Radical Publishing’s Shrapnel is one step closer to becoming a real, honest-to-God movie now that director Len Wiseman (Underworld, etc) has signed on. The graphic novel—written by Nick Sagan, Mark Long, and M. Zachary Sherman, with art by Bagus Hutomo—is billed as a “Joan of Arc in space” story. During the last day at Comic-Con, Sagan, son of the famous cosmologist Carl Sagan and a respected science-fiction writer himself, spoke to SciNoFi about the project.
“I think of Shrapnel as the anti-Star Trek,” says Sagan, who wrote several episodes for the franchise. “Instead of putting aside our differences to boldly go and do great things, I’m not sure that’s the way it’s going to actually happen. Shrapnel is based on the idea that we do colonize the solar system, but it’s not clean and optimistic. The haves are putting the screws to the have-nots. The story is about the last stand of the last free colony in the solar system.”
But moreover it reflects about man’s battle with himself—pitting the thin veneer of civilization against millions of years of evolutionary programming. “Higher levels of technology allow fewer people to do more damage,” says Sagan. “That’s going to be a real challenge for us. There’s a belief that if we branch out into the solar system, if something goes terribly wrong on Earth, we have an escape route. That’s a hopeful idea, but we tend to take our problems with us wherever we go. As a science-fiction writer, I feel my responsibility is to look ahead and see the dangers of what might happen, and try to warn people of the potential pitfalls.
“It’s an understandable criticism that with so much to fix on earth, why are we going off into space? But space exploration brings an appeal to the spirit and sense of wonder, not to mention opportunities to bring enemies together in a joint effort.”
Sagan—actually his voice—is already representing Earth to the universe: His father included his six-year-old voice saying, “Hello from the children of planet Earth,” on a record aboard NASA’s Voyager (aka V’ger).
“Years later high school friends would tell me that because I sent a message to the stars, my family would be spared by invading aliens,” he said. “They asked if I could put them on the list. I’d say, ‘Suuuurre… how much do you have on you?’”
—Guest-blogger Susan Karlin