- Jeffrey Sinclair
Welcome back to Third Age Thursday, an ongoing feature here at Unfettered Brilliance! Along with Ensley, who's posting the wonderfully-named "Tuesdays with Mollari" over on his blog, these posts are written to keep you up to date on the writing and publication of Dreams Given Form: The Unofficial Companion to the Universe of Babylon 5. Please feel free to comment, re-post, tweet, plus-one, pin, and use all sorts of other ways to pass along the news that a comprehensive Babylon 5 book is in the works with publication ETA sometime in 2016. And remember that you can always search through these posts to find all the "Third Age" posts by using the search feature on the right. Just use "Babylon 5" or "Third Age" as your search term.
At this stage of the project, I'm still in Season 1. What I wasn't really expecting was to enjoy it so much! Let's face it, most shows struggle a bit in the first season to find their footing - the actors are still getting comfortable with each other, the writers are figuring out who can deliver deadpan lines and who is better at purple prose, design folks are still working the fine details (Londo's hair, for example, gave JMS fits throughout Season 1). In Babylon 5 almost all the seeds that would sprout such fantastic stories are planted by midway in the first season and are lovingly tended. Case in point - the introduction of Morden in episode 13, "Signs and Portents." The answer to the question "What do you want?" matters a great deal in this universe - and the answers change. (Plus, I love that Morden was a lowly C&C tech in "The Gathering." No, it's not significant, but it's one of those cool details that I just love.
These characters, while not all human, are human in the sense of being relatable. They have flaws and foibles - look at Garibaldi's struggle to maintain sobriety in "Survivors." They can show remarkable kindness and compassion - honestly, if Londo's line in "The War Prayer" about "tight shoes" doesn't get to you, check yourself for gills. You might not be human. Does everything totally work? No, of course not. The character of Catherine Sakai (played by Julia Nickson) never really worked for me and the computer generated effects look clunky by today's standards. So what? It is often said that the best science fiction explores the Big Questions - what values we hold, how we make the big decisions that affect our lives and how we live those lives in the first place. It also considers how we react to injustice, to love, to loss, and to fear. In short, the best science fiction explores what it means to be human. In that, JMS succeeded marvelously - and he did it for five seasons, plus a host of television movies, spin-offs, novels, comics, and even a cookbook!
That's right - a cookbook.