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The Expanse (novel series)

The Expanse is a series of science fiction novels, novellas and stories by James S. A. Corey, the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The first novel, Leviathan Wakes, was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2012.[1] In 2017 the series as a whole was nominated for the 'Best Series' Hugo Award.[2]

The Expanse

Author James S. A. Corey
Country United States
Genre Science fiction
Space opera
Publisher Orbit Books
Published June 2011 – present
Media type Print


Publishing historyEdit

As of 2017, The Expanse consists of seven main novels and five shorter works (two prequel short stories, one prequel novella, one novella set between Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate and one set around the events of Nemesis Games). Two more novels are planned,[3] as well as two more novellas.[4] The series has been adapted for television by the Syfy Network, also under the title of The Expanse. The series premiered on streaming services on November 23, 2015 and on Syfy on December 14, 2015.[5]


# Title Pages Publication date ISBN
1 Leviathan Wakes 561 June 15, 2011 ISBN 978-0-316-12908-4
2 Caliban's War 595 June 26, 2012 ISBN 978-1-841-49990-1
3 Abaddon's Gate 539 June 4, 2013 ISBN 978-0-316-12907-7
4 Cibola Burn 583 June 17, 2014 ISBN 978-0-316-21762-0
5 Nemesis Games 544 June 2, 2015 ISBN 978-0-316-21758-3
6 Babylon's Ashes 608 December 6, 2016 ISBN 978-0-316-33474-7 (UK: ISBN 978-0-356-50426-1)
7 Persepolis Rising 560[6] December 5, 2017[6] ISBN 978-0-316-33283-5
8 Tiamat's Wrath 608[7] December 4, 2018[7] ISBN 978-0-316-33286-6
9 Unknown 2019[8]


Four novellas have been published.

  • Gods of Risk (September 15, 2012). The story takes place between Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate.
  • The Churn (April 29, 2014). Prequel to the series.
  • The Vital Abyss (October 15, 2015[9]). The story takes place between Abaddon's Gate and Cibola Burn.
  • Strange Dogs (July 18, 2017[10]). The story takes place between Babylon's Ashes and Persepolis Rising.

Short storiesEdit

  • "Drive" (November 27, 2012 in Edge of Infinity, July 9, 2015 available online)[11]
  • "The Butcher of Anderson Station" (October 17, 2011)


All of the novels up to Persepolis Rising and all the novellas have been released as audiobooks, with Jefferson Mays as the narrator for all novels and the novellas The Vital Abyss and Strange Dogs.[12] Erik Davies is the narrator for the first two novellas that were released (Gods of Risk and The Churn).[13]

Digital comicsEdit

Four digital comics based on the books and tying into the television series were published by ComiXology.

  • The Expanse Origins #1: James Holden (February 1, 2017)[14]
  • The Expanse Origins #2: Naomi Nagata (April 19, 2017)[15]
  • The Expanse Origins #3: Alex Kamal (May 24, 2017)[16]
  • The Expanse Origins #4: Amos Burton (July 12, 2017)[17]


The books follow various characters through the political, cultural and economic change brought on by contact with the remnants of a powerful but presumably extinct, ancient civilization.[citation needed]


The Expanse is set in a future in which humanity has colonized much of the Solar System, but does not have interstellar travel. In the asteroid belt and beyond, tensions are rising between Earth's United Nations, Mars, and the outer planets.[citation needed]

The series initially takes place in the solar system, using many real world locations such as Ceres and Eros in the asteroid belt, several moons of Jupiter, with Ganymede and Europa the most developed, and small science bases as far out as Phoebe around Saturn and Titania around Uranus, as well as well-established domed settlements on Mars and the Moon.[citation needed]

As the series progresses, humanity gains access to thousands of new worlds by use of the ring, an artificially sustained Einstein-Rosen bridge or wormhole, created by a long dead alien race. The ring in our solar system is 2 AU from the orbit of Uranus, and passing through it leads to a hub of starless space approximately one million kilometers across, with more than 1,300 other rings, each with a star system on the other side. In the center of the hub, which is also referred to as the "slow zone", an alien space station controls the gates and can also set instantaneous speed limits on objects inside of the hub as a means of defense.[citation needed]


There are two main point-of-view characters in the first book (plus two for the prologue/epilogue) and four main characters for the following four books. In the sixth book, Babylon's Ashes, the number of POV characters jumps to 15, with several only having one or two chapters from their point-of-view.

The crew of the Rocinante, an independent gunship crewed by the survivors of the ice hauler Canterbury, include:

  • James "Jim" R. Holden, the Earther captain of the Rocinante
  • Naomi Nagata, a Belter engineer and executive officer and chief engineer of the Rocinante
  • Amos (Timothy) Burton, the Earther mechanic and general muscle of the Rocinante
  • Alex Kamal, the Martian pilot of the Rocinante
  • Roberta "Bobbie" W. Draper, Martian gunnery sergeant in the MCRN, of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force
  • Clarissa "Claire" Melpomene Mao a.k.a. Melba Alzbeta Koh a.k.a. Peaches, a daughter of Jules-Pierre Mao, magnate of Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile from Luna; as Melba she is a licensed electrochemical technician. After forming a bond with her, Amos gives her the nickname Peaches.

The Outer Planets:

  • Josephus "Joe" Aloisus Miller, a Belter who worked as a detective for the Ceres station security firm, Star Helix Security
  • Juliette "Julie" Andromeda Mao, the oldest child of Earther plutocrat Jules-Pierre Mao, former pinnace racer and Outer Planets Alliance convert
  • Frederick "Fred" Lucius Johnson, a former UN marine reviled as the "Butcher of Anderson Station" and now the leader of the OPA
  • Dr. Praxidike "Prax" Meng, the chief botanist of the RMD-Southern soy farm project on Ganymede and father of Mei Meng
  • Carlos "Bull" c de Baca, a member of the OPA serving as chief security officer aboard the Behemoth
  • Basia "Baz" Merton, a welder from Ganymede
  • Rev. Dr. Annushka "Anna" Volovodov, a Methodist pastor at St. John's United on Europa
  • Manéo "Néo" Jung-Espinoza, a young Belter from Ceres
  • Filip Inaros, a teenage member of the OPA and son of Marco Inaros and Naomi Nagata


  • Sauveterre, the captain of the MCRN Barkeith


  • Dmitri Havelock, a security contractor from Earth & former partner of Joe Miller
  • Chrisjen Avasarala, the UN Assistant Undersecretary of Executive Administration, later UN Secretary General
  • Dr. Elvi Okoye, a biologist from Earth


  • Winston Duarte, High Consul of the Laconian Empire
  • Paolo Cortázar, a former member of Protogen's nanoinformatics research division, he is now the lead researcher on Laconia.
  • Santiago Jilie Singh, a captain in the Laconian Imperial Navy and commander of the Gathering Storm
  • Anton Trejo, High Admiral of the Laconian Imperial Navy and captain of the Heart of the Tempest
  • Aliana Tanaka, Chief of Security aboard Medina Station

Inspiration and writingEdit

Ty Franck began developing the world of The Expanse as an idea for a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. After a number of years the idea shifted to become the setting for a tabletop game. Abraham, who had already written several books on his own at this point, noticed the depth of the setting that Franck had created and thought they should make a book series out of it, "People who write books don't do this much research".[18]

It has also been observed that there are marked similarities in the political and social setting of the series to the 1957 book The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.[19]

Writing processEdit

James S. A. Corey is the pen name for writing partners Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who share the writing workload. Franck writes all the Holden, Bobbie and Anna chapters, while Abraham writes the Miller, Melba, Avasarala, Bull and Prax chapters.[20] They also meet weekly to discuss upcoming chapters and swap completed chapters for the other to edit.[18]

Narrative structureEdit

The novels are written in a third-person limited style. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a character central to the story, while the prologue and epilogue are told by a recurring character or a one-off viewpoint. Traditionally, each book employs four point-of-view characters (plus the prologue/epilogue viewpoints), except Leviathan Wakes which features two, and Babylon's Ashes which features sixteen. James Holden is the only character to be used as a viewpoint in all seven novels.


Critical responseEdit

The series overall has been well received, with the first novel Leviathan Wakes being the highest praised.[citation needed]

For Caliban's War's Geek Dad and Publishers Weekly both praised the novel, with GeekDad citing the book's "believable human personalities and technology that is easily recognizable" as a highlight.[21][22]

Publishers Weekly gave Abaddon's Gate a starred review saying "series fans will find this installment the best yet."[23]

Publishers Weekly also gave Cibola Burn a starred review and called it "splendid" and it "blends adventure with uncommon decency."[24]


  • "It's been too long since we've had a really kickass space opera." — George R. R. Martin
  • "The science fiction equivalent of A Song of Ice and Fire." — NPR Books
  • "The Expanse series is the best space opera series running at full tilt right now." — io9
  • "This is the future the way it's supposed to be." — The Wall Street Journal
  • "Superb ... a thrill to follow." — The Washington Post
  • "Combining an exploration of real human frailties with big SF ideas and exciting thriller action, Corey cements the series as must-read space opera." — Library Journal

Awards and nominationsEdit

Derived worksEdit

Television seriesEdit

The American television channel Syfy announced a straight-to-series commitment to a television adaptation of The Expanse in April 2014, ordering the production of ten hour-long episodes for a first season[25] and premiered in December 2015. The series stars Thomas Jane as Josephus Miller and Steven Strait as Jim Holden. The rest of the crew of the Rocinante are played by Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata, Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal, and Wes Chatham as Amos Burton. Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, Chad Coleman as Fred Johnson, and Florence Faivre as Julie Mao are the other major cast members. Frankie Adams joined the cast in season 2 as Bobbie Draper.

Board gameEdit

An Expanse board game, designed by Geoff Engelstein and published by WizKids, was released in October 2017.[26] The authors of the book series collaborated with Engelstein on its development.[27] The game focuses on politics, conquest and intrigue similar to the board game Twilight Struggle, although with a shorter playing time. Players represent Earth's UN forces, the military of Mars, the O.P.A., and Protogen Inc, each struggling to become the dominant power in the Solar System. They use cards and action points to move and place Fleets and expand their Influence in contested areas. The cards represent characters and events from the universe of The Expanse, each bearing key images from the show. Each character has special abilities that must be correctly exploited in order to gain the upper hand in the struggle for control.[28]

List of translations by languageEdit


  1. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  2. ^ "2017 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Retrieved 2017-04-05. 
  3. ^ The Orbit Team (2014-06-17). "Cibola Burn is available now and a big announcement!". Orbit Books, 17 June 2014. Retrieved from
  4. ^ ""
  5. ^ "Syfy will premiere 'The Expanse' online before it hits cable". Engadget. Retrieved 2015-12-27. 
  6. ^ a b "Persepolis Rising". Hachette Book Group. 
  7. ^ a b "Tiamat's Wrath". Hachette Book Group. 
  8. ^ Martinetti, Cher. "Exclusive: The Expanse's James SA Corey talk TV adaptation |state of sci-fi". Retrieved June 21, 2017. 
  9. ^ "The Vital Abyss". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved 2015-08-21. 
  10. ^ "Strange Dogs". Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  11. ^ "Prequel — The Expanse — Syfy". Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "The Expanse Series Audiobooks | UNABRIDGED Series |". Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  13. ^ "Audiobooks narrated by Erik Davies |". Retrieved 2017-01-11. 
  14. ^ "The Expanse Origins #1 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  15. ^ "The Expanse Origins #2 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  16. ^ "The Expanse Origins #3 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  17. ^ "The Expanse Origins #4 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  18. ^ a b Orbit Books (2011-01-23). Leviathan Wakes: Part One (Interview). Orbit Books, 23 January 2011. Retrieved on 2015-02-26 from
  19. ^ Paying Tribute: The Stars My Destination from
  20. ^ "JamesSACorey", et al. (2013-06-06). Reddit AMA with James S.A. Corey. Reddit, 6 June 2013. Retrieved on 2015-02-26 from
  21. ^ "Review: Caliban's War". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  22. ^ Kelly, James. "The Expanse, Book 2: Caliban's War Review". Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  23. ^ "Abaddon's Gate: The Expanse, Book Three". 8 April 2013. Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  24. ^ "Cibola Burn: The Expanse, Book Four". 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-14. 
  25. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda. "Syfy Gives Straight-to-Series Greenlight to 'The Expanse'". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  26. ^ "Official game page". 
  27. ^ "Wizkids Board Game Based on The Expanse to Arrive this Summer". 
  28. ^ "The Expanse Board Game". Boardgamegeek. 

External linksEdit