American author George R. R. Martin wrote the science fiction horror novella Nightflyers, which was first published in 1980 as a shorter novella and then enlarged in 1981.
In 1985, a short story collection with the same name and the extended novella was published.
The brief novella was made into a movie with the same name in 1987. The longer novella was adapted for television in 2018, and on December 2nd, 2018, the SyFy Channel premiered it.
The enigmatic alien species known as the Volyn is said to have developed superior interstellar travel capabilities.
They are being sought out by a nine-person team of academic researchers from the planet Avalon led by astronomer Karoly d’Branin. Melantha Jhirl, a genetically modified dark-skinned person who is a head taller than the other academics, is the primary character.
D’Branin has chartered the Nightflyer, a modified trader owned by captain Royd Eris, in order to save money. The mysterious Royd stays in his own area of the ship and communicates with the passengers primarily through holograms.
Royd uses computer monitors to covertly observe travelers. The crew members wonder over the course of the following five weeks about their enigmatic captain’s secrecy.
Thale Lasamer, a telepath in the squad, feels there is a threat on board the Nightflyer. Agatha Marij-Black, the team’s psipsych, gives Thale psionine-4 to calm him down.
After xenotech Alys Northwind cuts her finger on a kitchen knife by mistake, things start to go south.
Captain Royd informs the crew that he is the cross-sex clone of his late merchant mother and has spent his entire existence in zero gravity space as tensions among the passengers rise owing to the ship’s confined and claustrophobic spaces.
Agatha provides Thale with the medication Esperon and instructs him to read Royd’s mind because she doesn’t trust Royd. However, something causes Thale’s head to blow up.
Agatha experiences shock. D’Branin continues the expedition because he is determined to find the Volyn, despite growing unhappiness among the crew.
Later that evening, in an effort to look into captain Royd, Lommie Thorne, a cyberneticist, and Alys try to hack into the ship’s computer systems. The airlock is opened by an unknown force, killing the two scholars and seriously damaging the Nightflyer.
The scholars agree to assist Royd in making repairs to the ship’s damaged structure despite their mistrust for one another. The xenobiologist Rojan Christopher uses a portable cutting laser to try to get access to captain Royd’s quarters, but he is killed by an unidentified force.
The enigmatic power that inhabits their bodies also kills the linguists Dannel and Lindran as they attempt to investigate. The ghost of Royd’s late mother is said to haunt the ship, according to d’Branin and Melantha.
Melantha and Royd try to retake the ship from Royd’s Mother as d’Branin and Agatha search for the Volyn on a gravity sled. The volcryn are enormous, space-dwelling beings, as d’Branin learns.
In the mass conversion unit of the spacecraft, Melantha is able to exterminate Dannel and Lindran’s possessed bodies. By re-establishing the ship’s gravity, Royd is able to conquer his Mother but perishes in the process.
He manages to morph into a ghost and wrest control of the ship away from Mother. Melantha resolves to spend her final days aboard the Nightflyer, rejecting Royd’s requests to have the ship repaired because of the threat posed by the ghostly beings on board.
She plans to clear the ship’s computers before departing for the nearest populated world and destroying the core crystal before she passes away. Melantha swears she won’t let Royd be with his deceased mother alone.
The Nightflyers’ Characters
Even though Nightflyers wasn’t bad, there was simply too much going on. Let’s list a few of the characters now. There were enormous, amorphous alien blobs that emit bioluminescence and communicate via brainwaves or some such crap.
Those aliens might or might not be malicious and manipulate the minds of our crew in the style of Event Horizon.
Don’t forget the devilishly twisted AI with numerous personalities and severe father issues that eventually inherit the body of the stereotypically androgynous and eccentric computer person.
A robot clone mutant ship commander first appears to our crew members as a hologram in the early going. Mold spores that grow and kill their human hosts are another example of sentient life.
There are also some creepy kids who, despite their best efforts to be helpful, always seem to be living in the uncanny valley.
The core crew also includes a genetically altered human with superpowers who dresses and behaves like Barbarella most of the time rather than using her talents, as well as not one but two telepaths who first have dubious morals before evolving into likable and helpful characters.
After trying to kill and successfully killing numerous crew members, a bereaved madman with an ax slides quickly from insane to absolutely sane. However, he is quickly pardoned.
The entire team that is still present simply acts as if the murders with axes never happened.
It is weird, to put it mildly. Even a depressing tale of star-crossed lovers engaging in incest is included.