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Old November 5th, 2020, 01:35 PM   #1
Eric Paddon
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Morristown, NJ
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Default 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 bit......off 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).
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"They hate us with every fiber of their being. We love....freedom, independence, the right to question. To them it is an alien way of living."-The non-myopic wisdom of Commander Adama, "Saga Of A Star World"

"How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."-Ronald Reagan
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