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REVIEW OF

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 5:

GALACTICA DISCOVERS EARTH


If there is any way to partially redeem Galactica 1980 (aside from the outstanding Return of Starbuck episode), Michael Resnick manages to do it with this book. He is able to write a strong adaptation of a fairly silly episode and make the characters seem more real and the events more interesting overall. Troy, Dillon, Jamie, and even Dr. Zee are done far more justice in this 150+ page book than the ten episodes of the TV series ever did them.

The beginning is especially good with an Adama Journals entry as we learn of Adama's high hopes as the Colonial fleet nears Earth. It is a lot of fun to see Adama's bafflement as he watches images of Earth television such as a football game and a cartoon (Road Runner?) and experiences a major dose of culture shock, seeing the images as barbaric. We also learn that Apollo was killed by the Cylons (but we don't learn how). Unfortunately, we never learn about the fates of any of the other original characters.

Anyway, the time travel elements of the story are much more interesting as Troy, Dillon, and Jamie travel to several different eras of the past besides Nazi Germany in their search for Xaviar, although the resolution of the time travel premise turns out to be a bit lame. The Colonials realize at the end that Xaviar ultimately cannot change history because all they have to do is simply keep traveling back to any era he meddles with as many times as it takes until they finally defeat him. This sounds logical (Or does it? Time travel stories never make much sense to begin with), but it undercuts the entire story because this means that Earth's history was never really threatened.

As good as this book is, you can't deny that a major reason it comes off so well is that Galactca 1980 was so horribly bad. Considering how bad Galactica 1980 was, it it little surprise that the book seems good. Most fans' expectations going in are so low that even bare competence would have sufficed. If Galactica 1980 had never been done and this had been an original story by Resnick, it would have been viewed as horrible (Of course, there are probably a good many fans who still consider it to be horrible).

Unfortunately, this makes things a little hard for the reviewer. Do you praise Resnick for taking a poor story and making it a little better, or criticize him for not going the extra mile, throwing out the time travel premise completely and staying with the more important premise of upgrading Earth's technology? In fairness to Resnick, he may not have had the creative freedom to make such changes, but it would have been nice. I am one of the few who believe that Galactica 1980 did have potential if only it had been done right (although there is still no way it could ever have lived up to the original series). Still, the novelization of Galactica Discovers Earth ultimately succeeds in making the best of a show that many fans consider to be the worst science fiction series of all time.


Robert Thurston was the author originally contracted to write Galactica Discovers Earth but since his wife was suffering from cancer, Resnick, a close friend of Thurston's, stepped in and wrote it in his place.

As the Galactica approaches Earth, many people in the fleet make bets as to how Earth will turn out. Earth is radioctive, Earth is primitive, Earth is too advanced to be bothered with them, Earth is planning to declare war on them. Dillon bets that the people of Earth already detected the Cylons and evacuated the planet in preparation for war.

Dr. Zee is able to detect the Cylons because he notices there is an excessive amount of neutrino activity in the vicinity of Barnard's Star. He concludes that the increased neutrino activity is being caused by the power output of the Cylon fleet.

Dr. Mortinson's hand is cut by the glass from the shattered window.

Adama mentions to Xaviar that Troy saved the Galactica from destruction during the last Cylon attack.

It is established that the Colonials speak a different language than English. Troy and Dillon are able to use their advanced technology to quickly learn English, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and a number of lesser dialects.

Jamie passes out during the time-warp to Nazi Germany because she has not gone through the conditioning procedures that Troy and Dillon have.

The German soldiers who are temporarily stunned by the Colonials' lasers wind up being transfered to the Russian front where they presumably will be killed.

Troy gets a knife in his stomach from a woman of the Resistance who suspects him to be a member of the S.S. Dillon then goes back to the vipers to get their advanced medicine. Unfortunately, his invisibility field runs out of energy before he can make it back, and he is forced to wait for hours before he can sneak back into the building. Troy is soon healed from the medicine.

The Germans eventually discover them. Only one invisibility shield is working, and there is not enough room for all of them to hide so Troy voluntarily surrenders to the Nazis. He is tortured by the S.S. until Dillon arrives to free him.

Troy and Dillon are able to go for a week without eating because of a catalyst synthesized by Dr. Zee.

After Mr. Anderson confronts Jamie about her relationship with Troy and Dillon, Jamie quits her job.

Troy, Dillon, and Jamie travel back to 1275 B.C. because they believe Xaviar may have gone to seek out Moses. They find an old man with a cane walking along, but Troy decides it doesn't matter if this is Moses or not because Xaviar wouldn't bother to come back this far.

Next, they travel to Athens in 457 B.C. They find Xaviar's viper parked nearby. They then go back in time to the point where Xaviar first arrives. He spots them and quickly warps away again.

They then travel to 1199 and stop Xaviar from preventing the assasination of Richard the Lion-Hearted (Cour de Lion). Xaviar planned to save him so he would be rewarded with political power. After being thwarted, Xaviar manages to escape again.

The final stop is the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. They watch the battle in horror, but Xaviar never appears. They then head back to their own time.

Xaviar is still at large at the end of the story, although he has given up on trying to change Earth's past. Xaviar wants to create an empire for himself. He plans to hide somewhere in the present day and use his knowledge and superior technology to gain power. Xaviar wants the humans to live, but he is willing to bargain with the Cylons if that is necessary to achieve his aims. Troy and Dillon find Dr. Mortinson and finally give him the formula for nuclear power.

The book ends with an Adama Journals entry. Adama is hopeful for the future and believes they can successfully upgrade Earth's technology while leading the Cylons away from Earth. His final words are "We have begun!" (This is one of the most cliched, overused phrases with which to end a story - with the words "The beginning", "It begins", or "We have begun" - but it still works well here)


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