The Expanse (Amazon/Syfy)

This series uses a classic near-future sci/fi scenario, where Earth has colonized other worlds in the solar system.  The Mars colony has become independent, but Earth still operates (and oppresses) mining colonies in the asteroid belt.  As the story begins, a Belter ship answers a distress call from another ship outside the normal shipping lanes.  Things do not go well.

The series is part space detective story, part political thriller, and part speculative fiction about a Bladerunneresque society in the Belt.  One of the things I like about this program is that all this future technology, while advanced, doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. The Belter ship is held together, more or less, with the 22nd Century equivalent of duct tape — there’s even a rat onboard.  The special effects, particularly the spaceships, are surprisingly good, considering that it’s TV.  But the money spent on special effects was not at the expense of plot or character development.  There’s even a bit of humor — the detective who always wears a hat (even on a world with no outdoors), and a Mormon elder trying to bankroll a ship capable of interstellar travel — still looking for Planet Kolob, I guess.  Best of all, the show follows a conventional narrative structure — beginning, middle, and end.  There are some flashbacks, but you always know what time period you’re looking at.  Highly recommended.

Series 1 available on Amazon (free for Prime subscribers).  Series 2 currently running on SyFy, and available for purchase on Amazon.

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