Saturday, December 31, 2016

LEVIATHAN'S WAKE, first book in a busy series whose Syfy adaptation is better

(The Expanse, #1)
Orbit Books
$17.00 trade paper, available now

Rating: 2.5* of five

**UPDATE 22 December 2016** This is a mea-culpa of epic proportions. Syfy did a stellar job of making this series. I couldn't have been more wrong about the series, though I still don't like the books. This YouTube video of a Google Talk from 2014 is a terrific proof of why the series works so well. Excellent television! Binge on the series at Prime for the holidays.

**UPDATE 6 September 2013** More Suckass News Dept, from SFSignal: "Variety is reporting that scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Iron Man and Children of Men) will script the pilot of the how called The Expanse, which is based on the series of novels written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S.A. Corey.

The book series cosnsists of Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War, Abaddon’s Gate and the soon-to-be-released Cibola Burn.

The Expanse will be an hour long SciFi drama “with elements of a detective procedural, centring on a cover-up of the discovery of alien life”.

Not much else is known at this point. Stay tuned!"

Yuck. Couldn't pick a GOOD series. No no no.

The Publisher Says: 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.

My Review: Exactly half-way to a five-star world-beating yodel-worthy space opera. An extremely interesting choice of time to explore, sort of late Red Mars-to-early-Green Mars time. A choice group of characters, the standard Hero's Journey plot, and away we go!

Only we don't so much. We stall out on characterization...flat-ish, unsurprising...we hop around in PoV terms until I feel like a flea on a chihuahua that ate some coffee beans and is more manic than usual. We keep events hurtling along, far too many of them in fact, and we mangle our hands in the machinery of alienness.

We did too much, ate too much, played too rough. Our tummy hurts now, and we need a nap.

Plus? I hate the ending so much I want to send the editor a nastygram. THIS COULD HAVE AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIXED. It's not for the author to do, this is a collaboration and that means sometimes a referee is needed. This was one of them. No way would I read the next book! And that's sad, because I really really like The Expanse and its cool politics and people.

One thing the show does brilliantly is make the stark divide between haves and have-nots graphic and inescapable. The Economic Royalists of The Expanse are made plain, their motives are plain, and their corruption is inescapable. This series, filmed for me but certainly the books are a great option for others, is must-see, must-read, must-absorb for the world of 2017.

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