Amazon’s 2017 Pilot Season is upon us, and the site has released the pilot for a television show named Oasis, featuring Richard Madden, the star of Game of Thrones. Based on Michel Faber’s 2014 novel The Book of Strange New Things, Oasis follows a priest named Peter Leigh. Humanity has established a colonial world on the edge of the galaxy, which Peter and his ailing wife protested. David Morgan, one of the colony’s founders, specifically asks for him to visit the world as a missionary. And a company representative who offers to make a sizable donation to his ministry quickly convinces him. He sets off, leaving behind his wife and a congested planet.
Once he arrives, he finds that the colonial world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life is hard on Oasis. There are very large sandstorms and a little water, and the colonists aren’t exactly thrilled that a priest has replaced a structural engineer. However, once he’s settled, people start to come to him, saying they’ve been seeing things. The planet has a strange influence on people, and the colonists are beginning to worry that maybe they shouldn’t be there at all.
In addition, Morgan has gone missing. But before leaving, he recorded a strange message for the priest that sounds like “Jesus Christ” over and over, along with some coordinates. Peter sets off to find the missing leader and finds a cave where he has a vision of his wife. Oasis is reminiscent of a few specific science-fiction stories. The first is Solaris, the novel by Stanislaw Lem. There are clear similarities: in both, a man is invited on a scientific mission after strange things happen to its crew members.
Oasis looks as though it’s ready to jump in with its own take on that argument, laying out a compelling mystery: what’s happening to the colonists? Why are they seeing visions of their past, and why was Peter specifically called to the planet? The pilot is devoted to raising questions, rather than answering them. Moreover, there’s certainly a feeling that this episode is just scratching the surface of the world, introducing a whole bunch of problems and new characters that will provide plenty of material to address these central questions.