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Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
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Jul 14, 12

bookshelves: sciencefiction
Read from June 27 to July 07, 2012

Top Shelf Review, originally published in the July 12, 2012, edition of The Monitor

Sci-Fi Sequel Delivers the Goods

Caliban’s War is the second book in The Expanse, a science-fiction series penned by James S.A. Corey (nom-de-plume of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). The first volume, Leviathan Wakes, was a critical success, nominated for the Hugo award. Rather than succumb to the tendency of sequels either to repeat too slavishly the formula of the original or to deviate too much from what worked, Caliban’s War takes an approach that is both fresh and familiar, broadening the scope of the series and delving more deeply into characters readers love.

About a year after the events of Leviathan Wakes, James Holden and his team are working for the Outer Planets Alliance as enforcers, dealing with pirates and the like. The asteroid Eros, which crashed into Venus with its millions of protomolecule-infected inhabitants, has triggered massive changes to that world: the ancient alien life form is remaking it for a purpose the governments of Earth, Mars and the OPA cannot fathom (though politically each group is positioning itself to dominate the solar system once the crisis has abated). And on Ganymede, the breadbasket of the belt and outer planets, someone has begun kidnapping children with immune deficiency disorders.

Then a protomolecule-monster attacks UN and Martian troops stationed on Ganymede, sending the two sides spinning into a conflict that threatens the stability both of that crucial moon and of human space in general. The sole survivor of this attack, Martian soldier Bobbie Draper, finds herself whisked off to Earth and drawn into an uneasy alliance with Chrisjen Avasarala, a UN official trying desperately to avert a war by careful political wrangling. Holden’s team is sent to Ganymede by the OPA to look into the crisis that is tearing the moon apart; there they fall in with a botanist whose daughter has been abducted, and together they discover the connection between the missing children and the new wave of protomolecule-infected humans. The two narrative threads gradually come together, and the crew of the Rocinante work feverishly to avoid being blasted to bits while helping Avasarala and Bobbie to discover who or what is responsible for the monsters before another world falls to the ancient weapon.

A sort of James Cameron Aliens to the first book’s Ridley Scott Alien, Caliban’s War lets us peer more deeply inside politics in Corey’s lived-in, credible universe. We also become better acquainted with Alex, Amos and Naomi, who evolve into well-rounded individuals in this volume. The pace is non-stop, the storyline compelling, and the twist at the very end is a doozy. Highly recommended for fans of sci-fi.
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