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Title

<i>Leviathan Wakes</i> by <i>James S.A. Corey</i> (2011) (read in 2021)

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<abstract>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.</abstract> This is the first book of the Expanse series. The crew of the ice-hauler <i>Canterbury</i> includes Earther XO Jim Holden, Belter Chief Engineer Naomi Nagata, Martian Navy pilot Alex Kamal, and Earther engineer Amos Burton. While they are on an excursion to investigate a distress call from the ship <i>Scopuli</i>, a stealth ship appears and destroys the <i>Canterbury</i>. Holden establishes his reputation by broadcasting his suspicions of it having been a Martian attack to the whole solar system. Fred Johnson of the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) offers support. Joe Miller is an alcoholic detective working on Ceres, who's been tasked with finding Julie Mao, the rich scion of magnate Jules-Pierre Mao, owner of a sprawling empire. Holden's message inspires the people of Ceres to riot so Miller quickly has his hands full with that. Holden meanwhile has docked with the <i>Donnager</i>, a giant Martian battleship. While there, the ship is attacked by a fleet of stealth ships that manage to do much more damage to it than they should have been able to. The crew of the <i>Donnager</i> sacrifice themselves to buy Holden and crew time to escape in the <i>Tachi</i>. They go to Tycho Station, where Johnson helps them refit and rename the ship to the <i>Rocinante</i>. <bq caption="Page 186">Holden knew all this, and his first sight of the station still took his breath away. It wasn’t just the size of it. It was the idea that four generations of the smartest people in the solar system had been living and working here as they helped drag humanity into the outer planets almost through sheer force of will.</bq> Johnson tasks them with a mission to Eros Station, where they are to hunt down and meet up with an OPA operative. They find the location, but it is infested with an alien disease called the Protomolecule. Miller, meanwhile, is sticking his nose where the powers-that-be think it doesn't belong, he's still on the trail of Julie Mao, even though no-one wants him to be. His dedication to a case no-one wants solved gets him fired (also his alcoholism doesn't help) and he also travels to Eros to hunt down a lead. He ends up in the same place as the crew of the <i>Rocinante</i>. Miller is a wonderful character: a flawed, noir detective with a lot of experience and bravado---and nothing to lose. <bq caption="Page 289">He was lying his way past half a dozen men who were only letting him by because they were used to people being scared of them and he wasn’t.</bq> Together, they discover that Eros is actually infected with the same transformative Protomolecule. People have been trapped in rooms into which the virulent, alien disease is released. The crew is torn between trying to salvage something from the situation and just running for their lives. Miller and Holden bring up the rear and end up with severe radiation poisoning---but neither is infected with the Protomolecule. Eros is given up for lost, with millions dead or transformed into ... something else. The station sings to itself, with the Protomolecule trying to figure out what to do with the biological material it's been provided. Meanwhile, a war is brewing between the inner planets and the Belters. Even Earth and Mars's uneasy detente is in danger. <bq caption="Page 214">It wasn’t out of control yet, but it was ramping up. Another few incidents and it wouldn’t matter how it had started. It wouldn’t matter what the stakes were. Mars knew the Belt couldn’t win, and the Belt knew it had nothing to lose. It was a recipe for death on a scale humanity had never seen.</bq> Once again underway, the <i>Roci</i> follows a lead provided by Fred Johnson to the <i>Anubis</i>, which had kidnapped the crew of the <i>Scopuli</i>. It has been abandoned on the the dark side of an asteroid. The entire ship's reactor room has been overrun by Protomolecule. From this ship, they find out the history of the virus. They learn that a company called Protogen spearheaded the effort to develop, study, and possibly militarize the alien weapon, which was initially destined for Earth before it was captured by Saturn's gravity billions of years before. That is, the aliens that sent the Protomolecule had reached the level of advancement to develop it when the solar system was still cooling. Fred Johnson, the Roci crew, and Miller learn that Eros is communicating with a secret facility on another asteroid, where they find the whole team of scientists from Protogen. They shut down the facility and Miller assassinates their leader Dresden. <bq caption="Page 430">It was the logic of Protogen, of Dresden, of Thoth. Here is the problem, they said to themselves, and there is the solution. That it was drowned in innocent blood was as trivial as the font the reports were printed in. They had disconnected themselves from humanity. Shut off the cell clusters in their brains that made life besides their own sacred. Or valuable. Or worth saving. All it had cost them was every human connection.</bq> <bq caption="Page 517">We found the protomolecule at exactly the right time for it to do the most damage to us, Holden thought. It had looked like a shortcut. A way to avoid having to do any of the work, to just jump straight to godhood. And it had been so long since anything was a real threat to humanity outside of itself that no one was even smart enough to be scared.</bq> <bq caption="Page 517">Dresden had said it himself: The things that had made the protomolecule, loaded it into Phoebe, and shot it at the Earth were already godlike back when humanity’s ancestors thought photosynthesis and the flagellum were cutting-edge. But he’d taken their ancient engine of destruction and turned the key anyway, because when you got right down to it, humans were still just curious monkeys. They still had to poke everything they found with a stick to see what it did.</bq> Now they need to shut down Eros before it causes more trouble. Fred Johnson reluctantly agrees to take the Mormon generation ship Nauvoo---under construction and nearly complete at Tycho Station---and crash it into Eros to destroy the asteroid. The Protomolecule <i>dodges</i> the attack, moving Eros in a way that completely defies known physics. Miller leads a team that is there to deposit bombs on Eros. While the rest of the team gets off the asteroid, Miller takes a bomb deep into the asteroid, down, down, down to the innermost chamber, where he finds Julie Mao's remains, firmly embedded in the Protomolecule---but still alive. Eros is now headed for Earth, but Miller convinces Julie to steer Eros away from Earth. They crash Eros into Venus instead, where the Protomolecule begins constructing something vast, something with unknown purpose, beneath the sulphuric clouds. This first book also provides a lot of the history and backstory of the solar system in the Expanse continuum. There is the natural difference between Belters, who have lived generations under conditions that are completely different than the "Inners" from Earth and Mars, civilizations that live with a biosphere and a gravity well. <bq caption="Page 471">Maybe no one who had lived with the certainty and support of a natural atmosphere would ever completely accept the power and fragility of a society based in doing what needed doing, in becoming fast and flexible, the way the OPA had. In becoming articulated. If Fred couldn’t build himself a peace treaty, the OPA would never win against the discipline and unity of an inner planet navy. But they would also never lose. War without end.</bq> Such tension can only end in extermination or capitulation, a long-term domination (as with the Native Americans). Confronted with the breathtaking majesty of something like the Protomolecule, humanity may need to reconsider its petty concerns, to direct its gaze outward, to fortify itself, and, perhaps, to once again try to improve itself. <bq caption="Page 517">[...] without Earth, everything would eventually die. Humans had been out of the gravity well a long time. Long enough to have developed the technology to cut that umbilical cord, but they’d just never bothered to do it. Stagnant. Humanity, for all its desire to fling itself into every livable pocket it could reach, had become stagnant. Satisfied to fly around in ships built half a century before, using technology that hadn’t changed in longer than that.</bq> <h>Citations</h> <bq caption="Page 26">“Yeah, well,” Miller said. “Say what you will about organized crime, at least it’s organized.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 26">“Okay,” Havelock said. “What the hell is the ‘forgotten arm’?” “Boxing term,” Miller said. “It’s the hit you didn’t see coming.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 48">“I knew,” Havelock said. “When I took the Star Helix contract, I knew I’d have to work to fit in. I thought it’d be the same as anywhere, you know? You go, you get your chops busted for a while. Then, when they see you can take it, they treat you like one of the team. It’s not like that here.” “It’s not,” Miller said.</bq> <bq caption="Page 49">Miller led the way to a back table, nodding to the men and women he knew as he passed. While he’d been careful and diplomatic at the Blue Frog, he chose a bluff masculinity here. It was just as much a pose.</bq> <bq caption="Page 67">“I’m not saying that,” Miller said, suspecting that it was exactly what he was saying. “It’s just that Belters don’t take the long view when you screw with basic resources. That water was future air, propellant mass, and potables for us. We have no sense of humor about that shit.”</bq> That's not unique. It's just that inners are so comfortable, they never feel.that threatened for real. They are susceptible to manufactured crises. <bq caption="Page 68">“This Holden guy didn’t say it was Mars. Just that they found a Martian battery. You think people are going to… declare war?” Havelock said. “Just on the basis of this one guy’s pictures of a battery?” “The ones that wait to get the whole story aren’t our problem.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 72">Miller slowed his team to a brisk walk. Arresting the murderer while surrounded by a crowd of his friends would be tough enough without being winded.</bq> <bq caption="Page 112">The inner planets look on us as their labor force. They tax us. They direct what we do. They enforce their laws and ignore ours in the name of stability. In the last year, they’ve doubled the tariffs to Titania. Five thousand people on an ice ball orbiting Neptune, months from anywhere. The sun’s just a bright star to them. Do you think they’re in a position to get redress? They’ve blocked any Belter freighters from taking Europa contracts. They charge us twice as much to dock at Ganymede. The science station on Phoebe? We aren’t even allowed to orbit it. There isn’t a Belter in the place. Whatever they do there, we won’t find out until they sell the technology back to us, ten years from now.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 115">“Well,” Miller said, “called that one wrong.” “Which one?” Havelock said. “OPA’s not moving in on the criminals,” Miller said. “They’re moving in on the cops.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 140">Everyone looked at Shed. Without the vacuum, his blood was pouring out into a floating red sphere just above his neck, like a hideous cartoon replacement for his head.</bq> <bq caption="Page 155">These people were what it was all about, Miller told himself. Normal people living small lives in a bubble of rock surrounded by hard vacuum. If they let the station turn into a riot zone, let order fail, all these lives would get turned into kibble like a kitten in a meat grinder. Making sure it didn’t happen was for people like him, Muss, even Shaddid.</bq> <bq caption="Page 184">Holden got up off the floor and moved over to the computer console. A program Naomi had named Trans01 was waiting to be run. He hesitated for one second, then pressed the button to execute. The ship failed to vaporize. “I guess Fred wants us alive, then,” he said. Naomi slumped down with a noisy, extended exhale. “See, this is why I can’t ever be in command,” she said. “Don’t like making tough calls with incomplete information?” “More I’m not suicidally irresponsible,” she replied, and began slowly reassembling the transponder housing.</bq> <bq caption="Page 186">Holden knew all this, and his first sight of the station still took his breath away. It wasn’t just the size of it. It was the idea that four generations of the smartest people in the solar system had been living and working here as they helped drag humanity into the outer planets almost through sheer force of will.</bq> <bq caption="Page 189">The beautiful thing about losing your illusions, he thought, was that you got to stop pretending. All the years he’d told himself that he was respected, that he was good at his job, that all his sacrifices had been made for a reason fell away and left him with the clear, unmuddied knowledge that he was a functional alcoholic who had pared away everything good in his own life to make room for anesthetic. Shaddid thought he was a joke. Muss thought he was the price she paid not to sleep with someone she didn’t like. The only one who might have any respect for him at all was Havelock, an Earther. It was peaceful, in its way. He could stop making the effort to keep up appearances. If he stayed in bed listening to the alarm drone, he was just living up to expectations. No shame in that.</bq> <bq caption="Page 192">Never knew if you had any luck left unless you pushed it. Besides, there wasn’t a lot to lose.</bq> <bq caption="Page 202">[...] with all of the enemy’s citizens living at the bottom of huge gravity wells, we don’t even have to aim particularly well. Einstein was right. We will be fighting the next war with rocks. But the Belt has rocks that will turn the surface of Mars into a molten sea. “Right now everyone is still playing nice, and only shooting at ships. Very gentlemanly. But sooner or later, one side or the other will be pressed to do something desperate.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 214">It wasn’t out of control yet, but it was ramping up. Another few incidents and it wouldn’t matter how it had started. It wouldn’t matter what the stakes were. Mars knew the Belt couldn’t win, and the Belt knew it had nothing to lose. It was a recipe for death on a scale humanity had never seen.</bq> <bq caption="Page 242">Miller thought of six different answers and turned them all aside. One of the others—a big man, solid, with a bare scalp—was pacing out the room, his eyes unfocused the same way Miller’s were. Of Holden’s four, that was the only guy who’d seen serious gunplay before.</bq> <bq caption="Page 268">“Besides,” Miller said, “it’s a rad hazard. You don’t need air loss to kill everyone in the station. Just burn a few quadrillion spare neutrons through the place at C, and there won’t be any trouble with the oxygen supply.” “Cheerful fucker,” Amos said. “They build stations inside of rocks for a reason,” Naomi said. “Not so easy to force radiation through this many meters of rock.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 270">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.</bq> <bq caption="Page 286">Miller could see it in the man’s eyes: the cunning, the shift, the move from one strategy to another. It was old and familiar and as predictable as water moving down.</bq> <bq caption="Page 289">He was lying his way past half a dozen men who were only letting him by because they were used to people being scared of them and he wasn’t.</bq> <bq caption="Page 298">His death-self was unfolding in him, and the dark blooming took no effort. It was a relief, a relaxation, a long, slow exhale after decades of holding it in.</bq> <bq caption="Page 316">His voice sounded like it had been dragged down an alley by its ankles.</bq> <bq caption="Page 320">“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.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 332">“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. “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?”</bq> <bq caption="Page 332">“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 damn 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.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 333">If everyone knows everything, nothing stays secret.</bq> That's not how information works. That's Like conspiracy theorists forwarding every idiocy they find and claiming they're helping. <bq caption="Page 333">“Eventually, someone’ll figure out the big picture. This kind of thing requires secrecy to function, so exposing all the secrets hurts them in the end. It’s the only way this really, permanently stops.”</bq> Eventually, maybe. Millions die while the truth settles. <bq caption="Page 348">“The protomolecule first caught our interest for its ability to maintain its primary structure in a wide variety of conditions through secondary and tertiary changes. It also showed an affinity for carbon and silicon structures. Its activity suggested it was not in itself a living thing, but a set of free-floating instructions designed to adapt to and guide other replicating systems. Animal experiments suggest that its effects are not exclusive to simple replicators, but are, in fact, scalable.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 367">“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.” “And how am I supposed to do that?” Holden said. The distress in his voice could have been anger. It could have been prayer.</bq> <bq caption="Page 377">Maybe that was why they were taxed to subsistence level. The bird was out of the cage, but you couldn’t let it stretch its wings too far or it might forget it belonged to you.</bq> <bq caption="Page 386">It wasn’t what he would have expected. But maybe that was shortsighted. He was seeing the thing the way Shaddid and Protogen did. There were two sides fighting—that was true enough—but they weren’t the inner planets versus the Belters. They were the people who thought it was a good idea to kill people who looked or acted differently against the people who didn’t.</bq> <bq caption="Page 423">“So,” Holden said. “You figure out how the bug works, and then what?” “Then everything. Belters who can work outside a ship without wearing a suit. Humans capable of sleeping for hundreds of years at a time flying colony ships to the stars. No longer being bound to the millions of years of evolution inside one atmosphere of pressure at one g, slaves to oxygen and water. We decide what we want to be, and we reprogram ourselves to be that. That’s what the protomolecule gives us.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 430">It was the logic of Protogen, of Dresden, of Thoth. Here is the problem, they said to themselves, and there is the solution. That it was drowned in innocent blood was as trivial as the font the reports were printed in. They had disconnected themselves from humanity. Shut off the cell clusters in their brains that made life besides their own sacred. Or valuable. Or worth saving. All it had cost them was every human connection.</bq> <bq caption="Page 447">He wondered how many people he’d known who had taken that path. Cops had a tradition of eating their guns that went back to long before humanity had lifted itself up the gravity well. Here he was, without a home, without a friend, with more blood on his hands from the past month than from his whole career before it. The in-house shrink on Ceres called it suicidal ideation in his yearly presentation to the security teams.</bq> <bq caption="Page 449">Diogo and the other OPA irregulars had breached a high-value research station, faced down one of the most powerful and evil corporations in a history of power and evil. And now they were making music from the screams of the dying. Of the dead. They were dancing to it in the low-rent clubs. What it must be like, Miller thought, to be young and soulless. But no. That wasn’t fair. Diogo was a good kid. He was just naive. The universe would take care of that, given a little time.</bq> <bq caption="Page 471">Maybe no one who had lived with the certainty and support of a natural atmosphere would ever completely accept the power and fragility of a society based in doing what needed doing, in becoming fast and flexible, the way the OPA had. In becoming articulated. If Fred couldn’t build himself a peace treaty, the OPA would never win against the discipline and unity of an inner planet navy. But they would also never lose. War without end.</bq> It can only end in extermination or capitulation long-term domination (as with the Native Americans). <bq caption="Page 477">Keeping his voice neutral and professional, he said, “Naomi, can you pass the pepper?” Amos’ head snapped up, and he dropped his fork on the table with a loud clatter. “Holy shit, you guys are doing it!” “Um,” Holden said. “What?” “Something’s been screwy ever since we got back on the Roci, but I couldn’t figure. But that’s it! You guys are finally playing hide the weasel.” Holden blinked twice at the big mechanic, unsure of what to say. He glanced at Naomi for support, but her head was down, and her hair completely covered her face. Her shoulders were shaking in silent laughter. “Jesus, Cap,” Amos said, a grin on his wide face. “It fucking took you long enough. If she’d been throwing herself at me like that, I’d have been neck deep in that shit.”</bq> <bq caption="Page 505">And still, maybe there was something like a plan. Maybe the universe had put him in the right place at the right time to do the thing that no one else would do. Maybe all the pain and suffering he’d been through, all the disappointments and soul-crushing years wallowing through the worst that humanity had to offer up, had been meant to bring him here, to this moment, when he was ready to die if it bought humanity a little time. It would be pretty to think so, Julie said in his mind. “It would,” he agreed with a sigh. At the sound of his voice, the vision of her vanished, just another daydream.</bq> <bq caption="Page 509">“I’m sorry about before,” Naomi said. “It was a bad situation. We did what we had to do. Same as always.” “Same as always,” she echoed. They didn’t speak for a few seconds. “Thanks for the trigger,” Miller said. “Tell Amos I appreciate it.” He cut the connection before she could answer. Long goodbyes weren’t anyone’s strong suit.</bq> <bq caption="Page 509">He ran the hand terminal connection through the suit, calling Holden for what he expected was the last time. “Miller,” Holden said almost immediately. “I’m heading in now,” he said. “Wait. Look, there’s a way we might be able to get an automated cart. If the Roci—” “Yeah, but you know how it is. I’m already here. And we don’t know how fast this sonofabitch can go. We’ve got a problem we need to fix. This is how we do it.” Holden’s hope had been weak, anyway. Pro forma. A gesture and, Miller thought, maybe even heartfelt. Trying to save everyone, right to the last.</bq> <bq caption="Page 512">Miller was lugging a fusion bomb through Eros right now. When your enemy had the tech advantage, you came at him as low-tech as you could get. Maybe one sad detective pulling a nuclear weapon on a wagon would slip through their defenses. Naomi had said they weren’t magic. Maybe Miller could make it and give them the opening they needed.</bq> <bq caption="Page 517">[...] without Earth, everything would eventually die. Humans had been out of the gravity well a long time. Long enough to have developed the technology to cut that umbilical cord, but they’d just never bothered to do it. Stagnant. Humanity, for all its desire to fling itself into every livable pocket it could reach, had become stagnant. Satisfied to fly around in ships built half a century before, using technology that hadn’t changed in longer than that.</bq> <bq caption="Page 517">Earth had been so focused on her own problems that she’d ignored her far-flung children, except when asking for her share of their labors. Mars had bent her entire population to the task of remaking the planet, changing its red face to green. Trying to make a new Earth to end their reliance on the old. And the Belt had become the slums of the solar system. Everyone too busy trying to survive to spend any time creating something new. We found the protomolecule at exactly the right time for it to do the most damage to us, Holden thought. It had looked like a shortcut. A way to avoid having to do any of the work, to just jump straight to godhood. And it had been so long since anything was a real threat to humanity outside of itself that no one was even smart enough to be scared.</bq> <bq caption="Page 517">Dresden had said it himself: The things that had made the protomolecule, loaded it into Phoebe, and shot it at the Earth were already godlike back when humanity’s ancestors thought photosynthesis and the flagellum were cutting-edge. But he’d taken their ancient engine of destruction and turned the key anyway, because when you got right down to it, humans were still just curious monkeys. They still had to poke everything they found with a stick to see what it did.</bq> <bq caption="Page 527">A flock of softball-sized spiderlike things crawled through the corridor, leaving a slick sheen of glowing slime behind them. It wasn’t until he paused to knock one off the cart that he recognized them as severed hands, the trailing wrist bones charred black and remade. Part of his mind was screaming, but it was a distant one and easy to ignore.</bq> <bq caption="Page 527">Back in the ancient days, when humanity still lived entirely down a well, the paths laid down by Roman legions had become asphalt and later ferroconcrete without ever changing a curve or a turn. On Ceres, Eros, Tycho, the bore of the standard corridor had been determined by mining tools built to accommodate the trucks and lifts of Earth, which had in turn been designed to go down tracks wide enough for a mule cart’s axle.</bq> <bq caption="Page 530">[...] had kept the information and languages and complex cognitive structures, building itself on them like asphalt over the roads the legions built.</bq> <bq caption="Page 547">She was in a hazmat analysis node, lying on a bed of the dark thread that spilled out from her spine until it was indistinguishable from a massive fairy-tale cushion of her own flowing hair. Tiny points of blue light glittered on her face, her arms, her breasts. The bone spurs that had been pressing out of her skin had grown into sweeping, almost architectural connections with the lushness around her. Her legs were gone, lost in the tangle of dark alien webs; she reminded Miller of a mermaid who had traded her fins for a space station. Her eyes were closed, but he could see them shifting and dancing under the lids. And she was breathing.</bq> <bq caption="Page 566">And for a moment, he was tempted. In that hesitation between drawing breath and speaking, part of him wondered what would happen if he shed the patterns of history and spoke about himself as a man, about the Joe Miller who he’d known briefly, about the responsibility they all shared to tear down the images they held of one another and find the genuine, flawed, conflicted people they actually were. It would have been a noble way to fail.</bq> The following is from the afterword, <bq caption="Page 568">This is working man’s science fiction. It’s like in Alien, we meet the crew of the Nostromo doing their jobs in this very blue-collar environment. They’re truckers, right? Why is there a room in the Nostromo where water leaks down off of chains suspended from the ceiling? Because it looks cool and makes the world feel a little messy. It gives you the feel of the world. Ridley Scott doesn’t explain why that room exists, and when most people watch the film, it never even occurs to them to ask. What kind of drive does the Nostromo use? I bet no one walked out of the film asking that question.</bq>