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Old November 22nd, 2020, 09:44 AM   #12
Eric Paddon
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Morristown, NJ
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Default 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.
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