Published: 2013, 2014 and 2015
The duo behind The Expanse, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, know how to please their readers. Writing under the pseudonym James A Corey, these universe builders are prolific, releasing each of the five instalments of The Expanse every year since 2011. The sixth is scheduled to be released in the summer, and it promises to continue adding to a universe set 200 years in the future where colonists are persecuted, Mars and Earth are in a state of Cold War, and the crew of the Rocinante, led by James Holden, are battling alien protomolecules and corrupt corporations.
Because that’s what The Expanse is, a universe. Like A Song of Ice and Fire, and we all know how maligned George RR Martin is for taking years to finish Winds of Winter (still waiting, George!). With The Expanse, though, readers know they can get their hands on the next instalment in, give or take, 12 months, so committing to a nine-book series doesn’t feel like a forced marriage.
And The Expanse is very much a series worth investing in, as the first two books attest and the latest three continue, save for a few too many evil corporations. The Big Bad in the first four books is an evil corporation or derivative thereof, which speaks to real-world truths but grows a little stale by Cibola. Of course, the protomolecule makers are hinted at as future evildoers, but the events of Cibola reveal an even bigger alien threat. Cibola does see more of a certain investigator, who is back to his old, cynical self and key to understanding what happened to the protomolecule makers. This character needs to make a permanent comeback, please.
Any foe gripes are brushed aside in Nemesis with the radical OPA arising as the solar system’s most immediate threat. The Belters are a joy to read about, with their elongated frames and hand signal language, and promise further devastation in the sequels. Nemesis also splits up the crew of the Rocinante for the first time, which is a deft move by the authors considering that Alex, Amos, Naomi and Holden’s joint escapades were also in danger of going stale, if only because of the John McClane principle.
Where will The Expanse go next? Who cares. After Nemesis, it’s clear that this series has a lot left in the fusion reactor, promising further political intrigue, disappearing ships and hats, hopefully. And of course, doors and corners. Doors and corners.