Nightflyers is a science fiction horror novella by George R. R. Martin, released as a short novella in 1980 and as an expanded version in 1981. A short story collection of the same name was released in 1985 that includes the novella. In 1987, the short novella was adapted into a film by the same name. A 2018 television adaptation of the extended novella was developed; television presentation began on December 2, 2018, on the SyFy Channel.
Originally written in 1980, the 23,000-word novella was published by Analog Science Fiction and Fact. In 1981, at the request of his editor at the time, James Frenkel, Martin expanded the story into a 30,000-word piece, which was published by Dell Publishing together with Vernor Vinge's True Names as part of their Binary Star series. In the extended version, Martin supplied additional backstory on the various characters, and named several secondary characters which were not named in the original version.
Nightflyers is set in the same fictional "Thousand Worlds" universe as several of Martin's other works, including Dying of the Light, Sandkings, A Song for Lya, "The Way of Cross and Dragon" and the stories collected in Tuf Voyaging.
In 1981, Nightflyers won the Locus Award for best novella and the Analog Readers Poll for best novella/novelette, and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novella. The novella was also the recipient of the 1983 Seiun Award in Japan for foreign short fiction.
The collection is the fifth by Martin and was first published in December 1985. It contains the following stories and novellas:
- "Weekend in a War Zone"
- "And Seven Times Never Kill Man"
- "Nor the Many-Colored Fires of a Star Ring"
- A Song for Lya
The novel was adapted into a 1987 film by writer/producer Robert Jaffe. The film is about a group of scientists who begin a space voyage to find a mysterious alien creature, and in the process are victimized by the ship's malevolent computer. It was directed by Robert Collector, using the pseudonymn "T. C. Blake" as he left before post-production was completed, and stars Catherine Mary Stewart, and Michael Praed. According to Martin, writer/producer Robert Jaffe probably adapted his script from the shorter novella version, since all of the secondary characters had different names than the ones he chose in the expanded version. The film grossed $1,149,470.
In 2017, a pilot for a possible TV series based on Nightflyers was being developed by Syfy. The series would be based on the 1987 film, with Jaffe serving as one of the producers. The script for the pilot was written by Jeff Buhler. Martin will not be involved in the production or writing for the new series, since his contract with HBO contains an exclusivity clause.
On December 6, 2017, Jodie Turner-Smith was announced as being cast as Melantha Jhirl. Martin expressed his enthusiasm on his journal, and pointed out that her casting more accurately represents the novella's character than the film, which cast a white actress. On January 4, 2018, it was reported that Netflix will co-produce the show and hold first-run rights outside of the United States.
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- James, Caryn (1987-10-24). "Film: 'Nightflyers' Science Fiction Thriller". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- "Nightflyers (1987) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com.
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- Here's The First Cast Member Of George R. R. Martin's New TV Show
- Melantha, Done Right At Last
- Petski, Denise (2018-01-04). "George R.R. Martin's 'Nightflyers' Gets Syfy Series Order; Netflix To Co-Produce". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
- grrm (27 November 2017). "The NIGHTFLYER Flies Again".
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