Amazon is keeping The Expanse in orbit for a season longer, renewing the popular sci-fi drama for a sixth and final season. The news comes less than a month before the show returns for its fifth season on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

“From the moment we committed to bringing this show to life up until this final season, we have worked tirelessly to honor the vision of the writers,” Expanse executive producers Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson said in a statement. “We have prided ourselves on having one of the most diverse casts on television and giving a platform to stories that matter. A special thanks to Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the writers of both the books and series, and to Naren Shankar, the series showrunner and Executive Producer. It continues to be an honor and privilege to work with this team. We also would like to thank Amazon for their continuing support to help us tell this story in its fullest and to bring The Expanse to a global audience.”

Adds Shankar, “The dedication and artistry of everyone who helps bring The Expanse to the screen is incredible. Our fans are awesome, and we cannot wait to get rolling on Season Six!”

A high-action, realistic sci-fi adventure, The Expanse — which aired its first three seasons on Syfy, before being “saved” by Amazon — follows the crew of the Rocinante, an illegally salvaged warship that stumbled on a vast conspiracy and a mysterious alien technology that threatened to upend the balance of power and the fate of humanity.

According to the official synopsis, Season 5 picks up as multitudes of humans leave the solar system in search of new homes and vast fortunes on the Earth-like worlds beyond the alien Ring, and a heavy price for centuries of exploitation of the Belt finally comes due and a reckoning is at hand.

Hints of Cosmic trouble ahead for the crew

While most of the show’s cast will return for the final season, Cas Anvar — whose career skyrocketed with The Expanse – was the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation earlier this year and will not be back as Alex Kamal.

The Expanse is a series of science fiction novels, novellas, and short stories by James S. A. Corey, the joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The first novel, Leviathan Wakes, was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2012. The complete series was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Series in 2017 and won the award in 2020. There are currently 8 novels in The Expanse series, with a ninth scheduled for publication in 2021.

Steven Strait as Jim Holden
Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck

This raises a question from fans of the books and the TV series: Will the TV show include the recent books? For example, the 7th book, Persepolis Rising, begins a timeline decades in the future from the previous stories. Let’s look at what the filmmakers have done so far.

At first the show stayed fairly close to the books, with a few exceptions. For example, much of the action in the books takes place in zero-G. In the show they have artificial gravity. This was for budget reasons – zero-G can be expensive! But fun. It was a book a season 1-3.

The entire fourth book in The Expanse series, Cibola Burn, takes place on the planet Ilus. In the streaming series season 4, the story is similar to the book but mostly set on Mars and Earth. Showrunner Naren Shanka explained this was to connect season 4 to the characters of the previous season.

“So what we ended up doing is that Cibola Burn does form the spine of the show. Book 4 extends across season 4, but we created material that bridges book 4 into book 5. So there’s new material that deals with stuff that’s happening back on Mars, on Earth, in the solar system, in the Belt, that sets up things for the next season. And we incorporated Gods of Risk, which is the novella that’s set on Mars, into the narrative as well. So season 4 is all of Cibola Burn and a whole bunch of other things also.” said Shanka in 2019.

How about season 5? Last week the showrunner said: ” You know how it’s worked over the years. It’s like certain story lines get pulled forward, other stuff gets pushed back sometimes. Character elements get combined into other stuff. There’s definitely some elements of book 6 in this season, I would say, but it’s largely drawn from book 5.” And the theme? “The theme really is about the sins of the past.”

He hinted that some elements of book 7 will be in season 5. But how about Season 6? Will it include books 6, 7. 8, and 9? Well, it’s good to note that Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck are credited as screenwriters on individual episodes in all 5 seasons of The Expanse. More episodes than the team of Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby, who developed the show and wrote key episodes across 4 seasons. It’s reasonable to infer that the original authors will be involved in the writing of the final season.

My speculation is they will craft a natural end to the TV series based on their books. And omit events that would cost a fortune to produce! I wouldn’t be surprised if they flash forward to show the characters years ahead, and even a bit of book 9.

The Expanse Season 5 will premiere with its first three episodes on Amazon Prime Video on December 16. Following that, one new episode will premiere weekly through February 2021. The cast promised an “epic season finale” at NYCC in October.