With the new Syfy show The Expanse slated to release some time this year, I figured I should get through at least the first book of the series before the show premieres. And I have to say, this book was a joy to read.
The story is set in a future where humanity has colonized Mars and is expanding its influence into the far reaches of the solar system. Earth and Mars have created a kind of inner systems coalition, while “the Belt” is something of a wild west made up of asteroid colonies and space stations. Racial tensions seem to be a thing of the past. Instead, there is a great deal of tension between Earthers, Martians, and Belters.
There are two protagonists. One is Miller, a world weary cop who works on the Ceres colony. His superior assigns him to track down Julie Mao, a woman from a wealthy inner system family who decided to join one of the radical Belt organizations fighting for independence. The other lead is Holden, the XO of an ice freighter who sees his ship destroyed in an ambush. He and the remaining crew, as the only witnesses to the crime, begin a quest for answers. The missions of the two men eventually intertwine, and they unravel a strange conspiracy that threatens all of mankind. Naturally it involves space zombies.
Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (who are writing under the singular pseudonym James S.A. Corey) weave together a world that is engaging and believable. I don’t know a ton about space physics, but the details that they do include about space travel and space colony life seem legitimate. But, perhaps more importantly, the setting feels very epic even though it takes place in a single solar system, which is a hugely large place for a story to occupy but also rather small when compared to the scope of many other space operas.
I thought the characters were really great. I especially liked Miller. Holden could be kind of annoying, in my opinion, but his crew were a dynamic group that really made the story fun to read. The action kept up throughout as well. Even at around 550 pages the story kept my attention the entire time.
I’m eager to see where the rest of this series goes. It currently sits at three books, and I believe it is projected to be nine novels as well as several novellas. The ending of this first book leaves room for more, but the story does conclude in a sense, so I’m not entirely sure where the sequel picks up, but I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.
If you’re looking for a new space opera to read, I definitely recommend this one.