The first-ever The Orville story told in prose is on the way from the series' creator and star himself, Seth MacFarlane. Disney Books today announced that it will publish The Orville: Sympathy for the Devil, a digital novella by MacFarlane adapting a script intended for an episode of The Orville: New Horizons that never went into production due to COVID-19-related obstructions. The episode would have come after the eighth episode of the new season of The Orville. While The Orville has already made its way into comics, this is the first time it's appeared in pure prose. MacFarlane describes it as something of an "outlier" compared to the rest of New Horizons, taking a more experimental approach to its story.
"Due to Covid shutdowns, we had to scrap one episode of The Orville: New Horizons," MacFarlane tweeted to announce the novella. "It was an outlier—a conceptually experimental story. Rather than let it vanish, I decided to adapt it as a novelization."
The novel releases on July 19th, with a cover by acclaimed artist Bill Sienkiewicz and an audiobook narrated by Babylon 5 star and The Orville guest star Bruce Boxleitner. Here's the synopsis:
An original novella set in season three of The Orville—straight from the pen of Seth MacFarlane, creator of the beloved sci-fi TV show! When Captain Ed Mercer and the crew of the U.S.S. Orville come face-to-face with one of humanity's most vile ideologies, they must solve the moral conundrum of who to hold accountable for evil deeds real… and imagined. Occurring just after episode 308, this is the Orville like you've never seen it before.
ComicBook.com spoke to MacFarlane ahead of The Orville's first season on its new home, the streamer Hulu. He explained what the move meant for The Orville's storytelling.
"From a storytelling standpoint, it's much better for me because the biggest issue I have with, particularly, the prevalence of streaming programming, there's some talented writers working on network dramas, but the problem is that you have to cut everything down to exactly 43 minutes," he explained. "That's not how storytelling works. It doesn't. Not every story wants to be the same length and if you have a scene that's playing really great, that's emotional and you take your time with it. and it really makes the audience feel something, you may have to cut something down that really should not be cut down. Now, there's a discipline, at the same time, on the other side of things. You don't want to indulge yourself to the point at which you're boring your audience. But for a show like this, to be able to be cinematic and to take the time to set the mood is something you just can't do on a network because you're just so constrained by that time limit, and that, to me, more than anything else was the most satisfying thing about the move."
The Orville: New Horizons debuts new episodes on Thursdays on Hulu.