I'm three books (and three short stories) into Corey's "The Expanse" series, and I've noticed an interesting trend.

When Corey describes the ethnicity and inherited culture of individual characters to depict a multicultural, multi-ethnic future, he focuses (sometimes in creepy detail) on their skin color and facial features. But while he's got a future full of people descended from Pacific Islanders, Asians, Africans, etc., hardly any individual is described with physical markers I'd consider "white."

I fully embrace an extremely diverse future, but I'm quite sure Corey's not imagining a future where humanity's simply blended out the extremes of physical diversity. I'm told this by his repeated emphasis that Naomi's multi-ethnic features are extremely unusual.

In the TV series based on the books both the main characters and a lot of the background folks are cast with white actors (even the guy with eight parents), but I don't see much indication that's specifically adhering to any sense the book provides for those characters.

Is Corey's future just a largely non-white one, or is something else going on? Am I anticipating a future revelation about the setting or is this just an uncommented bit of subtle worldbuilding?

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    Quick nip-in-the-bud note to all commenters/answerers to remember the Be Nice policy. I doubt this will really be an issue, but ethnicity can be a hot-button topic, so let's ward off any unpleasantness before it starts.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 7, 2017 at 23:24
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    TIL that "Corey" is in fact a writing duo, neither of whom are called Corey.
    – Valorum
    Mar 8, 2017 at 1:21
  • I think this question might not be editing. From chat, I gather that you're not just asking "why are there few white characters in this futuristic world" but for an in depth discussion of the language of racial demarcation and the political message of the books. But this question doesn't communicate that, hence why you've gotten answers that don't really address the questions you mean to ask.
    – user111
    Mar 8, 2017 at 7:56
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    @Hamlet I think that's the kind of answer which would best explain what I'm observing. I also think that asking for only that kind of answer would introduce an XY problem, because I could easily be wrong about the cause of what I'm seeing. The only answer thus far is poor not because it's not talking about what I think might be at the heart of the issue, but because it's not talking about anything at all: it's just parroting extra-textual statements of intent without addressing how they relate to the text itself.
    – BESW
    Mar 8, 2017 at 8:02
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    @BESW - The answer is not poor. It addresses pretty much everything you've asked in explicit detail; "Is Corey's future just a largely non-white one" - Yes. "is something else going on?" -No. "Is this just an uncommented bit of subtle worldbuilding?" - Yes. I've even highlighted where the authors have expressed that their world is one where racism has been replaced by planetism.
    – Valorum
    Mar 9, 2017 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


The very short answer is that in the future, racial difference have largely been sidelined and pale-skinned caucasians are a relative rarity due to racial intermingling. This question was addressed in a four-way interview between TheVerge.com, show co-producer Naren Shankar and authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (who write together as "James S. A. Corey").

He [Shankar] credits authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (who write together under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey) with the show's broad ethnic mix, because it's such a significant part of their books. "They always said, ‘The people who make it out into space, it's not just going to be Neil Armstrong, clean-cut, classically white Americans. It's going to be Indian, Chinese, Russian [people], a mix of everybody, every ethnicity. And that's just going to melt and mingle.' We really wanted to reflect that, and retain that in the show, because it does say something about humanity, and that movement out into space."


We're trying to really represent human beings, and to extrapolate, to the extent it's possible with this kind of drama, where humanity might go, how ethnicities might mix, how people might look."


The authors describe their racial blend as "aspirational." "Part of the mandate when you're writing a future is to write the kind of future you want to see," says Abraham. "Not that we're utopian, but the idea of a future where it's less mixed and interesting than my immediate day-to-day life would have been weird."

How SyFy's The Expanse cast its multiracial future

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    This answer would be a lot better if it included some thought about how the authors' claims match up with the text. eg, for a future that claims to extrapolate "how ethnicities might mix," it's weird that Naomi's multi-ethnic physical features get called out multiple times as unusual and so many characters are assigned just one contemporary-Earth ethnicity (like Bobby).
    – BESW
    Mar 8, 2017 at 1:43
  • @BESW Presumably Belters are more of a mix that the relatively homogeneous societies of Mars. (Interestingly, Bobbie is one of my favorite characters, but I always envision her as Tekla from SevenEves;)
    – DukeZhou
    Mar 9, 2017 at 17:33

Insofar as there is a main character in the Expanse series, it is Holden. Holden represents a sort of idealized, middle-American stock, where middle-American refers to the heartland. (Very similar to James Tiberias Kirk's Iowan roots.)

Miller also occupies a more central role than other characters, and I believe he is also Caucasian.

Holden's centrality, I believe, provides the core of the ethnic representation your are musing on. As I recall, it is usually he (and Miller) who are describing other characters. Thus, they may naturally be focusing on differences, and not feel the need for describing the ethnicity of their own stock.

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