Syfy is launching a mini-series built on Arthur C. Clarke’s classic 1953 book. It won’t debut until December but the buzz has started.
“Utopia, but at what cost?”
There are lots of stories about Utopia making us lazy, and plots based on sinisterly-friendly aliens, so why has Syfy reached back to the mid-20th century for a story?
I read Childhood’s End when I was a kid – I still have a couple pictures in my head from the book – especially of the aliens – but I had to visit Wikipedia for a plot summary. (One of my memories was dead-wrong! My head is a dangerous place to leave information gathering dust for decades.)
Clarke wrote about a world at the height of the US/Soviet Cold War, when nuclear war seemed the most likely way for humanity to exterminate itself, and before the space age – some of his story is now near-ancient history. Will Syfy choose a different time period? A different threat to global survival?
Clarke wove real physics with fantasy, action with wonder and even sadness. Will Syfy take the same approach?
Syfy has been working on the series since April, 2013. The cast has been announced. There’s Charles Danc from Game of Thrones and Ricky Stormgren from Under the Dome. Trekkies (or do you prefer Trekkers?) will remember Colm Meaney from Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (though his career goes far beyond), playing a new character who’s not in the book.
Will a story written half a century ago grab today’s viewers.? I’m an old timer myself with a soft spot for the classics, but I keep reading how science fiction has changed, how today’s readers want something different, how the classic heroes were laughably stiff and movies today need more action, more fights and explosions. Will Clarke’s haunting ending survive the move to Syfy?
I usually find TV and movie adaptations less satisfying than the books they come from, but I think I’ll wait and watch Syfy’s Childhood’s End before I re-read the novel – give it a chance. After all, we live in the 21st century.