This was really modern science fiction, if not quite up there with the best-of-the-best, it was close. Unusually for hard science fiction, the charac..Show More »ters were compelling on their own, and had some nice depth to them. Also somewhat unusually, the characters were not scientists or space marines, but rather a mediocre detective and an intra-stellar freight hauler who get pulled deeper and deeper into the solar-system spanning plot of the book.
Though it is revealed in the very start of the story (so, no spoiler here!) that there is a first contact element in the book, for the vast majority of the novel, the action is much more human in nature - politics (both interplanetary and interoffice) and lots of action predominate.
The novel is not the deepest, and I am not entirely sure it adds to the genre or sheds vital insight into the human condition, but there is a lot of fun: murder mysteries, ship-to-ship combat, witty banter, and even old-school horror all make appearances. I'll certainly listen to the next, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it while you wait for more Peter Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, or Iain M. Banks novels to be added to Audible.
No sophmore slump as both plot and writing improve
Leviathan Wakes was a really solid example of modern hard SF space opera - Caliban's War is better. Corey (actually two authors, but they generally do..Show More » a good job of writing as a team) pays attention to the nice hard SF details (ship acceleration, radiation exposure, transit times between Jovian moons, etc.), but the love is clearly for the opera part of space opera. The main set of characters are a winning team that excel at narrow escapes and being at the right place at the right time, while engaging in both banter and emotional asides. And, even though the book takes time to develop the emotional states of the characters, plot elements zip along, tension is ratcheted ever upward as chapters quickly switch from viewpoint to viewpoint (and maybe author to author).
The new main characters are less blue collar than the first book, but also more well-written and unexpected - this is the first SF novel I have read with a foulmouthed 72 year old Indian grandmother, let alone one where that foulmouthed grandmother is genuinely intimidating. Similarly, the writing has improved, with less awkward passages and some genuinely moving descriptions. Reading is very solid, with accents being handled without too much exaggeration.
If you liked the first novel, this is a no-brainer. If you like Peter Hamilton-style space opera, this is also a clear winner. There is a lot of questions still to answer in the final book, but I am clearly along for the ride.
For a book series with a rumored TV adaptation, the 3rd book arrived on Audible with little fanfare. I awaited and searched for release dates for mont..Show More »hs only to randomly discover it on Audible last week, lacking proper cover art or any features on the website. (For any audible employees reading, a favorite authors system would be great). That said its finally here and it's wonderful to have.
There isn't much reason to justify The Expanse if you've already read the first two books (and if you're like me, you've read the short stories. It's a rich and strangely believable universe of humans and space, where the fab team that make up James S.A. Corey never loose sight of the humans of the story. Having made my attempts at other popular sci-fi series, The Expanse feels rich, detailed and populous, without the extremes hardware worship or the obsessively dry space battles. Its easily my favorite series (besting my previous favorite of Peter F Hamilton's neurotically complex commonwealth series)
This go around rotates the cast, Bobbie and the wonderfully foul-mouthed Chrisjen are absent with new characters, Anna, an immigrant priest with strongly defined moral compass as much as James Holden, and Bull, a tough-as-nails chief security officer on the Behemoth, as replacements. True to form, each adds to the colorful and blossoming cast of The Expanse, although neither quite trump the cast they're filling in for.
Without spoiling much, the ride is exciting although doesn't quite hit the sensational horror of the first novel or the intensity of the second. This isn't to say its lost itself but the arch pertaining to the proto-molecule is largely explained, and while clever, isn't as surprising as some of the other twists in the previous books, especially in the wonderfully unpredictable fashion of the first two. I will give credit where credit is due, as the mystery isn't compounded into irrelevance not is it drawn out to insignificance. Pulling off the big reveal is always difficult and the Expanse does it well. Any additions to the series will now face a new arch.
The book's end stops a few chapters too early but the best entertainment always leaves you wanting more.
I look forward to seeing what the next books will be like.