Saturday, March 14, 2015

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey, The Expanse Book 1

Shirley: "Shut up, Leonard. I found your YouTube page. What's the point in reviewing frozen pizza?"

Leonard: "You're talking about it."

Shirley: "Oh, that is true."

-Community

By chance, I was looking at old blog posts the other day, and I came across posts of myself talking about what I was reading. I don't know why I stopped doing that. It seems like a worthy use of this space, and I hardly post about anything anymore, so I thought I would get back to it.

I recently finished reading James S. A. Corey's Leviathan Wakes, and I have to say, what a damned cool book. It's the kind of thing I've been wanting to see for years. I only chanced upon it because I was looking for new stuff to read, and I used the Hugo Award nominees as my guide. It was nominated for best novel in 2012, but lost to Among Others by Jo Walton. I haven't read that one, but I'm sure it must be a good one. Maybe I'll get to it someday.

It's a space opera book, but it's not the kind of space opera that you see more often, you know the kind of stuff that is similar in vein to the Star Wars trilogy, what some people call space fantasy. Instead, it's grounded much more in reality. The people in the novel actually have to deal with things like gravity, or the lack thereof while tooling around in space.

There's just something so refreshing and neat about that. This book is basically one or two steps beyond what our own space program has reached right now. Every space opera-type story seems to be a hundred steps beyond, so you can't really see how we got there from here.

On top of that, gravity...or the lack thereof...changes other things as well, like the people. The story itself takes place in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Those who were born and grew up on the stations out there have bodies that are much different because of the micro-gravity that they developed in, than those who come from the power centers of the solar system, Earth and Mars. Belters are very tall and very skinny. Earthers are considered short and thick, and Martians are somewhere in between.

The book involves a war that takes place between the Outer Planets Alliance, or OPA, and Mars. Eventually, Earth is also dragged into it. Then, our main characters discover that there is in fact something else...something truly dangerous...that's actually behind it all.

The author is James S. A. Corey, which is not a person at all, but the pen name for the collaboration of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Daniel Abraham I know from writing the story Flat Diane, which I heard on Pseudopod in 2007, and the story The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics which I heard on Podcastle in 2009. Both of those were nominated for awards like the Nebula, Hugo, or World Fantasy Award. As far as I know, I'm not otherwise familiar with Ty Frank.

One really cool thing that I just discovered recently was that the series was picked up by the SyFy channel to be produced as a Game of Thrones-style show. Each book in the series will be made into a ten episode season. The book series is called The Expanse, and SyFy seemed to have learned something from the Game of Thrones series. For some reason HBO called the series Game of Thrones, the title of the first book, instead of The Song of Ice and Fire, which is the title George R. R. Martin had for the whole series. Now, they're in book four, but it's still called the title of the first book. SyFy made the wise move of calling the series The Expanse instead of Leviathan Wakes.

Don't know when that starts, though. My guess is fall of this year.

The book itself is a really worthwhile read, and I highly recommend it. Hopefully you'd enjoy it as much as I did.

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