Steven Strait, Thomas Jane star in new sci-fi series
When George R.R. Martin speaks, sci-fi fans listen. And the author and creative force behind HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones speaks highly of The Expanse. A “kick-ass space opera”, he called it, presumably bellowing from atop a pile of bloodied cloaks and daggers.
The Expanse is based on the like-named book series set 200 years from now, as humans are colonizing the solar system. When a woman goes missing, a detective (Thomas Jane) and ship captain (Steven Strait) team up to investigate – but they soon discover the mystery is part of a vast conspiracy.
Strait spoke about the show with Postmedia News.
Q The show’s been described as a “space-opera mystery science-fiction drama” – what exactly does that mean?
A If I had to sum it up, I’d say it’s a space noir political thriller. It has the DNA of all the different tones and feels of each world that comes from the books. You have a noir detective tale in Thomas Jane’s world, you have a political thriller in Chrisjen Avasarala’s (played by Shohreh Aghdashloo), and with my character Jim and the remaining crew of the Canterbury, it’s very much a space ensemble survival tale. They benefit and supplement each other.
Q What else sets the show apart from other space dramas?
A. It’s only a couple hundred years into the future and we have the same problems that we’re dealing with today. There’s no hyper drive and nothing fast and shiny – it’s hard to get from place to place, it’s hard on the body. We wanted to capture the grit and grime of what it would be like in the very beginnings of the colonization of the solar system.
Q How does that play out in the storylines?
A In science-fiction literature, or even TV and movies, there’s this gaping hole in the beginnings of what science-fiction would be, that first couple hundred years where we’re just fumbling our way out into the solar system. It usually cuts to a more advanced time when that’s all been taken care of. When we can just hop from place to place and it’s pretty easy.
This isn’t that at all. The ships are breaking down, and people are going crazy from being in these tight, claustrophobic environments for so long. These are all realistic things people could deal with. The only comparison I can think of is maybe living on a submarine for years. It’s a hard way of life.
Q How closely does the series follow the books?
A It follows them very, very closely. We actually have James S. A. Corey, which is (the collaborative pen name of) two people actually – it’s Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham – they are in our writers room. One of them is on set almost every day, and they’re there if we have any questions but also to be sure that we honour these novels. They’re beloved for a reason.
The only thing different is that Avasarala, the character who’s based in the UN, has been pushed up to the beginning. She appears in the second book. But I think we felt that since it’s a different medium, it kind of rounds out the world better by bringing her forward.
The Expanse airs Tuesdays on Space