SF Book of the Month August 2011: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Hobbit, Jul 31, 2011.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    This month's SF BotM is a recent publication: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey.

    [​IMG]

    Rip-roaring Space Opera!

    Here's what Rob thought of it when he reviewed it for SFFWorld in May 2011:

    Discuss!

    Mark
     
  2. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I've not started it yet, but all I can say is it's not a tiny book. 'tis huge!
     
  3. beniowa

    beniowa Registered User

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    That's because it's printed with large font and formatting to make it bigger. It's probably closer to 300 pages in a more normal printing. A lot of publishers are doing that these days.

    I really liked this book and I'm looking forward to more. It's the kind of solar system space opera the genre has been missing lately. The only complaint I have is that I could tell which character each author was writing so it felt a little uneven sometimes.
     
  4. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I know, it's just like Abraham's latest (At least in terms of Orbit UK releases). Trade paperback size, massive print, fairly high quality pages. It's worth the extra bit of money just for the quality! Does make the book rather inconvenient to carry around, but I'm not working now so that's a non-issue for me.

    Really heard a lot of good things about this, so looking forward to getting my teeth into it.

    Edit: Just checked TBD. Their preorder for the MMPB release is said to be just shy of 600 pages long, whereas the TPB is about 560. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011
  5. pox

    pox Registered User

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    Might give it another quick go actually too...
     
  6. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    Mine is on the way, as is the fantasy BOTM. Whichever gets here first, I read first. I'll be back.
     
  7. s271

    s271 Repudiated Ursus

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    I'm really surprised people like it so much. I've read Dragon Path and liked it, but this book I had bad feeling from start and dropped after ~50 (or may be it was 100) pages. IMHO Abraham just is not qualified to write SF. Good SF has a lot more strict requirements to world/environment consistency. First of all people who write about space should refresh high-school course of physics. Ships don't stop in space. Position make sense only in the context of delta of velocities. And so on. Tech descriptions, what I have seen were not consistent (no, I don't even want to go into it), but even worse was society. It is half cliche from 70s, half just poorly thought out. My overall impression - bad SF, no research at all and careless writing, author skill notwithstanding. Wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but especially to hard SF readers.
     
  8. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    Being devil's advocate then: is Leviathan Wakes an SF novel for those who don't think about the science too much?

    I'm tempted to say that from that perspective it is 'style over substance' with the substance being 'science'.

    Or am I being too simplistic/overgeneralising?

    Mark
     
  9. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    To be honest, I thought part of the 'appeal' of space opera is that it often takes liberties with our knowledge of science in order to tell a story.

    Surely a ship could actually stop in space? It'd be more of a hover, sure, but it could be stationary. You could balance the force on each axis (Newton's First Law) to halt motion. You won't drift to a stop, but you could theoretically use thrusters (Or other propulsion units) to negate drift velocities and so forth to have a stationary ship.
     
  10. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    Good point: and adds to what I said earlier in that Leviathan for many (here at least!) seems to be a story where it's the plot not the science that's important, as you say, like the Space Opera of old.

    Are we also saying that for many readers the science doesn't matter? Is the book's strength that some readers can suspend their disbelief whilst reading it?

    Mark
     
  11. Westsiyeed

    Westsiyeed The Fifth Dominion

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    I think so. As long as the book has a good storyline and holds my interest, the specifics of the science are secondary - which would be the case for Leviathan Wakes (though I know others would disagree!)

    The characters were interesting, the action didn't really let up, there were thriller and mystery elements, and the world building was good too. It was just a great read, and you didn't have to think too hard too often.
     
  12. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I don't think the science matters. We're talking far into the future, and if we look at our own scientific advancements in the past 50, 100, 200 years, nothing is impossible. We subvert the laws of nature with science, we transmit voices and pictures over the airwaves, we shape bits of silicon into extremely powerful and extremely versatile computers, and we never know where science is going to lead us next. If you're doing near-future things, then our level of science is going to be very important, but if you're looking 100+ years into the future, then you can afford to bend the laws of physics somewhat as we may find ways to counter them or even find that they're not as true as we thought.

    You don't need hard science in every science fiction book, because one possible interpretation of the genre title states exactly that. It can be fictional science as much as it can be fiction with a hard science backbone. Some of the greatest science fiction books of all time contain fictional scientific scenarios (Such as the creation of Adam, to use the name Shelley gave him 'unofficially', from Frankenstein), but we don't discount them nor put them down for it.

    Personally, I don't care too much if the science is dodgy. Chances are that I won't notice it, but if I do, I likely won't mind. If I can put up with "stores of magic" within a person in fantasy, I can put up with a bit of science-bending in sci-fi.
     
  13. s271

    s271 Repudiated Ursus

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    The problem here - stop relatively to what? which planet? Sun? Sun would be more "natural" choice form physics point of view but completely senseless from practical (or plot) POV

    I'm not against liberties with science, I'm against internal inconsistency. It's like in the fantasy in the beginning of the fight hero is barechested, and in the next moment he is wearing full armor, without any explanation. With justification that it's a fantasy. And I seen such inconsistencies in Leviathan (space physics most glaring, but not a singular), and they prevent me from following plot. Even more jarring was the fact that all the politics, society, human hierarchy were seems phony to me. I now understand what make me drop the book - I had feeling I'm watching B-movie.
     
  14. JustaStaffer

    JustaStaffer Registered User

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    There's not a lot of science substance, that's for sure. I think the novel is more horror/noir than Science Fiction. It's Sci-Fi only in the fact it's set in space. I really liked it because of that...

    Sci-Fi can be the means and not the end. I think that's what Abraham and Franck are up to here.
     
  15. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    Corey is going for something of an Old School Space Opera Vibe with the book and weren't aiming for Hard SF with this one.

    The noir element worked very well, I thought.

    Here's an interesting interview with them.
     
  16. poser765

    poser765 Registered User

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    This exactly. This book is not really about science. It.just happens to be set in space. In the back there is an interview where the author sort of points that out. He talks a bit about how not many explanations are given. The esptein drive being his example. Not once did he try to explain it. In his world it simply is.

    Compare that to David Weber. He is not writing hard sci fi but still spends pages and pages explaining impelled wedges.

    I thought the book was great and can't wait for the next. I really got into the idea of what we do with knowledge gained through other than moral means...once the evil deed is done and we have the results is it ethical to.use them. Very much like stuff gathered from Nazi and some of therapy done in concentration camps.
     
  17. Jamais

    Jamais Registered User

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    hmm at $US16.40 too expensive to order, but glad to hear comments for future reference, ty
     
  18. renatria

    renatria Registered User

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    Exactly this. Something I am liking about the book (I'm about halfway through, I think- ereader version with a free book tacked on so I'm not sure) is that while I haven't noticed any glaring inconsistencies with the science, I like they way its not really being discussed. You see a bit more in the Holden chapters, while the Miller chapters seem to deal more with the sociology.

    I did find it interesting that the people of Earth/Mars are considered the has versus the belter have nots. (at least so far) I'm not sure how much of that is belter perception from both the "the grass is always greener" and the fact that most of the corporations that seem to own the belt cities are Earth or Mars basted. So far the main negative we've heard about Earth is no green in the cities and some population control measures. Neither of which are surprising. I'm not sure if we learn more about Earth, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were still some bad poverty issues. . . I figure its got to take some money to emigrate.
     
  19. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    Just now finished this one up and had a read through the thread.

    First thought on finishing: I liked it. But I am in the camp that doesn't need every little bit of science to work completely to enjoy a book. That said, I didn't think the science was that terrible. The thing about stopping in space, they very often talked about matching velocities and vectors and such in relation to stopping. But aside from all that, I didn't think the point of the story was the science. Sure, use that as a metric for books that are actually exploring a scientific concept with the story. This isn't that. This is a big old story about nasty alien life getting loose in the solar system and how various human elements contribute to that either politically or personally. And on that level, I thought it worked quite well. I think they were going for B movie vibe...but more like an A movie in the style of a B movie...

    Rob mentions Firefly in his review above. I didn't really get that feel for Holden's crew EXCEPT for Naomi.....I couldn't think of her in any way other than Zoe for some reason...from the descriptions to her comments to her carriage to her XO style, it all just said "This is Zoe" to me, which was fine, as I like Zoe a lot as a character.

    I also thought Holden/Miller were pretty well-drawn, with some interesting conflict between them and their personality types. Miller's descent to suicidal wasn't really as convincing as other aspects of the book for me, and I wish that had been done a little better, as I think that's something I'd have really latched onto as something to like a lot.

    One thing that did bother me a bit about it was the pretty rigid 10-pages-per-character style of chapters. There were times when I thought the story would be better served by sticking to one or the other just a bit longer than that. It wasn't a huge deal, but a few situations didn't quite work out for me given the way they did it.

    This one wasn't really on my radar before it was picked for BOTM, but I'll definitely be picking up the subsequent books at some point down the line.
     
  20. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I started it last night, and it read better than I was expecting.

    The characters seem fairly interesting, although I'm not sure about the physical aspects of the Belters. It seems really odd to me. Anyway, the characters I've read about so far seem to feel quite natural and there's a nice variety about.

    My only gripe so far is the obsession with a certain liquid in the prologue. That annoyed me a bit.