Colonial Fleets

Colonial Fleets (
-   The Last Battlestar......Galactica! (
-   -   Revisiting The Old Novelizations (

Eric Paddon November 5th, 2020 01:35 PM

Revisiting The Old Novelizations
I've decided to start going through the old paperback novelizations for the first time in many yahrens. For too long they've been things to keep on the shelf without ever looking at them because the universe they depict is so much at variance with the show as it unfolded. Key points being the Cylons still as living creatures and the changes in sequencing, plus a number of other alterations that kind of have the effect of making the Galactica universe of these novels seem a compared to what I'm used to. Sometimes I draw from them to get some points to work into fanfic (like calling Cain "The Juggernaut" and the fact that Sheba looked like her mother), but as far as sitting through them as novels on their own term, that's been another thing. I even sold off my set during a financial crisis five years ago but when things stabilized I reacquired them. I'm glad I did since they represent a new and fresh challenge at this time and I'll try to look past the fact that they don't "line up" with the Galactica universe as I know it based on the series.

So here's my impression of the first novel.

#1-Battlestar Galactica by Robert Thurston.

-Based on a much earlier draft of the Saga script. These are the key differences in it from what ultimately emerged on-screen, some of them points that were in the original Saga script, and others which appear to be inventions.

#1-Zac isn't going on his "first patrol" with Apollo. He's already a veteran in his own right who had scored high in the Academy. This means there is no scene of Zac getting Starbuck to give up his patrol. It opens with the two of them on patrol and cuts back to Starbuck in the Pyramid game (along the lines of the deleted scenes where Starbuck loses a major bet to the Gemonese warriors).

#2-Boxey is simply a traumatized orphan child Serina finds during the destruction. This was one change I'm glad they made because frankly it's just too complicated a plot point in contrast to Boxey being Serina's son. Presumably they were still at this point uncertain whether Serina would be a long-term character so if they were locked into keeping Boxey no matter what, then perhaps they initially felt it would be less complicated if Boxey had no direct tie to Serina. It's worth noting that the "Serina illness" subplot that was filmed and cut is not part of the novelization, though it was part of the initial Marvel Comics Super Special adaptation. She is still very much alive at the end (and I think one of the early 1977 scripts still envisioned the character as a Council member).

#3-Athena is described as a blonde!

#4-The nature of what Earth is according to legends is less precise in this early version. There is some speculation that Earth itself is the original mother world of the Colonies as they had yet to lock down the idea of Kobol as the mother world.

#5-Baltar is executed though it comes in the form of an off-stage announcement to Imperious Leader by a centurion. This neatly set the stage for Thurston to write his way out of this corner when he adapted "Lost Planet Of The Gods" for #3

#6-The "Adama resigns as Council subplot" that is hinted at in deleted footage is present here in full and frankly it works against the tone of the story completely. The image of Adama as a Moses figure leading the people to the goal of a distant dream of finding Earth is simply undercut by this sudden desire to abdicate leadership so early in the going. Apparently the idea of Adama not being President is necessary to justify the later actions of Sire Uri in granting permits to as much of the population to go to Carillon, but it again is a subplot that doesn't help establish Adama as a strong leader figure. Getting rid of this entirely was another wise move when it came time to filming.

#7-Related to this is a cumbersome explanation of the Fleet's abilty to elude Cylon detection. Apollo is given credit for singlehandedly coming up with some kind of camouflage barrier to keep the Cylons from spotting them. This strikes me as investing Apollo with skills way beyond his capability. Even more incredible is that for the journey to Carillon, Adama has slower ships left behind to wait for them get tylium. This kind of thinking would never have worked on screen if it was part of the draft.

#8-Sire Uri is let off the hook a little in that the scheme for destroying their weapons on Carillon is actually the result of the Ovions drugging the food Uri and the Councillors are gorging on to give them the power of suggestion that they do this.

#9-One other key change. Imperious Leader is not part of the final battle at Carillon. Instead it's the "Star Force from Borallus" that goes in to lay the trap on the Galactica. And there is no scene of Apollo and Starbuck playing their game to destroy the baseship at the end. It's just a case of beating back the fighting force overwhelmingly and at the end we are left with a raging Imperious Leader from afar vowing to destroy Adama and Apollo. This was all part of setting up Imperious Leader as the big recurring villain which thankfully gave way to bringing Baltar back. It also means there is no change in leadership and thus the Imperious Leader throughout the novels remains the one who planned the Destruction.

Overall rating-Three stars of Five. As a book it reads fine save for the weak leadership of Adama in the immediate post-Destruction period. I don't see anything in it that would rate it as superior to what finally got on the air other than the fact that the scene where Starbuck spots the singers in the Club and makes his ill-considered remark about "signing them up for the Star Circuit" happens much later in the action here, after everyone is settled into the party atmosphere of Carillon. In *this* context, the line comes off as less ridiculous and oblivious to what's just happened then the way it comes out in the episode itself (and is probably my least favorite moment of all of Saga as it aired).

Senmut November 6th, 2020 06:20 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
I remember those. Frankly, I preferred the way the show came out on screen.

Charybdis November 7th, 2020 02:48 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
I remember that I posted a write up of the first novelization some time a long time ago as well. Very good!

Eric Paddon November 7th, 2020 09:09 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
#2-The Cylon Death Machine by Robert Thurston

The second novel in the series based on the "Gun On Ice Planet Zero" script. It appears second because GOIPZ was the second episode shot production wise. Consequently it retains a number of the early planned elements.

-Baltar and Lucifer do not appear because Baltar is still "dead". Instead it's Imperious Leader (who recall is not killed at the end of the first novelization) who directs the Cylon attack. The Imperious Leader sequences show him conversing with a hologram simulation of Starbuck. Apparently the Leader has a simulator that can take all the known data about certain people and produce holograms of them for him to converse with and because Starbuck has a well-known reputation based on what they've learned from captured prisoners in the past this allows one to be created in the hopes of gaining insights about the human fleet. Naturally, Starbuck as a Cylon hologram is just as cocky as the real one and when the plan is thwarted at the end, the hologram Starbuck taunts Impy and he pushes the simulator machine off his pedestal so that when it crashes "the Starbuck" blinks out.

-There is no reference to Serina at all even though she was alive at the end of the first novel. This makes for the most awkward leap in continuity since Thurston presumably couldn't make an internal reference to what happened to Serina without acknowledging either a discarded plotline or an episode yet to be adapted but which eventually would be!

The story itself is very straightforward in terms of adapting the script except for these key differences.

-Wolfe doesn't run out on the team on the mountain. He and Leda continue up to the sabotage when Croft, after disarming them gets Apollo to agree to let them escape but only after the pulsar is disabled. Wolfe then gets killed in the fight. Leda interestingly doesn't die trying to save Croft but instead is killed when the team is escaping down a Cylon elevator that gets stuck after the first explosion taking out the pulsar forces them to climb their way down through the shaft but when the second and final explosion goes off, Leda falls to her death.

-After this, because the Cylons have been going through the village and forcing the children to flee, we have an anti-climactic bit of action of Boxey stowing away aboard a pilotless Cylon craft (they are used by the Cylons to engage the Galactica to avoid loss of Cylon personnel) which is then launched by base commander Vulpa (a fully fleshed out character who has found himself banished to the ice planet by the Imperious Leader after suggesting that they abandon pursuit of the humans). It requires a rescue effort in the shuttle by Apollo and Croft to save Boxey.

From a stylistic standpoint, Thurston has a number of chapters done in first person from Croft's perspective. It makes him the most fully developed character of the entire book. We also get interludes of Adama journal entries that don't really advance the plot but are designed to delve more into Colonial culture since two of these "journal entries" are devoted to Adama trying to recall a lost book from his younger days called "Sharkey Star-Rover" while another entry is his recalling Caprican theater.

Overall rating-Three stars of five. Apart from no explanation of what happened to Serina, the continuity with the first novelization, based on the universe of the first novel, is relatively seamless. The only detail in the novel though that improves on the episode as aired is a fuller explanation of why Adama has to have the Fleet go on this particular heading. While it may not be a "scientifically accurate" explanation he points out that their only other options are either to head in the direction of a planet that they know has a Cylon base, or to go into a treacherous asteroid field that would be more dangerous than the Nova Madagon was (though this explanation of the asteroid field has a groaner of a moment when Adama then talks about how the Cylons once developed asteroid type ships).

Senmut November 8th, 2020 04:56 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
I remember reading it. The automated Raiders were a nice touch, as they implied that even the vast Cylon Empire is beginning to feel the strain of keeping the war going. That they have to go as far as Gamoray to get fuel, a dangerously stretched supply line, after the loss of Carillon, shows that cracks are beginning to appear in the Cylon fascade.

Eric Paddon November 9th, 2020 12:04 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
The motive for the automated Raiders made more sense in the context of the Cylons as living beings and trying to save personnel, whereas with robots the motive is less credible given the theoretical ability of the Cylons to keep constructing centurions.

#3-The Tombs of Kobol by Robert Thurston

The original title of the LPOTG script was used for the novelization. It represents a shift in tone from the first two novels because Thurston had to start finding ways of reconciling the original premises of the first two novels rooted in concepts the series abandoned and the results start to look a bit awkward which is why overall I think the quality of the book is less effective as a read compared to the first two novels.

-It opens with Baltar's "resurrection" after being written as executed in the first novelization, though Thurston had done it "off-camera" with a centurion informing Imperious Leader that Baltar had been beheaded. To introduce Lucifer to this altered universe, Lucifer is the one responsible for sparing Baltar because of his belief that Baltar can be useful to the Cylons. Lucifer is depicted as a pure machine Cylon that sets him apart from the what are still organic/living Cylons and here is where the awkwardness sets in with this attempt to merge the abandoned concept that we are "stuck" with from the first two novelizations with the fact that Lucifer, in order to exist as a character can't be credibly written as an organic Cylon, hence he is a pure machine as an example of Cylon cybernetics.

-Lucifer subjects Baltar to a physical fitness regiment before he is presented to a largely indifferent Imperious Leader (again, the same Impy who was not killed at the end of the first novel) in what marks Thurston's acknowledgment of how the series as it unfolded shifted away from Impy to Baltar as primary villain. After giving Imperious Leader all kinds of nuance about his past encounters with Adama, he is there for just the one scene submitting to Baltar's demands for a throne room "as tall as yours" and then he is gone from the scene. Thurston now transfers to Baltar, a lifelong hatred of Adama going back to their Academy days when Baltar got kicked out of the Academy for cheating. How Adama had always upstaged him at (I'm not making this up) Academy choral practice where "Adama's vibrant bass baritone" got him more attention from the young ladies than "Baltar's shaky tenor". It isn't the most effective way of suggesting a deep-seated background history between Adama and Baltar.

-Even though we had GOIPZ novelized second, Thurston, mindful of the continuity disconnect, doesn't acknowledge that tale since he has to now have Serina back. He also has to pass over as quickly as possible the first novel's conceit of Boxey being an orphaned child Serina found rather than being her real son, and he does so in an awkward line so that the original conceit isn't brought up again. Where it lingers is that you never really get the notion of a close bond between Serina and Boxey and that only underscores how the effectiveness of LPOTG as it airs is the fact that Serina is Boxey's mother for real. Without that, it loses a lot of depth. I think Thurston would have been wiser to retcon the "orphan" premise entirely out of existence.

-Thurston continues one device from the GOIPZ novelization by giving us a number of chapters from the first person perspective of one character. This time it's Serina in the form of "recording crystals" she made at various points all the way up to just before she gets shot after leaving the tomb (and Thurston establishes a heartsick Apollo listening to all of these). Whereas the first person Croft narratives worked fine in the previous book, here they don't work. Scenes like the proposal, the Apollo-Serina confrontation when she reveals she's a shuttle pilot, or scenes like those in Kobol just fall unbelievably flat in this kind of first person telling. I didn't like the approach at all. Thurston also depicts Serina more in "journalist" mode including giving her a hard-line religious skepticism later that doesn't fit with what we saw in the episode.

-Thurston also gives us a very disturbing side-plot revovling the female pilot named "Gemi" who if you recall from the episode is the one identified as getting destroyed during the later Kobol battle sequences, though we never saw an actress identified as this character. Thurston makes her an awkward looking, unattractive loner who is constantly ignored by everyone and who fantasizes endlessly about Starbuck taking notice of her. And then when she gets killed and blown away, not even Starbuck, the object of her fantasies, remembers who she was. It doesn't work.

-Much stronger is how Thurston depicts Lucifer's growing exasperation with Baltar as Baltar gains confidence in his abilities. And how when Starbuck becomes a prisoner, Lucifer finds Starbuck a breath of fresh air by contrast and more stimulating. Thurston depicts Starbuck playing Pyramid with Lucifer in a lull and I freely admit this device I lifted (but written differently) for my own adaptation of LPOTG and later for the ending of my third "Galactica 1984" story.

-Thurston I'd note was using an earlier script draft in which the initial sighting of Kobol's star takes place *before* the wedding sequence on the Bridge. If you've seen the deleted scenes of LPOTG, you'll note how this was how the scenes were initially shot and we see Adama explaining things to Apollo and Serina on the Bridge and how the wedding scene came next. Then they decided to completely reshoot the wedding scene to make it look more effective and have the initial sighting of the star take place during the wedding.

-Thurston emphasizes Tigh's skepticism more. Adama's more mystic nature comes out to the point where it might read as overly eccentric. We get a lot more background about Kobollian society and religion during the scenes on Kobol. One thing I'd note is that the novel again makes it quite clear that traditional Colonial religion is MONOTHEISTIC. Adama notes that an earlier polytheistic concept on Kobol evolved into a later monotheistic tradition. The important point is that the concept of Galacatica religion as polytheistic, which GINO chose to emphasize, is based entirely on a false understanding of the original series. The series itself had plenty of internal references on this point as it was, and it wasn't being taken in the direction Ron Moore wrongly thought it was rooted in.

-We get an epilogue of Lucifer rescuing Baltar from the wreckage afterwards.

Overall rating-2.5 stars of 5. I have to drop it a notch from the previous two because the overall tone/quality is just off slightly from the first two books.

Senmut November 9th, 2020 05:14 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
I have read it. No recap needed. Not the hottest.

Eric Paddon November 9th, 2020 07:29 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
One other detail I forgot. To cover Cassiopeia's change of profession, Thurston says the Council formally banned the profession of socialator forcing her to find a new line of work. I don't care for that idea, because it makes Cassie's change of profession less of a noble sacrifice on her part for the greater good.

JLHurley November 10th, 2020 05:48 AM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Thanks for the recaps--much appreciated! I considered re-reading the novelizations earlier in the year but my reading list is so packed and my time and attention so limited that I put it off. I recall not being very impressed with any of them but definitely appreciated the lot of them. Just 'cause it's BG and back then there wasn't a whole lot of it around. :(

I also recall checking bookstores for new volumes practically on a weekly basis. I'm pretty sure I never had any advance knowledge that additional books would be released so it was always a thrill to see one on the shelf. I'm sure I devoured them by end of day!

Croft2018 November 18th, 2020 04:14 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Back in those days Starlog and other magazines were the only source of knowledge about the series and new books coming out wasn't really touched on by them. You just had be lucky if you got to shop when a new book was in.

Senmut November 18th, 2020 05:37 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Ah, the good old days!

Eric Paddon November 22nd, 2020 10:44 AM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
#4-The Young Warriors by Robert Thurston

2 stars of 5.

-This adaptation of "The Young Lords" by Thurston marks another step backwards from the superior first two novelizations and one the principle reasons is because Thurston's need to maintain a consistency in the universe of the novelizations is now forcing him to address things from the show itself that don't square with what he did in the first two novels. Namely, his continuing the "Cylons are living beings" conceit. That consistency worked for the first two novels based on the first two scripts from production order. But then in "Tombs of Kobol" he has to invent the conceit of the Cylon development of cybernetics to explain Lucifer since he couldn't establish Lucifer as a living Cylon. This merging gets worse in this adaptation since one of the chief conceits of "Young Lords" as we saw the episode originally is the rivalry between Lucifer and Spectre (his spelling. I admit I prefer "Spektor") as different classes of Cylon robots and the fact that the false justification for abandoning "Antilla" (the book's spelling though the episode pronounces it "Attilla") is the danger to Cylon circuitry.

-Thurston's gymnastics at reconciliation amounts to this. Spectre is an ambitious Cylon robot but commanded first living Cylons who all died due to disease on the planet so Spectre instead built Cylon robots to serve as the new complement of soldiers. He gives them names like "Hilltop" and "Treebark". It barely works as an idea but reveals again the impossible task Thurston faces of trying to make the abandoned original concept of the Cylons square with key things from the episodes he's charged with adapting.

-But where "Young Warriors" really goes off the rails though lies in other changes/additions/reimaginings Thurston does that only succeed in making this a less interesting read.

-This is basically a "Starbuck adventure" from start to finish. The novel opens with a new scene of Starbuck going to a "therapy room" on the Galactica to engage in a form of psychological counseling by a computer voice (perhaps Thurston was influenced by Starbuck's interactions with CORA in the not yet adapted "Long Patrol?") Mindful of what was later established in the series, Thurston establishes Starbuck as an orphan who grew up in foster homes and he says Starbuck knew his real father had a reputation as a gambler. Then we go to the patrol scene where Starbuck is shot down. And it's worth noting that not ONCE does Thurston return to the Galactica in this entire story. So we don't get a bedridden Adama getting the word or Boxey crawling into bed with him, or any angst from Apollo or Boomer. Until the rescue shows up at book's end the Galactica is in the background as are the other people of the Fleet and that IMO is one of the book's biggest drawbacks. Galactica has always been about more than just one character and when we can't see the impact on the lives of others, then we're losing sight of what it is at its core. (Thurston BTW has Cassie coming on the rescue mission so that Miri can get at the end a visual reminder of how she has no hope of Starbuck being tempted to stay).

-There are other changes Thurston makes that don't work or which come off more as filler. Megan becomes the mother, not the father of the children. We get a long backstory of how the settlement came to be. They were originally from Scorpia, described as the most martial of the twelve worlds and Megan's ancestors were part of a pacifist sect essentially hounded off the planet. Megan's husband was also killed by the Cylons (how we never learn). She is a gifted painter as well as was her namesake ancestor (at story's end we learn of a valuable painting by the original Megan done with rare "Skorpian oils" and Miri smuggles in on to the shuttle so Starbuck can have something valuable to make money off of when he gets back!

-Miri has been able to sneak into the dungeon to visit Miri from time to time but her stupid younger brother Kyle never believes her that she's been able to see her! This is to give us the conceit of Megan urging their be no trade for Starbuck but Kyle goes ahead with it anyway. Starbuck actually *is* traded and not switched, but this is done so he can have a quick conversation with Megan about the history of how the settlement came to be and then Starbuck gets rescued by the book's biggest groaner, a telepathic unicorn named "Magician". This is so Starbuck can end up back with the children and we can plot out a variant of the original episode's rescue strategy.

-As with the previous two novels, Thurston feels compelled to turn over part of the story to a first person narrative perspective. In this case, it's Miri from her "book". This device was effective with Croft in #2 because we weren't being forced to assume any conceit that this was something being written down/recorded at the time, we were just entering his head. #3 with Serina's "recordings" it was much less effective and here it's only a tiny fraction better because unlike the Serina "recaps" which managed to drain all the suspense and majesty out of the sequences, the Miri "book" entries don't quite come off as stopping the action cold.

-To Thurston's credit, he fixes the worst problem of "Young Lords" which was giving us one biological family of six being the only people left on the planet and which left us with an unsettling future for them after Starbuck leaves. Thurston makes it clear that (1) Kyle's children army consists of fifty children from various families and (2) the other adults fled into the hills. Spectre's demand of Megan is that she take these children and retreat into the hills with the others so the attacks on the garrison cease. This is a far-better set-up that doesn't have us thinking disquieting thoughts at the end. Although frankly I always felt it would have been better for Miri and Kyle to not be brother-sister but to be in a betrothed state and thus, Starbuck's arrival would provide a more legitimate reason for Kyle's bullheaded jealousy than just the silly "You're going to take away my command!" silliness.

-But with the two steps better of giving us more children in the army (and thankfully the dispensing of the singing nursery rhyme battle plan!), Thurston takes one step backwards with the names he comes up for them. "Herbert the Singer" etc. You'd think he could have taken time to come up with *some* Antiquity names like the episode did with younger sister Ariadne to blend in!

-At novel's end, Spectre leaves the planet with just one centurion. His deputy Hilltop and his aide Treebark elect to surrender and the children are keeping them alive as they agree to serve the victors!

The LPOTG novelization was better than this because it was still recognizable to a degree but this one has a more alien quality to it ultimately. Which is why it gets a lower rating from me.

Croft2018 November 22nd, 2020 12:35 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Sounds like a pretty decent novelisation / expansion of the original. I seem to recall enjoying it when I read it back in the '80s.

I wish someone would either put the ten classic BG / Berkley books out on Kindle and / or reprint them as hardbacks.

Eric Paddon November 22nd, 2020 01:43 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
I agree it would be a lot easier to be able to revisit these in Kindle format. Increasingly the more I get used to Kindle the more inconvenient an old paperback or even a hardcover becomes!

Charybdis November 23rd, 2020 12:16 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
I have not tried this, but it may be worth a shot. Has anyone tried to see if any of these novels are in some library? Then you could get them through inter-library loan through your local library.

When I am interested in possibly purchasing a book, I check my library and I have been able to request several books like that, read them, and then turn them back in. All the while, I have saved myself a ton of money in not having to buy them!

Eric Paddon November 23rd, 2020 12:58 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Libraries generally don't maintain old paperbacks which is the only format for all but the first couple books I think which had reissues in the early 2000s in hardback. They've also tended to discard whatever copies they had of the Hatch novels (one of the expensive used copies I got of a later book in that series was a library discard).

Your best bet is to try to find a good bargain used through Amazon or on e-bay.

Senmut November 24th, 2020 05:49 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Or the YMCA bookarama.

Eric Paddon December 10th, 2020 02:38 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
#5-Galactica Discovers Earth by Michael Resnick

1.5 stars of 5

-Incredibly, it was decided to adapt the G80 pilot next as this came out around or just after G80 actually went off the air. Robert Thurston was unable to do the adaptation, so a friend of his Michael Resnick, did it as a favor. Resnick had never seen an episode of Galactica before and the end result shows big time, even as he tries to make something out of the nothing that was the G80 pilot script.

-To be fair, it's not that Resnick is a bad writer per se. It's just that his lack of any frame of reference to understanding the series makes what we read seem even more alien than G80 itself did even though it's written "better". Had Thurston done it, we might have seen some greater effort to link the script to the previous continuity of the novelizations. As it is, there's none. It's interesting that not once I think in this novelization does the word "Thirteenth Tribe" ever appear and that brings up another point about how stupid the time travel plot conceit was. People have noted that the obvious question should be "Why not travel back and prevent the Destruction?" But for purposes of Earth, the question that never gets asked is, "What happened to the Thirteenth Tribe when they arrived on Earth?" Indeed, there is NEVER so much as a single reference to the fact that Earth was settled by a brother tribe of humans. It's as if Resnick (and who knows, maybe Larson had to eliminate references to it because the educational hour couldn't be about Von Daniken theories!) wanted to instead give us an impression of Earth being unique and another group of humans who sprang up elsewhere are now just arriving.

-Like Thurston, Resnick carries over the gimmick of having many chapters in the form of first person narrations from their diaires, debriefings etc. By this point, the gimmick has gone to absurd lengths. We are treated to "Dr. Zee's diary tapes", "Xaviar's secret journal" (which is done in third person though!). At one point, we are given "Crumpled note found in Xaviar's quarters" that simply reads "FOOLS, FOOLS, FOOLS!" (now why would anyone take time to write just that????). Other times we get transcripts of ends up being a mess and it reveals just how bored with the material Resnick really was.

-Resnick's novelization is responsible for why when I did G80 fanfic, I kept referring to Dr. Mortinson as "Alfred Mortinson" when in the episode proper it's Donald. But because I had no desire to watch the episode again, I figured the novelization had told me what I needed to know!

-A few other things different from the episode that I remember. Jamie Hamilton quits her job with the network at the end to become the permanent sidekick of Troy and Dillon (not because she's crazy about Dillon like the re-edited "Conquest of The Earth" has it) because she can provide all the "historical expertise" they need whenever they have to track Xaviar down. As a result we end up getting a LOT of moments where Jamie starts talking like a PhD when she has to give everyone a background primer on World War I and World War II!

-The time travel stuff is given greater prominence overall as I mentioned, because this was going to be the show's original "educational" hook for a 7 PM slot which got nixed by the network ultimately. I won't bother to ask why Dr. Zee comes up with this gimmick if even HE is wise and all-knowing enough to know the dangers time-travel poses. A journal entry of Adama's acknowledges that good people in the Fleet think its a good idea and that can be a problem (that would be a hook worthy of the original series). In the final part of the book we get more time travel hopping by Troy, Dillon and Jamie in search of Xaviar to the time of Moses, ancient Greece, the Crusades and Gettysburg (I'll give Resnick credit in that when he has Jamie go into one of her improbable historical lectures, she at least doesn't dispense history according to the PC standards of today's academic elites! She explains Biblical history, the birth of Christianity and the Crusades with a surprising amount of fairness that is rare for most sci-fi) until finally Troy figures it all out and how Xaviar has no chance of succeeding at all (it's a convoluted explanation that defies most of what we normally think about time travel paradoxes). The book ends on a hopeful note from Adama, even though Xaviar is still on the loose in the present.

-While what we get is again better written than the G80 script, it's still unsatisfying because it's 100% disconnected from Galactica as we know it and the fault there is a writer whose lack of familiarity with the show makes it impossible for him to do what good writers of G80 stories try to do which is hunt high and low for ways to reconcile it to the original. Doing it can be like brain surgery at times, but it can be and has been done. This is not an example of it and thankfully after a transitioning open in the next novel, the series went back to the classic episodes.

Eric Paddon December 13th, 2020 10:04 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
#6-Living Legend by Nicholas Yermakov

3 stars of 5

-It's a testament to how Galactica was still considered a popular franchise more than two plus years after it had left the networks altogether that the novelization series was continuing. The cover says "The one you asked for" meaning readers wanted to finally see what they considered one of the best episodes make it to the printed page.

-We get a new writer, Nicholas Yermakov and it brings a change in format. Gone are the first person chapter digressions of Thurston and Resnick and instead we get our first straight-ahead conventional narrative since the Saga novelization (which only had Adama's journal entries to break things up). This makes the LL novelization a very easy read overall.

-Because there is a need to keep the novelization universe consistent, the book opens with a short prologue set in the G80 universe established with #5. We see Troy (Boxey) having just assumed command of the Galactica playing a message from the now dead Adama telling him to go through his old journal entries. There are comments of regret about how Apollo is dead and how Adama could never be openly affectionate with his son and tell him he loved him. But Yermakov wastes no time dealing with other matters of the G80 world. There's no mention of Earth, no mention of any other G80 characters, no mention of what the current situation is. This prologue is strictly a transitional set-up and after it, we never return to the G80 universe again in the history of the novelizations. But I will confess that all the "Apollo is dead" talk does tend to kind of hang over the proceedings a bit in my mind so it's kind of unfortunate that this was necessary as a result of the unwise decision to have adapted the G80 pilot in the first place.

-Once we dive into the story, Yermakov's adaptation is very straightforward, with very little in the way of changes (the deleted scenes that were part of the telemovie are also present). It's only in the latter stages of Part 2 that we start to see some new wrinkles introduced.

1-Omega is the one who flies the shuttle with the commando team for the drop over Gomoray (I have to remember to spell it the way it appears here and not the way I usually do!). There's also a bit about how Omega, after the drop has to then nonchalantly fly back toward an orbiting satellite so as not to draw attention before he then high-tails it out of there.

2-Yermakov also addresses something the original episode never did, namely why didn't the Imperious Leader's baseship (it is taken for granted he arrived on one) take part in the battle? He adds some details about the need to protect the Imperious Leader and get him out safely prevented their ship from being able to do anything. He also explains why neither the Galactica nor Pegasus detected that ship's presence beforehand. Cain is clearly surprised that it's there (a more cynical take might have had Cain knowing Impy was arriving and thus his reason for wanting to secure the base was hoping for a chance to take out the Cylon ruler).

3-Yermakov includes some backstory on how Cain and Cassiopeia met, and how shattered emotionally he was by the death of his wife. Yermakov is also responsible for details about Sheba's mother that became "official" to me when doing fanfic. First, he was the one to capitalize on Anne Lockhart's resemblance to her mother June by saying Sheba looked exactly like her mother and that was why Cain didn't reach out to Sheba and needed Cassie for emotional support and not just the physical support from her profession. He also describes Sheba's mother dying from a wasting disease that left her delirious at the end and how Cain hadn't gotten back to her bedside in time before the end. They are brilliant touches.

4-Lucifer's devious plotting against Baltar is carried over from the earlier Thurston novels now that the novelization continuity is being re-established. Lucifer in fact refuses to tell Baltar that the Imperious Leader is out of danger at the time when he is sending the fighters toward Gomoray instead of finishing off the Pegasus.

5-Colonel Tolen gets seriously injured in the initial assault on the Pegasus but recovers in time to take on the baseship and he and Cain exchange some words of camaraderie that wasn't present in the episode.

-Ultimately because Yermakov has been forced to accept the G80 universe, the one drawback is that he has written a novel that basically takes for granted that Cain does not survive in the end though he isn't explicit about it. And because of the underlying specter of Apollo dying later on, we're not getting any chance to explore the potential of an Apollo-Sheba relationship either (this in fact never happens in the novelizations, not the least of which is because "Hand of God" never gets adapted sadly).

-Interestingly, Yermakov establishes the idea that the Pegasus and Galactica are relatively new ships, only 30 plus yahrens old and that Cain and Adama are practically the only commanders they've ever had. That runs totally against what the series ultimately establishes and it I think contradicts the internal references of the Galactica's age in the original Saga novelization.

Jayworld January 13th, 2021 08:49 AM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Eric: I am really enjoying your summaries, takes, and synopsis of the novlization series. Partly because I only had the first 11 novels at one time (only the first three now), and partly because I only read the first 4-5. Keep it up! Well done.

Eric Paddon January 13th, 2021 11:16 AM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
Thanks! Been slowed down a bit with other projects but I do intend to resume eventually. Going through these reminds me why I felt it was necessary for me personally to have done my own fanfic adaptations of the episodes that would be closer to the spirit of the episodes as they aired but with changes for tightening continuity and adding foreshadowing (like for instance when doing Saga, I had scenes of Charybdis and Ortega confronting each other and setting up MOTRS for later). Even with their strengths in some areas, the novelizations are ultimately more of a totally alternate Galactica universe. They have more in common with the kind of "adaptations" that James Blish did for the Star Trek episodes in style (though Blish's format was the short story angle as opposed to novelization).

Eric Paddon January 31st, 2021 09:35 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
#7-War Of The Gods by Nicholas Yermakov

2.5 of 5 stars.

-Yermakov's second novelization largely follows the pattern of "Living Legend" in being more by-the-numbers in terms of adapting the episode. Part 1 is almost completely unchanged from the episode as it aired with one minor exception. Greenbean is Boomer's triad partner in the initial game we see in Part 1 and when Greenbean later disappears, Boomer's new partner in Part 2 for the "Iblis controls Boomer" match is a young member of the Council of Twelve named Sire Edbyrn.

-Yermakov also establishes that the triad games take place on the Rising Star and not on the Galactica. Although Murder on the Rising Star was never novelized, this change is welcome in terms of giving us a more plausible explanation of where triad matches take place because it never struck me as credible that the Galactica would have a triad court with a spectators gallery and scoreboard.

-But there are some significant departures as we move further along. First, Yermakov's one major stylistic change is to bring back the "Adama Journal Entries" to intersperse between chapters that were part of the earlier Thurson novelizations but which were missing from "Living Legend" because that was being framed as a flashback story from the G80 universe. These entries combined with some other changes show Adama much weaker and indecisive when it comes to Count Iblis compared to the strength of character Adama shows in the episode. Adama's entries reflect more a state of fear and apprehension over Iblis than one who is fully sure of himself.

-Adding to that, the scene where Adama succeeds in moving an object across the table and his entire conversation with Apollo about his speculations of who the light beings represent is entirely absent from the novelization. It's absence further goes to weaken Adama's overall stature.

-But the biggest changes center on Baltar. First, because the novelization universe is still following (loosely) the original template of the Cylons as reptiles who only recently with the IL's have started to branch out more into robots, that means the most vital part of the episode, the Baltar-Iblis conversation in the cell and the linkage between Iblis and the Imperious Leader is gone. In fairness, the Baltar-Iblis scene and the linkage wasn't part of the original shooting script because they couldn't anticipate the casting of Patrick Macnee in the role, so Yermakov is basically returning to the "original vision" of Iblis in that respect, but I have to admit without it, I feel like the very heart of the episode is missing. That scene more than any other in the show IMO helped establish the background of the Cylons and why the idea of peace with them was impossible to contemplate.

-Related to that is the unexpected new ending unique to Yermakov. After Apollo, Sheba and Starbuck are returned by the SOL and we have the "coordinates revelation" moment (oddly, the important dialogue that sets this up in the SOL scene before is not present. Even the, "as you are now, we once were" line is missing!), we get a journal entry of Adama's where he's still troubled and uncertain about what this has all meant. We learn that the official explanation for Iblis's disappearance is a benign one to the Fleet, that he has chosen to return to the race he came from, which were the lights and this tamps down any uproar from the Council. Adama then writes of having a dream of making contact with the SOL himself and hearing words about the need for order and balance in the universe to be restored and how the avenger seeking revenge can find himself in a terrible debt. This is to set up the final scene in which lo and behold we discover the SOL have RETURNED Baltar to his baseship! (Baltar didn't go to the Galactica in a fighter, he went alone in a shuttle). Baltar has no memory of having gone to seek out the Galactica and he is befuddled by what has happened.

-It seems bizarre to wonder why the SOL, the force for Good in the Universe would return Baltar, but the Adama journal scene is meant to convey the idea that accepting Iblis's "gift" of Baltar's surrender would mean the people of the Fleet would still be in debt to him at some future date and thus, in the name of restoring cosmic balance and to avoid this in the future, Baltar must be returned. Ironically, this dramatic change to Baltar's fate would be completely forgotten in #9, the combined novelization of "Baltar's Escape" and "Experiment In Terra", when lo and behold with no explanation, Baltar is a prisoner again!! So consequently, the chance for Yermakov's dramatic change is short-circuited from having an impact in the novelization universe (or maybe it still did. "Hand Of God" was never adapted so there is no novelization story of Baltar's release, but when they started doing original novelizations in #11, Baltar was back in command aboard his baseship with Lucifer).

-Sheba comes off poor in the novelization. There is no attempt to really probe Sheba's mindset for why she follows Iblis. No going into her background to suggest why she's susceptible to him, other than a badly written scene before Iblis storms out on her in the agro-ship in which she is described as being in love with him which comes off as disturbing in the absence of a more detailed back story.

-Yermakov incidentally does pull no punches in describing what's inside the wrecked ship. He has quite thorough descriptions of Apollo and Starbuck seeing the remains of demonic creatures.

Like "Living Legend", "War Of The Gods" is an easy read, but they only end up reminding how superior the original episodes are IMO.

Eric Paddon February 4th, 2021 03:21 PM

Re: Revisiting The Old Novelizations
#8-Greetings From Earth by Ron Goulart

0.5 of 5 Stars

-Honestly, after going through this I should go back and add a half-star each to the first two novelizations. Those are magnificent reads compared to this. And it's not just the fact that this is one of the worst episodes being adapted. Unlike Thurston and Yermakov who at least had a clear grasp of the series as a whole in their own way, Goulart has zero grasp of the mythos of the series. When he isn't giving us a pedestrian retelling of what wasn't a great episode to begin with, his ideas of addition and changes border on the embarrassing.

-We're greeted to a subplot of Jolly trying to romance a med-tech named Zixi. She frets that she doesn't have a name like Ann Marie (!) or Dolly (!!). Jolly is always being called away before they can have any fun.

-Sire Geller is wrongly described as an overly fat man with many chins.

-If you thought the Vector-Hector byplay was bad in the episode, its WORSE in this novelization. Here, Hector is more like a little boy and we've got a whole scene of him complaining about how Vector never took him to baseball games!

-We have a change in the form of squatters living in the ruins of Paradeen's capital city including basically the equivalent of a motorcycle gang. A redheaded woman who is one member knocks out Hector and she is the one who takes Starbuck into the ruins.

-In a blatant case of red herring playing, Goulart tries to fool the reader into thinking Terra is Earth. The scene where Wilker says the spacecraft indicates it came from a planet named Terra is changed to Earth. Starbuck finds books in the library that refer to Earth. None of it works and we don't get any backstory of note to give the story the clarity in never had.

#9, also by Goulart I know isn't going to be better. Because that one, in its zeal to adapt "Baltar's Escape" forgets the reimagined ending of the "War Of The Gods" novelization!

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:06 PM.

Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.8.11, Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Content and Graphics ©2000-Present Colonial Fleets