Alex Garland Called In A Favor From NASA For The Science In Sunshine

Garland, Boyle revealed, was always a scientifically and philosophically minded author, a fact that bears itself out in Garland’s later directorial efforts like “Ex Machina,” “Annihilation” and “Men.” It was Garland who initially thought of a story about a dying sun, which Boyle credited to the writer’s obsession with scientific journals. Boyle didn’t know if there was any one article or journal that interested Garland, but he did acknowledge his partner’s interests, saying

“Alex Garland’s a nut for the journals. He sent me a first draft with this amazing high-concept idea: a trip to save the sun. As far as we can find, there’s never been a film about the sun, yet it’s the single most important thing you could jeopardize.” 

More importantly, Boyle wanted to acknowledge that Garland’s interest in hard science was out of vogue. Modern sci-fi, Boyle feels, has skewed too far away from the “sci” part. Boyle recalls a period when two notable and successful sci-fi films were released within two years of each other, and how the industry definitely skewed toward one of them. Like so many things in Hollywood, “Star Wars” kicked it all down: 

“Hardcore sci-fi has gone out of fashion, hasn’t it? There was a strong strain of it into the ’70s that tried to depict space realistically, but it’s been replaced. ‘Alien,’ one of the great masterpieces, was quickly followed by ‘Star Wars.’ And ‘Star Wars,’ of course, led everyone to fantasy sci-fi, that playground where anything goes. You can imagine any creature, on any planet. And they all talk English.”

Boyle, of course, mixed up the dates. “Star Wars” was released in 1977, while “Alien” was in 1979.

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