'Childhood's End' Producers Talk Long Road to Adaptation

Childhood's End Arthur C. Clark - P 2014

Childhood's End Arthur C. Clark - P 2014

One of the most revered works of science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 novel Childhood's End has famously never been adapted to for the screen. That changes Dec. 14 when Syfy debuts the long-gestating miniseries based on the book.

The 62-year wait puts a bit of pressure on the project, something executive producers Matthew Graham and Michael De Luca were quite aware of when they set out to make the six-hour series about an earth coerced into a utopia by mysterious aliens.

"As people who love the book ourselves, we felt a responsibility to do it justice — mostly we came from a place of wanting to please ourselves," said De Luca. "In doing that, we think we'll please the fans."

Graham, who also penned the project, said the same pressure is on those who've done adaptations of the many works of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. "You're going to be faced with the same or even greater sense of custodianship," he said. "You can't let that stymie yourself. You can't change the book. It will always be the same book."

One reporter pushed them on whether the tone of the project would have been different had it been filmed closer to its publication and before events like the attacks on Sept. 11 and increased global conflicts. There's no difference to making the show now than in the 1950s," said Graham. "All of the stakes we live in under the moment seem almost indistinguishable to me."

Graham, who says he first read the book when he was 14, admitted he never wondered why it hadn't been made into a film or television series at the time. "I didn't think of it being a movie," he said. "I just remember being obsessed with what the overlords looked like as he teased that out over the course of the book."

Speaking of which, the image of the omnipresent alien Karellen, voiced here by Charles Dance, will hold up to what is described in the novel.

"To those people who have read the book, I assure you that Karellen is the Karellen of the book," insisted Graham. "He is not taken metaphorically. It would be crazy to deviate from what Arthur C Clarke did."