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Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse 1) by James S.…

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse 1) (edition 2011)

by James S. A. Corey

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Title:Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse 1)
Authors:James S. A. Corey
Info:Orbit (2011), Paperback, 592 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction

Work details

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

  1. 20
    The Martian by Andy Weir (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Andy Weir and James S. A. Corey met at a book signing and agreed that The Expanse series and The Martian are set in the same time-line. So, if you're a fan of The Martian and want to find out what happened after Mars was colonized, read Leviathan Wakes. If you're a fan of The Expanse series, and want to read about the very first Martian colonist, read The Martian. For proof, check a 3 Oct 2015 tweet by @JamesSACorey for confirmation. One of The Expanse books also references a Martian ship named the 'Mark Watney'.… (more)
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    The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett (sturlington)
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    Downbelow Station by C. J. Cherryh (Mav.Weirdo)

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The first book in the Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes is a kind of hard-ish medium future science fiction almost Space Opera story that feels a little bit like Firefly and a little bit like a Dashiell Hammett novel. The book is full of adventure, intrigue, and excitement, but it is the kind of industrial, oil-covered adventure, intrigue, and excitement that results in broken bones, bullet holes, and dead characters. Alongside the truckers and detectives in space in the book is just enough alien weirdness to shake things up and add a bit of inhuman horror to the impersonal dangers of living in a hostile environment that will probably kill you if you make a mistake.

Leviathan Wakes takes place in a future in which mankind has managed to spread out across the Solar System, but is still confined within its boundaries, although the Mormons have commissioned the construction of a generation ship to take them out among the stars. The book isn't really "hard" science fiction, but the human technology presented doesn't obviously break any known laws of physics, although the "Epstein Drive" that powers the spaceships used to flit about the void are improbably efficient. Having colonized Mars, the asteroid belt, and at least some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, humanity has split into rival factions. Earth is still the home to most of humanity, but it is overcrowded and its populace is regarded as decadent and lazy. Mars is in the process of being terraformed, and is on the cutting edge of everything. The "Belters" who live hardscrabble lives on the edge of human civilization are regarded as little better than savages by the inhabitants of the inner planets, which has resulted in the rise of a Belter political force called the Outer Planets Alliance that is, depending on who one talks to, a terrorist threat, a trade union, or a legitimate government.

One of the strengths of this book is how well it establishes its setting, and how well it gives it a real sense of place - Ceres, Eros, Tycho Station, and all the other places the heroes inhabit feel lived in, like a place one could go if one could just get the ship to take them there. All of this is accomplished skillfully via atmospheric storytelling, with a minimum of walls of exposition: In one scene, the rice and beans that someone is eating will be mentioned, in another the configuration of a character's miniscule dwelling will be described, and so on. Throughout the book, Corey fills the story with little details that give the reader the confidence that they thought about what living in and around the asteroid belt would be like, and even if the details wouldn't hold up to a detailed examination, they feel right, and that gives the book a solidity that is comforting at times, and incredibly disturbing at others.

The bulk of the story is told from the perspective of two viewpoint characters, bouncing back and forth between them each chapter. The first is Jim Holden, an competent and somewhat overeager idealistic and naive executive officer on the ice freighter Canterbury who leads an expedition to explore a derelict ship broadcasting a distress beacon that turns out to be a trap that results in the destruction of the Canterbury and the death of almost everyone he knows. While on the run with the tiny handful of survivors, Holden uncovers what he believes to be damning evidence about who attacked them, makes a couple of somewhat overhasty broadcasts and sparks a three-way interplanetary conflict of epic proportions. As the story progresses, it seems that Holden has a knack for taking a bad situation and making it worse for everyone outside of his little bubble, although he seems to fail upwards - winding up basically owning and captaining his own warship which, in a fit of literary symbolism, he christens the Rocicante.

The second is Joe Miller, a world-weary, hard-drinking, cynical detective working on the grimy and corrupt tunnels of his native Ceres who would have been comfortable sharing an office with Sam Spade, but starts the story saddled with a partner who is originally from Earth. This pairing is interesting, because it allows the authors to illustrate the tensions between the inner planets and the Belters in a fairly convincing manner without being particularly heavy-handed about it. Early in the book, Miller is handed a missing persons case that he first ignores, but as events unfold and he had time on his hands, he pursues long enough that he becomes intrigued, and then obsessed. Like Holden, Miller is a deeply flawed character whose own weaknesses result in him mostly reacting to events for a substantial portion of the book. In fact, neither character seems to really start to take the initiative until they are all out of other options and almost literally run into one another.

One might think that a book in which the main characters are driven forward for much of its legth by events beyond their control would seem somewhat unsatisfying. To offset this, Leviathan Wakes relies upon a cast of supporting characters that surround Miller and Holden and feel like they belong completely to this imagined future. The primary characters are all fleshed out entities in their own right, from Naomi the incredibly skilled engineer, to Amos the hard-nosed mechanic with a heart of gold, to Alex the daring pilot who looks like a schoolteacher, to Fred Johnson the leader of the OPA (or at least some of it). The secondary characters like Havelock the Earther detective working on the colony of Ceres, and Julie Mao the scion of a wealthy family who has left her privileged life behind are less fully developed, but they are presented in such a way that it seems as if what is shown is merely the tip of the iceberg, and lurking behind what is on the page are the details of an entire life that has been lived. Even the minor characters who don't appear in more than a scene or two feel alive - notably the ill-fated medic Shed, the wrong-headed captain Shaddid, the slang-slinging Belter assault trooper Miller strikes up a friendship with, and even the low-key missionary Miller happens across while taking a low-budget shuttle to Eros. All of these characters help drive the book forward, even when Miller and Holden aren't really seizing the initiative on their own, giving the pair others to bounce off of while they get their acts together.

The point at which Holden and Miller come together is where Leviathan Wakes really starts rolling, grabbing the reader with both hands and never letting go until the very last page. This is also the point at which everything around these two characters starts to go pear-shaped and the world starts to become pretty weird. Holden and Miller form an alliance of convenience, albeit one that is continually strained by their fairly incompatible personalities, and begin to try to push back at what the world has unleashed at them - which turns out to be the fruits of a sociopathic megacorporation playing around with alien technology they don't understand, but are willing to sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of people to find out. At a certain point, the book starts to feel like a runaway train, as every time the heroes think they have found a solution to the current problem, they find a new, even worse problem behind it. Eventually, everything comes to a head and requires an extreme, and somewhat improbable sacrifice that puts things to rest for the moment, but leaves the world changes in rather substantial ways.

Leviathan Wakes is often described as a space opera, and it does have a fair number of space opera-ish elements, but to the extent this is possible, it is a gritty, semi-realistic feeling space opera. The book is an almost impossible mish-mash of influences that seems like it should be an unpalatable mess, but somehow this unruly amalgamation works beautifully, resulting in a thrilling ride through its pages that are full of intrigue, action, adventure, mystery, and wonder. In many ways, this story is one that really shouldn't work, and yet has been executed in such a fashion as to yield a finished product that is quite simply top notch.

This review has also been posted to my blog Dreaming About Other Worlds. ( )
  StormRaven | Apr 20, 2017 |
Space opera - big ideas - interstellar war - fate of the universe - I love good space opera. And Leviathan Wakes is good space opera.

It tells the story of Earth, Mars, and the "Belters", their civilization, their interactions and the interplay of plantary politics. I literally couldn't put this book down, and it is as fun a read as I've read in months. It's a book equivilent of a movie summer block buster.

Highly recommended. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
The team comprising James S.A. Corey has put together a complicated and engrossing tale. It is even funny, if you like tough-guy dialogue. I do. It has moments of grandeur, high-style writing and clever description. Many of the many characters are well drawn and plausible. This is a tale designed to gradually expand until we are facing cosmic quests and vistas. It reminds me of Gordon R. Dickson's works.
We start with a missing girl. And as in many detective stories, she's in over her head. A world-weary detective starts out looking for her as a bit of a hobby. Somebody important warns him off the case. He's not going to do that, not after the warning...
the girl was so far over her head, she doesn't exist anymore, except she does...and now she may kill us all...
I hope you are strapped in and ready for this quest, it'll be a hell of a ride. I'm definitely going to buy volume two. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Mar 27, 2017 |
A great first volume of a space opera series with good characters and well made, interesting storyline with a believably etched political background. The Earth, the Mars and the Outer Planets Association are the brink of war with each other when they have to face a new, extraterrestrial threat. ( )
  TheCrow2 | Mar 11, 2017 |
I read this after watching the show, I think, wanting to quickly catch up with the crew of the Rocinante after such a thrilling melding of detective story and space romp. The rather stationary plot of a missing girl, versus the bouncing ball of a crew looking to right a wrong, serve justice and not get blown up in the process was intriguing. But then the ball kept on rolling.

I decided not to read the rest of the books upon which the SyFy show The Expanse is based, because reading this revealed that almost half the book was yet to be accounted for. And there was a whole new character that hadn’t been introduced in the book yet. I started reading a page or two about the next book and realized how much further ahead of the show I’d be.

This book was a rip-roaring riot. I laughed, I gasped. I loved the gritty way the future worked, the way things felt real and important. I loved the thought out way things had grown with Mars, Earth and the Belt. Any second I’m gonna start confusing the book and the show. But that’s the thing! The authors are working on the show and the book felt like a very cool in depth look into the background. They’ve said that even if you read all the books, you’ll still be surprised and delighted by the show.

But man, they’ve done a good job setting up the characters, giving us more time to know them and the imminent threat of war. Oh boy, the threat of war.

And now having seen the first half of season 2, seeing the rest of this book come to life, I can honestly say they did a great job portraying some of my favorite scenes and expanding on them. Man, what a great series this is going to be. I can’t wait to start reading Caliban’s War. ( )
  knotbox | Mar 6, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James S. A. Coreyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abraham, DanielAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franck, TyAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benshoff, KirkCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dociu, DanielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Jayné and Kat, who encourage me
to daydream about spaceships
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The Scopuli had been taken eight days ago, and Julie Mao was finally ready to be shot.
"Sure," Holden said. "I just needed to feel sorry for myself for a minute there. Let's go get killed by the mafia."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316129089, Paperback)

Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:38 -0400)

When Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motivesbehind the attack, stop a war and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race.… (more)

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