four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
54-Sept-Oct-2011
user_rating: 
0

A-LeviathanWakesWriting under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey, veteran SF/F writer Daniel Abraham (The Long Price Quartet [2006–2009], The Dragon's Path [2011]) and Ty Franck, an assistant to fantasy writer George R. R. Martin, have penned Leviathan Wakes, the first volume in the planned Expanse series (Caliban's War and Dandelion Sky to follow).

The Story: The solar system has been colonized, from Mars to the moon to the outer asteroid belt, even though interstellar travel still eludes humanity. When the ice hauler Canterbury, returning from a run to the belt, stops to check out a distress signal on the marooned Scopuli, the ship comes under fire. Neither Executive Officer Jim Holden nor his crew want any part of the secret that they learn, but what choice do they have? Their only hope lies with Detective Miller, a world-weary cop languishing on the space station Ceres, who is searching for a girl who holds the key to the mysterious events on the Scopuli. If Holden and Miller team up, maybe--just maybe--they can make a difference in the face of deep conspiracies and an impending war. But there's a problem ...
Orbit. 592 pages. $15.99. ISBN: 9780316129084.

Wired 4.5 of 5 Stars
"I love the world-building found in space opera ... novels with well-developed worlds, solid technology that fit and makes sense (as much as sci-fi can), and larger-than-life characters that may or may not start out that way. ... If you're looking for a solid science fiction story that's not about dazzling technology and fantastical aliens, that won't confuse you with overly-complex descriptions of the way governments and corporations work, and that won't throw made-up words and cryptic names at you left and right ... you're going to like Leviathan Wakes." James Floyd Kelly

Fantasy Book Critic 4 of 5 Stars
"Leviathan Wakes is an incredibly well-crafted story highlighted by smart plotting, unexpected surprises, skillful pacing and a rewarding feeling of satisfaction once the book is concluded. ... Simply put, Leviathan Wakes is the best novel I've read in 2011--so far--and arguably the best thing Daniel Abraham has ever written, while introducing a remarkable new talent in Ty Franck." Robert Thompson

SF Signal 4 of 5 Stars
"The world building, hands down, is some of the best that I've seen for a space opera, with a good cast of characters and story that go along with it. ... The Expanse is a series that'll make a bit of a splash, and it's time to fasten your seat belts: you're in for a great ride." Andrew Liptak

Tor.com 4 of 5 Stars
"Leviathan Wakes is space opera for the masses--it asks for little from its readers other than that they show up and enjoy the ride, no doctorate in quantum mechanics necessary. The classic juxtaposition of Miller's hard-edged noir narrative and Holden's idealistic adventure are perfectly suited for one another and together they form the most enjoyable novel I've read so far in 2011." Aidan Moher

Wall Street Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"The story rips along, driven by two main characters who don't like each other, each of whom has his own uncompromising morality. Even more compelling than the pace, though, is the sense of possibility." Tom Shippey

io9 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The book is a fun ride and the perfect thing for a long summer afternoon by the beach or the air conditioner. It's the first of a series, but luckily it ends on a note of closure so you're not left pulling out your hair in frustration--though of course once you see what that alien force can do, you'll definitely want to know what's coming next." Annalee Newitz

Critical Summary

Collaboration is a longstanding tradition in science fiction, and Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck deftly pull off the first volume of the Expanse series with tight plotting, a few memorable characters, and a concept and a world that can carry the burden of future books--all earmarks of memorable space opera. The novel's noirish roots will appeal to readers who like a little crime with their SF (think Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict books or Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Retrieval Artist novels). SF fans will enjoy details reminiscent of the work of Peter F. Hamilton (Greg Mandel trilogy, Night's Dawn trilogy) and Iain M. Banks (Culture series), with a dash of Ridley Scott thrown in for good measure (or, as Tom Shippey puts it, "more like L.A. Confidential with fusion drives"). This is a series poised to make noise in SF circles, as well as cutting inroads with more mainstream readers, who will appreciate the book's accessibility.