The Epic Universe of The Expanse Book Series: A Must-Read for Science Fiction Fans

Even if you are not familiar with the books yet, you have probably bumped into The Expanse in its form as a TV series whether on SyFy or Amazon Prime Video. Thanks to the involvement of the original writers, the screen adaptation does an excellent job of honoring the source material. Both the show and the books follow the same plotline progression through the journey of the light frigate Rocinante along with the misadventures of its ragtag crew through the political turmoil of the galaxy. The Expanse book series is written by James A. Corey, the pseudonym of two American writers Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham. The first in the series is Leviathan Wakes (2011) and the story goes on until it concludes with the ninth, Leviathan Falls (2021). Here is a complete list of the Expanse Book Series:

Main novels

Leviathan WakesJune 2011
Caliban’s WarJune 2012
Abaddon’s GateJune 2013
Cibola BurnJune 2014
Nemesis GamesJune 2015
Babylon’s AshesDecember 2016
Persepolis RisingDecember 2017
Tiamat’s WrathMarch 2019
Leviathan FallsNovember 2021

Leviathan Wakes won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2020.

Novellas and Short Stories:

TitleChronological Order/TimelineRelease
DriveBefore Leviathan WakesNovember 2012
The ChurnApril 2014
The Butcher of Anderson StationOctober 2011
The Last Flight of the CassandraDuring Leviathan WakesMay 2019
Gods of RiskBetween Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s GateSeptember 2012
The Vital AbyssBefore Leviathan Wakes to Cibola BurnOctober 2015
Strange DogsBetween Babylon’s Ashes and Persepolis RisingJuly 2017
AuberonBetween Persepolis Rising and Tiamat’s WrathNovember 2019
The Sins of Our FathersAfter Leviathan FallsMarch 2022

Except for The Last Fight of the Cassandra, the novellas and short stories have been collected into Memory’s Legion: The Complete Expanse Story Collection, released in March 2022.


In the far-flung future, humans have colonized much of the Milky Way Galaxy. Civilizations are divided into three major groups: Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt. People from the former two groups (Inners) are the powerhouses, whereas the latter (Belters) is the marginalized blue-collar society to revolt against the oppression. Unlike the Inners who still retain the “normal” posture, Belters have evolved into an almost entirely different species characterized by a thin elongated body. Prolonged (lifetime) exposure to low gravity causes a drastic alteration in body proportion. In fact, Belters are so well-adapted to the new environment to where they can no longer return to the inner planets.

The Expanse book series

Humans on Earth and Mars rule by their respective military organizations, the United Nations Navy (UNN) and the Martian Congressional Republic Navy (MCRN). To stand for the Belters is The Outer Planets Alliance (OPA), currently regarded by the powerhouses as a terrorist group. Adding to the class conflict is a powerful strange substance of unknown origin that everybody is trying to weaponise. In later parts of the series, the substance has a mind and plans of its own. The sudden presence of interstellar portals, which open the doors to many new worlds, complicate the conflicts and upscale The Expanse’s epic universe even further Throughout many challenging situations, the crew of the Rocinante often have to carry the burden of turning conflicts into peace and maintaining the galaxy’s fragile balance of power.

Believable Sci-fi

The Expanse is neither a fantasy nor a humdrum science fiction. While not exactly hard sci-fi, it tells a plausible story of the galactic future and uses the foundation of modern science to make up the details. It uses actual locations such as Jupiter’s Europa and Ganymede, Saturn’s Phoebe, Uranus’ Titania, and several minor planets in the Asteroid Belt. There are also settlements on Earth’s Moon and Mars to establish the story. Spaceships are all around, but The Expanse makes it clear that faster-than-light travel is still beyond human mastery.

Each book tells a story about humanity dealing with a large-scale challenge and all the problems that come with it. The plot moves forward from the viewpoints of the characters—both main and secondary—whose exploits inevitably affect each other and major events in the galaxy. The Expanse book series screams sci-fi adventure with an exciting assortment of war, politics, terrorism, poverty, the unknown, the military, discoveries, and the ever-present threat of annihilation. All books are pretty much self-contained, but they are linked to each other with interwoven plot points connected to a single narrative arc.

We think “The Expanse” is like a space opera grounded in hard-sci-fi. It doesn’t lean heavily toward any of them, but it has a little of both scattered across the stories. Since each book tells a specific story as part of the larger narrative, every title feels different and is like a flood of traceable breadcrumbs. The result is an accessible read, enjoyable for a newcomer as an introduction to the genre and an easily rewarding experience for seasoned fans.

Have you completed The Expanse Book Series? Do you like any of the accompanying short stories and novellas? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

Who are the main characters throughout the series?

There are more than a few dozen characters over the course of 9 books. All major characters have their own dedicated narrative viewpoints. The crew of the Rocinante including James Holden (Captain), Naomi Nagata (Executive Officer), Amos Burton (Mechanic), and Alex Kamal (Pilot) have the highest combined page count. Only Captain Holden stands consistently at the forefront of the action from Book 1 to 9, whereas most of the crew get deeply involved in the galactic affair in Book 5.

Is there any upcoming book from the same author?

In a press release back in 2018, Ty Franck said there would be a new series taking on high sci-fi concepts as observed in books like Hyperion and Dune. Daniel Abraham added it would be yet another space-opera spectacle set in the distant future. Words are scarce about their next project together. Rumors have it that the upcoming book or series would be titled The Captive’s War.

Where to watch The Expanse TV series?

The entire 6 seasons of The Expanse are available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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