In the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, humanity has reached the stars. In James S. A. Corey’s Expanse universe, humans have only reached as far as the other planetary bodies and asteroids in our own solar system. James Holden is working on an ice mining ship out in the asteroid belt when his ship comes across another ship in distress. The Scopuli is abandoned, and clearly the crew have come to a bad end. James Holden and crew discover evidence on the ship that may lead to war. Before they can figure out what to do with the evidence, conflict finds them and the situation escalates to dangerous levels.
At the same time, on the asteroid Ceres, Detective Miller is searching for a missing girl named Julie. Political and trade tensions are mounting on Ceres, and then Ceres hears about the trouble with the Scopuli. Violence erupts as the threat of war becomes more of a certainty. But who is starting the war, and who are the parties in conflict? Is Mars behind it all, or Earth? Or perhaps the Outer Planet revolutionaries, a group that wants to be free of both Earth and Mars, are to blame. Detective Miller soon finds that his hunt for a missing girl ties him to the investigation to figure out what happened to the Scopuli. When Holden and Miller meet, they start on a course of inquiry which may change the fate of humanity throughout the solar system.
While this is considered a “space opera” title, it is not a Star Wars or Star Trek novel. Rather, this story has deep political undertones that drive the plot along. James Holden and Detective Miller play a role in a larger drama playing out across the solar system. The story was a little slow to build for me, but once it got going, I very much enjoyed it. Leviathan Wakes, and the rest of the Expanse series books form the bases of the TV series, The Expanse, currently in its third season on the Syfy Channel.