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Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

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











Space Taco Bell's dehydrated protein substitute maybe?

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Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Twenty-Three – Holden

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

The casino level of Eros was an all-out assault on the senses.

Holden hated it.

“I love this place,” Amos said, grinning.
For whatever reason, these opening lines are one of the parts of Leviathan Wakes that really sticks in my head. I’m not really sure why because I don’t think the previous chapter does enough to give us a clear picture of Eros’ atmosphere, but it gives us just enough that your mind - combined with that line - can imagine this loud, flashy place. And I just love the simplicity of the opening - Holden hates it, Amos loves it.

Omi says: “That’s a great opening line. It’s great enough that I wish chapter twenty-two had done a better job of articulating Eros’s ambiance. Miller being completely comfortable and at home there, then Holden holding his head to try and keep the sound and fury out, would be a great contrast that tells us a lot about the characters. But Miller was just kinda like “Eh, this is gross and stupid and nothing fits together correctly,” which feels like a wasted opportunity.”

The Rocinante crew is making their way through Eros, on their way to meet with Lionel Polanski. Holden, Alex, and Amos are armed (in defiance of Eros law, funnily enough) but Naomi is not. Eventually, the crew manages to get out of the casino level. Holden and Naomi are happy to get out of it all, but the others...

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

“You kidding me?” Amos said. “I wish we had more time. Alex and I took almost a grand off those fish at the Tycho card tables. We’d probably walk out of here loving millionaires.”
Omi: “So they’d make so much money that they could pay millionaires to gently caress them? Seriously though, Amos & Alex: Sleaze Lords of the Belt sounds like an awesome sitcom.”

Holden says they can go do that if the Polanski thing turns out to be nothing. They climb onto a tube car. Then Amos says:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

“Somebody’s following us, Cap,” he said conversationally. “Wasn’t sure till he climbed on a couple cars down. Behind us all through the casinos too.”
Oh, I wonder who that could be…

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

Holden sighed and put his face in his hands.
Omi says: “Dude, he is watching you right now. Way to waste Amos’s attempt to look casual.”
Amos continues:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

“Belter. Fifties, or maybe forties with a lot of mileage. White shirt and dark pants. Goofy hat.”
As mentioned, it feels like you can see the seams of Leviathan Wakes’ beginning as a PbP game here and there. This feels more like a nod. As Omi says: “…did Amos just read to us from Miller’s character sheet? Because seriously - a lot of GMs encourage players to write a short 1-3 sentence blurb that sums up their character, and that’s a character blurb if I’ve ever seen one.” To me, it feels like what you might get out of a MUSH short-desc.

So, the stories are about to (finally) converge. Honestly, it’s pretty cool, even on a reread. But then Holden says something a bit weird:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

“All right. Keep an eye on him, but no need to get too worried. Nothing we’re doing here is illegal,” Holden said.
Except for the Martian warship, Naomi says.

And except for something else, Omi says...

“You sure about that, Holden? Because you just had the thought…”

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

The cops on Eros were pretty uptight about people walking around with guns, but there was no way he was going to “Lionel Polanski” unarmed.
“…except for carrying concealed weapons onto the station, which Holden just said was illegal?”

A screen in the tube car shows an advertisement for some resort domes on Titan. Holden fantasizes about it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

Hell, as long as he was fantasizing, he threw in Naomi walking over to his hammock with a couple of fruity-looking drinks in her hands.

She ruined it by talking.
Well, okay.

Omi and I wonder about that line because it makes Holden come off as really chauvinistic. Like, okay, it’s one to have a little self-aware fantasy, and then another to be like ‘Jesus, please shut up, Naomi.’ I can only assume the Corey guys meant it more like ‘Naomi dispelled the illusion by talking.’

I bolster this assumption with the usage of “Alex ruined it by talking” back in Chapter 7. But where that was a darkly comic line - Alex stopped Holden from avoiding thinking about everyone being vaporized - it comes off much worse when it feels more like ‘Naomi is ruining Holden’s sexy fantasy by talking.’

Omi says: “Fantasizing about his beautiful, badass engineer XO hanging out in his fruity sodomy den is fine, but “She ruined it by talking” sounds way too nasty and objectifying for Holden, especially since Naomi has been the one pulling his rear end out of the fire for months.”

The Rocinante crew hops off the tube, and Miller follows. There’s a funny little bit where Holden believes that Miller is going to arrest them and so he whistles loudly to act like he’s not worried about anything.

Julie is not staying at a nice hotel. She’s staying at the kind of place that Holden reflects ends in people getting mugged or worse.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

Holden stopped next to the desk and turned around to look at the woman sitting on the couch. Graying hair, but good features and an athletic build. In a flophouse like this, that probably meant a prostitute reaching the end of her shelf life.
Omi: “Sheesh, what is up with this chapter? Objectifying women and prostitute best-by dates?”

I guess this is a point in ‘Holden is an idiot’ column because, while his back is turned, the woman stands up and aims a gun at Alex’s head.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

Her weapon was small and plastic and had some kind of battery pack. Amos pulled his heavy slug thrower out and aimed it at her face.

“Mine’s bigger,” he said.
It feels weird for Amos to say something like this, where in my mind he’d either not say a thing or just shoot the person in the face.

A phallic joke might be funny around the RPG tabletop, so to speak, but it sticks out badly in anything trying to be a serious work.

Anyway, then half a dozen other people storm in and the woman - who we are told in passing that she only has a taser - gets gunned down. The Rocinante crew fire at the mysterious people, who might be cops by their commands for people to drop their weapons. Holden figures it’s a death squad. A man in a weird hat - who we know is Miller - flanks the attackers and kills at least one. A few things bother me about this scene, while it's overall okay, and I've mentioned them in the adaptation section.

Once the shooting has stopped, there’s a bit with a wonderfully ambiguous line.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Three posted:

The man in the hat stood, considering the corpse at his feet, then looked up as Holden came near.

“Thanks. My name is Jim Holden. You are?”
Omi: ““Holy poo poo,” Holden replied, “My name is Jim Holden too!””

We end on: “Name’s Miller.”

Omi provides a summary:

“Miller joining the party in the middle of a firefight feels tired and clichéd - I assume this is partly because Holden doesn’t now and never will trust Miller or want him around, but it feels just about as subtle as a muscly gun guy walking through the ruined door and going ‘Come with me if you want to live.’”

TV Adaptation

Okay, so, there’s a few divergences between the novels and the series.

The most obvious is that there’s a whole new episode (Windmills) that takes place between the Roci leaving Tycho and arriving at the coordinates provided by Fred. In thie episode, the crew discovers that they have a stowaway - the aforementioned new character Kenzo. Kenzo is a spy for Errinwright, a character who has not featured in the books yet, but is involved in the Protogen conspiracy. A key difference between Leviathan Wakes and the first season of The Expanse is the inclusion of scenes and stories on Earth, which I think does a lot to tie things together and fill the story with a bit of intrigue.

So, the crew apprehend Kenzo - well, Amos beats the poo poo out of him and throws him in an airlock. Close enough. Then, they have to sneak past a Martian patrol. They do this by tricking the Martians with a series of codewords, including ‘ubiquitous’ which is a little nod to Fred’s idea earlier in the novel. They also use the phrase ‘donkeyballs.’ Kenzo helps them out with this.

The Rocinante then arrives at the coordinates provided by Fred - and it’s not Eros.

It’s an asteroid designated BA-834024112. And one of the mystery stealth ships, the Anubis, is parked on it. This is actually something that, in the novel, happens after Eros. We’ll compare that when the novel hits it, but, long story short, the Roci crew find out that the Anubis was headed from Eros to Phoebe Station when something went wrong. Given that one of the Anubis’ shuttles is missing, they determine that Eros is the next best place to look for Lionel Polanski.

So, the crew wander through Eros, which seems like a much less fancy place than the books make it seem. While Kenzo provides some worldbuilding stuff about how there’s some restaurants on Eros he really likes, Holden glances around at all the derelicts - people and equipment both.

The hotel gets a name - the Blue Falcon. The crew head inside, but Kenzo has secretly called in a tac team with the notice that police will not respond! Dun dun!

Anyway, it leads to one of my favorite scenes in the first season: the shootout at the Blue Falcon.

It’s got so many good bits in it. This tense energy. Kenzo being visibly nervous because he knows what's coming. Holden being weird and suspicious. Naomi gazing at a painting of a planetside sunset. Amos picking up on the tension and eyeing every single person, while getting to show off his underworld side (“It’s his birthday.”) But probably my favorite part of it is how Amos figures out everything is going to turn into a gunfight about five seconds before it does.

I appreciate that there’s way less talking during the action. In the book, it’s a little bit absurd how much the Rocinante crew talks during this mortal ambush. It's very RPG where, like, talking is a free action. It’s a pet peeve of mine in books where, during fight scenes, characters just kind of spend way too much time talking - it erodes tension! Talking is not actually a free action! I also appreciate how Naomi comes off a little bit less stupidly terrified.

It also feels like the identity of the attackers is less penned in retroactively. Sure, the next chapter has the character suppose that the shooters were waiting to ambush Holden and such (albeit hastily assembled), and therefore we can infer that they are agents of the conspiracy, but I like how the TV series flat out makes it clear that, yes, they're agents of members of the conspiracy of Earth. It also feels a little less muddled. Like, in the novel, is the woman who pulls a taser on Alex part of the conspiracy? She appears to be, and Miller later assumes as much - but then why did the death squad gun her down immediately? Were they bad shots? Why was their plan first to drag Alex away with a taser? To blackmail Holden into compliance? Why not just kill him, which they attempt to do, like, because Amos pulls a gun? Why even attempt any of this at all, given Eros is about five minutes from being turned into a hellscape? Why does one of the death squad shout for them to cease fire - is he trying to trick Holden? Why does the death squad bug out? I believe later on, Miller will claim that the 'death squad' was trying to find out what Holden and co. were looking for. From memory, there's a chapter coming up where they all sit down and try to figure out what was going on with that gunfight, which is certainly a way of handling my immediate thoughts, but...

Anyway, enough nitpicking.

...No, I have to get one more in.

The taser! It bugs me how Holden makes the weapon sound like something he doesn't recognize for dramatic effect, but then pegs it as a taser the next time he sees it. I feel like navy officer brothel visiting Holden should know a taser when he sees one. And why does she point it at Alex's head? Is that where you normally tase people? Did the death squad give the taser to the one person who'd immediately reveal she didn't really know how to use it?

“James Holden... poo poo just follows you around, don’t it, kid?”

“Are you a cop?”

“Not anymore.”

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 13:02 on Apr 9, 2020

Velius
Feb 27, 2001


Soiled Meat

Poor Kenzo, he never asked for this. I like his addition here, the flow is a bit better I think.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Twenty-Four – Miller

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

Miller looked at the dead man – the man he’d just killed – and tried to feel something.
Omi and I both like this opening, although we wish they’d taken the opportunity to do a bit of a callback to that line a few chapters ago. Something like, as Omi puts it: ‘Miller looked at the man he’d just killed - he looked peaceful. They always did.’

Miller reflects on the ambush, and basically figures it for an improvised, slapdash effort.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

The ambush had been set by people who either didn’t know what they were doing or didn’t have the time or resources to do it right.
Basically, Miller posits that they had the woman in the lobby so Holden and his group wouldn’t see anything too threatening, and they had the guys with guns as backup. He attributes the failure of the ambush to either the people organizing it being incompetent or simply not having the time and resources to lay one that’d work.

Now, look. This has been our first major incident between our protagonists and the mysterious conspiracy, and the bad guys have sent their finest Keystone Cops who flat out kill one of their own with their opening salvo. It feels counter-productive to any idea of tension or suspense. And, personally, I dislike any story that explains something away with ‘the bad guys were just kinda idiots that one time.’

I mean, compare it to the TV adaptation. There, it’s pretty clear that the ‘death squad’ may’ve been assembled on short order but they’re still really dangerous and, if not for Miller, may’ve killed some or all of the Rocinante crew.

Omi has similar thoughts:

“I honestly forget exactly how this went down, but the clumsiness of the ambush seems weird. Like, did they know that Holden was looking for Julie? They must’ve, because otherwise Protogen doesn’t care about Holden - he can’t help or hurt them more than he already has. But if they knew what was up, why ambush him when he walked into the hotel instead of waiting for him to walk back out with Julie’s body?

“Hell, do they even need her body? If I recall correctly, Holden’s arrival was what prompted Protogen to initiate Operation gently caress The World (well, Eros Station). So why do they even care? Why not just hit the lockdown and let nature take its course?”

I believe - and I try not to skip ahead - that in a chapter or two, the characters will sit around and talk about the fight. Miller or Holden mentions that the death squad didn’t know what they were looking for and were trying to capture them to find out what. Which, again, raises questions as to the competency and/or operational knowledge of the people involved.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

The four survivors of the Canterbury stood in the remains of the firefight like rookies at their first bust.
One of the things I like about stories with multiple points of view is how it allows for the characters to be seen ‘from the outside.’ Miller notes that Holden has a face that is bad at hiding things, whereas I think Holden himself would think he’s a smooth liar. It’s similar to how, while Miller thinks he’s a bit of a badass, Holden sees him as this sad old man. It’s neat.

Omi wants to draw attention to something, however.

“Note that Amos is acting like a rookie here, and not like an apathetic, hardened killer who should’ve twigged Miller’s Crime Sense™ instantly. A few sentences later he does mention that Amos moves like someone who’d seen serious action, but that only underlines how weird this initial take is.”

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

The other man - thinner, taller, East Indian by the look of him
Omi wonders: “That’s Alex, right? Isn’t Alex short and chubby? That’s always how I pictured him- like a middle-aged guy who sat in a chair all day every day for months at a time.”

It’s about half-right. Alex is thinner and taller than Amos (I think mention was made in one of the first chapters that Martians tend to be taller than Earthers) but the usage of thinner is a bit strange given that one of the first things we learn about Alex back in Chapter Three is that he has a gut that stretches his jumpsuit tight. So maybe not short, but with a bit of a gut.

Holden asks:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

“Aren’t you the cops?”

Miller laughed.
That’s pretty good.

Miller calls Sematimba and tells him about the scuffle. Sematimba comments that he hasn’t seen anything, which Miller finds odd as there should’ve been thousands of alerts going on. I like the bit afterwards where Miller realizes that he’s not a part of the justice machine anymore.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

“Okay,” Holden said. “Who was that?”

“The real cops,” Miller said. “They’ll be here soon. It’ll be fine.”

I think it’ll be fine. It occurred to him that he was treating the situation like he was still on the inside, a part of the machine. That wasn’t true anymore, and pretending it was might have consequences.
So does Omi. “Miller is silently concerned when he catches himself acting like a cop, and realizes that without his badge casual violence and crime have very real repercussions for him. That’s a neat beat that I wish was explored more.”

Miller reflects that Amos was, of course, the one to figure out he was tailing them. Miller, Naomi and Holden start talking about the Scopuli. Alex blurts out:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

“Holy poo poo,” the shaky one behind the couch said. It was the first thing he’d said since the firefight ended, and he repeated it five or six more times in quick succession.
At just the right time for a good comic beat.

From that point on, the various parties all just kind of tell each other what they’re doing on Eros. Omi points to a particular bit.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

”I had a contact in the OPa who told me you didn’t die on the Donnager,” Miller said.

“They just told you that?”

“He was making a point at the time,” Miller said.
“This goes back to my earlier point - why? Like, who cares about impressing or intimidating Miller? He’s the department joke, and literally nothing he says or does could threaten the OPA’s position. Hell, even when he was fired it felt less to me like keeping him from the truth, and more like an attempt to keep police credentials from making a search or request for information that Protogen would flag.”

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

The silence was broken only by the sound of recyclers laboring to clear the smoke and particulate dust of gunfire.
“I actually really like this- we’ve discussed it briefly in other chapters, but submarines and spaceships are noisy, it’s a real problem that generates tons of subconscious stress for crews, and I wish more of the books reminded us of that.”

Eventually, it comes out that Holden is looking for someone from the Scopuli. Someone who is in this hotel right now. Miller starts thinking it’s Julie.

The group moves up towards Julie’s room.

Omi says: “I like how Miller is catching himself doing all sorts of sloppy stuff and bad habits, but it’s unclear to me whether this is a drying up Miller seeing bad habits he’s had for years, or the stress of the new situation making him sloppy. I wish it was just a tiny bit more explicit, because each one says different, interesting things about the character.”

However, it wouldn’t be an Expanse book if there wasn’t some strangely timed exposition.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

The flophouse corridors were thin and cramped. The walls had...

Omi: “The time to establish this was last chapter before the gunfight started, not as a speedbump between “Oh poo poo, Julie’s in the flophouse” and “Aaagh, alien flesh monster.”

Then, when they reach the room, there’s this great bit where Miller is standing there, reflecting on the tactical nightmare of it all and how it’d be better if Havelock was with him to storm the room, and there could be attackers everywhere-
And Holden just walks up and knocks on the door. “Like a dumbass,” Omi says. Miller looks at Naomi whose facial expression indicates that she’s not comfortable with how Holden just keeps doing things like this. I like it, it’s fun.

So, Amos kicks the door down and they go into the room. All the lights are off and won’t turn on - in fact, everything has been smashed. The long paragraph describing the room actually feels okay. What’s going on in here? A bit of detail that slows the pacing down works really well.

I like this whole bit generally, too.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

The fluid marked a thin path toward the bathroom. Miller raised a hand, pushing the others back as he crept toward the half-open door. Inside the bathroom, the nasty background smell was much stronger. Something deep, organic, and intimate. Manure in a hothouse, or the aftermath of sex, or a slaughterhouse. All of them.

The toilet was brushed steel, the same model they used in prisons. The sink matched. The LED above it and the one in the ceiling had both been destroyed. In the light of his terminal, like the glow of a single candle, black tendrils reached from the shower stall toward the ruined lights, bent and branching like skeletal leaves.
Woah, what is going on here? Black tendrils?

And what’s inside the shower stall…?

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

In the shower stall, Juliette Andromeda Mao lay dead.
Oh no!

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

She was nude, and barely human. Coils of complex growth spilled from her mouth, ears, and vulva. Her ribs and spine had grown spurs like knives that stretched pale skin, ready to cut themselves free of her. Tubes stretched from her back and throat, crawling up the walls behind her. A deep brown slush had leaked from her, filling the shower pan almost three centimeters high. He sat silently, willing the thing before him not to be true, trying to force himself awake.
Oh, gently caress!

Omi and I both have the same thought here: this is a heck of a wham moment. The last mention of weird bio-horror was the talking head in the prologue, so, this feels like it catches you off-guard in just the right way. It feels suitably horrific, however…

“Both the mention of her nudity and the specific attention drawn to the fact that the alien amoeba goop is growing out her vulva feels really gross - I honestly think they could’ve just said, like, ‘She was lying in the shower, alien goop growing out of every pore and orifice.’”

To me, the specificity has the desired effect of making it feel horrible, but it is a little bit strange to draw attention to that particular part of anatomy, and I've always been on the fence as to whether I found it cheaply crude or appropriately disgusting.

“That having been said, I also feel like they buried the lede here - ‘Julie was dead, and she barely looked human’ is the reveal you’re going for here. You can either hit the reader with both in one sentence, or go for a one-two, like, ‘Julie Mao lay dead. Her face was unmistakable, but the rest of her barely looked human.’

In the actual text, it feels like they put the most important information third. ‘Julie was dead. Here is what she looked like. She was infected with an alien virus because aliens are real omfg guys.’”

The crew bail out of the room and… hang around waiting for Sematimba in the corridor.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Four posted:

”Ohmygod,” Naomi said behind him.
I feel like this makes Naomi sound like a teenage girl. Omi, funnily enough, had the exact same thought: “I don’t like how this makes Naomi sound like a teenage girl spotting a zombie at the mall- just have her talk normally.”

We also think it’s a little bit strange that the crew just kind of hang out in the corridor. I don’t think I’d be so calm. I mean, for one, who knows what all that black stuff is, who knows if they’re infected, etc. An unknown and really aggressive pathogen/organism/thing has done something to Julie and you’ve all been in the room she had basically sealed herself into.

After the big Julie reveal, which is pretty effective, the chapter just kind of continues on to a fairly lifeless ending where Miller tells Sematimba everything the reader already knows. The sort of thing you could, and maybe should, fill in with a bit of exposition between chapters. The thrust of it is just that Sematimba will cover things up but the group can’t leave the station for a while. Were it up to us, Omi and I would’ve both decided to end the chapter on the Mao reveal.

TV Adaptation

It’s a bit different but mostly the same. There’s a bit more tension between Holden and Miller, instead of them feeling pretty chummy so quickly. Miller points out that Kenzo alerted the bad guys, then calls Sematimba to let him know something went down at the Falcon. Miller goes to head up to Julie’s room on his own and Holden lays a hand on him, demanding to know who that is.

Miller turns about and remarks, quite coolly: “I'm going up to room 22. Now, any second, there's going to be another group of thugs coming through that door, this time with badges. You touch me again, there's gonna be another body on the floor.”

Holden looks back to Amos, as if for support, and Amos just kinda nods like ‘Yep, that’s what’d happen, Cap, sorry.’ It’s a great bit.

So, they wander up there, Miller leading instead of Holden. There’s a good bit where Alex, shaky and tense, pulls his gun on a dude opening a door.

Speaking of doors, when they reach Julie’s room, it’s Miller who kicks it down instead of Amos. We also lose the bit where Holden just knocks on the door.

The tense investigation of Julie’s busted room works really well on camera. Julie looks appropriately horrifying but I wouldn’t say it quite matches the description from the novel. And the reveal that she’s dead and infected with something is what that particular episode ends on.

Something the adaptation includes which the novel does not is a sequence from Julie’s perspective of the protomolecule taking over her body and the pain and trauma and horrible stuff. Well, perhaps I misspoke - we do get it, but it’s just entries in her diary. Suffice to say, showing it is more effective than being told it.

I like that everyone is a bit more disturbed by what they find in the shower. I like that the conversation involving Sematimba is more tense. The crew find him in the lobby and they pull guns on each other. The crew push past him and Sematimba is left there basically begging for Miller to stay on Eros until they can talk.

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.

The loss of the protomolecule as a tangible biological horror is one of the things I regret most about the later books. I think they consciously chose to ditch that aspect because no one liked 'vomit zombies', but rooting the protomolecule in the intrinsically horrific repurposing of human biology is an effective way to characterize its danger.

Horizon Burning
Oct 23, 2019


General Battuta posted:

The loss of the protomolecule as a tangible biological horror is one of the things I regret most about the later books. I think they consciously chose to ditch that aspect because no one liked 'vomit zombies', but rooting the protomolecule in the intrinsically horrific repurposing of human biology is an effective way to characterize its danger.

Nothing quite dates the first novel to a particular date in nerd consciousness quite like the vomit zombies.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


General Battuta posted:

The loss of the protomolecule as a tangible biological horror is one of the things I regret most about the later books. I think they consciously chose to ditch that aspect because no one liked 'vomit zombies', but rooting the protomolecule in the intrinsically horrific repurposing of human biology is an effective way to characterize its danger.

I wonder if that was a consequence of the TV adaptation? I know I had some criticisms of Book 8 that basically came down to feeling like they were writing with the budget of the TV series in mind.

Chapter Twenty-Five – Holden

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

Miller gestured at Holden and headed for the elevator without waiting to see if he was following. The presumption irritated him, but he went anyway.
Here’s what I mean about the chapter headings as an authorial crutch. If not for the word ‘Holden’ up there, I really wouldn’t know whether this was a Miller or Holden chapter. Omi agrees: “When writing one protagonist from another’s viewpoint, I recommend being much clearer and more explicit about who the pronouns are referring to.”

Holden wants to know how they can just walk away from a fight with multiple fatalities without getting apprehended or even questioned.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

“Professional courtesy,” Miller said, and Holden couldn’t tell if he was joking.
Omi says: “Neither can I as the reader, and that’s a problem - this is a more interesting exchange if we know whether Miller’s being a wry gallows humor guy or a hollowed-out, world-weary rear end in a top hat.” It reminds me of the ambiguity of his earlier exchange with Muss. Ambiguity is fine, when used knowingly and with a point to it.

The crew pile into an elevator. There’s mention made of Naomi pressing the buttons with a shaking hand. It stuck out to me immediately because the last chapter went out of its way to basically point out that she and Amos were the only ones with steady hands. Sure, one could argue that mystery death plague is different to a gunfight, but it still feels a bit odd.

Holden is still pissed about the gunfight.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

“This is bullshit. Being an ex-cop doesn’t give you a license to get in gunfights,” Holden said to Miller’s back.

Miller didn’t move, but he seemed to shrink a little bit. His sigh was heavy and unforced. His skin seemed grayer than before.
If his skin is turning gray, I think people should be more concerned, given what they just saw in Julie’s room!

But, of course, there’s the usage of the word ‘seemed’ there. One of those words writers like to use when they’re just not sure how to put something and want the reader to do the bulk of the conceptual lifting. It’s just a weird way to say that, like, Miller looks more tired than he did earlier.

Omi says: “It feels weird to me that Holden has such an issue with Miller treating his (former) badge like a license to kill. Honestly their friction never felt natural to me; it always felt like the writers wanted these two to disagree, but didn’t build it into the text in advance and settled for Holden just flying off the handle every time Miller does something morally dubious. Amos is way, way worse as far as Crime Guys go, and as far as I can tell Holden never once gives him poo poo about it.”

Miller says they can’t leave the station without Sematimba’s approval. Amos points out that Miller doesn’t get to make decisions for them. Miller thinks they need to talk first.

As he leads them out of the hotel, Naomi suddenly figures out that Miller knew of Julie and was shocked to find her there. It’s a weird thing to draw attention to because, like, it felt really obvious and given that the reader already knew it, I don’t think it’s important enough for the characters to reiterate among themselves.

Anyway, Miller gets them set up in a hotel that’s pretty much as bad as the nameless one they found Julie in. Alex immediately locks himself in the bathroom to throw up, which makes him feel the most human of the main cast. Once Alex is out of the bathroom, the group has a big talk, essentially telling each other their half of the story so far.

Miller: How did you know Julie was in the room?

Holden: Someone from the Scopuli checked in there. I won’t tell you how I know that. Someone used the Scopuli to kill my ship, the Canterbury. I wanted to know why people keep trying to kill us.

Miller: I was looking for Julie so I could send her home to her parents. Her family was connected to something big. I used to work for Ceres security, but I got fired for looking too hard.

Holden: Okay, let’s talk about the death squad.

A few things to note. It’s somewhat interesting to note that Miller thinks he got fired for investigating too hard. I also like how Holden sums up talking to Miller.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

Talking to Miller felt like digging through granite with a rubber chisel.
But all in all, it’s a pretty superfluous conversation. As Omi puts it: “It’s important that Holden and Miller compare notes, but we don’t need to see them do it.”

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

”So let’s talk about the death squad in the hotel.”

“Yeah, seriously, what the gently caress?” Amos said.
Omi: “This is maybe the first time we’ve gotten a Swear-y, Crime-y Amos Moment that feels appropriate to the later character.”

Miller figures that someone knew they were coming. Holden supposes they didn’t know why, or they would’ve gone up to Julie’s room before them. Then Naomi blurts out that they’re connected to Fred Johnson. I’ll let Omi handle that:
“It’s weird how just a page or two ago Holden was being really cagey about who hired them or why, and then Naomi’s just like “We’re working for Fred.” I would’ve expected their roles to be reversed.”

Amos wonders why they just started shooting anyone, then. Miller figures it’s down to someone overreacting because Amos pulled a gun (?) and that the calls to cease fire were genuine (??)

The group recaps:
  • The attackers didn’t know what was up with the Lionel Polanski alias.
  • They were waiting for Holden and co. so they could apprehend them.
  • This is so they could figure out what Holden and co. were looking for.
  • It all goes pear-shaped. The mystery group didn’t factor Miller in at all.
  • They could’ve waited to search the hotel, but didn’t.
  • They’re not locals.
  • They have control or influence over Eros security.
I just don’t see the point of it beyond trying to paper over a shaky fight scene. Luckily, Alex is there to bail us out:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

”Wait a minute,” Alex said loudly. “Just wait a goddamn minute here. How come no one is talkin’ about the mutant horror show in that room?
Omi: “That’s an excellent question, Alex!”

Omi also has some other thoughts: “In fact, I honestly think that Miller and Holden should’ve met up and had the “Your case and mine case are the same case” chat before they found Julie. I see the nice little pattern they’re trying to create by having both man’s stories converge on Julie, but I think “Hi I’m Miller,” “Hi I’m Holden,” “Hi I’m Julie, graaargh! *zombie noises*” would’ve been more natural pacing. It would let the character and the reader go “What the gently caress?” and seek answers at the same time.”

On the state of Julie: “One thing that’s really important in any fantasy or sci-fi story is to establish the rules: what’s the setting like, what’s possible, what’s normal? In this case a bit of the oomph from the reveal is being leeched away by the fact that I’m not sure whether Julie’s thing is a known mutation/nanotech thing that people in this setting could feasibly do, or if it’s supposed to be an “Omfg bigfoot is real and he runs the Illuminati, who run the world” paradigm shift.”

I get it, and I think that plays into the rather muted response everyone (except Alex) had to the sight of something that seems like a thing no one has ever seen before.

Anyway, Miller took Julie’s hand terminal aka space iPhone from her room. Luckily, he sealed it in a plastic bag to prevent contamination. He wonders if they could hack into it, find out anything. Naomi says she won’t because she might catch something. No one has wondered if they catch something by being in the same room as it. Miller says they could just use the touch screen through the plastic - wow, the future truly is a thing of wonder.

They get stumped by the terminal’s password. Naomi says she could hack it, if they open the bag. Miller plugs the word Razorback in, which is the name of Julie’s racing ship, and unlocks it.

We get Julie’s journal entries then. Basically, after the prologue, she headed to Eros on a shuttle. Also, she thinks she has something called ‘the Phoebe bug.’ It’s anaerobic, according to Julie. She slept for three weeks of the trip, and isn’t sure why.
She leaves the crew some notes:

quote:

* BA834024112
* Radiation kills. No reactor on this shuttle, but keep the lights off. Keep the e-suit on. Video asshat said this thing eats radiation. Don’t feed it.
* Send up a flag. Get some help. You work for the smartest people in the system. They’ll figure something out.
* Stay away from people. Don’t spread the bug. Not coughing up the brown goo yet. No idea when that starts.
* Keep away from bad guys—as if you know who they are. Fine. So keep away from everyone. Incognito is my name. Hmm. Polanski?

Perhaps most horrifyingly, she was still alive as all the bone spurs starting sprouting out her back. And that’s about it.

Holden asks about the Phoebe bug. Miller brings up the science station. Naomi points out that the Scopuli didn’t have a shuttle.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

What kind of disease does that?”

The question hung in the air. Again no one spoke. Holden knew they were all thinking the same thing. They hadn’t touched anything in the flophouse room. Did that mean they were safe from it? Or did they have the Phoebe bug, whatever the hell it was? But she’d said anaerobic. Holden was pretty sure that meant you couldn’t get it by breathing it in the air. Pretty sure...

It’s a nice moment and a bit overdue, but everyone feels really calm about this. Like, okay, Julie says it was anaerobic - but she's also a sculpture of human flesh and unknown materials at this point. How sure could you really be that she was right? Perhaps that no one on the station had been infected, and presumably all the air is recycled, but it's also presumably filtered and scrubbed - and being a few feet away in an enclosed space is a very different prospect.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

“Where do we go from here, Jim?” Naomi asked.

“How about Venus?” Holden said, his voice higher and tighter than he’d expected. “Nothing interesting happening on Venus.”
Ha, ha! Foreshadowing!

Omi says: “I like how human and desperate Julie’s journal entries sound, but I’m not a fan of the slightly rambling way they break down what they know beforehand - this chapter should be tight and urgent, and instead It feels like a lull after a major reveal.

“The next bit where they talk about Phoebe and put together their theory feels a little underwhelming. It’s almost all correct, but it doesn’t really land for me. This is a major set of revelations about the driving mysteries of the story, and it’s more of a “Huh” moment than a “Holy poo poo!” revelation as things come together.”

We had a brief chat really about how this feels like it should be near the end of the story, not the middle. We talked a bit about how, if we were writing and editing LW, we’d probably put a bit more time on the Cant and Ceres and have the stuff with Julie form the climax.

Anyway, the crew figure they’ll go investigate the BA asteroid. Holden bets that the ship she stole the shuttle from is there.

Miller wants in.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

Miller turned toward Holden, his face even more drawn.

“If you’re going there, I want in,” he said.

“Why?” Holden asked. “No offense, but you found your girl. Your job’s over, right?”

Miller looked at him, his lips a thin line.

“Different case,” Miller said. “Now it’s about who killed her.”
Omi says: “I think the story gets a lot tighter and more interesting once Holden and Miller meet up, but it starts to introduce some problems inherent to the multiple POVs format: Miller closes out Holden’s chapter by grimly saying

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Five posted:

”Different case,” Miller said. “Now it’s about who killed her.”
“That’s a fine line and a fine way to end the chapter, but we shouldn’t have been in Holden’s head to see it - I picture Miller as an emotionally turbulent guy with a flat, dead affect, and giving him major lines without seeing behind the curtain tends to water down their effect.”

TV Adaptation

At this point, it'll be easier to talk about Eros when we hit the end of it.

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Milkfred E. Moore posted:

Omi says: “It feels weird to me that Holden has such an issue with Miller treating his (former) badge like a license to kill. Honestly their friction never felt natural to me; it always felt like the writers wanted these two to disagree, but didn’t build it into the text in advance and settled for Holden just flying off the handle every time Miller does something morally dubious. Amos is way, way worse as far as Crime Guys go, and as far as I can tell Holden never once gives him poo poo about it.”

I think this all boils down to trust. While Amos might be a remorseless killer, he's Holden's remorseless killer. Amos has this whole thing going on where he knows something is wrong with him and so he chooses to follow Holden's lead. It's been a while since I've read the series(though I've been reading along with the thread), but I can't remember any times where Amos straight up crosses one of Holden's lines. He's incredibly loyal to Holden.

Miller, on the other hand, is a lot like Holden himself at this time. He is going to do what he thinks is right and drat the consequences. Holden comes by this by being a Lawful Stupid Paladin while Miller is a burnout who no longer values his own life, but the effect is basically the same. If Holden believes that the greater good demands that he spread information blindly despite the risk it could start a war or get his ship torpedoed, he's going to do it. If Miller decides that the greater good demands an extrajudicial execution of a prisoner, he's going to do it. They both have a knight-errant thing going but they have very different views on what exactly that entails, which is why Holden never trusts Miller. He knows that if Miller ever decides that the crew Rocinante needs to die, he's going to start shooting.

Though, really, this all starts to make sense during/after the events in Eros; as to why Holden has these issues with him at their introduction, I have no idea.

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




Yeah, that's the really weird thing- conceptually Holden and Miller are set up to piss each other off in a natural and interesting way, but I think that structurally the reader doesn't understand the full scope of how and why these two rub each other the wrong way until quite a ways through the book, which ends up making some of Holden's earlier problems with Miller feel a little over-the-top to me. When they work, though, they're great- one of the big advantages of Miller not being Holden's friend is that he's the character who most consistently gets to say (or think) "...kid, are you a loving idiot or something? Why the hell would you do <X>?"

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Twenty-Six – Miller

After being upset that they got out of the hotel without being apprehended and questioned, Holden opens our chapter by being very upset that the Rocinante has been put under lockdown.

Omi ponders: “I wonder if this is supposed to be a clever viewpoint thing, where Holden sounds way more loud and emotional to outside eyes than he does in his own head?”

In the very last chapter, Miller told the crew that they couldn’t leave without Semi’s approval. He reminds Holden of this. Miller reflects that Alex is ‘the pilot’ and I genuinely don’t think he’s been informed of that. Sure, maybe it got handled between pages, but it’s notable. It’s especially strange because, as Omi points out, he could just call him “the Martian” for the same effect. He refers to Naomi as the XO, but that’s actually something Alex lets slip in the last chapter.

Miller wants a berth on the Roci. Holden isn’t a fan of it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Six posted:

“Are you saying that unless I let you on my ship, your friend is going to keep us here? Because that’s blackmail.”

“Extortion,” Amos said.

“What?” Holden said.

“It’s not blackmail,” Naomi said. “That would be if he threatened to expose information we didn’t want known. If it’s just a threat, that’s extortion.”
It’s always entertaining when Holden messes something up.

Anyway, Miller says he can’t really do either of those things. He just wants to be on the Roci when it leaves, because they’re going to Julie’s asteroid. Holden still doesn’t want to let him on the ship. He also says:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Six posted:

“But I’ve been shot at a lot recently, and the machine guns yesterday were the least lethal thing I’ve had to deal with.”
So, a whole day has passed since the gunfight? Huh.

Miller says he can go get money to pay them if he goes and shakedown some rackets in the Eros docks. Holden is incredulous. Omi feels that “a lot of the interaction between Holden and his buddies feels vaguely off - presumably because the guy writing Miller hasn’t had an awful lot of practice with their voices.” To me, it feels like they’re actually a little bit closer to how they feel in the later books.

Omi also says: “I’m glad that the story agrees with me that Miller’s gambling plan is frigging insane.”

Before they can continue, a message hits all four of their hand terminals.

The message contains two bits of information:
  • There was a mole on Tycho who leaked the information about Holden to unknown parties on Eros. Huh, I guess that’s the genesis for Kenzo.
  • Johnson and co. caught the mole and intercepted a message. The message says that while Holden escaped, they have recovered a “payload sample” and they’re proceeding to “stage three.”
Miller figures that the payload is Julie’s body, or the ‘bioweapon’ within it. But why bring it to Eros? There’d be better targets. Holden figures that they’ll be shipping Julie elsewhere. Miller isn’t so sure.

Then:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Six posted:

The vibration was a slight, small thing, less than a transport tube’s braking stutter.
Something blows up. Emergency klaxons go off. Or, as Omi puts it:

“Corey’s Law: when you run out of ways to move the plot forward, set off an explosion on a space station.”

The PA system informs the crew that Eros is now under emergency lockdown and everyone is to report to the casino sector for radiological safety confinement. Alex thinks someone blew out a ship drive or a nuke. Holden thinks they’re trying to destroy Eros to get to them, but Miller points out that they didn’t do much damage - if any at all. Eros still has atmosphere, after all.

Alex tells a fun story about spending a month in a radiation shelter and the fighting and loving is interesting and fun but it doesn’t feel like the right place for it in the chapter.

Eros security shows up - remember, the CPM corrupt dudes - and they’re jerks. They act like thugs and tell people that if anyone shoves anyone else, they’ll be shot and killed. I appreciate that the story doesn’t stop to, like, remind us that Eros’ security is run by CPM.

Except then it does, so, oh well.

But we also close out a particular subplot with a pretty nice bit.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Six posted:

Miller knew him. A year and a half ago, he'd arrested him for assault and racketeering. And the equipment - armor, batons, riot guns - also looked hauntingly familiar. Dawes had been wrong. Miller had been able to find his own missing equipment after all.

Whatever this was, it had been going on a long time before the Canterbury had picked up a distress call from the Scopuli. A long time before Julie had vanished. And putting a bunch of Ceres Station thugs in charge of Eros crowd control using stolen Ceres Station equipment had been part of the plan. The third phase.

Ah, he thought. Well. That can't be good.
I like how, of course, Holden doesn’t see anything wrong. Holden and his people are still talking about how to get to the Roci, and Miller waits for the moment where he can reach out to Holden without the fake space police seeing, and tells him not to follow their directions down to the casino level.

TV Adaptation

Summing up at the end of Eros.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Twenty-Seven – Holden

We pick up immediately where the previous chapter left off.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

What do you mean, don't go?" Holden asked, yanking his elbow out of Miller's grasp. "Somebody just nuked the station. This has escalated beyond our capacity to respond. If we can't get to the Roci, we're doing whatever they tell us to until we can."
Miller tells Holden to look at the fake cops and how one of them is a criminal he knows from Ceres.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

"I don't get it," Holden said.

"A couple months ago, when you started a bunch of riots by saying Mars blew up your water hauler, we found out - "

"I never said - "

" - found out that most of the police riot gear on Ceres was missing. A few months before that, a bunch of our underworld muscle went missing. I just found out where both of them are."
Omi and I love how Holden tries to say “Technically, I didn’t blame Mars for the Canterbury” only to get cut off by Miller.

Then Miller points something out: his hand terminal isn’t displaying any radiation warnings, so, whatever happened outside isn’t a threat to this level of Eros. Omi and I wonder why the various people on Eros haven’t thought to do so.

“Instrumentation failures are way, way more common than actual emergencies, so if it was possible to check local environmental levels on your hand terminal wouldn’t everyone hear the alarm, check their own readout, then shrug and (correctly) ignore it as a false alarm?”

Alternatively, why not have the conspiracy guys fake an alarm through everyone’s hand terminals and have Miller recognize it's some Ceres code, or something?

In a nice bit of earlier worldbuilding becoming relevant, Miller points out that they have to go through the casino level to get to the Roci. And if they do that, they’ll be beaten and thrown into the radiation shelters.

They elect to hide in a electrical maintenance corridor. I liked this bit between Amos and Holden:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

"Can you get that door open quickly?" Holden said, looking at Amos.

"Can I break it?"

"If you need to."

"Then sure," Amos said, and began pushing his way through the crowd toward the maintenance hatch.
Holden and Naomi begin to talk early Belt colony worldbuilding. Miller…

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

"History lesson later," he said. "Let's figure a way off this rock."
Thanks, Miller!

The crew figure out what to do. In contrast to a lot of his other LW appearances, I think Amos shines true in this little scene. The crew will have to sneak their way to the Roci, but they can’t use the maintenance tunnels to do it.

I’ll quote the next chunk in its entirety because it’s pretty entertaining.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

"Why do you think a bunch of Ceres mobsters are moving everyone to radiation shelters when there's no actual radiation danger?" Holden finally said. "And why are the Eros cops letting them?"

"Good questions," Miller said.

"If they were using these yahoos, it helps explain why their attempted kidnapping at the hotel went so poorly. They don't seem like pros."

"Nope," Miller said. "That's not their usual area of expertise."

"Would you two be quiet?" Naomi said.

For almost a minute they were.

"It'd be really stupid," Holden said, "to go take a look at what's going on, wouldn't it?"

"Yes. Whatever's going on at those shelters, you know that's where all the guards and patrols will be," Miller said.

"Yeah," Holden said.

"Captain," Naomi said, a warning in her voice.

"Still," Holden said, talking to Miller, "you hate a mystery."

"I do at that," Miller replied with a nod and a faint smile. "And you, my friend, are a drat busybody."

"It's been said."

"Goddamn it," Naomi said quietly.

"What is it, Boss?" Amos asked.

"These two just broke our getaway plan," Naomi replied. Then she said to Holden, "You guys are going to be very bad for each other and, by extension, us."
Basically, the two of them are going to go and figure out what’s going on. The three others will not come along - in fact, if they’re not back in two hours, they should take the Roci and leave.

Omi says: “Holden and Miller wanting to leave the relative safety of their hidey hole to go explore what’s up with the mobsters and the radiation warning is frigging insane. I get that it’s necessary to move the plot forward and makes sense in tabletop logic, but I’m pretty sure both characters would be hauling rear end for their safe, cozy torpedo boat at this point.”

So, Holden and Miller head out. They find out that their hand terminals can’t make calls. They go to find a radiation shelter and ask to be let in. Weirdly enough, the not-cop refuses until Miller puts a gun to his head.

It gets a little bit shaky there. Miller threatens to blow the man’s brains out in really descriptive fashion. Holden tells the not-cop that he should do what Miller says, since he’s “not a very nice person.” Omi wonders:

“It’s weird that Holden already knows that Miller isn’t a very nice person - all he’s seen Miller do is rescue his rear end, have breakfast, and be a cranky, bitter dude. Or is this supposed to be a good cop/bad cop routine to convince the guy they’re threatening?”

Anyway, the guy opens the door.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

Beyond it, the room was even darker than the corridor outside. A few emergency LEDs glowed a sullen red. In the faint illumination, Holden could see dozens... hundreds of bodies scattered across the floor, unmoving.
The guard collapses immediately. Miller staggers about. Him and Holden bail out of the room as their hand terminals go wild. Miller thinks its gas, but Holden finds out its worse than that - radiation.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

"We've been dosed," Holden said.

"I've never actually seen the detector activate," Miller said, his voice rough and faint after his coughing fit. "What does it mean when the thing is red?"

"It means we'll be bleeding from our rectums in about six hours," Holden said. "We have to get to the ship. It'll have the meds we need."
Huh. I figured all Belters would be pretty familiar with those alerts and what they mean. I mean, that was mentioned a few times back on Ceres. Omi seconds it: “Holden, the earthborn space trucker, having to explain how radiation works to Miller, the crazy paranoid belter stationhead, is odd.”

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

Holden grabbed Miller by the arm and led him back down the corridor toward the ramps. Holden's skin felt warm and itchy. He didn't know if it was radiation burn or psychosomatic. With the amount of radiation he'd just taken, it was a good thing he had sperm tucked away in Montana and on Europa.
I-

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Seven posted:

Thinking that made his balls itch.
What?

Omi: “This chapter contains exactly one more reference to Holden’s sperm and balls than I was hoping to read.”

Holden figures out the plan: the bad guys pretend to nuke the station, then dose the people up in radiation shelters that are more like radioactive shelters. Miller doesn’t get why. Holden figures out that the Phoebe bug feeds on radiation and that the people are all incubators. Omi wasn’t sure how Holden reached that conclusion, but the little fact about it feeding on radiation is actually provided by Julie. Albeit buried in the middle of her diary entries.

While Holden is telling Miller all this, Miller gets up. He walks across the way and shoots a pair of not-cops who’ve just arrived. I like Miller is so surgical about it - I can buy it, given that it’s Ceres gear and all, which means he's probably familiar on where you shoot to get a good hit.

But will the two of them make it back to the Rocinante before they succumb to radiation poisoning?

Given that there’s a whole series of books ahead of them, I think we can go with... maybe.

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.

Book Eros is a lot better than show Eros. The show is too tidy, the book is a real cyst of hell.

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Milkfred E. Moore posted:

Huh. I figured all Belters would be pretty familiar with those alerts and what they mean. I mean, that was mentioned a few times back on Ceres. Omi seconds it: “Holden, the earthborn space trucker, having to explain how radiation works to Miller, the crazy paranoid belter stationhead, is odd.”

Miller's spent almost his entire life on Ceres where there's large amounts of rock to protect people from radiation hazards. It's one of the safest places in the Belt. Holden, on the other hand, spent the last several years in a rickety space truck while occasionally going EVA to check on distress signals and such. I'm not at all surprised that space trucker Holden is more familiar with radiation hazards than Miller, who seems to be the belter equivalent of a 'city slicker'.

Some of the Sheep
May 25, 2005
POSSIBLY IT WOULD BE SIMPLER IF I ASKED FOR A LIST OF THE HARMLESS CREATURES OF THE AFORESAID CONTINENT?

Really enjoying this thread and the discussion, I just have two little nitpicks from the tv discussion:

Milkfred E. Moore posted:

Kenzo is a spy for Errinwright

Kenzo is a corporate spy for a company in competition with Tycho, and it's Avasarala that turns him to spying on James Holden for the UNN.

Milkfred E. Moore posted:

the Anubis was headed from Eros to Phoebe Station when something went wrong

The Anubis has been to Phoebe and is on its way to Eros, if it hadn't been to Phoebe the "something" couldn't have gone wrong.

Some of the Sheep
May 25, 2005
POSSIBLY IT WOULD BE SIMPLER IF I ASKED FOR A LIST OF THE HARMLESS CREATURES OF THE AFORESAID CONTINENT?

Khizan posted:

Miller's spent almost his entire life on Ceres where there's large amounts of rock to protect people from radiation hazards. It's one of the safest places in the Belt. Holden, on the other hand, spent the last several years in a rickety space truck while occasionally going EVA to check on distress signals and such. I'm not at all surprised that space trucker Holden is more familiar with radiation hazards than Miller, who seems to be the belter equivalent of a 'city slicker'.

Agree with this too, Miller even calls himself a "city belter" in a conversation with Diogo. Miller leaving his "cushy" little station for the first time in his life leads to a number of fish-out-of-water moments...

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Some of the Sheep posted:

The Anubis has been to Phoebe and is on its way to Eros, if it hadn't been to Phoebe the "something" couldn't have gone wrong.

Hah, oops. Messed up my from/to there.

Chapter Twenty-Eight – Miller

I actually rather like the little story we get about Miller’s first time killing someone. It’s that pretty familiar Corey opener, but it’s more of an insight into Miller’s mind and history rather than another bit about the state of the Solar system. However, it feels like it contributes to my general feeling with this chapter: just how unhinged is Joe Miller?

Basically, Miller killed someone his third year working Ceres security. He was 22 and newly married. Everything was going pretty okay, even if he was working all the poo poo jobs because he was a newbie.

Then, he’s called out to an illegal restaurant (mention is made of cheese being brewed in a bathtub which is a neat little thing) and a guy comes out with a gun in his hand and a hostage in the other. Miller’s partner, a decade long vet named Carson, shouts the warning. The guy swings his gun to bear, and Miller puts him down.

Miller didn’t find it that hard.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Eight posted:

Afterward, he'd been through mandatory counseling. He'd cried. He'd suffered the nightmares and the shakes and all the things that cops suffered quietly and didn't talk about. But even then, it seemed to be happening at a distance, like he'd gotten too drunk and was watching himself throw up. It was just a physical reaction. It would pass.
I feel like this is describing how Miller wasn’t that affected by it, but it also reads to me like a PTSD-esque reaction.

Omi says: “I like that Miller is pretty okay with killing people and feels that’s a problem, but it feels like this would’ve been more effective if it was built up as a character trait earlier in the story. That way when he coldly mercs some dude on Eros the reader can empathize with both him and Holden.”

But on Eros, Miller just isn’t okay with killing -- he’s taking joy from it.

Omi says: “…so I’m seriously starting to have trouble deciding whether Miller is intended to be a tired, cynical rear end in a top hat, or genuinely on the verge of having a psychotic break.”

It’s similar to the thought I had when I finished this chapter. It feels like Miller is suddenly a lot less mentally healthy than he usually is. That’s not too unexpected - I mean, his object of obsession to the point of hallucinations and daydreams died in a particular terrible fashion - but it doesn’t feel like a result of that, if that makes sense.

Miller and Holden are making their way through Eros, Holden taking point. Miller reflects:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Eight posted:

Miller had the feeling he'd made Holden nervous, and he regretted that a little. He hadn't intended to, and he really needed to get aboard Holden's ship if he was going to find Julie's secrets.
It’s very cold thinking.

Anyway, beyond the radiation sickness, they have a problem. Getting through the casino level is going to be tough. Guards everywhere, basically.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Eight posted:

Miller frowned and considered the flooring. The Eros floors were different than Ceres'. Laminate with flecks of gold.
I like this, too. But it just makes me think again that Miller is having, like, this almost dissociative episode.

With two hours to go before Naomi and the rest of the crew bail out on the Rocinante, Miller and Holden elect to find a maintenance hallway that might get them to their destination. Soon, though, Miller knows they’re talking too long. The radiation sickness is really beginning to affect them.

They are discovered by two not-cops. Miller thinks they could kill them and take their gear, maybe, but bloodstains and such might give it away. Honestly, I’d still give it a shot. It wouldn’t pass close inspection, but it might give cover at a distance. But, hey, they’re on a timer so, whatever.

There’s a little bit I really like here:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Eight posted:

"We were just looking for a way to... ah... get down to the casino level," Holden said, smiling and being nonthreatening. "We're not from around here, and - "

The closer of the two guards jabbed the butt of his rifle neatly into Holden's leg. The Earther staggered, and Miller shot the guard just below the faceplate, then turned to the one still standing, mouth agape.

"You're Mikey Ko, right?" Miller said.

The man's face went even paler, but he nodded. Holden groaned and stood.

"Detective Miller," Miller said. "Busted you on Ceres about four years ago. You got a little happy in a bar. Tappan's, I think? Hit a girl with a pool cue?"

"Oh, hey," the man said with a frightened smile. "Yeah, I remember you. How you been doing?"

"Good and bad," Miller said. "You know how it is. Give the Earther your gun."
So, Ko does. I like the line where Miller reflects about Ko:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Eight posted:

A man born with a sense for raw opportunity where his soul should have been.
I’m not so sure about one of the next lines, though. I’ll see if you can figure why.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Eight posted:

Miller was surprised by a tightness in his throat. He didn't know what it was there for.
That feels like Amos. Like, I swear there’s a line just like that for Amos in Book 5 or 6 or 7 (when he's fighting Bobbie.) It makes sense for Amos, but I never took Miller as being particularly emotion-blind. Not very self-aware, true, but not to this extent.

They ask Mikey Ko to deliver the exposition dump as to what’s been going on around Eros, and he obliges. In short: a year ago, Protogen began hiring thugs to go to Eros and get trained as cops. Then Protogen left, leaving the thugs in charge, and stuff started being smuggled in. All kinds of science stuff - sensors, remote robots, etc. They set it all up…

And then nothing happened. Months passed.
Omi: “Stopping in the middle of the run & gun action for Miller’s hostage to deliver an exposition dump feels kinda clumsy.”
Miller reflects that the Phoebe bug was never brought to Eros, but Julie arrived soon after. So, he shoots Ko in the belly. Holden freaks out. Miller argues expediency--it’s not like Ko would let them go.

They drag Ko back towards the radiation shelters. Four not-cops find them. Miller lies that there were a bunch of people who shot Ko. When the not-cops question Holden and Miller as to just who the gently caress they are, Holden says they were Protogen people who were finishing up the installation.

In the end, the guards let them go. Miller wonders when someone stops being human. Is it the radiation damage, or the murders? Probably the murders. Miller has that sort of ‘had it been anyone else, Miller would’ve known they were off the rails’ realization and realizes that, somewhere along the way, he’s lost himself.

It goes on for a bit more than that. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s a bit overlong and I think suffers because it’s telling us about this whole descent of Miller from decent man to whatever he is now without really showing it to us. He talks about shutting down his emotions and spurning human contact, but it’s not really the feeling I’ve gotten from MIller so far - to me, it felt like it was more that people didn't associate with Miller because he was a drunk and a joke. He never got the choice to spurn human contact, so to speak, because everyone spurned him first. The way Miller tells it, that he was shutting down his emotions and turning people away, makes me think of some kind of edgy anti-hero. I think this might be part of the wider issue where we don't get much of a picture of Miller's life, outside of the fact that he was married, he never left Ceres, and shot his first perp at however old he was. Like, who was Candace? What was her deal? Where did she go? What was Miller like at his prime?

So, then Miller imagines being held by Julie. Miller thinks to himself that it’s better that he hadn’t met Julie, she never would’ve lived up to the person in his head.

Maybe.

Omi thinks: “This feels like a real missed opportunity to set up some parallels to Julie and Miller’s eventual transformation into protomolecule slush.”

About then, the two of them reach the little tunnel hideout. They’re a little late--five minutes, to be precise, but Holden says it’ll be fine.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Eight posted:

The space beyond, where Naomi and Alex and Amos had been, was empty.

“gently caress me,” Holden said.
It’s great!

Omi says: “I love that Naomi just straight-up beat feet on schedule, and Holden assumed she’d stay behind, because that’s what he would do and Holden is terrible at people.”

TV Adaptation

As before.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Twenty-Nine – Holden
We pick up immediately. Holden despairs that Naomi is gone--that’s she has left him. It’s a nice little emotional moment, very human. It’s not exactly subtle, but I like that it’s a little note of Holden’s selfishness shining through. He and Miller can’t call the ship, since the network is still down, and, so, Holden seems about ready to sit down and wait to die.

Miller says they could go to the ship. See if it’s still there.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Nine posted:

"Way I see it, there's three ways this can go," Miller said. "One, we find your ship still in dock, get the meds we need, and maybe we live. Two, we try to get to the ship, and along the way we run into a bunch of mafia thugs. Die gloriously in a hail of bullets. Three, we sit here and leak out of our eyes and assholes."
I like the insight we get into Holden’s mindset next.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Nine posted:

The truth was he didn't want to die. Even during his time in the navy, the idea of dying in the line of duty had always seemed distant and unreal. His ship would never be destroyed, and if it was, he would make it to the escape shuttle. The universe without him in it didn't make any sense at all.
Holden’s kind of selfish. For all of his idealistic talk about freedom of information and doing the right thing and letting the people decide or whatever, he puts himself at the center of the universe time and time again. The scene between him and Fred in Caliban’s War is one of my favorites in the whole series.

Overall, this is an action chapter. I don’t mind it, but there’s not much to really say - none of the action leaped out as being stupid or nonsensical, all the spatial placement seems to make sense. Overall, it’s more gripping than the Donnager evacuation firefight. The thing about most action scenes in novels is that, really, I feel like you could skip most of them. But this one is decent enough because I feel like it focuses on Holden’s mindset and how active he is in it. I also like that he isn't a sudden, miraculous action man. I like that he's caught between wanting to tell everyone that they're being herded into radioactive slaughterhouses, but also the awareness that if it turns into a brawl then it's going to get very ugly very fast.

So, the casino levels are on the verge of breaking out into a riot. A bunch of people (hundreds?) are refusing to go to the shelters and things are getting dangerous. One of the not-cops kills a child and all hell breaks loose. Child-murder is too much for Holden, too, who draws his gun and charges the not-cop. Holden fires wildly, hitting everything but the thug, then the thug. Unfortunately, Holden has good aim - he hits center of mass, where the cop has heavy-duty armor.

Holden is about to get shot in the face when Miller shoots the not-cop in the neck. Hundreds of 'mafia goons' brawl with thousands of civilians. Holden wants to save the dead child but Miller points out he’s dead. It’s a cliche moment, but the thing about cliches is that they’re cliches for a reason - and audiences tend to think they’re neat.

On the way to the docks, however, there’s a problem. Thirty-four armed and armored thugs. Above them, is a sign that says "you're always a winner on Eros" which is a nice moment of dark humor.

Miller outlines the tactical situation.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Twenty-Nine posted:

"Kidding aside, how do we get past that?" Holden said.

"Thirty men with machine guns and a clear line of sight. No cover to speak of for the last twenty meters or so," Miller said. "We don't get past that."
The other thing that leapt out to me about this chapter is that it’s surprisingly short, coming in at about 1700 words (I think I’ve checked before that the average LW chapter is closer to 3000 words.) So, it’s much leaner than other chapters, and generally lacks the usual ‘Coreyian’ exposition blocks. Interesting, that. It doesn’t feel like it at all suffered for being short, for example.

TV Adaptation

As before.

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




Incidentally 1,500 words is the shortest you generally want a chapter in a tradpub novel, and 3,000 words is about the longest. It's not a hard rule but it's one a lot of structural editors swear by since that's the length that generally feels right to most readers which in turn increases engagement and makes the whole thing easier to parse. Sometimes you can see the seams where an editor had to grab a crowbar and stretch or crunch something to fit, but in the Expanse's case it feels to me like both authors are pretty good at writing to form. I've heard LW described as "The most TV-ready scifi novel ever written," and I'd agree- it's not a negative thing by any means, but the first four books I've read all show a lot more polish and greater business awareness than you expect from a lot of new fiction authors.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Thirty - Miller

We're back to Miller.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

They sat on the floor with their backs to a bank of pachinko machines no one was playing, watching the ebb and flow of the violence around them like it was a soccer game. Miller's hat was perched on his bent knee. He felt the vibration against his back when one of the displays cycled through its dupe-call. The lights glittered and glowed. Holden, beside him, was breathing hard, like he'd run a race. Out beyond them, like something from Hieronymous Bosch, the casino levels of Eros prepared for death.
I like the opening paragraph. I feel like it really captures that 'eye of the storm' feel. I don't know enough about the works of Bosch (I'm more familiar with Aken) beyond some visual familiarity, so, the reference works well enough for me. Any people following along who know their art history?

Meanwhile, the riot has burnt out. The thugs have control again. A lawyer shouts how he has everything on video, that people will pay - he gets shot in the knee. Miller, meanwhile, is breaking down.

He sees himself as having two minds: Cop Miller and Sad Miller. Cop Miller is the guy who connects the dots, solves the mysteries. There's an interesting note of similarity between Cop Miller and Holden.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

It was the shortsighted, idiotic part of him that couldn't conceive of his own personal extinction, and it thought surely, surely there was going to be an after.
Meanwhile, Sad Miller is... well, sad Miller. Sad but also, in a way, at peace. Everything is falling apart, and he's realized...

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

He'd started - only started - to realize that he'd actually fallen in love with the object of his search after he knew for certain that he'd lost her.
Well. Miller's Julie obsession/love thing comes up a lot in this chapter.

Omi: "I hate Miller’s Julie Mao obsession so much."

The Coreys make a reference to Miller having read a poem called 'The Death-Self.' For those who weren't aware - I wasn't until writing this - but it's a poem. Or many poems. I've grabbed one of them that the Coreys have confirmed as being applicable to Miller, but here's the pdf if others are curious. It's from the poet's website.

Death Self by V. B. Price posted:

He could not tell
how his life should be.
He just knew it was wrong.

But what did it matter
when all around him
people, like forests,
were going up in smoke?

There was a freedom
in calamity
he had just begun to savor.

He was like that now:
a confection
turned into somebody’s
longing for more.
A small aspect of this is that the chapter talks a lot about Miller's 'death-self' and I kind of wish it was brought up before this point, which might make his efforts to ignore it and live a little bit more impactful. Or maybe it's just a personal thing - I don't like it when stories bring up something new and try to imply it was always a part of someone's mental process or history.

Holden and Miller have a nice moment where Holden tries to bond with him over Misko and Marisko, a kids show with five dinosaurs and the antagonist wears a big pink hat. Then, Holden starts wondering about the situation - why would anyone do this?

Miller thinks about it. Destroying Eros would be pretty easy - just sling a rock with enough speed. With the effort Protogen was going to, they could've done basically anything else. And it's complicated by all the sensors and cameras. Miller wonders if Protogen's people get off on watching people die.

Miller says:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

"They don't know what it's about, or... you know, at least they don't know what's going to happen. This isn't even built like a torture chamber. It's all being watched, right? Water and air sensors. It's a petri dish. They don't know what that poo poo that killed Julie does, and this is how they're finding out."

Still, Miller's not sure. Why Eros? Do they need a huge sample size? Or maybe it's something to do with the station?

A group of people charge the rioters guarding the docks. They all get gunned down.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

"If we had enough people," Holden said after the sound of machine guns fell away, "we could make it. They couldn't kill all of us."
It's a fair point, but also remarkably dark. I like how it links back to that thought of Holden's last chapter. Hey, he won't be the one to get shot.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

"She's amazing. She'd never put Amos and Alex in danger if she could help it. I mean, she's serious. Professional. Strong, you know? I mean, she's really, really... "
"Pretty, too," Miller said. "Great hair. Love the eyes."

"No, that wasn't what I meant," Holden said.

"You don't think she's a good-looking woman?"

"She's my XO," Holden said. "She's... you know... "

"Off-limits."
Holden suddenly protesting this is a little strange to me. Like, the very last chapter he was basically willing to sit down and die because she had left him behind. I'm also not sure Holden's 'off-limits' thought has been built up much before this. He's been staring at her and thinking she's hot and fantasizing about her and thinking he'd take advantage of her and regret it (ick) but he's never once thought about this. I think it would've made the will they/won't they thing a bit more interesting.

And then the lockdown on the tube station goes off, and...

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

The doors opened, and the first zombies appeared.
Yep.

Here come one of the more contentious parts of the novels, even when I read Leviathan Wakes for the first time (which was virtually immediately after reading Abaddon's Gate) - the "vomit zombies."

They're one of the more intriguing artifacts of the Expanse novels, because they date them so heavily to that period where zombies were a huge fad. Like, you had zombie Star Wars EU novels. But I think even when LW came out, zombies were starting to be seen as a bit tired.

Because of this, I don't think it's any surprise that they got completely excised from the TV adaptation.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

"Hey," Miller said, his hand on Holden's shoulder. "Hey, it's happening."
An older man in a pair of emergency services scrubs approached the shambling newcomers. His hands were out before him, as if he could corral them by simple force of will. The first zombie in the pack turned empty eyes toward him and vomited up a spray of very familiar brown goo.

So, the protomolecule turns people into weird shambling zombies that exist to spread the protomolecule by vomiting it up on people who aren't already infected. I think it's somewhat interesting, given how it plays into what General Battuta mentioned about how it repurposes human biomass, and what we know of the protomolecule at this point (spreads through touch) but, I mean...

It's zombies. I'm not sure anyone read these novels and thought the vomit zombies - boy, you better get used to that term - were particularly great.

So, the casino level is getting flooded by zombies. Miller is the one who coins the term 'vomit zombies.' They are explicitly termed as dead men and women, too.

Omi: "I have trouble picturing Miller using the phrase “vomit zombies,” even if it’s accurate."

Then, one of the not-cops opens fire.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

"They didn't know," Miller said. "The bully boys in riot gear? They aren't gonna get pulled out. Meat for the machine, just like the rest of us."
A little part of me has to go 'ugh' at this line of Miller's. Remember, the not-cops are members of CPM Security. Carne Por la Machina. Meat for the machine. It's one of those RPG things, I think.

However, some of the mercenaries knew this was coming. They go to withdraw. Miller and Holden force themselves up. Miller's plan is to follow the mercenaries but at such a range that they don't feel compelled to shoot them which is, well, a plan.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty posted:

What are we looking for? his death-self asked again, its voice more insistent. An answer? Justice? Another chance for the universe to kick us in the balls? What is through that archway that there isn't a faster, cleaner, less painful version of in the barrel of our gun?
Like I said earlier, I kind of like this stuff - but it doesn't mean much because, like, we've never seen Miller display much suicidal ideation. Miller then wonders he might start hallucinating (in the same little bit where he does hallucinate Julie waving him on) or 'become suicidal.'

He then doesn't tell Holden.

The mercenaries fall back, Holden and Miller follow. Behind them, the vomit zombies vomit on the not-zombies.

And that's just kind of how it ends. Holden and Miller sit around while Miller thinks about how he's a gently caress up. Then, zombies!

TV Adaptation

Here's a teaser: there're no zombies.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 10:13 on Apr 16, 2020

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Omi no Kami posted:

the first four books I've read all show a lot more polish and greater business awareness than you expect from a lot of new fiction authors.

Daniel Abraham already had a published four book series under his belt when he wrote the Expanse books and Franck, while not a published author, was GRRM's personal assistant while the GoT HBO series was being developed. I'm not really that surprised that it came out all but Netflix-ready.

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




Khizan posted:

Daniel Abraham already had a published four book series under his belt when he wrote the Expanse books and Franck, while not a published author, was GRRM's personal assistant while the GoT HBO series was being developed. I'm not really that surprised that it came out all but Netflix-ready.

Yeah, I know GRRM and his publishing buddies gave them an absolute crapton of C&C and advice when they were getting the first two books ready for publication and I was always curious if this was their first idea for the collaboration or if they chewed through a few before settling on something. Because yeah, holy crap- I've really enjoyed the ones I've read, but everything absolutely screams Made For TV: the Novel. (Also props on them for threading the needle between good sellout and bad sellout, because holy cripes there's a lot of generic fantasy/scifi that dies on the vine.)

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


My very first thought when finishing Abaddon's Gate was that someone should make a TV series out of these books. Then, when I finished Caliban's War, I had the thought that Shoreh Aghdashloo had to play Avasarala. Two for two, I guess.

Chapter Thirty-One - Holden

Holden and Miller are following the retreating mercenaries, Miller leading. When the mercs move, the heroes move. When others get too close to the mercenaries, they get gunned down. But the others Holden points out are "vomiting brown goo" and he calls them "people" but then also "vomit zombies."

Holden and Miller wonder where vomit zombies come from. Miller figures that they're 'the first batch' which they made to get enough goo to infect all the people in the shelters with. A part of me wonders just how long Protogen had been planning this and just where were they storing the zombies before this. Miller is moving like a machine and Holden basically has to get dragged along by him. It's a little weird because the last Miller chapter had a heap of little beats that were like, basically, Miller is dying, he can feel his body breaking down, he's in pain.

Then, in this chapter, Holden's just boggled by Miller's sudden energy.

The mercenaries start arguing. Miller thinks there's a division between the mercenaries. Miller shrugs, and...

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-One posted:

Miller shrugged with his hand again.

I feel like this is the first time that (well, second, the first is earlier in the chapter) where we're informed that Miller shrugs with his hands. Which is the Belter fashion. Because of the space suits they wore.

I mean, it makes sense. Miller is a Belter. It also makes sense that attention hasn't been drawn to it before now - I mean, how often do you think about how you shrug when you do so? But I feel like this is something the novel should've drawn attention to, maybe via Havelock. Especially given the points people have made about Miller being a 'City Belter.' Which I think is a fair claim, because I think the TV series makes it way more apparent.

But given that the story basically stopped to tell us about the Belter Shrug in Naomi's very first appearance, I can see why they didn't want to reiterate it in the first Miller chapter. But maybe they should've? I don't think it really does anything for the story either way, but it really sticks out to me that I think this is the first time we find out that's how Miller shrugs.

Something else that weirds me out about this chapter is what happens next.

Basically, a vomit zombie shows up. Miller raises his hand and tells him that it's dangerous to be wandering about. Then, Miller realizes that he's a vomit zombie and goes to shoot him. Holden grabs his arm and yanks it back down.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-One posted:

"He's innocent in this," Holden said, the sight of the injured and infected man making his eyes burn. "He's innocent."
But the previous chapter explicitly called them "zombies" and "dead men."

I think I get what the chapters were going for. The things that came out of the tube cars were way more obviously dead, whereas this guy is more recently infected with the protomolecule, but I'm not sure it really works. Part of this is that despite calling them "dead men," Miller equates them to hemorrhagic fever (ebola) victims. Similarly, Holden preventing Miller from shooting the zombie - nascent or otherwise - feels fake and artificial.

Like, is Holden just opposed to killing people in general? Not really. Does he think there might be a cure for this bizarre radiation-consuming bioweapon? Well, it never crosses his mind in this chapter. So, what we're seeing is Holden coming face to face with someone who might be about to turn into a vomit zombie - or already be one - and he tells Miller he can't shoot him because...?

It feels like we've had two tropes in two chapters. One, the typical idea that there are zombies in this story that are corpses so it's okay to kill them without guilt and then, two, the scene where an overly idealistic/naive person argues that you can't kill them. And it's not helped by how Holden refers to them as 'people' and as 'zombies.' I feel like Holden should've been more set on them all being people, which would better illustrate his tension with Miller after Miller's whole chapter of 'they're zombies.' Has Miller gone off the deep end, as Holden was worried about, or is Holden being an idiot?

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-One posted:

"Trust me," Miller said. "Dying is the best thing that could happen to that guy today. You're not doing him any favors."

"You don't get to decide that," Holden replied, his tone edging into real anger.

Miller started to reply, but Holden held up one hand and cut him off.

"You want on the Roci? I'm the boss, then. No questions, no bullshit."
I feel bits like this really demonstrate the 'experience gap' between Franck and Abraham. Like... real anger as opposed to, what, fake anger? Insincere anger?

They go back to following the mercs. We get a nice bit of Holden daydreaming about his childhood. I like that it's one paragraph and I like that it leads to Holden slamming into Miller's back because Miller stopped moving and Holden was thinking about an old Halloween costume.

Miller has stopped because the mercenaries they're following have abruptly split into two factions and they're arguing. Also, their numbers have increased and there's about a hundred of them. The group seems to be split between Protogen goons and the hired thugs.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-One posted:

"Want to guess what the argument is about?" Miller asked.

"Hey, can we have a ride too?" Holden said mockingly with a Ceres accent. "Uh, no, we need you guys to stay here and, uh, keep an eye on things, which we promise will be totally safe and absolutely not involve you turning into vomit zombies."
I bet that came right out of the RPG. It doesn't feel at all at home in the same chapter where Holden was just tearing strips off his clothing to jam up his nose to stop radiation-induced bleeding. I didn't mention that, but Holden has stuffed cloth up his nose. Does a Ceres accent sound like you have cloth stuffed up your nose? I don't think we're ever told what a Ceres accent is.

The mercenaries open fire at each other from point-blank range. Holden estimates "twenty or more" die from the gunfire, but then the survivors fall back in opposite directions. The survivors are still shooting at each other. Miller and Holden have to cross it to get to the Roci.

Four goons in police armor show up. Miller and Holden shoot them and change into their gear. The pair of them manage to make it almost across the warzone before Holden gets shot, a bullet ripping through his thigh, and then Miller gets shot - in the arm, breaking it.

They manage to get into the lift, heading for the Roci's berth, and then Miller passes out.

The doors open.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-One posted:

Amos stood in the airlock on the other side, an assault rifle in each hand and two belts of magazines for the rifles slung on his shoulders. He looked Holden up and down once, then glanced over to Miller and back again.

"Jesus, Captain, you look like poo poo."
I feel like this was a weird opportunity to embrace Holden's increasingly addled, dying mental state and have him not recognize Amos in the first paragraph (giving us a bit of a description and tension/suspense) and then having "'Jesus, Captain,' Amos said. 'You look like poo poo.'"

A final note. Something that's been sticking in the back of my mind. Despite the whole thing with Holden spamming his face across the Solar system and the mole on Tycho who leaked stuff to people on Eros and the attempted assassination... did no one in Protogen's goons or CPM recognize Holden at any time during this whole sequence?

TV Adaptation

You know the plan.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 11:30 on Apr 17, 2020

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




Milky gets serious points for his excellent writeup of 31, because I think the sum total of the notes I contributed were "Gunshoots in a space station, meh." That's the weird thing with these books- their action scenes are really, really serviceable, and if any point in LW deserved an awesome extended action scene it's the Eros dustup, but I always struggle to stay engaged.

Shoreh Aghdashloo is an absolute treat. I'm fairly sure I started watching season 1 at the same time I was reading Caliban's War, and enjoyed Avasarala about a million times more after I started picturing book her with Aghdashloo's delivery and mannerisms.

Now that we're talking belter shrugs though, Havelock might've actually worked great as an exposition pet early on- have Holden pay attention to who gesticulated a lot with their hands in chapter one, then in two Miller can shrug, and Havelock can go "Why do all the belters do the hand thing? I'll bet you don't have two and a half paragraphs of interesting exposition about belter culture prepared for just this occasion." (Spoiler: Miller always has exposition prepared.)

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Omi no Kami posted:

Milky gets serious points for his excellent writeup of 31, because I think the sum total of the notes I contributed were "Gunshoots in a space station, meh." That's the weird thing with these books- their action scenes are really, really serviceable, and if any point in LW deserved an awesome extended action scene it's the Eros dustup, but I always struggle to stay engaged.

Shoreh Aghdashloo is an absolute treat. I'm fairly sure I started watching season 1 at the same time I was reading Caliban's War, and enjoyed Avasarala about a million times more after I started picturing book her with Aghdashloo's delivery and mannerisms.

Now that we're talking belter shrugs though, Havelock might've actually worked great as an exposition pet early on- have Holden pay attention to who gesticulated a lot with their hands in chapter one, then in two Miller can shrug, and Havelock can go "Why do all the belters do the hand thing? I'll bet you don't have two and a half paragraphs of interesting exposition about belter culture prepared for just this occasion." (Spoiler: Miller always has exposition prepared.)

I think the action scenes in Leviathan Wakes suffer from feeling like they're there because they were there in the PbP game. I know there's no way of proving this without the actual posts, but the action just kind of happens and then it just kind of develops and then it just kind of ends. Only really in the hotel shootout did it feel like the characters were participating. Take this chapter for example, where Holden and Miller follow the thugs until the bad guys just start arguing and erupt into a one-hundred person firefight at point-blank range, whereupon four more thugs show up and they shoot them and take their gear and then walk through the firefight without too much danger. In general, I think the action scenes improve as the books go on, if only because they feel more like beats in a story as opposed to plot encounters. I'll need to dig up a post from the Bonfires thread that went into more detail about why some of the Eros action feels so rough.

You could also probably combine the core bits of Chapters 29, 30 and 31 into one chapter, I think, and have it feel more organic, intense and exciting.

But otherwise, the action is okay. There's never any moments that're like, hey, bodies or guns or grenades don't work like that or move like that. But there are some books where the action sequences grab me every time I read them, and LW's are not those.

FPyat
Jan 17, 2020


Milkfred E. Moore posted:

But there are some books where the action sequences grab me every time I read them, and LW's are not those.

Examples are definitely desirable here.

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.

Matt Stover's action always gets me.

e: CJ Cherryh too

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


FPyat posted:

Examples are definitely desirable here.

I'll second Battuta's mention of Stover. Off the top of my head, I'd tag two bits in The Traitor Baru Cormorant - the duel between Tain Hu and Cattlson and the battle of Sieroch. But even in this series of Expanse novels and related works, I think I could point to action bits done better by the very same authors. Off the top of my head, the brawl between Amos and Bobbie in Persepolis Rising, the climactic fight in The Churn between Amos and 'Amos', when Clarissa Mao goes after Naomi in Abaddon's Gate, and the fight between Amos and the shipboard gang in Nemesis Games, and when Amos gets shot in Cibola Burn. I don't particularly like Lee Child's writing in general, but I find his action scenes way more interesting to read than what we've had so far in Leviathan Wakes. The problem I have with Wakes' action is that it's like I'm reading a transcript of someone detailing a fight as opposed to the account of someone who is actually experiencing it.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Interlude - Eros TV Adaptation

So, Eros. All in all, it's pretty similar but also rearranges the order of a lot of events.

After leaving the Blue Falcon hotel behind, the Roci crew (and Miller) duck into a service duct. The conversation they then have is not really like anything in the novel, although it follows the general idea of 'Miller and Holden try to work together, don't trust each other.'

Expanse 109, Critical Mass posted:

[The crew clusters in some kind of maintenance duct. Amos stands by the door, being a lookout. Naomi stands between him and Miller, who is brooding on a crate. Holden stands by him. Alex stands past Holden.]

Holden: Okay, I'd say we're all in a bit of trouble here, so why don't we just figure out-

Miller: What were you doing following Julie?

Holden: We didn't know who we were looking for-

Miller: Who were those thugs back at the hotel?

Holden: We don't know.

Miller: Any goddamn thing you do know?

Naomi: All that stuff on her, we saw it before on the Anubis.

Miller: The Anubis.

[Miller grabs Holden, shoving him against the wall.]

Miller: What happened to her?! What happened to her?!

Holden: Settle down!

Naomi: Back off! Back off!

Alex: Hey, easy there!

Naomi: Amos, for god's sake, do something!

Amos: What we should be doing is leaving. The cops are gonna be all over us. We need to get back to the Roci and off this rock now.

Alex: He's right.

Naomi: We shouldn't separate.

[Amos leaves]

Alex: I'm going to prep the ship for dust-off. You guys meet us there.

[Alex leaves, Miller releases Holden]

Holden: We both followed Julie here. We both have part of the story. I want the truth as bad as you do.
After calming down, Holden and Miller fill each other in on their half of the story. By this point, the crew has already visited the Anubis and had their first taste of protomolecule weirdness. It's a nice little segue from that to them asking Miller why Julie was on the ship. Miller's line about how Julie was an Earther who died for the Belt - or maybe it's Thomas Jane's delivery - does a lot more to endear me to Miller's feelings for Julie, which are almost a form of hero worship, than the book ever really does.

It's then when the nuke goes off. From elsewhere, Alex calls up Holden. A ship blew up in the docks and now all the remaining craft are in lockdown. While that's going on, Miller is watching the 'cops.' By the way the cops are acting and moving, Miller figures out that the whole thing is planned - the CPM guys are basically operating in two groups with organized routines. Miller says they knew it would happen. There's a nice 'dumb Holden' moment where he wonders, like, how could they know a ship would blow up in the docks? Oh, wait, they did it themselves.

Here is when we get an interesting divergence. As already mentioned, in TV!Ceres, Miller finds a recording from a man named Dresden. He'll show up in the novels, but not for a little bit. In the series, we see Dresden on Eros immediately after Holden and co. leave the Blue Falcon. Dresden extracts fluids from Julie's corpse, which he says can be readied for some injections.

Anyway, the divergence - Miller spots Dresden, recognizing him from the recording. Miller goes off after him and Holden goes to follow, but Naomi stops him. "It's not your fault," she tells Holden. "None of it is." Holden says he's making it his problem and then, when Naomi says they need to stick together, Holden gives her a fairly curt "If I'm not back in three hours, leave."

Miller chases down Dresden, and he's pissed. There're two Protogen goons with him, and Holden notes that they're the guys who took out the Donnager. Miller doesn't care much about them, though, and goes to shoot Dresden. Holden grabs him and they scuffle, arguing that he needs Miller alive. Dresden escapes and the pair come to blows.

Two CPM goons come by the break up the fight. Miller shoots one of them and takes the other hostage. While this has been going on, we've seen CPM thugs inject Eros citizens with injections they claim are mandatory iodine supplements to assist with radiation from the explosion.

This is where we get our TV version of the encounter with Mikey Ko (Chapter 28). It's pretty much what we got in the book but with much more pistol whipping - Ko tells them that CPM hired all the Ceres thugs to come to Eros, to install sensors and such, etc. But he also provides the name of 'the scientist' - Dresden. Holden wants to know why all the people are being herded into shelters. "That's what they asked me to do today!" Ko insists.

Holden thinks they should break everyone out of the shelters. Miller isn't so sure. "You said you were a cop," Holden says. "Are you a cop like him?" Ko says that if they try that, with Ko or without, the others will gun them down. So, Miller shoots him in the gut and they use Ko as their wounded disguise, basically.

Meanwhile, Alex, Amos and Naomi are trying to get to the docks via maintenance tunnels. As Naomi goes to call Holden, the comms go down. They see some CPM thugs brutalize some civilians and Sematimba's attempt to pull rank, which fails. One of the thugs blasts a civilian and a gunfight breaks out, with Sematimba and Amos winning.

Holden and Miller get to one of the shelters and get the guards to go on a wild goose chase for the guy who shot Ko. They open the shelter and find men, women and children collapsed on the floor, packed in by sardines. The radiation beams go on and blast everyone, including the two of them, with hard radiation. "We're dead," Holden tells Miller.

The Roci group team up with Semi. While he says he can get them a place to ride the whole thing out, Naomi is adamant that they're leaving. But how? The docks are locked down. Naomi thinks they can use the 'mech shafts.' Even if Semi thinks they're all closed down, Naomi knows they're still used by the OPA as smuggling routes. This is a nice little nod to her history from the later books, and the wedge that Mars tried to drive between the Roci crew and her during the interrogation on the Donnager. Alex and Amos both have a bit of a 'huh' moment.

Holden and Miller have this cool bit where they raid a clinic for painkillers and drugs and talk a bit about what they saw in the shelter. Miller says they can maybe get anti-rad drugs on the Roci, but Holden is all 'I told them to leave.' "You told them to leave without you?" Miller asks. "Dick."

Miller and Holden reach the casino level, ironically maybe a few minutes after Naomi and co. were there. Miller is coughing up a ton of blood. They hide in a gaming place while a bunch of CPM goons roll past. Miller quietly hopes they won't stop outside, but they do, and he starts coughing up blood again.

This is where we get what I suppose is the TV equivalent to Miller's whole death drive bit.

Expanse 109 Critical Mass posted:

Miller: How long until your girlfriend takes off?

Holden: She's not my girlfriend.

Miller: She ain't gonna leave you here, is she?

Holden: You don't know Naomi Nagata. What the hell are they building out there?

Miller: Let's go ask 'em.

Holden: Wait! There's six guys! Heavily armed!

Miller: All right, the math sucks. Got a ship to catch, right?

Holden: Hey. Why is everything so half-cocked with you?

Miller: You want to stay here, huh? Rot in the corner and whimper? Go ahead.

Holden: Maybe there's another way out of here! A conduit, something behind the walls. Look around!

Miller: I grew up in a goddamn pachinko parlor, okay? And I sure as poo poo don't want to die in one.

Holden: Your optimism is inspiring.

Miller: Optimism is for assholes and Earthers.

We also get a bit of Miller's backstory - in the TV series, he was a Ceres street rat. A goon comes in to play some of the games, but when he bends down to collect his winnings, Holden and Miller have to kill him. But they jack his hand terminal and use it to avoid the patrols. But they also find out that the CPM goons are setting up more and more cameras, and they're facing the transport pods.

Which are online, and docking.

And here we get what are, I suppose, the equivalent of the novel's 'vomit zombies.' The transport tubes are packed with all the people from the shelters, who come staggering out of the tubes. Miller and Holden realize it's an experiment and they need to tell everyone. The first two goons they wander into, they shoot and jack for their gear.

Then, they run into Kenzo. Kenzo offers to use his hacking skills to get the Roci unlocked, and begs for Holden to take him with him. Holden shoots at him and tells him to get hosed, basically. Kenzo flees into the tunnels.

After that, they reach the docks - where hardcore Protogen mercs are having a disagreement with CPM goons. The CPM goons claim it's their evac point, Protogen goons tell them it's on the other side of the docks. And Holden and Miller's way out is through their argument.

Naomi and the rest of the crew (plus some civilians) wander through the tunnels. Alex does this whole 'daggy dad' thing with the kid they're bringing with them. But they run into a problem when Naomi's knowledge leads them to a dead end. A infected person spits up brown goo on one of the civilians they're with who, like in a zombie film, insists he's okay. Eventually, the child is taken by a bunch of Belters who want to remain on Eros, despite Naomi's insistence that they'll all die.

By the time they reach the docks, Semi has had the guy who got spat on killed. But he gets them on the ship. Then, he demands they leave, but Naomi is going to wait for Holden. Semi draws a gun on Naomi and tells her to unlock the ship. He commands Amos to get it done, only for Amos to take a few steps away... and calmly shoot Semi in the head.

Things grow more tense at the docks, and we get one of the best moments in the series where Miller plays the part of a Belter revolutionary, heavy accent and all, and fires up the Belter crowd. It breaks out into a gunfight, Miller and Holden trying to make their way through it to the docks. During the shootout, Miller spots Kothari - the guy who impaled Havelock to the wall back on Ceres - and puts a bullet in him.

They collapse in the elevator.

Expanse 109 Critical Mass posted:

Miller: What does rain taste like?

Holden: I never thought about it.

Miller: How could you ever leave a place like Earth?

Holden: Everything I loved was dying.
But when they bang on the airlock, no one answers. Miller hallucinates Julie and says she looks beautiful. Holden, confused, leans over to see what Miller's talking about - and there's Amos.

"You guys look like poo poo."

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


As we go through Leviathan Wakes now, I think it's interesting to keep in mind that the authors have said that Eros is about where the PBP campaign outline ended. The person who played Noami provided that it was about 66% of Leviathan Wakes that was built on the outline. As it it, we'r past Eros and at about that 66% point. So, from here, we are - in a sense - operating in uncharted territory.

Chapter Thirty Two - Miller

Miller wakes up.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Two posted:

He couldn’t move his head. Something was in his neck: a thick bundle of black tubes reaching out of him and up past the limits of his vision. He tried to lift his arms, to push the invading, vampiric thing away, but he couldn’t.

It got me, he thought with a thrill of fear. I’m infected.
But it's not the protomolecule. Miller is on the Rocinante, undergoing some intense medical care.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Two posted:

The woman appeared from his left. He was surprised she wasn’t Julie. Deep brown skin, dark eyes with just a hint of an epicanthic fold. She smiled at him. Black hair draped down the side of her face.

Down. There was a down. There was gravity. They were under thrust. That seemed very important, but he didn’t know why.

“Hey, Detective,” Naomi said. “Welcome back.”
Pretty sure that's our first description of Naomi, and I'm pretty sure that's virtually the same one we'll get for her in every following book. 'Hint of an epicanthic fold' may be another phrase the Corey guys love to use. We'll see!

Miller's been out for about thirty-six hours and the crew of the Roci have burned a lot of their medical supplies on him and Holden. Basically, they're doing a lot of intense medical stuff to keep the two of them alive. There's a mention of Miller's penis, and it strikes me as a little odd - we get a lot of mentions of prostates and dicks and such, don't we?

Miller passes in and out of consciousness. He awakens to Holden and Naomi talking, and I think it might be one of the best bits in the novel.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Two posted:

“Maybe you shouldn’t, then.”

It was the woman. Naomi. Part of Miller cursed her for disturbing him, but there was a buzz in her voice—not fear or anger, but close enough to be interesting. He didn’t move, didn’t even swim all the way back to awareness. But he listened.

“I need to,” Holden said. He sounded phlegmy, like someone who needed to cough. “What happened on Eros… it’s put a lot of things in perspective. I’ve been a holding something back.”

“Captain—”

“No, hear me out. When I was in there thinking that all I was going to have left was half an hour of rigged pachinko games and then death… when that happened, I knew what my regrets were. You know? I felt all the things that I wished I’d done and never had the courage for. Now that I know, I can’t just ignore it. I can’t pretend it isn’t there.”

“Captain,” Naomi said again, and the buzz in her voice was stronger.

Don’t say it, you poor bastard, Miller thought.

“I’m in love with you, Naomi,” Holden said.
Omi agrees: "Holden’s awkward and terrible attempt to romance Naomi while Miller lays there listening and mentally groaning “Oh god kid, not right now, you’re blowing it” is great."

Holden and Naomi talk. Holden insists it's legitimate and not just a near-death adrenaline thing, but Naomi brings up their history. They've known each other for five years and, in that time, Naomi points out that Holden has shared bunks with enough ladies that Holden isn't actually sure of the number - they settle on ten. And Naomi, with sorrow in her voice, says she fell for Holden seven weeks into their first run. He'd come onto the Cant, happened to steal her XO job, and he was pretty and charming and good at his job. He, Naomi, and two others would play poker with another woman named Kamala Trask who was, basically, not very pretty. But had a major, major crush on Jim Holden.

But Holden was still really nice to her and respectful and he never led her on. And that was when Naomi wished she and Holden could go to bed together.

The problem was, Holden had never shown any interest in Belter women, and he never once showed any interest in Naomi. Now, given that she's the only woman on the crew, she finds it a bit suspicious and sad that Holden's suddenly claiming to adore her.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Two posted:

“I don’t know—”

“No, sir, you don’t. That’s my point. I’ve watched you seduce a lot of women, and I know how you do it. You get fixed on her, you get excited by her. Then you convince yourself that the two of you have some kind of special connection, and by the time you believe it, she usually thinks it’s true too. And then you sleep together for a while, and the connection gets a little faded. One or the other of you says something like professional or appropriate boundaries or starts worrying what the crew will think, and the whole thing slides away. Afterwards they still like you. All of them. You do it all so well they don’t even feel like they get to hate you for it.”

“That’s not true.”

“It is. And until you figure out that you don’t have to love everyone you bed down with, I’m never going to know whether you love me or just want to bed down. And I won’t sleep with you until you know which it is. The smart money isn’t on love.”
Wow, that's a pretty damning indictment of Holden's, as Omi put it, 'manwhore' approach. Holden fixates on one woman, thinks they're special, convinces the woman that it's the case, and then - once the novelty has worn off - he wanders away under the veneer of professionalism. I feel like the relationship Holden has with Nygaard in the TV series is a much more palatable version of this - Holden is an overly sentimental dork who thinks he has a special connection when he doesn't. There's not that edge of Holden doing it to manipulate, knowingly or otherwise.

Before Miller coughs and breaks up the little touching moment, I'm going to ramble on as to why I like this scene. It's not written particularly better than anything else in Leviathan Wakes, and it's a little bit annoying at how some of this feels like it's been hastily written in now instead of being shown to us from the start - it feels like almost like an informed characteristic. However, I'll admit that it ties into Holden's fantasizing about Naomi and also the really strange bit where he thinks about taking advantage of her because she's drunk and he isn't. So, in that sense, it does line up... but I'm not sure that makes me like Holden.

The reason I like this bit is that it's our first bit of character conflict between the Rocinante crew. Holden likes Naomi, that much is obvious, but we've seen enough that you either feel for Naomi (because we've seen in Holden's mind and it's a bit... shaky) or we feel for Holden because maybe we're a sappy romantic. Either way, it feels like the story really could go either way. Maybe they'll get together, maybe Naomi will tell Holden to take a hike. Either way, it's the fact that these characters are actually interacting as opposed to just meandering over to the next Plot Dispensary which makes it so appealing. It's really unfortunate that the setup of the novel, presumably based on the PbP game, eschews any hope of character conflict like this.

For example, if Naomi is right, and Holden never showed any interest in her whatsoever before this point, it might've been fun to see Holden go from seeing Naomi as 'just one of the guys' to someone who he's now attracted to because of her strength or resilience or whatever else came out during the many crisis situations they've found themselves in. But because the crew has, let's be honest, a pretty easy run from plot point to plot point, it doesn't feel like their relationship has changed at all. It feels like Holden just one day went, wow, Naomi's kinda hot. Maybe that's the intention, but...

I don't think it's a surprise that the TV series extended things out and made Eros the big climax of the first season, instead of the halfway point it is in the novel. I think that's just a consequence of giving the characters more room to be, well, characters.

Anyway, another reason I like it is that it's also just a wonderful concept. Miller is lying there on a hospital bed, being forced to listen to Holden's awkward confession to a woman who (kindly) shoots him down. I think just about every reader can put themselves in the shoes of either Miller, Holden, or Naomi in this chapter.

If I have a bugbear with it, it's that we were in a Miller chapter when Holden was having those supposed thoughts about Naomi in the pachinko parlor. It bugs me because I'd like to know whether Holden is being sincere or whether he isn't and Naomi has even more of a point. It's not major, but I think that's a few times now where the A-B structuring feels less than ideal.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Two posted:

Miller coughed. He hadn’t meant to, hadn’t even been aware he was going to. His belly went tight, his throat clamped down, and he coughed wet and deep. Once he started, it was hard to stop. He sat up, eyes watering from the effort. Holden was lying back on his bed. Naomi sat on the next bed over, smiling like there had been nothing to overhear. Holden’s monitors showed an elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Miller could only hope the poor bastard hadn’t gotten an erection with the catheter still in.
Seriously, I feel like I should've been counting dick references at this point, drat.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Two posted:

“Hey, Detective,” Naomi said. “How’re you feeling?”

Miller nodded.

“I’ve felt worse,” he said. Then, a moment later: “No. I haven’t. But I’m all right. How bad was it?”

“You’re both dead,” Naomi said. “Seriously, we had to override the triage filters on both of you more than once. The expert system kept clicking you over into hospice care and shooting you full of morphine.”
I like that bit.

Anyway, the bad news is that the damage was so severe that Holden and Miller will need to be on anti-cancer drugs for the rest of their lives. Naomi mentions that if they want kids, they better have sperm saved up some place. Which I guess makes Holden's earlier random aside that he had sperm frozen somewhere not entirely pointless?

More bad news is that Eros is functionally dead. No other ships made it out and no one on the station is answering hails. All the automatic systems have put it under quarantine lockdown. Miller has a moment to grapple with the fact he was seemingly okay with revenge killing. He imagines Julie sitting by his bed, like Naomi is with Holden. He wonders if he loves her or just really wants to love her.

Holden and Miller have a nice chat about killing. Holden hadn't killed anyone before - well, not directly. He's killed blips on radar screens. Miller brings up on Ceres how officers had to take time off after killing someone. He tells Holden that Naomi is worth putting some effort into.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Two posted:

When the blood pressure cuff fired off again, it was Julie holding him, pulling herself so close her lips brushed his ear. His eyes opened, his mind seeing both the imaginary girl and the monitors that she would have blocked if she’d really been there.

I love you too, she said, and I will take care of you.

He smiled at seeing the numbers change as his heart raced.
Omi: "This is the chapter where Julie levels up from a weird mumbly brain goblin to a very explicit hallucinated love interest weirdo obsession thing, and it’s awful."

TV Adaptation

A sequence like this doesn't really happen in the TV series. Holden and Miller spend some time in sickbay but there's no awkward chat. But the line about hospice care is kept in. By visiting the Anubis before Eros, the series is diverging pretty sharply. But the general thrust of things still takes place. At one point, Miller picks a fight with Amos over the death of Sematimba, which leads to Miller almost being killed by him.

A huge difference in the TV series is that the events of Caliban's War take place starting now. But we'll talk about that when we get to it.

PriorMarcus
Oct 16, 2008

ASK ME ABOUT BEING ALLERGIC TO POSITIVITY


One thing of note is that whilst events have been shuffled around the TV series actually ends season one with the escape from Eros, and it's an awful end point of the season. Just as things are starting to pick up the entire thing ends, and its left feeling like their was zero resolution to anything for viewers who don't know the books.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


PriorMarcus posted:

One thing of note is that whilst events have been shuffled around the TV series actually ends season one with the escape from Eros, and it's an awful end point of the season. Just as things are starting to pick up the entire thing ends, and its left feeling like their was zero resolution to anything for viewers who don't know the books.

That's actually a really good thing to mention, thanks! I thought I had but it slipped my mind.

Chapter Thirty-Three - Holden

As per usual, we open the chapter with some exposition as to how the Solar system is taking what happened on Eros. Basically, everyone is blaming everyone else. The Belt blames Mars, Mars blames the Belt. Notably, no one blames Earth.

Things spiral from there. Blockades get set up, a revolt happens on Ganymede, and Ceres' new government steals all Martian ships that are docked there. And then life just kind of goes on, with Eros being disregarded in favor of whatever new crisis is happening.

Meanwhile, the Rocinante is on its way to - as Holden mentally refers to it - "Julie's magical mystery asteroid." Which is... well, I'll just say 'tone.'

Holden thinks about what happened with Naomi.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

The last few times she'd come into sick bay had been awkward. She never brought the subject of his failed romantic gesture back up, but he could feel a barrier between them now that filled him with regret. And every time she left the room, Miller would look away from him and sigh, which just made it worse.
Hah, Miller.

So, Holden gets up and goes for a walk to the operations deck. It's basically an impossible odyssey - he tries to climb the ladder, fails, and barely makes it into the lift. But he gets there, only to find Amos and Naomi. Amos is sprawled across two chairs, which Omi notes as not matching his mental image of the Rocinante's stations: "I pictured every seat basically being a mini-capsule with a 6-point harness."

Amos wanders off to give Naomi and Holden a chance to talk, but Naomi just plays a message from Fred. Basically: sounds like you had a rough time out there, by the way we tried hacking into that data cube but didn't get anything useful, so, I'm passing it over to you.

Omi wonders something: "So I forget, did they ever actually tell Fred that Julie was dead? Last I heard he was still expecting them to come back with his agent, and now he’s just like 'poo poo’s hosed guys, here’s a plot hook.'"

Anyway, Holden and Naomi talk about the data. Even with the Rocinante's smart systems working on it, they're not turning anything up. Holden can't figure it out either, but Kelly and his marines died for it, so, there had to be something important on it. The pair guess it's engine-signature data.

After a bit more, they realize that engine signature data can tell Mars who killed the Donnager by showing them the drive signature. But why didn't Mars just say, hey, these ships killed us? Naomi and Holden aren't sure.

Miller shows up then, and I love his entrance.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

Holden turned to watch the detective finish the slow climb up from the sick bay deck. He looked like a plucked chicken, pink-gray skin stippled with gooseflesh. His paper gown went poorly with the hat.

"Uh, there's a lift," Holden said.

"Wish I'd known that," Miller replied, then dragged himself up onto the ops deck with a gasp. "We there yet?"
I feel like very few things go anything but poorly with his hat.

They bounce the data off Miller. I like this bit.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

"Then solve this one for us. You find out who murdered someone. You can't arrest them yourself, so you send the information to your partner. But instead of just sending the perp's name, you send your partner all the clues. Why?"

Miller coughed and scratched his chin. His eyes were fixed on something, like he was reading a screen Holden couldn't see.

"Because I don't trust myself. I want my partner to arrive at the same conclusion I did, without my biasing him. I give him the dots, see what it looks like when he connects 'em."
But then, any kind of detective work or deduction is undercut by the fact that the Rocinante spells it out for them. Omi points out that while the information is interesting, it then feels irrelevant because of how the Roci just... spells it out. Holden tells it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

"poo poo, I know why they were careful," he said after reading his screen. "The Roci thinks those were standard light-cruiser engines built by the Bush Shipyards."

Naomi is pissed. If Earth black ops ships had killed the Donnager, than it means they were behind the whole thing. Holden does what he does best, and blabs all the stuff about Earth black ops ships to the whole Solar system.
Omi: "Holden tripling (quadrupling?) down on sending a huge inflammatory data dump to the entire solar system is pretty funny."

Miller is less than happy about it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

"People need to know what's going on," Holden said.

"Yes, they do, but maybe we should actually know what the hell is going on before we tell them," Miller replied, all the weariness gone from his voice. "How gullible are you?"

"Hey," Holden said, but Miller got louder.
It's a minor thing, but this is the sort of stuff that I wish the Corey boys were more confident - or more willing - to get into. How does Holden react to being called gullible from trying to live out his idealistic dreams? Just a muted 'hey?' I feel like if we're going to switch perspectives so consistently, then part of the fun is seeing the universe differently, getting into the thoughts of the character.

Basically, that 'Hey, Holden said' sentence feels like it could be in either Holden or Miller's perspective and I feel like that's unfortunate.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

"You found a Martian battery, right? So you told everyone in the solar system about it and started the single largest war in human history. Only turns out the Martians maybe weren't the ones that left it there. Then, a bunch of mystery ships kill the Donnager, which Mars blames on the Belt, only, dammit, the Belt didn't even know it was capable of killing a Martian battle cruiser."

Holden opened his mouth, but Miller grabbed a bulb of coffee Amos had left behind on the console and threw it at his head.

"Let me finish! And now you find some data that implicates Earth. First thing you do is blab it to the universe, so that Mars and the Belt drag Earth into this thing, making the largest war of all time even bigger. Are you seeing a pattern here?"

"Yes," Naomi said.
Like, I like this whole bit. It's similar to my thoughts on the previous chapter where Naomi shoots down Holden. Finally, we're getting some conflict, even if it's just an argument. As a reader, I want Holden to be right, but I also side with Miller's frustrated pragmatism. It's what makes it interesting to read. But I also want to feel what Holden feels, so to speak. Is he angry, embarrassed?

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

"So what do you think's going to happen?" Miller said. "This is how these people work! They made the Canterbury look like Mars. It wasn't. They made the Donnager look like the Belt. It wasn't. Now it looks like the whole drat thing's Earth? Follow the pattern. It probably isn't! You never, never put that kind of accusation out there until you know the score. You look. You listen. You're quiet, fercrissakes, and when you know, then you can make your case."

The detective sat back, clearly exhausted. He was sweating. The deck was silent.
Holden defends himself.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

"I haven't accused anyone of doing anything," Holden said. "I'm not building a case. I just put the data out there. Now it's not a secret. They're doing something on Eros. They don't want it interrupted. With Mars and the Belt shooting at each other, everyone with the resources to help is busy elsewhere."

"And you just dragged Earth into it," Miller said.

"Maybe," Holden said. "But the killers did use ships that were built, at least in part, at Earth's orbital shipyards. Maybe someone will look into that. And that's the point. If everyone knows everything, nothing stays secret."

Holden then points out that a conspiracy needs secrecy to function, and by exposing them as much as they can they cut away the ability of the conspirators to work on the shadows. It's an admirable idea, really. Miller drops the subject.

One thing I'll note is that no one raises the thought that it's entirely possible that, if this was a UN black op, then Holden may've just alienated them from the only major power who didn't already have a reason to hate them. Oh well!

Later, they arrive at asteroid BA834024112. It's tiny and has nothing of value. I like the line that Julie had tethered the asteroid to wealth, not the other way round. And there's the stealth ship.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Three posted:

Up close, the ship that had killed the Scopuli and stolen its crew looked like a shark. It was long and lean and utterly black, almost impossible to see against the backdrop of space with the naked eye. Its radar-deflecting curves gave it an aerodynamic look almost always lacking in space-going vessels. It made Holden's skin crawl, but it was beautiful.
I'm surprised Holden has such a visceral reaction to it. Okay, I know that it nuked the Cant (or did it, in this continuity?) but it's still just a piece of military hardware. Skin crawling feels a tad too personal, too visceral. I could see the idealistic Holden being disgusted by it in a different way.

Holden says it's probably full of vomit zombies, Miller asks him if he wants to check it out. Holden does, and that's about it for the chapter.

TV Adaptation

As mentioned, the big difference is that this section happens before Eros. I think it makes far more sense to do it that way, and I'll outline my reasoning in the next chapter. Another difference is that Fred and his team successfully hack open the data cube -- remember, he took it from Lopez's corpse surreptitiously in this version -- and find out the drive signature information, which he broadcasts. A difference is also that, due to a political intrigue plotline that's entirely absent from the first novel, it's quickly established that the ships were built not for the UN but a private group... and every single one of those ships visited Tycho Station. Dun dun.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 09:42 on Apr 20, 2020

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Thirty-Four - Miller

So, the Rocinante is preparing to dock with the stealth ship. The Rocinanate's systems seem to kick up a fuss that there's no oxygen on the ship and that all of its airlock doors are open. With an advisory for everyone to keep an eye on their air supply, Holden leads the crew out of the airlock and onto a connective gantry.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

The connecting gantry was reinforced, ready to deflect enemy lasers or slow down slugs. Amos landed on the other ship as the hatch to the Rocinante closed behind them. Miller had a moment's vertigo, the ship before them suddenly clicking from ahead to down in his perception, as if they were falling into something.
One of the things I do like about these novels is how they deal with the effects of space travel and so on. They're always kind of there and always kind of a hazard. I'd also draw your attention to that line about the gantry. If there was a theme to some of the comments Omi and I had on this chapter, it was to do with the technology of the world of the Expanse.

Omi: "I understand the ships and bases having armor, it makes things more tactically interesting and readers instantly understand “Bullets bad, Kevlar good,” but my understanding is that conservation of weight is so incredibly critical to everything about space travel that nobody would ever in a million years armor their structures- if they thought they would come under fire regularly, it’d be orders of magnitude cheaper to armor their environmental suits. It’s not a dealbreaker here, but I find it interesting how Expanse is unusually hard sci-fi for a mass market success story, but still has occasional fits of totally fantastic futuretech."

This relates also to the mention - not highlighted - of Amos' suit radio being able to pick up him cracking his neck. Either the radio is really sensitive, or Amos' spine is really loud. Stuff like this is why I didn't ever really care about, say, the skin-tight self-sealing spacesuits the Protogen mercenaries are equipped with in the TV series.

The crew venture into the stealth ship. It's completely dead. They pass by a locker which it seems like someone had burst out of - hey there, Julie in the prologue. I like the note that Miller makes about how hard vacuum in a ship would make you feel reassured you were safe - but now it's a different story.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

"Whole place is shut down," Holden said.

"Might be backups in the engine room," Amos said.

"So the rear end end of the ship from here," Holden said.

"Pretty much."

"Let's be careful," Holden said.
I feel like the Coreys sometimes use dialogue tags a bit redundantly. I mean, it's five lines of dialogue and Holden gets tagged for every single one he has. However, what I like about this exchange is how quickly it informs the reader of basic ship design aspects while establishing where the characters are (presumably towards the front) without feeling unnatural. Well, maybe a little unnatural.

Omi agrees.

"Some of the writers I’ve read recently have been pretty lousy about simultaneously giving a ton of detail and not actually telling the reader what they need to know, so I think it’s worth pointing out that this is a really slick, minimal way to establish the scene- big ship, engine’s presumably in the stern, apparently they’re in the bow, tons of distance to cover, random encounters await!"

Naomi wants to head up to ops, Holden won't them split up, not until they know what they're dealing with. Amos leads the way, Holden following.

They pass the galley, and there was signs of a fight. Chair with a bent leg, scratches on the wall, bullet holes in the bulkhead. A stain of zombie vomit (as opposed to vomit zombie) on a table. The crew quarters are empty and without any kind of personal effects. Miller makes what, to me, sounds like a very Holden observation:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

They went through each of them, but there were no personal markings - no terminals, no pictures, no clues to the names of the men and women who had lived and breathed and presumably died on the ship.
Further on, the center of the ship is dominated by twelve torpedo tubes.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

"Torpedo tubes?" he said. "Jesus Christ, how many are they packing? A million?"

"Twelve," she said. "Just twelve."

"Capital-ship busters," Amos said. "Built to pretty much kill whatever you're aiming at with the first shot."

"Something like the Donnager?" Miller asked.

Holden looked back at him, the glow of his heads-up display lighting his features.

"Or the Canterbury," he said.
A lot of people kicked up a fuss when this sequence was moved to before Eros in the TV series. However, I think it's actually a much better change, that not only makes the story more interesting, but also makes everything just flow better. For example, this whole bit about the torpedoes. It's like... Oh, yeah, the Canterbury. That happened like thirty chapters ago, I guess. I guess it's confirmed that a ship like this killed the Canterbury. But was that ever in doubt? Does the confirmation add much, now that we've just seen absolutely insane poo poo go off in the Eros Horror Spectacular?

Moving on, the machine and fabrication ships are marked by violence. There's a lot more zombie vomit, too. Miller fits together what happened.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

"They're in engineering," Miller said.

"Who?" Holden said.

"The crew. Whoever was on the ship. All except that one," he said, gesturing at half a footprint that led toward the lift. "You see how her footprints are over the top of everything else. And there, where she stepped in that blood, it was already dry. Flaked instead of smearing."

"How you know it was a girl?" Holden asked.

"Because it was Julie," Miller said.
Amos points out that if there's crew in there, they've been sucking vacuum for a long time. They all head on. Miller tries to find an image of Julie to reassure him, but can't summon her up. It's an interesting little beat that makes me wonder what the implications are.

Before we get into Engineering stuff, I'll bring up something Omi said, which comes all the way back to some comments I made in the prologue about how it feels like the Corey boys were withholding information from the reader...

"It’s weird how Julie’s POV in the prologue felt like a shipboard accident with a pinch of weird science poo poo in the end, and Holden’s crew is seeing evidence of what is very explicitly a zombie (sigh) outbreak. It makes me wonder if Julie took a perfect path that dodged most of the weird poo poo, or if they intentionally left that stuff out so as to not tip their hand early."

For example, Julie's prologue implies that Julie basically lived through seven days of silence. Did she not hear the gunshots? Was there no panic, no alarms? We are told there are signs of a struggle, but no mention is made of the bullet holes or the zombie vomit.

Like, the prologue works. I like the prologue and I tend to hate them. But it feels like it exists in an odd place where, had it been more explicit and detailed things a bit more clearly, people would be less interested in the story that was coming. And I think that's a bit of a flaw.

Anyway, Amos points out the reactor has been shut down--intentionally. Holden wonders if he can get it back online. Amos thinks there could be a reason they turned it off. Holden goes 'good point' and Amos turns the lights on.

AND NO ONE POINTS OUT THAT TURNING THE REACTOR ON IN A SHIP THAT MAY BE CONTAMINATED BY A VIRULENT, INTRUSIVE PATHOGEN THAT FEEDS ON RADIATION MIGHT BE A BAD IDEA. JULIE WAS INFECTED. THE CREW IS MISSING. SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED HERE.

Sure, the crew is in EVA suits, but is that really a risk you'd take? Especially when, as we'll find out later, they have an alternative to (Quaid) restarting the reactor? Sure, as far as the crew is aware, it only spreads by physical contact - but are you willing to risk it? Sure, it's anaerobic, but there's no atmosphere here. For all they know, it might spread like wildfire the moment the reactor turns up.

Omi: "It’s a bit weird how they’re standing around rebooting the reactor without anybody going “Btw, is rebooting the reactor on a ship filled with alien biomatter that we know for a fact feeds on radiation a bad idea?"

The lights come on.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

The reactor stood before him, quiescent and dead. All around it, a layer of human flesh. He could pick out arms, hands with fingers splayed so wide they hurt to look at. The long snake of a spine curved, ribs fanning out like the legs of some perverse insect. He tried to make what he was seeing make sense. He'd seen men eviscerated before. He knew that the long, ropy swirl to the left of the thing were intestines. He could see where the small bowel widened to become a colon. The familiar shape of a skull looked out at him
Oh, gently caress.

The flesh is riddled with Protomolecule filaments and weirder things. Miller reckons it is "frozen" and "dead" and that it probably composes the crew of the stealth ship and the Scopuli, except Julie.

Amos continues on with thinking he can boot it up. Holden tells him he doesn't have to. Amos is like, well, if it didn't bust the reactor up, everything will be fine. Amos also says they can just patch power from the Rocinante to the stealth ship, and I feel like if I was Holden I'd be like, yeah, let's do that. Let's not boot up the reactor this thing has curled itself around.

Naomi wonders if the flesh mass is what is happening on Eros. Probably, Miller says.

The crew talks for a bit. The ship doesn't have a brig, Miller notices. Naomi wonders what the plan was with the crew of the Scopuli. Miller suggests:

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

"Ship was carrying an infectious something or other without enough containment to contain it. Taking on prisoners without a brig to hold 'em in. They were making this up as they went along."

"Or they had to hurry," Holden said. "Something happened that made them hurry. But what they did on Eros must have taken months to arrange. Maybe years. So maybe something happened at the last minute?"
The crew then head back the way they came. They leave Naomi at ops, and Holden and Miller head up to the bridge. Millers finds a helpful expository security camera feed, and gets his first footage of Julie in person. He obsesses over Julie for a bit.

Omi: "Miller’s Julie thing continues to be a thing."

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

Julie, who'd lived through being raped, maybe, or something as bad. Who'd studied jiu jitsu to feel safe afterward. Maybe they thought she was just being modest. Maybe they were afraid she was hiding a weapon under her clothes. Either way, they tried to force the point. One of the guards pushed her, and she latched on to his arm like her life depended on it. Miller winced when he saw the man's elbow bend the wrong way, but he also smiled.

That's my girl, he thought. Give 'em hell.
See?

We see Julie get shoved in the locker. Omi and I aren't sure if the novel ever specifies why they did this, beyond the implication that it came down to her beating them up. The TV series explicitly has it noted that they know she's Mao's kid and are going to take her home.

Miller skips ahead. At about one-hundred and thirty-two hours after the time Julie got thrown in the locker (so, five and a half days) the crew of the Scopuli decide to revolt. They get their rear end-kicked and get spaced. At hour one hundred and sixty, a crewman lurches out and vomits on one of the guards.

Julie, stuck in a locker through which she could hear the sound of people talking and walking and the air recyclers and drive rumble and whatever else didn't hear anything that happened during the, for lack of a better term, zombie attack.

Suddenly, Amos is shouting.

But it's okay, it's just because the reactor is missing some of its reactor shielding. After a brief back and forth, Amos goes back to working on the reactor.

Meanwhile, Holden has found a file that's two years old, although a copy was made eight months ago. The file shows a man talking. Much like the video file, it's a ton of exposition, which I'll summarize.

A man is talking. He addresses a "Mr. Dresden" and members of the board. The people responsible for this whole debacle are called Protogen. They found something on Phoebe which they call 'the protomolecule.' It's a game-changing breakthrough and could make Protogen the most powerful people in human history.

Eight years ago, Mars did a survey of Phoebe. With a ton of (honestly, interesting) analysis, the Protogen team deduced that Phoebe was actually an extra-solar weapon, designed to carry a payload to Earth about two billion years ago.

Its payload was the protomolecule. It can do all sorts of amazing things, and it's basically a construct that can adapt and guide other systems. The protomolecule is indicative of some kind of larger cosmological ecosystem. Had orbital mechanics not grabbed Phoebe, humanity would never have existed. The protomolecule would've hijacked all life on Earth.

Therefore, Protogen wants to take control of the first technology of extraterrestrial origin and use it to solidify their own power. They want a Protogen-led future, but to do that they need exclusive control... and large-scale testing.

All in all, it feels like-

Omi: "The fact that Protogen left video of what accounts to an explicit confession of all the dirt in the form of a long expository speech just laying around on their ship’s hard drive is baffling and weird. This feels like it was ripped straight from a tabletop session - 'Okay guys you found the ship, your reward is information about what the heck is going on.'"

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Four posted:

"Protogen, protomolecule," Holden said. "They had no idea what it does, but they slapped their label on it like they'd made it. They found an alien weapon, and all they could think to do was brand it."
Miller figures that they've been testing it for two years, and Eros is their test drive. The war is a distraction from their test run.

Then Naomi, down in Ops, says they've got something and the chapter comes to a close.

TV Adaptation

So, as mentioned, in the TV series, the exploration of the stealth ship - the Anubis - happens before Eros. From a story perspective, I feel this is more interesting because the audience doesn't know what has happened to the Anubis. When the Rocinante crew investigates, we're learning with them, and there's that 'ghost ship' tension. And finding that the protomolecule mass is still in Engineering from the prologue works better too. The problem the novel has is that, well, we kind of already know all of this and this doesn't feel so much as building on what happened on Eros as it is... revisiting stuff that happened at the start of the novel. I just think it makes way more sense to go Anubis -> Eros rather than Eros -> Anubis.

The mystery just feels like it develops more naturally. Like, the crew go to find some dude named Lionel Polanski, and find an abandoned high-tech cutting-edge stealth ship. Why did he abandon it? Was this an OPA ship? If not, wouldn't the OPA love to have a ship like this? Oh gently caress, the Engineering room was filled with space horror! Well, Lionel went to Eros. Oh gently caress, Lionel is also filled with space horror and is also Julie Mao (Hi, Miller!) And now Eros is filled with space horror, just like the kind we saw on the Anubis!

Additionally, it sidesteps the issue of the whole 'turning on the reactor' thing. In the TV series, the crew doesn't know it feeds on radiation at this point. So, them going, well, poo poo, just turn on the reactor works a bit better. They've never encountered anything like this before, of course they'd make some errors!

It's the Anubis that leads the crew to Eros, too... from Phoebe Station. Which, again, builds on what we are told by Lopez- that when Mars investigated, they found that everyone there was dead.

In the TV series, the Protogen mercs don't rough up Julie, either. The Protogen crew refer to her as a 'complication' but seem to know who she is, hence why they separate her from the others. Julie herself alerts the OPA to the Anubis - it was basically her original mission - and then heads to Eros for pick-up.

I skimmed the next chapter, and I'm not sure whether Amos actually turns the reactor back on. Anyway, they do turn it on the TV series, the Protomolecule mass wakes up, and they beat a hasty retreat, allowing Holden to nuke the ship and indulge in a little bit of his desire for Canterbury-based revenge.

There's no big expository monologue, but there is a great bit where Amos and Kenzo have a disagreement about how you pronounce Anubis. They settle on An-you-bis. Which is funny and also demonstrates a bit of Amos' background.

Milkfred E. Moore fucked around with this message at 10:10 on Apr 21, 2020

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Thirty-Five - Holden

Holden and Miller float their way up to Ops where Naomi is waiting.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

Holden put a hand on her shoulder, pulled it back, and hated that he'd pulled back. A week earlier she'd have been fine with a simple gesture of affection like that, and he wouldn't have been afraid of her reaction. He regretted the new distance between them only slightly less than he would have regretted not saying anything at all. He wanted to tell her that.

Instead, he said, "Find anything good?"
I have mixed feelings on the Holden Is Sad Because Naomi Rebuked Him bits. On one hand, I'm a romantic sap and so this kind of thing hits me in the spirit of which it's intended. That sort of "Awwww, poor Jimmy!" response. It's the same part of me that whispers that there's nothing wrong with Miller's whole Julie thing. But overall, I'm not sure it lands perfectly. I'm not sure why. If I had to pick a word, I might say overwrought?

I think it goes hand in hand with how Holden's interest in her feels sudden and what Naomi said about his behavioral patterns. That and the other stuff I've criticized about Holden's thoughts on Naomi. This isn't a major thing. I quite like how the Holden/Nagata relationship ends up, but at this time?

Eh, mixed.

Omi basically echoes me:

"The Naomi romance stuff isn’t really doing it for me. I like that Holden is a bumbling, awkward weirdo, but I think their dynamic needed a lot more setup- it feels like they spontaneously flipped from work buddies to quasi-romantic interests 33 chapters into a 55-chapter novel."

The bumbling, awkward weirdo thing is key, I think. I think that's how we're supposed to see Holden. Like Omi said about him being a puppy who just happens to get into trouble because he's, well, a puppy. He didn't spend his time on the Cant bedding ladies because he's a sex fiend, but because he's just a sappy dork who gets fixated, then cools off and/or freaks out about ideals and responsibilities.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

"They were hard-core about comm discipline," she said, pointing at the long list of dates and times. "Nothing ever went out on radio, everything was tightbeam. And everything was doublespeak, lots of obvious code phrases."
Except for the videotaped evil monologue/confession on their hard drive.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

Miller's mouth moved inside his helmet. Holden tapped on his face shield. Miller rolled his eyes in disgust and then chinned the comm link to the general channel.

"Sorry. Don't spend a lot of time in suits," he said. "What've we got that's good?"
This is fun but we just had a chapter where Miller was having no problem with talking to people through his suit and no real mention was made of him needing to remember to toggle his comms on or whatever.

The stealth ship sent a message.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

THOTH STATION

CREW DEGENERATING. PROJECTING 100% CASUALTIES. MATERIALS SECURED. STABILIZING COURSE AND SPEED. VECTOR DATA TO FOLLOW. EXTREME CONTAMINATION HAZARD FOR ENTRY TEAMS.

CPT. HIGGINS
Miller knows what it means: the crew was turning into vomit zombies and was telling his bosses. The vector data was so people could find the ship, only it was pointless because Julie took the ship and hid it. But now means that Protogen is surely looking for it.

Of vomit zombies, Omi says: "'Vomit zombies' hasn’t grown on me as a piece of jargon, at this point it feels like the authors are taking bets over who can slip it into more conversations as the book goes on."

Naomi points out that the message were going to a ship in the belt. It feels like it takes them a bit too long to figure out that, like, maybe the super-evil-megacorp that can build a fleet of battleship-killing stealth ships might have a secret space station there. Miller thinks it's their lab.

There's a safe in the Captain's quarters which Naomi is going to try and crack open.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

"What do you think?" Holden asked. "Protogen being the whole thing? Or is this another one where it looks like them, so it isn't?"

Miller was silent for the space of two long breaths.

"This one smells like the real thing," Miller said. He sounded almost grudging.
Don't be a dick, Holden.

Amos finds a whole bunch of fuel for the Roci's reactor. Holden tells him to take it back to the ship then figure out a way to blow up the Protogen craft. Amos balks at it.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

"Wait, what?" Amos said. "This thing is worth a jillion bucks, Captain. Stealth missile ship? The OPA would sell their grandmothers for this thing. And six of those tubes still have fish in them. Capital-ship busters. You could slag a small moon with those. Forget their grannies, the OPA would pimp their daughters for that gear. Why the gently caress would we blow it up?"
Holden brings up the thing in the engine room. Amos offers to cut it up and throw it out the airlock. Holden gets a bit angry at the horrible mutilation of several dozen people. No one wonders if taking a welding torch to the mass of protomolecule-infected flesh might make it wake up. I mean, Julie was smashing all sources of light in her room on Eros.

Holden gets through to Amos by pointing out that they can't keep the stealth ship because the bad guys are looking for it and they also have stealth ships they can't see. Amos immediately changes his mind.

Omi: "I like how Amos amiably discusses chopping bodies up with a blowtorch so they can loot and sell the ship and doesn’t get why Holden is repulsed - this is more like the Amos we know from the later books."

A bit more, yeah. But I think Later Book Amos wouldn't need the danger of the stealth ship being hunted by others of its kind explained to him. It's something the adaptation changes, too.

After a while, Naomi realizes she can't open the safe. It requires a fancy magnetic key that they don't have. They can't cut it or blast it open because it might be filled with protomolecule. Miller figures they can open it at the station. Holden really wants it open. He wants them to take the whole safe out of the wall if they have to. Hell, with the wall, too, if it comes to that.

Omi: "Holden stealing the safe feels like a bizarre and arbitrary move, but I like how his own crew is lampshading that very fact."

Meanwhile, while Naomi and Holden are discussing this, Miller is watching - and laughing at - the video of Julie Mao beating up her captors. On loop. I actually really, really like this moment. It's wonderfully weird. Omi agrees: "It's a creepy but appropriate character beat."

I feel like the bit where the crew joke about taking the protomolecule to Mars or the OPA and Holden kind of entertains it doesn't feel right.

Anyway, paragraph break and back to the Roci. Amos is trying to blow up the stealth ship with a button detonator. My Kindle copy doesn't have a break here so I spent the first part of writing this section wondering what button he was pressing again, which cockpit they were in, and so on. Had to bust my paper copy out.

He presses the button 'again' and... nothing happens. Holden wonders if something was supposed to explode.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

"gently caress, yes," Amos said, then pushed the button on the black box in his hand a third time. "This isn't an exact science or anything. Those missile drives are as simple as it gets. Just a reactor with one wall missing. Can't exactly predict... "

"It isn't rocket science," Holden said with a laugh.

"What?" Amos asked, ready to be angry if he was being mocked.

"You know, 'it isn't rocket science,' " Holden said. "Like 'it isn't hard.' You're a rocket scientist, Amos. For real. You work on fusion reactors and starship drives for a living. Couple hundred years ago, people would have been lining up to give you their children for what you know."
I like this bit and it's actually a part of Leviathan Wakes that has stuck with me. I like how Amos, who this story indicates is sort of a dumb muscle guy, would still be pretty smart but our standards. Not because he's an academic but just because of his skillset.

After a delay, the stealth ship blows up.

Holden wanders up to Ops. Miller shows up.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

"Been watching the news at all?" the detective asked.

Holden shook his head, then moved over to a chair on the other side of the compartment. Something in Miller's face was chilling his blood.

"No," he said. "What happened?"

"You don't hedge, Holden. I admire that about you, I guess."

"Just tell me," Holden said.

"No, I mean it. A lot of people claim to believe in things. 'Family is most important,' but they'll screw a fifty-dollar hooker on payday. 'Country first,' but they cheat on their taxes. Not you, though. You say everyone should know everything, and by God, you put your money where your mouth is."
Oh, this'll be good.

Miller provides the rest of the story: Mars found out about the secret ships with which someone used to kill the Donnager. Mars calls them up, because Earth and Mars are supposed to be a big happy hegemony. Honestly, this is something that passed out of my mind and it seems the only real mention of this is made is during the Big Anderson Backstory chapter. Anyway, Mars calls Earth and asks what's up.

Earth responded by suddenly opening fire on Martian ships in orbit over Mars, and blasting the moon of Deimos into pieces. Holden is pretty thankful that no one in orbit started raining fire down on the vulnerable Martian domes.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Five posted:

"You're telling me that I did this," Holden said. "That if I hadn't broadcast that data, those ships would still be alive. Those people."

"That, yeah. And that if the bad guys wanted to keep people from watching Eros, it just worked."
Major Solar system war! Hell of a thing to end on. Omi feels it's a bit jarring, going from 'Let's go get the lab' to 'Holden started a huge war' but I think it's supposed to be jarring.

TV Adaptation

So, as mentioned, probably the biggest change (beyond the chronological stuff) is that the protomolecule isn't dead but dormant. It's also spread throughout the ship, instead of seemingly being restricted only to the reactor. There's a bunch of shots where the protomolecule filaments start reacting to headlamps and stuff.

They turn the reactor on, then shut it down once the protomolecule mass starts waking up. It's not frozen and dead in the TV series, but more dormant and hibernating.

It's Kenzo, not Amos, who questions destroying the stealth ship. "Hell no," Amos says when Holden asks if anyone objects to it. Kenzo basically says the stuff about it being a bargaining chip, which the crew have that weird light-hearted bit about in the book. Holden says:

"Because that ship is a weapon. And that thing on it, that felt like a weapon, too. And I don't think Fred Johnson or Earth or Mars or anybody should have it."

I prefer this take on Holden's ideals.

By destroying the Anubis before Eros, it also closes out the first chunk of the story, which was basically the destruction of the Cant, and feels like it puts the focus on Eros and the stuff that will happen there.

Crazycryodude
Aug 15, 2015

Lets get our X tons of Duranium back!

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











Milkfred E. Moore posted:

One of the things I do like about these novels is how they deal with the effects of space travel and so on. They're always kind of there and always kind of a hazard. I'd also draw your attention to that line about the gantry. If there was a theme to some of the comments Omi and I had on this chapter, it was to do with the technology of the world of the Expanse.

Omi: "I understand the ships and bases having armor, it makes things more tactically interesting and readers instantly understand “Bullets bad, Kevlar good,” but my understanding is that conservation of weight is so incredibly critical to everything about space travel that nobody would ever in a million years armor their structures- if they thought they would come under fire regularly, it’d be orders of magnitude cheaper to armor their environmental suits. It’s not a dealbreaker here, but I find it interesting how Expanse is unusually hard sci-fi for a mass market success story, but still has occasional fits of totally fantastic futuretech."

Eh, it doesn't really bother me. The Expanse does have a bullshit magical conceit under all the "hard" crust in the form of the Epstein drive, but so does just about every work of sci-fi ever. As long as you just take as a given that they have these absurdly efficient absurdly powerful engines that can burn at 10g for a year but also somehow don't instantly melt the ship they're mounted on, then weight concerns go away. We only care about how heavy spaceships are right now because we're stuck with crappy chemical rockets and limited fuel space, if you have an Epstein drive and aren't on a shoestring budget why not armor everything to hell and back, spaceships are expensive and it's free radiation shielding. Plus, it's just a quick doodle in Space AutoCAD to put a thick layer of space steel on the outside of your spaceship but there's no personal suit in the world that's gonna bounce PDC rounds.

Crazycryodude fucked around with this message at 15:14 on Apr 22, 2020

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


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



That's an interesting discussion. I think there was some discussion that in-universe, PDCs are a short range weapon due to the ease of dodging relatively slow projectiles. If I recall correctly, in a battle in a later book (PDC spoilers), a ship is disabled in combat by a burst of PDC fire. That scene was one I really enjoyed in that book, so I'll can it until the thread gets there.

Milkfred E. Moore
Aug 27, 2006

The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.


Chapter Thirty-Six - Miller

As usual, we're opening a chapter with a few paragraphs that're one, Solar system political situation exposition and, two, delivered by news stories. I feel like I should've counted 'character watches the news' as a Coreyism. Maybe I will.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

The war stories flowed in. Miller watched the feeds five at a time, subscreens crowding the face of his terminal. Mars was shocked, amazed, reeling. The war between Mars and the Belt—the biggest, most dangerous conflict in the history of mankind—was suddenly a sideshow.
I've said before that this is one of the big ideas of these novels - first mentioned all the way back in Chapter 2, the idea of the 'forgotten arm.' Things you don't see coming. In this case, big historical events. The war between Mars and the Belt just got sideshowed.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

The reactions of the talking heads of Earth security forces ran the gamut from calm, rational discussion of preemptive defense to foaming-at-the-mouth denunciations of Mars as a pack of baby-raping animals.
I assume that's hyperbole.

So, yeah, Earth hit Mars and flat out annihilated one of their moons. The Martian fleet is speeding back to Mars. The OPA is calling it a victory. Miller sits there watching the news and waiting for the word that'll end the whole Solar system - which, surely, would be open war between Earth and Mars.

I actually like the last bit there, with Miller watching all the horrible stuff and hoping it won't get worse.

Omi: "Wait, Miller sat there and watched Space Fox News for ten hours? And the journalists had realtime information on military movements?"

Amos shows up and he and Miller have a great exchange.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

“Anyone drop a rock?”

“Not yet. It’s all still orbital or higher.”

“What kind of half-assed apocalypse are they running down there?” Amos said.

“Give ’em a break. It’s their first.”
Omi: "I like the casual back & forth gallows humor between Amos and Miller."

Miller reflects that, providing Mars' domes don't get hit, Mars won't really hit back. Their version of hitting back might entail beating the tar out of Earth's "critical biosphere." This is one of those setting elements I dig about The Expanse, and I also really appreciate how this segues into some events later in the series.

Amos and Miller have beer for breakfast. That's fun, too. However, Omi and I both though it cut into his sobriety around the time he got off Ceres. As Omi puts it: "I thought he’d dried himself out in order to go after Julie and her zombie-ers."

Afterwards, Miller goes to get his blood flushed as a side effect of the radiological beating he took on Eros. Holden's there already. I like the bit where Miller wonders if Holden looks so haggard because of the burden of having started a horrible war, or if he's just still moping about Naomi.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

“Do you think they’d stop?” Holden asked. “I mean, Earth has got to be doing this because Protogen owns some generals or senators or something, right? It’s all because they want to be the only ones who have this thing. If Mars has it too, Protogen doesn’t have a reason to fight.”

Miller blinked. Before he could pick his answer—They’d try to annihilate Mars completely, or It’s gone too far for that, or Exactly how naive are you, Captain?—Holden went on.

“Screw it. We’ve got the datafiles. I’m going to broadcast them.”
How many times is this? Omi thinks we should've kept a running tally of Holden's "Big, Dumb Data Dumps. This is what, #4? #5?"

Miller says Holden will have to go through him to do it. Holden's like, oh yeah, watch me. Miller's like, buddy, I remember you have a hard time shooting people. Miller raises an excellent point that, really, Holden should get by now.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

“You are going to have to shoot me,” Miller said, slowly this time. “Twice now you’ve had the choice of whether or not to break the solar system, and both times you’ve screwed it up. I don’t want to see you strike out.”
Holden argues that he didn't actually do anything, as a second-in-command of a long distance water hauler, he doesn't have much influence. Okay, he was there when it started it, but when you get right down to it, the Belt has always hated the inner planets. And Earth has always hated Mars. Holden says evidence is this in how Earth will lose any war to Mars and, therefore, must hit first and hard. It's been building for a hundred years, Holden says, and therefore his role in it is basically blameless.

Miller says what we're all thinking.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

“That’s your defense? ‘Not my powder keg; I just brought the match’?”

Holden says he's not defending anything. Miller pushes him into explaining why he thinks this Big Dumb Data Dump will be any different to his others. Holden says it's because all the other times he had imperfect information and that no one would've been shooting at each other had they known what was really going on. The problem isn't that people know too much, Holden argues, but that they don't know enough.

Miller argues to wait and see. He brings up a case where information at the last minute changed everything. Had he just broadcast his first batch of information, the initial suspect - who didn't commit the murder - might've been killed.

Holden says that Protogen thinks the same thing.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

"You may be on different sides, but you’re playing the same game. If everyone said what they knew, none of this would have happened. If the first lab tech on Phoebe who saw something weird had gotten on his system and said, ‘Hey, everyone! Look, this is weird,’ none of this would have happened.”

I just want to say, like... loving hell, Holden. I know this plays into something we'll be told about Holden in the next book, that he's one part idealist and two parts rear end in a top hat, but he's acting like a surly teen here. He's supposed to be, what, a thirty something experienced XO? I rather like this discussion between the two but, man, I feel like Holden should just be a little bit smarter.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

“Yeah,” Miller said, “because telling everyone there’s an alien virus that wants to kill them all is a great way to maintain calm and order.”

“Miller,” Holden said. “I don’t mean to panic you, but there’s an alien virus. And it wants to kill everyone.”
Eventually, Miller just asks Holden a simple question: "What happens?"

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

“The war stops. People go after Protogen.”

“There’s some holes in that, but let it go. What happens after that?”

Holden was quiet for a few heartbeats.

“People start going after the Phoebe bug,” he said.
It feels like Holden isn't so much as idealistic as he is naive, at points.

Miller raises the point that if Protogen is right, then everything is going to want the protomolecule. If they go to Mars, the Martians will use it to take control of Earth and the Belt. if you go to the OPA, well, they're basically terrorists. Or you can just shout everything you know to the Heavens and pretend that, no matter what, it wasn't your fault.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

“People have a right to know what’s going on,” Holden said. “Your argument boils down to you not thinking people are smart enough to figure out the right way to use it.”

“Has anyone used anything you’ve broadcast as something besides an excuse to shoot someone they already didn’t like? Giving them a new reason won’t stop them killing each other,” Miller said. “You started these wars, Captain. Doesn’t mean you can stop them. But you have to try.”
Holden wonders how he's supposed to do that. Miller says what most people are probably thinking at this point: ask yourself what Naomi would do, and do that.

Omi's thoughts: "I really like the discussion/confrontation between Holden and Miller. The two have fundamentally opposed approaches to problem-solving, and while it’s not quite satisfying to see someone call Holden on his BS, I like that the book is being very clear that it knows how idiotic a lot of his behavior is.

I like how Miller’s core recommendation boils down to “Ask Naomi before doing anything, and do what she says.” Man, I really wish Naomi had been the captain from day one."

Later, Miller sees news from Ceres. Old mate Shaddid has airlocked a bunch of people the OPA accuses of being Martian spies.

Leviathan Wakes, Chapter Thirty-Six posted:

That’s what it’s come to, Miller thought, rubbing a hand across his chin. Pogroms after all. Cut off just a hundred more heads, just a thousand more heads, just ten thousand more heads, and then we’ll be free.

He goes to find Holden. Holden elected to not broadcast the message, even if only because if they broadcast what they have, people will be killing them to get it. Holden says he doesn't trust anyone with it, so, he's going to take it to... Fred.

He didn't ask Naomi, though.

Miller says the right thing to do would be to shoot the safe into the sun and find some way of ensuring no one goes to Eros and Phoebe ever again. But, Miller wonders, how do you throw away the holy grail? It's a great thought to end the chapter on.

Omi: "Miller’s recommendation to blow up the protomolecule and Eros is extremely reasonable, maybe the most pragmatic, objectively correct call he’ll make during the book, and also the one that would’ve screwed humanity the most if he’d gotten his way."

Overall, I like this chapter. I wish Holden was a bit less infuriating in his argument with Miller. Or, if still infuriating, have it be less that he feels like someone who posts exclusively in C-SPAM. One thing I think the TV series did well with Holden was making him feel more principled and less naive. TV Holden strikes me as someone who, while still deeply principled, is pissed about the state of the world and how things don't measure up to his dreams. Book Holden feels like he's a touch too naive for the ex-navy, brothel visiting, experienced lovely ice hauler commander he supposedly is. TV Holden hopes, Book Holden fantasizes.

Like, was Book Holden just broadcasting everything on the Cant, y'know? Did he draw a distinction between his duties on the Cant and his more idealistic duties to humanity? Is Holden really the sort to go, hey, it's not my fault. It's pretty cowardly to throw the match and then go, hey, I didn't lay out all the gunpowder. Anyone else might've thrown the match! As Omi says, it's a nice bit between the two, but it never quite felt satisfying. To me, that's because Holden's core idea - it's not my fault - felt like it got a bit of a pass. Miller goes 'you're an idiot' when, to me, 'you're a coward' is more appropriate.

TV Adaptation

At this point, with how much things have diverged, I think I'll sum up the 'endgame' differences once we hit the end of Leviathan Wakes.

Sarern
Nov 4, 2008


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



Milkfred E. Moore posted:


Man, I really wish Naomi had been the captain from day one.

This brings up a question I haven't thought about. A narrative that puts someone in a leadership position might justify that decision in text, like the Harry Potter books do with Quidditch games. When I read these books, I also wonder why Naomi isn't the Captain. Naomi always has the good ideas, and Holden, at first, has generally bad ones. If Naomi had told Amos to throw Holden out the airlock, this series would have been one novel long. So why isn't Naomi captain? There are crew conversations in the book about it, at least twice that I recall. But I'm not sure how convincing they are.

Milkfred E. Moore and Omi (and anyone else) what do you think? Do the books try to justify Holden's role as captain? Do they succeed?

Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




I suspect that Holden is the captain because his player in the original pbp game was the party face- big, dumb, well-intentioned but excessively idealistic chaotic good dude with a high charisma stat. That sort of overly simple setup works great in a tabletop setting because it gives other players an obvious thing to work off of and build around, but it doesn't work so swell in a novel. If I recall correctly in the show Naomi was in command- after his first stunt with the irresponsible broadcast Alex and Amos basically told Holden that Naomi in charge now, which lasted until... Eros, I think, when Holden just kinda-sorta became captain? I forget if there was an obvious reason for the switch.

I honestly think that the story works much, much better with Naomi in charge. Holden's kind of an idiot, and he loves doing stupid things, and I think he has much more interesting directions to grow in if the dynamic is "We're a family and you take care of family, even when your brother keeps doing stupid poo poo that inconveniences the rest of us." But what we get is this weird compromise where in every single book the crew of the Roci go "You're the leader Holden, you're the one who keeps us together and takes care of us," Holden immediately charges in a stupid and dangerous direction, and his crew promptly set about desperately running damage control and trying to get him out of his own way.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Why would you not tie up Holden or get rid of all of his access or even space his dumb rear end if he can't be trusted not to literally cause the apocalypse.

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Omi no Kami
Feb 19, 2014




Probably my favorite early book/show change was when TV Holden did his first Big, Dumb Broadcast it wasn't a dude standing there talking for 5 minutes, it was a wild-eyed space trucker screaming into his webcam like a crazy person while the entire rest of the crew dragged him away because wtf, Holden.

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