It’s possible you’ve never heard of the sci-fi thriller Nightflyers from 1987 or its 2018 one-season reboot on SyFy, but you’ve definitely heard of the guy who wrote it.
Both the movie and the series are based on a short story by George R.R. Martin. You know, the guy who wrote the books that inspired one of the most popular fantasy series of all time, Game of Thrones.
George R.R. Martin Wrote Nightflyers
Martin wrote a novella and series of short stories called Nightflyers, which he released in 1980 and 1981.
A few years later, Martin’s stories were adapted into a movie that revolves around a team of scientists embarking on a space expedition to uncover an enigmatic extraterrestrial entity, only to fall prey to the malicious actions of the spacecraft’s sinister computer system.
Unfortunately, Martin was a few decades early for his Game of Thrones fame and the movie was a box office bomb, only making back a third of its small budget.
Sci-Fi Alien Series
In 2018, Hollywood tried again. They released a 10-episode season on SyFy following a team of scientists as they journey on the advanced spaceship Nightflyer to make first contact with alien life-forms called Volcryn.
In the series, they face violent and unexplainable events and realize they aren’t alone, leading to a battle for survival against internal and external threats to complete their mission.
Canceled On Syfy
At the time of the series’ release, Game of Thrones had already had a popular run and was only a year away from the epic finale.
Maybe SyFy thought they could ride off Martin’s fame by adding the tagline, “From the Mind of George R.R. Martin” to the series poster.
Unfortunately, the show didn’t gain the same traction that Game of Thrones had and Nightflyers was canceled before a second season could be made.
Despite it’s early cancelation, the series boasts a talented cast, with Eoin Macken leading as Karl d’Branin, the astrophysicist and leader of the Nightflyer expedition.
David Ajala takes on the role of Roy Eris, the mysterious captain of the ship. Jodie Turner-Smith, Angus Sampson, Sam Strike, Maya Eshet, Brían F. O’Byrne, and Gretchen Mol round out the main cast, each bringing their unique talents to the storyline.
Nightflyers First Season
The ten-episode first season delves into the crew’s descent into chaos as they face supernatural phenomena, haunted pasts, and the existential threats that lurk within the Nightflyer.
From the malfunctioning thrusters in the first episode to the eerie encounters with ghosts and telepathic visions, each episode does its best to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
Mixed Reception From Critics
Unfortunately, their best wasn’t good enough for some critics. The Nightflyers series was released to mixed reviews from critics, with some praising its appealing visual style and the standout performance of Maya Eshet.
In contrast, others found fault in its low-budget aesthetics and over-reliance on genre homages. The series holds an approval rating of 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 47 out of 100, indicative of a polarizing response from audiences.
Stream Nightflyers On Netflix
Syfy’s Nightflyers may not have reached the heights of some other science fiction series or taken a seat at an epic throne like other Martin projects.
Still, its exploration of horror in the depths of space and the psychological toll on its characters makes it a noteworthy addition to the genre.
As the crew of the Nightflyer faces external threats and battles their own inner demons, the series leaves viewers questioning the boundaries of human curiosity and the consequences of playing with the unknown.
Though the show faced an untimely cancellation, it remains a chilling testament to the unfathomable mysteries that await us in the far reaches of the cosmos.
The Nightflyers series is available to watch on Netflix.