A few decades ago, George R.R. Martin read a statement from a critic that said science fiction and horror should never go together. That was what inspired him to write Nightflyers, a 1980 sci-fi horror novella that’s been adapted into a new series on Syfy. We talked with some of cast and crew of Nightflyers about why horror and sci-fi go so well together. In short: You can show them how the world could be, while also scaring their pants off.
At New York Comic Con, we had a chance to chat with actor David Ajala (who’s currently also playing Manchester Black on Supergirl), showrunner Jeff Buhler, and producers Gene Klein and David Bartis from Syfy’s Nightflyers about how their show blends sci-fi and horror, and what makes those two genres so compatible. You can watch the video above for their reactions. We’ve also included their quotes below. Enjoy!
Dealing with science fiction, specifically with our show, you’re dealing with the unknown. Our show is set in 2093; we do see the advancement of technology in 2093, but a lot of it is all up for grabs and all invented. So now you add horror into that, and what horror does is just amplifies our realities and also our imagination.
If the science fiction genre and the horror genre had a love child, it would be Nightflyers.
Science fiction and horror are both great outlets for shining a light back on our society. Getting into you know what we’re doing with our Earth, what we’re doing—is it important for humans to expand, to colonize, or should we focus on fixing our home? And these are big questions that get a little soapboxy if you do a drama. In science fiction and in horror you can talk about big important stuff in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re preaching or you’re on a soapbox.
The themes are there, but the other fun thing with science fiction and horror, is along the way you get to scare the pants off of everybody. So you get the best of both worlds. You get big ideas, big concepts, you can make people think a little bit, and then you get to scare the hell out of them.
Klein: It’s funny, we were just talking about this. George originally wrote this novella because he read a piece by a critic who said that sci-fi and horror couldn’t exist at the same time, because one has a fundamentally positive view of the world and the other has a negative view of the world. And he took that challenge and wrote this piece, and I think we tried to honor that with the show. I don’t know inherently if sci-fi is uniquely suited for horror, it is a nice match. Essentially it’s a haunted house.
Bartis: In space.
Klein: And the biggest question people have about haunted houses is ‘Why don’t you leave the house?’ Right? And when you’re on a spaceship in the middle of space, you can’t.
Syfy is rolling out a new episode of Nightflyers every day this week and next (except Fridays).
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