I had the wonderful opportunity recently to sit down and chat with Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck at Denver Pop Culture Con (DPCC) about The Expanse and science fiction in general. I started the interview by asking them how was The Expanse brought to the small screen? Daniel said that Hollywood had shown interest in optioning The Expanse books for some time. However, Daniel and Ty had a concern that once the option for the series was signed, it would be out of their hands. When Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus (Children of Men, Iron Man) presented their plan, their manager recommended that they sign with them. Daniel and Ty both agree that listening to their manager’s recommendation has been very helpful to them.
Daniel explained that since Mark and Hawk were new to television as well, they did not realize allowing the authors of the source material in the writer’s room was unusual. Thankfully, having Ty and Daniel in the writer’s room has only made the series better.
Both Ty and Daniel realized that could not assume that because they are good novelists, that they would be good scriptwriters for television. Television is a totally different collaborative medium, unlike novel writing, which tends to be a solitary effort. However, even in writing novels, they are different. They explained that they each write a chapter which is then edited by the other. Because of this collaborative effort, there are times when they are not sure who wrote which chapter. However, scriptwriting for television is even more collaborative.
Ty and Daniel went into detail about the scriptwriting process for television. They explained that while a writer might be assigned to write a specific episode, the entire writer’s room is tasked with coming up with the script ideas. The writer’s room maps out the entire season first. Episodes might be assigned to specific writers, who then write the outline of the episode. The episode outline then is discussed by the entire writer’s room, which provides input before the final script is written. During filming, the writer of the script travels to the set to work with the director and actors on the episode. On the set, some scenes are rewritten on the spot, if necessary, as the director, actors, and crew make television magic. As an example, this happened with episode 205, “Home.” Thomas Jane wanted to change his final moments with Protomolecule Julie. Their final changes helped to make “Home” one of the greatest episodes in episodic television.
Ty and Daniel also discussed other science fiction series such as Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. They questioned the whole idea of psychohistory’s predictive powers. Daniel stated that the science in science fiction novels can become outdated as science progresses. For example, the spacecraft Dawn proved that there is lots of water on Ceres, contrary to what Ty and Daniel wrote in the novels and what the fans see on the television series. Other changes can occur as well. For example, Avasarala was initially envisioned as a man based on Rahm Emmanuel, and Prax was initially envisioned as a woman. However, the authors decided to make Avasarala a foul-mouthed granny and Prax a man. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Fans may be expecting the Season 4 premiere date to be close since the principal photography was finished months ago. However, Ty and Daniel stated that the post-production process is both complicated and time-consuming. From what they said, I would be very surprised if the Season 4 premiere happens before August but Amazon is still currently promising a 2019 premiere for Season 4.
To add to possible speculation, there are news reports that hint at a large Amazon presence at San Diego Comic-Con. They are planning a large offsite presence such as what they did with Jack Ryan last year. I would not be surprised if Amazon announces the Season 4 premiere date during San Diego Comic-Con. For all the true nerds and geeks out there, you know that the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Landing and the 50th Anniversary of San Diego Comic-Con coincide! The stars would truly align in the Nerd Universe if Amazon announced the Season 4 premiere date on July 20! Finally, we discussed the new novellas, novel, and the possibility of more comic books and graphic novels.
Daniel and Ty confirmed that there will be two new novellas as well as the final novel in The Expanse saga. They did not provide publication dates for the new novel or novellas. However, when pressed on the publication dates, they responded that they sincerely hoped to publish the final novel in 2020 but they could make no promises. While the last novel and the two novellas would be their final work in The Expanse universe, James S.A. Corey has a contract for three more books. There was bad news though: at this time, there are no plans for more comic books or graphic novels in The Expanse universe (no Avasarala or Bobbie comic), but fans can still hope. To offset this bad news, there was good news. There are plans to put all of the novellas in a single hardcover volume after the publication of the last two novellas.
Fans can expect Season 4 on Amazon Prime this year, and possibly the final novel and novellas next year. But what the Screaming Firehawks (über fans of The Expanse) really want is for Amazon to announce that they are committed to finishing the entire Expanse saga on television. Hopefully, the stars in the nerd universe will align and Amazon will announce the premiere date for Season 4, along with a commitment for the entire saga, at San Diego Comic-Con on July 20, 2019.