I have to call it quits on the ‘Expeditionary Force’ book series

I was a big fan of the science fiction Expeditionary Force book series written by Craig Alanson. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the point where I have to call it quits on the series.

I began reading the series shortly after the first book was available on Kindle. With nearly every book after that, I listened to it through Audible.

Before the eighth book in the series, Armageddon, came out on August 8, and I pre-purchased the Kindle version. The Audible version will not be available until sometime later next month. I didn’t want to wait for the Audible version. 

As soon as I began reading it, I felt lost. Things were going on that made no sense to me. It was as though I had missed a book in the series. The thing is, I hadn’t. I listened to the seventh book in the series, Renegades. Why then was I reading about events that somehow took place between book seven and book eight? I was a member of the Expeditionary Force By Craig Alanson Facebook group. I began scrolling down in the group’s posts and discovered I needed to first listen to Homefront, an audio drama based on the Expeditionary Force universe.

Is it a “special,” or is it book 7.5?

It was news to me. When the audio drama was announced, it was implied this was a stand-alone story. I inferred I would not have to listen to the audio drama to keep up with the story. I was wrong. The audio drama was now described as book 7.5 in the series.

That sucked.

To begin with, I didn’t want to use one of my Audible credits to buy a six-hour story. Almost all of the books I buy on Audible are at least ten hours in length. Most are much longer than that. Secondly, I didn’t want to partake in the audio drama because it didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t want to hear actors portray the characters I loved by anyone other than the great R.C. Bray. He’s the narrator of all the Audible books in the series. Although he’s voicing some of the characters, former Star Trek actors are voicing many of the other characters in Homefront.

Discovering I needed to get the audio drama to continue with the series, I felt I had no choice. I bit the bullet and used an Audible credit on Homefront.

I immediately regretted my purchase. The quality of the audio was so bad I found it unlistenable. The voice actors sounded as though they were speaking their lines with empty toilet paper tubes over their mouths. If I had to guess, a sound engineer recorded one of the voice actors with the wrong settings. Instead of re-recording all of their lines, they went in and downgraded all of the other voice actor’s recordings to match. Compounding the problem was the fact low-fi music was playing in the background along with random, low-quality sound effects.

One of the great things about Audible is that you can always get a refund if you don’t like a book you’ve purchased. So that’s what I did. No matter how crucial Homefront was to the ongoing story, I could not listen to it. As much as I love the ongoing story created by Craig Alanson, I find myself in the inescapable position of having to tap out on the series.

I’m done with Expeditionary Force. It’s time to move on from the series.


I changed my mind. As it turned out, I wasn’t done with the Expeditionary Force after all.

32 thoughts on “I have to call it quits on the ‘Expeditionary Force’ book series”

    1. Good riddance to you and your like. This is by far the best series out at the moment. A good story with books coming out regularly?!? Heck yeah! Those of us that read ASOIF know how aggravating it is to wait on an author who has no interest in finishing the series. Ex Force is a great story and it’s read exceptionally well. We won’t miss you and I’ll buy a few extra copies to make up the $ lost. Bye bye.

      1. The quality had dropped significantly. Watching folks like yourself flaunt your desperation in defense of media like this is pretty amusing. More amusing than listening to the same interactions take place for the umpteenth time.

      2. Christopher Furry

        Exactly. I’m so sick of people expecting that something fun, and a little campy, be held to the standard of academic canon literature. Ex Force is an amazing story, lots of fun to read, and has just crescendoed to set up the thing we’ve really all been waiting for. The Elders. Get upset about Homefront if you want, it was good but I get the criticism, but if that makes you opt out, you’re MISSING out.

  1. I just started listening to book 8 and was lost as well. I had to double-check to make sure I hadn’t missed a book somehow (although I knew the last one I listened to was 7).

    I’m not out quite yet. I can infer enough from book 8 to get the gist of what happened in Homefront, but it’s weird and irritating for sure.

    Not sure how long I’ll last though. The formula is getting a little stale, and with 14 books planned in the series, I may soon lose interest.

      1. The novellas in The Expanse series are pretty important to understanding the events of the later books. ABout to the same degree as this: the important parts are recapped but you def miss something by not reading them

  2. I just finished Armageddon. I never listened to Homefront and it didn’t hurt my Armageddon listen one bit.

    Sure, I was a bit confused on stuff that happened on Earth, but my brain made inferred details and the Earth chapters zoomed by because they are a small percentage of the book. I realized quickly the Earth chapters were irrelevant to the main storyline regarding the Elders and Maxolhx. i.e. If Homefront never existed it would not change the events of Armageddon at all. I have always been more invested in the main storyline and I figured at the end of Renegades that the events on Earth would be filler anyhow and inconsequential. The book “Deathtrap” side series involving the Mavericks is far more relevant though and should be listened to though. That book was great anyhow.

    The rest of Armageddon, especially the ending chapters, are some of the most exciting events that have occurred since Book 1 and the following books should be extremely interesting and hopefully follow a different formula (less repetitive).

    If Book 7.5 really caused you to stop this series after so long listening, it sounds like you were just looking for any little excuse to stop listening anyway as you probably weren’t enjoying the series anymore.

    1. If Book 7.5 really caused you to stop this series after so long listening, it sounds like you were just looking for any little excuse to stop listening anyway as you probably weren’t enjoying the series anymore.

      Completely not true.

      I enjoyed this series more than I’ve enjoyed any other book series I can remember. When Craig Alanson decided to break the chain by releasing Homefront, it stopped being a series.

      For me, reading Armageddon without knowing what happened in the unlistenable audio drama known as Homefront would be like going from book 3 to book 5 and in a series and then just trying to sus out what I missed. That’s just not something I ‘m interested in doing.

      Plus, considering the fact that Craig Alanson pulled this stunt once without recognizing it was a farked up thing to do to his fans makes me think he’ll just do it again. No thanks.

      1. John McGowan

        I completely agree with your review of “Homefront”. Also Book 8 confused me at the beginning also but apparently it was a clunky way to add another ship into the storyline. I too had purchased homefront and was upset with the poor quality the poor dialogue. I compare it to the harry potter series when they split the the last movie in to 2 parts to make a few extra bucks.
        I continued on with the series though chalking this up to a greedy publisher, and book 8 was up to par and just finished 9 which had an excellent story line.

    2. I agree with you completely. Don’t know why he did it but it doesn’t really matter. Love the series and will miss it when it’s over.

  3. “Secret Kristang hibernation ship in the outer edge of the sol system with a rival clan to the one that originally tried to take earth and mercenaries.

    Mercenaries wake up and try to kill the onboard clan to steal Earth and make it there home system only to discover Skippy/wormhole controller and decide to team up to steal both to become more powerful then the Rindhalu and Maxolhx.

    Flying Dutchman is taken apart for repairs, Skippy bails to the troop transport that the humans are studying with his new BFF a billionaire genius named Steele.

    Kristang send stealth dropships to Earth and the troop transport to steal the goodies, battles happen, Bishop and gang steal the secret hibernation ship and arrive at earth just as Humans are about to nuke Smithe in Dayton to prevent lizards stealing the wormhole controller and then they all live happily ever after”

    Synopsis I found. Hope it helps

  4. I had the same problem, but I continued on. Just because of one bad experience does not negate my love of the books and characters. I am now on pins and needles till the next book which will a long 7 months now. I suggest you continue on. I don’t think you will regret staying.

  5. I mean… when i noticed there was a mysterious book 7.5 and that it was bad, i just looked up the full key plot points and then continued with book 8 and it was smooth again.

  6. The first minute is bad audio quality and ends up being a recording the characters are listening to once Skippy comes on and introduces the book the quality is back to studio. Did you make it that far before giving up? Just started Home front and think the radio style storytelling is unique and interesting.

  7. I had to google “between books 7 and 8” to find your article here. I was COMPLETELY lost as well. I listened for a few hours hoping I would get some clues or that it was the author would have flash backs to explain things. Worst of all, you are essentially exposed to “spoilers” of this 7.5 book if you jump into 8, so now I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to sit through of 7.5 if I know the outcome. Ugh. What a poorly handled experience.

    1. Homefront was terrible. I listened to it and hated the entire thing. It’s by far the most annoying audiobook I have ever listened to. Zach Quinto (Spock from the newer star treks) voices Brock Steele, an Elon Musk-ish genius that Skippy has a mancrush on. And whenever he is trying to think of a solution, there is the sound of snapping fingers. It drove me insane.

      It would have been a nice little novella but making it an audio play production instead of a normal audiobook was a huge mistake, especially by not having a written novella to go with it for people who don’t listen to the audio books.

  8. im only 1.5 books into this series and i do like it…im a nut for this type of story series, militarily space adventure…but i do have to say if you guys like this kind of series i have some suggestions: “Old Mans War” series by john scalzi, in my opinion, ranks a little higher than this series in believability ….and if you want a total submursive series thats twice as long go and check out “Enders game” universe of books by Orson Scott Card….about 19 books in the series and in my opinion a GREAT listen…or read….which ever you prefer.

  9. Quote “H”

    I am not sure about that. What I mean is that Mr. Alanson may have signed a contract that precludes him from publishing a readable copy of the scripted novella for the Audible version. It would be nice to have the action flow restored to it’s correct dynamic. I have enjoyed the series hugely and I am filling in the missing action myself, I hope I am close.

    Matt’s proposed scenarios in his recap are in large what I believe the action flow to be. Well Done Matt !!!

  10. Skippyasyermuni

    Honestly, I found Homefront quite interesting. Especially if you take it as a over-the-top Skippy drama. If one goes at it from that perspective, it is much more manageable. You expect Skippy to exaggerate and make things…well, dramatic. So I enjoyed it quite a bit. I understand that it’s not for everyone, but to consider it a show stopper in the series? No, that doesn’t seem plausible to me. Especially after reading 8 and 9. The tempo of the series has changed dramatically. I would ask you to reconsider and give it another go. If you hate it by the end of book 9, you probably wouldn’t like the series as a whole. By far my favorite series.

    1. I have to admit that I did go back and listen to “Homefront.” I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed all the other books story wise. I also didn’t care for the overall production.

      When I tried it before, I listened to it in the car. I could not hear some of the dialog. The background sounds muffled much of it. This time around, I listened with my AirPods. I had no problem hearing things.

      The best thing about “Homefront” was that it enabled me to go on to “Armageddon.” Book 8 is (so far) the best book in the series.

        1. I’m all caught up and up to date. I’m glad I didn’t quit when I said I was going to quit. This is one of those times where I’m glad I was dead wrong.

  11. More disappointing was what Could Have Been given the amazing cast. The audio quality of Homefront was so awful that I couldn’t make it more than 15 minutes before giving up and returning it for a credit. I discovered one downside of Audible is you cannot review a book after you return it. The survival bias may explain why several other of my returns also rank so high.

    Anyway, it was a seed of thought that led me to feel Craig was phoning it in and I took a hiatus. At the urging of a friend, I strarted again with book 9 and really enjoyed The Ending. Am listening to 10 now, with 11 queued up and 12 pre-purchased. I think I read he’s going to wrap all of this up by 14.

    Trust the awesomeness.

  12. Every series does this, Expanse, Name of the Wind series, this isn’t new to audiobooks. They reference the Dayton incident a couple times, but it’s not a requirement to continue the story. I’m not here to tell you what or what not to do, but you will lose ZERO continuity in the skippy awesomeness by not listening to this novella.

  13. Some of those middle books are a real slog. The Skippy gimmick has been wearing thin for a while. All good things must end, and it’s generally better to end them on a high note than to run them into the ground first.

  14. Reading it doesn’t have the same magic as the audiobook version. R.C. Bray is half of the success of this series. I’m not saying there isn’t great material in there. There is some really good stuff, but Bray brings it to life.

  15. I can understand why you would have wanted to walk away after 7.5. I was really hoping book 8 wouldn’t be like book 7.5 and was pleased that it wasn’t. I’m not sure that I would have continued into the series, had it been narrated like that, though.

    I’m on Valkyrie, at present. I’ve got to say that some of the sayings are rather tedious and repetitive (i.e., “Hold my beer”) but it would be difficult to keep from being repetitive, so I get it.

    I found your article while investigating whether there was a TV series planned. Thanks for your thoughts, Rick!

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