Hey, why not remake "The Starlost"?

The new Battlestar Galactica series seems to have been (mostly) well-received by the viewing audience. At any rate, there’s a general consensus that it’s much, much better than the campy original series.

Got me to thinking: The 1973 series The Starlost (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069638/) is perhaps the most tragic story in the history of little-screen SF. (I mean the fate of the series, not its content, was tragic.) Harlan Ellison had such a brilliant concept for a series set aboard a generation starship, with a good story-arc built in (our heroes have to find the bridge and save the ship, but to find it they have to explore all these bubble-worlds preserving countless different Earth cultures). And Production Hell turned into such a piece of shit that he invoked the contract clause allowing him to be credited as “Cordwainer Birds,” notifying all his friends, “This is for the birds!” And then, mid-season cancellation, and SF had its own cautionary-tale equivalent of the Edsel in the auto industry. (You can read the story in the Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starlost.)

So if BSG can be done again and better, why not The Starlost? Is this a project any TV producer would have the balls to touch?

Never saw it, but there isn’t a reason why it couldn’t be done.

Probably the hurtles come in

A) finding a good writer/producer who knows of and liked the original series who would want to do a remake

B) convincing a studio that people would want to watch it. BSG had the advantage of having a well known name which this show doesn’t.

But if they find a good creative staff, I’d give it a try.

The number of producers who can stand Harlan can be counted on the thumbs of one hand. If JMS wants to remake it, it stands a chance. Otherwise, it belongs to the ages. Unfortunately. It was a great concept. :smiley:

I loved the show! All six episodes!. (But then, I was a kid. Kids sometimes have a higher tolerance for crap.)

I read the book (I’ve forgotten who wrote it) years later, like in the '80s. Good story – as was the first half of it, which was Ellison ranting about the making of the series. I’ve always felt a little bit ‘cheated’ that they never found Nemesis.

Yes, it was a good idea; but I don’t see it being remade until Ellison snuffs it. Unless he’s very hard up for money, I think he’s probably bitter enough (Harlan Ellison, bitter? :eek: ) that he won’t allow it to be made.

No . . . I think it would work better – much better – done by a writer/producer who has read Ellison’s original “Phoenix Without Ashes” story treatment, but who never actually saw The Starlost on TV. :rolleyes: Tabula rasa, you know?

Or any fan of Ellison’s oeuvre, circa 1970-1985.

Think bad, very bad shot straight on video effects.

The lack of production values makes “Quark” look like Gone With the Wind.

It was that bad, or worse.


I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Ellison just published “Phoenix Without Ashes” as a novel, in collaboration with Edward Bryant. It’s basically the first episode of “The Starlost”, but as Ellison conceived it, rather than as it was actually filmed.

I think, rather than a remake of “The Starlost”, they should reboot it with Ellison himself producing. With a huuuuuge budget.

Producing a show means working with other people. I think that in and of itself disqualifies Harlan.

As a kid I loved that show. Was the ark a reuse of the ship from Running Silent?

Is Orphans of the Sky the first novel about a generation ship? Not just mentioning one, but taking place in the ship?

I loved myself as a kid.


I never saw the show. I probably would have loved it.

I think a new series like that would be kind of bleak. We’ve already had Stargate Universe.
Maybe if some of the colony sections are less then depressing.

I say screw the Battlestar Galactica remake mentality. All the fans it got who were too cool to love the original ended up lambasting the new series for having an ending with too much imagination.

All you zombie followers should read Ben Bova’s The Starcrossed, which fictionalizes the experience of the show quite accurately.

Silent Running.

Starlost ship
Silent Running ships

Similar concepts, but the The Starlost ship was much, much larger. The domes were supposed to be 50 miles in diameter. I think they were said to be two miles in diameter in the series. I don’t remember. It’s been a while since I read the story and Ellison’s rant, but I think this is what happened: The producers said they couldn’t shoot 50 miles; they could only shoot two miles before the image got muddy. Ellison told them to shoot two miles and call it 50 miles. It’s TV, and ‘Have you looked outside lately?’ Instead the producers shot two-mile landscapes and decided that the domes were two miles across. I don’t know if the size of the domes on Berkshire and her sister ships was mentioned, but they looked to be only a few hundred feet in diameter.

How could you possibly have a self-sustaining colony in a dome that small?

I think that was Ellison’s point, which he was making in Phoenix Without Ashes. I don’t remember if he mentioned the sustainability of such small domes, but he did mention the issue of the protagonists fleeing the people who didn’t know they were on a ship. The townies (‘Domies’?) would be trying to hunt them down. Ellison said something like, ‘A two-mile dome? All the people would have to do is join hands and walk across to find them!’

That’t the thing. With 50-mile domes, the different cultures could sustain themselves and, over time, forget they are on a space ship. The whole point was that some or most of these people didn’t know they were on a ship. With small domes, you’d think people would notice.

For a riff on the idea, read Eric Flint & David Freer’s Slow Train to Arcturus.

…I’d much rather see Ben Bova’s The Starcrossed made some how. I loved the book when I first read it: I had no idea it was based on a “true story.”