James S.A. Corey, The Expanse
James S. A. Corey, The Expanse,
The Expanse is a series of space-opera novels written by Daniel Abraham (who also writes fantasy) and Ty Frank, under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey.
If I had to sum up the series, I'd say: "You can feel a strong Firefly influence (but not as good as), with multiple points of view chapters à la Song of Ice and Fire and it ain't much, but it's fun." ...
Let's face it: I've found many awkward things in this series. But most get better as the books progress.
The multiple points of view technique... Ok, why not? But it doesn't always serve a purpose, particularly in the first volume when the characters start to share the same events. Nonetheless, in the latest published volume, the technique makes much more sense.
The series takes place in a far future when humanity has colonised Mars and some asteroids. I've had trouble with that because this far away future is exactly the same than ours, apart from some changes in the political instances. I always have trouble imagining that in 4 or 5 centuries society as we know it will be identical.
There is also an awful lot of stereotypes. The first volume can't pass the Bechdel test. But from the second volume, you can feel the authors are really trying to include characters who aren't white heterosexual males and to avoid stereotypes. It doesn't always work.
But at least is there a larger significance to the series, some sort of ethical or political theme? No. There's a vague theme about freedom of information, how big bad corporations are big and bad. It could be food for thought for a teenager but if you're an adult it's a bit of a light weight.
But that's the point of the series: it's just an entertaining space opera with a strong hint of scifi noir in the first volume. The plots are decent, the characters manage to evade the Firefly aftertaste as the series progress and the whole is cohesive. So yes, it ain't much. But sometimes you just want to read a story with big space ships that shoot at each other. And in that case, The Expanse fills really well that need.
The first four volumes constitute a complete story. From the fifth, a new plot begins that will be solved along the next four volumes which are already planned. And despite all my niggles, I've enjoyed reading them and I will read the next ones.
To be noted: Syfy is adapting the books as a TV show. It will be broadcast on the US channel from December 2015.
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All reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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