The Expanse (novel series)

The Expanse is a series of science fiction novels (and related novellas and short stories) by James S. A. Corey, the joint 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] The complete series was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Series in 2017.[2] It later won, following its second nomination for the same award in 2020.[3]

The Expanse

AuthorJames S. A. Corey
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
Space opera
PublisherOrbit Books
PublishedJune 2011 – present
Media typePrint

As of 2020, The Expanse is made up of eight novels and eight shorter works – three short stories and five novellas. A ninth novel is planned to complete the main series, as well as one more novella after the final novel.[4] The series was adapted for television by the Syfy Network, also under the title of The Expanse. When Syfy canceled the TV series after three seasons, Amazon acquired it and began to stream it on Amazon Prime Video for an additional three seasons.[5]

Series overviewEdit


No. Title Pages Audio Publication date ISBN
1 Leviathan Wakes 592 20h 56m June 15, 2011 978-0-316-12908-4
2 Caliban's War 595 21h June 25, 2012 978-1-841-49990-1
3 Abaddon's Gate 539 19h 42m June 4, 2013 978-0-316-12907-7
4 Cibola Burn 583 20h 7m June 17, 2014 978-0-316-21762-0
5 Nemesis Games 544 16h 44m June 2, 2015 978-0-316-21758-3
6 Babylon's Ashes 608 19h 58m December 6, 2016 978-0-316-33474-7
7 Persepolis Rising 560 20h 34m December 5, 2017 978-0-316-33283-5
8 Tiamat's Wrath 544 19h 8m March 26, 2019 978-0-316-33286-6
9 Leviathan Falls 528 19h 40m November 30, 2021[6] 978-0-356-51039-2
10 Memory's Legion: The Complete Expanse Story Collection[7] 400 12h March 15, 2022[8] 978-1-5491-9114-5

Short stories and novellasEdit

No. Title Setting Pages Audio Publication date ISBN
0.1 "Drive" Before Leviathan Wakes 7 November 27, 2012[10] 978-1-781-08056-6
0.3 "The Churn" Before Leviathan Wakes 75 2h 29m April 29, 2014 978-0-316-21766-8
0.5 "The Butcher of Anderson Station" Before Leviathan Wakes 40 October 17, 2011 978-0-316-20407-1
1.1 "The Last Flight of the Cassandra" During Leviathan Wakes 5 May 14, 2019[12] 978-1934547977
2.5 "Gods of Risk" Between Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate 75 2h 34m September 15, 2012 978-0-316-21765-1
3.5 "The Vital Abyss" From before Leviathan Wakes to Cibola Burn 74 2h 26m October 15, 2015[13] 978-0-316-21756-9
6.5 "Strange Dogs" Between Babylon's Ashes and Persepolis Rising 64 2h 29m July 18, 2017[14] 978-0-316-21757-6
7.5 "Auberon" Between Persepolis Rising and Tiamat’s Wrath[15] 63 2h 25m November 12, 2019[16] 978-0-3164-3428-7
9.5 "The Sins of Our Fathers" After Leviathan Falls 64 March 15, 2022[17] 978-0-3166-6907-8

The forthcoming tenth book in The Expanse series, Memory's Legion, will be a collection of all eight short stories and novellas, except for "The Last Flight of the Cassandra" (which will remain exclusive to the RPG), including the final novella which will conclude the series.[7] It will be published on March 15, 2022.[8]


The first eight novels and five of the novellas have been released as audiobooks, with Jefferson Mays as the narrator for all novels and the novellas The Vital Abyss, Strange Dogs and Auberon. Erik Davies is the narrator for the novellas The Churn and Gods of Risk.[18]


The Expanse is set in a future in which humanity has colonized much of the Solar System, but does not have interstellar travel. Travel over the vast distances between planets of the solar system has been made possible with the "Epstein drive", though the G-force exerted during acceleration is debilitating without the use of special drugs. Once underway, the equivalence principle allows the travellers to experience earth-like gravity. In the asteroid belt and beyond, tensions are rising between Earth's United Nations, Mars, and the outer planets.[19] The residents of the outer planets have developed a creole language due to their physical isolation from Earth and Mars. The series initially takes place in the Solar System, using many real 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.[19][20]

The authors have suggested that The Expanse might well take place in the future of Andy Weir's novel The Martian.[21] In support of this, they created a ship named the Mark Watney after the titular Martian. However, Andy Weir has publicly clarified that he himself had no intention originally.[22]

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 two AU from the orbit of Uranus. 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 the hub as a means of defense.[23]


Narrative point of view
Name Books
James Holden 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (prologue, Interlude, epilogue)
Josephus Miller 1
Julie Mao 1 (prologue)
Fred Johnson 1 (epilogue), 6
Bobbie Draper 2, 4 (prologue), 6, 7, 8
Chrisjen Avasarala 2, 4 (epilogue), 6
Praxidike Meng 2, 6
Mei Meng 2 (prologue)
Clarissa Melpomene Mao 3, 6, 7
Annushka Volovodov 3, 6 (epilogue)
Carlos 'Bull' de Baca 3
Manéo Jung-Espinoza 3 (prologue)
Dimitri Havelock 4 1
Basia Merton 4
Elvi Okoye 4, 8
The Investigator 4 (interludes)
Amos Burton 5, 6, 7
Alex Kamal 5, 6, 7, 8
Naomi Nagata 5, 6, 7, 8
Filip Inaros 5 (prologue), 6
Sauveterre 5 (epilogue)
Marco Inaros 6
Anderson Dawes 6
Michio Pa 6
Salis 6
Jakulski 6
Vandercaust 6
Roberts 6
Namono 6 (prologue)
Paolo Cortazár 7 (prologue)
Santiago Jilie Singh 7
Camina Drummer 7
Winston Duarte 7 (epilogue)
Teresa Duarte 8

The story is told through multiple main point-of-view characters. There are two POV characters in the first book and four in books two through five. In the sixth and seventh books, the number of POV characters increases, with several characters having only one or two chapters. Tiamat's Wrath returns to a more limited number with five. Every book also begins and ends with a prologue and epilogue told from a unique character's perspective.

Crew of the RocinanteEdit

The central characters are the crew of the Rocinante, a salvaged Martian naval gunship. The main crew consists of:

  • James "Jim" R. Holden, the captain of the Rocinante, former UN Navy (UNN) officer; from Earth (an Earther).
  • Naomi Nagata, chief engineer and executive officer; a Belter.
  • Amos Burton, mechanic and general muscle; an Earther.
  • Alex Kamal, pilot of the Rocinante, former Mars Congressional Republic Navy (MCRN) pilot; a Martian.

The Outer PlanetsEdit

  • 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
  • Mei Meng, daughter of Prax
  • Carlos "Bull" c de Baca, a member of the OPA serving as chief security officer aboard the Behemoth
  • Michio Pa, executive officer of the OPA ship Behemoth, later captain of the Free Navy ship Connaught
  • Basia "Baz" Merton, a welder from Ganymede, later citizen of Ilus
  • Manéo "Néo" Jung-Espinoza, a young Belter from Ceres
  • Marco Inaros, a commander of Free Navy, a radical OPA branch
  • Filip Inaros, a teenage member of the OPA, and later Free Navy, and son of Marco Inaros and Naomi Nagata
  • Camina Drummer, chief of security of Tycho Station, later president of the Transport Union
  • Jakulski, Roberts, Salis & Vandercaust, four techs, working for the Free Navy on Medina Station


  • Roberta "Bobbie" W. Draper, Martian gunnery sergeant in the MCRN, of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force
  • Sauveterre, the captain of the MCRN Barkeith
  • Solomon Epstein, inventor of the "Epstein-Fusion Drive". He died testing his machine when he went into deep space with no way to get back.


  • Dmitri Havelock, a security contractor from Earth and former partner of Joe Miller
  • Chrisjen Avasarala, the UN Assistant Undersecretary of Executive Administration, later UN Secretary General
  • 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.
  • Dr. Elvi Okoye, a biologist from Earth, now a leading figure among citizens of the new colonies
  • Rev. Dr. Annushka "Anna" Volovodov, a Methodist pastor at St. John's United on Europa and Earth
  • Namono "Nono" Volovodov, wife of Anna, with whom she has a daughter, "Nami"


  • Winston Duarte, High Consul of the Laconian Empire, a defector from the Martian navy
  • Teresa Duarte a.k.a. Tiny, the daughter and heir of the High Consul
  • 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

Inspiration and writingEdit


Ty Franck began developing the world of The Expanse initially as the setting for a MMORPG and, after a number of years, for a tabletop roleplaying game. Daniel Abraham, who had authored a number of novels on his own, suggested, given the depth of the setting, that it could serve for the basis for a series of novels, noting: "People who write books don't do this much research."[24]

The authors have stated that the series gets some of its inspirations from Fred Pohl's Gateway and the other Heechee books.[25] It has also been observed that there are similarities in the political and social setting of the series to Alfred Bester's classic science fiction novel The Stars My Destination.[26][27] Ty Franck has also stated Ridley Scott's Alien as having "the single largest influence on The Expanse."[28]

Writing processEdit

Franck writes all the Holden, Bobbie, and Anna chapters, while Abraham writes the Miller, Melba, Avasarala, Bull, and Prax chapters.[29] The writers meet weekly to discuss upcoming chapters and swap completed chapters for the other to edit.[24]

Narrative structureEdit

The novels are written in third-person limited. 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. Most of the books employ four point-of-view characters (plus the prologue and epilogue viewpoints). Leviathan Wakes features two, Babylon's Ashes features sixteen, and Tiamat's Wrath features five. James Holden is the only character to be used as a viewpoint character in all eight 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. GeekDad cited the book's "believable human personalities and technology that is easily recognizable" as a highlight.[30][31] Publisher's Weekly gave Abaddon's Gate a starred review saying "series fans will find this installment the best yet."[32] The same publication gave Cibola Burn a starred review and called it "splendid" and it "blends adventure with uncommon decency."[33] The Expanse won the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Series.[34]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Novel Award Category Result Ref
2011 Leviathan Wakes Goodreads Choice Awards Best Science Fiction Nominated [35]
2012 Hugo Award Best Novel Nominated [36]
Locus Awards Best SF Novel Nominated [37]
Caliban's War Goodreads Choice Awards Best Science Fiction Nominated [38]
2013 Locus Awards Best SF Novel Nominated [39]
Abaddon's Gate Goodreads Choice Award Best Science Fiction Nominated [40]
2014 Locus Awards Best SF Novel Won [41]
Cibola Burn Goodreads Choice Award Best Science Fiction Nominated [42]
2015 Locus Awards Best SF Novel Nominated [43]
Nemesis Games Goodreads Choice Award Best Science Fiction Nominated [44]
2017 Babylon's Ashes Locus Awards Best SF Novel Nominated [45]
Goodreads Choice Awards Best Science Fiction Nominated [46]
Dragon Award Best Science Fiction Novel Won [47]
The Expanse Hugo Award Best Series Nominated [48]
2018 Persepolis Rising Locus Awards Best SF Novel Nominated [49]
Goodreads Choice Award Best Science Fiction Nominated [50]
Dragon Award Best Science Fiction Novel Nominated [51]
2019 Tiamat's Wrath Dragon Award Best Science Fiction Novel Nominated [52]
Goodreads Choice Award Best Science fiction Nominated [53]
Google Play Users' Choice Awards User's Choice Book Nominated [54]
2020 The Expanse Hugo Award Best Series Won


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[55] which premiered in December 2015. As of 2021 five seasons consisting of a total of 56 episodes have been produced, with the final episode of each season sharing its name with the respective book. The series stars Thomas Jane as Josephus Miller and Steven Strait as Jim Holden. As for the other crew of the Rocinante, Dominique Tipper was cast as Naomi Nagata, Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal, and Wes Chatham as Amos Burton. The other major cast members are Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, Chad Coleman as Fred Johnson, and Florence Faivre as Julie Mao. In season 2, Frankie Adams joined the cast as Bobbie Draper.


Four digital comics based on the books and tying into the television series were published by ComiXology. The comics were written by James S. A. Corey, Hallie Lambert and Georgia Lee and illustrated by Huang Danlan, Triona Farrell, Juan Useche and Rahzzah. The Expanse: Origins reveals the untold backstories of the crew members of the Rocinante before the start of the series. All four comics were also released in print as a compilation titled The Expanse Vol. 1: Origins by BOOM! Studios, which also featured a new story about Detective Miller.

Title Character Publication date Ref.
The Expanse Origins #1 James Holden 2017-02-01 [56]
The Expanse Origins #2 Naomi Nagata 2017-04-19 [57]
The Expanse Origins #3 Alex Kamal 2017-05-24 [58]
The Expanse Origins #4 Amos Burton 2017-07-12 [59]

Board gameEdit

An Expanse board game, designed by Geoff Engelstein and published by WizKids, was released in October 2017.[60] The authors of the book series collaborated with Engelstein on its development.[61] 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.[62]

The Expanse: Doors & Corners Expansion has been announced for release by WizKids in February 2019. It contains five new modules that can be used independently or in any combination together with the base game.[63]

Roleplaying gameEdit

The Expanse Roleplaying Game uses the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) system designed by Chris Pramas to bring James S. A. Corey's universe to life. The core rulebook and Gamemaster's Kit launched on Kickstarter[64] in July 2018 and gathered over $400,000 from their campaign. The book was written by game designer Steve Kenson and is published by Pramas' company Green Ronin Publishing.[65] The game allows players to create their own character of the various galactic factions and adventure through the galaxy at the various settings or even on their own ships. It includes a bonus short story by James S. A. Corey titled "The Last Flight of the Cassandra".[66]



  1. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  2. ^ "2017 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  3. ^ "2020 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  4. ^ "Leviathan Falls Will Be The Final Installment of The Expanse". September 16, 2020. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  5. ^ Liptak, Andrew (May 26, 2018). "It's official: Amazon has saved The Expanse". The Verge. The Verge. Retrieved May 27, 2021. Alcon Entertainment has confirmed that Amazon will pick up the show for a fourth season, after outcry from the show’s fans.
  6. ^ Orbit Books [@orbitbooks] (October 6, 2021). "Expanse fans, we know you've been anticipating Leviathan Falls" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ a b Picker, Lenny (October 1, 2021). "The Expanse Saga Takes Its Final Space Flight". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Memory's Legion". Hachette Book Group. March 30, 2021.
  9. ^ "Prequel — The Expanse". Archived from the original on 24 December 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Drive" was originally published as part of the sci-fi anthology Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan. It was made available to read free on the Syfy website.[9]
  11. ^ "The Expanse RPG". Green Ronin Publishing. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  12. ^ Included in The Expanse Role-Playing Game rulebook published by Green Ronin Publishing.[11]
  13. ^ "The Vital Abyss". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  14. ^ "Strange Dogs". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "Auberon". Orbit Books. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  16. ^ "Auberon". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  17. ^ "The Sins of Our Fathers". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
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  19. ^ a b Corey, James. Leviathan Wakes.
  20. ^ Corey, James. Cibola Burn.
  21. ^ @JamesSACorey (October 3, 2015). "At SDCC @andyweirauthor and I did a signing together and agreed our books are in the same continuity" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ "I am Andy Weir, author of The Martian, and my new book Artemis, out now. AMA!".
  23. ^ Corey, James. Abaddon's Gate.
  24. ^ a b Orbit Books (January 23, 2011). "Leviathan Wakes: Part One (Interview)". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  25. ^ @JamesSACorey (7 Jul 2018). "Nope. The ring in Halo is actually taken from Larry Niven's Ringworld, and is an artificial world, not a gateway of any kind. For #TheExpanse I was much more inspired by older works, like Fred Pohl's Gateway and the other Heechee books" (Tweet). Retrieved 2019-04-28 – via Twitter.
  26. ^ Franck, Ty (January 30, 2012). "Paying Tribute: The Stars My Destination". Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  27. ^ Liptak, Andrew (May 27, 2015). "Evolution of a Space Epic: James S.A. Corey's The Expanse". The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog. Barnes & Noble.
  28. ^ Amazon Prime Video (December 16, 2020). "The Expanse Aftershow Season 5, Episode 3 - Wes Chatham, Ty Franck, and Thomas Jane". YouTube. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  29. ^ "Reddit AMA with James S.A. Corey". Reddit. June 6, 2013. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  30. ^ "Review: Caliban's War". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  31. ^ Kelly, James. "The Expanse, Book 2: Caliban's War Review". Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  32. ^ "Abaddon's Gate: The Expanse, Book Three". Publishers Weekly. 8 April 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  33. ^ "Cibola Burn: The Expanse, Book Four". Publishers Weekly. 7 April 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
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  46. ^ "Best Science Fiction 2017". Goodreads. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  47. ^ "2017 Best Science Fiction Novel". Dragon Awards. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
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  51. ^ "2018 Dragon Awards Winner". Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  52. ^ "2019 Dragon Awards Ballots". Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  53. ^ "Best Science Fiction 2019". Goodreads. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  54. ^ Eli Blumenthal (December 3, 2019). "Ablo, Call of Duty top Google Play's best apps and games of 2019". Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  55. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (April 11, 2014). "Syfy Gives Straight-to-Series Greenlight to 'The Expanse'". TV By The Numbers. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  56. ^ "The Expanse Origins #1 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  57. ^ "The Expanse Origins #2 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  58. ^ "The Expanse Origins #3 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  59. ^ "The Expanse Origins #4 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  60. ^ "Official game page".
  61. ^ "Wizkids Board Game Based on The Expanse to Arrive this Summer". February 16, 2017.
  62. ^ "The Expanse Board Game". Boardgamegeek.
  63. ^ Simms-Borre, Pamela (September 18, 2018). "The Expanse: Doors and Corners Expansion coming from WizKids". Dice Tower News. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  64. ^ Charlie Hall (2018-08-07). "The Expanse, once a homebrew tabletop RPG, is going legit". Polygon. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  65. ^ Sass, Evan (August 17, 2017). "Press Release: Green Ronin to Publish The Expanse RPG". Green Ronin Publishing.
  66. ^ Robbins, Jonathan (March 6, 2019). "The Last Flight of the Cassandra". Keepers of

External linksEdit