t point out that Holden was okay with everything until he got a bee in his bonnet about it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-One posted:

“Besides, Fred said we’ll get those bastards at the trial,” Amos said.
Really, Amos? Stuff like this makes me feel like, at this point, Amos was just kind of not very well educated, maybe even a bit gullible. Kind of a ‘good ol’ boy’ blue collar worker who cusses, fucks, and so on. Not the criminal guy with emotional issues that he became. In Chapter 17, there’s a moment where Holden basically tells Amos to pack a weapon when they go to see Fred, when I feel like - as we’ll see, I think, in the second novel - it’ll very quickly shift into the more familiar Expanse pattern: Holden underestimates things, Amos tells him to bring a weapon.

Omi says: “It’s a bit weird to me that Holden’s suddenly obsessed with getting away from booze and whores and charging back down the dragon’s maw. He was pretty miffed about losing the Canterbury when it happened, but he’s been so chill during the survival and Donnager bits that I honestly completely forgot he wanted to visit violent revenge on some science guys.”

And that’s kind of the problem. Even though Holden had his little ‘boy, I can’t wait for Alex to ice those dudes with his torpedoes’ moment, it came across distantly. Like an academic thought. We didn’t get much of a sense for the burning rage Holden supposedly felt about it.

Omi says: “The weird way that Fred has treated the crew like quasi-celebrities seems wildly disproportionate with the value they bring him. I suspect this is a direct consequence of the book’s origin as a tabletop game: Fred and Tycho Station are essentially just a major campaign hub: go out and do a mission, then come back and have the cool OPA guy shower you with rewards and tell you what rad heroes you all are.”

But I think this links to something Holden says in this chapter:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-One posted:

“Besides, this can be a prison. It’s a nice one, but as long as Fred controls the purse strings, he owns us. Make no mistake.”
So, Holden thinks Fred is keeping them in a rather luxurious cage. Makes sense. And in that sense, Fred treating them super nicely is because he really, truly (desperately) wants them to stay there until everything works out. Everyone but Holden seems to treat this as sudden news, though.

Holden comes up with a plan:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-One posted:

“I’m thinking we look for work,” he said. “We’ve got a good ship. More importantly, we have a sneaky ship. It’s fast. We can run without a transponder if we need to. Lots of people will need things moved from place to place with a war on. Gives us something to do while we wait for Fred’s trial, and a way to put money in our pockets so we can get off the dole. And, as we fly from place to place, we can keep our ears and eyes open. Never know what we’ll find. And seriously, how long can you three stand to be station rats?”
Something stuck out to me as an Australian. ‘The dole.’ As far as I’m aware, and I gave it a quick Google search, this appears to be a uniquely Australian term to mean welfare income. Has that spread all over the world? I can’t recall if it’s been mentioned yet, but Holden is from Montana.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-One posted:

There was a moment’s silence.

“I could station rat for another … week?” Amos said.
Hey, that’s more like the Amos I remember!

The crew wants a bit more time but otherwise agrees to his plan. Holden cheers up, now that they have something to do. Amos and Alex go off to gamble. Naomi and Holden talk a bit - Fred’s handling Kelly’s body and Naomi wants to give the encrypted data cube she found to Fred, too. It’s the info Captain Yao was trying to get off the ship. From there, Naomi basically says Jim’s their CO and they’ll follow him everywhere. Omi wonders:

“Naomi (and the rest of the crew) wanting Holden to be captain feels weird, given that the majority of their post-Scopuli adventure involved manipulating, threatening, and occasionally physically restraining Holden to keep him from getting them all killed. Why would you want to put that guy in charge again?”

Holden goes to visit Fred’s office. We get told about how fancy it is. Coming off the chapter opening about limited space and the stuff we’ve seen so far, I wonder what we’re supposed to think about Fred’s extravagance. Real wood, in a place like Tycho Station? I think I would’ve liked to know what Holden - a military man working on a blue collar ship - thought about all of Fred’s wealth and space.

Fred and Holden talk about the Mars/Belt conflict. It’s stuff we already know. The Belt tries stuff that’s pretty ineffective, but sometimes it kills some Martians, and Mars is winding up to smash the Belt to bits.

Fred sent for Holden because he wants to borrow the Roci. He needs ‘someone picked’ up from Eros and Holden’s ship is the only one that can do it. It leads to exchange that reads a bit like this:

FRED: I need your ship for a job.

HOLDEN: [Persuasion] No. Only if you tell me all of your plans - no more secrets.

(HOLDEN checks Persuasion… 17+5! Success!)

FRED: Okay, here’s everything on the table.

It’s impossible to know whether the exchange is pulled from the PbP transcript or if it’s just how it came out when they wrote it. I might just be jumping at shadows, in a sense. But my general feel of LW is that it’s basically what the players did, if only so they could get some nostalgic enjoyment out of it, in a sense.

Anyway, Fred says he needs someone to go to Eros and retrieve a man named Lionel Polanski and then bring him back to Tycho. Okay, sure. But Lionel Polanski doesn’t exist. He’s just some fake identity in the Tycho Database, and he’s the listed owner of a ship.

A ship called the Scopuli.

So, the non-existent owner of a derelict ship checked into a hotel on Eros. Fred takes this to mean, quite reasonably, that someone who is intimately familiar with OPA operations needs their help.

Holden says they can leave in an hour. Fred’s not sure about that - he wants the ship, not the crew. Holden will throw in video depositions and the Martian data cube. He even comes up with a plan to convert the Roci into a q-ship gas freighter.
Fred okays it. Then he says he’ll even hire them on as indie contractors, keeping them on retainer until peace negotiations start.

Next stop Eros.

Omi raises a good point that I had never considered: “This is nitpicking, but I have a bit of a problem with the fact that Fred was okay sending Holden on his top-secret mission. Holden is a dramatically famous local celebrity in the Belt, everyone in the solar system knows that this dude causes problems. Also, that he’s supposed to be dead. His face is front and center on the distress call that became one of the sparks that ignited the powderkeg… so why would you send that guy to pick up your super-secret OPA operative that nobody knows about?”

My mind went to Caliban’s War, where Holden goes undercover and accomplishes this by… growing a lovely beard that every single charatcer of note sees through immediately.

TV Adaptation

In the TV series, the stuff with Fred all plays out differently - what a surprise.

Fred and Holden meet with a lot more tension. Fred had no idea that Holden is on-board the Tachi/Rocinate, and realizes he’s now harboring the “luckiest dipshit in the Solar system.” Holden doesn’t trust him. Like, they have guns aimed on Fred.

Fred offers to dispose of the Tachi for them, because if Mars traces them here and sees a Martian warship docked out there, then everything’s screwed. Holden tries to bluff Fred with a supposed platoon of Martian marines, but Fred sees right through it.

The discussion between Holden and Fred is way less of the latter just kind of explaining his whole plan. Fred even tries to take control of the Rocinante, but is thwarted by Alex and Naomi.

Fred volunteers the stuff about Lionel Polanski and says he needs the Rocinante because of the danger of war. He also says that he was the one who commissioned the Scopuli on the mission. Fred also doesn't send them to Eros immediately, but rather mentions 'a set of coordinates.' Things go a bit differently from here on in.

Another big difference is that Holden basically goes ‘If you take the Roci, I’m going - and you can keep the other three here as witnesses.’ The others make it clear that Fred is shifty and Holden’s being a bit of an idiot by accepting the job and especially if he’s accepting Fred Johnson choice to pick the Roci’s new crew. Like, what if they space him once they’re gone from Tycho?

There’s a bit I really like where Holden reveals he’s so hellbent on this because he was the one who logged the distress call, which means he is the one who got the Cant blown up. Amos doesn’t take it well, but Naomi, attempting to ameliorate him, tells him that she knew as well which drives cracks through their intimate friendship.. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Amos wonders. “...You were afraid of me.”

There’s a nice bit where Amos and Alex are hanging out in a bar, and I’ve been waiting to hit it because it ties right into my drum of how LW treats the character of Amos versus who he became.

So, Amos and Alex are drinking in a bar or brothel or club. It’s a seedy spot, anyway. A male prostitute comes up to Amos and Amos tells him he’s not interested, but then to watch out because that guy who is interested in him has a knife hidden on his left hip.

Alex cracks a joke about it, calling Amos the ‘union rep.’ Amos says he grew up in “places like this.” Alex jokes about how Amos must’ve been happier than “a puppy with two peckers” and Amos gives him a flat, vaguely threatening look. Alex apologizes. Amos doesn’t get what he’s apologizing for. Amos goes on to say it’s an honest living, that you can tell a lot about a place by how it treats its people, and that Alex should go and spend some cash. Like, Alex isn’t married.

“What makes you say that?” Alex asks.

“Like I said,” Amos replies, “I grew up in places like this.”

From there, we find out a bit about Alex. Yeah, he was married, now he isn’t. We also get his motivation for coming along - he just loves flying the Roci.

I think it’s interesting that, when the writers essentially revisited and revised Leviathan Wakes with the first season of the TV series, Amos was the most heavily affected. The difference is night and day. The only way I can personally account for the difference is that the supporting cast were all different. Like, when they were writing LW, Amos didn’t really have his particular background, Alex wasn’t divorced, and Naomi didn’t have her family. But the novel doesn't really have any moments like 'You were afraid of me' or the aforementioned bit with Amos and Alex, and it really does kind of suffer for it. Maybe the closest moment I can think of is when Miller overhears Holden's confession of love to Naomi.

However, what is interesting is that this episode does bring up Naomi's family. At the end of the episode, Naomi asks Fred if he can help her track someone down in exchange for her assistance with the Julie Mao thing. While we never find out who this is, it's always been assumed to be a reference to either her son or former partner. Probably the former.

Another small change is that Fred is the one who comes up with the gas freighter disguise plan. He also retrieves the data cube from Lopez’ corpse surreptitiously.

Another change, perhaps larger, is that a new character is introduced. His name is Kenzo and he's played by Elias Toufexis, otherwise known as Adam Jensen. There's a whole new subplot going on here, and this post is already pretty long, so a good point to talk about it might be the next Holden chapter, where it can be summed up as a whole. Either way, between Kenzo and Fred sending them to a set of coordinates and not Eros, things are about to diverge.

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Milkfred E. Moore posted:

From there, Miller wonders about getting another job - if it’s even possible for an old man like him. Omi and I find it strange that, while Miller contemplates working as a shady bouncer or black marketeer, he doesn’t give any thought to what Havelock made sound as a pretty awesome job. “I don’t think Miller’s pride would keep him from taking it,” Omi says, “and he’s definitely not averse to violence for money, so what gives?”

My immediate thought is that it’s just that the authors know that Protogen are the bad guys and, so, can’t put Miller in with them. But wouldn’t that have been interesting? Like, if Miller had signed on with Protogen and ended up on Eros that way? Maybe even been a part of the anti-Holden kill squad?

Eh. Protogen is an Earther company through and through. I can't really see Miller deciding to go be their Havelock just for money. I think his pride would have stopped him, because he's at that point where that pride is all that he really has left. He's just learned that he's the office joke, that the only person who wanted to work with him was the Earther outcast, and that he got the Julie job because the boss assumed he'd just blow it. He just got fired because he "couldn't be trusted". Joining Protogen would be running away and admitted that they were right and he couldn't hack it anymore.

It makes perfect sense to me that he'd double down on the Julie thing. He's proving to himself that he still has it and that they were wrong about him. There's even bits where he thinks things along the lines of "they made me into a mouse, but this is pretty good work for a mouse" and "I can't do anything about Ceres or the war, but I can still find Holden and Julie and the Scopuli, because I'm a detective and that's what I do."

I also couldn't see him on the anti-Holden kill team. He obviously doesn't have any trouble deciding that somebody needs to die, nor does he have any trouble shooting them immediately after making that decision, but I never really get the feeling that he'd go for straight up mercenary work or murder-for-hire stuff.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



"The dole" is also British, and has been used since the 20s, I think.

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


Won't you take me to
Bomertown?
Won't you take me to
BONERTOWN?



Milkfred E. Moore posted:

Chapter Twenty-One – Holden
Again, we’ll find out later that Amos doesn’t have sex and this doesn’t really contradict it - it’s just Holden thinking that Amos went on a three-day long gently caress-bender. But I think the thing a first-time reader is supposed to take from this is that Amos is a guy who fucks, and likes to gently caress, and fucks often. Amos sits down and groans about never drinking again.


I've seen a few references in posts to Amos as asexual, which wasn't my reading from the books. Can I ask, was this a show thing? In my recollection of the books, there was very little explicit mention of Amos's sex life until Babylon's Ashes, when (spoiler for the intro to Chapter 35 of Babylon's Ashes):

Babylon's Ashes, Chapter 35 posted:

Sex was one of those things where the way it was supposed to work and the way it worked for him didn't always match up real well. He knew all the stuff about love and affection, and that just seemed like making poo poo up. He understood making poo poo up. He also understood how people talked about, and he could talk about it that way, just to fit in.

In practice, he recognized there was power in being with another living body, and he respected it. The pressure built up over the weeks of months on the burn kind of like hunger or thirst, only slower and it wouldn't kill you if you ignored it.

...

When they got into port someplace big enough to have a licensed brothel, he'd go there. Not because it was safe so much as it was an environment where he knew what all the dangers looked like. Could recognize them and not be surprised. Then he'd take care of what needed to be taken care of, and afterward, it wouldn't bother him for a while.

...

The last girl -- the one called Maddie -- was curled up next to him... [she] was someone he'd used and been used by before when the Roci'd been on Tycho, and he liked her as much as he liked anyone that wasn't in his tribe. That she felt safe sleeping next to him warmed something in his stomach that usually stayed cold.

...

His own childhood in the illegal trade meant they had context that made the talk before and after more comfortable for him, and she knew he wouldn't pull any of that "you're better than this" soul-saving bullshit. He also wouldn't start calling her a bitch and being abusive out of shame the way some johns did. He liked shooting the poo poo with her afterward, and usually the way she snored just a little didn't keep him from drifting off.


I suppose that could be read as cuddling only, but it seems more likely to me based on those paragraphs that Amos simply keeps his libido leashed up except for infrequent brothel visits. If I missed something in another book (or that one), please let me know!

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?











Yeah I definitely wouldn't call Amos asexual, but... aromantic maybe? "I only gently caress people I don't like" and all that.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Sarern posted:

I've seen a few references in posts to Amos as asexual, which wasn't my reading from the books. Can I ask, was this a show thing? In my recollection of the books, there was very little explicit mention of Amos's sex life until Babylon's Ashes, when (spoiler for the intro to Chapter 35 of Babylon's Ashes):


I suppose that could be read as cuddling only, but it seems more likely to me based on those paragraphs that Amos simply keeps his libido leashed up except for infrequent brothel visits. If I missed something in another book (or that one), please let me know!

From memory, I think it's Book 2 (or 5) where it's mentioned in passing that Amos had himself chemically castrated as a consequence of the trauma of his upbringing. At the same time, it might just be a consequence of my own personality. As an asexual, my own view on my sex drive is essentially those first two paragraphs.

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


Won't you take me to
Bomertown?
Won't you take me to
BONERTOWN?



Milkfred E. Moore posted:

From memory, I think it's Book 2 (or 5) where it's mentioned in passing that Amos had himself chemically castrated as a consequence of the trauma of his upbringing. At the same time, it might just be a consequence of my own personality. As an asexual, my own view on my sex drive is essentially those first two paragraphs.

Book 2 definitely mentions a vasectomy.

Caliban's War, Chapter 45 posted:

Amos Burton. ... Took an elective vasectomy the day he was legally old enough to do so.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Sarern posted:

Book 2 definitely mentions a vasectomy.

Bingo, that's what was rattling around my head, mixed up with the joke that's made about Martians being chemically castrated. And, of course, castration and vasectomy aren't the same thing.

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

....Is that still a valid thing to jingoistically blow out of proportion?











Yeah Amos doesn't ever want kids, but he loves him some fuckin'. Which makes more sense to me imo than getting himself chemically castrated, he sees sex as just another physical need like water and food so no need to remove the ability entirely, just make sure there's zero chance he's gonna accidentally bring a kid into a lovely situation like he had to suffer through.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


I appreciate that we have confirmed that Amos 'Beefy' Burton is a canonical sexhaver. I also just want to say also that, wow, in Caliban's War Amos' dialogue feels way more like the Amos we come to know him as.

Chapter Twenty-Two – Miller

Miller is on his way to Eros. He paid a third of what was left in his bank account for transport on a pretty lovely transport. Unlike a lot of the big exposition blocks that Expanse chapters kick off with, I don’t mind this one. I think it’s nice to get a feel for how transportation works in the universe and how Miller spent his time on the way to Eros. One line really stuck out to me, though:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

The bar was always open and the drinks were cheap. Not long ago Miller would have found that enticing.
So, my conception of Miller is that he’s a drunk and, more than that, he’s quite recently been drinking himself into a haze. In Chapter 18, Miller was really, really drunk and then he got fired. It made me go back and think of a line that I hadn’t really noticed or paid much attention to - I didn’t even mention it in this thread.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty posted:

Miller leaned forward and sipped his coffee.
I wonder if this is a sign that getting fired essentially put Miller on the path to ditching his drinking habit and turning his life around? I have to say, it didn’t really feel like it at the time.

Anyway, Miller is reading his files on Julie. Meanwhile, we get another update on how the Solar system is still going to pieces.

The Mars and Belt situation is escalating but everyone is more concerned about Ceres ‘seceding’ from Earth. In particular, Martian pundits and commentators are pissed because they figure Earth has betrayed inner solidarity by letting it happen and also by not handing Ceres and/or the security contracts to Mars if they didn’t want it.

Remember what Shaddid said about Earth abandoning Ceres because Mars requested they do so? Assuming that's not a lie, it's kinda funny that Earth went 'Well, okay, bye' and let the OPA move in.

Speaking of the OPA (and the wider Belt), their reaction varies: some are happy to see Earth’s influence receding, others are concerned because Ceres is no longer neutral territory. Some Belters even claim that Earth is fomenting the war for their own ends, which is about half true.

I wonder about Earth, though. It feels like that, without Ceres, they have very little influence out past Luna. Mention was made in the last Miller chapter, I believe, that they were pulling everything back down the gravity well. It makes me think Earth doesn't have that much 'real estate' out among the Solar system, whereas mention has been made that Mars has all these little bases and ships all over the place.

Of all of these events, Miller holds back judgement.

He then has a chat with another passenger, a Methodist minister. It’s not a bad talk. Omi says: “Maybe I’m being really oblivious, but I went through Miller’s conversation with the Methodist minister guy several times, and I straight-up don’t see why that section is there, much less why it occupies such a large chunk of the chapter. It’s interesting, but it doesn’t feel like it gives us any information we don’t already have.”

I think I see why it’s there. Similar to the line in an early Miller chapter about punches you don’t see coming (something I said is a recurring idea in the novel series), I think the entire exchange is basically summing up a bunch of ideas in the Expanse.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

“Do people talk about the war?” Miller asked.

“Often,” the missionary said.

“Anyone make sense of it?”

“No. I don’t believe war ever does. It’s a madness that’s in our nature. Sometimes it recurs; sometimes it subsides.”

“Sounds like a disease.”

“The herpes simplex of the species?” the missionary said with a laugh. “I suppose there are worse ways to think of it. I’m afraid that as long as we’re human, it will be with us.”

Miller looked over at the wide, moon-round face. “As long as we’re human?” he said.

“Some of us believe that we shall all eventually become angels,” the missionary said.
Basically, I think the Expanse posits exactly what we're seeing here. Mankind will never become a superior moral being. The worse aspects of our nature - war and racism such - will always be with us. It's probably why all the antagonists of the Expanse - Dresden, Mao, Murtry, Inaros - all feel a bit archetypal (if you want to be kind, 'shallow' if you don't) at points. There was a post I read once, maybe in the TV/IV thread, that pointed out how all the major antagonists fit a similar mold of being 'an authoritarian who isn't as smart as he thinks he is.'

It's not necessarily bad, but there's a little part of me that feels like a story where the message is 'no matter where we go, we'll still have human issues' is just kind of... flat? Could that idea maybe be interrogated a bit further? But I think this ties more into with some of my criticisms with the later novels more than anything else. I could ramble about how 'eh, we'll always have war, it's basically an insane virus that we're stuck with' doesn't feel honest. Like, war doesn't just spring up out of nowhere. There's all kinds of things that lead to war. Economic concerns, cultural issues, whatever. It's not this malevolent demon that just springs up one day.

It's part of why I'm really interested in the new space opera idea they're working on, I feel like it might allow them the opportunity to be a bit more grandiose and imaginative than The Expanse did. And, as an aside, I think the three-book outline of the Expanse had a very different ending in mind than how the series went and that the first four books constitute the strongest arc as a whole. But more on that when we get to it.

Anyway, beyond the thematic aspect of it all, I don’t think the exchange tells us anything we don’t already know. We already know, for example, Miller that grew up on Ceres.

Later, Miller arrives on Eros. Like I said about the earlier stuff about the transport, I don’t mind all the detail we get on Eros and its history. Given we've just come off one asteroid habitat, we need to know why Eros is different. Basically, Eros was one of the first big Belt locations and it was replaced by places like Ceres. But where Ceres is more of a rich-if-scummy trade port, Eros is an out and out shady gambling den. Miller is there half a day before the Rocinante will arrive.

Omi says: “It mainly feels like Franck has some fun ideas about asteroids and industry that he wanted to share.”

Basically, Eros is filled with casinos, drug dens, brothels, and fake-fighting rings. I found that last one kind of weird - like, all these other vices exist on Eros, but the blood sports are all faked? Like pro wrestling?

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

Miller imagined Julie walking with him, her sly smile matching his own as he read the great animated displays. RANDOLPH MAK, HOLDER OF THE BELT FREEFIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP FOR SIX YEARS, AGAINST MARTIAN KIVRIN CARMICHAEL IN A FIGHT TO THE DEATH!

Surely not fixed, Julie said drily in his mind.
This is kind of interesting to me. Omi says: “It’s unclear to me whether this is him imagining talking to Julie or actually hallucinating her, but like we covered before I really don’t like this recurring bit and don’t think it works very well. It is interesting to note that at least in this case, Julie is basically a mirror: she’s doing Miller’s tired old man snarking thing.”

I wonder, too, if Miller is deliberately imagining Julie (ie. knowingly indulging his fantasy) or if it’s more of a compulsive/unknowing thing. I feel like the usage of ‘Miller imagined’ implies that it’s a deliberate thing.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

He’d stopped at a noodle cart, two new yens’ worth of egg noodles in black sauce steaming in their cone, when a hand clapped his shoulder.
Omi: “Man, the Coreys love talking about space food. Also, it’s weird to me that the new yen would be pegged close to (presumably) the old dollar in value; the yen was intentionally pegged at a low rate to encourage exports, the only reason I could see the Japanese government wanting to hike its value up is if they’d taken over enough territory in space to flip from a net exporter to a net importer.

“For that matter, why isn’t there some kind of universal SpaceBux currency? It’d make trade way, way easier, especially at space stations that had frequent numbers of working-class visitors who couldn’t be expected to keep track of a zillion currencies.”

The hand belongs to a fellow named Inspector Sematimba. Like Muss, I figured he was an invention of the TV series. Sematimba is an Eros space cop and Miller is - or was - a Ceres space cop and they worked together in the past.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

“Why, Inspector Sematimba,” Miller said. “As I live and breathe. You give a girl the shakes, sneaking up like that.”
Omi says: “Miller saying “You give a girl the shakes” is a creepy and funny image, I like that. What I don’t like is the character of Inspector Sematimb a- as far as I know, his entire purpose in the story is to a) give Miller police access and a license to kill, and b) something else to feel bad about when he dies to the nightmare zombie apocalypse. It’s weird to me how this character comes out of nowhere, and apparently knows Miller well enough that in a few chapters, he can give him a call and make some bodies go away.”

Mention is made that Protogen have just pulled out of Eros and that their contract has just been taken over by a new group called CPM - Carne Por la Machina (‘Meat for the Machine.’) Basically, they’re a bunch of amateurs from Luna who play at being hardcore. Miller asks Sematimba about Julie but he doesn’t know a thing.

Omi: “I forgot that Protogen was Eros’s actual, contracted security force before they beat feet: that’s nice setup.”

Miller says:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

“Came up the well and went native. OPA. It was an abduction case.”
Omi: “I’m unclear on whether this is Miller lying and saying Mao was abducted, or telling the truth and telling his cop buddy that he was hired to illegally kidnap someone. Either way it’s pretty funny.”

Sematimba tells Miller he doesn’t want him to create any trouble. Miller says he’ll keep things low profile. Sematimba goes off to attend to an emergency. Miller…

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

Miller sucked down the last of his noodles, tossed the foam cone with the thin smear of black sauce into a public recycler,
Ding. Then, with one day to wait for the Rocinante to arrive, Miller goes down to the docking bay - where he can see all six entry gates - and accepts a drink and… settles in to wait.

Because the Rocinante arrived an hour ago.

Which means, I guess, that Miller wandered aimlessly around Eros for half a day or so, imagining Julie being his cool snarky girlfriend, and so on.

Well. Okay.

Omi wants to bring up:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

Miller accepted a drink from a tired-looking woman in a G-string
“...is the implication here that sad, run-down prostitutes and strippers are just kinda dragging themselves down to the arrivals terminal every so often and hounding the incoming crews? That’s both commercially savvy and a really horrifying scene. It’s stuff like this that trips me up sometimes, because I can never quite tell if the Expanse is trying to be a relentlessly cheap and dirty world, or a slightly darker-than-usual but still optimistic scifi thingie.”

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

Miller pretended to sip his drink and settled in to wait.
“He is so excited that he’s gonna get to throw that drink out, I can feel it.”

TV Adaptation

So, again, we've got differences. Miller's conversation with the Minister becomes a conversation with a Mormon who is looking to travel on the Nauvoo. Miller doesn't get why the Mormons are prepared to go on a century-long journey without any idea on the other side, but the Mormon says that "true faith is a risk." It's a very different conversation, all in all, with virtually nothing in common and not as thematically on-the-nose.

When Miller arrives on Eros, he goes hunting through the docks for any details on the Anubis's shuttle. Miller pretends to be Julie's dad, which is pretty funny. While Miller finds out that the Anubis' shuttle is registered to a - dun dun - Lionel Polanski, he gets thrown in jail because he beat the dockworker up to do it. This is where he meets Sematimba who busts him out.

I thought Sematimba was an invention of the TV series, having forgotten that he was involved with the books. In the TV continuity, Sematimba is a friend of Miller's from childhood, and even gave him his goofy hat. When they chat over noodles, Miller says he's chasing down a lead. Sematimba challenges him on it and we get a much better idea that Miller just can't resist pulling on dangerous threads. Mention is made that CPM have shut down all the public security cameras while they upgrade the system. That's a little bit more relevant than the worldbuilding info that CPM comes from Luna and they're all stupidly corrupt.

Miller tells 'Semy' that his only lead is the name 'Lionel Polanski.' Sematimba tells Miller that someone with the name is registered at a hotel, the Blue Falcon. Which puts Miller right on track to collide with Jim Holden, who at this point is also on his way there, and it's all a bit neater than 'Miller goes to Eros, waits for Holden to show up and include him in the party.'


Kevin Hanchard as Semitimba

Coreyisms
The Belter Shrug And The Origin Thereof
LW: 2.5

Big Meaty Amos
LW: 1

Into the Recycler
LW: 4

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 06:00 on Apr 8, 2020

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Milkfred E. Moore posted:

Omi wants to bring up:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted: posted:

Miller accepted a drink from a tired-looking woman in a G-string
“...is the implication here that sad, run-down prostitutes and strippers are just kinda dragging themselves down to the arrivals terminal every so often and hounding the incoming crews? That’s both commercially savvy and a really horrifying scene. It’s stuff like this that trips me up sometimes, because I can never quite tell if the Expanse is trying to be a relentlessly cheap and dirty world, or a slightly darker-than-usual but still optimistic scifi thingie.”

The station is laid out so that everybody coming from the port has to go through the casino to get anywhere else in Eros. Miller's inside the casino watching the entrances from the port. It's less "run down sex worker dragging the arrival terminal" and more "topless cocktail waitress in the casino".

Milkfred E. Moore posted:

Basically, Eros is filled with casinos, drug dens, brothels, and fake-fighting rings. I found that last one kind of weird - like, all these other vices exist on Eros, but the blood sports are all faked? Like pro wrestling?

I think the impression is supposed to be less more like unregulated boxing where some of the fights are fixed, not 100% fake straight up 'sports entertainment'. Snatch, not WWE.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Khizan posted:

I think the impression is supposed to be less more like unregulated boxing where some of the fights are fixed, not 100% fake straight up 'sports entertainment'. Snatch, not WWE.
I'm not so sure. I'll drag out the exact quote:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Two posted:

...the show fight areas where men or women pretended to beat one another senseless for the pleasure of the crowds.

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


Won't you take me to
Bomertown?
Won't you take me to
BONERTOWN?



They really named the hotel the Blue Falcon? Amazing.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Sarern posted:

They really named the hotel the Blue Falcon? Amazing.

What's the reference to?

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


Won't you take me to
Bomertown?
Won't you take me to
BONERTOWN?



Milkfred E. Moore posted:

What's the reference to?

Blue Falcon is a military euphemism. It means "buddy-fucker".

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

I imagine they were thinking more about the Maltese variety, given the noir influence.

There's something about the space food writing that just drives me up a wall. Don't get me wrong, cone noodles sound great, and they're even a bit of a nod to Blade Runner and Deckard's introduction. But I think I'm getting retroactive irritation from the future books full of kibble.

CainsDescendant
Dec 6, 2007

Human nature

Grimey Drawer

I love all the space food references and wish I could go on a food tour of the solar system and try it all, even and especially the stuff that sounds disgusting

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tokenbrownguy
Apr 1, 2010





What the gently caress is kibble anyways?

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