Story: 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. Perhaps the show’s emergence from a singular creator/writer/producer makes colorful commentary from the makers of the show less likely since there is no dissension among a number of personalities. Perhaps it’s because the book never focuses on any one episode, but only vaguely overviews the series as a whole. And maybe it’s because the book was written early in the third season and, aside from a few sidebar pieces and its episode guide appendix, it was not updated for American consumption. The appendix covers everything up through The Deconstruction of Falling Stars – yet the book’s interviews date the majority of the text prior to Severed Dreams.
One hint as to why the book was so quickly rushed into its new form in the United States is the sticker on the cover which reminds us that Babylon 5 is coming to TNT in January 1998. An argument could be made that the book is intended to serve as a primer for those whose first exposure to Babylon 5 will be the cable repeats of the series. But I think it more likely that the book will appeal only to those who have already been following the show, and it seems a bit cheap to let this book hit the shelves – and with such a high price tag for such a thin book – without bringing it a little more up to date. It’s an interesting read, but for the sake of your pocketbook, I strongly recommend seeing if your local library has a copy of this book available.
Author: David Bassom
Publisher: Del Rey (originally published in Britain by Boxtree)
Pages: 143 pages