Nightflyers, based on an early sci-fi novella by Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, has been given a series order by SYFY. A pilot for Nightflyers was ordered by the network in June. HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on Martin’s series of fantasy novels, has become one of television’s biggest shows and a pop culture behemoth.
Originally published in 1980 by the anthology magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Martin’s Nightflyers concerns a group of scientists embarking on a mission to the edge of the solar system aboard the titular spacecraft to make contact with a legendary alien race called the volcryn. The mission is mysterious from the get-go thanks to the ship’s reclusive captain and the presence of a powerful psychic, and things only get more bizarre when the psychic begins suffering a nervous breakdown that the crew comes to believe heralds the approach of an alien presence. Martin himself has described the book as a “haunted starship story.”
SYFY is banking on Nightflyers becoming the next successful George R.R. Martin book-to-TV translation by ordering it to series, as reported by Variety. A pilot script has been written by Jeff Buhler (Midnight Meat Train) and Doug Liman is on-board as one of the executive producers. Martin himself will not be involved in the project as he is far too busy (we hope) finishing his long-awaited The Winds of Winter.
Movie rights for Nightflyers were first acquired by producer Robert Jaffe, who made the book into a super-schlocky, super-’80s sci-fi turkey starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Michael Praed, James Avery, and John Standing. Jaffe retains a producer credit on the SYFY version.
Game of Thrones may be coming to an end after its next season (whenever it comes out), but George R.R. Martin could still have a big presence on the television landscape if Nightflyers takes off at SYFY. HBO is also planning to produce spinoff series from Game of Thrones, though these would be new works set in the show’s universe and not directly adapted from Martin’s own books. We know what Martin can do with fantasy, and it will be interesting to see if one of his straight sci-fi works can be made into a successful series as well. Much depends on whether SYFY can attract strong enough talent to the series to guarantee good scripts, good performances, and strong production.
In addition to Nightflyers, other upcoming projects for the recently rebranded SYFY include the Superman prequel series Krypton, which was previewed at SDCC, and the graphic novel adaptation Happy! starring Christopher Meloni and featuring the voice of Patton Oswalt. There are plenty of open spaces on the network’s schedule, with SYFY recently announcing the cancellation of their series Dark Matter and Blood Drive.
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