Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Caliban's War

Caliban's War (Expanse, #2)Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When simmering tensions erupt into war, Jim Holden races to discover the fate of a child whose kidnapping may hold the key to ending the conflict - hoping that humanity won't cripple itself before the alien weapon incubating on Venus shows its teeth.

Mars and Earth are locked into fighting that will result in a death spiral for humanity. Everyone's lost sight of the real problem blooming on Venus: the protomolecule has eerily transformed the entire planet, and no one knows why. Faced with a terrifying and incomprehensible threat, the various factions fall back into familiar patterns of strife.

The familiar faces of Holden and his Rocinante crew are back, still reeling from the effect of Detective Miller's kamikaze morality a full year after his death. They begin a hunt for a botanist's missing daughter and uncover a new conspiracy to weaponize the alien protomolecule. (We all knew that was coming.)

Added to this cast are the welcome presences of two new women: Bobbie, a hulking Martian Marine, and Avasarala, a sweet old granny who likes calling people the c-word and is one of the most politically powerful humans in the solar system.

It's great to see epic science fiction that features such diverse characters, characters who feel like real people and are most fun when they conflict with each other. (The meeting of the idealist Holden and the intensely cynical force of nature that is Avasarala was a fun, too-brief moment.) Critics of the first book's two main characters being white males should be happy.

The mystery here is less compelling than Leviathan Wakes because the alien's already out of the bag. Some of Caliban's War feels like a rehash of what came before, but the characters are still worth spending time with as they struggle with doing the right thing and trying not to allow the human race to self-destruct.

But then came the holy crap ending. Now I'm asking myself: how can I get my hands on the last book, as of yesterday? The holds list for Abaddon's Gate at my library is absurdly long.
  • Quotable: “Good, because I don’t use sex as a weapon,” Bobbie said. “I use weapons as weapons.”
  • Am I the only one who finds Naomi utterly boring?
  • I really liked Praxidike Meng's idea of table talk.

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