Let me get the taste of this week’s football out of my mouth and turn to a more pleasant subject — the latest volume in the Expanse series, BABYLON’S ASHES, which I just finished reading a few days ago.
You know, for a voracious reader like myself, life has few pleasures that compare to finding a really good book, the sort that grabs you from page one and won’t let go, so you find yourself late at night, wanting to sleep but thinking, “Just one more chapter, just one more chapter,” until dawn breaks and you’ve read the whole damned thing.
That’s BABYLON’S ASHES. The Expanse series has been terrific from the beginning, but it went to a new level with the last volume, NEMESIS GAMES, which should have been a Hugo finalist last year. This new one is just as good. It will definitely be one of the books on my own nominating ballot. Jimmy Corey (who is really Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham in a two-man pantomime horse costume) just keeps getting better.
It also occurs to me that BABYLON’S ASHES would make a very worthy nominee for the new awards that Atlanta’s Dragoncon has started, the Dragon Awards. The Dragons, given for the first time last year, aspire to be the People’s Choice Awards of SF and fantasy… and could well achieve that if they can get sufficient participation from all sectors of fandom. Unlike the Hugo Awards, the Dragons have no short fiction categories, but they do give a number of awards for novel: best sf, best fantasy, best horror, best military SF, etc. “Military SF” has become popular enough to be regarded as its own category these days, it would seem. (Which was not formerly the case. Heinlein’s STARSHIP TROOPERS and Haldeman’s FOREVER WAR both won Hugo Awards simply as Best Novel back in the day, and — together perhaps with Gordy Dickson’s Dorsai series — pretty much defined what is known as ‘Milsf’ today).
One of the joys of the Expanse series is the way Jimmy Corey dances between subgenres. The series is certainly science fiction, no doubt of that, but assigning it to any particular sub-genre is more more difficult. Some parts read like space opera, some parts strike me as hard SF. The first book, LEVIATHAN WAKES, had some pretty strong horror elements with its vomit zombies, and also a real noir-ish mystery feel in the Miller chapters. With BABYLON’S ASHES, however, the war comes center stage, and we are definitely in the realm of Military SF. Lots of action, lots of tension, lots of battle… with some great world-building and characters you really care about. So I’m thinking, if we are going to have special awards for Mil-SF, I cannot think of a more worthy contender than the new Corey. So… Hugo, Dragon, or whatever, I commend BABYLON’S ASHES to your consideration. I think you’ll like it. I sure did.
Oh, and speaking of THE EXPANSE… there’s a second season of the TV show coming at us as well. Here’s a trailer for it.