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With Childhood’s End, Syfy Bets Big on Sci-Fi Classics

With Childhood's End, Syfy Bets Big on Sci-Fi Classics | WIRED

This past week Syfy premiered Childhood’s End, a six-hour adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic first contact novel. The show is part of an ambitious new slate of book-to-TV adaptations being overseen by Bill McGoldrick, Syfy’s new head of original programming. And while Hollywood is known for misguided rewrites of sci-fi classics, McGoldrick was determined to create a faithful adaptation of Clarke’s novel.

“We all just wanted to honor the book,” McGoldrick says in Episode 181 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And really give him the recognition that he was just so prescient, because all of the themes and all of the things he was writing about are so valid today.”

For years Syfy has tried to broaden their appeal beyond science fiction fans, populating the channel with ghost hunters, pro wrestlers, and low-budget creature features like Sharknado and Mansquito. And while that did pull in new viewers, it also alienated sci-fi fans. McGoldrick was brought in with a clear mandate: lure the fans back with smart, ambitious shows. Adapting classic books is part of that plan.

“We want to honor that core fan base that is passionate about the material,” says McGoldrick. “We’re really trying to focus on that core audience, and I think the way to do that is to respect the stuff they really liked in the first place.”

One thing fans are passionate about is space opera shows like Farscape, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica. But in recent years Syfy simply lacked the budget to create those kinds of shows.

“If you don’t have the budget to go up into space and try to make that feel authentic, you might have to do some things that don’t play to the core as much as sci-fi fans would like,” McGoldrick says.

But things have changed. The success of core genre shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead have persuaded Syfy’s parent company, Comcast, to invest big in the channel. That means new Syfy shows like Childhood’s End and The Expanse are full of gorgeous visuals and jaw-dropping special effects. McGoldrick promises that future book adaptations, which include classic works by Aldous Huxley, Frederik Pohl, and Dan Simmons, will have a similar focus on quality.

“The wallet will open for the right show, and that’s what makes it so exciting to have this job right now,” he says.

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Have you seen it? Is it as good as it sounds?

Yes, I've watched the first 2 of 3.  It is good.

Thanks Janill. Will put it on my to-watch list. 

From Wikipedia

Clarke's idea for the book began with his short story "Guardian Angel" (1946), which he expanded into a novel in 1952, incorporating it as the first part of the book, "Earth and the Overlords". Completed and published in 1953, Childhood's End sold out its first printing, received good reviews, and became Clarke's first successful novel. The book is often regarded by both readers and critics as Clarke's best novel,[2] and is described as "a classic of alien literature".[3] Along with The Songs of Distant Earth (1986), Clarke considered Childhood's End one of his favourite own novels.[4] The novel was nominated for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2004.

Several attempts to adapt the novel into a film or miniseries have been made with varying levels of success. Director Stanley Kubrick expressed interest in the 1960s, but collaborated with Clarke on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) instead. The novel's theme of transcendent evolution also appears in Clarke's Space Odyssey series, and is attributed to the influence of British author Olaf Stapledon.[

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