Babylon 5: The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski

Season One (Vol. 1 & 2)

Babylon 5: The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski: Season One (Vol. 2)Babylon 5: The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski: Season One (Vol. 1)Order this bookStory: Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski republishes the scripts from the episodes he wrote; in addition to the shooting scripts, Straczynski provides a brand new introduction discussing each episode and the series in general. Photos and memos are also included to provide a look at the show’s development.

Review: These two books are part of a planned 14-book series of script collections that Straczynski and his partners are publishing through CafePress. They include only the scripts that Straczynski himself wrote, which he has the rights to republish due to Writers Guild rules. It’s a pretty simple presentation, right down to the bare-bones cover, but the books hold together well, the typesetting’s legible, and the copy-editing is better than on some of the academic books I’ve read recently, so I have nothing against the do-it-yourself approach. The scripts themselves are the heart of the books, and if you don’t already know if you like the episodes in question, this book is not for you. (I did, so I guess it is.) […]

Creating Babylon 5

Creating Babylon 5Order this bookStory: This reprint of a book originally released in Britain the previous year is a fascinating look behind the scenes and between the lines of the premier science fiction series of the 1990s. The book includes brief interviews with each of the cast, including the unjustly oft-forgotten Michael O’Hare, as well as several key players behind the scenes. It looks at a day in the production life of Babylon 5, and examines in cursory detail many of the episodes. And there are a lot of colorful pictures.

Review: And that’s about it.

Not trying to get down on this book or its author – the comments from J. Michael Straczynski and the cast are very insightful (particularly one discussion with JMS on pages 27 and 28 in which B5’s creator encapsulates the entire meaning of the show), and the pictures are very nice…but there’s not much else. Perhaps, like Blake’s 7 or Doctor Who, Babylon 5 needed to make its exit before it could be analyzed properly. […]

Babylon 5: The Wheel of Fire

Babylon 5: The Wheel of FireOrder this bookStory: In what is apparently the last of Jane Killick’s behind-the-scenes books about Babylon 5, the author examines the making of the show’s final season, beginning with The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, which technically capped off season four despite being produced by TNT. The guide then tackles everything from No Compromises through Sleeping In Light, though I admit to being very disappointed with the final episode’s coverage – it starts out with “What hasn’t already been said about this episode?” as an almost up-front announcement that you’re not going to get much out of this section. The Babylon 5 magazine coverage of Sleeping, and – quite frankly – Joe Nazarro’s liner note insert in the episode’s soundtrack CD, were more informative than this.

Review: What really makes Killick’s book isn’t necessarily her material, but the reminiscences of the actors, and some of season five’s key players – namely Tracy Scoggins and Robin Atkin Downes (Byron) – haven’t talked much about their B5 work in the past, so their comments here, though sparse, are refreshing. On the flipside, most of J. Michael Straczynski’s quotes are lifted from his Usenet postings – but unlike Hal Schuster (author of unauthorized – and, to be completely candid, unauthored – guides to nearly everything), I’m sure Killick had JMS’ permission to reprint these. […]

Babylon 5: Point Of No Return

Babylon 5: Point Of No ReturnOrder this bookStory: Leaning heavily on interviews with series creator J. Michael Straczynski and the main cast members, Jane Killick continues her analysis of Babylon 5, this time covering the show’s much-loved third season. Topics of interest include the tightening of the show’s story arc as the Shadow War looms, how the plot threads in War Without End might have been resolved if Bruce Boxleitner hadn’t taken over as the show’s leading actor the previous year, and the increasing reliance on computer generated visuals.

Review: If I wish one thing could’ve been different about Jane Killick’s excellent and informative series of Babylon 5: Season By Season books, it would’ve been devoting less space to episode guides (which can be found elsewhere) and more space to talking to the cast and crew. […]

Babylon 5: The Coming Of Shadows

Babylon 5: The Coming Of ShadowsOrder this bookStory: This book chronicles the making of the second season of J. Michael Straczynski’s groundbreaking SFTV series Babylon 5, which was also the last season to feature scripts written by anyone other than Straczynski for over two years. Interviews with actors, writers, directors and JMS himself run throughout the book, with a special section on how the show managed to stay on budget and a great deal of focus on the arrival of new leading man Bruce Boxleitner.

Review: One of the things I’ve always been curious about when it comes to Babylon 5 is: when did J. Michael Straczynski receive the divine inspiration (or head trauma) that told him that he needed to write damn near every episode for the rest of the show’s run? And whatever happened to story editor Larry DiTillio, who was Straczynski’s right-hand man in the Captain Power days but disappeared after B5’s second year on the air? […]

Babylon 5: Signs And Portents

Babylon 5: Signs And PortentsOrder this bookStory: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the pilot movie and first season of Babylon 5, with lengthy interviews with cast members, behind-the-scenes crew and series creator J. Michael Straczynski.

Review: This is the first volume of Del Rey’s series of books covering the making of Babylon 5, season by season. It’s a nice little series of brief pieces on the making of each episode, with lots of insight from the actors, JMS, and various directors, though much of this information can be found with a little bit of hunting on the Lurker’s Guide To Babylon 5 web site – and sooner or later, the book’s behind-the-scenes stories will probably wind up there anyway. […]

Babylon 5: To Dream In The City Of Sorrows

Babylon 5: To Dream In The City Of SorrowsBabylon 5: To Dream In The City Of SorrowsOrder this bookStory: This book tells the tale of a curiously hazy portion of the series’ history dealing with a very significant character – B5’s original commander, Jeffrey Sinclair, and the events that unfolded between his sudden assignment to Minbar (after actor Michael O’Hare departed from the show between the first and second seasons) and his reappearance and subsequent final departure in the show’s third season. The story also manages to fit in how Catherine Sakai – Sinclair’s fiancee – dealt with his sudden disappearance, as well as the origins of a character who has only recently become sorely missed in the B5 universe: Marcus Cole. There are guest appearances by Delenn, Kosh, Kosh’s successor, and Garibaldi, as well as the recurring Minbari Grey Council gadfly Neroon and – for good measure! – at least one or two characters from the comic books (remember, they’re official too, even if they weren’t exactly high art). You’ll find out where Sinclair got that great honking scar across his face, and discover that he can chew out a Vorlon just as well as Sheridan can.

Review: I remember being somewhat disappointed with the first Babylon 5 novel published in 1995, and also reining my funds in more tightly, I opted to pass on the latest line of licensed books, unless they branched into the area of behind- the-scenes expositions (which they later did, with mixed results – see above). But this latest entry in the Babylon 5 series of novels was different for many reasons. […]