The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: The Expanse Series -- Science Fiction by James S.A. Corey

I stumbled upon The Expanse series of science fiction novels by James S.A. Corey by accident. It had been years since I had read science fiction and I wanted to get a taste. I missed it. Honestly, I missed relaxing in those other worlds, getting lost in strange situations, getting swept up in a future I hope might someday come to pass (well, at least the expansive good parts ... other parts would be truly terrifying).

Being a 21st century computer driven geek and writer, I "googled" best science fiction of 2013. There I discovered the third novel in The Expanse series, Abaddon's Gate. I picked it up at the local library (volumes 1 and 2 were out) and was quickly engrossed. As the authors themselves say, these books are love letters to the science fiction they grew up with. I couldn't agree more.

The three books in the series are, in proper order:

Leviathan Wakes
Caliban's War - and -
Abaddon's Gate

These books tell the satisfying tale of humanity expanding out across the solar system. Being humans, we've divided into Earth, Mars, Outer Planets, and Belters, with political organizations and power struggles galore. Making matters worse, a powerful device from long ago and far away (but not from the evil Galactic Empire of Star Wars) has become active in the solar system, wreaking havoc and pursuing goals all its own, which leave humanity terrified and at war with itself.

Tying it all together are the wonderful characters who propel the story across the novels and about whom you come to care very much. James Holden, XO of an ice miner with a bigger future awaiting leads a crew of memorable characters across the solar system on a series of adventures arising from human conflicts and alien terrors. The technology is present, is far from perfect, but does not run the show. That is left to the characters and I, for one, am glad.

For the first time in my life, given which book was in or out at the library when, this is the first series of books I have ever read backwards, starting with the third and ending with the first. Each is so self-contained that is this both possible and enjoyable. Later I'll get a kick out of watching it unfurl as the authors intended, but for now I'm happy to roll backwards through the story like a Time Lord. The character development is just that good.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who has ever loved science fiction ... or anyone who wants to give science fiction a try for the very first time. Each novel is gratifyingly large, so you'll get to live in the world the authors have created for quite a while.

I also understand a fourth volume, Cibola Burn, will be out June 17, 2014. I can't wait. 

James S.A. Corey is the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who call Albuquerque, New Mexico, home ... at least in this timeline.

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