The Expanse and the human

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a closely-knit crew fly around in a spaceship getting in and out of trouble, against a backdrop of intrigue and sinister forces. The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey (the nom-de-plume of a pair of writers) follows this familiar formula but is still a unique work. The Expanse so far consists of four novels:

  • Leviathan Wakes
  • Caliban's War
  • Abaddon's Gate
  • Cibola Burn

—and I believe there are more to come. As I hinted in my introduction, I've been reminded of various science-fiction works while reading it, from Mass Effect, to Firefly, to Michael Flynn's The Wreck of the River of Stars.

All of the books in this series have kept me engaged with compelling characters and gradually-revealed mysteries.

One thing I like about The Expanse is its realism. True to its title, the series attempts to capture the vastness of space. Travelling to another planet in the solar system takes months, during which characters are cooped-up with their shipmates and usually far from help (unless travelling in a convoy). At the same time, the authors don't neglect the human scale. For example, even when whole planets are at risk, one character, a detective, is motivated to doggedly pursue a missing-persons case.

These novels are relatively fast-paced, but don't just skip over issues of metaphysics and morality when they arise from the plot.

I probably can't say a whole lot more while still avoiding spoilers, but hopefully you'll be able to tell from this review whether this series would interest you.