The Expanse (novel series)

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The Expanse

AuthorJames S. A. Corey
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
Space opera
PublisherOrbit Books
PublishedJune 2011 – present
Media typePrint

The Expanse is a series of science fiction novels (and related novellas and short stories) by James S. A. Corey, the joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The first novel, Leviathan Wakes, was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2012.[1] The series as a whole was nominated for the Best Series Hugo Award in 2017.[2]

As of 2019, The Expanse is made up of eight novels and eight shorter works - three short stories and five novellas. At least nine novels were planned,[3] as well as two more novellas.[4] The series was adapted for television by the Syfy Network, also under the title of The Expanse. The series premiered on streaming services on November 23, 2015, and on Syfy on December 14, 2015.[5] Syfy did not renew The Expanse for a fourth season,[6] but on May 26, 2018, following a concerted movement by the show's fanbase to save it, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon would be picking up the series.[7] Amazon Prime Video released season four on December 12, 2019.[8][9]


# Title Pages Audio Publication date ISBN
1 Leviathan Wakes 592 20h 56m June 15, 2011 978-0-316-12908-4
2 Caliban's War 595 21h June 26, 2012 978-1-841-49990-1
3 Abaddon's Gate 539 19h 42m June 4, 2013 978-0-316-12907-7
4 Cibola Burn 583 20h 7m June 17, 2014 978-0-316-21762-0
5 Nemesis Games 544 16h 44m June 2, 2015 978-0-316-21758-3
6 Babylon's Ashes 608 19h 58m December 6, 2016 978-0-316-33474-7
7 Persepolis Rising 560 20h 34m December 5, 2017 978-0-316-33283-5
8 Tiamat's Wrath 544 19h 8m March 26, 2019 978-0-316-33286-6
9 Unnamed final novel TBA 2020

Short stories and novellas[edit]

# Title Setting Pages Publication date ISBN
0.1 Drive Before Leviathan Wakes 7 November 27, 2012[Note 1] 978-1-781-08056-6
0.3 The Churn Before Leviathan Wakes 75 April 29, 2014 978-0-316-21766-8
0.5 The Butcher of Anderson Station Before Leviathan Wakes 40 October 17, 2011 978-0-316-20407-1
1 The Last Flight of the Cassandra During Leviathan Wakes 5 May 14, 2019[Note 2] 978-1934547977
2.5 Gods of Risk Between Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate 75 September 15, 2012 978-0-316-21765-1
3.5 The Vital Abyss Between Abaddon's Gate and Cibola Burn 74 October 15, 2015[12] 978-0-316-21756-9
6.5 Strange Dogs Between Babylon's Ashes and Persepolis Rising 64 July 18, 2017[13] 978-0-316-21757-6
7.5 Auberon Between Persepolis Rising and Tiamat’s Wrath[14] 63 November 12, 2019[15] 978-1-5491-7009-6


All of the novels and five of the novellas have been released as audiobooks, with Jefferson Mays as the narrator for all novels and the novellas The Vital Abyss, Strange Dogs and Auberon. Erik Davies is the narrator for the novellas The Churn and Gods of Risk.[16]



The Expanse is set in a future in which humanity has colonized much of the Solar System, but does not have interstellar travel. In the asteroid belt and beyond, tensions are rising between Earth's United Nations, Mars, and the outer planets.[17]

The series initially takes place in the Solar System, using many real locations such as Ceres and Eros in the asteroid belt, several moons of Jupiter, with Ganymede and Europa the most developed, and small science bases as far out as Phoebe around Saturn and Titania around Uranus, as well as well-established domed settlements on Mars and the Moon.[17][18]

As the series progresses, humanity gains access to thousands of new worlds by use of the ring, an artificially sustained Einstein-Rosen bridge or wormhole, created by a long dead alien race. The ring in our solar system is two AU from the orbit of Uranus, and passing through it leads to a hub of starless space approximately one million kilometers across, with more than 1,300 other rings, each with a star system on the other side. In the center of the hub, which is also referred to as the "slow zone", an alien space station controls the gates and can also set instantaneous speed limits on objects inside of the hub as a means of defense.[19]


Narrative point of view
Name Books
James Holden 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (prologue, Interlude, epilogue)
Josephus Miller 1
Julie Mao 1 (prologue)
Fred Johnson 1 (epilogue), 6
Bobbie Draper 2, 4 (prologue), 6, 7, 8
Chrisjen Avasarala 2, 4 (epilogue), 6, 7
Praxidike Meng 2, 6
Mei Meng 2 (prologue)
Clarissa Melpomene Mao 3, 6, 7
Annushka Volovodov 3, 6 (epilogue)
Carlos c de Baca 3
Manéo Jung-Espinoza 3 (prologue)
Dimitri Havelock 4
Basia Merton 4
Elvi Okoye 4, 8
The Investigator 4 (interludes)
Amos Burton 5, 6, 7
Alex Kamal 5, 6, 7, 8
Naomi Nagata 5, 6, 7, 8
Filip Inaros 5 (prologue), 6
Sauveterre 5 (epilogue)
Marco Inaros 6
Michio Pa 6
Salis 6
Jakulski 6
Vandercaust 6
Roberts 6
Namono 6 (prologue)
Paolo Cortazár 7 (prologue)
Santiago Jilie Singh 7
Camina Drummer 7
Winston Duarte 7 (epilogue)
Teresa Duarte 8

The story is told through multiple main point-of-view characters. There are two POV characters in the first book and four in books 2 through 5. In the sixth and seventh books, the number of POV characters increases, with several characters having only one or two chapters. Tiamat's Wrath returns to a more limited number with five. Every book also begins and ends with a prologue and epilogue told from a unique character's perspective.

The central characters are the crew of the Rocinante, a salvaged Martian naval gunship. The main crew consists of:

  • James "Jim" R. Holden, the captain of the Rocinante, from Earth (an Earther)
  • Naomi Nagata, chief engineer and executive officer, a Belter
  • Amos Burton, mechanic and general muscle, an Earther
  • Alex Kamal, pilot of the Rocinante, a Martian

The Outer Planets:

  • Josephus "Joe" Aloisus Miller, a Belter who worked as a detective for the Ceres station security firm, Star Helix Security
  • Juliette "Julie" Andromeda Mao, the oldest child of Earther plutocrat Jules-Pierre Mao, former pinnace racer and Outer Planets Alliance convert
  • Frederick "Fred" Lucius Johnson, a former UN marine reviled as the "Butcher of Anderson Station" and now the leader of the OPA
  • Dr. Praxidike "Prax" Meng, the chief botanist of the RMD-Southern soy farm project on Ganymede and father of Mei Meng
  • Mei Meng, daughter of Prax
  • Carlos "Bull" c de Baca, a member of the OPA serving as chief security officer aboard the Behemoth
  • Michio Pa, executive officer of the OPA ship Behemoth, later captain of the Free Navy ship Connaught
  • Basia "Baz" Merton, a welder from Ganymede, later citizen of Ilus
  • Manéo "Néo" Jung-Espinoza, a young Belter from Ceres
  • Marco Inaros, a commander of Free Navy, a radical OPA branch
  • Filip Inaros, a teenage member of the OPA, and later Free Navy, and son of Marco Inaros and Naomi Nagata
  • Camina Drummer, chief of security of Tycho Station, later president of the Transport Union
  • Jakulski, Roberts, Salis & Vandercaust, four techs, working for the Free Navy on Medina Station


  • Roberta "Bobbie" W. Draper, Martian gunnery sergeant in the MCRN, of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force
  • Sauveterre, the captain of the MCRN Barkeith
  • Solomon Epstein, inventor of the "Epstein-Fusion Drive"


  • Dmitri Havelock, a security contractor from Earth and former partner of Joe Miller
  • Chrisjen Avasarala, the UN Assistant Undersecretary of Executive Administration, later UN Secretary General
  • Clarissa "Claire" Melpomene Mao a.k.a. Melba Alzbeta Koh a.k.a. Peaches, a daughter of Jules-Pierre Mao, magnate of Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile from Luna; as Melba she is a licensed electrochemical technician. After forming a bond with her, Amos gives her the nickname Peaches.
  • Dr. Elvi Okoye, a biologist from Earth, now a leading figure among citizens of the new colonies
  • Rev. Dr. Annushka "Anna" Volovodov, a Methodist pastor at St. John's United on Europa and Earth
  • Namono "Nono" Volovodov, wife of Anna, with whom they have a daughter, "Nami"


  • Winston Duarte, High Consul of the Laconian Empire, defector from the Martian navy
  • Teresa Duarte, the daughter and heir of the High Consul
  • Paolo Cortázar, a former member of Protogen's nanoinformatics research division, he is now the lead researcher on Laconia
  • Santiago Jilie Singh, a captain in the Laconian Imperial Navy and commander of the Gathering Storm
  • Anton Trejo, High Admiral of the Laconian Imperial Navy and captain of the Heart of the Tempest

Inspiration and writing[edit]

Ty Franck began developing the world of The Expanse initially as the setting for a MMORPG and, after a number of years, for a tabletop roleplaying game. Daniel Abraham, who had authored a number of novels on his own, suggested, given the depth of the setting, that it could serve for the basis for a series of novels, noting: "People who write books don't do this much research."[20]

The authors have stated that the series gets some of its inspirations from Fred Pohl's Gateway and the other Heechee books.[21] It has also been observed that there are similarities in the political and social setting of the series to Alfred Bester's classic science fiction novel The Stars My Destination.[22][23]

Writing process[edit]

Franck writes all the Holden, Bobbie, and Anna chapters, while Abraham writes the Miller, Melba, Avasarala, Bull, and Prax chapters.[24] The writers meet weekly to discuss upcoming chapters and swap completed chapters for the other to edit.[20]

Narrative structure[edit]

The novels are written in third-person limited. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a character central to the story, while the prologue and epilogue are told by a recurring character or a one-off viewpoint. Most of the books employ four point-of-view characters (plus the prologue and epilogue viewpoints). Leviathan Wakes features two, and Babylon's Ashes features sixteen. James Holden is the only character to be used as a viewpoint character in all eight novels.[citation needed]


Critical response[edit]

The series overall has been well received, with the first novel Leviathan Wakes being the highest praised.[citation needed]

For Caliban's War,'s Geek Dad and Publishers Weekly both praised the novel. GeekDad cited the book's "believable human personalities and technology that is easily recognizable" as a highlight.[25][26]

Publisher's Weekly gave Abaddon's Gate a starred review saying "series fans will find this installment the best yet."[27] The same publication gave Cibola Burn a starred review and called it "splendid" and it "blends adventure with uncommon decency."[28]

Awards and nominations[edit]


Television series[edit]

The American television channel Syfy announced a straight-to-series commitment to a television adaptation of The Expanse in April 2014, ordering the production of ten hour-long episodes for a first season[29] and premiered in December 2015. As of 2020 four seasons consisting of a total of 46 episodes have been produced. The series stars Thomas Jane as Josephus Miller and Steven Strait as Jim Holden. The rest of the crew of the Rocinante are played by Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata, Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal, and Wes Chatham as Amos Burton. The other major cast members are Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, Chad Coleman as Fred Johnson, and Florence Faivre as Julie Mao. Frankie Adams joined the cast in season 2 as Bobbie Draper. Critics have praised the show for its visuals, character development and political narrative.


Four digital comics based on the books and tying into the television series were published by ComiXology. The comics were written by James S.A. Corey, Hallie Lambert and Georgia Lee and illustrated by Huang Danlan, Triona Farrell, Juan Useche and Rahzzah. The Expanse: Origins reveals the untold backstories of the crew members of the Rocinante before the start of the series. All four comics were also released in print as a compilation titled The Expanse Vol. 1: Origins, which also featured a new story about Detective Miller.

Title Character Publication date Ref.
The Expanse Origins #1 James Holden February 1, 2017 [30]
The Expanse Origins #2 Naomi Nagata April 19, 2017 [31]
The Expanse Origins #3 Alex Kamal May 24, 2017 [32]
The Expanse Origins #4 Amos Burton July 12, 2017 [33]

Board game[edit]

An Expanse board game, designed by Geoff Engelstein and published by WizKids, was released in October 2017.[34] The authors of the book series collaborated with Engelstein on its development.[35] The game focuses on politics, conquest and intrigue similar to the board game Twilight Struggle, although with a shorter playing time. Players represent Earth's UN forces, the military of Mars, the O.P.A., and Protogen Inc, each struggling to become the dominant power in the Solar System. They use cards and action points to move and place Fleets and expand their Influence in contested areas. The cards represent characters and events from the universe of The Expanse, each bearing key images from the show. Each character has special abilities that must be correctly exploited in order to gain the upper hand in the struggle for control.[36]

The Expanse: Doors & Corners Expansion has been announced for release by WizKids in February 2019. It contains five new modules that can be used independently or in any combination together with the base game.[37]

Roleplaying game[edit]

The Expanse Roleplaying Game uses the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) system designed by Chris Pramas to bring James S. A. Corey's universe to life. The core rulebook and Gamemaster's Kit launched on Kickstarter in July 2018 and gathered over $400,000 from their campaign.[38] The book was written by game designer Steve Kenson and is published by Pramas' company Green Ronin Publishing.[39] The game allows players to create their own character of the various galactic factions and adventure through the galaxy at the various settings or even on their own ships. It includes a bonus short story by James S. A. Corey titled "The Last Flight of the Cassandra".[40]


  1. ^ "Drive" was originally published as part of the sci-fi anthology Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan. It can now be read for free on the Syfy website.[10]
  2. ^ Included in The Expanse Role-Playing Game rulebook published by Green Ronin Publishing.[11]


  1. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  2. ^ "2017 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  3. ^ "Cibola Burn is available now and a big announcement!". Orbit Books. June 17, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  4. ^ Abraham, Daniel (July 21, 2012). "Some Big News About The Expanse". Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  5. ^ Lawler, Richard (June 11, 2015). "Syfy will premiere 'The Expanse' online before it hits cable". Engadget. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 10, 2018). "'The Expanse' Canceled by Syfy After Three Seasons, Will Be Shopped". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  7. ^ Liptak, Andrew (May 26, 2018). "It's official: Amazon has saved The Expanse". The Verge. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  8. ^ Lawler, Richard (December 12, 2019). "Amazon just released 'The Expanse' season four a few hours early". Engadget. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  9. ^ @TheExpanseWR (December 12, 2019). "THE EXPANSE SEASON 4 JUST DROPPED EARLY!!! Stream it on @PrimeVideo now!!! @ExpanseOnPrime" (Tweet). Retrieved December 12, 2019 – via Twitter.
  10. ^ "Prequel — The Expanse". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  11. ^ "The Expanse RPG". Green Ronin Publishing. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  12. ^ "The Vital Abyss". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  13. ^ "Strange Dogs". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  14. ^ "Auberon". Orbit Books. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  15. ^ "Auberon". Hachette Book Group. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  16. ^ "The Expanse Series Audiobooks - Unabridged Series". Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Corey, James. Leviathan Wakes.
  18. ^ Corey, James. Cibola Burn.
  19. ^ Corey, James. Abaddon's Gate.
  20. ^ a b Orbit Books (January 23, 2011). "Leviathan Wakes: Part One (Interview)". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  21. ^ @JamesSACorey (7 Jul 2018). "Nope. The ring in Halo is actually taken from Larry Niven's Ringworld, and is an artificial world, not a gateway of any kind. For #TheExpanse I was much more inspired by older works, like Fred Pohl's Gateway and the other Heechee books" (Tweet). Retrieved 2019-04-28 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ Franck, Ty (January 30, 2012). "Paying Tribute: The Stars My Destination". Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  23. ^ Andrew Liptak (May 27, 2015). "Evolution of a Space Epic: James S.A. Corey's The Expanse". The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog. Barnes & Noble.
  24. ^ "Reddit AMA with James S.A. Corey". Reddit. June 6, 2013. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  25. ^ "Review: Caliban's War". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  26. ^ Kelly, James. "The Expanse, Book 2: Caliban's War Review". Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  27. ^ "Abaddon's Gate: The Expanse, Book Three". Publishers Weekly. 8 April 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  28. ^ "Cibola Burn: The Expanse, Book Four". Publishers Weekly. 7 April 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  29. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (April 11, 2014). "Syfy Gives Straight-to-Series Greenlight to 'The Expanse'". TV By The Numbers. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  30. ^ "The Expanse Origins #1 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  31. ^ "The Expanse Origins #2 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  32. ^ "The Expanse Origins #3 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  33. ^ "The Expanse Origins #4 (of 4) — Comics by comiXology". Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  34. ^ "Official game page".
  35. ^ "Wizkids Board Game Based on The Expanse to Arrive this Summer". February 16, 2017.
  36. ^ "The Expanse Board Game". Boardgamegeek.
  37. ^ Simms-Borre, Pamela (September 18, 2018). "The Expanse: Doors and Corners Expansion coming from WizKids". Dice Tower News. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ “The Last Flight of the Cassandra”, by James S. A. Corey

External links[edit]