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 V.22 No.34 | August 22 - 28, 2013 

Book Review

Space Opera Hits a High Note

Abaddon's Gate

James S.A. Corey
Orbit
paperback
YA/sci-fi
$17

Néo is your average 17-year-old kid, living on a space station and willing to do anything to impress Evita, the girl of his dreams. So like any hormone-driven teen, he builds himself a spaceship and attempts to slingshot himself into space and through an alien artifact known as the Ring, an intergalactic weapon of unknown power. Sadly this ends poorly for him—Néo’s time in James S. A. Corey’s sci-fi novel, Abaddon’s Gate, terminates in the prologue, but it sets the stage for the other characters who are tasked with learning about the Ring.

Abaddon’s Gate is the third book in the the “Expanse” series by James S.A. Corey. While this is not a series that embraces readers who start anywhere but in the first book, the foibles and realism of the characters make the confusing plotline worthwhile.

Take Jim Holden, for example. He’s a miner-turned-ship-captain who treats his crew like family rather than subordinates, often holding himself back from exclaiming, “I love you, guys!” He goes to great lengths to make his crew members feel as though the ship is home and that he is something of a father figure, buying expensive liquor to share and allowing them to purchase anything they want for the ship.

Each chapter in the book is told through the eyes of one of the five principle characters, all of whom have distinct personalities. The world around each person is artfully described through the given character’s voice, with all their beliefs and baggage coloring their language and thoughts.

As the five characters converge on the mysterious Ring as part of an explorative mission, the world comes to life. The preacher Anna works hard to balance the possibilities of alien technology with religious ideals. Belters, tall humans who grew up on colonized low-gravity asteroid belts, and Earthers alike are often wary of one another and sometimes a bit racist.

The futuristic technology is another imaginative, attention-grabbing bit in Abaddon’s Gate. Aside from the Ring, which can destroy entire planets when it works, there are self-triggered implants that can turn a person into a heartless killing machine for a few minutes. These rarely used upgrades cause extreme physical and emotional reactions afterward, a side effect that can be dire in some circumstances.

Abaddon’s Gate is steeped in jargon and history from the previous novels in the series, so readers who have not picked up the first two books may find themselves lost. Fans who have kept up with the series will be delighted in the well-imagined continuation of this action-packed universe.

“Expanse” fans will have the opportunity to meet with authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the two behind the pseudonym James S.A. Corey, when they come to Alamosa Books on Aug. 22 for a book reading.

James S.A. Corey discusses Abaddon’s Gate

Thursday, Aug. 22, 6:30pm
Alamosa Books
8810 Holly NE, Ste. D
797-7101, alamosabooks.com
Cost: Free
 
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