Friday, 27 February 2015

Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey

I'd like to take a brief digression to look at the blurb for Leviathan Wakes on the cover above and say what the hell? Okay, Wall Street Journal. If you want your future to be crazed corporations committing genocide, then...well, I guess maybe you do? It kind of creeps me out, is all I'm saying.

Luckily, the two authors who make up James S.A. Corey do not agree. I mean, there's the crazed corporation, but they are clearly the bad guys. This time, someone seems to be harnessing some of the sludge from the last book, and trying to tame it. With terrible results, including a massacre of marines, and experimenting on children. This is an interesting future, but not one I'd like to think is ever "supposed to be."

We have more point-of-view characters in this book, adding in a couple of women and at least one new man. I'm curious as to the mechanics of the authors - do they each write certain viewpoints, or is it a closer process? I could probably investigate, but it's more something that I have as a question than something that really needs to get answered.

The women characters we've added are a tough-as-nails Martian Marine named Bobbi, who's suffering from some pretty severe PTSD after she saw her entire platoon slaughtered around her by a monster that they blew up in her face. The other is a deputy to the head of the U.N. - I forget her exact position, but she's one of the real power brokers, as opposed to the figurehead. She's also a foulmouthed Indian grandmother. It's hard not to love her quite a lot.

Holden is still around, and suffering some pretty severe aftereffects from the last book. He's taken refuge from fear in ruthlessness, and that's threatening the one piece of happiness he has found. The other new viewpoint character (am I missing one, or is that it?) is a scientist from Ganymede, where the monster attacks. Just before the attack, someone stole his daughter from her daycare. She suffers from an immune system deficiency, and he is half crazed trying to find her.

A lot of this book is about tactics - Holden, as always, wants to go straight to the core of the situation and broadcast all the knowledge to all the people. Bobbi would really like something she could shoot. Prax will not think through any motion that could get him to his daughter. Avasarala will play all the angles, but doesn't think anyone would actually try to physically harm her.

In the meantime, Venus, which was contaminated with the spore last time, has been doing some scary things. Humanity may be the verge of extinction without even realizing it, and yet people are focusing on in-system squabbles and trying to weaponize things that should never be weaponized. In many ways, this is a book about human short-sightedness, and how that might be a reaction to fear that would overwhelm if looked at too closely.

I liked Leviathan's War, but I think this one is even better. It's tense, the characters are great, and I truly never knew what the hell the final outcome was going to be. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of this part of the series.

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