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'Outlander' brings novels to life

NEW YORK - There's an odd believability you find inside "Outlander" that somehow makes it feel true-to-life.

Never mind that it's a rip-roaring fantasy. Claire, a lovely British Army nurse on a second honeymoon in Scotland, is mysteriously swept from 1945 back to 1743, plopped into a strange and alien existence, including marriage to a dashing Scottish warrior, even as she struggles to return to "modern" times and the husband she left behind.

Premiering on the Starz network on Aug. 9 at 9 p.m. EDT, "Outlander" is adapted from Diana Gabaldon's wildly popular novels. Shot in Scotland, the series is lush and beautiful, and as genre-bending as its source material as it straddles romance, science fiction, history and adventure.

"I've always done period shows," said "Outlander" executive producer Ronald D. Moore, a sci-fi maestro celebrated for his futuristic "Battlestar Galactica," ''Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

"I like working in worlds that don't exist, and creating things that take you outside of your day-to-day reality. So the process of putting together a show that takes place in the 18th century is really not different from a show that takes place in the future: You're still creating everything from scratch."

Moore knows he's facing a hurdle snagging viewers who aren't already hooked on the "Outlander" books. In particular, he's got to win over guys, who may not instantly see the appeal of a romance-laden saga with a woman at its center.

"Perceptions are hard to fight," he said. "This is the exact opposite challenge that we had on 'Battlestar Galactica' on the Syfy channel: How do you get a woman to even look at this program? But once they did, women bought in, and loved it. Now we have the opposite challenge: Look, 'Outlander' isn't chick-lit or a romance novel! This is really an adventure story. So, you try to get men to sample it in the same way."

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