My attempt to read some new core SF got off to a slow start, even though it finished well, so my second attack of a space opera novel the size of an Egyptian building stone was faced with some trepidation…
I needn’t have worried. James S.A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes, the first book in The Expanse, is a rollicking read from the very beginning. Perhaps that is due to the characters not being described in excruciating detail but actually shown to us through their actions instead. Perhaps it’s because the world requires a little less explanation than Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth. Whatever the reason, this one hits the ground running… and just keeps going.
This is the kind of science fiction we all wish we’d grown up reading. Fast-paced, well-written and not overly bogged down with politics (particularly not the kind of politics we are discussing today which, in a space-faring society will be long forgotten), it takes you straight to another world as soon as you open the book.
Perhaps this immediacy is the product of the author’s talent, or maybe it has been helped along by the fact that Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the two writers collaborating under the pen name Corey, get to read and critique each other’s work. Whatever the formula, it certainly functioned perfectly in this particular instance.
Well enough, in fact, that it spawned a TV series on the SyFy Channel (yes, I know, but this one is reputed to be good), and it made absolutely perfect sense to me. Unlike certain adaptations, which are head-scratchers, this one appeared to be the perfect fodder, in pacing, visual magic and plot for a movie or TV series. I may need to watch it… if I find the time, I’ll talk about it here at some point.
Anyway, this one is highly recommended as the state of the art of bestselling space opera. Even though it seems a little too fun and insufficiently committed on the political front to actually win a Hugo in the current climate, this series overcame those handicaps (???!!!) to be nominated for three of them so far. That should tell you more about just how good it is than anything else I can write.
Anyway, go out and buy it. Might not change your life in any deep, philosophical way, but it will entertain you.
Gustavo Bondoni is a science fiction writer. His own entry in the space opera field, Incursion, is available here.