Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Leviathan Wakes (James S. A. Corey)

Leviathan Wakes
(The Expanse series, Book 1)
James S. A. Corey
Fiction, Sci-Fi
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Humanity's spread through the solar system may ride on ingenuity and persistence, but brings with it other human traits, such as greed, selfishness, and tribalism. Mars bickers with Earth, while both worlds view the Belters - people of the asteroid belt and beyond, changed by generations of low gravity and artificial atmospheres - as something subtly less than human. Various factions, particularly the vocal (and occasionally violent) Outer Planets Alliance, rally for rights and independence, but so far mutual need keeps the guns (mostly) silent on all sides.
The balance is about to change...
When the worn-out ice freighter Canterbury picks up a distress call, Jim Holden is among the small shuttle crew sent to seek survivors - or salvage. Instead, he finds a trap set by a new foe, one with advanced technology and an unknown agenda. He and his crewmates struggle to survive, dodging lies and gunfire, as they try to navigate forces beyond their control.
On Ceres station in the Belt, Detective Miller's barely-functional career as a Star Helix law enforcement officer gets a minor boost when his boss selects him for an off-the-books investigation, tracking down the wayward daughter of an Earth business magnate. The deeper Miller digs into the life and disappearance of Julie Mao, the more he realizes he's onto something much bigger than a runaway case.
Both Holden and Miller have become part of a system-shaking conspiracy with ties to a mysterious discovery from deep space, one that might lift humans to the stars - or exterminate them utterly.

REVIEW: I came at this book a little backwards, having watched Season 1 of SyFy's series based on this book. The story arc's mostly the same, though several elements were tweaked for television... often, I must say, for the better. The book's still rather good, though, a space opera set in the early days of interplanetary expansion. It's a lived-in world, with dirt in the corners and grease under the fingernails, where the gap between poverty and privilege is enhanced by the vacuum of space; air and water, the latter mined from comets and places like the rings of Saturn, become more precious than gold, and failure to make ends meet takes on a new dimension when it's not just clothing and shelter at stake, but the very technology that enables one to breathe. Religion also follows us beyond the atmosphere; a subplot involves the Mormons contracting the first generational ship to leave the solar system. The characters could be a little flat at times, and the dialog occasionally clunked, but the action's mostly brisk enough to overlook such flaws, and it culminates in a fine finale. It kept drawing me back to read just a chapter or two more, which definitely means it did something right. I look forward to Book 2... not to mention watching the second season of the TV show when it comes to Amazon Prime.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Trading in Danger (Elizabeth Moon) - My Review
Old Man's War (John Scalzi) - My Review
The Expanse: Season 1- Amazon DVD link

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