Inverse Recommends

An Indie Studio Just Dropped the Best Sci-Fi Anthology You Haven’t Seen For Free

A Thousand Suns packs dark, emotional punches.

A Thousand Suns episode 2, "Red."
Blackmilk Studios
Inverse Recommends

The most classic trick of science fiction is brevity. Although the genre is known for epic novels, dense films, and sprawling media franchises, historically, science fiction ideas propagated through short stories in magazines. Even Dune and Foundation were written and published in brief installments before becoming long-ish books. When big ideas of this genre seem long and complicated, very often, the best sci-fi ideas come in small packages.

One indie sci-fi anthology series, just released on YouTube, proves that the short form is still alive and well. A Thousand Suns is a series created by filmmaker Macgregor, a cinematographer who has worked on everything from music videos for Dua Lipa to the Gerard Butler spy thriller Kandahar. Produced by Blackmilk Studios, with work from directors Ruairi Robinson, Tyson Wade Johnston, Tim Hyten, and Philip Gelatt, A Thousand Suns is basically a miniature, independent sci-fi film festival that you can watch right now. The creators describe it as “a gateway to our hopes, dreams, and nightmares,” but that description isn’t quite enough. Instead, A Thousand Suns does what an old issue of Astounding or Fantastic or Amazing Stories — it delivers great science fiction in short bursts that all leave a lasting impression. Here’s why you should watch all six episodes right now.

What is A Thousand Suns?

The best way to think about A Thousand Suns is close to how the creators describe it on their website: “Imagine if The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror had a mutant offspring with Heavy Metal. Each story stands alone...”

Because each of these shorts is about four minutes long, the Black Mirror-esque twists are sort of already happening as soon as you start watching. In the first short, “Ice,” a terraformer scout is hoping that a certain planet is devoid of life, in the third episode, “Exodus,” human beings are getting ready to escape the Earth, but the question of how long that will take isn’t exactly clear. But, just like the bigger budget versions of this kind of sci-fi storytelling, each short is haunting, smart, and best of all, adept at using visual language to tell a compelling story. These don’t feel like old short stories adapted for streaming TV; these feel like short films made by people who get how a certain visual palette can communicate quite a bit of “world-building” in a single frame.

All-in-all, because these are so brief, getting into the specifics of each will totally ruin your experience of each. But, in terms of packing an emotional wallop, A Thousand Suns is doing more with a few minutes than a lot of shows do with an hour.

How many A Thousand Suns episodes are there?

As of April 25, 2024, there are six episodes of A Thousand Suns up on YouTube and on the official site: But, there are several more episodes planned for the series, including 16 more titles revealed on the website. The creators also mention that the hope is to do more:

“Whether they’re three minutes or 30 minutes long, we have plans for many more episodes to come...we’d love to keep making these as a streaming series and also we have standalone feature film-length stories based on some of these episodes that would play great on the big screen.”

As an antidote to IP-driven science fiction, A Thousand Suns is a wonderful, back-to-basics approach to the genre. The stories deal with tropes you may have seen before, but as with all science fiction, the trick isn’t the idea itself, but the way it all unfolds. And as of right now, A Thousand Suns unfurls sci-fi ideas better than any other new genre anthology series this year.

You can watch A Thousand Suns on YouTube or the official website here.

Related Tags