As I’ve talked about before, part of my work from home has given me a chance to thrown on some television shows in the background while I work. This might be distracting for some, but I always have a YouTube video or audio book playing while I’m working in the office. I used that time to catch up on some anime, but then I decide to checkout some science fiction, and the first one I picked was Nightflyers, the show based off of a novella by George RR Martin.
Earth is in need of help, as is pretty common in sci-fi. So a group of scientist, colonists, and others head out into deep space to find a mysterious object, the volcryn, that seems to be giving off the same energy signature as telepaths on Earth do. Yes, there are telepaths on earth, and there is even one on the ship, Thale, who is dangerous, but also might be their only way to contact the volcryn. However, from the get go, things are not going like they should on the ship, the Captain Royd Eris is hidden away only showing up as a hologram, things are breaking down, and for this mission, everyone is on edge. As they go further into space and get closer to the volcryn, more things go poorly and it is clear that someone on the ship does not want them to reach the volcryn, all while the main character, Karoly d’Branin becomes more and more obsessed with finding reaching their end goal. Will they survive all the way to the end?
This show reminded me a lot of Helix, another SyFy channel show, set in space. It’s about who you can trust, or who you shouldn’t trust on the ship. And if what you’re going after is going to be worth the cost. I think that it Nightflyers, without delving into too much plot detail, is fairly standard in a lot of it’s handling of sci-fi tropes. I don’t think that’s always a bad thing, because there are a lot of interesting story elements, but for the most part, it feels fairly typical to stuff that I’ve already seen and stuff that has been a part of sci-fi for a long time. It does delve into some interesting areas about grief and humanity, but for the most part it leans into the horror and sci-fi elements in ways that you’d expect.
So while the sci-fi elements might not always be the most unique, I thought that it did a good job blending the elements of sci-fi and horror. And in the horror you actually get some more unique things, which tie back into the sci-fi nature of the show. With horror, I do believe that it is a bit all over the place at times. You some where it’s very psychological and other times where people are being frozen or jump scares or a pathogen loose in the air. But I have a soft spot for the blend of horror and sci-fi in my heart, because both of them can really dig into issues that would be too abstracted in a more realistic setting.
I think that the concept of the show works, I think while it is fairly standard, the story of the show works. I feel like they mess up some pacing in the show, there’s a large time jump for no good reason at one point in time, just to set-up the next horrific thing happening. I think the time jump is confusing as well, because it’s a slow burn show. Most of the elements are played out slowly over a long period of time and it works well in the show. You can tell the story is based off of George RR Martin, the Song of Ice and Fire series has a slow burn as well, and this matches it where a lot of the horror is based things and confusion moving slowly and building tension versus jump scares.
Would I recommend this show? It was pretty enjoyable and because it’s one season only, I think there are enough interesting horror and sci-fi elements in it that makes it worth checking out. The world building for something that basically only takes place on a spaceship is done really well. There’s a good amount of depth there, and that depth builds throughout the whole of the show, not just the the start with an info dump, but you never feel like they are info dumping on you and that you don’t have the information that you need. If you enjoy fairly heavy sci-fi with a good dose of horror thrown in, it’s definitely a show that is worth watching.
Have you seen the show, read the novella? How do they compare, is the novella worth reading if you’ve seen the show?
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