LitStack Recs: Light Years and The Expanse Series

The Expanse Seriesexpanse 1
James S. A. Corey

Okay, so this one is going to be a little bit of a cop out. Why? Because I’m not going to go into depth about any one book; I’m instead going to implore you to invest some time – if you haven’t already done so – and start reading the science fiction series of books known as “The Expanse”, by James S. A. Corey (who is actually not a real person, but the pen name of two well known authors in their own right: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). And to start reading these books now, before the SyFy television series of the same name debuts (still no hard and fast release date for it yet, but all reports are that it will air in 2015, and the year is already half over, yo!).
Why now? Because the newest book in the series just came out last week – Nemesis Games – and I actually bought it and I’ve been reading it and I’m about 3/4 of the way through and all I can say is….. HOLY SH…. um, HOLY CRA…. um, HOLY MOLEY!!!

Yes, of course I’ll be writing a review of Nemesis Games after I’m done with it and have gotten my wits about me to craft coherent sentences about its literary and genre-ic merits, as I see them. But I am so excited about this book – and about how it just keeps ratcheting up my enthusiasm for the entire series – that I had to once again urge you, implore you, beg you on my knees with my hands clasped in front of me, that if you call yourself a science fiction fan, to please read these books!
Don’t let it daunt you that there are already five hefty volumes in the series (and a fewer works as well; the series is supposed to top out at nine novels, plus extras). Don’t let the upcoming television show lull you into thinking of taking the “easy” way out: as good as the series may be (and seeing that the authors seem stoked for it, and seeing that they’ve been involved with it to some degree since its inception, and seeing that the few promos of it look ‘effing fantastic, I’m holding out hopes that it will be good), there’s no way any visual medium would be able to capture the same depth and breadth of story, character development, and world building as you get in the books. And don’t brush them off thinking, “Five huge books? I ain’t got time for that!” Believe me, if you start reading these, and are anything like me, you will find time for them. You will make time for them. And they will fly by far too fast.

Here are the titles that are already published, in order:expanse 2
• Leviathan Wakes
• Caliban’s War
• Abaddon’s Gate
• Cibola Burn
• Nemesis Games

Read them in order. Yes, you could read each of them as a standalone, or out of order, but you shouldn’t. There’s just too much going on the various planets and ships, in the galaxy, in the universe. It all swirls together wonderfully in a linear line, but break that line and you’re going to have to take too much time filling in the gaps. And you won’t want to miss a minute of these. Believe me.

Each book has its own unique arc, but each fits seamlessly into the overall structure. Some of the characters are constant, some stay for only one book, some make repeat appearances or show up after a long hiatus. The overall story is both immense and incredibly personal. While absolutely grounded in the future without any nostalgia, we still can see our own struggles in the action – and yet we can’t because the action explodes beyond our own experiences (well, hopefully – certainly beyond mine!). The writing itself throughout all of the books is gorgeous, astute, erudite without being pedantic, tech based without being too technical, full of big ideas and big personalities and big, big, big action – and incredibly intimate (not sexual, intimate) ones, as well.
Listen. I’ve reviewed many of the books. I’ve written Gimbling in the Wabes about the titles of the books, and about the way the gorgeous language expresses the immense – and gorgeous – yet incredibly relatable ideas in the books. (Did I really just say “gorgeous” three times in the last few sentences? I did? S’okay, it’s legit.) But that just scratches the surface.
Just go. Now. If you haven’t already, buy these books, download these books, request these books from the library or borrow them from a friend, it doesn’t matter. Just read these books.
Please.

You can thank me later.

—Sharon Browning

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