January 26th, 2011, 09:50 AM
Leviathan Wakes by Ty Franck with Daniel Abraham, written as James Corey
This one is a major sf debut of 2011, due in June from Orbit and it just blew me away; while Mieville and Egan have two of the most highly awaited sf novels for me in a while, Leviathan Wakes is so strong that I easily see it being my top sf of 2011
Minireview with full review in due course:
Superlative series debut from the duo Abraham/Franck writing under one pen name; after the excellent The Dragon Path, D. Abraham helps deliver a great hard-sf/solar system adventure with the best world building in its category I've seen in a while and on par with Paul McAuley Quiet War duology. While a lacking the ensemble voice of that superb series and focusing on alternate POV chapters from the two main characters, the novel features a lot of other memorable characters too, though the two main heroes are clearly the stars.
In a future several centuries ahead with the Solar System led by an an uneasy coalition between 30 billion UN Earth and upstart but with better toys Congressional Mars Republic, the Belt is a varied place under various corporate governance agreements while the native Belters are starting to diverge physically from humanity as well as resent the heavy taxes the Coalition imposes, while the partly underground OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) is actively working for some form of autonomy/independence. Racism flourishes with "inners" tending to suffer accidents in the Belt mini-states whenever out of reach of local authorities, while for some on earth, the Belters are good for mass murder experiments in the name of progress or race - here race being humanity as seen on Earth - that could make even the horrible 20th century ones pale
A bureaucratic and corporate world on the inner planets and a freewheeling one in the Belt with tensions simmering all the time is brought to a boiling point by a sequence of events that feature heavily one of our heroes, former UN space officer James Holden, an earnest and righteous man whose motto is that everything will be better if everything is known - not unlike recent newsworthy personages and of course with the same end result, though in this case his "leaks" - at large broadcasts - involve considerably more momentous events he witnessed; canned from the UN space force for insubordination, Holden found a place as XO on a huge water-hauler that brings ice-comets from the moons of Saturn to the Belt, especially to Ceres one of the core city-states there with a population of some 7 million, one million of which being transients from the thousands of ships that pass by daily; on such a routine haul, a distress signal requires assistance and despite the old captain misgivings - regarding costs and delays, the inter solar law is strict and XO Holden is strict too, if humans are in danger, they need rescue; he leads a five person team there and what he finds starts changing the big picture forever...
On Ceres, Belter cop Miller is passing through a rough time in his mid-forties after a bitter divorce and hitting the bottle, being relegated from hotshot star to the one "senior detective" - technically the Ceres cops are the security arm of the corporation governing Ceres which is Earth based, but practically they are the law on Ceres - for disposable partners (like Earth native Havelock who even after 2 years on Ceres is seen as subhuman by most of his colleagues) or s..y jobs that need to be seen as looked at like finding the headstrong daughter of one of the inner family corporations that are shareholder in Ceres, Julie Mao who moved across "lines" to the Belt and the OPa side; though of course Miller does not know he is the "dump on" guy, so he earnestly tries to make Havelock a true partner and as welcome as possible, while also slowly getting to investigate Julie and becoming engrossed by her revealed personality so deciding to find her at all costs; to start though Miller has a problem, the low level mafia guys on Ceres have been disappearing and while for his boss Capt Shaddid, that's not unwelcome, fro Miller it is wearisome since there always will be someone new to take their place...
And so it starts and it goes on for a long while the novel being one i really did not want to end; great, great characters, action scenes, mysteries, an excellent ending that promises more though being a great stopping point since it offers a complete package too, Leviathan Wakes is as good as sf gets without ftl...
An A++ an a top 2011 novel, the sequel is a huge asap
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