What do a missing girl and an abandoned freighter have to do with the escalating tensions between Earth, Mars and the inhabitants of the asteroid belt?
Three things you might want to know before reading this book:
- This is the first in a projected 9 book series of which only 6 are currently available.
- The books form the basis for the series The Expanse on the Syfy channel (or however they’re spelling it these days.
- This is two authors writing under one name and this is reflected in the turn-about POV chapters.
The last part really worked for me. As I said, aside from the prologue and epilogue, the chapters go turn-about; one focusing on James Holden; the other, Joe Miller. Both are working men; Holden crews aboard an ice hauler, Miller is a private cop on one of the colony moons. At the beginning of the book, each is involved in their own story-line but they eventually meet up halfway through and we begin to get each character’s particular view on the same events.
The Holden chapters are straight forward science fiction as ships are destroyed and events point first one way, then other, eventually leading to a three-way war between the main political powers in the solar system. The Miller chapters are more like a noirish detective story, focusing on a missing persons investigation.
The world (or universe) of Leviathan Wakes is futuristic but not too futuristic. Humanity has colonized Mars, various moons and asteroids, but has yet to leave our solar system. The speed with which ships can travel is limited to the tolerances of the human body (although technology does stretch that a bit). And the people still use guns and still find reasons to take exception to each other, usually based on where they were born, Earth, Mars or the Belt. It’s easy to find the world believable, the situations and problems understandable.
The social and political background is well drawn and developed, with the various relations and tensions between Earth, Mars and the Belt prominent. The science is a little more nebulous but one of the authors freely admits this in an interview at the back of the book. In his words, “plausible enough not to get in the way”. I had no objections to that and I don’t recall anything I read throwing me out of the narrative.
All in all, a very good read and an opening chapter that left me wanting to know what happens next in the series.