The story is told through a combination of present-day events (from the character's point of view) as well as flashbacks to events that take place prior to and during Leviathan Wakes.
"Present-day" in this context is unclear. Characters estimate the story to take place between 3-4 years after the events of Leviathan Wakes, though this cannot be confirmed.
Somewhere in the vast expanse of space, a group of prisoners lives in permanent captivity.
The only company they have is each other and the Belters who guard them. The only stories they know are the triumphs and crimes that brought them there. The only future they see is an empty life in an enormous room.
And then the man from Mars came along . . .
Viewpoint Characters Edit
The Vital Abyss is the first novella or novel to be written in the first person from a single character's perspective, former Protogen researcher Cortazar.