So, I read books, and I like to write about my impressions. Here is, what I’ve written in a public facebook post this morning about the expanse:
Public book criticism time! 🙂 Today: “The Expanse” (novel series) or “Leviathan Wakes”, “Caliban’s War” and “Abaddon’s Gate” by James S. A. Corey (which is an author’s duo consisting of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) – also now a SyFy series “The Expanse”.
It’s hard to describe the plot without major spoilers, so I just say it’s set a couple of centuries into the future, humanity has settlements all over the solar system, on Mars and Jupiter’s moons, there are major physical and political differences between the 3 fractions (people from Earth, Mars and the “belt”), growing up in low gravity leads to people having long extremities, being dressed up in space suits to communicate by gestures (nodding with the hands instead of the head for example), and everyone distrusting everyone from somewhere else. Some very disturbing events happen in this setting which is already full of tension, so the story spans over three books to describe where all of this leads to.
Disturbing is a good attribute in my opinion, especially for the first book (“Leviathan wakes”) – some of the elements described were haunting me a bit later, again, I don’t want to spoil anything but let’s say, it’s been graphic enough for me (OK, I don’t watch too many horror movies anyway so your mileage may vary). I am very fond of “near future” science-fiction, this is a genre which works without much “deus ex” technology and provides enough present-time technological elements so you can identify easily with the world built by the authors. It’s also the case here, they still have LED technology and are very fond of their handsets. The books describe some of the causalities of living off-earth quite detailed, someone should make a word count of “gravity well”. 😉
It’s one of those “each chapter is told from someone else’s perspective” kind of books, so you get “internal monologue” from different characters. I don’t know if I’m really too fond of this, but I guess it’s a good way to push the story forward and also makes TV adaption easier (hat tip to GRRM). Speaking of GRRM, the writers are members of a New Mexico author’s association where GRRM also is participating, in one of the interviews they value the imput they got from this group during the creative process.
Overall, I liked reading “The Expanse” series very much, I stumbled upon it at Fefe’s blog and haven’t been disappointed. It’s one of the books you can’t put out of hand easily because the story is proceeding fast-paced and you get to like the characters. I didn’t need the graphic horror elements, but on the other hand they were adding up to the drama of the situation. It has enough politics, technology and psychology to build a well-round world and vivid characters, each book of the series presents different aspects and thus doesn’t repeat itself.
Read it, if you like science-fiction, space ships and have a faible for the military or political culture of the United States of America (knowledge of which doesn’t hurt to see where they’re coming from).