The Expanse: The Upcoming Show and the Books

The Sci-Fi Channel (or whatever stupid name they’re calling it now. Siffy or something?) hasn’t had a show worth watching since Battlestar ended its run. Yes, I’m including the horribly squandered premise of Stargate Universe.

With intense hope and prayers to the FSM, that might change with The Expanse premiering in December.

Why am I writing about it now? It’s based on a series of books, and you’ll have time to read them (or some of them) before the show starts, if you want.

Here’s some details about the show and the books.

After so many years of having friends who’d read The Song of Ice and Fire, Potter, Lord of the Rings, or any number of other fantasy book series, FINALLY there’s a sci-fi TV series based on books. I don’t read much fantasy, I read a ton of sci-fi. Now, at long last, I can be That Guy that can say something like “well in the books…”

Kidding, I won’t do that. Everybody hates that guy.

Anyway, The Expanse is a sort of old school space opera, set 200 years in the future. We’ve colonized most of the solar system, and stuff starts happening. No faster-than-light travel or gravity generators in this universe. Strictly real-world physics. Cool stuff.

The books are generally good. Of the five novels (I haven’t read the novellas and short stories), I’d give them a solid B+ average. The fourth book is a C, the most recent one an A-. It’s entertaining, well written fiction. Not Stephenson or Banks level, certainly, but good fun. I devour each one.

The most recent book, Nemesis Games is the best so far, diving into the characters more and Serious Things take place.

If you’re interested, the first book is Leviathan Wakes. If you’re a fan of big bombastic sci-fi action adventures, I highly recommend picking it up or downloading it (if you don’t go for analog).

The first season of the TV show (from what I can tell) is the entire first book. SyFy is apparently throwing money at the production, which is a good sign, and they’ve already agreed to a second season. That is also a good sign. The source material is very good, and I could see how a well produced TV show could really bring it to life. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Here’s the trailer. If you’ve read the book, I have some opinions on the casting and stuff, but feel free to skip that if this is all new to you.

OK, a few thoughts from the different trailers. Of course there was no simple way to differentiate the Belters and those from the Inner Planets. It seems maybe the Belters have English accents? That seems OK, and a lot easier than making them all affect some new accent or something.

The casting is a bit hit-or-miss, as far as how I envisioned the characters. That’s always going to be true, of course, but sometimes some shows hit better than others. Thomas Jane as Miller is not what I pictured, but it works (I imagined him about 20 years older).

Holden could have been played by just about anyone, honestly. Clean cut mid-western type.

Naomi is great. Alex… I actually thought he was a bit younger. I’m curious if they’ll have him do the southern drawl. Avasarala is perfect. Exactly how I pictured.

Amos, though. WTF? Was I the only one that pictured some huge guy? More like an ex-football type?

In reality, none of that matters. It’s how well they’re played and written. How they look and sound is merely characterization, not character. Amos’s thing is his viciousness, not specifically that he’s strong. So I’m happy to keep an open mind and see how it all plays.

The special effects look great, though Ceres isn’t anything like I thought it would look. Way too clean. My only real concern is that because it’s Sci-Fi, they’ll have to tone down Avasarala language. That’d be a bummer.

Still, overall, very excited.

Have any of you read it or looking forward to this?

Oreo's picture

Though I'm not sure how many have been based on a series of books, other sci-fi shows have been based on books. Under the Dome is a recent one, though it doesn't follow the book closely at all.

Having not read these, all I saw was the trailer: the premise intrigued me, but the casting got my attention. I'll probably watch anything Jonathan Banks is in, and Chad L. Coleman won me over with The Walking Dead. (I haven't seen The Wire, but I will.) I may be a little less discriminating in my sci-fi tastes than Geoff, though, as I though SG:U was pretty good overall. I've been watching Defiance since the beginning, and Killjoys and Dominion are also on my DVR list.

I'll give it a shot, though.