13 September 2013

Books: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of The Expanse by James S.A. Corey (2011)




As George R.R. Martin says on the cover, Leviathan Wakes is an attempt at creating a space opera that once dominated the Golden Age of Science Fiction during the 1940s and 50s. And author James S.A. Corey (pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck –who are Martin’s assistant) does fairly well, doing what science fiction has always done, setting a story in the future, but borrowing many plot elements from today. The authors also blend real science with several different genres, including a noir detective, thriller aspects, horror and magical aspect that science fiction needs when it comes to space travel –instead of warp drive, they have Epstein Drive (and that’s as far as the authors intend to explain it). 

In future, Earth has yet to encounter aliens but they have populated the solar system, with colonies all over the place, including many moons, Mars and the Asteroid Belt. New businesses have popped, including harvesting ice from the rings of Venus to supply water to those who’ve been born and raised in space. There is also a major conflict between Mars, Earth and “Belters” that is heating up and may boil over to war.

But war is something Jim Holder and his crew of the Canterbury can care less about. Holden and his crew make their living as one of those ice miners, but when they accidentally comes across the remains of a ship called the Scopuli, they discover a secret that people are willing to kill and start wars for. At the same time, Detective Miller is searching for the daughter of a rich couple, and his investigation eventually brings him to Holden and the remains of the Scopuli. The two men must work together to find out what is going on and keep themselves and everyone else alive.

I think the book works because the authors don’t get too complex in setting up their universe –plus it helps that they don’t get all technobabble. It’s a more or less straight forward adventure tale, highlighted by some believable characters, an interesting story and more than a modest dose of humor. It’s not dark and forbidding, but it is dangerous.  

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