Sunday, 10 March 2019

Love, Death & Robots




Two of my stories have been adapted as part of Tim Miller and David Fincher's new animated anthology series for Netflix, entitled Love, Death & Robots. The stories are Zima Blue, from 2004, and Beyond the Aquila Rift, from 2005. Although they're both approaching a decade and half old, and I've written a great deal since, I'd have to admit that they are still among my favorite personal stories. Both pieces lent their titles to collections, and both were originally bought by Peter Crowther, of PS Publishing, to whom I remain indebted. I'm very pleased that they've been adapted, and I look forward to seeing the episodes in their entirety. Aside from the stage production of Diamond Dogs (which was also a story bought by Peter!) these are the first adaptations of my work in any medium.

Here's a link to Netflix's own page for the series:


Be warned that the trailers are very much Not Safe For Work. There's a lot more out there if you're prepared to dig around, including some mini-trailers for the individual stories.

The series premiers on March 15th.








42 comments:

  1. Two of my favorite stories as well! Can't wait to see this series on Friday!

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  2. Awesome! "DisneyWood" could learn something from Netflix and HBO. They could learn that a lot of us read books as teenagers, not comic books.

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  3. Very good stories both of them.
    Mr.Reynolds Have you ever considered writing novel together with Peter Watts? I assume it might turn to be a great book
    Thanks

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  4. Wow. Would be incredible if this helps to pave the way for more adaptations of your work...

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  5. Congratulations! I'm really excited to see the results :)

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    1. Just wanted to add that I found them really good! Especially Zima Blue. Hoping to see more in the future! (although I still prefer the originals of course)

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  6. Hooray! Finally! hopefully this will be the start of many more AR adaptations to come! (here's hoping for a Netflix or Amazon RS series :) )

    And can you share anything about the process for you on this? Like, how were the stories chosen, etc?

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    1. About to say the same thing. So great to see my favourite author getting more exposure. Always imagined Poseidon's Children or RS would make incredible mind-blowing series on one of the big networks like HBO. Congrats!

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    2. I had no say in the process. I was approached via the Usual Channels about interest in adapting two of my short stories, and (after agreeing, and the usual contractual back-and-froing) that's more or less where my involvement ended. Blue studios actually acquired three of my pieces, but only because the reporter from Zima Blue shows up in another piece (The Real Story). But they only intended to make the two that they eventually did.

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    3. Ah, that's interesting. Wonder how they picked those 2 in the first place. Whether someone on the production side had already read and liked them, or whether someone else recommended them (or maybe you in general). Thanks for the insight!

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  7. Very cool! It's good to see your work adapted for the screen. Hope to see that happening more in the future!

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  8. I watched the Netflix "series." I liked some, did not care for several, but I loved Beyond the Aquila Rift. I loved the art style and seeing AR's work on screen was a true thrill. I would love nothing more than for more stories in the next season (if there is one), or better yet, make a movie version of Revelation Space in this same style. Congrats Alastair, this is awesome stuff.

    PS... I loved the Zima Blue short too but not as much as Aquila.

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  9. Just getting into the series. Still have Zima Blue to watch. Very good stuff overall. Nice to see some recognition for an author whose work (all of it) I've read. Trying to keep up: just starting Shadow Captain.

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  10. I really enjoyed Beyond the Aquila Rift. Although I haven't read the story for a number of years it soon came flooding back to me (I believe its one of only two of your stories where you use a kind of FTL transport method?). I always love it when you add some real chilling horror into your SF, reminding us that space travel through a vast cosmos would be a very scary thing!

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  11. Peter Hamilton and I went up to London last week to see six of the episodes, including Peter's Sonnie's Edge, and my Beyond the Aquila Rift. We enjoyed both our adaptations (Peter had seen his already) although I spent most of the time pinching myself that I was actually seeing one of my stories up on a screen. Obviously tastes are going to vary concerning the graphic content of both episodes (Peter's and mine), and I'll admit that there were aspects of my adaptation that really pushed me out of my comfort zone, but the execution was so gorgeous and immersive that I was left reeling, and I think the perspective shift at the end of Rift ... was handled very effectively. I gather from reports of people who have watched the episode again that there is a fair bit of subtle foreshadowing, so I look forward to re-watching it with a closer attention to detail. And, I'm very much looking forward to seeing Zima Blue.

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    1. I'm a fan of the original story, I love the cosmic horror angle. I watched the adaptation with my son tonight. I'm trying to get him into good science fiction at the moment. We both were impressed by the production and it was a joy to experience a story I love with my son. The massive CGI shagathon was a bit much though.

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  12. I loved both adaptations. Beyond the Aquila Rift simply blew me away though. The CGI is simply amazing in it.

    One thing I've been pondering is the fact that they gave it quite a horror spin. Most people interpret the story as a parasite feeding on the hapless survivors. I re-read the story and to me it was always an act of compassion. An alien lifeform trying to console and care for the lost souls by slowly trying to get them to accept the fact that their previous lives are lost forever and to accept that they won't be able to return to the world they knew. Or is that just me?

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  13. I actually had managed to forget what exactly happens in both stories so the twist at the end still worked as a surprise, apart from the foreshadowing falling into place.

    The reveal of her true form at the end of Aquila Rift was brilliant! I understood it as him being fed a false reality from a benevolent creature, but still when she's revealed I got this visceral reaction of horror and disgust.

    And Zima Blue is just sooo beautiful. They took the story about an artist and made every single moment into a piece of art itself. It also fits so well with the story which is also somehow simple and neat and painfully beautiful.

    Not all of the other ones were quite for me, but the whole thing reminded me of the joy of scifi short story anthologies. I hope they continue with this :)

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  14. Echoing many of the comments here - I watched your two stories (on an unforgivably small screen) and I thought the adaptation of them was absolutely pitch-perfect. The CGI is just incredible. Started watching the rest - I had no idea "Sonnie's Edge" was a Peter F. Hamilton story, but I really enjoyed that one too.

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  15. General reaction online to the series, and your stories in particular, have been very positive. I've watched all 18 episodes, and with the exception of 2-3 they are all very good.

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  16. Alastair, are you embarrassed about how sexist these older stories appear now? Women as eye candy, victims, and girlfriends across the episodes including yours.

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    1. Then you can enjoy your exploitative nerd porn career free of guilt then Alastair? No responsibility to how women are viewed in science fiction for this top male author in the genre by the sounds.

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    2. yes, he can enjoy. And you can go cry about it in your SJW safe space or whatever.

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    3. just re-watched Zima Blue, but this time trying to obsess over which person is of which gender, as if it matters. So I guess the fact that the incredible genius that started Zima's evolution from a simple tool into a sentient being is female (and not even white, which for many also matters for some equally logical reasons) does not count when you have this much need to be offended and to create some righteous indignation over nothing.

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  17. I thought your first comment was about the two stories of mine that were adapted for the series (and having re-read them recently, I wouldn't have said they were susceptible to the criticisms you mention, which is why I answered as I did.) In your second post you seem to be making a more general point about my career as a whole, one which strongly suggests that you have already made your mind up.

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    1. In the adaptation of Beyond the Aquila Rift, the two women are either a slab of eye-candy meat girlfriend to be pawed at and gawped at or a trusty, loyal underling of the chiselled captain. My point was, did these tired and sexist tropes not give you pause for thought? You have written before about how you consider your female characters carefully but Love Death and Robots sends the genre (that you are a deserved leading figure in) back decades. Just wondered if the man that gave the world Volyova was conflicted about becoming a porn screenwriter. Anyway I am an old white dude too, so it is not me you have to explain yourself to. Also when they come calling for season 2 please sell them A Spy in Europa.

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    2. I personally feel that the adapted Beyond the Aquila Rift was far more misogynistic & objectifying than the original story, and that's one of the reasons I think it was a badly done adaptation. I do think there is sexism in the original story, but it stood out to me really because I found Alastair's work in general to actually. present women as well-rounded individuals instead of like sexy lamps or whatever. I vaguely remember feeling Revelation Space could've done better in this regard (and maybe there was a small annoyance in Absolution Gap) but in the other eight books I read I was very happy with the female characters, so the Aquila Rift adaptation sticks out so badly in this regard!

      I don't think adaptational objectification & misogyny can really be blamed on someone who wasn't involved in the process after giving permission for it to happen, so the only thing to judge Alastair on should be his actual writing (which in my humble trans opinion did contemporarily well on gender for a cishet man) and on his thoughts on the adaptation's misogyny. I am trying not to write this from the perspective of someone who was a megafan when they were younger but I have probably failed in that regard. The Love Death & Robots series has many many flaws and the Aquila Rift adaptation is badly done but it doesn't seem to me that Mr Reynolds is like at all the one who we should be yelling at!

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    3. If I'd written that story as a "third person omniscient viewpoint" narrative, loudly underscoring the fact that I approved of Thom's acts and opinions, you might have a point ... but I didn't. It's a first person narrative, deliberately constructed around Thom's willingness to cheat on his wife - even his willingess to (somewhat) objectify Suzy early in the story, when he remarks that she's beautiful but sharp. These are conscious authorial choices, not accidents of naivety. That story wasn't, as they say, my first rodeo.

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  18. When LD+R dropped into Netflix I thought this looks promising. The first story, Sonnies’ Edge I thought it seemed like a Peter F Hamilton rip-off... not realizing it was his work. Then when ‘Beyond the Aquila Rift’ popped up I was over the moon... Zima Blue was well done also.

    I hope we see more adaptations like these in the future. Maybe a Culture short to get the British collection of PFH, AR and IMB...

    M.

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  19. No need to feed the trolls Mr Reynolds. I have read everything you have written and and no stage have I found anything sexist in relation to female characters. This troll may be the same right wing guy that writes on your other posts but coming at you from a different angle. Love your work, keep it up.

    Rob

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  20. Dear Mr. Reynolds,
    I wrote this as my grateful gesture that you have made such a beautiful story which is now on screen (I am ordering the book right after I saw the show). If Love Death and Robots is a book, Zima Blue would be the only one in that book that I put a post it on and would be in my shelf for a very long time. (Although the thing is, I found out that it is really from the book, so the book will be with me for a very long time). Me and my fiance are a huge fan of Sci-Fi, I don't think we would ever stopped reading Sci-Fi until our last day alive. But Zima Blue, we have personal attachment to that story. It was the best 10 minutes I have ever had in my life, as me and my fiance cried at the end of it, "I am coming home" was my trigger. The story has a personal attachment to our current spiritual condition. SO, I cannot wait to get the book and then cry all over again when I read them. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    It's kind of exciting to be able to write this too.

    Regards,
    Eva

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  21. I watched most of the episodes and without a doubt the top three episodes were your two stories and Peter Hamilton’s “Sonnie’s Edge”. Hope in the future there will be more screen adaptations of your novels and/or short stories.

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  22. Al,
    I've been a long-time fan (I got "Revelation Space" when it was new in Hardcover ;) ). Zima Blue was fantastic, and pretty much spot-on for how the story played out in my mind as I read it more than 10 years ago. I think they adapted it pretty well. I wish I had read "Beyond the Aquila Rift" before watching it there, though - just so I could compare my own imagination/interpetation w/ that of the show. Still, it was awesome seeing some of your work out there in this medium.

    Looking forward to reading more of your work in the future!

    -Nick Ruisi

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  23. Beyond the aquila rift

    "I take care of all the lost souls that end up here"

    All life is precious.

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  24. I watched some of this series last night and have to say that they have done a good job on Aquila...I haven't got to Zima yet though

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  25. Re: the objectification of the female character in BtAR - I can't remember reading it, so I'm only reacting to the adaptation. At first I found the sex scene cringeworthy, standard male gaze crowd-pleasing (which I accredited to the directors, because that's not what I've seen from AR). But it made narrative sense at the end - it's the "host's" way of making the guy's experience as nice as possible, using his own memories and wishes. So the objectificaton is the fantasy of the male character.
    It's difficult to translate the first-person narrative of a shitty person to the objective 3rd person of TV.

    Anyway, I was thrilled to see AR finally adapted, and I hope this isn't the last time. Haven't seen Zima Blue yet, only got through the 6-7 first episodes, but I'm thrilled to see it. Equal parts awesome SF and cringey "this is adult animation so we need TITS AND VIOLENCE!!".

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  26. I enjoyed both adaptations a lot. All they did was 'sex' it up a bit. Believe it or not, sex still sells.

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  27. Hello! I though I would never find out the wholesome author who wrote Zima Blue. But here I am at you blog finally. So I have made it a personal mission in my life to make as many people I can to view that episode. I generally ask them that hey do you have 10 mins to spare, I promise it won't be boring at least and at most you'd be like me asking for ten small minutes from people you like!
    Thank you for writing this! And the animators who brought it to life.

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  28. It's been 2 -3 weeks since I've completed watching LD+R. Prior to, I was not acquainted with you or your work. Zima Blue moved me both spiritually and emotionally. I watched it several times, pausing between viewings to ponder and reflect. The wondrous animation, voice talent etc., etc and above all... the story. I have to find and learn more about the author and his works! I have since brought the book and completed "Understanding Space and Time". I loved its breath of scale along with many any other facets of its story. At the same time, I just completed Permafrost... loved it. In capable hands, Permafrost would translate to a fine screen adaptation. Your stories truly takes the reader on a journey. In these days authentic, periodic departures from "this thing called life" (yeah, just quoted Prince) are truly appreciated. Also wanted to mention, your style of writing is so accessible and a joy to read, especially considering the science within your stories. Well, something positive has definitely become of my Netflix subscription... my introduction and now journey as a literary fan of Alistair Reynolds!

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