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"The Expanse". You're gonna need a VPN

Posted November 25, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

The pilot ep of SyFy's big bet on space based... er... sci-fi has dropped pretty much everywhere but here. The producers went with a broadside releasing the opener on pretty much every digital distribution channel worth its pixels. But none of them DownUnder.

Weirdly enough SyFy's local web site invites locals to view the premiere just like they had the same rights and priveleges as anyone. But if you try to play the vid you get put in your place, hard.

Luckily, God gives us VPNs for these trying moments. I dodged around the geoblock yesterday and took in the first installment. Sorry, Murph, I enjoyed it. The Zero G fx in the first scene are top shelf, and the action on Ceres, the space station where a lot of the action in S1 will play out was both, ahem, expansive and claustrophobic. There were some echoes of the greats in there. Some Deep Space Nine. A little BladeRunner. Possibly even a nod to Justified although Detective Miller wears a stupid hat in the books too. It's almost a supporting character.

Thomas Jane's Miller looks suitably sketchy and dangerous. Steven Strait as Holden is a great realisation of the written character, but he's not my realisation of the written character, damn it. I thought the physiological stretching of the Belters was brilliant and unlike some of the critics I wasn't much bothered by the density and complexity of the storyline – possibly because I've read the books.

It did take a while settling into the on screen personas and faces of characters I'd come to know so well on the page, and it was kind of a bummer already knowing who would live and die. But maybe the show runners will diverge a little. Critical reaction has been violently diverse, but I'm gonna go with hopeful anticipation.

If enough people are interested I'm happy to do a recap as new episodes air.

39 Responses to ‘"The Expanse". You're gonna need a VPN’

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted November 25, 2015
Without admitting anything about how, I too enjoyed the first episode, and unlike Murphy I really enjoyed the books so there was a lot riding on me it for me.
This, like Amzon's Man in the High Castle, I am happy to hand over cash the minute I can to obtain/see legally.
I don't promise not to use some fairly easy tech to see it prior to that if I am made to wait much longer.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted November 25, 2015
I understand and excuse your needs.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted November 25, 2015
John, you need to start a thread on The Man in the High Castle.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted November 25, 2015
Yes, but I need to watch it first.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted November 25, 2015
So strange to see an actor who portrayed Alexander Hamilton in the HBO miniseries John Adams playing a Nazi SS Officer.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted November 26, 2015

oh Jessica Jones is my best thing to watch at the moment.


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Blarkon reckons...

Posted November 25, 2015
I'm happy to wait until the first season or two turn up on Blu-Ray - though I have little faith in SyFy being able to monetise something when the majority of their audience believes that it is their spaghetti monster given right to view via BitTorrent.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 25, 2015
I was really hoping I could buy a season pass on iTunes.

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted November 25, 2015
Guilty, didn't like the first book. In fact, it is the worst case of broken suspense of disbelief I have ever suffered as a fiction writer. For instance, I normally like noir style detectives, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me why I should give a shit about the one in this novel.

But the worst offense has to be the XO of the Canterbury, Holden.

I've suffered some bad leadership in my time in the military and in the civilian world. I've seen my fair share of full on fucking morons, one of which WAS the Executive Officer for 1-5 Field Artillery during Operation Desert Storm, Major Callahan. Folks talked about fragging his ass all the time and if an opportunity presented itself, someone probably would have done the deed.

Holden, from the start, is clearly a monumental fuck up of the first order. Discharged from the UN Navy for terminal stupidity, we get an inside look where he is having an internal monologue with himself about how he'd tell his CO to fuck off if he was ordered to fire on a civilian ship.

I put up with that. I put up with the fact he was predictably fucking one of his crew mates. I even put up with the very questionable decision to make this guy a main character when, if I were his Captain his ass would be chained to the reactor charged with cleaning the crevices of it with a tooth brush.

But the kicker HAS to be the moment, after the destruction of the Canterbury by what may or may not be the Martian Navy, is when he BREAKS comms silence and starts blathering away on the open air. In my head I'm wondering the following:

1. Why didn't another crew member go up there with a heavy object, bash his fucking head in, and throw him out the airlock. "I'm taking command of what is left of this goat fuck. This guy has clearly, and completely fucking lost it. Any objections?"

2. Why isn't an advanced warship using, at the very minimum, passive jamming to block any comms period?

3. Why would the crew of the Martian ship, particularly the Captain, give two shits about a transmission designed to be an insurance policy.
Aboard the Martian Naval Vessel Ares:

"Did you find that other contact?" the Captain asks.

Weapons, "I have had her on my screen the entire time."
"Destroy it too."
"But, they sent a transmission."
"Which will take light minutes to reach anyone who would even remotely care. I'm sure the Admiralty will come up with a story for it. People die in space all the time. Oh, where is that ECCM officer? Put them on Captain's Mast for incompetence."
"Aye, engaging contact."
Five seconds later. BOOM.
Or, if I really wanted to save this collection of terminal fuckwits for later in my novel, I might have had them evade to the surface of the asteroid, losing themselves in the surface clutter, or pull a Han Solo by boosting directly at the last known position of the Martian Navy based upon their fix of the weapons which had been discharged.
In any case, as I've told John before in more than one rant through Facetime, I can not for the life of me figure out why someone, if not an editor, somewhere, didn't ask all of the same questions I keep asking. Holden is clearly too fucking stupid to live.



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Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted November 25, 2015
And on the off chance that perhaps I'm the only one who missed the point I went off just now to read the lowest rated reviews at Amazon.
Apparently I'm not the only one who got off the train a third of the way in. And vomit-zombies? Ah, what the fuck? I'm sick of zombies, walkers, and what have you. If the Martians fired on the Canterbury for that reason then I'd absolutely make sure I killed everyone.

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BrianC asserts...

Posted November 25, 2015
Murph
He was a civie 2nd officer of the dumping ground ship of a second rate ney third rate shipping company. I found his actions to be totally believable indeed infuriatingly so.
But horses for courses I guess

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted November 25, 2015
Brian, as I've said before, I have met no fair shortage of incredibly stupid, incompetent people.

Holden? I can't believe he can tie his own shoelaces. I can't believe anyone, even a bunch of other drooling incompetents, would follow him anywhere. And big surprise, he was fucking someone on the ship and she was about to tell him she was pregnant.

They broke the bullshit detector with that one.

Barnesm mutters...

Posted November 26, 2015

I also like the epiphany Miller has where he realizes he is a washed up detective links his hero's journey to that of Holden's -both flawed and fallen but both capable of redemption through the hero's journey.


Its the description when Miller realizes that the archetype of the old hand who thinks even though they are bitter and cynical still believes they are respected by their peers but is really dismissed.

"So I pick the guy who maybe used to be good, but then got a divorce. Started hitting the bottle. Guy still thinks he's a hotshot. Acts like it. Only his numbers aren't better than anyone else's. Give him the shit cases. The Shit partner".- Octavia Muss

Sometimes I worry that's me at work.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted November 25, 2015
Murphy I have previously read how you didn't like it, didn't realise you only got a third of the way through Leviathan Wakes. Its interesting what engages different readers in so many different ways and what we find goes beyond each of our willing suspension of disbelief.
One of the parts I found very engaging was consistent and hence believable for me Newtonian Physics displayed in the world. The setting of a solar system only a few centuries ahead where millions now live in the outer solar system. Also I have read one or two zombie tales, and like all good zombie stories, its never about the zombies.

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted November 25, 2015
Frankly, Al Reynolds did it far better, Barnes. Most of this uses the bones of Reynolds' novels to include Chasm City, Pushing Ice, and The Prefect. It reads like a sad fan fiction of Reynolds' work, to be brutally honest.

I don't begrudge writers, even writers I don't like personally (I do not really know the writers behind this pen name) their success.

What I fail to see is why they are even remotely successful in the first place.

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 25, 2015
Well they certainly aren't the only writers whose significant success is a mystery to many.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 26, 2015
Shut up you!

Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted November 26, 2015
Barnesm LOL.Belated thanks to whoever put in a good word for Jessica Jones on netflix a few weeks ago.Can't stop watching it & am finally feeling that something out there is compensating for no 3rd season of the Sarah Connor Chronicles.'you keep pushing people away,'Jess: 'And yet, you're still here.'Love, love, loving it.

Barnesm asserts...

Posted November 26, 2015

Another great line

HOGARTH: You need to control yourself. You are coming off distinctly paranoid.

Jessica: Everyone keeps saying that, it's like a conspiracy.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 26, 2015
Yeah, it's an awesome show. I'm gonna write something up next week. The one problem with the Netflix model, though. Everyone is at different stages in the series.

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S.M. Stirling has opinions thus...

Posted November 26, 2015
I read this in manuscript -- Daniel and Ty were in my writer's group (I'm having thanksgiving dinner with Ty and Walter John Williams).

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted November 26, 2015
I realize they probably get told this all the time, but their's was/is my favorite book(s) to read last year/this year.

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted November 26, 2015
So . . . I should let this go, I know I should but . . . the Holden character got through an entire writer group without anyone throwing up a red flag?

FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted November 26, 2015
ha. Murph are you sure there isn't some kind of small terrier in your ancestry?

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 26, 2015

I think some of the attributes about Holden that bug you, like how he breaks comms silence to broadcast about what they found implicating Mars seems to be a defining characteristic of the man and is reflected and commented on by significant characters in the story who have to deal with Holden.

If its any consolation the find it a major flaw in the man as well almost pathological.

So with regard to the writers room, using an old tech vernacular maybe 'its not a bug, its a feature' of the Holden Character.

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted November 26, 2015
Simon, there is a reason the Brits finally gave up on us.
Barnes, I did a google search using the phrase, "Leviathan Wakes, why is Holden such an idiot?"

What I got was a Reddit discussion with the phrase, "Pulling a Holden."

My problem is that it may be a feature but it should have gotten him killed along with anyone else around him. He is simply, in my humble opinion, too fucking stupid to live. Reading wiki summaries on follow on novels were even more horrifying, given that the idiot manages to live through every novel.

If I had been on that ship, I'd have spaced his ass and taken command. I wouldn't follow him out of a burning building.

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 26, 2015

So what you are saying is that if I see the appearance of a character in the story who seems to be a thinly veiled version of you I should expect the demise of James Holden shortly after.

I'll keep an eye out.

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted November 27, 2015
Barnes, I sorely doubt you'll ever see such a character. But if they want to Tuckerize me in order to kill Holden off, they should call me. I'll even write the scene.

S.M. Stirling swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 30, 2015
Murph: the reason the Brits gave up was the French Navy.

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted November 30, 2015
Hey, don't puncture my myths, buddy!!! <GRIN>

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 26, 2015

I dread to imagine what you would have thought of the Martian Marine Bobbie Draper.



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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted November 26, 2015
Holden is the 'holy fool', the blind and dangerous optimist. Miller is the constant cynic, dangerous in a different way. They authors wanted to set up that idealism/cynicism dialectic so they could poke around the middle ground in an narratively interesting way.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 26, 2015
OOOhh that's even better than redemption through hero's journey idea.

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted November 27, 2015
Oh, so it is Don Quixote.
Still doesn't redeem it for me.

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Blake would have you know...

Posted December 23, 2015
I find Holden believable because he reminds me a bit of me. I dont think he is completely stupid, he has some measure of competency. But he's an idealist and idealists are prone to moments of emotion driven stupidity. I once had a stand up arguement with a good portion of my snr management in front of a couple of hundred staff. May not have done my progress very well but the general populace seemed to think i was a bit of a hero and i kept getting pats on the back from random people in the lift because i 'stuck it to the man'I hadnt really set out to be some kind of elevator hero, i was just sticking up for my ideals and didnt give a shit what the fallout was. ( i came pretty close to resigning that day, but instead followed it up with a bit more holden-esque emails)
Its been a while since I'd read it but i recall thinking that he wasn't jammed /killed was because the mysterious party had largely set the whole thing up as a catalyst to escalate tensions between Earth and Mars.
I think the reason these type of works become successful is because most people can ignore shit like that when there is otherwise splosions and intrigue. Look at dan brown.
I personally have little interest in technical detail in books, i must confess i skim read most of the technical guff in the early parts of AoT, although i did wikipedia warship classifications at some point so i could at least contextualise the difference between a frigate and a cruiser.
Each to their own, although a friend of mine when tasked with reviewing a local pulp writers awards told me on one novel she had cast it aside in the first sentence, because the opening similie was crap. I do wonder if she does that, how many Hitchhikers guides get lost because bricks just don't hang in the air. (and hg2tg is basically the pinnacle of written fiction ;-))

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted December 23, 2015
Blake, I gotta ask. What leads you to a post so far off the front page?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted December 24, 2015
Maybe he's late to the game, like me. I just caught up with this and am loving what SyFy is going. I didn't read the books, but will when this is done.

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