Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

The Sophomore Slump

by Ty Franck

So ‘Caliban’s War’, the second book in The Expanse series, went off to our publisher yesterday.   It’s a massive tome of 170,000 words, and I did a full re-read and edit of it in just two days before sending it off.  So this entire blog post may just be delirium caused by lack of sleep.

There’s a lot to like.  I like our new characters and what we put them through.  I still love Holden’s little crew on the Rocinante.  I like the glimpse we get of Earth and her politics in our future solar system.  And good grief do I love that ending.

Overall I think it’s at least as strong as Leviathan Wakes was, and in my opinion stronger.  I’m a better writer now.  Daniel understands the universe of the Expanse better than he did during the first book.  We work together very smoothly even when we aren’t typing in the same room.  The trust level has gone way up, on both sides.

But I’ve been warned about the sophomore slump.  So I am suspicious of my own happiness at the second book.  It’s gone out to our readers, so hopefully if we really blew it they’ll give us a heads up.

I did however do what my good pal Carrie Vaughn warned me to do.  I got the second book done before the sales numbers on the first one started rolling in.  I’m glad I did.   No matter what happens to Leviathan Wakes, it won’t stop me from finishing the second book.  So there’s that.

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20 Responses »

  1. So if LEVIATHAN WAKES was space opera + noir…

    CALIBAN’S WAR is space opera + political thriller

    what’s DANDELION SKY gonna be? (space opera + ?)

    P. S. Really looking forward to it!!!

  2. P. P. S. The “Caliban” in the title *is* a reference to THE TEMPEST, right? Or am I totally overthinking this?

  3. It’s all good my man. Statistical analysis shows there is no such thing as a true ‘sophomore slump’. Your typical player of sports who the mainstream media says is having such a slump is almost always facing stiffer competition with less help and more responsibility.

    • I’m with the Tick. I knew that Leviathan Wakes would be incredible, and I can’t imagine that a slump could be occurring with the synergy you describe above.

      Dangit! Now I’ll have to get the whole series.

      And thanks for, in my opinion, reviving a floundering genre. Hard SF is back.

  4. I don’t know if the Sophomore Slump would even apply here (which for me only really applies to an author’s second book ever, and not every second book in a series) as you’ve got an awesome teammate in Abraham who has already worked through that spot (without faltering in the slightest, imho–Betrayal was the goods). As an aspiring author, I’m completely jealous of your opportunity. Learn everything you can from him.

    And Leviathan Wakes is great so far, by the way. Keep it coming. 🙂

  5. And…will there be ARCs for Caliban’s War? 🙂 Does begging help secure one? How about gifts?

    Leviathan Wakes was one of the best (if not the best) book I have read in a long time. I can’t tell you how many people I have recommended it to. (I did have an ARC of it and I kept having to say “it will be out shortly”) I helped a little with pre-orders!

  6. How would one qualify to get an ARC of Caliban’s War?…..just lucky or do you have to be established print publishing professional (alliteration not intentional – just kinda happened)?

    Extremely taken with the noir aspects of Leviathan Wakes. Huge, huge fan of the Price of Spring Quartet, by the way.

    Thanks for writing intelligent AND kick-ass action books.

    • You’d think I’d have some idea what the criteria were, but I really don’t. I’ll ask the publicity guys. Have you got a blog I could point them at in a “he might write a review”-like manner?

  7. Frickin’ awesome. I just finished the first one and you guys are already done with the second?

    Mr. Abraham, I just have to say that your Long Price Quartet was truly awesome. I picked it up to hold me down while waiting for George RR Martin to finish A Dance With Dragons, and it far surpassed any such placeholder status by the end. I enjoyed LEVIATHAN WAKES, if anything, even more than any single book in the LPQ. Keep up the great work!

  8. I struggle to find good SF these days, and I can say honestly you gave me the strength to continue my search. Leviathan Wakes is easly in my top ten list now and that is a very hard list to get on. You have me salivating for Caliban. So far no one has bested my number 1 read but you diffently shook the walls in a great effort to take that spot. Thankyou for a book that consumed my attention from begining till end.

  9. I have the misfortune of just finishing Leviathan Wakes, and learning the existence of book 2 oh so tantalizingly close. I hope that you can throttle up the agony to an unbearable level by promising a release date sufficiently close yet distressingly far.

    • We don’t have an actual release date yet. But my understanding is that it will be released in June of 2012, about a year after Leviathan Wakes came out. The third will be released one year after that.

      But the second book, Caliban’s War, has been delivered to the publisher on time, so there shouldn’t be any delays in meeting our publication schedule, whatever that might be.

  10. I purchased your book yesterday and read it though last night. It did not dissapoint. The flaws were small and arguably more in your philosophy and stoic ideals and even then they did not really draw away from your story which was a good story.

    Thanks for your time and effort.