On the surface, James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse may seem like science fiction escapism, but there’s so much more. It’s the very best of modern juggernauts like Game Of Thrones and Star Wars with a dash of The Walking Dead and All The President’s Men. It’s fun, action-packed, full of political intrigue, hard science, and sometimes it’s really freaking scary.
Pure and simple, The Expanse is epic space opera done right.
Like all great science fiction series, The Expanse allows us to look at the trials and tribulations of a distant future while we’re really looking back at ourselves. And, in our current political climate, it’s a lens well-worth looking through.
At it’s very essence, The Expanse is about building and defending superfluous borders. Humanity has begun to colonize the solar system and three factions — Earth, Mars, and the outer planets — are grappling for power by sewing seeds of xenophobia, deceit, and preaching self-preservation. Sound familiar?
Into this political pressure cooker walks James Holden and the ragtag crew of the Rocinante. Imagine if Han Solo and Luke Skywalker had a baby. That’s Holden. He’s a scoundrel, but he’s also a quick-to-action purveyor of the truth with a comedic sense of honor and love of a fresh cup of coffee. He’s hubris personified. He disseminates the truth, but rarely thinks about truth’s consequence.
Holden’s ship is named after Don Quixote’s horse Rocinante, and, like Don Quixote, Holden is on a fool’s quest; he’s attempting to unite and save humanity from a newfound threat. Except this threat isn’t even human anymore.
The series is ongoing, but I can’t recommend it enough. After reading the prologue of Leviathan Wakes, book 1 of The Expanse, I was hooked. I think you will be too.
There’s an adaptation of The Expanse currently running on the Syfy channel. They’re attempting to turn it into the next Battlestar Gallactica. It’s well executed, but overly serious and misses out on a lot of the comedy, adventure, and mystery of the novels. They bring a few story lines forward in the first season that confuse the overarching plot and there are too many whispered scenes meant to be tense, but just aren’t. I’m hoping that the second season, which premiers on Wednesday, rectifies those mistakes.
I’d suggest starting with the books.