What makes a good story?
Is it characters? Maybe a good story needs action. Perhaps a political platform? I’ve heard every story needs romance. Does a good story need any or all of these elements?
Well, I can say with confidence that The Expanse series has all of the above and where other space-operas have grown too bulky to truly care, these books maintain the perfect balance. They tear along at a fast pace that leaves you surprised at the number of pages you churn through in a sitting and constantly wanting more. I’ve lost count of the number of nights I’ve hit 2AM and had trouble putting down the books.
Any book that can make you lose yourself contains the kernel of a masterful story.
I feel that The Expanse contains something I strive for. Maybe it could be called the Firefly syndrome. The created crew that meshes and becomes a substitute for the family unit. With Holden and Naomi as the surrogate father and mother figures, they hold their family together in an otherwise inhospitable space-scape. I can’t say I have drawn much in the way of direct inspiration from the book series or Amazon series, but it reaffirms what I’m doing in my own work.
The ship is a home and universe for the family. Atom can lead the crew to jobs all over the galaxy, but ultimately, the One Way Ticket, is home and always draws them back.
The same can be said for the Rocinante. In fact that idea is openly stated by several of the main characters.
The other idea that helps keep The Expanse flowing is that the authors don’t dwell too long on the supporting characters. Chapters jump between viewpoints to flesh out the story, but always return to the main crew and after the first book the crew is the true focal point of the story. Even as different chapters jump across the system and beyond to craft a world I find it hard to surface from, I’m not bogged down with story-lines I dread.
Another wonderful tool is overlapping the chapters so that the shift in view feels organic.
At the moment I’m coming to the end of book six and plan on diving right into book seven as soon as I’m done. That is some of the most glowing praise I can offer. If you haven’t yet, give the series a whirl.
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In the next post I plan on looking at the screen adaptation of The Expanse. There are concepts I love and choices I could live without. Make sure to keep an eye out for that. I have had a bit of a writing vacation through the holidays, but I’m finally getting back into the swing of things.
As I sit here at my desk in sunny, old Corning, I’m trying to plot out where Atom is running off to. Maybe it’s a teaser, but he’s about to encounter every parent’s worst nightmare, separation.
In the meantime, keep on reading (perhaps The Expanse or a copy of Atom & Go) and keep on flying the Black.