Abaddon's Gate

December 14, 2014
James S.A. Corey

The third installment in James S.A. Corey's Expanse series, Abaddon's Gate follows directly after Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War. I should review those two at some point.

A brief recap: We follow a little motley crew of space mercenaries on a stolen military spacecraft, who uncovered a corporate plot to exploit a strange, ancient alien organism which apparently turns human beings — and most everything else — into grey goo. The solar system is locked in a state of cold war, with the major players being Earth, Mars and the outer planets. Our heroes, who have thrown their lot in with the outer planets, include:

In other words, our main characters are essentially the Firefly crew with a few details mashed around. This is fitting, because for better or worse, the tone of the Expanse books are more like that of a TV series or a big-budget explosion orgy than literary science fiction. In fact, it has the feel of the kind of eclectic science fiction RPG settings I might have run as a 16-year-old: Square-jawed heroes and omnicompetent badass warrior women! Dastardly villains with simple motivations! Evil megacorporations! Heroic self-sacrifice! Explosions! Noir hardboiled detective mystery! Eldritch horrors from beyond time and space!

It is, however, highly entertaining. Much like the science fiction RPG settings I'd run as a 16-year-old. Just don't expect a cerebral tale of future speculation.

In this particular installment, our heroes find themselves on the other side of a giant alien faster-than-light transfer portal, constructed by the alien protomolecule that formed the basis of the first two stories. The story alternates between two main threads: One is about exploration and discovery; the other about intrigue and conflict. Unfortunately, it has no real conclusion. Compared to the two preceding books, it therefore felt rather less satisfying, seeming mostly to be filler intended to introduce the next book (which I think will be about humanity using the ancient alien portals to spread from the solar system to distant star systems).

Decent light reading.

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