SF as Social Commentary: The Expanse

Currently in North America one of the highest profile television shows, The Expanse, does not shy away from reflecting current events.

Although not as obvious or direct as Star Trek in tackling issues, The Expanse feels very current and relevant and making comment about current political and social events without actually having specific parallels. How much of that is intentional?

According to Daniel Abraham, one half of the writing duo “James S. A. Corey”, the author of The Expanse novels and executive producer of the television show, it’s not nearly as deliberate as it may seem.

“So the thing that I think gets missed in this conversation is lag time,” Abraham says. “So much of what we wrote about in the books, and hence the show, we wrote years ago. We do have some things that feel very current, but it seems to me that that’s equal parts being alive in the time we are now and having that access to the zeitgeist that we all share and reading enough history to draw from situations — refugee crises, social and economic inequality, multivalent political struggles — that are kind of evergreen.”

“What we focus on in the show is trying to keep to the spirit of the books with the new toolbox of film. There’s no conversation about trying to make any of it topical. That some of it is speaks more to the zeitgeist than to any intentionality on our part.”

Yet at the same time, merely by using the trappings of science fiction, by donning its clothes, so to speak, a story becomes easily more able to talk about relevant and current issues than any other genre. In fact, one has to work fairly hard to write any kind of science fiction that doesn’t make at least a passing comment about the world around us.


There is so much more to this topic and Jack Mackenzie’s article in the second issue of Dark Worlds Quarterly goes much further in depth. You can read the entire article and more in the latest issue of DARK WORLDS QUARTERLY. Download issue # 2 for FREE right here, or click on the download button below!

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