Alytha's Reviews > Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
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's review
Jan 08, 2012

liked it

Finished Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (who is actually Daniel Abrahan and Ty Frank aka GRRM's Assistant)

Mild spoilers in the following!

This novel contains two very different stories with two very different protagonists, who happen to meet each other when they inexpectedly have to fight against an alien invasion.

Jim Holden is a bit like a Julian Assange in space, do highly idealistic that he appears a bit naive. He believes that information should be shared freely and be able to speak for itself. Unfortunately, humanity is often not kind to idealists, and he ends up playing an important role in the aggravation of the political situation between Earth, Mars and the Belt, as he immediately broadcasts any data he receives on different incidents with space-ships being destroyed under mysterious circumstances, incriminating Earth, Mars and the Belt in turn, without thinking about the possibility that he might be being set up.

Detective Miller, on the other hand, is your stereotypical hardboiled noir character. He has an alcohol problem, he's sarcastically depressed, he's divorced, he's a loner, his superiors don't like him, and he becomes completely obsessed with Julie Mao, the girl he's supposed to find and ship back to her parents. However, he's also a pretty good detective, being able to interprete data efficiently, and very stubborn about following through on his cases, and having justice be served. (Case in point: the point-blank execution of the administrator on Phoebe whose name I can't remember. It wasn't a nice thing to do, but it was the right thing, and the bastard deserved it)

Unsurprisingly, their cooperation doesn't start too well when they meet, after Miller has found out that Holden found the wrecked hulk of the last ship that Julie Mao was known to be on. However, they do end up managing to work out their differences, as Holden becomes more and more appalled by mankind, as he finds out to what length some people would go in the name of science and mostly profit. The turning point is probably when the whole of the asteroid city of Eros is used as a lab for the Phoebe Bug, just to see what would happen.

I really liked this one. It has a nice gritty, realistic feel to it, and it is set in an interesting time-period, just between where we are now, and most classic sci-fi, where mankind has long left Earth behind and spread out between the stars. Here, they're slowly feeling their way out of the solar system, colonising Mars, the Belt asteroids and the moons of the gas giants, and developing new starship drives, and everything is still dirty and oily, not the pristine state of Star Trek ships. Humanity finding its space legs, so to say. I found the idea of the Belters already evolving into something a bit different from planetary humans quite interesting They have lighter bones and much longer limbs, which leads to racism problems, originating from both sides. I guess humanity will never evolve more intelligence in that regard....

I also liked the interpretation of aliens here. Instead of your typical slimy baddies in flying saucers we get a kind of alien bacteria, which initially appears to be hostile, but in the end turns out to be a device to contact other intellogences. Unfortunately, at the time it was sent, several million years ago, life on Earth was pretty much limited to bacteria, but by the time it arrives, that has evolved a bit. Thus, the Phoebe Bug causes some rather distgusting stuff in its "attempt" (I shouldn't call it that, as evolution is never directional, but can't think of another word), to reach a state when it can comprehend and communicate with the humans. In short, it accidentally creates radioactive vomit zombies.

If you intend to read this book, be warned that Mr Frank seems to have learned a lesson from Mr Martin, namely, that characters don't necessarily need to survive a novel just because they have a name, a personality and a plot. This book is not kind to its characters.

All in all, solid gritty space opera with some interesting turns. And upcoming sequels. Obviously. Why is it that nobody writes standalone novels anymore?

7.5/10 (looses some points for gratuitous ickyness)

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