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Imagination Connoisseur, Brendan Kraus, writes in to explain his interest in the science fiction genre and his thoughts about its future.
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I’ve been a fan of yours for a while now. First a quick story. You probably don’t remember but at the 2016 Long Beach Comic Con Expo you were doing a Collider Heroes panel. After the panel yourself, I and another gentleman started talking about comics, sci-fi and various other fandom related topics.
Our conversation moved to the parking lot and lasted so long that the con had actually ended by the time we finished talking (if by chance you remember talking to a then 19 year-old Hispanic male at the 2016 Long Beach Comic Expo who was probably wearing board shorts and clothing that would suggest he is going to the beach as opposed to a comic convention that was me).
Not to sound elitist, but I find it difficult to find YoutTube channels with high knowledge hosts. I find that many popular movie, comic and sci- fi channels feature hosts who perhaps have a limited knowledge outside of the current mainstream. I even question if many of the popular people I see online are truly passionate about the things they claim to love but that is a different letter for another day.
I appreciate your knowledge on all thing’s fandom and genuine passion for what you talk about. Talking to you at Long Beach Expo it was clear to me that you are just as passionate in person as you are online, and it was a pleasure talking to you that day.
I wanted to ask you about science fiction and its future. Sci-Fi is my favorite genre in every medium of storytelling minus comics where superheroes will always be #1. I’m curious what you think the next decade has in store for science fiction movies and tv?
I think the future will be adaptation. Perhaps it is recency bias playing with my mind, but I feel like in the last few years we have gotten more adaptations of sci-fi literature than ever before. Ted Chiang’s soulful sci-fi was finally introduced to the mainstream via Arrival, Jeff VanderMeer’s Lovecraftian tale of sci-fi horror was adapted very well with Annihilation and my all time favorite book series The Expanse was adapted into a series that in my opinion left a lot to be desired and pales when compared with the books.
I look towards the future and can’t believe how many sci-fi books I love are in development. Herbet’s opus, Dune, is coming next year and looks great, Asimov’s legendary series Foundation is actually being made by Apple with a budget which blows my mind to think about, Liu Cixun’s The Three Body Problem which was only recently introduced to English speakers is in development at Netflix, Anne Leckie’s modern classic Ancillary Justice is going to be a tv show and Halo, the most influential console shooter of all time will be coming to showtime next year.
I’m curious if you see the genre moving into a space where the primary content we are receiving is adaptations of sci-fi literature and what that would look like?
I mentioned Ted Chiang above who I think is the greatest sci-fi short story writer ever. The idea of his beautiful stories like The Lifecycle of Software Objects being handled with the same care that Arrival was is music to my ears. Now obviously not all of these upcoming adaptations will end up good, but the hope is that they are all done by people who are super passionate about the source material.
While the prospect of this does excite me I do question how much money is left for original sci-fi properties to flourish. Again, perhaps I’m just a victim of the moment but I look at Devs by Alex Garland. It was my favorite piece of science fiction released this year and from what I can see most everyone who saw it enjoyed the series. The thing is not many people it seems saw it from what I gather.
If Alex Garland wanted to hypothetically make a 2nd season of the show with a similar budge I sadly question if Hulu would write him the cheque. Outside of you not a single YouTube channel I follow talked about it. For movies I look at something like Ad Astra, a beautiful space odyssey about facing the unknown and coming to terms with who we are. Like Devs it seems most people who saw the movie enjoyed it but with a gross of 135 million versus a production budget of 100 it almost certainly lost money, and that was with a name like Brad Pitt as the lead.
Looking down the totem pole at the lower budge stuff I question how that area will survive going forward. By chance did you see the 2018 Keanu Reeves bomb Replicas? It was a very poor movie but I question how movies that want to be in that lower budget bracket can possibly find funding looking ahead. Even the good ones like Prospect, a wonderful 70s inspired sci-fi prospecting western starring Pedro Pascal which got good reviews struggled to make any money.
When I saw the movie, I was legit the only person in my whole theater. I fear that studios will look at all these original properties struggling and start to shift the focus only towards adaptation of known IP. While it seems to be a problem across all genres of film, I worry for the future of mid to low budget sci-fi movies and wonder how much more difficult it will become for them to find funding.
Sorry if my thoughts seem a little cluttered but I supposed what this all boils down to are two questions. Do you see adaptations of sci-fi literature taking us into the future and what effect will it have (if any) on original properties being made?
All the best,