The Expanse: Syfy’s New Hit


Jon Pearcy, Staff Writer

The Expanse is a new science fiction show on the Syfy channel. Branded as a “space opera” (think soap opera, but in space and cooler), The Expanse is one of several new shows pushed out by the Syfy channel in an attempt to revive and revitalize itself. These new shows range from ok to good to really good, and of all of them, The Expanse is my favorite.


The Expanse started off as a book series written by a pair of authors (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) under the pen name James S.A. Corey. By creating this show Syfy is following in the footsteps of HBO’s A Game of Thrones, which is also based of a large series of books. One way Syfy is separating itself from that path is by allowing both of the authors to help write the show, something that is not usually seen when a book is turned into a movie or show. Most TV show producers don’t want the authors there because they don’t want them trying to take control of how the show is written; but, since Abrahams and Franck already collaborate on the book they are well suited for an environment of creative collaboration.


I started following The Expanse about two years ago when I read the first book in the series Leviathan Wakes. I was very excited when I heard that it was being turned into a TV show, and even more so when I heard both authors were helping write it. For these reasons I went into the first episode with very high expectations, and it met all of them.


The Expanse is mildly hard science fiction, meaning it follows most of the laws of physics (with just a few small things broken for plot points). For this reason it takes place entirely inside a future solar system, in which humanity has successfully colonized Mars and spread deep into the outer planets and asteroid belt. As the show starts off tensions have begun to rise between the United Nations of Earth, the government of Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA). James Holden, played by Steven Strait, is the newly promoted executive officer of an ice hauler in the outer planets, whose ship receives a mysterious distress call during their normal hauling route. Josephus Miller is a washed up detective on the Ceres Station, as the uneasy peace held in the station begins to fracture he is asked to look for the missing daughter of a billionaire. Chrisjen Avasarala, played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, is an upper level administrator for the United Nations of Earth, who is trying to help calm the rising tensions in the outer planets. The story follows these three, as they try to stop the solar system from plunging itself into a war that could wipe out humanity entirely.


The show has managed to assemble this all star cast at the perfect time, with movies like Interstellar and The Martian bringing attention back to science fiction as a genre. This, combined with the writing and fantastic production, has created an amazing show, the first episode of which is available to watch for free on Youtube.