Memory’s Legion (2022) – James S.A. Corey

The complete Expanse short story collection is now together in one bound book, Memory’s Legion, which I’ve been waiting for, to add it to my collection of Expanse novels in their pride of place in my apartment.

Eight tales take us through the timeline of the universe’s narrative, giving us a glimpse of side stories and events that may have been touched on (or not) in the main story, but all of them, in one way or another, flesh out an already lushly filled universe.

Drive introduces us to Solomon Epstein who created the Epstein drive, but he didn’t get to see how it changed the solar system he called home. Interweaving with his relationship with Caitlin, the love of his life, we see the beginnings of the conflict between Earth and Mars, and how everything is about to change

The Butcher of Anderson Station delves into one of the big events that everyone refers to in the main story of The Expanse. This tale explores the events in and around it, and the effect that they had on Fred Johnson, and how he was manipulated and used, and what that did to him. It also gives some great insight into his character, and we understand him better. After Strange Dogs, a little later in the book, this was one of my favorite tales.

Gods of Risk lets us get a glimpse of Bobbie Draper who is adrift in her brother’s home on Mars,. But the thrust of the story is about her cousin David who is about to go through a coming of age tale that gives him a look at the hard edges of the world he lives in.

The Churn sends us to Baltimore, and we come across a familiar name, and a familiar appearance but they aren’t in the combinations we think. It doesn’t take long for the penny to drop to learn we are in a bit of an origin story for a beloved character, and how the things here shape who they become. This one was another personal favorite just for the glimpse we got of how a beloved character grew up.

The Vital Abyss is a first person story that puts us in the mind of one of the scientists that was working for Protogen, and unleashed the protomolecule on the unsuspecting populace of Eros. We learn of his schooling, his loves, his research, the removal of his morals, and what took place for him, and other Protogen scientists after the events of Eros and Venus, and what it may have cost his soul, and whether or not he would even notice the loss.

Strange Dogs is part horror, part immigrant tale that puts us on Laconia, and introduces us to youngsters Cara and Xan who have never known any other world, but for Laconia, but their parents live by the way things used to be on Earth. Which leads to problems when it comes to the ecology of the planet, and tragic events that upset the family’s life. The reader, who if they have read the entire Expanse series can see both sides of the event, because of what happens to Amos, but it does tell an engaging tale of wonder and horror. My fave story in the book.

Auberon is a planet in the Laconian Empire, and it’s new governor and his wife have arrived to find a world that has corrupt politicians and criminals at work everywhere. The story itself is almost noir in nature, is definitely a crime story, but also a love story as we see what the pair do not only for each other, but for the love of Laconia.

The Sins of Our Fathers gives us our last short story set in the The Expanse universe, and I have loved that all of them in this book are laid out chronologically in-universe. This story finds us on a remote planet, now cut off from the rest of the universe because of the dissolution of the gate system, and we find ourselves in a small research station, and come across a familiar name, and discover their fate, which is something we didn’t get from the main narrative. It’s poignant, smart, and lets us reflect on the nature of humanity, and those who shape us.

And just like that, my time in The Expanse (the novels and short stories anyway) is done. It’s been an amazing ride, and I loved how much I embraced this world, and the characters who inhabit it. Wow, what a fantastic creation this universe was!

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