I love the TV series THE EXPANSE but hadn’t read the books by James SA Corey (the pen name for writing team Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), which are pretty hefty space opera tomes. I finally gave the first a try and wow! It’s one of those rare cases where I absolutely loved the adaptation but ended up loving the book far more. The book LEVIATHAN WAKES, adapted as the show’s first season, is similar but different enough to offer an entirely new experience.
If you’re not familiar with the books or the show, the series is set in a future where humanity has colonized the solar system, resulting in three distinct cultures and power blocs: Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance. Jim Holden, XO of an ice miner on a run from Saturn’s rings to the asteroid belt, responds with a small shuttle crew to an SOS signal from a derelict spacecraft. This sets in motion Holden and his crew’s pursuit of a conspiracy involving alien life. The key to everything, meanwhile, may be a girl that a detective on Ceres is tracking as a missing person.
The writing here is almost perfect, like reading George R.R. Martin without any sag in the pacing. The world building is particularly impressive, delivering a lived-in sci-fi universe that places familiar human nature out into the cosmos. This universe, however, blends perfectly with the storytelling, presenting problems without getting in the way or slowing the story down with info dumps.
Then there’s the characterizations and dialogue, which are fantastic. Every character is distinctive and likeable, which is essential for an ensemble space opera, and their dialogue is as pitch perfect as anything you’d find in GAME OF THRONES.
Okay, this isn’t so much a review as a love letter, but I’m just giving credit where it’s due. Now on to the second book.