The Expanse: Adaptation or Alteration?

Early this week I talked about The Expanse in its literary form. I’m on book 7 and boy have things gone pear shaped. I’m still reading and am definitely loving the series.

So, can the Amazon screen adaptation hold up?

In a nutshell, no. Am I saying that I don’t thoroughly enjoy the show? Absolutely not. What we see is the inability to fully convey words into pictures. I would say the first two seasons are a lot closer to what I read in the books, albeit they mesh characters and storylines together in a way that is relatively close. A couple characters have their roles expanded to flesh out some of the back story.

Ultimately, this worked for me.

Then I got halfway through season 3. For the first time I feel like they drastically changed characters and even the story.

While I still enjoy the show, I feel like it has taken a massive detour and we have entered the realm of very loose adaptation. I think my biggest complaint so far is the fact that where Abaddon’s Gate uses the first several chapters to set the scene, season 3 of the show just jumps into the middle of the story. Luckily, I knew where the base story would lead.

The other alteration pulling my eyebrows towards my hairline is inserting Bobby into the story. I love Bobby. She and Amos are my two favorite characters in the books. I’m not really complaining, since I enjoy her character, but in the books her disappearance and reappearance felt natural as the storylines come and go to weave a wonderful tapestry of a space-opera. Could this work for the show? I’m shrugging as I write this. Maybe, although I find it strange that she went rogue and then found the Martian military welcoming her back with open arms.

I’m more curious with her insertion in contrast to the books.

The other character I find even more confusing. Ashford is the main antagonist through Abaddon’s Gate. I pitied him as a man out of his depth. He reacted in a very human way. It didn’t make the reader like him any more, but at least I understood his actions.

In the show it seems like his interactions are simple growing pains with a new crew. I don’t find myself disliking him at all. In fact, I’m rooting for him to work through things and save the day.

That is an emotion I never had with Ashford’s character in the book.

Last point is the exclusion of Bull and Sam. I miss them. Sam is a wonderful supporting character and the author’s do a great job of connecting her to the reader and she provides a pivotal moment in the book. Bull is a single book storyline, but he provides that chapters that the reader looks forward to getting back to. With a broken back he is half man, half machine. Without Bull, the scenes on the Behemoth seem flat. The long segments of Belter creole and little action fail to move the story and leave me impatient for the scenes to end. That’s the opposite of the books.

Admittedly, I have a couple episodes to finish out season 3, but I plan to keep watching. I really do enjoy them, I just wish they could be closer to the books.

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On the writing front, things are progressing. Atom and the crew are closing in on tracking down the treasure ship. Margo has found her own adventure at the moment.

We are closing in on six months to the reprint of Atom & Go: Genesis and the new cover should be in the pipeline fairly soon. I can’t wait to see what the team over at Three Furies Press comes up with. Judging by their other work it should be epic.

Just remember to keep on reading and keep on flying the Black.

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