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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but derivative pulp fiction, 13 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Kindle Edition)
Here's an idea for an SF novel, why not take bits from other books, lock them up on an asteroid, and let a mutating alien space virus loose on them to see what happens.

Okay, first in is Joss Whedon's Firefly. A ragtag band of misfits led by a hard but moral captain. The parallels are so close that I found myself seeing some of the characters from Firefly before their origins fully clicked with me. The loyal female second in command, the uncompromising hard man, the slightly softer technical genius.

Next up we get a noir detective. Failed marriage, check. Alcohol problem, check. Poor relationship with the boss, check. Obsession with a case he's told to drop, check.

Then we can throw in a bit of body horror to spice things up, and clichés from every naval story from Hornblower, through Patrick O'Brien to David Weber's Hornblower in space, Honor Harrington novels. Finally, let's add a 24 carat Bond villain who wants for nothing other than a white cat.

So, one thing Leviathan Wakes isn't, is highly original.

It is set in a universe where humankind has populated the solar system, and there are two major powers, Earth and Mars, with the Outer Planets Alliance seeking to break free, not least from the tax burden placed on them by their more powerful neighbours. Again, we are looking at the familiar theme of the Napoleonic Wars and American War of Independence transposed into space.

An act of piracy seemingly perpetrated by one of the major powers is the catalyst for a war which threatens the whole of human society. Of course all is not what it seems, as shadowy interests seek to manipulate the war to enable them to take control of an ancient and terrifying alien technology.

While this is all pretty derivative, it is reasonably enjoyable as a plot which gradually builds up speed delivers sufficient twists and turns and action set pieces to keep the reader's interest. It's a bit like an action movie. If you go along for the ride, and let yourself get carried along, it's all good fun. Just don't stop and think about it for too long, otherwise you'll start seeing the plot holes.

Even if you do decide to go with the flow, the bad physics is pretty annoying. Apparently vacuum is an insulation against radiation, but even worse, many SF novels cock their noses at Einstein in their attempts to operate on a galactic scale, but this is one which decides to ignore Newton. A major plot point at the climax of the book is entirely dependent on breaking the link between force and acceleration. Not good.

So, as a piece of brain dead pulp fiction, this is a perfectly acceptable operatic space fantasy, but don't expect anything more.
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P. G. Harris
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Top Reviewer Ranking: 651