Author: James S.A. Corey
Publisher: Orbit Books
Leviathan Wakes is much more than your garden variety Sci-Fi novel, sure it has the weight of 500 plus pages behind it and most of the technical jargon down, but there is more to it than that. There is more than at first meets the readers eye and this is what makes it so good.
The story is set in an unspecified future, where the world is split into three nations of sorts; The Belt, Earth and Mars. The nations, while this is not specifically discussed, seem to have a fragile peace and anything can rupture it. The peace is threatened when the abandoned ship the Scopuli is destroyed by an unknown assailant. Jim Holden, who works on a water hauler, becomes witness to this and the death of his crew members investigating the Scopuli. Evidence points to Mars being involved in the destruction of the ship and as Holden announces this to the world he and the rest of the crew become involved in the political mess that surrounds the solar system.
At the same time the security officer Detective Miller is presented with the case of finding Julie Mao, the daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur. During his investigation, which seems unpopular amongst some factions, he is directed to the Scopuli and becomes involved with Holden and his crew. They soon discover that there is more to the story than just a simple wanton destruction of a ship; an alien virus threatening to wipe out humanity has been unleashed and they are at the center of it.
James S.A. Corey, the pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, have managed to create something very interesting with the first installment of their Expanse series. It’s a science-fiction novel that can appeal to a broader audience, very much in the same way George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice has crossed the line from Fantasy to main stream fiction. There is a difference though; where Martin removes many of the fantasy elements from his books and turns them into historic fiction with focus on political intrigue set in a made up medieval world Corey embraces science-fiction and makes it relatable to most everyone. This is done by delivering just about the right amount of technical terms to make the story believable as well as presenting real human problems and emotions. At the same time Corey pays homage to other genre fiction like the horror genre with the virus ridden plague zombies, thrillers when it comes to the sullen detective Miller with his own dark past and just a tiny hint of Western.
There is much to enjoy when it comes to Leviathan Wakes and it does truly get the reader excited about the follow up: Caliban’s War. There is horror, suspense, humor and humanity and several literary references that even the most hardened anti genre fiction reader would find amusing. Now we just have to wait and see if the SyFy channel can stay true to the story and all that is great with it. The language is not too heavy handed either which at times can be the downfall of any sci-fi novel.
Leviathan Wakes is available in Paperback, as an e-book, as well as audio and a 10 episode first season has been ordered by SyFy.