I just finished Leviathan Wakes, and thoroughly enjoyed every page of it. It’s been a long time since I read any science fiction, which is odd because through most of my life I have been passionate about the genre. In recent years, I tend to perfer fantasy. Perhaps my desire to escape is focussed more on impossible worlds because I don’t have much hope for the future. I’m not sure.
But back to the book. As I read it, I kept thinking “I would kill to see this as a movie. This would kick ass.” It was a fast-paced book, and the plot twists caught and held me all the way to the end. The entwined storylines of the main characters, the broken detective Miller and the inflexibly moral Holden, meet and part and meet again against a background of interplanetary conflict between Earth, Mars, and the scattered asteroids of the Belt. This book is quite often termed “space opera,” which to me seems dismissive (but I may not be understanding the term correctly). If space opera means that it is not hard science fiction, then I would agree. This story is about people with flaws and dreams, people who deal with the the consequences of the actions that they are pushed into. It is about real environments, down to the smell of the air in the corridors and the taste of the reconstituted food. This is why I loved science fiction – I was never a fan of hard sci fi, I got bored by pages of involved technical description. Just tell me how it feels, make me feel as though I am really there. So yes, Leviathan Wakes may be space opera in the sense that Firefly or BSG was: solid, suspenseful stories about real people.
I loved the character of Miller, which is no surprise. I’ve always related to realists more than idealists, and like damaged characters who go on to do heroic things despite knowing how broken the world is. They make the best decisions that they can, and adapt to what they need to be. I related less to Holden, who seemed to want the world to confirm to his moralistic world view. Both characters, though, were extremely well written, with depth, realism and humour (as were more secondary characters, even down to the missing girl who starts Miller on the path to unravelling the mystery).
All in all, a book that I enjoyed a great deal. It’s made me hunger to read science fiction again, and go back to the days when my favourite authors were Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. And perhaps that comparison is apt; it was Robert Heinlein’s character and plot driven books that addicted me to the genre in the first place. His books were, first and foremost, about people. Ok, to be fair, perhaps his books were first about message, but after that they were about people, and I loved that.
Buy it. And someone, please, make a movie out of this. :)