The cast of the upcoming SyFy/Netflix series, Nightflyers, based on George R.R. Martin’s 1980 novella, appeared at SDCC today, and they were extremely excited to be a part of this inclusive project.

In the original novella, the protagonist, Melantha Jhirl was written as a black woman, however much to the embarrassment of the author, when the story was reprinted, Jhirl appeared on the cover as a white woman with blonde hair. Martin himself has said that this is something that he’s “been a little ashamed of” ever since.

Jodie Turner-Smith, who plays Jhirl in the series, explained to EW, “When I read the novella, it’s like really obvious that she’s a black woman, which is why it’s so funny that it was ever cast differently. But it’s just exciting to be a brown girl in this space. It’s sci-fi in actual space, but just in this sort of genre and everything, so that’s really exciting and it’s really exciting that George had that vision in the ’80s and that now we can finally sort of bring it to life.”

Martin addressed the matter recently, admitting that the pressures of wanting his book to sell meant that he made some unfortunate decisions. “I should have fought harder. I could have protested more. But, I didn’t. I did want my book to sell…. I look back on it now and I could have fought harder.”

When the series was being developed, however, Martin saw the chance to write his wrongs, calling the producers to tell them, “Look. This is your project. I’m not going to look over your shoulder, give you story notes or script notes or anything like that, but dammit, I want Mel to be cast as a black actress.”

Nightflyers premieres later this year on SyFy and Netflix.

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