Why I Stopped Hating The Expanse And You Should Too

With a little skill, a little brute force, and a little luck

Andrew R. French

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I started reading the Expanse novels by James S.A. Corey (the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) when I was going through a weird and messy divorce, living in my parent’s 1970s Winnebago while taking care of a herd of large black pigs. The Winnebago was parked about 100 feet from the cabin that I had just built with my dad the previous year, and my ex-wife was living there. Neither of us wanted to leave the farm that we bought together a handful of years before. These large telephone book sized novels transported me to a world quite unlike the one I was living in, and I was very grateful for that.

The writing was solid and engaging. It was a goddamn space opera, with an expansive and dramatic story line filled with everything I secretly loved. The protomolecule was the lynchpin of the mystery at the heart of the books, and they unfolded, page after mesmerizing page, as I gulped down hot coffee on the sofa of the RV while several heaters kept me from freezing to death in the middle of a January ice storm in Wisconsin. The detective Miller and his search for Julie Mao wrapped me up in pleasant bundle of wonder, and my youthful obsession with Sherlock Holmes and solving mysteries began to creep back into my psyche.

We are drawn to mysteries in books, TV, and movies because we find ourselves faced with them in our own lives. Working through them on screen and print, we feel a bit like we are working through our own.

For instance, I certainly didn’t understand why I was going through a divorce at the time. Why was all this bad shit happening to me? I could identify with Holden and the crew of the Rocinante: Naomi, Alex, and especially Amos (who I fancied I resembled, in feature and character). I imagined myself in the sleek black Martian warship as I huddled in my Winnebago which was lined in seventies upholstery.

I breezed through Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War, and Abaddon’s Gate. I remember checking out Cibola Burn from my local library, but then the divorce was finalizing, I was handing over the property to my ex, and flying through a crazy year of blood, sweat, and real estate.

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Andrew R. French

Writer at the Intersection of Earth Science and Culture