Monday, January 14, 2019

The Expanse Profiles: Alex Kamal

Alex Kamal is the last of the "main" crew of The Rocinante that I'm profiling here (and my knowledge is based on the books and on the television adaptation of those books). To the right, I've included an illustration I found of Alex Kamal on a DeviantArt page. It's drawn by a person that goes by the name "BlackPandaOps" and you can see more of their work HERE.

For pretty much the first three books, and well into the television adaptation, this character is kind of flat. He's basically your "hot shot pilot" stereotype that you've seen in a half dozen other space opera stories ranging from Star Wars to Battlestar Galactica. In the television adaptation, he is brought to life by actor Cas Anvar, who is a Canadian. I discovered that he speaks English, French, Persian, Arabic, Urdu, and Spanish. I thought that was pretty amazing. At left is a picture of the actor playing the part of Alex Kamal.
As you can see, the illustration by the artist above is deeply influenced by the portrayal by the actor. I couldn't really find any online that weren't influenced by Cas Anvar, which makes me believe that the television adaptation has probably brought in legions of new fans (like myself) for this series.

Alex Kamal, Like Naomi and Amos, all met Captain Holden on the doomed Canterbury, which (as I previously mentioned in another post) was a corporate ice hauler grabbing spacebergs from Saturn's rings and then making the voyage to a station where it could be used as a source of fresh water. He's a Martian, and because of this, there's a kind of "instant connection" that builds with Bobbie Draper once she's introduced in the series (Bobbie is a Martian marine and Alex is former military as well).

Alex gets fleshed out in the book Nemesis Games pretty thoroughly, with hints of his back story in the previous four books. He self-describes himself as a terrible husband and talks of the main woman in his life with glowing colors as she pretty much faithfully stuck by him, even though he spent many months away from home working as a pilot for the military. When that all ended, and he could finally stay at home, he actually didn't like being at home. So without his wife's knowledge, he went and got another job as a pilot and walked away from their marriage. Needless to say, he's not a great communicator (or even a good one for that matter). There's a scene in the books when he tries to patch things up with his ex-wife, and it realistically does not go well at all even with his apologies and whatnot. This is really how it should be, and I was surprised that the writers 1) went there and 2) that it was such a shut down with incredible finality to it. Also, kudos to the writers for Alex to get absolutely no closure on that part of his life; this kind of thing happens all the time to real people. That it happened here just makes me like the story even more.

Alex's piloting skills, kind of like the protomolecule whenever it shows up, are kind of a deus ex machina. If the situation looks hopeless, he can kind of fly them out of it. Although to be fair, he's also the one that killed Fred Johnson unintentionally, because the incredible forces he generated while making banks and turns while trying to outrun rail gun armaments and torpedoes were too much for the old guy (who ended up stroking out in his crash chair). I'm really looking forward to where they go with this character once Tiamat's Wrath gets published in March. Bobbie Draper is now captain to a ship built with alien technology, and I bet Alex gets to fly it. That's going to be a lot of fun to read about.

Overall, Alex Kamal is that one character that always seems to pop up in these types of stories: he's a broken man whose only true love is being in the pilot's chair, but who also is attractive enough that women end up in his bed for a short while, but a relationship just never works out.

Coming up on Wednesday: Profile of Chrisjen Avasarala


  1. Cool there is an Alex who is a pilot. Although I'm nothing like the character. And would probably throw up if I flew like he does.

  2. I don't know anything about his series, filmed or written, but Alex sounds like a real, grown-up, complicated man, and that makes him a solid character.

    And if only I could speak six languages.