'Nightflyers': Here are the major differences between the book and series, George RR Martin's take on it
For those ardent fans who feel like the series will be yet another disaster like the 1987 film of the same name, worry not.
Syfy's upcoming space adventure/psychological thriller, 'Nightflyers', is almost here and if there is one thing fans can be certain of, it's the twisted element of horror and gore underlying what seems to be a perfectly composed science fiction plot.
Adapted from the novella of the same name by George R. R. Martin, this series is about to make up for the gaping void the mastermind's other brainchild - the Game of Thrones - left without releasing a season in 2018. But for those ardent fans who feel like the series will be yet another disaster like the 1987 film of the same name, worry not. Despite key differences from the novella, the series created by Jeff Buhler is pretty spectacular!
As is fairly clear from the trailer that came out earlier this year, and also the recently released cold open for the pilot episode, the adventure based on a dystopian world is set closer to Earth's near future.
There's also an underlying horror within the group of experts traveling in the titular spaceship - specifically in the form of an axe-wielding murderer, called Rowan (Angus Sampson). And, despite the many differences from the original story in the novella, what remains unchanged is that every character suffers an inevitable death in the end, in true George R. R. Martin style.
The first prominent difference is, of course, the setting. Martin's novella was set far off in the future after all human life has collapsed owing to a war with the aliens and other extraterrestrial creatures. Like we mentioned, the series is going to focus on a pretty near off future of our planet. Meaning, all the extra worlds and alien species mentioned in Martin's expanded Thousand Worlds universe don't exist yet in the timeline of the upcoming series' plot.
Neither do anything from the far end of the future mentioned in the almost two-dozen other short stories, novellas, and novels written in the 1970s and 1980s by the same author appear in this upcoming series adaptation.
The other significant difference is the spaceship itself. Instead of a lone ranger type ship that barely ever takes on passengers, Buhler's version of Martin's Nightflyers is more of a colony-building vessel. "The idea was to bring the story a bit closer to our contemporary world," Buhler shared, as reported by ARS Technica. "Science fiction for me works best when it reflects something of ourselves."
And, alongside all of that, Buhler's adaptation sort of compensates for the biggest disaster in the 1987 film adaptation - the same disaster that had grown to be Martin's biggest regret about the film and his book, too.
In the film, the character of Melantha Jhirl was blatantly whitewashed - much like the cover designs for the original book. In the book, Martin's original Jhirl was "a head taller than anyone else on board... muscles moving fluidly beneath shiny coal black skin." But his publisher back in the day didn't think having a black woman on the cover would help in book sales.
Luckily, all these years later, Buhler seems to be doing the character justice - the way they should have when both the book and the extremely cheesy film had come out. "[Mel] was the only [role] where we were very specific about race," he shared with the outlet. In Buhler's 'Nightflyers', Jodie Turner plays the role, because according to him, he knew she was perfect for the role the moment he met her. "It had to do with her spirit and her strength, and how incredibly fierce she is, not her skin color."
And what does the creator of the entire 'Nightflyers' universe, Martin himself, have to say about the upcoming adaptation? "I was amused by the idea of it becoming a TV show," the maestro shared with The New York Times. "I’ve only seen the pilot, but they’ve changed things considerably. You can still see many of my characters, and some of the basic tropes and plot points. It’s a much larger cast, and a much different background. But it’s still a science-fiction/horror hybrid, more 'Alien' than 'Star Trek.'"
'Nightflyers' begins this weekend. The first five episodes will air Sunday, December 2, through Thursday, December 6, at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central). The last five episodes will air Sunday, December 9, through Thursday, December 13, in the same time slot.