The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S.A. Corey (2011) (read in 2021)
Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an interest in this book, then I’m happy for you.
This is one of the earliest stories in the entire Expanse universe. It takes place before even Leviathan Wakes. This is Fred Johnson’s origin story. It tells the story of how he started as an Earth marine and how he came to be known as the eponymous butcher.
The present-day Fred Johnson has been taken captive by Anderson Dawes, then-leader of the OPA. But Fred Johnson hasn’t been captured because he’s a danger to the OPA. Quite the contrary: Johnson has become a drunk and is considering ending it all. He regrets his role in the attack that made him famous throughout the system. Anderson Dawes sees this regret as a thin wedge that he can use to convert one of Earth’s greatest assets to work for the Belters. The rest, as they say, is history.
““The problem with you,” Dawes said, his voice calm and conversational as if they were sitting in a bar somewhere sharing a beer, “and I don’t mean this as a criticism of you in particular. It’s true of anybody who didn’t grow up in the Belt. The problem with you is that you are wasteful.”
““I’m not a fucking coward,” Fred said through his rapidly swelling lip.
““Of course you are. You’re smart, you’re healthy. Maybe a few hundred people out of forty billion have your combination of talent and training. And you’re trying to waste that very valuable resource. You’re like the guy who delays replacing his airlock seals when they start to leak. You think it’s just a little bit. It doesn’t matter. You’re one guy. You get killed, no big loss.””