|Becca Stareyes (beccastareyes) wrote,|
@ 2012-05-31 23:00:00
|Entry tags:||100 sff stories, books, reading, science fiction|
100 SF/Fantasy Stories 006: Leviathan Wakes, by James SA Corey
So, I mentioned this previously, but I was able to enjoy Leviathan Wakes, despite me critiquing the orbital mechanics and realizing that recent science* would throw a monkey wrench into the plot. But I'm used to that; sometimes things shape out that way.
So, Leviathan Wakes hits a sweet spot in SF for me by being about the time when humankind has the Solar System as its playground but hasn't moved to the stars. Too often it seems like authors are in a rush to make up some fancy FTL drive to get to the aliens and the worlds that don't require terraforming and it's nice to see looks at our backyard, even if it's not as nice as the green fields over the fence. Of course, I'm biased there, since I spend a lot of time working in the backyard so to speak.
Anyway, the plot follows two characters. Miller is essentially a noir-style cop on Ceres who gets told to locate a Earth VIP's daughter who is out being all Social Activist on Ceres. Holden is an Earth guy making a living hauling ice from Saturn to the asteroid belt for water when his ship sees a distress call coming from a small rock in the outer Belt.
Then shit hits the fan as thing start blowing up and political tensions between Mars, Earth and the Belt mean everyone starts shooting at everyone else. And of course Miller's missing woman is related to the abandoned ship Holden finds.
My strongest critique of Leviathan Wakes has to do with gender and sexuality politics. While their are characters that seem like the author (or authors, as the Corey is a pen name for two authors) considered the character as going either way -- the captain of the Martian battleship for one, and Miller's boss for another -- the two most prominent female characters feel like they are female because Holden and Miller are heterosexual males. Julie Mao, Miller's missing woman who he builds up a creepy infatuation with without ever having met her (and the text does seem to imply creepiness when we can get out of Miller's head), feels like a Woman in the Refrigerator. (Also spoiler spoiler things that I can't mention about the end.)
Naomi, one of Holden's crew, also feels like she was female so Holden could pine after her. Now it might be that it's something about Holden that, after all the messed up shit he and his handful of crew members get put through, he'll form a bond with all of them and become infatuated with any of the women that he found sexually attractive. But… Naomi was the only woman among the four. Making Amos or Alex female would have done a lot to cut the idea that Naomi was female so Holden could have sexual chemistry with someone, and otherwise all male crew.
(There's also little things, like Miller breaking teenagers being stupid into 'boys trying to impress girls' and most of the marines being male, and one of Holden's crew using what seems like a homophobic slur to denigrate some assholes who were shooting at them. And the closest thing to a queer character, even in the background, being Holden's eight parents being in a poly marriage.)
It just… I expect more of a work written in the 2010s. Especially one that does really well in making space look international. I want the gender and sexual politics to look like something other than mainstream media plus Heinlein-style group marriages.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. I stayed up late finishing the last hundred pages and I want the sequel. Like I said, it's hitting my sweet spot in the 'solar system is the playground'. But because I enjoyed it, I do have to point out what didn't work for me.
* Recent science that a member of my research group is doing!