Thirsting for an old fashion kickass space opera with a gritty detective trying to track down a missing rich Earth girl turned Belter rebel as things get weirder and wilder?
Welcome to Leviathan Wakes: Book One in the Expansion Series.
James S. A. Corey is the pen name for Daniel Abraham who wrote the fantasy series The Long Price Quartet, starting with A Shadow in Summer.
Which I enjoyed.
So, I had expectations.
In Leviathan Wakes, two main protagonists form the structure of the story. The first is Detective Miller who works for the Earth company Star Helix Security on Ceres station built on a large astroid deep in the Astroid Belt.
Detective Miller is a Belter who is a cynic and a nihilist and doesn’t have faith in the moral judgement of others. Control of information is how you get others to do what you want and he doesn’t trust anyone else to decide what needs to be done. His current partner is an Earther who is not well received by those of Ceres and he struggles to understand why he is not accepted among them. Living in the Belt creates humans with different mind sets and tension develops between the “Inner Ring” of Mars and Earth and those whose lives have never touched ground or breathed natural air and live in the “Outer Planets.”
Jim Holden is XO on the Canterbury who watches his ship, a civilian ice hauler, blown up when he takes a team to investigate a mayday signal from a stranded ship Scopuli. It’s a setup. Furious, he believes that people should be given the truth and trusts mankind to do the right thing.
So, he broadcasts on full power, “My name is James Holden, and my ship the Canterbury was just destroyed by a warship using stealth technology and what appear to be parts stamped with Martian navy serial numbers. Data stream to follow.”
And starts an interplanetary war.
At first Mars is suspected of engineering a war they most likely can win. But the answer isn’t that simple as big private corporations become involved along with Earth’s daunting military. Events turn strange when Eros station becomes infected with an alien pronto virus and the stakes for humanity escalate as the virus mutates human biomass into different alien forms.
Full of action with interesting characters, I couldn’t put it down. My expectations were met, and exceeded. Along with an interesting mystery story, a bit of romance, some dramatic space fights, threatening aliens, Corey investigates how much and what kinds of information are safe to share.
Which was good since the Northwest was under siege from a massive snowstorm, and I had nothing to distract me and nowhere I could go. I curled up and just enjoyed the story.
Opposite from Scalzi, (see previous blog) Corey’s acknowledgement is a short third of a page and uses first names only when he thanks his New Mexico Critical Mass writers group. It is in an author interview provided later that you realize the George mentioned is George R. R. Martin and the Walter is Walter Jon Williams. The group is more like the science fiction writers’ mafia.
The idea of a writers group is one the fledgling author should consider. Being in a writers group has benefitted me immensely, and while we are yet to be powerhouse names, their ideas and suggestions have been invaluable. A thoughtful and supportive group is an asset to any writer and I recommend joining one.
Also in the interview, the questioner asks Corey how much research did he do on the technical side of things, and how important was it to be realistic and accurate. This is a dilemma most space opera stories have to face. The science has to be believable, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the story. Corey calls it the “working man’s science fiction.” In fact when asked how the Epstein drive works, he answers, “Very well.” And leaves it at that.
It’s a tricky rope to walk when writing about possible future technologies and science. I agree with Corey, that the story is the thing and the science and technology should be believable enough not to interrupt the story.
Because after all, science and technology constantly change. What may seem impossible today, may be probable tomorrow.