On November 9th, the Science Channel premieres Ridley Scott's Prophets of Science Fiction. I had the opportunity to preview the first edition, "Mary Shelley," and I was very impressed.
Ridley Scott, of course, has very little to do with the science fiction writers or the scientists involved in the show, but as the director of Blade Runner and Alien he does know a bit about science fiction, and therefore is as suitable a celebrity host as any.
Since Mr. Scott is about to make his first science fiction film in 20 years, Prometheus, the timing is certainly right for him to host a series like this.
According to Prophets of Science Fiction, Mary Shelley invented science fiction with Frankenstein. Shelley lived a dramatic life, and many of her own feelings and experiences influenced her famous story. She felt like an outsider much of the time, just like Frankenstein's monster.
The show speculates that Shelley did not mean to imply that scientists should not create life, but that people should not create life if they are not willing to take responsibility for it. If Victor Frankenstein had taken responsibility for his monster, then Frankenstein might have been a different (and probably less interesting) novel entirely.
The show does a very credible job of presenting Shelley's story and that of her monster and entwining them with modern scientific research in the areas of artificial intelligence and genetics. Both the literary and scientific information are fascinating.
Based on this first episode, the series promises to be an entertaining, intriguing, and educational experience that viewers who have an interest in science and in science fiction will enjoy. Future episodes will cover H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, and Robert Heinlein, certainly excellent prospects as prophets of science fiction.