When we met Fred Johnson in LEVIATHAN WAKES, he was the leader of the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA). We learned that at some point after he brutally liberated Anderson Station on behalf of Earth (earning him the nickname the Butcher of Anderson Station), he defected to the OPA. The novella The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S.A. Corey (the pen name used by Daniel Abraham (Twitter) and Ty Franck) helps fill in some of those missing details surrounding Johnson’s past.
The novella is short (very short in fact, coming in at less than 40 pages), and the plot is somewhat predictable, but Corey takes advantage of flash forwards and flash backs to create a compelling pacing. And readers learn about the many sides of Johnson. By giving the character increased complexity, Corey has made him more sympathetic.
But this is really the literary equivalent of a snack between meals. It’s a little something to tide over readers between books and to keep them interested in the Expanse series. In that way, it succeeds. Corey once again demonstrates “his” skill at mixing cool, space-opera tech with well-defined, interesting characters. I don’t think there is much that would turn me off of the Expanse books, and I’d rather have a novella than a trailer or something like that. I look forward to Corey’s next “snack.”
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