Litstack Recs|There There & The Expanse Series

by Lauren Alwan

The Expanse Series, by James S. A. Corey

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.

James S. A. Corey - Wikipedia
James S.A. Corey

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 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). 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 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 – 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.


You can thank me later.

—Sharon Browning

A voracious reader who loves to share her thoughts on all things wordy, Sharon Browning has been a contributor at LitStack for eight years, including penning the weekly feature Gimbling in the Wabe from 2012 to 2017. She is happiest when sitting on her porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a good book in hand, a cup of coffee nearby and her golden retriever at her feet.

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