Based on James S.A. Corey’s hard sci-fi series, The Expanse is perhaps Syfy’s best new show in some time. In it, interplanetary travel is common; Earth is run by the UN, Mars is independent, and the asteroid belt and Jovian moons have been colonized. A major colony, perhaps the largest, is Ceres, whose water was stripped away as the asteroid was turned into a shipping hub linking the inner and outer planets.
Meanwhile, far away near Saturn, an ice hauler, the Canterbury, works to deliver ice to Ceres — ice that will be converted into potable water, fuel, and a host of other necessities. It responds to a distress signal from a freighter, the Scopuli, kicking off the plot.
On Ceres, a detective (kept on because of his useful incompetence) is handed the file of a missing person, the wealthiest bachelorette in the system. As his infatuation and obsession with her grows, the only five people who know what happened when the Canterbury answered the Scopuli‘s distress call make their way inward, first via a Martian battlecruiser and then doing contract work for the OPA, an organization whose goal is independence for the Belt and beyond.
And then there is this mysterious blue gunk — which may or may not have been engineered — and which is swallowing people whole.
It’s hard to talk about The Expanse without massive spoilers, but that’s part of the beauty of the show. It has a singular arc, a novel (Leviathan Wakes) turned into a season, and the show is paced like a ten-hour-long … novel. Characters come alive as we follow their interactions, the spacecraft feel realistic for what we would see 200 years from now, and the tension — as it becomes increasingly clear somebody wants to start a war between Earth and Mars — keeps rising, right up to the end of the season when Eros’s fate’s revealed.
Fortunately, Leviathan Wakes is not the only Expanse novel. The next, Caliban’s War, is almost certainly the next season’s framework. That will air early 2017 — better get your popcorn ready!