Back in October I had the chance to watch the first episode of Syfy’s upcoming series “The Expanse,” based on the series of books by pseudonymous pair of writers known as James SA Corey. At that time, I casually opined that the show “has the potential to be the best space opera we’ve seen since Battlestar Galactica.”
Thanks to the joy of media kits, I’ve now seen the first four episodes, and I’m very happy to report that my original opinion still stands. Oh, and I can’t wait for the rest of the show.
If you missed my earlier review, here are the basics: The Expanse is set a couple hundred years in the future. Thanks to the development of a very efficient engine called the Epstein Drive, it’s possible for ships to traverse the solar system in days and weeks, rather than months and years. These aren’t FTL drives, they’re just highly efficient. The downside is that we still have to accelerate and decelerate wherever we’re going, so we all have to endure high-g maneuvers. So, alongside the development of the drive, we’ve built really good crash couches with really good drug-delivery systems to help keep people from dying due to 10-gravity (or higher) effects over long periods.
Due to this, the solar system has been colonized. Earth is a fractured global socialist world, where the environmental impacts have all the major cities living behind sea walls to keep the oceans out, and leaving is often a one-way trip, since extended living in lower gravities (or no gravity at all) means your body will suffer if you ever travel back to 1g. Mars is independent, and a bit militaristic. Many of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn have colonies, and the asteroid belt is the source of raw materials for everything. But the people of the belt, who aren’t entirely human after a few generations of living without gravity, aren’t happy with how the old worlds treat them, and there’s rebellion a-brewing.
Obviously I can’t go into any more details, to save you all from spoilers, but I can say I’m all in on this show. I’ve read and enjoyed the books, so I had some level of anticipation/trepidation going into watching. It’s the geek’s dilemma: happy they’re making a show/movie out of a favorite genre story, and terrified they’ll screw it up.
Thankfully, they haven’t screwed it up. Even better, they’ve made an engaging show that weaves in elements of hard science fiction with a noir mystery, political intrigue, military action, and some great characters.
So, if I’ve done my job, you’re now excited about seeing this show as well. There’s a two-night premiere next week, starting on 12/14 at 10pm. But if you’re really, really excited, they’ve actually already put the pilot episode up online to watch here.
But a caveat for parents: the show is probably best considered as PG-13. There’s a bit of space-sex, references to prostitution and drug use, and some pretty graphic deaths in zero-gravity and pressure. It gets kind of messy.