irishpisano

Expanse - JSA Corey

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Has anyone read the Expanse series?

A dude in a coffee shop recommended it to me as a sci-fi version of ASOIAF in terms of the complexity and intrigue.  I read the synopsis and it seems interesting.  What do you guys think?  Is it worth the investment?

TIA

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I think there's already some threads about the Expanse (so this thread might get closed), but they may have spoilers up to the latest book, so maybe the mods will let this thread survive.

I read the first two Expanse books and wasn't a big fan, which I found surprising, because I love Daniel Abraham. It's set in an interesting future, but I thought the worldbuilding was pretty shallow, the plot (once it's revealed) not particularly interesting, and most of the characters flat. The first book was especially a problem for me, because there were only two POV characters and I found one of them to be boring and insufferable. I enjoyed the second slightly more, as the cast expanded and some non-POV characters got fleshed out a bit. Overall the second book was fun, but didn't make me want to read any more- though I am still interested in following the TV show, which grabbed me better than the books

All that said, I know there are lots of people who love the series, including friends and people who's taste I really respect. I also hear that some of the later books are considered much better than the first two (though I've also heard the opposite, so YMMV). I'd recommend taking Leviathan Wakes a try, at least- take it out of the library and see what you think. I don't think you should expect a sci-fi ASOIAF out of it, though. Aside from the POV character chapter structure, I'd say they have very little in common. I think Stephen Donaldson's The Gap feels more like a sci-fi  ASOIAF, at least once you get past that first weird book.

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Thanks for the quick reply.  As for the annoying POV character, I had similar issues reading Sansa's chapters the first 2 times I read ASOIAF.... so maybe it'll be a similar experience that I'm now ready for, lol

 

 

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There are many, many threads dedicated to The Expanse here.  Starting with LW and all the way up to the most recent.

Its a fantastic series.  Definitely worth reading.

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Also, welcome to the board.

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Have really liked the first 3 books thus far.  I'd say that's a simple but apt description, that if you enjoy the complexity and intrigue of ASOIAF, that you will enjoy The Expanse.  Plus it will introduce you to Daniel Abraham who has two other completed fantasy series.  The Long Price Quartet, which is non-traditional and amazing.  The other, The Dagger and the Coin, I haven't read, but is well liked and I hope to get to sometime.

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I read the first book recently. I really liked it's opening and was very intrigued to find out more about that mystery. The rest of the book was a snooze fest with classic spaceship character stereotypes. It only got good again at very end of the book. 

I've also heard that the next few books aren't even as good as the first one (until you get to book 6 I think) so that made me not continue the series for now. 

Edited by Hello World

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The first Expanse thread is archived, so I won't close this one. Note: NOT A SPOILER THREAD, so do not post spoilers.

Anyway, I found the series engaging. It has some good plot and some nifty characters and it asks some interesting questions. 

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I was relying on Wertzone's reviews now that I remember. I usually agree with a lot of his recommendations and he apparently did not like the next three books as much as the first one. To each their own, of course. 

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I think the early books have some problems, but they generally do a good job of building worldbuilding and characterisation whilst being quite action-packed. I think Books 2-4 suffered a little since the main storyline in Book 1 is very well-done and the next three books have some issues matching that (despite introducing more awesome characters) but then Book 5 completely kicked things up into a new gear. I need to get to Book 6 soon.

This is heresy in some parts, but I also think the TV show is better than the books in telling the same story. It's overcome some of the structural issues of the books and make the narrative feel more compelling. Also, the actors are really good (especially the guy playing Amos, who is like more Amos than Amos). One thing I don't understand is how they're going to handle Book 4 on the TV show without just skipping it.

One thing it isn't is the SF version of A Song of Ice and Fire. If you're looking for something like that (and it's a bit vague as an idea) you're probably better off looking at Stephen Donaldson's Gap Saga, which more directly influenced ASoIaF (GRRM admits to stealing the rotating POV structure from it), Brian Aldiss's Helliconia Trilogy (which does the "mega-long seasons" thing with a vigorous SF explanation) or Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy, which is the same kind of sprawling, massive epic with tons of characters, complex but relatable politics and massive battles (also lots of sex, especially in the first book).

Edited by Werthead

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Only read the first book in the series. Enjoyable, but flawed -- as others have said, two POV characters, and my understanding is that the writers split the workload between them based on those POVs (and then would trade chapters and touch them up). But Abraham is a much more experienced writer, so I think you can tell which character is primarily his and which is primarily Franck's based on that. So, suffice it to say, for me 50% of the story (i.e. that told through Miller's POV) was an excellent, noir-styled story of melancholy and redemption, and 50% of the story (i.e. told through Holden's POV) is emotionally inert and features an insufferable character (as @Caligula_K3 puts it) who I understand is kind of their take on a "real" James Kirk-type, self-righteous guy, but there's not enough meat to the character to make him enjoyable for me.

The TV series mitigates this quite a lot -- you're not in Holden's head, and his crewmates get more space and so it becomes more interesting, while Thomas Jane does a fine job conveying Miller's traumas, problems, and obsessions (you do lose out on some of the richer atmosphere of the prose, which is inevitable). As I understand it they also introduce a third primary character, who comes from a later novel, who provides a perspective of events unique to the TV series and I think that works fine in developing the more political, system-wide aspect of the story but on the other hand it does reduce the quality of two different heroes coming from two different ends of the problem and coming together part way through.

In the end, the series strikes me as very much as art-as-entertainment, with no very great depth to it, but there's nothing wrong with that. But I'd almost say try the TV series first, and if you're intrigued, then try the books.

Edited by Ran

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FWIW Holden becomes a much more well rounded character later.  There's a very real and discernible character arc over the course of the series.

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Good to know. I'm guessing some of the material in the first season was pulled from those later books.

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It’s among the few SF series that I actually enjoy.

I like the low tech environment, and the fact that I don’t have to suspend my disbelief about how physics works. Nor about how humans work: society is dirty, tribal, and Malthusian.

The two scientific conceits are that

( 1 ) energy research worked: There is an almost-optimal engine/drive/energy source. In particular, you can accelerate for weeks and weeks without needing a moon-sized fuel tank to start with. Therefore people can actually get around in the solar systems.

( 2 ) automation or robotics (and in particular, AI), did not work. Thus, there is a  reason for people to get around the solar system (instead of just letting robots doing it for far less money), pilot space-craft, etc.

I can live with both, even though I already feels that just during the years of the books’ release, the second premise becomes less and less easy to ignore. 

Edited by Happy Ent

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I believe one of the authors stated they don;t plan on ever explaining the engines on the ships so people can;t go nitpicky comic book guy on it(my phrasing there).

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1 hour ago, Darth Richard II said:

I believe one of the authors stated they don;t plan on ever explaining the engines on the ships so people can;t go nitpicky comic book guy on it(my phrasing there).

They explained them in a fair amount of detail on the website, at least, and had a lengthy flashback storyline in Season 2 which delved into it.

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Ah, probably had to come up with stuff for the show at some point, which reminds me I need to get caught up.

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13 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

I believe one of the authors stated they don;t plan on ever explaining the engines on the ships so people can;t go nitpicky comic book guy on it(my phrasing there).

They don’t explain how they work, but they have a perfectly fine model of their effect. Physics gives us a lower bound for how much matter is needed to produce a certain amount of energy, at least. (Currently, we have no idea how to achieve this lower bound. We can burn fossile fuels, and they produce energy from mass, but are very wasteful. Or we can ignite hydrogen bomb, which turn matter into energy much more efficiently. They are still far off.) The Epstein drive in the books is not-yet-discovered-tech that super-efficiently (more efficient than a hydrogen bomb) turns matter into energy.

We also know how much energy is needed to accelerate a space ship. 

These two things together give you plausible interplanetary space travel.

(It doesn’t have to be that way. The numbers could turn out differently. For instance, it might have turned out that in order to accelerate a space ship for weeks, this ship would need so much fuel-as-matter that space ships would need to be as big as Jupiter (because of their fuel tank), making them impossible to accelerate (first, because they have huge mass, and second because there aren’t enough readily available protons in the solar system to allow more than one or two space ships, ever, to actually move.)

It no point do the books explain how the Epstein drive is doing its very-difficult-combustion-that-turns-matter-into-energy-much-like-a-hydrogen-bomb-but-better-and-without-going-boom!. They just need to posit that such technology exists. It wouldn’t violate physics. Once the Epstein drive is posited, the rest of the world building falls out of standard physics.

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I'm 2 books in and enjoy it.  It's definitely NOT ASOIAF in space.  Nowhere close.  But it is good so far.  Having read Abraham and really enjoyed his Dagger & The Coin series, you can tell which of the prose is his.  I will definitely be continuing the series.

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