‘Silo’ Beautifully Adapts One of Sci-Fi’s Best Books
The new Apple TV+ series Silo is set in a massive underground complex full of mystery and danger. Screenwriter Rafael Jordan was immediately gripped by the concept of the show.
“When I saw the initial marketing, I was very excited for it, because I just love bunkers,” Jordan says in Episode 545 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Any kind of sci-fi or horror story set in a bunker, I’m in. I know I’m really weird when it comes to this stuff. I would Airbnb the Silo if I could. Why would you even want to leave?”
Silo is based on the 2011 novel Wool by self-publishing star Hugh Howey. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley was excited to see one of his favorite books turned into a big-budget series. “For years any time someone says, ‘Oh you do a science fiction podcast? What’s a good science fiction book I should read?’ I’ve very often said Wool,” he says. “So it’s something I really, really liked.”
Science fiction shows often tantalize viewers with intriguing mysteries but then fail to deliver satisfying explanations. Science fiction editor John Joseph Adams, who has collaborated with Howey on multiple projects, promises that Silo is building toward a satisfying conclusion in future seasons. “I do feel like the truth about these mysteries is satisfying, assuming they keep the same answers from the books,” he says. “So at least we have that security blanket, unlike with Lost and Battlestar Galactica, where they were clearly writing and producing it as they went along, and they didn’t really know where it was going.”
Writer Sara Lynn Michener is glad that Silo is being produced by Apple TV+, which has a strong track record of supporting their science fiction shows. “They’re not operating the way that other streamers seem to be operating right now where something has to do amazingly well in the first two weeks or it never gets a second season,” she says. “We’ve had examples of shows and movies that had a very slow build and then became cult classics. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen in the first two weeks. And often, the better a show is, the more likely it’s going to have that slow burn.”
Listen to the complete interview with Rafael Jordan, John Joseph Adams, and Sara Lynn Michener in Episode 545 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Rafael Jordan on Silo vs. City of Ember:
I was initially struck by some superficial similarities to City of Ember, which I like a lot. It’s a young adult film, and I always wished it had been adapted into a series, so when I caught wind of Silo I was very excited, because it seemed like the adult, more in-depth version. … Basically in that film [people] have been living underground for a few hundred years, but there’s an expiration date. And that’s where the stories definitely diverge, because in that story they’re actively trying to find a way out, and if they don’t leave everything’s going to fall apart. Oddly enough, Tim Robbins is in both projects, so it led some people to wonder if they’re related, but they’re not.
Sara Lynn Michener on female characters:
When I see a character who is obviously in every way not supposed to look glamorous, and they make her look glamorous, it takes me entirely out of the story. I cannot forgive them for it in this day and age, I just can’t. And the fact that [Rebecca Ferguson] absolutely 100 percent looks like she’s not wearing makeup all the time, the fact that her hair looks greasy and dirty most of the time, the fact that she is 100 percent believable in her character makes me so happy. It’s one of the reasons why I stopped watching the 12 Monkeys series. I could not stand what they did with the female lead there. She was like “Professor Barbie” the whole time. Her hair was perfect in every scene. They’d give her perfect makeup and then put a little piece of ash on her chin if she was in a dangerous situation. Come on, guys.
David Barr Kirtley on mysteries:
There were people who liked the endings of [Lost and Battlestar Galactica] because they really cared about the characters, and they felt like the characters all had satisfying emotional journeys, and then you had people like me who didn’t really care that much about the characters and just wanted to know the solutions to the mysteries, and felt completely cheated. … With [Silo] I really care more about: What is the world outside the Silo really like? Why was the Silo built? What’s the truth about the story with the revolt? And I felt like we didn’t really find out anything about any of those mysteries in the second half of the season. It was all character development. And at least personally, to my taste, I feel like there needs to be more of a balance between revealing pieces of the mystery and developing the characters, if the whole fundamental thrust of the show is built around presenting you with this compelling mystery.
John Joseph Adams on Silo:
I love the show, and I feel like it was very faithful [to the books]. … I was watching it with my wife Christie, and it was really funny watching her—not quite to the extent of when you were watching Game of Thrones with people who hadn’t read the books, and watching them get shocked at all the big twists in that—but she was just hanging on the edge of her seat from the first episode. They dropped the first two at the same time, and we don’t always watch two episodes of a show in a row, but when we watched the first one of that she was just like, “Yeah we’re watching the next one, right?” They were dropping it once a week after that, and we were watching them first thing, as soon as we had time on Fridays. So it was appointment television.