Science Fiction tv shows seem to have gained new breath and a fresh impulse of late: there have been several announcements about the launch of new series or mini-series that make me think the genre is enjoying a renaissance, at least on the small screen. What I have seen in theaters, of late, tends to be more oriented toward special effects than story or characterization, so my hope is that TV shows, more inclined to be deep and thought-provoking (in any genre, not just sci-fi) will fill those gaps.
For me, the added bonus comes from the fact that a few of those shows are based on books I’ve read and loved, which makes the anticipation even more feverish. Let’s see a few:
SyFy has commissioned a 10 episode series based on The Expanse cycle by James S.A. Corey, the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Casting seems to be now finalized and the online buzz is quite high, because this series of books (four have been published until now, with two more to come), with its fresh and enjoyable approach to space opera, is the revelation of the last few years.
Humanity has colonized part of the Solar System, thus creating different social levels between the older, stabler colonies – like the Moon or Mars – and the younger and struggling settlements in the Asteroid Belt, where the living conditions have physically changed the colonists, due to the constant microgravity. The already politically unstable scenario is further unbalanced by the appearance of an alien menace that threatens human civilization… I’ve reviewed the series here and here, if you’re curious, and to say I’m looking forward to see how they will fare on screen… well, that’ the understatement of the century.
FX is involved in a mini-series based on John Scalzi’s novel Redshirts, an amusing story that pokes fun at the trope of the expendable junior officers in the Star Trek franchise, especially those wearing the Security department’s titular red shirts. If you are not familiar with Scalzi’s writing, this novel might be a good place to start: it’s not just an enjoyable collection of tongue-in-cheek jokes pointed at the famous series (jokes that come from extreme familiarity and therefore affection), it’s also a way to consider in a more serious way the elements that make us human and the meaning of existence.
There are no details yet about casting or a possible release date: most of the news I could find on the internet date back to February when the announcement was made. Author John Scalzi is even more cautious on the subject – because of contractual obligations, I’m sure – but from this post on his blog you will see how excited he is about the project.
He’s not the only one…
OLD MAN’S WAR
And since this is John Scalzi’s lucky year, another one of his works is up for conversion to TV format: from his successful series Old Man’s War, SyFy will develop a show borrowing its title from the second novel – The Ghost Brigades. For those who have not yet encountered this series (what are you waiting for? read them NOW!), OMW follows a group of elderly citizens who are given a second chance at life by enlisting with the Colonial Defense Forces in the struggle against alien civilizations. If you fear this sounds like a cross between Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Haldeman’s Forever War, don’t worry: Old Man’s War is something else entirely…
A few years ago there was talk of turning the first book into a movie but apparently the deal feel through, as it sometimes happens. So I’m very happy that television decided to step in, and hope that it will give this great book series the depth it deserves. Again, I’m letting the author speak about the series with his trademark tongue-in-cheek branch of humor.
This is quite recent news I discovered on IO9’s website: the production will be carried out by HBO and the show written by Jonathan Nolan, which means that there is a huge potential for success here. I read Asimov’s Foundation trilogy long ago so I will certainly need to re-acquaint myself with them to enjoy their translation to the small screen. If HBO deals with this story with the same richness with which they’re handling Game of Thrones, we might be in for a great ride indeed.
So… Do you know any of these books? Are you waiting to see them translated to screen? And more important: do you know of other upcoming shows that might fire our imagination?