Comic-Con 2009: The "Anti-Star Trek" Comes One Step Closer to the Big Screen

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | July 28, 2009 1:20 pm

shrapnel_paperback_main.jpegRadical 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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conferences, Space

Comments (5)

  1. Well now, I hadn’t heard about Shrapnel until now, but I’ll have to check it out. This is a great article and Shrapnel reminds me of the film with Sean Connery, Outland. It was a gritty and tough mining station that Sean Connery’s character was sent to as the marshall. Still, it was more than just a “western shoot ‘em up” in space, it was an excellent genre movie to be sure. Thanks for the information on Shrapnel.

    Check out my first and recently released novel, Long Journey to Rneadal. This exciting tale is a romantic action adventure in space and is more about the characters than the technology.

  2. browncoat

    kinda sounds like Firefly

  3. Janus

    Most SF is “anti-Star trek” now. Old SF is optimistic and bright, and lots of rose-colored lenses were used, to be sure. But modern SF has embraced the other side of the fad, dark and pessimistic, grim and anti-heroic. Even Star Trek became “anti-Star Trek” with DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise, which is one reason fans drifted away from it. People need a bright, optimistic heroic tale now and then to soothe the soul. Sorry, Mr. Sagan; “anti-Star Trek” is not a selling point anymore when everyone is doing it.

  4. Janus, while I’d take issue with the idea that the SF of yesteryear is necessarily “optimistic and bright” compared to today (take Harlan Ellison’s wonderfully dark 1967 story ‘I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream’ for example), I do think you’re right for objecting to my referring to Shrapnel as “the” anti-Star Trek. That’s a slip of the tongue; I meant and should have said “an.” No disrespect to other science fiction was intended, nor do we feel that Shrapnel is reinventing the wheel. I’m just personally excited about the story we’re telling, and as a former Star Trek writer, I see it running contrary to the themes we explored on Next Generation and Voyager in a variety of interesting ways.

  5. Bob L

    The plot seems kind of odd for hard scifi doesn’t it? You would think with the kind technology available to a civilization spanning the solar system any last stand would more of an instant annihilation of the losing side.

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