A lot of new words and phrases being tossed about at today’s TCA panel on Syfy’s upcoming series The Expanse, set 200 years in the future: “Future noir” (from series star Thomas Jane), “planetism” (that’s like racism but about conflicts between folks from different planets, from cast member Cas Anvar).

leviathan cover the expanseThen we have “space opera,” from pretty much everybody on the panel, which included EP/showrunners Naren Shankar and Mark Fergus and actors Anvar, Jane, Dominique Tipper, Steven Strait and Shohreh Aghdashloo. It’s a big phrase for a big series, based on the continuing series of books by James S.A. Corey. (Watch the trailer above.)

The emphasis, the creative team insisted, is on “opera,” not space. Fergus described the arena — encompassing the worlds of Earthlings, high-tech Martians and tough, working-class “Belters” — as being about the little people, not the captains and leaders of typical outer-space fiction. He added that the series focuses on the struggle before space is peacefully settled. >Naren said there already are four books in the series, a fifth soon to debut and plans for more, so “it’s an amazing amount of material. … It can just keep going.”

Fergus added that the authors are part of the writers room and don’t mind if the show “plays with the Lego blocks” of the original story.