Game of Thrones might be headed into its final season on HBO in 2018 or 2019, but the Syfy channel is hoping audiences will tune in for more adaptations of George R.R. Martin’s writing. On his LiveJournal page, Martin recently confirmed that the network has picked up an adaptation of his novella Nightflyers for a 10-episode first season, which he hopes will air in July 2018.
In May, Syfy announced it was rebooting with a new look and a slew of new adaptations, including one of Martin’s 1980 novellas. The network ordered a pilot for the project in June 2017, and it was rumored in September to have ordered it to a series. In his post, Martin confirmed the pickup order, and revealed some concept art of the spaceship from the show.
Nightflyers is set in Martin’s Thousand Worlds universe, and follows a group of researchers who charter a mysterious spaceship to transport them to an alien ship passing through the galaxy. Then something goes wrong with the ship’s computer. The novella was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1981.
Martin notes that he initially wasn’t sure how Syfy intended to make a series out of Nightflyers, “since at the end of the novella (and the film) pretty much everyone is dead (it was a horror story, after all).” He went on to say he was impressed with the script and “came away with a better idea of where they'd find a few seasons” for the show.
Nightflyers was originally published in the April 1980 issue of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact. Later, Martin expanded the story to publish alongside a story by Vernor Vinge in a standalone volume. In 1987, director Robert Collector adapted the novella into a film; Syfy has since purchased the rights. Unlike with Game of Thrones, Martin won’t be involved in the series’s production, due to his exclusive contract with HBO.
Martin says Nightflyers will be shot in the Republic of Ireland, and suggests Syfy could cast some of the same Irish or British actors who appear in Game of Thrones, since they’re in the same area. “And considering how many characters we've killed, a lot of them should be available,” he jokes.
Over the past few years, Syfy has renewed its push into space-driven shows, such as The Expanse, Killjoys, and Dark Matter. Last fall, the network announced it was canceling Dark Matter immediately, while Killjoys would get two final seasons to round out its story. The move likely means Syfy will keep a couple of space-based shows on its schedule, and Martin says the network is putting “substantial” resources into the show, one that “should allow them to create a show that looks as good as modern audiences expect.”
The Syfy channel officially announced the series order on January 4th, with Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire), Eoin Macken (The Night Shift), David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6), Sam Strike (EastEnders), Maya Eshet (Teen Wolf), Angus Sampson (Fargo), Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship) and Brían F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby) set to star as a team of scientists and crew of the starship Nightflyer. The show will air on the Syfy channel in the US, and on Netflix around the world.
Update January 4th 2018, 2:00PM ET: Updated to include Syfy’s official pickup and casting announcement.