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Leviathan Wakes

September 18, 2013

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1)There are two types of sci-fi readers. The ones who read for the cultivation of mind, and the ones who read for fun. Of course, there are intersection between these two groups. The first group can be divided into two faction: hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi; the natural science and social science, respectively. While the second group is usually plot driven. This book belong to the second one.

The setting is not too far from our present time, given approximately 100 years from now. The epstine drive is invented, which provide an economical inner solar system travel, even though it is still not enough to power inter stellar travel. Humanity has spread to planets, moons, and asteroids. Earth is overpopulated. Mars is colonized, and still undergoing terraforming. Ceres, Tycho and several other moons and major asteroids are also colonized. Humanity is divided into two faction: inners, including Earthers and Martians, and outers, inhabitans of asteroid belts (Belters), and moons of the giant gas.

The events in this book is triggered by an unprovoked attack on a space ship by an unknown faction, creating a chain reaction that ignites the entire solar system. The story is told using two points of view, a retired navy officer, and a “just-being-fired” cop. The interaction of these two characters is the best part of this book, since they are representing two opposing views, while working towards the same goal.

The science part in this book is not too special, either the natural science or the social science. Outside Newtonian standard inertial mechanics for space travel, there are nothing interesting to ponder on. I cannot help to compare it with a novel that I just read, 2132. 2312 is without doubt a better read, if you are looking for the science.

This novel can also be classified as a military sci-fi, since it includes some military conflicts. But the military atmosphere is not to thick; a pale picture in comparison with other military sci-fi such as Dominion series by Jerry Pournelle or Robert A. Heinlein novels.

The plot is fast paced with a little twist here and there. The plot is definitely suitable for a sci-fi film scenario (much better than average Hollywood sci-fi nowadays). The plot is also designed for a larger tale, thus serves as the beginning of the series.

As conclusion, it is a good plot driven space opera, with not-so-good science. If you consider only the plot, I would have give it a 4-stars. But I am a hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi lover, and tend to be a little harsh on space opera. Therefore I give it only a 3-stars. But it is a strong start for a series. I will still read the next installment.

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