As a huge sci-fi fan, I’m always on the look out for a new mind-bending TV show to dive into (especially if it’s inspired by an awesome book!). But every once in a while a sci-fi show flies right under my radar. Maybe that’s because the bigger networks rarely tackle a huge science fiction drama, or maybe it’s just because sci-fi has always been slightly regulated to cult status rather than a part of the mainstream. Regardless, sometimes I need to educate myself on the best hidden science fiction shows out there. If they’re based on my favorite books, all the better.
Here’s a list of sci-fi shows you probably aren’t watching, but most definitely should be –- plus, a couple of books that definitely need to be made into a TV show ASAP:
Based on a series of books by James S.A. Corey, this Syfy network show explores the world two hundred years in the future after humans have colonized the solar system. It follows several different storylines from a detective looking for a missing girl to ice trawlers who stumble into tragedy to politicians trying to stop a war from breaking out between Earth and Mars. This show is apparently epic, has gotten rave reviews and looks so good I’m getting goosebumps just from the trailer. I can’t believe I’m not watching this yet, but I definitely plan to catch up before season 2 premieres in 2017.
I only have three words for you: space bounty hunters. Dutch, John and D’avin travel from planet to planet hunting down criminals in a far-off solar system called Quad. At the same time, they’re trying (unsuccessfully) to stay out of the class wars that are erupting across all the planets. Originally a Canadian show on the Space channel, Killjoys is now co-produced by Syfy. The second season premieres in July, which gives us all enough time to binge-watch season 1 before it starts.
I’ve technically heard of this show, especially after it won the Golden Globe for best television drama last year. But I still haven’t seen it yet. A show about hacker vigilantes, Mr. Robot is classified as a thriller, though it certainly feels like sci-fi to a non-techie like me. It follows Elliot, an expert hacker who suffers from social anxiety and finds himself caught up in a hacktivist plot to take down the one percent. Timely and engrossing, I’m sure once I start watching this show I won’t be able to stop.
If The Twilight Zone were set in the far future, it would be called Black Mirror. Every episode is a standalone story, but each one examines some very messed up part of society or the future, playing on our current sociological issues like isolation, consumerism, obsessions with technology, etc. If it sounds complicated that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not insanely compelling, entertaining and thought-provoking. This is one series I have seen (it’s a British show, but available on Netflix), and it’s unbelievably good. So good that they’re working on developing an American version, as well as filming season 3, which should air sometime this year.
Another Canadian import, Dark Matter airs on the Space Channel (and Syfy here in the States). It’s about six strangers who wake up on a space ship with no idea who they are or how they got there, though they still retain certain skills, like fighting or navigation. They refer to each other as numbers while they try and unravel the mystery of their own memories. Season 2 returns July 1, so catch up on the first season while you still can.
In the not-so-distant future, L.A. has been colonized, with all the citizens living under enemy rule behind a massive wall. The invaders are some sort of alien force, though no one ever sees them, and people try to go about their lives in a relatively normal fashion. Think France during WWII, only with lots of technology and a looming extraterrestrial threat. Our hero, Will, goes searching for his missing son, only to be recruited by the enemy to stop the insurgents. He and his family have to decide what side they’re truly on, and how deep into the resistance they’re willing to go. Honestly, I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about this USA show as it looks kind of amazing. Luckily it will be back next year for season 2.
In my defense, I did see the first season of this reality show for Syfy. I’m not sure why I stopped watching, as it’s so. Good. A lot of reality shows make you wonder where the talent really lies, but not Face Off. Each season is a competition to name the best prosthetic makeup artists as they come up with designs, masks and make up that would be fit for any sci-fi, horror, or fantasy production. There have already been 10 seasons (!), with the 11th premiering sometime in 2017. Check this out if you like competition shows, or watching masters excel at their craft.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles), Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends, 2012)
Meyer’s beloved young adult series mixes fairy tale myths with science fiction elements like cyborgs, mutations, and androids. Book one tells the story of Cinder (based on Cinderella), a cyborg who’s treated like a second class citizen before eventually falling for Prince Kai. With each new book, the Lunar Chronicles introduces us to more sci-fi fairy tale characters and builds on their intergalactic struggles. The latest, Fairest, was published in February and explains the life and rise of the evil Queen Levana. I can definitely see this series is as an epic sci-fi show -– think Once Upon a Time meets Battlestar Galactica. That is one mash up I would never want to miss.
The City of Mirrors (The Passage Trilogy), Justin Cronin (Ballantine Books, 2016)
I love a good post-apocalyptic tale, and Cronin’s Passage series is one of the best: a government experiment goes horribly wrong, releasing a vampire-like virus that threatens to destroy the world. Throughout the series, Cronin takes you through the apocalypse itself to the aftermath and the daily struggle it takes to survive. The Walking Dead has proven that TV can handle a giant, devastating apocalyptic event and what comes next. Instead of zombies, I think it’s time for a little horrific vampire-action to hit our screens.