Memory's Legion by James S.A. Corey: Part 1

Memory’s Legion by James SA Corey (Part 1)

For my Read a Series: The Expanse project, I’m on Book Eight (Tiamat's Wrath), but I’ve been reading the accompanying short stories gradually, which entails checking out the short story compilation, Memory’s Legion, once a year or so from the library and catching up. They add so much, and I’d highly recommend reading them as you go along if you’re reading the main novels. There are eight short stories that enhance the character depth and give context to the Expanse universe. I’ve presented them with a favourite quote, a snippet of what they are about, and my thoughts.

This is Part 1, the first four short stories.

"Drive" (150 years before Book 1):
“If he had control, he could reach the asteroid belt. He could go to the Jovian system and be the first person to walk on Europa and Ganymede. He isn’t going to, though. That’s going to be someone else. But when they get there, they will be carried by his drive.”
I loved this short story, and ode to Solomon Eptstein, the man who developed the Epstein Drive, and thus enabled efficient, long-range travel in the Expanse universe. It is tender and poignant, full of discovery and amazement, yet tinged with sadness and loss. Soloman sees a tantalizing future, but will not live to be a part of it. It captures the human striving for progress and exploration, while addressing the sacrifice that almost always accompanies it.

"The Butcher of Anderson Station" (Pre-Book 1):
“They used me. They made it about sending messages to everyone that you don’t fuck with Earth, because look at the shit we’ll do just because you spaced an administrator on a nowhere station. They made me the poster boy for disproportional response. They made me a butcher.”
It was good to have the backstory for Fred Johnson, OPA leader and onetime Colonel in Earth’s military. It gave me insight into his character: upright and quite moral, he thought he was doing his duty in the chain of command, but when he realized he’d been manipulated by his superiors, he couldn’t live with the guilt. The OPA gave him a way to shift, and he took it.

"Gods of Risk" (Between Books 2-3):
“There’s beauty in that,” Pop-Pop said earnestly to everyone and no one. “Such a massive plan, such ambition. A man might be setting the final stone and think back to his own father who’d set the stones below him and his grandfather who’d set the stones below that. To have a place in the great scheme, that was the beauty of it. To be a part of something you didn’t begin and you would not see completed. It was beautiful.”

“I love you, Dad,” Aunt Bobbie said, “but that’s bullshit.”
That’s Bobbie, dealing with her trauma from Caliban’s War (Book 2). This was a sneaky story, because it ostensibly followed the adventure of Bobbi’s 15 year-old nephew David as a brief coming of age story, but it gave us a sideways look at Bobbi’s life while we see how she comes to a decision to get back into the game.

"The Churn" (Between Books 3-4):
"Who are you going to be to yourself, if you do this?"...She pressed her palm against his breast, her skin against his skin in the place above his heart. "Who will you be in there?"

[His] face went perfectly still in the unnerving way it sometimes did. His eyes were flat as a shark’s, his mouth like a plaster cast mold of himself. Only his voice was the same, bright and amiable.

"You know there ain’t no one in there," he said.
I loved this story. It was clever and brave and sad all at once, and it gave me the backstory I’d been craving for Amos Burton. I found the authors’ notes on this story to be enlightening: it was a difficult piece of writing, and also a bit dark in tone. The characters’ relationships were forefront here, and they all delivered a gut punch.


As a bonus, here’s one more quote from "Gods of Risk" that I wanted to remember:

“I worked with the faction that was trying to avert the war…Everyone in these rooms is alive because of the people I helped. But with them, not for them.”...

”Really? Who was paying your wages? Earth was. The people that hate us.”

“They don’t hate us,” Bobbie said, her voice tired. “They’re afraid of us.”

“Then why do they act like they hate us?” David’s father said with something like triumph.

“Because that’s what fear looks like when it needs someplace to go.”

Stay tuned for my Memory’s Legion short stories Part 2! I just have to read the next two novels, which I plan to get to soon (read: in 2024…I hope).