There are so many things to say about this book. Though I heard that some people find it a slow book, I read it quickly, aided by the fact that I was reading parts aloud to a child—lazy bed-time story reading if you will. Leviathan Wakes lays the platform for a series of book (and a forthcoming TV show on Scyfy) , which are some pretty big shoes to fill. The author name, James S. A. Corey is actually a pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the first of which also sometimes collaborates with George RR Martin, author of Game of Thrones (giant shoes).
Similar to the Game of Thrones books, it is also written using the format of one perspective per chapter. The books only covers two perspectives (GoT has ca. 13), that of Holden and Miller, with a small exception towards the end. In a previous post, I described Miller as a nihilistic character, something the authors agree with, while Holden could very much be described as the inverse.
On the interplay between both, the authors write:
”Holden’s my holy fool. He’s an idealist, a man who faces things with this very optimistic view of humanity. He believes that if you give people all of the information, they’ll do the right thing with it, because people are naturally good. Miller is a cynic and a nihilist. He looks at the dissemination of information as a game you play. He doesn’t have faith in anyone else’s moral judgement.”
As I previously noted, these character traits can be an interesting way to move a story forward and the mix certainly makes the journey more interesting.
The story plays in the far future (at least to my understanding), where other planets close to Earth have already been populated and space stations have been built. Most of the story pieces take place on space stations and on space ships. There seems to be a logic in how things work in this universe, with Earth representing an old but still prominent power, Mars a counterbalance to this power, and the “Belters” (inhabitants of space stations) as the new wave of civilisation.
Knowing that this would become a TV show, I was mostly trying to find links to existing space faring shows that I know, mainly Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Thematically, this felt closer to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series (also an impending TV show, crazy!) in the noir detective story taking place within a space context.
Book one at least did not feel like an episodic TV show, rather more like the laying of building blocks for a future series of stories. I wonder how easily this translates to episodic story telling or if we will instead be presented with the new style of TV shows that tell one whole story over many chapters, a very long movie if you will.
If you like science fiction that is fairly grounded, integrating elements of intrigue, humour, horror, space opera, and written in a clear manner, then this is a good book to read. Expect it to build up slowly, though the action does accelerate in later chapters.