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January 26th, 2011, 09:50 AM #1
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Leviathan Wakes/THE EXPANSE by Ty Franck & 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
January 26th, 2011, 10:12 AM #2
I have pre-ordered this one and I'm really looking forward to it.
Last edited by odo; January 26th, 2011 at 10:32 AM.
January 26th, 2011, 11:04 AM #3
I managed to acquire an ARC of this and The Dragon Path. Perhaps I'll jump to this one first.
January 27th, 2011, 08:50 AM #4
I automatically buy anything by Daniel Abraham and The Dragon's Path and Leviathan Wakes will be no exception.
January 27th, 2011, 09:51 AM #5
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Leviathan Wakes while it is clearly a tbc, it is also a full package on its own, so while the sequel is a big asap too, it is less urgent so to speak
February 7th, 2011, 05:09 PM #6
Four chapters in and I concur with Suciul, this is a great novel (so far). Solid characters, good use of science and tech without overloading it and an interesting mix of horror and noir thriller as well as the SFF.
February 7th, 2011, 08:56 PM #7
Sounds like an interesting read.
February 10th, 2011, 05:31 AM #8
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck)
Holden is a crewman on the Canterbury, an ice-hauler traipsing back and forth between the inner planets of the Solar system and the outer colonies. When his ship is attacked by unknown forces whilst investigating a derelict, a series of events is set in motion which will lead the three great powers - Earth, Mars and the Belt - to the brink of war. Meanwhile, Miller, a cop on Ceres, is tasked with investigating the disappearance of a young woman. His search leads him closer to a far-ranging conspiracy, and into contact with Holden and his crew. The stakes are high as they uncover a threat to the entire human race, a threat which some see as an opportunity...
Leviathan Wakes, the first book in The Expanse series, is an unapologetic, old-school space opera. There's been a few of these recently, but few with the elan and furiously page-turning readability of this book. Part of this can be attributed to its writers: James S.A. Corey is a pen-name for Daniel Abraham, the author of the brilliant Long Price Quartet fantasy series, and Ty Franck, George R.R. Martin's assistant who created the setting for an SF roleplaying campaign. Abraham's experience and steadying hand and Franck's ferocious enthusiasm have combined here to create something quite compelling. In the acknowledgements section they reveal that a number of other major SFF authors had a hand in critiquing the book and offering advice, such as Walter Jon Williams (himself a space opera veteran) and astrophysicist Ian Tregillis, who helped out with the hard science part of the book.
Part of the appeal of the book is its structure. Like Donaldson's Gap Series and Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, it uses a rotating POV technique. Unlike those big, sprawling series, Leviathan Wakes only has two major POV characters, Holden and Miller, and bounces back and forth between them in turn. This has the effect of keeping the book very tightly focused, helping keep the pace fast but not so much that subtler nuances of plot and characterisation are lost. The authors aren't reinventing the wheel here and the two characters are pretty standard types: Miller is the embittered, cynical, divorced, hard-drinking cop with trust issues, Holden the idealistic, righteous and optimistic officer. Naturally they're chalk and cheese and don't get on very well at first but eventually strike up a good working relationship and earn some mutual respect.
Luckily, the authors are too good to let this transform into a 1980s buddy cop movie. The characters are well-motivated with convincing motivations and rationales for their actions, and they are steered away from cliche as their relationship takes some unexpected turns as the book progresses. There is also a nice contrast in that Holden has a small crew of well-drawn characters supporting him, whilst Miller is working alone. The supporting cast, such as Holden's crew, is also well-depicted, but the important character of Fred seems a bit too convenient and good to be true, and hopefully we get more into his head in later books in the series as he is a bit flat as a character at the moment. The other major character, Julie, is presented in an intriguing manner: missing when the book opens, Miller constructs a mental version of Julie to help him get through the case and then has to keep readjusting that image as he encounters the life story of the 'real' Julie.
The book appears to have many influences. John Carpenter's The Thing appears to have been one, whilst the small ship and the loyal crew elements recall Firefly and Blake's 7. Using a (relatively) small cast as a window onto larger events, mostly reported through news reports and tension-filled long-range transmissions, is reminiscent of Babylon 5, as is the general tech level and the use of real Newtonian physics in the space battles. I'd also be surprised if Donaldson's Gap Series hadn't been read by both authors, whilst the cop-in-space-noir-thriller angle is reminiscent of some of Alastair Reynolds' work. The tensions between the 'stations' (as the asteroid settlements are derogatorily called by the people of Earth and Mars) and the planets also recalls CJ Cherryh's Downbelow Station. But these influences are never worn too overtly on the sleeve: Leviathan Wakes also forges its own path.
Leviathan Wakes (****½) is a ridiculously entertaining space opera, let down perhaps by only a couple of coincidences and moments of dramatic convenience. Otherwise it's a relentless, page-turning novel with some great character-building. The book will be published in the UK on 2 June 2011 and in the USA on 15 June 2011. The second volume, Caliban's War, is apparently already nearly complete and should follow in a year or so.
May 14th, 2011, 09:32 AM #9
I finished this last night after blowing through the last 2/3 of the book throughout the day. It started out strong and got progressively better. Terrific read and sure to be a top 10 book for 2011 for me. I'd love to see this shortlisted for an award or two.
Spoiler:VOMIT ZOMBIES, which seem to be influenced by the Red Lanterns of DC Comics.
May 14th, 2011, 09:47 AM #10
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Sounds like good old fashioned space-romping SF to me. Want a copy!
August 25th, 2011, 05:02 AM #11
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- Feb 2011
Definitely very well written and a very entertaining read. For hardcore science fiction fans there's nothing really new [the basic premise has been done by quite a few authors], but the devil is in the details and I like the unique twist they brought.
I think the rest of the series will be ones to look out for. As it is, this was an excellent debut.
Last edited by Rob B; August 25th, 2011 at 11:01 AM.
August 25th, 2011, 05:04 AM #12
August 25th, 2011, 05:06 AM #13
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October 18th, 2011, 11:48 AM #14
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I'm about 1/4 into Leviathan Wakes and I doubt I have , or will read anything better this year.
October 18th, 2011, 04:12 PM #15
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