“To go from an unregistered birth such as his to having any power and status at all was an achievement as profound as it was invisible.”
Before he was the engineer on the Rocinante, Amos Burton lived in Baltimore. A product of prostitution himself, he spent his childhood in sexual slavery, before being rescued by the woman who would essentially become his step-mother. This novella takes place about twenty years before the main events of the series, during a time when the organized crime in Baltimore is once again being ravaged by law enforcement in one of their periodic crack-downs, known by those affected by them as The Churn.
I was a bit conflicted about this as an individual piece. The writing is gorgeous in places, and I love Amos. He’s such a fascinating character, a seemingly conflicting mix of brutish, unthinking violence and fierce loyalty. It was interesting seeing where he came from, and the roots of the relationships we see further fleshed out in Nemesis Games. I believe this is meant to be read before that book, however, as a “twist” in this novella is ruined if you’ve read that book first like I did.
It doesn’t matter much, though. The novella is really only interesting if you’re already invested in the series, and mostly only as a character piece for Amos, a little slice of his history for context. Especially if you normally dislike stories involving organized crime, which I also very much do.
I’ve been meaning to read this ever since I read the first book several years ago. That’s where we’re first introduced to Fred Johnson, leader of the OPA, who was once (and still is) known through the solar system as the Butcher of Anderson Station. This short story elaborates on the brief hints of how he got that name that we got in Leviathan Wakes, and also shows how Fred got involved with the OPA to boot. More importantly, it doesn’t just show us how he got that name, but what he did with it, and why it’s important.
Very good addition to the world. Does just what extra content should do, elaborating on the world, but nothing you wouldn’t miss if you didn’t read it. But you should read it, because it enriches the backstory of one of the most complicated characters in the Expanse universe. I’ll definitely look at Fred Johnson a little bit differently the next time I read or re-read one of the books.
“It was like his parents had suddenly realized he wouldn’t be there forever, and now their love was like a police state; he couldn’t escape it.”
David Draper, the sixteen year old nephew of Bobbie Draper, is a self-entitled little piece of shit.
I have very little patience for intelligent children with loving families who live in stable economic situations, and yet they still insist on being angry little assholes. This is David, a gifted chemist who lives on Mars, and who is headed for great things. Meanwhile, he’s decided to rebel out of a combination of stupid anger and laziness, and he somehow ends up cooking drugs for a local drug kingpin. He’s also got his head entirely up his own ass. He sees girls as things, and only does nice things in the hopes that he will be rewarded with sex. He is extremely immature yet book smart. It’s a bad combination.
This novella is set after book two in The Expanse series, Caliban’s War. After the events of that book, Bobbie is home on Mars living with her brother and his family while she’s on “psychological leave.” David resents her and her presence because it gets in the way of what he wants to do. He also ignores almost entirely the monumental things happening around him, including domestic terrorism, and the fact that his very own aunt is heavily involved in the politics of the solar system.
Thankfully by the end of the book he’s learned some hard lessons and grown up, but man he’s insufferable for most of it. I just wanted to punch him.
This one was just straight up neat.
The first of anything in The Expanse universe to be in first person POV, this novella opens with a man and his fellow prisoners, who are being kept in a locked room somewhere in the solar system, and they are kept there for years. It slowly trickles out as to why they’re there, who they are, and who our main character is in particular. It’s a dark character study, and it gives us insight into a pivotal moment in the history of the Expanse universe.
SPOILERS I speak specifically of the infamous sociopathic scientists working for Protogen who shepherded the protomolecule onto its destructive, horrific path. Our narrator, Dr. Paolo Cortázar, grew up in a low economic neighborhood, and after watching his mother die slowly of Huntington’s Disease, clawed his way out and into a degree in biochemistry and nanoinformatics, at which point he was eventually recruited to work on a top secret project. We follow him throughout his life, before he was a experimentally induced sociopath, and after, and during his time in the prison, and what happens after that as well. END SPOILERS.
It’s really very well done. I listened on audio, and it made a particularly good audiobook, especially since this is the only novella my preferred narrator Jefferson Mays was involved with. The others are narrated by Erik Davies and best experienced on an e-reader, or in the eventual novella bind-up that is due out sometime in the next couple of years, after the remaining two Expanse novellas are published.