The Expanse is not Dystopic – Daniel Abraham Does An Interview with TV Series Hub

Daniel Abraham is an American science fiction / fantasy author who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is a graduate of Clarion West, and sometimes collaborates with George R. R. Martin, another New Mexico resident.

His short stories have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies. His novelette Flat Diane was nominated for the Nebula Award. His novelette The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairy-tale of Economics was nominated for the Hugo Award in 2008.

Pseudonym is M.L.N. Hanover.

Also writes as James S.A. Corey with Ty Franck.


Hi Daniel! How exciting is it to see The Expanse sure tonight? Have you ever dreamed of this moment?

It’s amazing.  The process of making the show has involved so much work by so many people, it’s wonderful to see our final product take wing.  And yes, I have dreamed about this, but they’re always “Wait! I forgot to drop my class and the final’s tomorrow!” kinds of stress dreaming.

Every writer has his inspiration, what have you the motivation of writing The Expanse?

The Expanse books began because Ty Franck — the other half of James SA Corey — had developed this amazing, rich, complicated world, and I thought it would be fun to write a novel set there.  I’d like to claim something more lofty, but the truth is The Expanse began for shits and giggles and the thing that’s driven it is that writing it is actually pretty fun to do.

Being a co-author can be challenging, what were the challenges you faced and what were the best moments you had together?

The biggest challenge at this point is finding the time to do all the stuff James SA Corey’s called on to do.  And it’s a very good thing there are two of us.  I know that collaborating is supposed to have a lot of moments of frustration and conflict, but it just hasn’t with us.  As far as best moments, my favorite are the times when we’re working on a story problem and the answer shows up, and turns out to have been foreshadowed and set up already.  That’s a great feeling.  The getting to see your vision shared with millions of people through the talents of hundreds of dedicated, professional, talented artists is pretty cool too, though.

Usually ideas just come along, and usually they just go. As a writer that must happen a lot but how did the idea of The Expanse come to be?

Many, many years ago, Ty was working on a proposal for an MMORG that died before it went anywhere.  But he liked the world, and kept it as a setting to run play-by-post and tabletop role playing games. Years later, I played in one, and I was so impressed with the depth of the world building and cohesion of the story he was telling that I said we should make a book.  And then all this happened…

In a very brief summary what exactly are we looking at if we watch the show? How would you sell the story to us?

Well, move forward in time to a place where humanity has colonized the solar system but not the stars.  Some people are good, some people are bad, they’ve all got jobs and bills to pay.  A private cop on a asteroid station in the Belt and the crew of an ice hauler off Saturn both stumble across things that don’t seem connected, at least not yet.  It’s the tip of a very big iceberg.

How did the cast be selected? Any specifics you guys had in mind or was it all done with auditions.

Most of it was done with auditions, though there were several folks who as soon as we knew they were interested, we were interested.

How different will the series be from the novel written?

It’s definitely a retelling of the same story, but it’s also definitely a retelling.  I think about it terms of Alan Moore’s Batman and Frank Miller’s Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Batman all being Batman.  The Expanse books and The Expanse show are both absolutely The Expanse.

How many seasons do you hope to see the series air for?

We’re doing nine books and a whole bunch of short stories and novellas.  We can go as long as it keeps being fun.

Who are the people that helped you complete it? Any special person?

There are so many folks who were absolutely critical to this thing, I could start listing names now and not be done when the show’s finished airing.  I am astounded by how many people — and people of such varied and specific talents — you need to pull a show like this off.  This is millions of hours of work by thousands of people.  I am incredibly grateful for pretty much all of them.

Every writer has a time where they face the block, how did you overcome it?

The thing about writer’s block is it isn’t that you can’t write, it’s that you can’t write something you feel good about writing. Ty’s half joke is that it goes a lot faster if you stop caring whether it’s good.  Even if you wind up throwing it all out later, there’s a certain wisdom in just pushing forward and putting words you’re dissatisfied with on the page.

Well thank you very much, any message you would like to share?

I’ve seen a lot of people talk about The Expanse as dystopic.  I disagree.  I see it as blue collar and rich with conflict, but that’s just people.  The basic message of the project, for me, has always been that there’s more to admire in humanity than to despise.

The Expanse Premieres December 14 at 10/9c on SYFY

Here is a sneak peak of the episode:

You can follow The Expanse Show on Twitter or visit their website.