Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Quick Review Of The Expanse TV Series Episode One & Some Old School Science Fiction Campaign Thoughts

I have to say that the Expanse was surprisingly good and offered a look into a nicely done solar system colony show that actually had a few surprises in store for this jaded sci fi fan. The show has been on my radar for over a week or two solid and tonight I got a chance to really dive into the show.

According to Wiki; The Expanse is an American space opera / mystery science fiction drama television series on Syfy, based on the series of novels by James S. A. Corey. Set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, it follows police detective Miller (Thomas Jane), ship's officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait), and his crew as they unravel a conspiracy that threatens peace across the System and the survival of humanity.
The acting wasn't bad at all, the set up for the television premiere has been playing on Youtube for a week or so. The thing I really liked was the limits on the science fiction technological aspects of the show.

The action was pretty well done and the show didn't talk down to its audience at all, the plot is sort of like the old TSR Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century rpg minus the funky gene spliced colony races. Instead we get a four way cold war between the Belters, an independent Mars, A UN controlled Earth, and a wide inter system conspiracy.
The break down of the plot isn't bad from Wiki and paints the series in a series of quick swaths but gets the job done;"Two hundred years in the future, in a fully colonized Solar System, police detective Miller, born in the asteroid belt, is given the assignment to find a missing young woman, Julie Mao. Joining his task is James Holden, formerly first officer of an ice freighter who is involved in an incident caused by the tense relationship between Earth, Mars and the Belt. Far from their struggles in space, Chrisjen Avasarala, a United Nations executive, works to prevent war between Earth and Mars. Soon the three find out that the missing woman is connected to a vast conspiracy that threatens all humanity."   Tonight's premiere basically gives the set up for the rest of the series plus some bits & pieces to the back drop of the internal relations between the various factions in the show.

In many respects this show reminded me of Babylon Five or the newer Battle Star Galactica but not as grim. The show wasn't afraid to chew on its own science fiction roots while nodding to some of the newer science fiction bits of more recent shows. Can I see rooting around and using this show as fodder for a science fiction table top rpg campaign? You bet I can! In fact I can totally see this show being used as fodder for a Stars Without Number style game. The science fiction is built for exactly the sort of a game either Stars Without Numbers was made for or even Star Frontiers. The ships are wonderfully put together, the characters are evocative of just this sort of a gaming campaign. Many of the space crafts, situations, and characters look like they walked right off the set of central casting from just these types of games. The incursion of magnetic boots, lack of gravity and other little touches were very nice to see. This type of campaign reminded me of X plorers and Hulks & Horrors. Both retro clone engines could easily handle the details of an Expanse style of old school campaign.

Tonight's show made a nice contrast to the full blow Star Wars hoopla that's been going non stop for three solid weeks non stop. I'm a star wars fanatic and even I'm getting a bit overwhelmed lately. So The Expanse gave my brain a much needed space boast in a completely different direction. I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the Expanse tonight with friends!

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