HBO News Blog

HBO Ready Yet For SciFi?

By Jef Dinsmore on Jul 6, 2012 to HBO News

HBO loves to dabble in the fantastical. Before I go further though let’s pause to look at the root word – “fantasy.” It is defined as a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural elements as a primary focus of plot and theme and often is set in imaginary worlds. Of course, two productions on HBO in 2012 fit into that definition; GAME OF THRONES and TRUE BLOOD.

I’m sure no one needs reminded that all the war and political intrigue that gripped us in GAME OF THRONES did not take place in Medieval Great Britain. With all the real and raw human emotions playing out onscreen could there have been viewers forgetting the show actually takes place in a world made up by George R. R. Martin. A few dragons making an appearance now and again, however, reminds us that this is all a fantasy.

TRUE BLOOD, on the other hand, takes us down into the heart of Louisiana USA, but what makes it a fantasy is the first part of our definition. There are unnatural beings about. We have our favorites whether they are the vampires, fairies, werewolves, shape shifters, witches or even the occasional maenad. Their plight as misunderstood and feared souls has captured us. And HBO has reveled in presenting these tales of worlds not quite like our own.

Two other HBO shows also come to mind as series with a fantastical bent. These shows are unique and, alas, short-lived ones from HBO’s not so distant past. Remember CARNIVALE and JOHN FROM CINCINNATII? Though they seemed to be stories from this world there seemed to be supernatural elements afoot that made you wonder and left me glued to the TV. The argument could be made that these two shows are more mystical in nature, but for me that is just splitting hairs. They were fantastical to me. Even possible future shows AMERICAN GODS and THE DARK TOWER are fantasy.

How about the other side of the coin? HBO gives us fantasy, but where is the science fiction?  Now, I don’t claim to be a big sci-fi geek but I think it is time that HBO ventures into this genre. How about you? Let’s get a definition to suit our needs first. Science Fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but scientifically sound content most often dealing with future science, space travel, aliens and the like. Now that HBO has some big fantasy based shows how about a SF oriented one?

As is proven with GAME OF THRONES and TRUE BLOOD a show can hold its weight despite the genre. As long as a series is given the HBO treatment then it should be able to be set anywhere even the future or in space. For example, think how Syfy’s BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would have played out as an HBO series. And there lies a dilemma. What property should HBO acquire? It appears that the company prefers its tent pole series to have some literary weight to them as opposed to generating an original idea. So, let us, for fun, throw out a few ideas.

How about Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.? It is military science fiction as future us war with alien bugs. Think of it as BAND OF BROTHERS in the future.  Closer in tone to GAME OF THRONES and maybe too similar to be developed is Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is political intrigue between Houses mainly set on a desert planet and instead of dragons it requires sandworms. How about Barberella? I only mention it because a reboot of that Jane Fonda vehicle is actually being developed. With HBO’s penchant for nudity think of the wild space sex they could show!  Go ahead and plug in any of your favorite choices here – Weldon’s Firefly or Alien/Prometheus with Ridley Scott attached? Is there a Warner Bros. science fiction piece that would be intriguing?  There are plenty of ideas in Science Fiction worthy of the HBO treatment.  For now Fantasy is well represented, like TRUE BLOOD airing now.  Maybe, it is just a matter of time for quality Sci-Fi to hit the channel. Anyone have thoughts about the right SF property for HBO?

  • heatherqamar

    C.J. Cherryh’s Cyteen series would be fabulous, as would C. S. Friedman’s In Conquest Born. If you want dramatics and sex, Piers Anthony’s Bio of a Space Tyrant is a perfect option.

  • JustScalia

    Peter Hamilton’s , Pandora’s Star and the follow up Judas Unchained would work very well with Hbo treatment …ensemble cast with multiple story lines within an epic-mysterious grand narrative/story…neat future living issues and tech …multiple (not parallel) worlds (with factions and political intrigue)… Action and (uncumbersome) aliens … It could be beautiful ..the whole time I was reading it I was thinking it ought be adapted … But paring it down for a movie would be a disservice …who or what else could make this thing the right way…?? … HBO…. though while there is some sex in the story considering HBO’s trending sexual indulgence it might not be a perfect fit ..

  • Jonny

    I still want to see “Perversions of Science”, the sci-fi version of “Tales from the Crypt”. Would be nice to see that released on some platform.

    • Jefd

      That would be one way to introduce sci-fi to the channel.

      It also gives me an idea that I could do a HBO Classics: TALES FROM THE CRYPT article for late October! Hmm?

      • I dont get why they don’t play TftC at night on Saturdays or something. Better yet.. a new TftC for Saturday nights all summer long? Anyone?! I mean, it’s as good as Real Sex, Pornucopia and Taxi Confessions from 2001 right? With their hit shows being Game of Thrones and True Blood you’d think they know what their audience wants at 2AM on weekends!

  • Carl

    Why does it have to be a licensed property? I’d rather they do their own new thing. Television as a whole has moved away from the space opera for some reason, so I’d like to see HBO tackle that. Preferably not something like Battlestar Galactica (as great a show as that was); I want me some aliens.

    • I think this might be the way they go with it. HBO is famous for taking awesome books and turning them into amazing series with huge budgets but with sci-fi you’d need a very particular brand of fiction to ‘keep it classy’ as it were. I’d love to see HBO do something liks LOST where you have a lot of sci-fi elements but it’s very character focused (what HBO does best) and gets people talking about odd subjects, time-travel, aliens, crazy technologies etc. Someone please contact me to write an article called “LOST on HBO”.

  • SusanMorin

    Can’t wait for Dark Tower….Barberella? How fun!

    • Jefd

      BARBARELLA would be a fun, but it would certainly have to lose its campy tone to fit HBO’s style. I’d be suprised if they were interested; I onlymentioned it because I thought it would be neat.

  • Teaghan

    HBO should adapt the Stephen King books Cell and 11/22/63. They’re kind Sci-Fi-ish.

    • Jefd

      That could be in the realm of possibility as HBO is already in a development deal with King’s DARK TOWER works. Unfortunately, that has been a slow moving project. If it goes well other works might materialize.

  • Mwilso21

    Mass Effect would be perfect for HBO. It doesn’t have to follow the story line of the games, but the world(s) could be adapted so perfectly at HBO that I’m sure that with the right talent involved it could he something special. Also, there would finally be a great adaptation of a video game.

    • I agree. Huge Sci-Fi fan myself. Just like with GoT and fantasy.. I dont think the world has even SEEN a premium Sci-Fi show! Would love to see something on HBO.. it would be my dream come true honestly.

    • Jefd

      Actually, that notion does not seem that far -fetched.

      A little snooping on my part has revealed that the Mass Effect franchise has already been purchased by Warner Bros and, of course, Warner is the parent company of HBO. Could HBO take on the Reapers?










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