Reviews

SHORT STORY REVIEW: “Space, Time, and the Incurable Romantic” by J. Michael Straczynski

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A decade ago, there were a bunch of Babylon 5 tie-in novels and short stories published. The novels are still fairly easy to find on the internet, the short stories are real tough to dig up, though: They were published only in various magazines, never reprinted, never collected, and they’re unlikely to be. I can’t reprint the stories, but I *can* at least review ‘em and let you know what you’re missing. Which I’m doing here:

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “And Now For A Word…” (Season 2, Episode 15)

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Now that we’re safely on the downslope side of Season 2, and the show has *finally* found its footing, we get our first really ‘format breaking’ episode. This time out, the story isn’t told as though it’s a standard hour of B5, but rather it’s shot as though it’s a 23rd century news show *about* the Babylon 5 space station. The story, then, is told through the eyes of the reporter and the camera crew. We see what they see, don’t see what they don’t see.

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SHORT STORY REVIEW: “Hidden Agendas” by J. Michael Straczynski

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After Babylon 5 ended, there were a spate of official, canonical short stories published, mostly written by series creator Joe Straczynski himself. These stories have never been reprinted, nor collected, and given the general lack of media interest in B5, they're unlikely to be anytime soon. I have all the stories, but for obvious legal reasons I can't simply post 'em here. As a service to fans who might be driving themselves crazy trying to find these particular straws in a needle-stack, I offer an overview, review, and my observations. It's not much, but it's what I've got.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: The Tick: “Pilot” (Episode 1)

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All B5 and no play makes Kevin a dull bot. Seriously: it’s been like six months since I’ve done a “Retrospeculative TV” review that *wasn’t* about B5, and as much as I love the show, my obsession is even beginning to wear thin on me. Added to which, this feature was intended to showcase smaller, overlooked, obscure series, and not stuff people done to death online. B5 definitely isn’t that.

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SHORT STORY REVIEW: “Genius Loci” by J. Michael Straczynski

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Today we look at a short story written by Babylon 5 creator Joe Strazynski himself, telling the further adventures of Lyta and G’kar.

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Six weeks after leaving Babylon 5, G’kar and Lyta are still both dodging unwanted attention, but G’kar is doing a particularly bad job of it. He’s trysting with any female who has even reasonably compatible anatomy. After bedding an alien princess, G’kar finds himself in a major brawl. He and Lyta elect to leave the planet Durk 3 in a hurry.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Gadget Man” by Ron Goulart (1971)

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Some weeks ago, I reviewed “After Things Fell Apart…” by Ron Goulart, calling it one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, and, in fact, better than several of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books. In trying to find more information about it to write the review, I discovered that it was actually the first installment in a series called “Fragmented America.” Excited, I quickly tracked down a copy of “Gadget Man,” the second in the series. I tore into it, expecting more of the same, and quite eager to get more of the same, since the previous book was so darn good.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Hunter, Prey” (Season 2, Episode 13)

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What a difference half a season makes! Just twelve episodes ago - heck, just six episodes ago - this story would have sucked. It’s solidly C-grade at best, but the way it’s handled - particularly the Sheridan stuff - bumps it up to B-minus effortlessly, despite the workmanlike plot. The show knows who and what it is now, and suddenly, finally, it’s a joy for me to introduce it to you.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Acts of Sacrifice” (Season 2, Episode 12)

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In the second half of the season, we hit a stride that is more-or-less typical for the main sequence of the series, and we hit a format that’s not *exactly* typical, but it’s kind of their go-to comfort zone when they need to show a lot of balls in the air. If I were going to pick an episode as the one where Straczynski’s “Original Concept” of Babylon 5 (Which came to him in the shower in 1988) BECAME what we now think of as Babylon 5, I’d say this was the best candidate for the point of transition.

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BOOK REVIEW: "Ringworld's Children" by Larry Niven (2004)

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I love Larry Niven. Well, actually, not Niven himself, really I love his writing. Well, not so much his writing in toto, but I really do love his Known Space stories. Though he's got the occasional interesting story that's unrelated to Known Space, most of his other writing is less..uhm...Well, not 'bad' exactly, it just doesn't appeal to me. And with one or two exceptions, his co-authored books (Mostly written with Jerry Pournelle, and the newer "Fleet of Worlds" books) don't appeal to me either. So I guess 'I love Larry Niven' is a bit of an overstatement, huh?

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “All Alone in the Night” (Season 2, Episode 11)

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It’s now June 2259, and Sheridan has been on the station six months. He’s expecting General Hague to make a low-profile visit to the station, but even so he’s getting antsy. When Invonova reports some odd appearances and disappearances on the fringes of the shipping lanes, he jumps at the chance to get in a little flight time, and heads out with some of Zeta squadron.

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