The “Nightflyers” series runs over 10 episodes and is based on George RR Martin’s novella of the same name. It was previously adapted for Film in 1987. The imaginative and sprawling sets in the series are remarkable, as is the acting in the show. It involves a group of scientists along with a psychic who are heading out into deep space to make contact with aliens for the first time.

In “Nightflyers,” Eoin Macken plays Karl D’Branin, a “troubled astrophysicist” in the series and spoke to Digital Spy about the series via phone from Dublin.

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Macken said the series has strong elements from Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi film “2001: A Space Odyssey” but there are also elements of other films in the TV show, heading soon to the streaming platform.

Synopsis of ‘Nightflyers’

Nightflyers” is a science fiction/horror series from the talented pen of George R.R. Martin, but can in no way be compared to his other classic books relating to “Game of Thrones.” He published the “Nightflyers” novella in 1981 and it was made into a film way back in 1987.

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The latest adaptation involved a group of scientists with an L1 psychic climbing aboard an advanced space ship, The Nightflyer, captained by Roy Eris (David Ajala). One of the leading characters is Eoin Macken in the role of Karl D’Branin, an astrophysicist on the ship. A lot of the story involves his relationship with his daughter Skye, who had died.

To make a long story short, the scientists take off in the space ship and head into The Void to attempt to make the first contact with aliens, in the form of the Volcryn.

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Due to climate change and global warming, Earth is dying, and the scientists hope the Volcryn can assist humans in correcting the global catastrophe.

As the ship gets closer to the aliens, the Nightflyer’s crew begins to experience strange events and psychological problems.

The reason for these events is gradually revealed over the ten episodes of the series with a satisfying conclusion. There is unlikely to be a sequel due to this conclusion as there is literally nowhere to go from there.

The big-budget series has been compared to Stanley Kubrick’s classic film “2001: A Space Odyssey” for several reasons, including the revolving wheels of the spacecraft and a red glowing eye that follows everyone’s movements, compared to the HAL-9000 computer (as in “Open the pod bay doors, HAL”) in the film.

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Eoin Macken spoke to Digital Spy by telephone, telling them the series has a “lot of Kubrickian elements.” He explained that Mike Cahill (the director) and Jeff Buhler (the showrunner) had included these elements in the way the characters in the series react to the physical world.

Both are reportedly huge fans of “2001” and included the sense of a large, expansive space, but where the space is “quite claustrophobic.” The actor who played the leader of the mission said that when you are in space, there is so much of it.

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However, in the meantime, you are in a tiny spaceship with nowhere to go.

The claustrophobia leads to paranoia in terms of Captain Eris’ surveillance of the crew and the invasion of their privacy. Macken said it was “very Orwellian.” He noted this is woven into science fiction in a lot of films and becomes a large part of the story.

Actors got lost in the massive soundstages in Limerick, Ireland

Macken laughed and explained that the sets for “Nightflyers” were constructed on massive soundstages in Ireland. He said they actors often got lost in the set. Everything was dark and the sets were vast and cavernous. He went on to say a lot of work had been put into the set’s shape and how it would be interpreted by the camera.

He gave the example of the memory suite (pictured above), where the Nightflyer's crew could replay favourite memories, which Macken described as a “giant Malteser.” He said actors had to stand in the centre of the memory suite and the sound bounced around in what was a perfect circle, which made the sound very different. He said it has a “weird bubble effect.”

Den of Geek quotes Macken as explaining that he hadn’t read Martin’s novella at the time of shooting the series, but has since read it and compared it to the script, which is very different. He said producers had used the book as a basic template, but Buhler then created his own world, based on his interpretation of the book. Many of the characters were a little different, but Macken believes the interpretation, or re-imagination, of the characters is important. He said the book had been written in the 80s and “Nightflyers” has been compared to the various films made since that time.

Elements of ‘Alien,’ ‘Event Horizon’ and ‘2001’

Macken said a lot of the references were to films like “Alien” and “Event Horizon” which came out after the book was written and published. He said Buhler took several “creative liberties” when presenting the story.

Spoiler alert: The satisfying ending of the 10 episode series is almost pure “2001” as D’Branin is reunited with his now alive daughter and wife in an alternate universe created by the Volcryn. “Nightflyers” was first aired on SyFy in the US, but will now be available to UK audiences on Netflix on 1 February 2019. Enjoy the trailer below.

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