Spike TV has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order to Red Mars, a scripted drama based on Kim Stanley Robinson’s best-selling “hard” science-fiction trilogy about the colonization and terraforming transformation of Mars into a place where humans can live sustainably. It will premiere in January 2017.
Red Mars would be Spike TV’s first drama series in a decade. That distinction was originally supposed to go to the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Harvest, ordered to series in August, but that series recently fell through, with Spike brass going back to the drawing board. The network has changed course, going in a completely new direction — from a family drama set against the black-market body-part trade (Harvest) to a hard sci-fi series set in space (Red Mars).
The Red Mars TV series, named after the first book in the trilogy, had been on fast-track development at Spike since the network took in the project last fall with HBO’s Game Of Thrones co-executive producer Vince Gerardis as executive producer and Robinson as consultant. Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was then brought in to write and executive produce the adaptation. Skydance Television (Manhattan, Grace and Frankie) came on board as studio, with the company’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross executive producing.
“The heart and soul of Red Mars is about humanity,” said Sharon Levy, Spike’s EVP, Original Series. “This group of strangers must find a way to live together and survive under the most daunting conditions mankind has ever faced to become the first living generation of Martians.”
The three novels — Red Mars (1993), Green Mars (1994) and Blue Mars (1996), which have won Nebula and Hugo Awards — are noted not only for their rigorous attention to scientific detail, based on at-the-time current science and speculative science, but for the the large cast of widely different and richly detailed characters followed over the course of decades and centuries, as well as the somewhat utopian social and political ideals the novels explore. They’re regarded in many quarters as the best books written on the subject of interplanetary colonization, and a holy grail for science fiction fans.