The long-running book and TV series The Expanse concludes in December

The End of the ‘The Expanse’ — Both Book and TV Series Conclude this December

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December is a thrilling, and perhaps a little bittersweet, month for fans of The Expanse, the long-running space opera from author James S.A. Corey (the collective pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). This month marks end of The Expanse with both the release of the ninth (and final) novel in the Orbit series and the sixth (and final) season of the television series on Amazon Prime Video.

If you’ve never read and/or watched The Expanse (or you’re not up to date with the timeline), please be aware that some light spoilers follow.

The End of The Expanse: Spoiler Warning
Amos Burton warns you to not read further if you don’t want spoilers. You don’t want to upset Amos. Image: Alcon Entertainment.

A Brief Introduction to The Expanse

The Expanse is a hard science fiction series set a few hundred years into our future. Humans have left Earth and colonized the Solar System. Over time, three main factions have developed — the Earthers (imperious in their feeling of superiority), the Martians (descendants of former Earth humans who colonized Mars), and Belters (a diaspora of humanity spread throughout the asteroid belt and beyond).

The main focus of the series is the crew of the Rocinante — James Holden, Naomi Nagata, Amos Burton, and Alex Kamal — as they inadvertently find themselves at the center of interplanetary intrigue and war after discovering a strange and deadly extraterrestrial form of life known as the protomolecule.

Leviathan Falls — Final Book in The Expanse Series

The End of the Expanse: Leviathan Falls
The cover to Leviathan Falls, the ninth and final book in The Expanse series. Image: Orbit Books.

Leviathan Falls, the much-anticipated conclusion to the story centered on the crew of the Rocinante, was released on November 30. The adventure begins right where the the previous book (2019’s Tiamat’s Wrath) ended — with all the known solar systems (some 1300 of them, thanks to the opening of the Ring Gates) breathing a collective sigh of relief after the collapse of Winston Duarte’s Laconian Empire. But a larger threat still looms — the long-forgotten enemy of the original gate builders are looking for a means to destroy everything in existence.

By echoing the title of the first book (Leviathan Wakes, released in 2011), even the name Leviathan Falls exudes a feeling of finality — and Franck & Abraham have promised fans a definitive end to the series. Aside from that, the official description from Orbit is fairly vague.

But we know we’ll see the return of scientist Elvi Okoye, the foremost expert on the protomolecule, as she continues to research the gate builders and the force that destroyed them millennia ago. And we’re told Colonel Aliana Tanaka of the former Laconian Empire is on the hunt for Winston Duarte’s daughter Teresa (and perhaps the missing Duarte himself). This quest will put her on a collision course with the Rocinante and its battered crew, because Teresa boarded everyone’s favorite piece of legitimate salvage at the end of Tiamat’s Wrath.

And, of course, the cosmic powers at odds behind the protomolecule and ring gates hasn’t given up trying to eradicate every life form in the galaxies. I’m looking forward to seeing how James Holden and his crew pull humanity out of the fire one last time.

The Expanse Season Six on Amazon Prime Video

The End of the Expanse: Season 6
Image: Amazon Prime Video.

The television version of The Expanse series started, appropriately enough, on the SyFy network where it ran for three seasons before being canceled. After a fan petition, Amazon Prime Studios picked up the show and produced the next three seasons, including the upcoming too-short season six.

While the television series is very much in the spirit of the novels (likely in no small part due to Franck’s & Abraham’s involvement in the show) and largely follows the action of the books, it does tell a slightly different, somewhat condensed version of the events in the printed stories. But it works — and it serves as a great example of how to adapt a series from print to screen.

Using the season five cliffhanger as an indicator, the television version of the story will likely incorporate a few events that take place book five (Nemesis Games) with the bulk of the action being drawn from book six (Babylon’s Ashes), along with a dash of the Strange Dogs novella for seasoning.

From the official description of the season, the show looks to pick up pretty much where season five left off last year — with the solar system embroiled in war as the Free Navy takes on the combined military might of Earth and Mars. A trailer released earlier in the month showcases a hallmark of The Expanse series — thrilling ship-to-ship space combat:

The trailer does a good job of instilling a sense of finality. Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander), leader of the Free Navy, continues his assault on Earth and Mars while Crisjen Avasarala (played perfectly by Shohreh Aghdashloo), Secretary General of the United Nations, launches a secret plan to defeat Inaros with the now-reunited crew of the Rocinante and former Martian Marine Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams). We also see Camina Drummer (Cara Gee) and the remains of her family fighting and fleeing after her decision to betray Inaros at the end of the last season.

The sixth season of The Expanse is comprised of just six episodes of an as-of-yet unknown length. The series debuts on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, December 10. The episodes will be released weekly through January 24, 2022.

Expanding The Expanse

If you, like me, are already sad about the end The Expanse, you’ve got some options. You can read Memory’s Loss, which collects all eight short stories and novellas from the pen of James S.A. Corey that offer deeper explorations into The Expanse universe.

You may want to try weaving your own tales of interplanetary adventure and political intrigue with The Expanse Role Playing Game from Green Ronin Publishing, a tabletop role-playing game that’s built on Green Ronin’s Modern AGE ruleset.

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