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Old November 7th, 2020, 09:09 PM   #4
Eric Paddon
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Morristown, NJ
Posts: 1,735

Default 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).
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