Literature: The Expanse
aka: Leviathan Wakes
Described as a Space Opera
, The Expanse
is a series of science fiction novels by "James S. A. Corey", actually a collaboration by Daniel Abraham (who also wrote The Long Price Quartet
) and Ty Franck. Set a few hundred years in the future humanity is still limited to the solar system but large parts of it have been colonized. As of the beginning of the series, the three main powers are Earth, Mars, and the unorganized "Belters", who inhabit the asteroid belt and many of the outer moons. Those three groups have been in economic dependence and conflict for almost as long as they've existed, but now it seems that someone wants to push that conflict into outright war.
The technology used is hard
but not described in detail. An unexplained breakthrough in fusion drive technology has made interplanetary travel possible but no FTL drive has been discovered and no interstellar voyages have been attempted... yet.
The series includes the following books:
- Leviathan Wakes
- Caliban's War
- Abaddon's Gate (forthcoming)
Provides Examples Of:
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The series in general
- Abusive Precursors: Responsible for the protomolecule.
- Asteroid Miners: A lot of this goes on in the belt though it doesn't directly impact the plot much.
- Auto Doc: Military ships come equipped with automatic medical systems.
- Body Horror: The effects of the protomolecule.
- As the author puts it in the afterword:
"I've never written anything in my life that didn’t at least blur the line into horror. If I wrote greeting cards, they'd probably have a squick
- The Butcher: Fred Johnson, the Butcher of Anderson Station, a rare example of The Butcher also being a Reasonable Authority Figure.
- Casual Interplanetary Travel: Acquiring a small ship capable of interplanetary travel seems to be about as difficult as acquiring a house is now. With all the attendant risks of defaulting on your loans and having it seized by bank.
- Colony Drop: Never actually used, but discussed a lot. Asteroid drops are the new Mutually Assured Destruction.
- Cool Starship: Both present and averted. It is noted that the lack of atmosphere to deal with combined with efficient designs has resulted in mostly ugly, blocky looking ships. Some of them very large and impressive but still looking like a simple warty skyscraper laid on its side. Some of the ships however, as exemplified by the Rocinante, are very cool on the inside.
- Domed Hometown: It is mentioned that Martian cities are under domes.
- Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Mars is in some ways more technologically advanced and both Mars and the Belt view themselves as independent of the home planet, but more educated people are pretty sure that they couldn't survive without access to the resources of the home planet.
- Fantastic Racism: Earthers vs. Belters.
- Future Slang: Belter slang.
- Generation Ships: None have been used yet, but there is one under construction.
- Meat Moss: Anywhere the protomolecule has had time to take over ends up looking like something from Dead Space.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: 4. Corey acknowledges in an interview that he/they wanted to make the universe plausible without letting the science get in the way of telling a good story.
- Hardness: slower-than-light travel, no Stealth In Space, generally excellent physics where described.
- Softness: ships powered by Applied Phlebotinum fusion reactors, almost everything about the protomolecule (which is acknowledged in-universe as being pretty close to magic, as it plays by very, very few of the rules people are used to).
- Son of a Whore: Amos
- Space Pirates
- Stealth In Space: Earth and Mars both have stealth ships. It's a hard sci-fi version of stealth is based on not radiating any heat, which means that firing the engines gives them away.
- Terraform: A project to terraform Mars is ongoing, but it is currently still reliant on imports from Earth.
- Thrown Out The Airlock: Happens at least once and is mentioned numerous times as appropriate punishment for especially unpleasant people.
- The Virus: The protomolecule
- The War of Earthly Aggression: This is one of the things that the Belters are worried about, although they're more immediately worried about a War Of Martian Aggression. Mars itself has also prepared for war with Earth, both in terms of military buildup and running elaborate battle simulations.
- United Nations Is A Super Power: The UN literally controls Earth and its armed forces.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In universe example - "real" Belters who grew up under low gravity are tall and skinny and look slightly deformed to people who grew up on Earth or Mars (apparently Mars' 1/3rd g is enough to avoid this effect?) They also have their own dialect that can make it difficult for "Inners" to understand what they're saying even when theoretically speaking the same language. It is speculated that many Inners don't even view Belters as real humans anymore and that is part of the reason why conflict has developed between them.
- Wrench Wench: Sam, the Tycho engineer who works on the Rocinante while it's employed by the OPA.
- The Ace: Holden.
- The Alcoholic: Miller describes himself as a functioning alcoholic.
- All of Them
Naomi: We’ve got ships on their way from all over the system.
Holden: How many are coming?
Naomi: At a guess? All of them.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Dresden specifically, but Protogen in general. Reality Ensues when Miller meets Dresden and blows his head off, and afterward everyone learns what they did on Eros, and the corporation collapses almost immediately.
- Genius Loci: Eros Station after it's turned into an incubator for the protomolecule.
- Hardboiled Detective: Miller.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Miller and Julie.
- Humanity Is Infectious: How Julie is able to retain control over Eros.
- I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight: Miller to Julie at the end.
- Imaginary Friend: Miller starts having conversations with a hallucinatory Julie Mao.
- Kansas City Shuffle: Holden's plan to intercept the missiles involves pulling this kind of con on the UN.
Holden: We'll tell them we're going to trick them so they stop listening, and once they're not listening, we'll trick them.
- Love Before First Sight: Miller to Julie Mao.
- N.G.O. Superpower: Protogen, having enough firepower to bring down the Martian flagship with ease. But Reality Ensues when Earth and Mars learn they're responsible for Eros, and tear the company apart almost immediately.
- Potty Failure: Julie Mao in the prologue.
- Reality Ensues: The evil, corrupt Mega Corp Protogen, an N.G.O. Superpower with enough political connections to let them push Earth to attack Mars, is seemingly invincible. Nope. They get outed as being responsible for Eros and go down almost immediately.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: A nameless Martian officer who learns about the protomolecule on Phoebe responds to it by immediately nuking the moon to atoms so no one else can use the damned thing.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Used by the Donnager after it is boarded.
- The Sociopath: Dresden. And he had all his employees clinically altered to be sociopaths, too.
- Spaceship Girl: Julie Mao is a pretty nightmarish take on the trope.
- Useless Spleen: When Holden is performing a sustained high-g burn, he complains about his spleen.
Holden: My spleen is collapsing. Hurry up.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Holden gets these pretty often from just about everybody, as he tends to publically broadcast whatever everyone else is trying to keep secret and is personally responsible for two open conflicts as a result.
- Miller also gets one when he shoots Dresden, an act which results in Holden disliking and distrusting him for the remainder of the novel.
- Artistic License - Physics: Bobbie's suit gun fires 2 mm rounds at "more than a thousand meters per second", which is treated as something awesomely powerful and being able to penetrate an entire ship. In reality, it's actually firing tiny bullets at a normal rifle velocity - the rounds would have roughly an order of magnitude lower momentum than a modern assault rifle's.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Deconstructed when Prax accidentally turns a Mexican Standoff into a Blast Out by cocking his gun, which he just thought was the appropriate thing to do in the situation from what he'd seen in movies.
- Explosive Leash: The protomolecule-monsters are fitted with them. However, after the first one explodes, the others figure out how to remove them.
- Gender Blender Name: In a highly obscure example, Prax is named after Jupiter's moon Praxidike, which his parents didn't realize was named after a Greek goddess.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The protomolecule monsters.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Admiral Nguyen's ship gets taken over by one of the protomolecule-monsters he launched at Mars.
- Immune to Bullets: The protomolecule-monsters. Bullets pass right through them, and they heal immediately afterwards.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Holden grows a beard in an attempt to disguise himself. It fools exactly no one.
Avasarala: What happened to his face?
Soren: The reporting officer suggested the beard was intended as a disguise.
Avasrala: Well, thank God he didn't put on a pair of glasses, we might never have figured it out.
- Powered Armor: Bobbie's Goliath suit.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: The protomolecule monsters.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Avasarala. When she gets through an entire phone conversation with her boss without swearing, he knows something is badly wrong.
- Super Soldiers: The human/protomolecule hybrids.
- Was Once a Man: The protomolecule monsters.
- Weaponized Exhaust: Used by the Rocinante.