James S.A. Corey – Leviathan Wakes

Humanity has colonised the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is an officer on an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the Belt. When he and his crew stumble on a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for. War is brewing in the system, unless Jim can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathiser Holden, he realises that this girl may hold the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries and secret corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

Leviathan Wakes, written under the pseudonym James S.A. Corey, is the debut outing for writing duo Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Daniel Abraham is well known for his Long Price Quartet and the Dagger and the Coin series, as well as his urban fantasy work under the pen name of M.L.N. Hanover. Ty Franck is assistant to George R.R. Martin, he of the Sword of Ice and Fire fame. Together they form a super strong team, which doesn’t have two different ‘voices’, but instead have blended into a single voice that is uniquely Corey’s. I never felt as if I was reading two different authors in one book. If you’d like to find out more about his process, there are some very interesting interviews with the authors at SF Signal and Geekachicas.

What made me really happy was the accessibility of the book. I’m a fairly insecure SF-reader, having read mostly military SF and relatively few of those compared to my fantasy intake, so to find a book that didn’t make me feel out of my depth, but was sevurely set in space, was a joy. The technology aspect is there, but most of it isn’t explained in depth, it just is and it functions as it should, but the characters are more important anyway. Not just our main characters, Holden and Miller, but the crew and Miller’s missing girl as well.

The concept of a space opera set in sun system was original. No FTL in this book, everything is contained in our own solar system. The idea of the evolution of the Belters is awesome; of course people who live in different circumstances of gravity or light etc. would develop differently over time, but it’s a concept I’ve not run across very often. There was also quite an interesting emphasis on the way society looks at the different sections of humanity, the Earthers versus the Belters versus the Martians. It seems that no matter how advanced we become technologically, humans will always remain humans and feel the need to put people in different corners.

The story is told from two perspectives, Holden and Miller. Miller is the noirish, police detective, serving in the Belt and Holden the young space captain running around the belt. They start in separate places initially, but end up together about halfway through the story. I liked the differences in tone between them. Miller is a middle-aged loner, who becomes somewhat obsessed with finding his missing girl, in the process all but falling in love with her ghost, his idea of her. While Holden is far younger and still very idealistic. He tries to do what he thinks is right and take care of his crew as well. Of the two I think I like Holden more, though Miller has a sort of tragic appeal as well. Not just the characterisation is wonderful, the action writing is fab as well. I really liked the smaller fights and the action scenes aboard the space station and later the asteroid were amazing.

Leviathan Wakes is a fun, fast and furious tale of space adventures, killer viruses and strange, frightening aliens. I had a super time with this one and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Caliban’s War. If you’ve enjoyed Daniel Abraham’s other work or are a fan of good old, fun space opera, Leviathan Wakes is a book you must pick up, as it’s spectacular.

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