The Expanse Series, by James S. A. Corey
NOTE: With the arrival of the final book of this series – aptly named Leviathan Falls – I thought this would be a good time to repost my “review” of The Expanse series, which I consider the best science fiction series of all time. Hands down. (Besides, I’m busy reading the new book!) So here it is. – SB
If you haven’t already done so, I would highly recommend reading the science fiction series of novels known as “The Expanse”, by James S. A. Corey (actually the pen name of two well-
known authors in their own right: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Reading these books now is especially timely, as a major theme of the entire series is the explosive consequence of upholding the systemic exploitation of a marginalized segment of society.
Don’t let it daunt you that there are eight hefty volumes in the series (and a few novellas as well, with one more novel left to go). Don’t let the television show lull you into thinking of taking the “easy” way out: as good as the series is, it cannot capture the same depth and breadth of narrative, character development and world building as you get in the books. And don’t brush them off thinking, “Eight huge books? I ain’t got time for that!” Believe me, once you start reading them, 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:
- Leviathan Wakes
- Caliban’s War
- Abaddon’s Gate
- Cibola Burn
- Nemesis Games
- Babylon’s Ashes
- Persepolis Rising
- Tiamat’s Wrath
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 smidgen of these.
Each book has its own unique arc, but each fits seamlessly into the overall structure of mankind’s struggle within the vastness of space, and our continuing struggle within ourselves. 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 battles in the action – and yet we can’t because the action explodes beyond our own experiences (well, hopefully). The writing throughout all of the books is gorgeous, astute, tech-based without being too technical, full of big ideas and big personalities and big, big, big action – and incredibly intimate ones, as well.
Listen. I’ve reviewed many of the books, right here on LitStack. I’ve written an article about the titles of the books, and one about the way the gorgeous language expresses the immense yet incredibly relatable ideas in the books. 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.
You can thank me later.
— Sharon Browning