Ty Franck
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Ty Franck

Science fiction writer Ty Franck is best known as the co-author of the series The Expanse, but he’s also a key member of the Wild Cards universe. He was in a writing group with Wild Cards co-creator Melinda Snodgrass, who knew that George R. R. Martin needed an assistant. She mentioned to George that he should hire Ty, and they started working together—Ty helping out with clerical stuff and even building George a new computer to work on, George helping Ty out with the business side of writing as The Expanse grew bigger. 

Franck has also written for the Wild Cards universe, in Wild Cards XXI: Fort Freak. He created the characters Baba Yaga, Horrorshow, and Tinkerbill, and he has conducted author Q&As for WildcardsWorld.com.

The Origins of The Expanse

Under the pen name James S. A. Corey, Franck and Daniel Abraham have earned many accolades for The Expanse, the best-selling series of science fiction novels and stories that’s now a popular show on Amazon.

Franck first started getting into science fiction when he was around ten years old. His aunt had bought him a collection of sci-fi books from a garage sale that included Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination. It was Franck’s favorite, and he reread it often. 

Bester became a major influence on Franck’s work. In an interview with Lightspeed Magazine, Franck said that the setting of The Stars My Destination helped form the framework for the role-playing game that would eventually become the space adventure series The Expanse
I just became obsessed with the idea of this fully populated solar system, which is the setting of that book—with people living on Mars, with people living on the moon, people living on the various moons of the outer planets. That just stuck in my head and stayed in there for decades, and so when I was coming up with a setting for gaming, that’s the thing that bubbled up.

James SA Corey Meet Each Other

A couple of decades ago, Franck was developing an MMO role-playing game that never ended up coming together because the people who commissioned it ran out of resources before it could be produced. Not wanting all that world building to go to waste, Franck turned it into a pen-and-paper RPG instead. 

Franck had moved to New Mexico from Portland, Oregon, and was in a regular gaming group with George R. R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, Ian Tregillis, and Daniel Abraham. One day, Franck asked Abraham to play the RPG he’d created. The way the two authors tell it, Franck had amassed so many details about the universe of the game that he kept them in a giant three-ring binder full of notes. “When he [Abraham] found out that those were the notes about the solar system they were gaming in, that’s when he decided to ask me if I would write the book with him because he hates worldbuilding, and I had a giant three-ring binder filled with worldbuilding that we could use,” Franck told Lightspeed.

Franck and Abraham soon got to work writing the first book in the Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes, which follows the crew of a ship called the Rocinante. Because, as Franck says, “games are terrible books,” the material he had developed for the role-playing game had to undergo a lot of changes. But the game’s concept, and the world in which the game took place, remained pretty similar. The series is set two centuries in the future and centers on the three existing factions in the universe—Earth, Mars, and the outer planets—and the escalating tensions between them.

Orbit Books published Leviathan Wakes in 2011; the following year, it won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. The sequel, Caliban’s War, was published in 2012, followed by a third book, Abaddon’s Gate, in 2013. The fourth novel in the series, Cibola Burn, was released in 2014.

The Expanse: The TV Series

Also in 2014, The Expanse was picked up for television by Syfy, with Iron Man writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby attached to the project. Syfy did not renew the series after three seasons, but it had become massively popular and had a huge fandom, so much so that thousands of fans petitioned Amazon and Netflix to renew it, using the hashtag #SaveTheExpanse. Amazon picked up the fourth season in 2018. 

Seasons three and four both have 100% fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Calling it “as stunning and complex as before” on Salon.com, Melanie McFarland wrote, “‘The Expanse’ is a fading breed of science fiction TV series, a sweeping operatic saga that takes its realism seriously while filtering universal themes about the human condition and mankind’s higher and baser traits into a fascinating speculative tale.”

The fifth season of the show will focus on the events of the fifth novel in the series, Nemesis Games. Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck are currently at work on the series’ ninth novel. 

Honor Among Thieves

Around the same time that The Expanse was picked up for television, Abraham and Franck were asked to write Honor Among Thieves, a novel in the Star Wars Legends series. The events in Honor Among Thieves, which was published by Del Rey in 2014, take place before those of Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back. Honor Among Thieves was the last novel in the Star Wars Legends series to be released before the series was removed from the official Star Wars canon.

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