Caliban’s War (The Expanse) by James S. A. Corey. Orbit Books. 624 pages.
This is the second book in the series that the new SyFy TV series The Expanse is based on. And it’s very good. I’ve been trying to determine if it would be classify it as space opera, science fiction or hard science fiction, because it has elements of each. It has the energy and adventure of space opera, and it has the technical know-how of hard science fiction, so I think that qualifies it as pure science fiction.
Here’s the scenario:
Two hundred years from now, Earth has colonized Mars and is in the process of colonizing the outer planets. As people leave Earth, as had happened here, they long for self-government and separate themselves. Mars becomes its own government, and the Outer Planets become a third. Friction ensues and people begin growing apart.
In the story of the Expanse, a detective in the Outer Planets is hired to look for a young woman from Earth who has gone missing. In the process of finding her, he and a crew from a Martian spaceship discover a biological weapon that is being used. Someone is trying to start a war between the three governments. At the same time, the weapon has originated from outside the solar system, suggesting that beings from elsewhere are ready to move in and take over.
Caliban’s War tells the story from the perspective of Holden, the captain of the Rocinante, the former Mars military ship that has since gone its own way, trying to solve this mystery without getting destroyed in the inevitable war. It’s great adventure, with the characters well defined, sympathetic, with good elements of humor thrown in and tons of action. The book is thick–624 pages–but it moves quickly, and I find myself comparing the SyFy series and the book constantly. Right now the series on TV is still in Book 1, so if you start reading you can get ahead of it.
It’s one of the best sci-fi space series written in recent years. Get it.
I give it five out of five stars.