It’s easy to get jaded these days. Theodore Sturgeon once famously said that “ninety percent of everything is crap,” and that adage holds true for our own beloved science fiction field just as it does for other genres. It’s easy to lose touch with that wide-eyed sense of wonder that attracted us to science fiction in the first place. But every once in awhile a project will come along that reawakens your inner 10-year-old and makes you want to do the Snoopy dance around your room. For me, word that James S. A. Corey’s outstanding Expanse novels are being adapted for TV makes for one of those moments. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get my Snoopy on…
Variety reports that Children of Men scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby are writing a pilot script based on the Hugo-nominated science fiction series The Expanse, which so far consists of three books: Leviathan Wakes (2011), Caliban’s War (2012), and Abaddon’s Gate (2013). Mixing elements of science fiction, mystery, and detective fiction, The Expanse is set in a well-developed fictional future where mankind has spread out through the solar system. A mysterious discovery reveals the irrefutable truth that we are not alone in the universe, and that’s a truth many powerful forces want to conceal…or control. So far I’ve only read the first book in the series, but it’s easily one of my favorite reads in years, and a TV versions — if done well — could be something truly special. (Fun fact: “James S. A. Corey” is actually a pen name for writing partners Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.)
The pilot is being developed by Alcon Television Group, with writers Fergus and Ostby executive producing along with Sean Daniel and Jason Brown. One thing worth noting is that the Expanse pilot is being developed “direct-to-series,” which means they’ll shop the project around to the networks once it’s ready. If a network is interested, they’ll order multiple episodes right out the gate. Under the Dome is an example of a recent show that went “direct-to-series,” with CBS picking up the full 13-episode first season (and eventually a second season as well).
Alcon Television president Sharon Hall said, “We couldn’t be happier with the creative team on this project,” praising The Expanse’s “rich source material and writers who can bring out the drama and humanity in this kind of genre.”
Science fiction has seen something of a resurgence on TV in recent years, with shows such as TNT’s Falling Skies, Syfy’s Defiance, and Fox’s Fringe all surviving multiple seasons. The fall has promising new SF series such as Fox’s Almost Human, the CW’s The Tomorrow People, and of course the old stalwart, Doctor Who. But one thing the TV landscape is sorely lacking is an honest-to-god “space sci-fi” series. Of course Doctor Who’s adventures often fit that description, but I’m talking a show where space is the primary setting, something in the vein of Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica. I desperately miss having that type of show to dive into, so I’ll be crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, and sacrificing at least three small animals to Cthulhu in hopes that The Expanse not only makes it to air, but enjoys a long, exceptional run.