Tech Menace

Devs, a Sci-Fi Thriller From the Director of Ex Machina and Annihilation

Alex Garland, who made his name with Ex Machina and Annihilation, has created a new sort of sci-fi thriller. Set in a future-esque Silicon Valley, Devs centers around Amaya, a company with a mysterious division called “Devs.”

Software engineer Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno) is hired by flannel shirt and bearded CEO Forest to join the mysterious team at Amaya’s headquarters. But her first day is not as successful as she hoped.


What if a Silicon Valley behemoth ran a sinister top-secret project that threatened unwitting civilians? That’s the premise behind Devs, a sci-fi limited series created by Ex Machina and Annihilation director Alex Garland. Much like that hallucinogenic adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s science fiction book, the show starts familiar and then dives into the unknown.

The UCSC campus is the series’ hero location, with scenes shot at McHenry Library, Quarry Amphitheater and other locations around the campus. Production designer Mark Digby says the team was drawn to a particular set, Stage 06, because of its ability to maintain confidentiality and a sense of secrecy.

Several UCSC students and alumni worked on the production. For example, Yin Wu (Cowell, 2018 film and digital media) started as a production assistant on the project and discovered his career path. Yin says the experience of working on a television production gave him confidence to continue in the field. He is now a video effects supervisor.


The world of Devs might be a little more futuristic than our own, but the cast of characters is utterly relatable. Series creator Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine) assembles a strong ensemble here, with Sonoya Mizuno as Lily Chan, the computer engineer who investigates her employer’s secretive division; Nick Offerman as Forrest, Amaya’s enigmatic CEO; Karl Glusman as Sergei, whose AI code has made him Amaya’s top developer; Jin Ha as Jamie, Lily’s former boyfriend; and Zach Grenier as Kenton, Amaya’s head of security.

While the story might focus on science, Garland never aims for didacticism. The series has a dark, atmospheric feel, and the production design is superb. UCSC alumnus Yin Wu (Cowell, 2018, film and digital media) worked as a production assistant on the show, and credits it with helping her find a career path. The team also shot at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as Alpine Lake in Marin County and Cathedral Quarry in Lake District.


Devs is about a top-secret division of a tech company that conducts futuristic quantum computing experiments. The FX limited series stars Sonoya Mizuno as Lily Chan, a software engineer who suspects her employer is responsible for the death of her boyfriend, Sergei (Karl Glusman).

The story centers around Amaya, a tech giant run by enigmatic CEO Forest (Nick Offerman). The company’s mysterious ”Devs” department seems to be involved in everything from corporate espionage to time travel and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics posits that when particles in the universe collide, it creates infinite possible outcomes for the universe. This can lead to a paradox where multiple versions of the same event occur simultaneously.


It’s a little odd that the show doesn’t take place in San Francisco, as the city plays an important role in the story. Nevertheless, the production designers did a good job of creating the setting. There are a number of shots laced throughout the series that feature San Francisco landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street and Market Street.

This is a science fiction show that explores the concept of free will in a world where predictive analytics are slowly taking over human lives. The main character, Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno), is a computer engineer who investigates the secretive division of her company that conducts quantum computing experiments. She believes that the company is responsible for her boyfriend’s mysterious death.

The series was created and written by Alex Garland, who is also the director of Ex Machina and Annihilation. It premiered in March on FX and Hulu. It stars Sonoya Mizuno, Nick Offerman, and more. Filming took place at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Other locations included Alpine Lake in Marin County and Cathedral Quarry in England.

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