Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Expanse #6.5

Strange Dogs

Rate this book

An action-packed novella from New York Times bestselling science fiction author James S. A. Corey, set in the world of his Hugo-nominated Expanse series - now a major TV series

Like many before them, Cara and her family ventured through the gates as scientists and researchers, driven to carve out a new life and uncover the endless possibilities of the unexplored alien worlds now within reach.

But soon the soldiers followed and under this new order Cara makes a discovery that will change everything.

80 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 18, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

James S.A. Corey

49 books20.1k followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,448 (32%)
4 stars
5,849 (43%)
3 stars
2,847 (21%)
2 stars
350 (2%)
1 star
48 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 905 reviews
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
405 reviews2,200 followers
July 18, 2017
Posted at Heradas Review

“There are things I didn’t see before... ...there are other things here.”

Holy shit. This changes things.

I love that we get these short stories and novellas between the main Expanse novels. If the novels are considered big, pulpy action movies with great characters, then the short stories and novellas in The Expanse are tightly focused character pieces, in smaller stories. But this, this is something special in addition to all that. It stands incredibly well on its own as a self contained story, but in the context of the larger narrative happening in this series, it’s extremely exciting as a taste of things to come. If this is the direction the series is heading, then sign me the hell up!

What always impresses me about The Expanse, is that these guys can seemingly write from any point of view, any perspective, and they completely nail it. They’ve demonstrated this over and over again: A pampered daughter of the richest businessman in the system out for revenge against what she perceives as a wrong orchestrated against her family? They nailed it. An ex Martian Navy pilot who abandoned his wife and turned renegade pilot in an effort to find his true self out among the stars? Yep, they nailed that too. A botanist growing soybeans on Ganymede? A priest presiding over a small congregation on Europa? A washed up detective living in a spun-up ceres station, looking for some sort of salvation? Nailed it with all of ‘em. They’re either extremely empathetic, extremely in tune with the human condition, or extremely creative – probably a combination of all three – because these characters are just too good

The narrative in Strange Dogs unfolds through the eyes of another entirely new, unique point of view: Cara, a 10 year old Earther girl living a life on Laconia, a science colony in a remote part of the milky way galaxy. She moved there with her scientist parents when she was very young, and their stay has been made indefinite due to calamitous events unfolding back in the Sol system, and an unexpected arrival of a military presence on Laconia. The things she discovers on Laconia have the weight to potentially change the entire direction this series is heading. Because of that I would say this is the first of the shorter Expanse fiction that may be absolutely essential to read. The others have been incredible, but this one feels like required reading; like a longer than usual prologue to a huge story to follow.

What I really enjoyed about Strange Dogs, is that this same story told instead from the perspective of either of her parents, or some other secondary character, might belong more comfortably in the horror genre. But, because we’re seeing events through the youthful eyes of Cara, there is instead a childlike wonder to it all. Her perspective also brings an ambiguity, and slightly unreliable narration to everything, which combines to set a tone of general unease in addition to that wonder.

December, or whenever Persepolis Rising comes out, cannot get here soon enough.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,971 followers
November 15, 2018
Life in the colonies meets a ghost story. Or rather, a Pet Sematary story. :) What better use for the strange alien techs can we devise?

All said, this short novella, perhaps novelette, paves the road for the strange, strange universe to come. :)

Not too bad. Slow because it *IS* a ghost story, but good for all that. :) Woof! Or, I should say, *chitter*
Profile Image for Justine.
1,133 reviews309 followers
July 20, 2021
Second Read-July 2021 *4.5 stars*
I liked this even better the second time through. A great story about colonization of an alien biome viewed through the eyes of an Earth-born child who has never known any other home.

First Read-March 2018 *4 stars*
An interesting story that I'm sure isn't necessary to the flow of the main series, but I really did enjoy it.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,263 reviews222 followers
August 13, 2017
The latest of the Expanse novellas which have mostly been good standalone stories while acting as useful backgrounders for upcoming novels.

The story is set on Laconia, the colony that the renegade Martian Admiral Duarte has established as his power-base with the Sol system in chaos (see Babylon's Ashes). For a protagonist we have Cara, the ten year-old daughter of scientist colonists that predate the coming of Duarte and his soldiers. The "stick-moons", orbital military platforms that appear to be based on alien technology, are just coming online. Down on Laconia itself there are some unexpected consequences that Cara has a terrifying ring-side seat for.

The story presents an interesting view of the colonization of an alien planet from the point-of-view of a child. It touches on the incompatibility of biomes and the issues of people being brought up with a different life experience from their parents, where a child comes from a place where "birds" are more lizard-like than feathered. But ultimately the whole story is basically and feels very derivative of that.

It does tease Persepolis Rising beautifully though. If the Persepolis of the title is Laconia (Persepolis was a capital of the Persian Empire and could be seen as an alternate hub of Western civilization), than a human social center with this sort of relationship to alien technology could be either fascinating or an unmitigated disaster that would make Eros look small.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,943 reviews3,404 followers
November 17, 2018
This was an independent short story in the The Expanse universe (which is to say that the characters are completely unknown to us).

We're on one of the planets the rings have opened up to and are following a family - the parents being two scientists. One of their children was born slightly before they came here, the other on the planet even. They were supposed to live on said planet for 5 years but then the events from book 6 happen and they are stranded.
Naturally, the flora and fauna are quite different from what they are used to on Earth and after what the Free Navy did, they are also cut off from supplies and replacement parts so their situation is critical.

The story started a bit like Jurassic Park, then reminded me of Annihilation what with the strange and eerie eco system and the subliminal sense of danger it causes, before it became similar to Pet Sematary. And all of it in space (sort of)! *lol*

The imagery of the planet and the small colony on it as well as the living conditions caused by the war in Sol (with the soldiers subsequently being sent to the planet) was very strong. The atmosphere in this world was almost oppressive but certainly very dark. Though I did like the bit with the girl in the wild and all the animals living on this strange planet best.

I think this is my favourite of the short stories so far and I kinda hope that the discovery here will become relevant in future novels of the series.
Profile Image for Ginger.
754 reviews373 followers
April 17, 2023
I loved this one! Strange Dogs might be one of my favorite short stories in The Expanse series.

Cara, our young protagonist has been living on Laconia for eight years. The alien world is vastly different then what Earth scientists and Mars soldiers expected.

Cara doesn't understand anything different in the solar system besides Laconia and the Earth books that her parents brought with them when they colonized the planet. Laconia is all she knows and she will make a discovery that will effect her, her family and the ecosystem as well.

Strange Dogs has great vibes and I think this is why I liked this one so much. Horror has always been my favorite genre! :D
Profile Image for Efka.
453 reviews253 followers
January 6, 2018
"Strange dogs", IMHO, is probably the best "Expanse" novella of them all. I really enjoyed great worldbuilding, pace and the story itself were really good, too. But what impressed me the most is the fact the "James Corey" managed to write a mid-series novella, which can be read as a stand-alone by anyone. It doesn't matter if you read every single one book or novella of the series, or you're a newcomer - the story will be perfectly clear and won't require reading anything else to understand what is going on.

A pity that this novella is so short and ends at the most interesting point.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,159 reviews104 followers
February 28, 2020
Excellent story that is pretty much a standalone, though ties into two minor characters in the main series. Intensely creepy with a strong Pet Sematary vibe. Not for the faint of heart!
Profile Image for Adam.
168 reviews37 followers
May 8, 2019
Review of the audiobook narrated by Jefferson Mays.

What a great novella! The best of the Expanse short fiction for sure. I didn't want it to end and was wondering why they didn't save this storyline for one of the main books (having since read Persepolis Rising, this book works as a great lead-in and introduction to Laconia).

Final verdict: 5 star story, 5 star narration, 5 stars overall
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
May 4, 2018

I liked where the story ended up because it opens a lot of possibilities for the main series but my god that was slow. I also did buy the parents reactions three different times.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,231 reviews169 followers
April 21, 2019
At the recommendation of friends, I picked this Expanse novella before diving properly into the latest novel of the series. As always, they were right.

This ‘ghost’ story is set on Laconia at the very beginning of its colonisation and follows a young girl. Cara’s narration is fascinating and, due to her age and perception, has an aspect of wonder that in the hand of an adult would have been horror. Brilliant!
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,655 reviews1,691 followers
January 7, 2018
I actually pre-ordered this and had it downloaded on release day, but never got around to reading it. Turns out there was no rush, it wasn't the best work I've read by these authors, but I did end up seeing the point of it by the end. I finally got around to it because I'm about to start book seven in this series (!) when I finish my current audiobook, and I wanted to have this read by then.

For almost all of this novella (it's around 80 pages, I think, but not sure because I read it on my phone), I was only low-level engaged. The protagonist is a little girl named Cara (had a hard time pinning her age down; she read younger than I think she was supposed to, but then she mentioned her period, and then also mentioned some dates that meant she couldn't be older than ten, so I was confused) who lives with her family on the planet Laconia. Laconia is one of the worlds settled by humans going through the ring gate, and it seems that some time has passed between the events of the last book and this one, since she mentions having been there for eight years (the last time we checked in with The Expanse, humans had only been colonizing these worlds for a couple of years, I think).

The main thrust of the plot is that Cara has spent her whole life on Laconia and knows it as home, while all the adults around her are still dealing with the trauma of losing the Earth and realizing they will never go home again. For most of the novella, we see Cara connecting with Laconia in ways the adults have not, exploring its beauty, getting to know its creatures, so that by the time you get to the end (after some horrific events) you realize that Cara is just one among a new brand of human, humans that no longer call Earth their home, and who will evolve in ways no one will be able to predict, especially when alien biology and technology starts getting involved, and humanity spreads out (expands, cough) farther and farther away from a centralized location.

Still, even though I can appreciate this novella now as a whole, I didn't until I got to the end, so definite points off for that.
Profile Image for Matt Wright.
66 reviews
July 21, 2017
Deeply unsatisfying.

By 50%, The authors had done a good job of world building and enough had happened to have me looking forward to the second half of the book.

What was the purpose of the "stick moons"?
Who created the dogs?
How was the proto molecule involved?

These questions and more - not answered.

One page later, the book came to an abrupt end and was bookended by a "preview chapter" for some other science fiction novel.

I've enjoyed the expanse novellas to date, but this one was utter shit.

Profile Image for Craig.
225 reviews25 followers
August 23, 2022
Arguably my favourite of the short story collection. Pet Sematary vibes in this one.
Profile Image for Tony.
402 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2023
This short piece reads like the engrossing prologue to a novel and is very different from prior Expanse novellas. Whereas the earlier works provide either back stories of known characters or extra details to established plot points, Strange Dogs introduces us to a world we have never previously seen. Based on this enticing opening act, I very much hope to see more of Laconia as the series continues.
Profile Image for William.
675 reviews324 followers
July 18, 2017
A great little novella, short but packed full of wonder and menace in an oh-so-normal new planet, Laconia. Parents are nervous about the takeover of the military from orbit, and times are changing.

Presented through the eyes of a child, the seemingly safe and familiar world shifts. A sequel or series would be nice based on this world.

Short but bitter-sweet.
Profile Image for Skylar Phelps.
237 reviews30 followers
November 24, 2017
How is it that I enjoy the novellas better than the actual series? Not really, but almost. This one was so good! The story was imaginative; I felt like anything could happen. I really enjoy children’s perspectives. I would say that this one is tied with The Vital Abyss for best Novella of the series so far. It was that good.
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews132 followers
May 16, 2019
A seriously creepy novella set on early Laconia. A good intro to Tiamat’s Wrath!
Profile Image for Tanabrus.
1,840 reviews160 followers
September 7, 2019
Tra i migliori dei racconti legati alla saga di The Expanse.
Alla fine del sesto libro della serie potevamo chiederci "cosa ci aspetterà adesso?", e con questa storia veniamo indirizzati verso la soluzione.

Siamo a Laconia, il pianeta che Duarte ha eletto come suo centro operativo e nuova "casa".
Un pianeta totalmente alieno, ma non mortale per l'uomo come era stato il primo dei pianeti "esterni" visto nella serie. Solo, enormemente diverso.
Colonizzato solo da una piccola quantità di personale scientifico, almeno fino all'arrivo dei soldati ribelli che hanno preso il potere in seguito a quanto accaduto nel sistema solare.

Quali problemi erano ancora da risolvere in questa serie?
Il nemico dei costruttori della protomolecola, e Duarte. Che se ne era fuggito con l'unico campione rimasto della protomolecola... ma per farci cosa?

Di sicuro, come scopriamo in questa storia che rasenta l'horror (tra animali che tornano in vita, persone che tornano in vita e inquietanti commenti su ciò che tali persone riescono ora a percepire), ha intenzione di sperimentare con la protomolecola, e di imbrigliarla al suo volere.
Per ora Duarte lo avevamo trovato solo sullo sfondo, venendo a sapere delle sue azioni senza conoscerlo realmente. Sembrerebbe anche lui, fondamentalmente, una persona spinta da buone intenzioni: nel caos apocalittico che l'uomo ha creato nel sistema solare non ha visto speranze, e ha deciso di ripartire altrove, anche con la forza se necessario.
Però, ecco, sperimentare con la protomolecola... potrebbe dargli in caso di successo un enorme vantaggio strategico, vero, e aprirgli innumerevoli strade. Ma il fallimento -che pure è altamente probabile vista la storia pregressa della protomolecola- significherebbe lo sterminio di tutta la sua gente.
Proprio non si vuole mai provare a imparare le lezioni del passato, eh?

Comunque questo racconto riesce perfettamente nel suo intento, che è quello di far venire l'acquolina in bocca al lettore, pregustando il settimo libro e ciò che vi si potrà trovare.
Profile Image for Dylan.
434 reviews87 followers
March 24, 2021
Protomolecule is back on the menu bois.

Reading this makes me wonder how much I missed out on by not reading the other novellas in the series. This sets up some seemingly big things for book 7 which will undoubtedly be a wild ride.
Profile Image for Lee.
351 reviews192 followers
October 3, 2018
Hmmm. Well yeah, that was............average. 2.5 stars at best. Not going to spend too much time reviewing this. Another pretty much tacked on short story modified to suit the world building of The Expanse.
Take Stephen Kings Pet Cemetery stick it on a planet with weird Fauna and Flora, have a character from the main Expanse series make a cameo to glue it together with the main series and call it a Novella.
The only upside of this story is if you enjoy the writing of the geniuses that James S A Corey are, then you have something to read whilst waiting for the next book.
Profile Image for Udy Kumra.
282 reviews42 followers
January 4, 2022
1/4/22: 4.5 stars. So maybe I was a bit seduced by this lmao. It's really good. But the first half definitely is just okay.

9/18/21: 5 stars. The first half was just okay. The second half blew my fucking mind. This story has gotta be some of the best stuff to ever come out of The Expanse.
Profile Image for Jim C.
1,509 reviews27 followers
August 25, 2018
This is a short story that takes place in this amazing series. One doesn't need to read the other books for this one but you would be making a huge mistake by not reading them because this series is amazing. In this one, we get a look at Laconia which is one of the new worlds that humans have access to. I don't believe this short story is vital to the overall arc but I hope it is foreshadowing where this series is going.

One of the aspects that I love about this series is that we get different books within a series. We could have horror, humor, sci-fi, or western frontier genres all within this series. It keeps things fresh. This short story continues that aspect as we get the exploration of a new world thru a child's eyes. All rules are basically thrown out the window when dealing with a new universe and this book relays that perfectly whether it is something basic like nourishment or whether it is science fiction. Readers will liken this to Pet Semetary and that is fair but in a foreign element. I don't mind a little Stephen King mixed in with science fiction.

I enjoyed this short story and the authors have created a wonderful universe that I love. The ending was a perfect cliffhanger that I am hoping to explore in the next book of this series.
Profile Image for David Holmes.
92 reviews9 followers
May 4, 2018
I like The Expanse a lot, but its short side-stories don't do much for me. I typically don't start to engage with a book until I start to empathize with its characters, and that tends to take me a while. 81 pages isn't really enough time. I tend to like short fiction when it starts with characters I already know, and failing that, it needs to make every word count. Strange Dogs missed both marks. I also struggle with fiction from a small child's point of view.

That said, it's pretty clearly setting the stage for something more, so it's worth reading. Now on to Persepolis Rising!
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,625 reviews239 followers
April 21, 2019
A goodreads friend mentioned that this story made a lot more sense after reading Tiamat‘s Wrath. So here I am. I think you should avoid reading this before Tiamat.

Set on Laconia. The ship building platforms have just come online. And something else...

I find it eerie, how human and mostly nice Winston Duarte comes across here and in Tiamat‘s Wrath. Other than him nobody of the main storyline makes an appearance. It‘s an unrelated story, except for the pink elephant in the room... Enjoyable. A little creepy. Strong Pet Sematary vibes.

Only two-thirds of this ebook are the actual story, the rest is previews and first chapters of two novels. That means Strange Dogs is maybe a little over 60 pages long.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 905 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.