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Here's the Scoop on NIGHTFLYERS

Last week in the trades a couple of stories appeared about NIGHTFLYERS:



There were a bunch more. Google and you'll find 'em. Needless to say, once those stories appeared I was deluged with requests for comment and clarification.

Here's the scoop.

In 1980 I wrote a novella called "Nightflyers." It was one of my SF/ horror hybrids, a 'haunted starship' story, set in my Thousand Worlds universe. ANALOG published the first version, which weighed in at 23,000 words and got a beautiful cover. "Nightflyers" was nominated for a Hugo Award as Best Novella, but lost out to Gordon R. Dickson's "Lost Dorsai" at Denvention. (That's me and Parris at Denvention in the icon picture).

Later on, at the urging of editor Jim Frenkel, I expanded the novella to 30,000 words, and it was teamed with Vernor Vinge's "True Names" as part of Dell's 'Binary Star' series, an attempt to revive the old 'Ace Double' concept. I liked the original 23,000 words version, but I liked the expanded version even better. The expansions gave me room to flesh out the characters more. (In the original version, most of the secondary characters did not even have names).

In 1984 I sold the film and television rights to "Nightflyers" to a writer/ producer named Robert Jaffe and his father Herb.

In 1985 "Nightflyers" was published again as the featured story in a collection of my short work called NIGHTFLYERS, a trade paperback from Bluejay Books.

IN 1986 the Jaffes picked up their option and principal photography began on the film version of NIGHTFLYERS, directed by Robert Collector and starring Catherine Mary Stewart and Michael Praed. It was released in 1987. Jaffe's screenplay, I think, was based on the 23,000 word version of the story rather than the expanded 30,000 word version, since all the secondary characters had new names, rather than the ones I'd given them for the Binary Star edition.

Which brings us to the present, and those news stories.

This new NIGHTFLYERS television series -- actually, it is just a pilot script at present, still several steps short of going on-air, but I am told that SyFy likes the script a lot -- was developed based on the 1987 movie, and the television rights conveyed in that old 1984 contract. Robert Jaffe is one of the producers, I see, but the pilot script is by Jeff Buhler. I haven't had the chance to meet him yet, but hope to do so in the near future.

Since I have an overall deal that makes me exclusive to HBO, I can't provide any writing or producing series to NIGHTFLYERS should it go to series... but of course, I wish Jaffe and Buhler and their team the best of luck. "Nightflyers" was one of my best SF stories, I always felt, and I'd love to see it succeed as a TV series (fingers crossed that it looks as good as THE EXPANSE).

And that's all I know just now.


Matt Stedman
May. 17th, 2017 12:43 am (UTC)
80s movie
I ran into Catherine Mary Stewart at a convention about a year ago and she she didn't even know you'd written it! I guess she does now. She was very nice, maybe she can get a role in the new one.
May. 17th, 2017 01:04 am (UTC)
Your best? Also in ASOIAF?
I absolutely love this story of yours. I have even watched the movie version many times over. I prefer the expanded version of the story for the reasons you listed, and more. I find that I sometimes just say the names to myself because they roll off the tongue like honey.

That said, since this is a favorite story of yours, did you use any elements of this story in ASOIAF? I think certain concepts, and/or character details, could fit nicely into your current story.

I am super curious about this show. I hope it all works out.

Edited at 2017-05-18 12:39 am (UTC)
May. 17th, 2017 04:15 am (UTC)
I don't expect a response or an unscreen
Dear GRRM,

I just read today that you despise fanfiction and see it as lazy writing. I can't say how much that stings because I do adore your characters and enjoy 'playing in your sandbox' so to speak. Your work inspires me, your characters intrigue me, and when I'm titillated, I want to explore other avenues and detours to a story in a world of 'what if' with fellow fans who just want to share in the awesomeness of your work and how we relate to it in our own way. Fanfiction to me is just another way of showing how much I like something creatively in the way I enjoy just as when an artist draws a sunset in their own light and vision. This was never meant as a copyright infringement (I'm not making money off of my fic nor will I ever) over a deep appreciation for the imagination that you've sparked within me. As writers, we have to start somewhere, and exploring another's characters is a way I test waters and develop pros and skills to better develop my own writing. It's a learning tool to move on from as practice and feedback makes for a better writer.

Again, I deeply regret any offenses this medium of expression causes you,

Thank you for all that you do,

May. 18th, 2017 10:27 pm (UTC)
Re: I don't expect a response or an unscreen
I don't "despise" fanfiction, that's way too strong. But I do discourage it.

We all have to start somewhere, sure. But why not start by creating your own worlds and characters? You're going to have to do that sooner or later in any case, those are crucial skills for any would-be writer.

If you really must draw your inspiration from pre-existing characters, at least disguise them. When I was high school kid in comics fandom, if you wrote and published a Captain America story, Marvel would come down on you like a ton of bricks for copyright infringement. But publish the same story and change the hero to Major USA, and they'd ignore you.

There's a difference between imitation and appropriation.
May. 19th, 2017 03:35 am (UTC)
Re: I don't expect a response or an unscreen
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to reply to me.

I'm glad despise is too strong, and I do agree with you that creating your own world is far more productive as a serious writer to engross yourself with and develop a means to actually get published over just writing for the kicks of writing. I've done quite a bit of impromptu story plotting running games of dungeons and dragons where we only used the rules to establish combat and skill challenges, but I otherwise developed my own worlds, characters, and plot lines to torture my friends with (ha ha yes, I'm THAT kind of nerd. ;)

With pre-existing characters, I will be honest that I'm very sexually motivated. I'm not into trashy harlequin novels... hell, a lot of what got me writing was because I couldn't find what I was searching for and needed a deeper connection and outlet to my own sexuality. (I'm into femdom/BDSM although I'm more interested in the mental side over the physical), and I enjoy redemption arcs for villains that people see as irredeemable or 'could never change'. A lot of this type of writing comes as a way for me to heal my own wounds of abuse from childhood, and the exploration therein helps me to understand myself as much as the characters.)

It intrigues me to take an established character and devise possible ways to turn them inside out mentally and believably. I take it as a personal challenge to make the reader sympathize and care about a character that everyone loathes and is ready to see burned at the stake. Part of the challenge for me is dissecting the character, seeing how they tick through their histories, what they say and do, subtle mannerisms,(examining clinical journals and defining patterns and psychological reasoning that most relate to all these combined aspects of their personality) to understand what motivates them and what's lacking within to give solid reasoning for what would motivate change and psychological growth. From your work, I went for one of your worst, Ramsay Bolton! *evil grin* (Antisocial personality disorder cluster B... THAT is hard to work with! LOL!) Ripping him apart has been a pleasure, and making people love him, even feel sorry for him? Delicious.

The learning part is one of the most exciting parts of fandom for me. It allows me to tear the character apart and layer them back together (much as how you took Theon and destroyed him to change his perspective) except with the rigid structure of an already established world with defined characters that have to be examined equally to understand their own personal motivations and ways you can make a believable plot from the confines of what is already there, like fitting puzzle pieces together. It's the intricacies of what you can unearth about the characters to truly understand them (as far as one from the outside can examine and interpret someone else's work of course) that sends me into a tizzy.

You can certainly delve into these aspects in your own world with your own characters, but there are no discoveries or Easter eggs to find because you're making it all as you go, and no one can challenge whether they feel what you're writing feels canon or not because there is no basis to challenge you.

That said, I do enjoy making my own characters and building up all of what I spoke of above to flesh them out and make them interesting to the reader. I am putting together a period piece novel that will be set in the golden age of piracy. (Not sure if this would be considered fanfic or not since I'm going for historical accuracy as far as the 1700's and whatever truths I can unearth about the time and the historical figures of Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Reed. (This way I can still do lots of research and make fun discoveries! =D) Of course I will get to develop their characters through my own interpretations of the facts and accounts I can dig up. As I said, I'm a very sexually motivated writer, and their relationship offers a lot of fun alternative delves and discoveries because gods we need a better more accurate interpretation of BDSM than 50 Shades of Gray! LOL! :P)

If you've made it through my long ramble, thank you again for taking the time to thoughtfully respond to my earlier statement. It brightened my day more than you know :)
May. 19th, 2017 03:52 am (UTC)
You titillate me too George.
You titillate me hard.
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2017 07:49 am (UTC)
You have a right to your opinion as I do, I've stated mine above, so I won't reiterate it here other than to say I have nothing but respect for GRRM; if I didn't respect his work, I wouldn't have fallen in love with it or feel inspired to write about it.

I'm not trying to sell my work off as his, I'm just gushing over it with fellow fans that want to explore the characters with our own imaginations. The character, Ramsay Bolton, met his demise on the show, and that 'end' made me want to play with destiny and take out that final scene to alter the course of his history (for myself because I didn't want the character to be gone) writing a different ending allowed the character to survive and for me to enjoy him a little longer. I'm not rewriting or changing anything in the timeline that has already happened (outside of a show/book fusion where events didn't happen the same, and I had to choose what path to walk between the two for the story I'm writing to remain cohesive) I only continued the story for my own personal satisfaction of keeping the character alive. His story has been written and his line ended, so what's the harm in taking a detour to explore a 'what if' jump off for events that will never happen?
May. 17th, 2017 05:53 am (UTC)
Congrats George
This is great news. I have had NIGHTFLYERS on my reading list for a long time now. A friend read it and encouraged me to because he loved it a lot. I need to read it before the series starts. Thanks Goerge for this even though you're not intimately involved like you are on GoT. Congrats on the many TV projects on your work. I have always said you deserve more. By the way, any upcoming film projects for A SONG FOR LYA? I would love to see it made into a syfy movie.
May. 17th, 2017 10:00 am (UTC)
Love the Story
I love Nightflyers, it is really superb and sublimely written. I don't really think it's one of your best, but that is highly subjective, quality-wise it certainly is stellar and you clearly brought your A game.

Movie though, it was bad, bad compared to the novella and bad compared to contemporary SF movies, I have no high hopes for the series either and on one level I glad you aren't involved directly, but I do wish luck to the creators they will need it and I would be very happy if they surpassed my expectations. SyFy proved with The Expanse that they can make good television.

On the other note, reading your laundry list of projects I didn't see plans for new SF stories. You should definitely go back to write some more SF, maybe not right now, main story of ASOIAF should stay absolute priority (even maybe to the exclusion of all else) but when that is finished. As a long time fan I would love to see Avalon or additional voyages of Wo and Shade, or something new entirely, tangentially or not at all related to Thousand Worlds, I can only imagine what sort of great ideas you collected over the last 20+ years.
May. 17th, 2017 06:03 pm (UTC)
Never read, the book but will definitely be picking it up soon.
Awesome I think all your books should made in to tv series, I keep asking myself why do they keep revamping Robin hood and King Arthur every 4 or so years, when Game of thrones is so much better.

Would really like to see some sci-fi story's of yours made into film, Do you have any future plans to write sci-fi scripts, maybe do something with HBO in future?
May. 17th, 2017 06:03 pm (UTC)
American Gods
What are your thoughts on this Series?
May. 17th, 2017 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: American Gods
Looking forward to it. I am way behind on my viewing.
Mitchell Kengor
May. 17th, 2017 08:27 pm (UTC)
Thousand Worlds
Are there any other Thousand Worlds stories that you would particularly like to see made into TV series or films? Just curious.
May. 18th, 2017 04:51 am (UTC)
I have always loved science fiction that happens in a microcosmos. In this case on a large spaceship in empty space, isolated from everyone and everything.
May. 18th, 2017 05:02 am (UTC)
A little off-toppic, but has "A Song for Lya" been optioned? I would love to see that story re-told on screen.

Edited at 2017-05-18 05:04 am (UTC)
May. 18th, 2017 10:28 pm (UTC)
"Lya" was done as a radio play in Australia once, but has never been optioned for TV or film. A bit too cerebral, I fear.
May. 18th, 2017 06:45 am (UTC)
"Current mood: pleased"
George Alvarez
May. 18th, 2017 01:44 pm (UTC)
Can you give us another arianne chapter? Of all the characters i find her current quest fascinating. I mean she doesn't have dragon's but she is fierce and in some ways mirrors danny. I think one if the things that i like about ASOIF is the way all these women find themselves in position of power and how they adjust to the politics surrounding them. I can't remember any other book series that has so many women lead! thanks
May. 18th, 2017 10:29 pm (UTC)
Re: chapter
Glad you like the women in my books. So do I.

Sorry, no more sample chapters. We need to leave some stuff for the book itself, after all.
Reaction Mel
May. 18th, 2017 05:11 pm (UTC)
The North Grove
Love the post
However i have a bet with a friend that the The North Grove concept is not yours its a game thing only right (say yes so i can get free diner lol)
Sean Hall
May. 18th, 2017 08:50 pm (UTC)
Stories like this where THIRTY years after the story rights were sold to Hollywood it's still in the pre-production phase is why whenever film/tv rights for a story are sold fans of that story should never get too hyped up that that story will reach the big or small screen in the near future. Because it seems much more often than not, those stories are lucky to even make it to the pre-production phase. And if they do make it, it's usually years or in your case decades later than when the rights were originally sold. Though I'm sure the authors don't mind the easy paycheck!
May. 18th, 2017 10:25 pm (UTC)

Buzzing for this!

May. 18th, 2017 11:14 pm (UTC)
Fevre dream

I really enjoyed fevre dream, any news on plans to turn it into a movie? The intense eye dueling of the "vampires" could be really fascinating to see. Have you ever though on who could play the lead characters? And by the way what kind of accent did Joshua and Damon Julian had? Southern, english, french?
May. 19th, 2017 08:02 am (UTC)
Here is the trailer:
May. 19th, 2017 03:19 pm (UTC)
Beyond The Known World
Hi George! My friend a I are wondering, since a long time ago, what's beyond of The Known World in Game of Thrones. We have imagined things like that Westeros is a peninsula and maybe there is a very huge continent above it, all made of ice, or maybe sunny and with kingdoms...
We wonder too what's beyond the Shadow Lands, what are Sothoryos or Ulthos like, if the Valyrians lived there before, if they are big, etc.
Could you just tell me a bit of it? A bit of what's beyond it? Thanks!!
Raz Greenberg
May. 20th, 2017 10:32 am (UTC)
This may be a stupid questions, but...
Did the producers purchased the rights to make the Nightflyers show happen in the Thousand Worlds universe, or did they just purchase the rights to make a show about the story's characters/plot and will have to invent a new setting for it?


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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