UPDATED with panel details: The crew from Syfy’s thriller series Nightflyers landed at San Diego’s Comic-Con on Thursday and came equipped with a couple of sneak peeks at the upcoming TV adaption of George R. R. Martin’s 1980 novella. That included a trailer which dropped during the afternoon panel in the Indigo Ballroom.
Martin, the author of the Song of Ice and Fire book series that of course led to HBO’s epic Game of Thrones, is serving as an executive producer. He did not attend the panel session but sent along a video greeting to introduce a look at the first few minutes of the pilot for the crowd in the room.
While the show uses “the framework” of Martin’s book, it takes on a different setting in following eight maverick scientists and a powerful telepath who embark on an expedition to the edge of the solar system aboard The Nightflyer.
“Instead of going with the 1000-world universe created by Martin, we stepped back a little from the complexity of that world to create a story that takes place 75 years in our own future so that everything feels very realist” and “based on current technology,” executive producer/showrunner Jeff Buhler said.
He added that setting the show in the future also helps address current social and environmental issues. “It’s not post-apocalyptic Earth where nobody can live, but imagine all the problems that we talk about today. The idea was to paint a picture of an Earth where life isn’t working anymore… it’s not sustainable and there a push to build off-world habitats,” he said.
“There’s this debate between, should the human race be rushing to make colonies to essentially use our world up and go somewhere else, or is there some moral imperative to spread the human race throughout the galaxy, or is there some other ways to address these problems?
Joining Buhler onstage were stars Eoin Macken, Gretchen Mol, David Ajala, Jodie Turner-Smith and Angus Sampson as well as executive producers Gene Klein and David Bartis.
Buhler penned the TV adaptation and took over as showrunner after Daniel Cerone exited the series. He said the series was heavily influenced by “the greats when it came to science fiction,” like 2001, The Shining and Ridley Scott’s Alien.
“Those are touchstones,” said Buhler. “Those were the choices that we made so that it felt like we were watching a film and watching big science fiction.”
Nightflyers is produced by Universal Cable Productions, with Netflix co-producing and holding first-run rights to the series outside the U.S. It premieres in the fall on Syfy.