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‘Masters of Science Fiction’ coming to DVD August 5

‘Masters of Science Fiction’ coming to DVD August 5

If you’re like 90+% of the population and missed the short-lived Masters of Science Fiction series that ran for four weeks in August 2007 on ABC, you’re in for a treat. The 6-episode anthology series is coming to DVD Aug. 5, 2008 with a suggested price of $30 for the two-disc set.

Although, many online stores, including, are allowing advanced purchase of the series at a lower price. ($22 at

For those unfamiliar with the series’ concept, the creators of Masters of Science Fiction decided to take short short stories by well-known science fiction writers and film them as one-hour movies for TV. The six SF authors in this set are: Harlan Ellison, Robert A. Heinlein, Howard Fast, John Kessel, Walter Moseley, and Robert Sheckley.

It was preceded by a sister series, Masters of Horror, that ran for two seasons on cable channel, Showtime.

Although 20 episodes were planned, ABC only ordered six to be filmed. Cancelled before it even aired, only four episodes actually made it to TV screen on Saturday nights at 10 p.m. – known as a graveyard slot in broadcasting.

The DVD set includes the following short films:

“The Awakening”

In the middle of a ferocious firefight outside of Baghdad, US soldiers discover a mysterious body-one that they can’t even identify as human. Swiftly, all over the earth, more such creatures appear and begin to communicate. With this contact, the world is forced to choose between peace and destruction.

    Teleplay by Michael Petroni, based on a short story by Howard Fast (Spartacus, The Crossing). Directed by Michael Petroni (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys). Starring Emmy®-nominee Terry O’Quinn, Elisabeth Rohm (“Law & Order,” “Angel“).


“A Clean Escape”

 A dying Dr. Deanna Evans refuses to believe that her patient, Robert Havelmann, cannot remember the last 25 years of his life. It remains unclear why she has been so obsessed with this particular patient until the final, shocking conclusion.

    Teleplay by Emmy®-nominee Sam Egan, based on the short story by Nebula Award- winner John Kessel. Directed by Oscar®-nominee Mark Rydell. Starring two-time Oscar®-nominee Judy Davis and Oscar®-nominee Sam Waterston (The Killing Fields, “Law & Order“).


“The Discarded”

The ultimate story of despised minorities forever adrift in the darkness of outer space. As a last resort – born out of their loneliness and despair – they are forced to make an ominous pact with those responsible for their plight, in the hope that they will finally be offered refuge at home on Earth.

    Teleplay by Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Harlan Ellison (A Boy And His Dog, “The Outer Limits“) and Oscar®-nominee Josh Olson (A History of Violence), based on a short story by Harlan Ellison. Directed by Jonathan Frakes. Starring two-time Oscar®-nominee John Hurt, Emmy® and Tony®-winner Brian Dennehy (Assault on Precinct 13, Cocoon) and James Denton (“Desperate Housewives,” “The Pretender“).


“Jerry Was A Man”

Mr. and Mrs. Bronson Van Vogel are the seventh-richest couple in the world. Pleasure is their only work; mundane or dangerous chores are done by anthropoids. All the anthropoids-a few strands of human DNA, grown into a baby and fused with plastics-are named “Joe.” Somehow, Mrs. Van Vogel’s dormant compassion is awakened by a Joe named Jerry. What traits would prove that Jerry is, indeed, a man?

    Teleplay by Oscar®, Emmy® and Golden Globe®-nominee Michael Tolkin, based on the short story by seven-time Hugo Award-winner & Science Fiction Grand Master Laureate Robert A. Heinlein. Directed by Tolkin. Starring Emmy®-winner Anne Heche (John Q, “Men in Trees“), Golden Globe®-nominee Malcolm McDowell.


“Little Brother”

NEVER SHOWN ON TV: In a future world where courtrooms exist without human judges or juries, automated justice is the law of the land. Sitting before a kiosk which is the judge, jury, and executioner of the future, Fredon must find a way to convince the machine of his innocence – or find some other way to save himself before time runs out.

    Teleplay by Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress, Always Outnumbered), based on a short story from Mosley’s novel Futureland. Directed by Damell Martin (“Grey’s Anatomy,” Their Eyes Were Watching God). Starring Clifton Collins, Jr. (Capote, Traffic), Kimberly Elise (“Close to Home,” The Manchurian Candidate).



NEVER SHOWN ON TV: It seems the perfect solution to a ballooning crime rate – filling the skies with flying robotic droids that can prevent murder before it takes place. However, nobody told these “Watchbirds” that all life depends on a formula of carefully balanced killing. Robert Sheckley’s renowned story examines one of the most important questions of our time – is it wise to sacrifice our liberty in the name of our security?

    Teleplay by J. Michael Straczynski (“Babylon 5,” “The Twilight Zone“), based on a short story by Robert Sheckley (Freejack, Escape from Hell Island). Written by Hugo Award-winner Sam Egan. Directed by Harold Becker. Starring Sean Astin, Oscar® and three-time Emmy®-nominee James Cromwell and Oscar® and Golden Globe®-nominee Sally Kellerman as the voice of The Watchbird.


David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.


  1. Yay! Yay! Yay! I really liked the Master of Horror series (the eps I rented on DVD, anyway), and Mick Garris (who created MoH) now has “Fear Itself” on NBC (Thurs. at 10, I think) which looks pretty good. I thot the MoH treatment of James Tiptree, Jr.’s (aka Alice Sheldon’s) “The Screwfly Solution” was very well done. Hey Davodd, thanks for this kewl and swanky site!

  2. I think you’ll find the production values of MoSF are a little better – but the acting quality and high directorial standards are the same as MoH.

    And thanks for the compliment on the site.

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