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(League of Peoples #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,833 ratings  ·  143 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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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,833 ratings  ·  143 reviews

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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
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
David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party'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
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
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Eli Maffei
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Baal Of
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popcorn
I think I read this book a long time ago, and I had a vague memory of not liking it, but with this theoretical re-read, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I actually enjoyed the way it is chopped up into very small chapters, which made it feel like it went really fast. The backdrop world, or should that be galaxy, of the League Of Peoples provides an excellent canvas for the story. Even though the ultimate danger of the planet was a bit anti-climactic, I somehow still enjoyed the overall arc of the n ...more
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Always do the next necessary thing.”

Excellent! Not quite a space opera, but still popcorn for the brain. A tightly-focused adventure by a flawed explorer corps operative unto a planet of no return. She’s slightly flawed physically, but her brain and emotions are fully functional. And she doesn’t like how this is going down.

“I was a child who never believed in fairies, but still told herself fairy tales.”

First published in 1997, this tale holds up better than much twenty-year-old science fiction
Tim Martin
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
_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
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Joey Woolfardis
Dec 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
I actually debated with myself for a long while as to whether I'd read the rest of this book. I'm not sure what drew me in to read it, because I found the characters to be 2D and conceited and, whilst I quite enjoyed the concept of people who look abnormal to be thought of as "expendable" people whose deaths don't cause low moral and can be sent off to explore unknown and most probably dangerous planets, I found the way the author wrote about it extremely tiresome. I only found detestation and I ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.

This is humorous and fun.
Solid world-building with a very relatable premise.
I only wish the author had included more than physical looks in his handling of ostracism. Class, race and gender are all major players in how physical attraction is viewed and I wish he had included an acknowledgement of that.
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was ok
Expendable by James Alan Gardner is the first book in the League of Peoples series. This book has received a great many positive reviews as well as a great many negative reviews. I am afraid my review is going to be negative. The book is divided into many little segments, each with a heading of its own. Reading it in such short segments was just not enjoyable for me. While all the short segments do eventually tie together by the time they do I had lost much of my interest. It was a struggle for ...more
Carolyn F.
This was really a great book. The cover doesn't do it justice. You felt sorry for and were proud of the Explorers at the same time. A little sad ending. I'm crossing my fingers for a future good surprise. I'm planning on reading the rest of the series. ...more
Taylor Fama
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book, super engaging, and easy to read. The world and characters were very interesting. My understanding of the world as a reader was good enough so that I wasn’t completely lost to the progression of events but I was still excited and surprised by the way everything played out.
Alex Sramek
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Absolutely brilliant first 100 pages, fantastic concept, I laughed, I cried. Then it falls into the predictable, drawn-out, convenient plot resolution that defines so much mediocre sci fi.

Would make a fabulous short story if it was half as long. Seriously one of the best expositions and some of the most interesting characters I've come across. Then it fizzles out. Read it to delight in the first few chapters.
Jun 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Alice Dark
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
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. ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, gave-up, 1990s
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. :/ ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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'. ...more
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while I go back and read this book again. I am a sci fi geek, so this book is a lot of fun for me. It's packed full of cool aliens, adventure, interesting technology, etc. Oh and the plot is good too. :) ...more
Christina Crooks
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The character's voice in Expendable makes this book a treasure. James Alan Gardner invented a world where birthmarks have military value, and then engaged a rootable, "Expendable" heroine in the middle of an imaginative adventure that has one of the more satisfying climaxes I've ever read. ...more
Shawn Healey
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that made James Alan Gardner my favorite author. Rich characters, a fun universe, and engaging writing all combined for the perfect level of Shawn Happiness.

It's total popcorn . . . but it's ORGANIC popcorn, so you think you're doing your body good!
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: already-read
Sci-Fi with Bad Ass heroines fighting for survival to thwart a shady corporation. This represents the most fun Ive had reading a "book". Everything just leaps off the pages and wait till you meet Oar. And the best part of it all? It has a grand message to tell. LOVED IT!! ...more
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes Sci- Fi
Great female lead in a sci-fi story written by a man. Realistic thought process & emotion. A really well-balanced story, engaging. Good characters, exciting plot, and sardonic humor and social commentary.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read in a long while. I recommend it to all of my friends, even if they're not into the whole science fiction/fantasy genre. This is a very well written book, and it's easy to get lost in it. If I could give this book a higher rating, I would. ...more
Guy Lupo
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This will be the 4th time I read expandable , and each time is a joy !
The writer style is light and fun to read , the ideas coupled with that cynical humour is great and flows with a bit of a twitch as you go along the journey .
Overall : recommended .
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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

Other books in the series

League of Peoples (7 books)
  • Commitment Hour
  • Vigilant
  • Hunted (League of Peoples, #4)
  • Ascending (League of Peoples, #5)
  • Trapped (League of Peoples, #6)
  • Radiant (League of Peoples, #7)

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