Characters seem able to immediately figure out who's from Earth, who's from Mars and who's from the Belt. How can they tell?

Surely some Belters have some really picturesque appearance, but not all of them; still, everybody seem to be able to recognize anybody's lineage on first sight. Is that the case? and how?

  • Others have bigger bones?
    – Oni
    May 23, 2019 at 16:48
  • 3
    Do you have examples in which a random person is easily identified as from Earth, Mars, or the Belt? Belters have accents and unusually tall bodies, most of the Martians encountered are either uniformed military or high-ranking diplomats, and Earthers tend to be the stockiest.
    – Null
    May 23, 2019 at 17:14
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    Are you able to discern the difference between a German and an Italian? Or between a person from London and a person from Los Angeles?
    – krb
    May 23, 2019 at 18:04
  • @Null Praxideke Meng for example is saved from being "spaced" after a guy identifies him as Belter, without any particular check. I don't think he has strange accents or he is particularly tall. Also Miller IIRC gets recognized as Belter by strangers, and he has no Belter accent, I think (I'm not really sure I can distinguish english accents...)
    – Wes
    May 23, 2019 at 18:44
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    There are limits to the differences they can portray in the show with all earth actors, the books imply a lot more obvious physical differences. Also what makes you think Miller doesn't have a belter accent? He's supposed to be about as belter as they come.
    – Jack
    May 24, 2019 at 0:05

1 Answer 1


In the books they can tell pretty easily, since they all have different appearances due to growing up in different gravitational strength. Here's a quote from early in Leviathan Wakes when we're introduced to the Martian Alex Kamal:

Martian-raised, Alex had a frame that was thicker than a Belter's. He was slender compared to Holden […]

Earthlings look like us, Martians are more slender (due to the low gravity of Mars), and Belters are thinner still (due to the almost non-existant gravity of the outer colonies).

Here's a quote, also from early in LW, which clearly implies that all Belters are very thin:

He couldn't understand how Belters, thin as pencils, bounced back from high g so quickly. Decades of practice and selective breeding, he assumed.

And another quote about a mob of Belters:

Men, women. Dark skin, pale, golden brown, and all with the long, thin build of Belters […]

And here's a description of a Belter child:

She was already too tall to be mistaken for an Earth child, her limbs longer and thinner. Her skin had the pink flush of Belter babies, which came with the pharmaceutical cocktail that assured that their muscles and bones would grow strong.

So it's clear that in the books, all Belters have the same distinct look from birth.

Your claim to the opposite is, I assume, referring to the TV show, where not all Belter characters are played by extremely thin and tall actors. The authors of the books, and executive producers of the show, discuss this in this blog post. I recommend reading it for some interesting background reasoning.

The in-universe reason for this discrepancy in the show is given about 8 minutes into the show's first episode, "Dulcinea": Some Belters, including Miller, had access to bone-density enhancing medicine as children. This is explained by Miller to his Earth partner, as part of a "Belter Culture 101", and when Havelock asks "what's your tell?" (ie. "how can other Belters recognize you as one of them?"), it's revealed that Miller has bone spurs in the back of his neck where the vertebrae didn't fuse right because the medicine was low quality. Presumably, given the low social status of Belters, this applies to most (if not all) non-tall Belters at this point of time.

In this scene, and later in the season, we also learn other identifying features, including:

  • Long, thin limbs from living in low gravity and not taking bone-density hormones (many Belters)
  • A burn around the neck of older Belters, from low quality space suits (Anderson Dawes has this)
  • Tattoos around the neck to resemble the burn marks, to show cultural identity (almost all Belters have this)
  • Brittle bones, from zero gravity (Anderson Dawes's sister suffered from this)
  • Red eyes and tremors, combined with sagging skin, if someone's body rejects muscle growth hormones (a patron of the pub suffers from this)

In the pub scene, Miller strongly implies that pretty much all Belters can be identified somehow, if you know what you're looking for (which Havelock doesn't). In the books, it's much easier for anyone to identify your background based on clear body characteristics.

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