I'm reading the beautiful The Expanse series, and I'm currently on book 3, Abaddon's Gate. I am reading the Italian editions (I don't have any problem about reading in English, but it's my main language and the Italian publisher set a huge discount on all of its catalogue, so I grabbed all of them)

I noticed that besides the regular series of novels, there are also some short stories and novellas set in this universe. These short works were not (yet?) translated, so at the moment only the English editions are available to me.

I'm curious if these complementary works are a mandatory read, meaning if they contain details that are necessary to fully understand what happens in the main books, or if they provide just some background and could be considered only accessory material, that can be read anytime.

Since I've already started this series in Italian, I'd like to keep reading in this language, for the sake of consistency. But I need to know if their content is too much important to skip it and read them later, in this case I could also consider the English option.

  • Don't forget to read The Martian and its short story, since those are essentially prequels :D Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 19:23
  • Already read The Martian, one of the best books that I read lately; I never knew about a related short story though... could you enlighten me?
    – Sekhemty
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 19:25
  • 2
    Diary of an AssCan, the <1000 words promotional short story. Nothing much, really. When I said prequel, I was referring to this, by the way. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 19:28
  • "The Churn" does some interesting character development, but I wouldn't describe it as essential. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


I'm reading the short stories and main books in publication order. I guess opinions can vary here, but I would say they are not necessary to follow the main plot.

I'm even with you on progress through the main books (just finished Abaddon's Gate last week) but I'm also reading the short stories as I go. Since I haven't finished the main series, I can only say that they haven't been mandatory to follow the plot through book 3. It's possible the later books will touch on some of the side stories more directly.

Edit to add more info now that I'm further in the series...

I'm not sure if you've started Cibola Burn yet, but I have a good example of how the short stories seem to be tied to the main series. In chapter 4 (the first Holden chapter) there's this line...

"Names matter, boss," Amos said after a moment, a strange look on his big face. "Names change everything."

If you read The Churn, you'll understand what Amos meant. I still don't think they're critical, but that's a line you wouldn't understand without them.

  • 2
    I agree. They're optional. They give you more detail about the background, and some of the main characters, but nothing that's essential to the main arc. Having said that, The Churn is perhaps more important than the others, and if you're only going to read one then it should be that one.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 17:40
  • I'm starting chapter 4 of Cibola Burn exactly in this moment... :)
    – Sekhemty
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 21:36

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