Tuesday, April 3

Battlestar Galactica: The Cylons' Secret by Craig Shaw Gardner

Source : Compuer crows nest

The 'Battlestar Galactica' series has really rejuvenated television SF over the last few years. Its leaning towards realism rather than outlandish costumes and story-lines has garnered it a lot of praise from all across the media. Portraying the flight of the remaining humans following the android Cylons' attack on their worlds, the series is hard-hitting, character orientated and frequently fascinating.

Of course, any SF TV series or film that is successful is quickly used to promote media tie-ins and over the last year or so, the first few tie-in books have started to come out for 'Battlestar Galactica'.

This particular tie-in 'The Cylons' Secret' is actually a prequel rather than one set at the time of the TV show. Set some twenty years before the show, William Adama is younger, second-in-command on the Battlestar Galactica to which he will eventually command.

His ship receives a distress call from the edge of known space with only one word 'Cylons'. They investigate to find a base on a little-known planet long thought abandoned. The presence of Cylons on the planet is complex and potentially highly dangerous.

Craig Shaw Gardner is a decent enough writer and the story is diverting if not stellar. The characters are recognisable although it did grate quite a lot that one of the other characters of the show, Tom Zarek, is present in the book as a young man and interacts with many of the crew.

This kind of intermingling of main characters before they've met in the actual main story-line is exactly where the 'Star Wars' prequel films ruined the franchise. Doing this asks the reader or viewer to put aside so much suspension of disbelief that the story-line itself is drastically weakened. I struggled to get over this obvious attempt to place familiar characters in the book.

Having said that, the story is decent and the writing good enough to make it a diverting read. It's nothing compared to the tie-ins I consider the best - the Timothy Zahn, Michael A Stackpole and Aaron Allstone 'Star Wars' sequels, which handle the juggling act far better than any of the other tie-ins I've seen.

It's not a great book but if you have nothing else to read it will entertain you. I just wish marketing directors (or George Lucas) would spend less time mandating familiar characters at the cost of the actual story being told. You've created memorable characters once for one story-line. Surely it's not that much of a stretch to do it a second time and come up with a much better end product?

Tomas L. Martin

No comments: