Wed
Nov 9 2011 4:30pm

Ridley Scott’s Prophets of Science Fiction Mini-Series Starts Tonight

Iconic director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, the forthcoming Prometheus) produces and hosts a new eight-part miniseries for the Science Channel that hopes to be the definitive exploration of science fiction’s ability to spark real-world genius. Profiling one legendary author per episode, the show features a wide range of talking heads, from theorectical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku to Starship Troopers director Paul Verhoeven, discussing seminal works of literature and the scientific facts they predicted. Upcoming episodes look at the writings of Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, Phillip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein and... George Lucas.

The premiere episode examines Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, presented as “the first science fiction novel.” The story of Victor Frankenstein and his doomed creation has been widely studied since publication, but examining it through a prism of modern-day organ transplantation, the Human Genome Project, and in-vitro fertilization made the material fresh. However, some of the talking points were a bit forced, heralding Shelley as a visionary who predicted electric batteries and even super-computers.

All episodes seek to answer a central question: What is human? What is freedom? What is reality? To that effect, I’m very interested in seeing some of the more modern classic authors profiled, especially Dick. Yet I bristle at the inclusion of George Lucas. Did no one want to discuss William Gibson, for example? The stories credited (by most) with popularizing cyberspace and virtual reality seems more fitting for scientific dissection than the pioneer of light sabers, midichlorians, and, yes, even CGI. Lucas is certainly a visionary of science fiction, in his fashion, but including him in the line-up dilutes an otherwise cool opportunity to discuss seminal authors. Maybe next season?

Prophets of Science Fiction premieres tonight at 10pm E/PT on the Science Channel.


Theresa DeLucci is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. She covers games, books, and television, including True Blood and Game of Thrones, for Tor.com. Follow her on Twitter @tdelucci.

6 comments
David Spiller
1. scifidavid
I'm really looking forward to this series. Science Channel has been doing a fantastic job recently with Firefly, Dark Matters, The Prophets of Science Fiction, not to mention Sci Fi Science, Through the Worm Hole and Stephen Hawking's show, it has become a "go to" channel for me.
Leviatham
2. Leviatham
Where is Jules Verne in that list of names?

Please tell me he'll look into Jules Verne too!
Leviatham
3. Pietro
I'm a little confused here is there a difference between the discovery science the US receives and the one provided to Canadians. So far there has been no Firefly, no Stephen Hawkings... just some fraken guys searching for meteorites.
Leviatham
4. Irving Kropotnik
...and Paul Verhoeven, who disregarded 90% of what Heinlein wrote to make "Starship Troopers" is also included. How is he any kind of prophet? So he did "Robocop"--so what? Harlan did it first.
@Pietro--we Canadians get shafted for a lot of good shows, but they are really great about sharing trash TV with us.
(...and hey, Captcha--what kind of word is "ystencs"? Just sayin'...)
--and now I can't post in my own name because "this alias is in use"--hey, dudes, I'm the one and only with this name!
Theresa DeLucci
5. theresa_delucci
@2 Yes! Jules Verne is one of the people profiled. Sorry to have left him out. His episode is tentatively scheduled for February 8th. Odd, looking at the schedule, I didn't realize the series was taking a hiatus through December and January.

I'll post the tentative schedule if people are interested.

@3 Sadly, yeah, Discovery Science in Canada is different from the Science Channel in the U.S. I date a Canadian. I feel your pain.

@4 Verhoeven isn't a prophet being profiled, he's just one of the talking heads who'll be featured talking about Heinlein in the episode. Apologies if that was unclear. I totally agree with your opinion of him not being the best choice to talk about Heinlein. However, I guess since he's a director buddy of Scott's and adapted Starship Troopers, however poorly, it gives him some legitimacy. By cable-TV standards anyway. But I will always defend Robocop. I even like Starship Troopers in parts, just not as an adaptation in any form.

And now I'm in the mood to watch No Maps for These Territories again so I can watch a really interesting documentary about one of my favorite writers. You Canadians can hopefully watch it on YouTube. Netflix offers the DVD, but DVD-by-mail service is still not available up there, if I remember my boyfriend's angry grumbling correctly.
Leviatham
6. David Donaghe
I am a fan of anything science fiction or horror. I'm looking forward to seeing the show. http://dhdonaghe.blogspot.com/

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