Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vast Expanse

I read the first two novels that the Syfy series The Expanse (2015) was based on, so I may not be the best judge. Ms. Spenser didn't, but she loves it too.

It's a space opera/police procedural/political thriller, except when it's not. There are several intertwining stories. One is the space opera, with Steven Strait as a cute officer on an ice hauler, running water between the Saturn and the asteroids. Picture the crew of the Nostromo, but without the alien. He and a few members go to check out a distress signal and find a deserted ship, and see their ice hauler destroyed with all hands. They'll be more or less on the run for the rest of the series.

The police story takes place on the asteroid Ceres - picture the Bladerunner world, but underground. Thomas Jane is a detective with the private security force. He is cynical and scruffy, with a punk haircut, sideburns, and a trilby hat. He is looking for rebellious rich girl Juliet Mao, who may have joined the Outer Planet Alliance, a semi-terrorist organization fighting for freedom for the asteroids.

The third story features high-level UN-Earth diplomat Shohreh Aghdashloo, a sweet Indian grandmother with a cut-throat side, trying to prevent war between Earth and Mars.

There are plenty of other subplots as well, like the generation ship that the OPA is building for the Mormon Church, but I won't get into them.

This all looks great, with very reasonable special effects. The characters are interesting, and the milieu fascinating. But here comes a semi-spoiler: None of this is what the series is about. It is just scene setting. You get a few hints here and there, but the series is pretty good about distracting you until the tenth and final episode. Then...

Well, we'll have to wait until the second season, coming in 2017. Or do what I'm doing, and reading the novels ahead.

No comments: