“The Expanse,” a nine-book series by James S. A. Corey, has been captivating readers with its complex characters, political intrigue, and meticulously researched scientific elements. From interplanetary disputes to eerie protomolecules, The Expanse has much to offer for science fiction enthusiasts.
If you’ve recently turned the last page of “Leviathan Falls,” the final book in the series, and find yourself yearning for more, you’re in the right place. This post is dedicated to guiding you towards other riveting worlds and compelling narratives that echo some of the key themes of The Expanse.
So, let’s jump into our list of “Books to Read After The Expanse.”
Dune by Frank Herbert
Brief Overview of Dune and its Themes
“Dune” is an epic science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert. Set in a distant future amidst a complex hierarchical society, the narrative is centered around Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis. The planet is the only source of the “spice” melange, the most valuable substance in the universe.
Dune explores various themes including power politics, survival, religion, and human potential, which make it a compelling read for those who enjoyed The Expanse.
Comparison and Contrast with The Expanse
Like The Expanse, Dune is a sprawling space opera with a meticulously built world and complex, multifaceted characters. Both series delve into political maneuverings and societal struggles, although Dune also incorporates elements of mysticism and prophecy.
Unlike The Expanse, where humanity is still confined to our solar system, Dune takes place across a galaxy-spanning empire, introducing a much broader range of alien environments. Despite these differences, both series present a detailed and realistic vision of humanity’s future, making Dune an excellent follow-up for fans of The Expanse.
Red Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Introduction to the Red Mars Trilogy
Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Red Mars Trilogy,” consisting of “Red Mars,” “Green Mars,” and “Blue Mars,” is a comprehensive and detailed examination of the terraforming of Mars. The trilogy explores a variety of scientific, political, and social issues related to the colonization of a new planet.
Examination of its Themes and Connections with The Expanse
Just as in The Expanse, the Red Mars Trilogy delves deep into political tensions and the socio-economic impact of human expansion into the cosmos. The intricate geopolitical conflicts and the examination of potential future technologies draw a parallel with The Expanse’s own brand of realism and human struggle.
The series offers a more grounded take on space colonization compared to the interstellar scope of The Expanse, focusing on the transformation of Mars over centuries. For those who appreciated the scientific and political depth of The Expanse, the Red Mars Trilogy offers a similarly compelling exploration of humanity’s possible future.
Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
Summary of the Foundation Series
Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation Series” is a science fiction saga, renowned for its innovative take on the future of human civilization. It’s centered on the premise of “psychohistory,” a mathematical science developed to predict the future behavior of large groups of people. When it’s foreseen that the Galactic Empire is about to fall, the Foundation is established to preserve knowledge and shorten the period of decay and darkness.
Discussion on How Foundation Echoes Aspects of The Expanse
Much like The Expanse, the Foundation series is built on a grand scale, envisaging a future where humanity has spread across the galaxy. The political machinations, power shifts, and cultural conflicts in the series have clear parallels with the societal and interplanetary struggles seen in The Expanse.
Although Asimov’s vision of the future is less focused on physical science and more on social science than The Expanse, the Foundation series’ exploration of humanity’s expansion into the cosmos and its implications make it a thought-provoking read for fans of The Expanse.
The Culture Series by Iain M. Banks
Overview of The Culture Series
The Culture Series by Iain M. Banks is a sci-fi collection revolving around an interstellar utopian society known as “The Culture.” It’s a post-scarcity society governed by advanced artificial intelligences, where biological species and artificial lifeforms coexist.
Connections with The Expanse
The Culture Series, similar to The Expanse, offers a sprawling universe with a variety of characters and storylines. Both series consider the relationship between humans and artificial intelligences, though Banks takes it to an even greater extent with AIs serving as key characters.
Banks’ exploration of morality, the ethics of interventionism, and the consequences of high-tech society echo some of the questions raised by The Expanse. The narratives often feature complex political scenarios and cultural interactions, offering a rich blend of action, intrigue, and thought-provoking themes that fans of The Expanse will likely enjoy.
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Quick Introduction to Revelation Space
“Revelation Space” is a space opera by Alastair Reynolds. Set in a future where several human colonies exist scattered across the galaxy, the story intertwines the paths of an archaeologist, a starship captain, and an assassin, as they unravel a cosmic mystery that could threaten human existence.
Comparison of Themes and Elements with The Expanse
“Revelation Space” shares with The Expanse a grounded approach to physics and technology. Both series depict a dark and often hostile universe, filled with intrigue and mystery, where humans strive to understand and survive the threats posed by space and alien technology.
While “Revelation Space” offers a bleaker and more pessimistic view of the future than The Expanse, fans of the latter may appreciate the former’s detailed world-building, complex narratives, and the sheer scale of its cosmic vision. Both series take readers on a thrilling journey, combining mystery, action, and hard science fiction.
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Brief Synopsis of Leviathan Wakes
“Leviathan Wakes” is the first novel in The Expanse series itself, authored by James S.A. Corey, a pseudonym for the collaborative writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The novel sets the stage for the entire series, beginning with a missing girl, a rogue ship’s captain, and a hardened detective, all set against the backdrop of a solar system on the brink of war.
Discussion on How it’s a Worthy Follow-up to The Expanse
For those who started The Expanse series midway or are new to the series, “Leviathan Wakes” is a perfect read after finishing the series. Going back to the beginning allows you to revisit the roots of the characters and the initial events that set the stage for the epic that unfolds later.
Fans may find it interesting to explore how the characters and the world-building evolved over time, and can gain a deeper understanding of the story’s foundation. Moreover, those who became fans through the television adaptation of The Expanse might enjoy comparing the original material with the screen version.
Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons
Summary of the Hyperion Cantos
The “Hyperion Cantos” is a series of four science fiction novels by Dan Simmons. The series starts with “Hyperion,” a novel that follows seven pilgrims with different stories, bound together on a journey to the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion. The Cantos is renowned for its complex narrative structure and its blend of many different themes, from philosophy to science fiction and more.
How This Series Could Appeal to Fans of The Expanse
Fans of The Expanse may appreciate the “Hyperion Cantos” for its intricate, multifaceted plot and its deep exploration of human society in a far-future setting.
Both The Expanse and the Hyperion Cantos depict a future where humanity has colonized numerous planets, leading to complex political and societal shifts. However, where The Expanse leans towards hard science fiction and politics, Hyperion is more known for its literary and philosophical themes.
Despite the differences, the rich character development, engaging narrative, and grand scope of the Hyperion Cantos could certainly appeal to those who enjoyed the ambitious storytelling and the intricate universe of The Expanse.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Overview of Ancillary Justice
“Ancillary Justice” is the debut novel from Ann Leckie, and the first in her “Imperial Radch” trilogy. It tells the story of Breq, the sole survivor of a starship destroyed by treachery, and the vessel of that ship’s artificial consciousness. Breq is on a quest for revenge against the ruler of her civilization.
Analysis of Thematic Similarities with The Expanse
“Ancillary Justice”, like The Expanse, explores complex themes related to identity, humanity, and the societal impacts of technology. Both series delve into the ethics of artificial intelligence and the relationship between AI and humans.
Where The Expanse addresses these issues through the lens of a protomolecule and its profound effect on humanity, “Ancillary Justice” approaches it through the eyes of a spaceship AI in a humanoid body.
Furthermore, the political intrigue, complex characters, and the broader themes of imperialism and colonialism that feature in “Ancillary Justice” can resonate with fans of The Expanse’s realistic portrayal of political conflict and societal dynamics.
Blindsight by Peter Watts
Introduction to Blindsight
“Blindsight” is a hard science fiction novel by Peter Watts that presents a unique take on first contact with alien life. The novel follows a team of explorers sent out to the edge of the solar system to investigate an alien probe. Watts’ writing style is dense and challenging, but his exploration of consciousness and identity is thought-provoking.
How Blindsight Resonates with Themes from The Expanse
Like The Expanse, “Blindsight” offers a scientifically rigorous take on space travel and extraterrestrial life, along with a darker vision of the future. Both narratives explore the profound impact of alien technology on humanity.
However, while The Expanse often focuses on the interpersonal relationships and political dynamics within and between human societies, “Blindsight” leans more heavily into philosophical and psychological exploration.
Fans of The Expanse who appreciated the series’ gritty realism, scientific accuracy, and the mystery of the protomolecule might find “Blindsight’s” investigation of consciousness and alien life equally intriguing.
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Summary of Neuromancer
“Neuromancer” is a novel by William Gibson, notable for being one of the landmark works in the cyberpunk genre. The novel follows Case, a washed-up computer hacker who is hired by a mysterious employer for one last job, which brings him into a virtual realm of data and artificial intelligence.
Linking Themes Between Neuromancer and The Expanse
While “Neuromancer” differs from The Expanse in terms of setting – taking place largely within the confines of Earth rather than across a colonized solar system – there are thematic parallels that fans of The Expanse may appreciate.
Both stories delve into the implications of advanced technology on human society, including artificial intelligence. Just as The Expanse explores the transformative impact of the protomolecule and the gate network on humanity, “Neuromancer” investigates the potential consequences and ethical dilemmas of cybernetic augmentation and artificial intelligence.
Fans of The Expanse who enjoyed the series’ socio-political complexity, technological speculation, and darker undertones will likely find much to enjoy in “Neuromancer.”
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Brief Overview of The Forever War
“The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman is a military science fiction novel. It follows the story of William Mandella, a man conscripted into the elite fighting force of the United Nations Exploratory Force fighting a distant alien enemy. The novel explores the theme of the endlessness of war, the social and cultural changes that transpire over time, and the personal toll it takes on those who fight.
Drawing Parallels with The Expanse
The Expanse, with its own share of interstellar conflict and the tension between Earth, Mars, and the Belt, shares thematic ground with “The Forever War”. Both series examine the societal, psychological, and cultural impacts of prolonged conflict.
While The Expanse delves into the political maneuvering and power struggles within and between different societies, “The Forever War” focuses more on the personal experiences of soldiers in a seemingly never-ending conflict.
“The Forever War” could appeal to fans of The Expanse who are intrigued by the series’ realistic portrayal of the toll of war and the intricate politics of human societies spread across space.
Dune by Frank Herbert
Introduction to Dune
“Dune” is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert that centers around the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of a valuable substance, and the political and personal machinations of those who seek to control it.
Why Dune is a Good Choice for Fans of The Expanse
“Dune” and The Expanse both delve deep into political intrigue and the interplay between powerful factions. The richly detailed world-building and complex characters of “Dune” may appeal to those who enjoyed the same aspects in The Expanse.
Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
Overview of Fire Upon the Deep
“Fire Upon the Deep” is a science fiction novel by Vernor Vinge that involves a galaxy-wide internet, transcendent AIs, and races with different zones of thought.
Why Fire Upon the Deep Could Appeal to Fans of The Expanse
Like The Expanse, “Fire Upon the Deep” has a sweeping scope, complex civilizations, and an intriguing plot that involves a dangerous, incomprehensible alien intelligence.
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Brief Summary of Red Mars
“Red Mars” is the first in a trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, which deals with the terraforming and colonization of Mars and the societal implications thereof.
Reasons for Recommending Red Mars to Fans of The Expanse
Red Mars shares with The Expanse a focus on the political and social aspects of space colonization. The series’ attention to detail in scientific and political matters is something fans of The Expanse may appreciate.
Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton
Summary of Pandora’s Star
“Pandora’s Star” is a science fiction novel by Peter F. Hamilton, marking the start of the Commonwealth Saga. The novel presents a future where humans have colonized numerous planets across numerous star systems, thanks to wormhole technology.
Why Fans of The Expanse May Like Pandora’s Star
Both The Expanse and Pandora’s Star deal with humanity’s response to encountering alien technologies and civilizations. The epic scope and grand narrative of Pandora’s Star could appeal to those who enjoyed these aspects in The Expanse.
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Synopsis of Ringworld
“Ringworld” is a science fiction novel by Larry Niven, featuring a massive alien structure known as the Ringworld and the exploration expedition that sets out to unravel its mysteries.
Why Ringworld is a Good Recommendation for Fans of The Expanse
Ringworld, like The Expanse, combines hard science fiction with exploration and discovery. Fans who enjoyed the exploration of alien structures and technologies in The Expanse may find similar themes in Ringworld.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Brief Overview of Ender’s Game
“Ender’s Game” is a military science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, centering on a young boy named Ender Wiggin, who is trained from a young age to be a leader in humanity’s war against an alien race.
Why Ender’s Game is a Good Choice for Fans of The Expanse
While differing in scope, both The Expanse and Ender’s Game tackle themes of humanity, leadership, and the implications of war, making Ender’s Game a potentially interesting read for fans of The Expanse.
There are numerous paths to explore once you’ve reached the end of The Expanse series. Each of the books and series discussed above offers its unique flavors and touches on different themes. Whether it’s the epic space opera of “Hyperion Cantos”, the intricate AI and humanity themes of “Ancillary Justice”, or the military sci-fi angle in “The Forever War”, there’s something for every fan of The Expanse.
While the ride through The Expanse series is undeniably a thrilling one, stepping into a new universe brings its own excitement and surprises. Hopefully, this list will serve as your guide to your next science fiction journey.
Enjoy the exploration of these fantastic worlds.