'The Expanse' Author Knows Season 5 Release Date, Discusses Series End

The Expanse season 5 finished filming in February, but a premiere date for new episodes of the science-fiction series still has yet to be announced. While the show maintains its stable orbit, awaiting docking permission from streaming service Amazon Prime Video, the authors of The Expanse book series have teased a few possibilities regarding the future of both the TV show and the novels.

The Expanse TV series is based on a series of novels by James S.A. Corey, a composite pen name for co-authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. So far, the TV series has adapted approximately one novel per season, with the upcoming fifth season expected to follow the events of the fifth book, 2015's Nemesis Games. But in recent wide-ranging Twitter discussions and responses to fan questions, Corey has raised other potential forms for the series, in addition to revealing that a premiere date has been set for season 5.

expanse season 4 cast
"The Expanse" Season 4 cast members (left to right) Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, Cas Anvar and Steven Strait Amazon Prime Video

(While James S.A. Corey is a name for two writers, because Abraham has his own Twitter account, the Corey account is most often—possibly exclusively—written by Franck. However, we will continue to credit the composite author identity.)

While not stating or even hinting at when The Expanse season 5 episodes will premiere on Amazon Prime Video, Corey did reveal in the early hours of Thursday that the book's authors are aware of when the series is expected to return.

Yes. https://t.co/rQWqHQygjA

— James S.A. Corey (@JamesSACorey) July 30, 2020

This may bode well for an anticipated 2020 release date. The most recent season of The Expanse, based on events in the 2014 novel Cibola Burn, was released in December. Since primary production for season 5 was completed before the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, it's possible that the upcoming season will be able to hit the same premiere window this year. Of course, Corey isn't telling:

No. https://t.co/7J3ow5qB2u

— James S.A. Corey (@JamesSACorey) July 30, 2020

But while Corey isn't ready to share the release date for The Expanse season 5, he answered a number of questions about the future of the book series and how it may or may not relate to on-screen possibilities for the series.

While The Expanse series of novels have come out almost once a year since the 2011 release of Leviathan Wakes, Corey addressed the series' regularity and upcoming conclusion—a ninth and final novel expected to be released this year—in the context of long waits for other prominent works, from fantasy authors like George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss.

"That was a lot easier when writing Expanse books was our only job," Corey said in a tweet on Wednesday, in response to a reader complimenting the almost annual release schedule. "The last few years have added a lot of other stuff, and the process has slowed a bit. I can't imagine juggling novel writing and all the distractions a Martin or Rothfuss deals with."

Corey also reaffirmed that the ninth book will be a definitive end, while also leaving open the idea of the TV series continuing beyond the plot of the nine-book series.

"It is our intention to end the novel series at that point, and always has been," Corey said in a tweet. "What [production company] Alcon wants to do with the TV show is up to them."

Writers stand on each others shoulders, not by using their world outright, but with inspiration. The Expanse is fully standing on the shoulders of Alfred Bester and Ridley Scott and Joe Haldeman, but we used none of their IP. https://t.co/KE1cmiY65s

— James S.A. Corey (@JamesSACorey) July 30, 2020

Further clarifying in a subsequent tweet, Corey said there wouldn't be any spinoffs to the novel, but as for TV or movies: "Not my decision."

"I'm not contractually obligated to do anything," Corey wrote, regarding possible TV series or movies that could take The Expanse beyond the novels' conclusion. "But if there were future TV or Film projects that they wanted me to work on, I'd decide then if I liked the idea of the project enough to join."

Corey even specifically addressed one potential area where The Expanse TV series could go beyond the bounds of the novels, but be warned: discussing will involve one giant spoiler.

In between the sixth novel in the series, 2016's Babylon's Ashes, and the seventh, 2017's Persepolis Rising, 30 years pass. It's not yet certain how the TV series will address this gap, though Corey makes clear that he doesn't find those decades worth delving into for story material.

"We plot broke it and decided it would be boring to write so we didn't write it," Corey said in one tweet, adding in another that he would advise against the TV adaptation trying to fill in those decades: "I would warn them about the boringness."

Corey's reasoning has to do with the nature of prequels, which struggle to achieve any drama, narrative urgency or suspense, since readers and watchers already know which characters have to survive and the place they will be in by the end.

Everything in that gap is boring and the ending is rote because you know everyone has to be alive and in basically the same spot for the next books to happen. It means everything requires a big reset at the end. It's why I hate prequels. https://t.co/KUByke2rvc

— James S.A. Corey (@JamesSACorey) July 30, 2020

"It's a style of storytelling I generally dislike," Corey said. "I'd never want to write that type of show. Having said that, if Alcon wants that type of show they can make it."

While not revealing specific details about the future of The Expanse, in TV, books or movies, Corey's answer indicates a general approach to the material that suggests a decades-spanning story with a definitive end, rather than an endless series of episodic adventures.