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January 16, 2017

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, Science Fiction, Whitehorse Star.
Tags: , ,

Bookends: A First Peek into he World of the Expanse

By Dan Davidsonleviathan-wakes

February 17, 2016

– 785 words –

Leviathan Wakes

By James A. Corey

Kindle Edition


583 pages in print form

Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.


Every so often a television series will send me off to look at the written work that inspired it. Such was the case with The Expanse, a ten episode series which aired on Space- the Imagination Station this winter. The series was extremely well done and the world creation that had clearly gone into it impressed me.

It turns out that those 10 episodes have not actually finished with the entire story told in Leviathan Wakes and, indeed, that story has been substantially altered in the transition to the small screen. Most of this in in the addition of a third strand to the already complex plotlines of the book. The changes work and, as far as I can see, most of the main plot points will have been handled well by the time they fish the work in the second 13 episode season, which has already been green lit.

The world created by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who are the brains behind the pseudonym James A. Corey, humanity has spread out into much of the solar system, burrowing into uninhabitable moons and some large asteroids to make living spaces in the void. There are colonies on both the Moon and Mars as well, and the Martians really don’t get along with the overcrowded home planet, Earth.

There’s a further faction out beyond Mars which styles itself the Outer Planets Alliance, or OPA for short, so there are three sources of tension and conflict to deal with.

For the outer planets, finding bodies made of ice is a major economic engine, Everyone out there needs water, after all. Much of this is harvested from Saturn’s rings. One of the plot strands has us following the lives of the members of an ice-mining ship, whose mother ship is destroyed when someone apparently sets a trap for them in deep space. When they send out a scout craft to come to the aid of an apparently marooned ship, they find it abandoned and strange stealth suddenly appear out of nowhere and destroy their base ship. The same things happens to them when they are rescued by a Mars based military cruiser, and they barely make it to a high tech space shipyard asteroid and safety.

James Holden, a former space marine, is the Executive Officer of the ice trawler Canterbury. When he broadcasts that the technology that destroyed his base ship seems to have been Martian in origin, the video goes viral throughout the system and raises the tension level between Mars and the OPA. He is left with a small, dedicated crew, a powerful little military vessel and a burning desire to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Meanwhile, on the planetoid Ceres, a private corporation police detective named Josephus Miller is tasked with the job of tracking down the errant daughter of the extremely wealthy Mao family. Julie Andromeda has gone off the rails, so to speak, and the family wants her back, She’s of age and a free citizen, and Miller protests that he is essentially being assigned to orchestrate a kidnapping, but he follows his orders, well beyond what his bosses actually want him to do.

These sections read very much like a noir style detective story, while the other ones are rather dark space opera, somewhat informed by the tone of the Alien films and TV shows like Space, Above and Beyond.

It’s some time before it becomes clear that there is any connection between these two story lines, but there is. It’s a plot that is extra-terrestrial in nature and one that probably began about the time that humanity was still living in caves.

The origin of this novel is interesting. Franck as working on the design for a multiplayer online role-playing game and did a prodigious amount o planning and research. By the time he had refined his plan to make it a tabletop RPG, he had met Abraham, already a novelist, who persuaded him to take his worlds for a spin in book form.

This book, the first of a series which now numbers six volumes, and includes three novellas and a couple of short stories that either expand on smaller sub-plots or provide background, was nominated for a Hugo award when in came out in 2011. At least three more books are known to be planned.

The authors have created a fascinating set of connected worlds and I’ll be interested to see what else they have done with it.






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