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Expendable (League of Peoples #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,140 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Under the benevolent leadership of the League of Peoples, there is no war, little crime, and life is sacred...unless you're an Explorer. The ugly, the flawed, the misfit, the deformed, they are the unwanted, flung to the farthest corners of the galaxy to investigate hostile planets and strange, vicious creatures. Out there, there are a thousand different -- and terrible -- ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Eos (first published 1997)
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Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonRevelation Space by Alastair ReynoldsOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Excellent Space Opera
69th out of 286 books — 1,536 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsDivergent by Veronica RothThe Host by Stephenie MeyerThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodUglies by Scott Westerfeld
Best Science Fiction With a Female Protagonist
108th out of 644 books — 1,705 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,291)
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Dirk Grobbelaar
Interesting concept here: the novel is divided in a myriad of little sequences, each with a heading of its own. At times it seems a bit disjointed, but it quickly becomes apparent that everything here is connected, and that the information being shared isn’t so much an info-dump as a platform for events that follow later in the novel.

Was it to my taste? Not always, to be honest. Reading a novel in tidbit sized portions strikes me as a bit odd, although it does make for pretty quick reading. Plot
...more
uh8myzen
Every now and then I read a novel that I enjoy for whatever reason, and then find that it just kinda sticks in the back of my mind and won't go away. Sure, there's stuff wrong with the novel and its by no means perfect, but its an interesting and creative novel.

For me, Festina and Oar are what make the novel memorable. I found their personalities, their personal histories and the trajectory of their relationship to be extremely compelling. The lifelong injustice suffered by Festina and those lik
...more
David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party"
Wow...it's rare that I find myself simultaneously loving and hating a book as I read it. The overall plot of "Expendable" is compelling. In the future, people who have disfigurements or even are just unattractive are considered "expendable" and sent off on suicide missions to explore unknown and dangerous worlds. Gardner makes a powerful critique about how society places far too much importance on physical appearance, and through brilliant characterization, he also shows us how disfigured heroin ...more
Tracy
The premise of this novel is that people who are disfigured or even just unattractive are less likely to be mourned when they are lost during planetary exploration. This elite group of people are the Explorer Corps otherwise known as the expendables (none of them is Sylvester Stallone). While parts of this novel did drag a bit I found the main character Festina Ramos to be a wonderful character, she is smart and capable and totally asskicking. I also loved Oar, the glass woman Festina finds whil ...more
Natalie
Explorer First Class, Festina Ramos has got something going on!

Loved it so much that I helped Santa acquire the next handful of books in the series from BWB and then selected in-store pickup and made the drive just so I wouldn't finish Expendable without having the next installment of the series patiently waiting at my bedside.



Eli Maffei
Brilliant. I loved it. James Alan Gardner has excellent prose, the characters are fun and well written and we have a female protagonist that is valuable, capable, and doesn't need a man to support her identity. The universe is interesting and there is a lot of humor mixed in. Read this series!
Cissa
I have been reading a lot for 45+ years now, and so seldom come across a really unique novel or voice.

This is one of them.

The plot- while logical in retrospect- kept me guessing; it didn't follow the usual tropes. The characterization was nicely done. The world/universe was coherent and explained, but still holds some mystery. Given all this, I found it to be a page-turner; I could NOT predict what would happen next!

This is one of th4e best novels I've read recently.
Bruce
The first 100 or so pages of this novel are very compelling with a dry biting sense of humour. It's really all about one gag, the expendable crew member. Worth 4 stars, this part.

But the rest of this novel is a serviceable but not by any means transcendent tale set in a kind of silly universe. It's hard to describe exactly what I didn't like about this.

I want to say that it's young-adultish but there are mature themes, or at least the bad behaviour of mature adults here. Maybe it's the way the
...more
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Expendable by James Alan Gardner was one of the few books I had not read on a list I found of best Science Fiction Novels. The book is out of print but I found it at my public library. Expendable is the first published novel by James Alan Gardner and introduces the Universe where only sentient races (those who do not kill other races) are allowed in the League of Peoples. Humans in the Technocracy are part of the League and some of the action in Expendable is influenced by League rules.

Humans ar
...more
Alice Dark
Festina Ramos is one of my favorite characters, and in this series of books Gardner weaves a tale both believable and entertaining.

The book is set in the future, and Expendables are humans that are not plastic-perfect cutouts of humanity. They have flaws - visible, physical or audible - that supposedly set them apart from the rest of civilization. As such, they are expendable, and are used as human fodder when it comes to visiting new planets.

I love this series. I've read it numerous times.
Amanda
I really felt this book was a lot of fun, and was genuinely enjoying the experience...until the scene changes about halfway through the book. I kept slogging, thinking that possibly it'd pick back up, until I realized I was page flipping about eighty pages from the end. Blargh. Not worth continuing with if I'm going to be doing that. :/
Tamahome
Jun 24, 2012 Tamahome marked it as to-read
Redshirts?
Lis Carey
Some five hundred years in the future, humans are part of the League of Peoples, and exploring space in ftl ships. The Admiralty discovered some while back that the deaths of Explorers during planetary explorations caused an unacceptable amount of damage to ship morale, and found a way to avoid the problem. Now, all Explorer Corps members are to varying degrees deformed--not drastically, not enough that their effectiveness is impaired, but enough so that other crew members will view them as impe ...more
Sean Randall
Feb 04, 2011 Sean Randall rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sean by: Kim
I didn't know what to make of this series by a book synopsis. had assumed, rightly so as it turns out, that the first LoP title would have a female lead. In gravity Wells (one of Gardner's short story collections containing two LoP stories), he writes:
"People ask why I use female narrators so much. My answer is (a) I don't use them any more often than I use
male narrators, and (b) why shouldn't I use female narrators, provided I'm not a jerk about it? To be
sure, men often do lousy jobs of portray
...more
Amanda
I was intrigued by the concept of this book, but two things kept me from being able to like it. 1) mediocre writing, but mostly 2) a deep seated hypocrisy. The premise of the book held good potential, and the first few chapters were entertaining, but it quickly settled into a bland monotony, the morals were heavy handed, and the characters never managed to engage me. The revelation on the alien planet was rather anticlimactic, and the "natives" were neither alien enough to be interesting nor rel ...more
Thomas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M. J.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jayna
The Explorer Corps investigates new worlds, makes first contact with new species, and otherwise faces all the dangers of exploring new planets, and is made up of people who have some deformity or defect that is noticeable to everyone around them. This is based on the theory that because early death is so rare due to futuristic medicine and incredibly low violent crime rates that it is devastating to the morale, and productivity, of those who remain, yet the death of someone who is ‘ugly’ or diff ...more
Tim Martin
_Expendable_ by James Alan Gardner has an unusual premise. In the twenty-fifth century life is fantastic, people just about live forever thanks to YouthBoost and with advanced medical technology and quick responses, just about no one ever dies (at least violently).

Except for members of the Explorer Corps.

In a perfect world of perfect people, some just don't fit. They have some deformity, maybe a malformed hand or arm, a bizarre and startling facial birthmark, some sort of birth defect involving
...more
Derek Newman-Stille
In James Alan Gardner’s Expendable, he presents a future in which the admiralty has decided that the only people that should be allowed onto planets on dangerous missions are those who society “won’t miss”. In a society that is hyper-focussed on beauty, the admiralty discovered that people are less inclined to miss those that don’t fit into the social norms of aesthetics for the human body. Even though medical technology has been created that can ‘heal’ any disability and modify any appearance t ...more
Kristen
I found this book at a used-goods store about fourteen years ago. I originally bought it as a joke to give to my friend (we called ourselves 'the expendables' for silly high-school reasons), with no intention of reading it. Turns out, it is one of my favorite books of all time, and the dog-eared, used copy rests safely amongst my 'special collection'.
George
This book was OK. Not great, but enjoyable. There was basically no science to speak of. It was a science fiction book only in the sense that it dealt with space flight and extra terrestrial exploration, but the explanations about how interstellar travel (or even the more basic futuristic technologies) worked were severely lacking. One of the things that irked me was that the story was set 400 years into the future yet a lot of the core technology seemed to be very similar to today's tech (copper ...more
Teresa
This novel is a re-read for me. I remember enjoying it in the past and thought I would pick it up again. I really like the idea upon which the novel is built: some disfigurements are not corrected because it hurts ship moral less when "weirdos" are lost in scouting missions.

I liked the character Festina, even if her name is weird. I remain unsure if I think the novel should have jumped directly to the "marooned on a hospitable, but ultimately extremely dangerous to a 'chosen' few" plot. I think
...more
Corvidae
Well-balanced story, 100% engaging. Good characters, a unique world, exciting plot, and just the right amount of sardonic humor and social commentary. I picked this up on a whim from a used book store and burned through it in a day and a half. I am now going on to read more of Gardner's work.

What really struck me, though, is that not only does this story have one of the best female scifi protagonists I've ever seen written by a man, it has one of the best female scifi protagonists Ive ever seen
...more
Neha
I really enjoyed this book because it had a very interesting plot line. The main character, who is considered to be an unattractive female, finds herself on a foreign planet where she meets a beautiful woman made of glass. Her trek through this planet becomes quite an eventful journey for her with unexpected revelations. Overall, the story was well-written and keeps the reader's attention with beautiful details of the surroundings. The plot is also very intriguing at times, sometimes making the ...more
Caroline
A fun exploration of social psychology and military norms, with some plot thrown in for fun. I wouldn't read this for the plot--it's kind of nonsensical even within its own confines--but the main character's voice is consistent and interesting. She has a practicality that is very uncommon in fiction, the kind of practicality that limits absurd situations, unless you've created an absurd world. That's what Gardner's done: caricature. The world is very much exaggerated aspects of existing norms, p ...more
Joey Geraci
This was a really good book. I'm so tickled pink I've found another new series to tide me over for awhile.
Joanna
It's like The Federation's dark cousin.
Adrea
What a clever book. It is the story of a woman who, due to her disability, is made a member of "Expendable" Space Explorers. You can read all about it on an Amazon review. What I liked about the book was its uniqueness, the fact that it’s main character is bi-sexual, and all the cool futuristic gadgets explorers in space get to use! It kept my interest from beginning to end. Of the three books I was reading at the time, this was always my “go-to” book to when I wanted to forget about my day.
Mike
On the cover another author is quoted describing this novel as "RIVETING...A BRILLIANT NEW VOICE". Unfortunately I didn't find either to be the case.

The book was okay, I don't think the author has hit his (her?) stride yet, the themes that could have made the book much better weren't explored well or fully. The author might be female writing under a male pseudonym, the heroic characters were female, and the males were mostly disappointing. I won't be reading anything else by this author.
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Raised in Simcoe and Bradford, Ontario, James Alan Gardner earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Applied Mathematics from the University of Waterloo.

A graduate of the Clarion West Fiction Writers Workshop, Gardner has published science fiction short stories in a range of periodicals, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Amazing Stories. In 1989, his short story "Children o
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More about James Alan Gardner...

Other Books in the Series

League of Peoples (7 books)
  • Commitment Hour
  • Vigilant (Expendables, #2)
  • Hunted (Expendables, #3)
  • Ascending (Expendables, # 4)
  • Trapped
  • Radiant (Expendables #5)
Vigilant (Expendables, #2) Hunted (Expendables, #3) Ascending (Expendables, # 4) Radiant (Expendables #5) Trapped

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“Sometimes all the procedures in the world can't protect you . . . but that's no reason to walk up to something that looks like a lion and kick it in the ass.” 4 likes
“Given time, a ship's crew will attach sexual innuendo to anything. It makes their jobs more exciting.” 2 likes
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