|Creator:||developed for TV: |
Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
based on novels:
James S.A. Corey (pseudonym of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)
|Date(s):||14 December 2015 – 14 January 2022|
|Medium:||books, TV series|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
|External Links:||The Expanse (TV series) page on Wikipedia |
The Expanse (novel series) page on Wikipedia
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Expanse is a science fiction franchise that consists of books written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, publishing under the pseudonym James S.A. Corey; several tie-in comics; and a TV show that ran for 6 seasons, first on SyFy and then later on Amazon Prime. The authors of the book series served as consultants for the show. Recently, a video game, 'The Expanse: A Telltale Series', was also revealed to be in the works.
Set hundreds of years in the future, once humanity has colonised the solar system, The Expanse deals with the sudden appearance of extraterrestrial life and how that appearance affects the tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA). Despite never achieving the popularity of shows like Game of Thrones, The Expanse had a small but dedicated fanbase. It is notable for an extensive fan campaign (#SaveTheExpanse) run after SyFy cancelled the show, which garnered extensive celebrity support and eventually led to the show being picked up for three more seasons by Amazon Prime. It is also popular among those who enjoy conlangs, as the show effectively teaches the viewer the in-universe language of Lang Belta.
The overall setting for both the books and the TV show is 300 years in the future,[note 1] when humanity has colonised the solar system. There are frequent tensions between Earth and Mars, each of which have distinct cultures, while the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) fights for “Belter” rights against discrimination, poverty, and resource scarcity. Belters are people from the space stations and itinerant ships in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter; their bodies have developed over generations for very low gravity, from differences in their bone density to outward physical characteristics, and they are seen by “Inners” (people from Earth or Mars, known as "Earthers" and "Dusters" respectively) as second-class citizens.
Book 1 (Leviathan Wakes) and S1 of the TV show start amid constant tensions between Earth, Mars, and the Belt. There is an infectious sparkling-blue organism beginning to appear on some ships and small stations in the Belt which is possibly sentient, but its motivations are mysterious. Its spread across the solar system begins to intersect with the existing political tensions. The story initially focuses on the Belter station Ceres, where detective Joe Miller begins searching for a missing Earther, Julie Mao. Meanwhile, the crew of the space ship Canterbury discover a new threat when responding to a distress beacon on an abandoned ship.
The TV show parallels the first 6 books of 9. Because of the almost-30-year time jump between books 6 and 7, the TV show ends with the plot of Book 6, Babylon’s Ashes.
The Rocinante was originally a gunship in the Martian Congressional Republic Navy, and the TV show Season 1 illustrates the developing connection between the core crew of the Roci, who all originally served together on the same larger ship, the Canterbury. Throughout the seasons, the Roci is used by its crew to escape various unexpected threats, carry out missions on behalf of political powers, and upgraded or disguised during rest periods at Belter stations. The Roci’s core crew is the following:
- Amos Burton, an Earther and the mechanic
- James Holden, an Earther and the captain
- Alex Kamal, a Martian and the pilot
- Naomi Nagata, a Belter and the engineer
This list of major or recurring characters, even through Season 3 (similar plot trajectory as Book 3 Abaddon’s Gate), illustrates the expanding ensemble nature of the show: the variety of origins, socioeconomic classes, cultural or political loyalties, and lifestyles of characters in The Expanse universe.
- Josephus "Joe" Miller, a detective on Ceres assigned to find Julie Mao
- Chrisjen Avasarala, UN Deputy Under-Secretary of Executive Administration
- Jules-Pierre Mao, a wealthy and influential Earth-based business tycoon
- Julie Mao, the missing daughter of Jules-Pierre Mao
- Clarissa Mao, Julie's sister
- Sadavir Errinwright, UN Under-Secretary of Executive Administration
- Cotyar, Avasarala's spy and bodyguard
- Esteban Sorrento-Gillis, Secretary-General of the United Nations of Earth
- Annushka "Anna" Volovodov, Reverend Doctor (pastor) and former activist/speechwriter colleague of Sorrento-Gillis
- Fred Johnson, "The Butcher of Anderson Station” during UNN service, now leader of Tycho Station and an OPA faction leader
- Anderson Dawes, an OPA leader
- Camina Drummer, initially Head of Security at Tycho Station, then captain of OPA ship Behemoth
- Diogo, a Belter who was a thief on Ceres, then an OPA soldier on Tycho and Behemoth
- Klaes Ashford, a Belter pirate who becomes 2nd-in-command on OPA Behemoth at Anderson Dawes’ demand
- Bobbie Draper, a Martian Marine gunnery sergeant
- Praxideke “Prax” Meng, a botanist on Ganymede
- Michael Souther, admiral in the United Nations Navy then commander of the UNN Agatha King in Jupiter Fleet
- Augusto Nguyễn, admiral in the United Nations Navy
The Expanse is often described as a critically acclaimed show with a cult following, particularly among members of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) community. Its realism in politics, navigation in space, and physical development in low-gravity have led to the show being extremely popular amongst more science-minded fans; therefore, a large amount of fan activity for The Expanse focuses on discussion of theories, episodes, and the differences of characters between the books and TV series. The fandom is most active on Reddit and Twitter for that reason, where one of the big fandom activities was a weekly liveblog of each episode. Many fans also dedicate their time to learning the in-universe conlang, Lang Belta. The authors are known to approve of fanfiction, but have asked that writers not send them their fanfiction works.[note 2] Accordingly, there is a small amount of fic on AO3 for both the TV show and the books.
Cosplay is also popular among Expanse fans. Fans often cosplay their favourite characters at conventions, with Mars, OPA and Canterbury uniforms common. One Facebook group for this, Expanse Cosplay, has close to 2,000 members. In October of 2018, Christina Ward organized The Expanse Cosplay Week on Twitter using the account @ExpanseCosplay. Submissions were taken on Twitter using the hashtag #ExpanseCosplayWeek2018 and the contest has been held in subsequent years using the same Twitter account, even during the pandemic.
Also in 2018, Tumblr user the-roci organized The Expanse Fandom Exchange. The exchange was open to different types of fanworks, including fanfic, fanart, photosets and manips, and there is a small AO3 tag for the resulting fanworks.
Fans of the show often refer to themselves and the fandom as “Screaming Firehawks,” a name that character Alex Kamal originally suggested in canon for the ship that eventually became the Rocinante.
As of 2022, these are the most popular pairings on AO3:
- Chrisjen Avasarala/Bobbie Draper
- Jim Holden/Naomi Nagata
- Camina Drummer/Naomi Nagata
- Amos Burton/Alex Kamal
- Amos Burton/Praxidike Meng
- Amos Burton/Jim Holden
A conlang invented by Nick Farmer,[note 3] Lang Belta (sometimes referred to as "Belter Creole") makes up significant part of the show's world building. The language is a mash-up of several Earth languages, owing to the fact that it's meant to reflect the diversity of the people living in the Belt and the language they created together. It also incorporates hand gestures, as seen in S1E3, because the language evolved to be spoken between people in bulky space suits. Lang Belta is slightly unique among fictional languages in media in that it's never subtitled in the show, but viewers are clearly expected to be able to follow along. This has lead to fans learning the language much like they would Klingonese or Elven languages.
There is an unofficial Lang Belta course, cheat sheets for using it at cons, an r/LangBelta subreddit where learners can ask questions, and a channel on Discord where fans have weekly chats in Lang Belta. Fans also write music in the language and add it to their fanworks.[note 4]
A selection of Lang Belta words frequently seen in the show:
- beratna - brother
- copeng - friend
- mi sasa - I know, sasa ke? - ...you know?
- keya? - ...right? ...you agree?
- setara mali - an affectionate term used for children or younger people, little star
- beltalowda - the people of the Belt
- inyalowda - people of the Inner plants (Earth and Mars)
- welwala - derogatory term, planet lover, a Belter obsessed with the Inners, a traitor to your people
Midway through the third season, in May 2018 Syfy announced that it would not be renewing The Expanse for a fourth season. Many reports suggest that the decision was influenced by the fact Syfy did not hold the streaming rights for the series, and not enough fans were watching the show live.
Fans immediately began to organize a campaign to save the show, especially on Reddit and Discord. An online petition encouraging Netflix or Amazon to pick up the series gained almost 140,000 signatures. Crowdfunding campaigns raised money to fly a Save the Expanse banner over Amazon studios and to launch a model of the Rocinante ship to the edge of space.
Several celebrities who are Expanse fans, including George R.R. Martin, Wil Wheaton, and Patton Oswalt, tweeted their support for the series. The cast and crew of the Expanse were also very active on social media during this time, particularly Cas Anvar who played Alex Kamal, thanking fans for their campaign and encouraging live viewings.
Amazon picked up the Expanse season 4 in May 2018. In July 2019, the streaming service gave the series an early renewal for a fifth season, before its fourth season had aired, leading to much fan discussion.
The sixth and final season aired on Amazon during December 2021 - January 2022, matching the sixth novel of the series, before a decades-long time jump at the start of the seventh novel.
#SaveTheExpanse External Links
- Pirate is a fan of the show who helped maintain the Tumblr Pénsating Bik with resources to learn Belter Creole. He made a direct appeal to Amazon's Jeff Bezos in Belter, with subtitles for those not fluent in the fictional language: the video is now inaccessible (marked private), but as of August 2022 it is referenced in this Reddit post.
- One Week Of Save The Expanse - Here's what happened discussion on Reddit: the initial post has been deleted, but as of August 2022 there are still 25 comments reflecting celebrity support and fan promotional activities.
- Graphics showing social media engagement with #SavetheExpanse created by reddit user suzilla10.
- An Extended Retrospective on the #SaveTheExpanse Campaign Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 from August 2018.
- food for thought by plalligator. Set post s2, this lovely story follows Bobbie's discovery of found family with Avasarala and Cotyar and has outstanding voices that ring true to the show. (Chrisjen Avasarala/Bobbie Draper/Cotyar, pre-slash or gen)
- Gravity Well by SpinelessDragon. A short smutty fic with the popular pairing of Amos Burton/Alex Kamal.
- White Collar War Crimes by Szcay. From the summary of the fic, an AU where the protomolecule has been destroyed, but it has already disturbed the balance of the system. Earth and Mars are launched into war, lasting only a few bitter months before Mars is defeated. Now the unchallenged masters of the system, Earth demands reparations from the defeated nation that affects the crew of the Roci in ways they couldn’t imagine. (Amos Burton/Alex Kamal)
- Other works may use this AU setting, in which Martian expatriates are required to have an Earther sponsor in order to work and live outside Mars. These works could be Slavery AUs.
- The Expanse Series Fan Trailer - #SaveTheExpanse by Ed A. - Litoshq
- The Expanse || A War Built On Lies by Zurik 23M
- The Expanse - Broken Crown by Jessica Ver
- The Expanse || Dream Of Peace by Zurik 23M
- The Expanse Joe Miller/Julie Mao | Star Waves by Still Waters
- Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth by Runawaynun
- Naomi and Amos by CaitlinCrady
- The Empress by fluorescentwolf
- The Expanse - Miller by AsukaRin
- I dreamed that I was racing, Julie Mao and Miller by VarshaVijayan
- Forlath Grey's web comic series parodying the Expanse.
- The Expanse RP was an unofficial, fan-made roleplay board dedicated to roleplaying in the Expanse TV setting post-season 1. Fans created their own original characters as Belters, Martians, or Earthers. This community had their own website and forum, theexpanse-rp.com (archived version), and an associated Twitter account @TheExpanseRp. This community was active 2018 - 2019 but is now offline.
- The Expanse Wiki
- The Expanse subreddit
- SaveTheExpanse.org, a fansite which as of 2022 is at The Expanse Lives
- The Expanse TV works on AO3
- The Expanse book series works on AO3
- The Expanse works on ff.net
- The Expanse Crossovers on ff.net
- LangBelta subreddit for discussing and learning Belter Creole
- Nick Farmer’s Twitter where he shared vocabulary words
- A comprehensive resource list from the Tumblr Pénsating bik including phrase/vocabulary sheets from cons and their own Tumblr, Discord, Patreon, and Reddit communities, article and podcast links, and even structured courses
- ars technica article regarding Belter Creole, discussing Nick Farmer's thought process in developing the language
- Wired article regarding Belter Creole, discussing source languages and accent development for the language, and class and identity issues in-universe for Belters
- The Expanse Roleplaying Game was not developed by the book series authors, but it does include a James S.A. Corey short story, so it is close to canon. The RPG is set between books 1 and 2, and it states the year as 2351.
- Corey, James S.A. (2016-03-22). "a tweet re fanfic". Twitter. "Just FYI, I think people should do their thing, but if you write #TheExpanse fanfic please don't tell me or send it to me. I won't open it.”
- Nick Farmer happened to meet George R. R. Martin at a bar, who introduced him to his then-assistant Ty Franck who is half the duo of James S.A. Corey and had just published Book 1 of The Expanse book series, Leviathan Wakes.
- There is a Belter Creole (The Expanse) tag on AO3.
- The Expanse: A Telltale Series First Gameplay Revealed at Gamescom Opening Night Live. Posted 23 Aug 2022. Accessed 28 Aug 2022.
- The Expanse: George RR Martin, Will Wheaton, and an astronaut call on Amazon and Netflix to renew show. Posted 18 May 2018. Accessed 27 Aug 2022.
- The Expanse (TV) on AO3. Accessed 27 Aug 2022.
- The Expanse Series - James S. A. Corey Tag on AO3. Accessed 27 Aug 2022.
- The Expanse Cosplay. Accessed 27 Aug 2022.
- Christina “Chrissy” Ward (29 October 2021). "#ExpanseCosplayWeek2021". Twitter.
- the-roci (2018-09-05). "announcement post". Tumblr.
- That Cool Dialect on The Expanse Mashes Up 6 Languages. Posted 5 Apr 2017. Accessed 27 Aug 2022.
- Iro and Kagan MacTane joint Twitter @Paine_MacTane (2019). "Introduction to Lang Belta at Balticon 2019". Google Docs.
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- Rough draft Expanse-inspired song I wrote with a little help from this community. Full Lang Belta in the bridge section. Posted 21 May 2022. Accessed 27 Aug 2022.
- fadawah, on behalf of savetheexpanse.org (2018-05-12). "Amazon or Netflix, please buy the rights to The Expanse - #SaveTheExpanse". change.org.
- fadawah, on behalf of savetheexpanse.org (2018-05-15). "Oye, beratnas: our #SaveTheExpanse banner flew over the Amazon HQ in LA!". change.org.
- it-reaches-out (2018-05-15). "Tweetstorm at 19:30UTC (12:30PM Pacific) - use #CantStopTheExpanse while our plane flies over LA!". Reddit.
- Autumn Noel Kelly (2018-05-22). "As 'The Expanse' Owners Talk with Amazon, Fans Ready a Roci Model for Space Travel". Newsweek.
- Jack Shepherd (2018-05-18). "The Expanse: George RR Martin, Will Wheaton, and an astronaut [Andreas Mogensen] call on Amazon and Netflix to renew show". Independent.
- Joe Otterson (2018-05-25). "'The Expanse' Moves to Amazon for Season 4". Variety.
- BunyipPouch (2019-07-27). "'The Expanse' Renewed for Season 5 at Amazon". Reddit.