I recently heard about the SyFy TV Series, “The Expanse,” with a close friend of mine mentioning that it was very well worth watching. When I learned that the show was based on a series of books, I found myself in something of a dilemma – do I make the time to read the books and then watch the series, or do I find time to watch the series and then read the books?
Read the Books First
One thing I like about reading the books before watching a TV series or movie is that I get the chance to imagine what it’s like without bias. When I’m reading fiction, I visualize the characters and events in a fair bit of detail. Each character takes on a consistent look and sound, and the things that happen unfold in my imagination.
The flip side of this is that reading a series of books takes time. If I end up spending the time to read the books while my friends are watching the TV series, I will likely be left out of the conversation they are all having about it. Now, I’m used to coming in late to conversations like this (mostly because I don’t have any kind of cable television, and I’m not really interested in getting it), but there is a difference between catching a show as it comes out on DVD and catching a show after everyone else has caught up on what’s been out on DVD for a year.
Watch the Series First
Similar to reading the books first, watching the series first allows me to experience it without bias. In this case, though, it allows me to enjoy the series as a story in its own right – I don’t bring along the baggage of having read the “right” version of events and take issue with how the series got it “wrong.” I am sometimes fickle though, as I have sometimes I let it slide (Dune), whereas other times it really bothers me (The Hobbit).
While watching the series first gets me into the conversation early, I always feel like I’m only in half the conversation. When I watched Game of Thrones, there was an element of stuff going on that I missed, either because it wasn’t in the series or because it happened later in the books.
I guess I’ll have to wait and see. If I don’t hear any more about it, I’ll probably just see about getting the books at some point and adding them to my queue (maybe after my Numerical Analysis book). On the other hand, if it’s a conversation that I find myself adjacent to sooner than later, I’ll take the dive and watch the series.