So, I’ve decided to write up some expanded versions of arguments I’ve presented on twitter regarding what things would be awesome if someone adapted them for TV. First up:
Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels
Why the books are awesome:
Note: If you haven’t read the books, go read them. (The Warriors Apprentice is where you should start.) Everyone I’ve gotten to read them has loved them, even people who don’t normally read anywhere near the genre. There are a lot of specific details, especially of characterization, that I don’t want to spoil, so you’ll have to either read the books or just take my word for it: they’re epic.
Imagine if the most delicious, fluffy, buttery popcorn were also highly nutritious. That’s what these books are.
It’s rather hard to explain the appeal of the series to those who haven’t read it. A rather simplistic approach might be to say that it’s a bit like Star Trek meets Game of Thrones meets West Wing. Meets John Le Carre, with a nice side of comedy of manners.
They’re space opera, but Bujold’s approach to space opera is unusual. They have plenty of awesome space travel and military SF stuff — which is great — but they also have an unusual degree of social awareness.
They explore collisions not just of military powers but also of the values, ethics, and mores of competing human civilizations. And while this is also true of, say, Star Trek, Bujold marries those values, ethics, and mores to multifaceted characters and explores their evolution over time in a way that Star Trek has seldom attempted and almost never achieved. (The closest I can think of are the best of the DS9 storylines that deal with Kira, Garak, and Odo.)
And her characters — god, they’re fantastic. And often very, very different from what we’ve come to expect in popular science fiction heroes. They’re truly heroes (not anti-heroes, not even the tortured ones), but they come in all shapes, sizes, and genders (and transgenders!), and their heroism has different roots and takes different paths than one often expects.
Why a TV show would be awesome:
We are badly in need of a good space show. Previous space shows have mostly fallen into the category of Star Trek or Star Trek-alike, or military sci-fi. I’ve enjoyed a lot of those shows, and I’d love to see more of them — but even more, I’d love to see something that stretches outside the domains established by Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica. And I think a show that pushed beyond the “ship errant” or “space border” concepts could find an audience.
There seems to be a fairly strong interest now in violent, sexy, intrigue-filled costume dramas. Mostly these are “historical” in nature, or, in the case of Game of Thrones, high fantasy. But I think that interest could be transferred to a space setting.
Bujold’s characters would also help expand our idea of what heroes look like. (Which is something we badly need, especially in the US.)
In particular, I think audiences are ready for a protagonist like Miles Vorkosigan — the small, crippled genius who lies and schemes his way to saving people, planets, and civilizations, and who is utterly obsessed with honor and with loyalty to a society that would be happy to murder him for his birth defects. Science fiction TV has had enough tough, square-jawed protagonists. (Sorry, Nathan Fillion.)
Why it will never happen
It might be expensive. It would combine the costlier aspects of a series like Battlestar Galactica (lots of ships, lots of varied high-tech environments) with the cosltier aspects of a series like Game of Thrones (different regions with significantly different costumes and locations, etc.)
And while I think that audiences are ready for Bujold’s heroes, I suspect a network might see it differently. I mean, we can all agree that Tyrion is the best character on Game of Thrones (RIGHT?), but that show would probably never have made it to production if he were the central character. And Tyrion is the closest thing to Miles that TV audiences will have seen to date.
On top of which, space shows seem to have trouble getting traction lately. Look at Defying Gravity or Stargate Universe. Both were interesting shows, each in its own way, and neither was able to either stay on the air very long, or to keep a story coherent and on point accross the series’s duration.