The Expanse: Season 2
It has been quite a while since television has hosted an old fashion space opera has been a regular part of a major network’s lineup. Certainly, many examples of shows included numerous elements of outer space have been incorporating on a regular basis but not to the grand scale and intricacies that have defined the above type of story. In the tradition that been part of science fiction since E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith coined the phrase in the forties as part of his seminal ‘Lensmen Chronicles.' The SyFy Channel continued its mandate of original programming with a series that epitomizes the concept with their adaptation of the series of novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (writing under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey), ‘The Expanse.' The story is set not so far in the future that the technology is substantially beyond the current technological level. Without super luminal transport, the scope of humanity’s expansion into space confined to the solar system. The series is an amazing, multi-layered concept brought to life with meticulous attention to detail as the showrunners mold the elements into a complete, fully actualized universe populated by three-dimensional characters experiencing a vast myriad of experiences and challenges. The audience has also plunged the characters into a tale whose realism is tangible. In many ways, several nuances deeply infused within the underlying structure of the series is highly reminiscent of the early installments of the Known Space franchise by one of the leading authors of the genre, Larry Nevins.
Moving beyond the cradle of our species to, the immediate cosmic neighborhood the political foundation no longer restricted to mere nationalistic concerns. Individual counties are akin to states in a republic with the United Nations speaking on behalf of our planet. Colonies on Mars thrived forming one of the most powerful political entities, the MCR, the Martian Congressional Republic, wielding a large navy consisting of a broad array of different types of space ships. They have a military alliance with colonies based on the largest Jovian moons, Ganymede and Europa. Naturally, there is a substantial human presence on Luna, a relay station to the outer system. It is considered a protectorate under the authority of the United Nations and most importantly is the functional center of the Outer Planets Governing Board representing the various mining concerns populating the Asteroid Belt. Larry Niven had described this socio-political arrangement as well as the physical changes the new environments caused. Inhabitants of Luna tend to be tall and lanky while belters underwent social changes reflecting their rugged, individualistic nature. As in the stories created by Mr., Nevins, this represented with extremely distinctive hairstyles, tattoos, and clothing. The foster a rebellious resentment of the other factions that have brought the political climate close to exploding.
The underlying composition of the main story is a discovery made that would inevitably redefine the foundation of humanity’s reality. The discovery is a new type of weapon, one that alters the delicate paradigm that keeps the solar system in a state of relatively peaceful equilibrium. Called the ‘proto molecule,' was initially discovered on the frozen moon of Saturn, Phoebe. Discovered during a routine survey assessing the feasibility of ice mining. As a significant source of water which can be processed into two critical substances, oxygen, and hydrogen, a source of renewable energy. When a human being is infected, the effects are drastic eventually turning the victim into a stone statue with crystalline protuberances growing out of the body. The first major outbreak was on the Eros station where 500,000 were infected, sufficient to establish a hive mind. Frequently, in the case of television series and movies, a substantial portion of time and and many elements of the story, are, exceptionally familiar, this is a common occurrence or many forms, to establish a narrative formed from familiar components crafting the specific details unique to this tale through the masterful manipulation of the subtitles infused in every aspect of the series, creating a mesmerizing experience.
A major contributor to the success achieved in expertly avoiding the dreaded ‘sophomore slump’ by eschewing the common expectations. The most notable are avoiding the traditional network inclination to isolate successful aspect that initially appeals to the creation of fans and exaggerating them. Most of the plot devices established in season 1 were continued with only a modicum of enhancement. This is of note when considering the portion of production frequently used to gauge the effectiveness of a science fiction series, or movie, the special effects. The time used as a temporal setting for the story is roughly two centuries from now. This is a brilliant decision, one that was handled amazingly well. Most have personally witnessed the explosive growth in technology. From just within our life spans; Computers went from filling an entire floor of a building to fitting in our pockets, the advances show are realistic, representing a feasible extension of the extension of current devices without providing the literary cope out without reliance of Deus ex machina. It is this concept of believability that first bonds the audience to the series. Traveling a warp speed or having a replicator is incredibly imaginative plot devices, seductive in how they can pull you into a world of imagination. The possibilities infused throughout the story offers a foundation so close to our regular lives that it heightens the intensity of the constituent threads involving political intrigue, colonialism and the evils consistent with the ensuing caste system.
The Belters are a modern representation of the staunchly independent frontiersmen forging a new breed of humanity through risk, idealism, and determination. The main planets, Earth and Mars, became the new colonial powers turn a wonderful age of human discovery into a profit and power-driven establishment. What is most fascinating is the way we get to witness history repeating itself, demonstrating that despite great achievements in technology and understanding reality we, as a species, are doomed to repeat the cycle unless we can grow as a species. The extraterrestrial artifacts found definitive answer an ancient question; we are not alone in the infinite vastness of space. Our first reaction is to learn just enough of this technology to fashion a crude yet terribly deadly weapon. The background of this of Newtonian physics Newtonian physics. It requires considerable time to travel to points within our system; even messages are confined to the limitations of the speed of light requiring over eight minutes to transverse the short hop between the sun and the Earth. Again this brings delays in exacerbated issues that would be instantaneous on our planet. The juxtaposition between the restrictions of Newtonian physics and the technology just beyond our current abilities provides a unique and immensely fertile ground to examine humanity approaching the boundaries of our existence testing our reactions to examine our intrinsic reactions. The stressors have been updated, and locations moved out into space, but our psychological and emotional responses remain much the same. This is a series unlike most science fiction concerned with our first steps beyond our planetary nursery. It reminded so much of the novels and short stories that ignited my love of the genre, the inspired and venerable works of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. This is an example of science fiction at its purest and most thought-provoking best.