Enter The Expanse: Actual Sci-Fi on SyFy

Repairing The Knight Credit: SyFY

Repairing The Knight
Credit: SyFY

It doesn’t take place “a long time ago” nor in a galaxy “far, far away,” but if your interests run towards what a future in space might look like in a universe where the limitations of science (and plot points) actually count for something, SyFy’s The Expanse is easily the run away hit of an overhyped season.

Based on the novels by James S. A. Corey, and set in our own only solar system a mere two centuries in the future, The Expanse depicts a future which is probably The Planetary Society’s worst nightmare and the NewSpace industry’s ambitions made manifest, at least until the rail guns are heated up; billions of people living on Mars dedicated to bringing the planet to life, and hundreds of millions more spread throughout the asteroid belt, as well as the on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

More evocative of Battlestar Galactica or Blade Runner than the frequently unrealistically harmonious depiction of humanity found in Star Trek, what make The Expanse particularly compelling is that for the most part, the laws of physics, commerce and human nature are given due respect. Gravity comes and goes, spaceships actually take time to decelerate, vectors are plotted and if you happened to be born in space, Earth’s gravity well alone is enough to provide a exquisite form of prisoner.

With no Zephram Cochrane to invent the warp drive and draw the attention of wayfaring Vulcans, The Expanse depends on a variant of nuclear fusion “the Epstein drive” to propel the ships. Humanity’s time tested tendency to splinter into warring factions, oppressive governments and criminal syndicates provides the drama.

Inside Ceres Station Credit: SyFy

Inside Ceres Station
Credit: SyFy

Particularly appropriate for a year which began with NASA’s ion-powered Dawn spacecraft imaging the dwarf planet Ceres from its final orbit, much of the action takes place on that world, where “the Belters” who live there resent the domineering governments of both Earth and Mars. A revolution is brewing, and as a key character notes, all it needs is a single spark.

With its technical dialogue kept to a minimum, viewers who wonder just how the hell Ceres, a diminutive world only 587 miles in diameter can offer Earth-like gravity, will need to read the books on which the show is based for a plausible explanation. For those who don’t however, just enjoy the fact that for once, you aren’t being insulted by your entertainment.

The Expanse is available can be streamed on SyFy.com, and airs on Tuesday nights.

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2 Comments on "Enter The Expanse: Actual Sci-Fi on SyFy"

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  1. Dave Huntsman says:

    I agree, this is a show worth watching – in spite of all the commercials (which is why I record the show first, so I can zip thru them). Glad you mentioned the gravity thing; because it’s the one technical item that’s been bothering me. But even without explanation, this show is a cut above other TV shows that consider themselves science fiction; and it shows that, finally, after ten years off in oblivion, the original SciFi Channel just might be back!!

  2. I agree with Dave Huntsman. This show is really, really good. Worth checking out for anyone that hasn’t.

    Plot is quite thick in the opening episodes- It does call for the audience to be fully engaged.

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