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REVIEW OF

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

BERKLEY NOVEL


Flagship of the 12 Worlds fleet, she was as large as a planet, yet as swift as the Starhound fighters she launched from her bays. For generations the vast ship led the thousand-year war against the Cylons for control of the known Galaxy. Now that war was in its final phase, and Galactica had one final mission, win or lose: blast through the deadly grid of the Cylon Starfleet and dash for deep space in a desperate attempt to find the legendary "Stonehenge" of the universe - the lost planet the ancient microfilms call "Earth."

Could this be an early Galactica design sketch?This is the opening paragraph to the Berkley novelization of the Battlestar Galactica pilot "Saga Of A Star World". This is easily one of the most fascinating Galactica books ever written, and there are a number of things that make it so interesting. First, the book is based on an early script of the pilot and, although changes were made before it came to print to make it more like the version that aired, there are a number of alternate scenes in the book. The Galactica universe is also different in several aspects, such as the Cylons are living aliens underneath their armor instead of total machines. Also, there are missing scenes left out of the final cut of the movie that survived intact in the book (Starbuck's confrontation with Tigh on the bridge after the Colonies are destroyed; Starbuck's extended conversation with Cassie on the shuttle; Adama's resigning from the Council).

Perhaps best of all, certain events are more fleshed out in the novelization than in the movie such as the surprise Cylon attack. The novelization helps to fill a number of gaping plot holes and unanswered questions that the movie was saddled with. Many chapters begin with an entry from the Adama journals, and the reader is able to learn a lot of information and insight from the Galactica's commander.

I realize that many fans are unhappy with the Berkley books, feeling that they don't remain true to the series. I disagree. First of all, as I've already said, the novelizations often have extra detail and explanations that help cover up plot holes that existed in the episodes. Second, I like the fact that the novels portray the BG universe in a slightly different way and that they are not exact retellings of the episodes because the books would be pretty boring otherwise. Third, some of the characters such as Athena are fleshed out better in the novels. Make no mistake, this is the best of all the Berkley novelizations and is a must-read for any Galactica fan.


Although Glen Larson is given co-author credit, he actually was not involved in the writing of the book at all. In fact, he did not contribute anything to any of the 14 Berkley books. Presumably, Larson's name was put on the books to make them more marketable.

Robert Thurston has said the novel originally had more sex in it, but the publisher edited most of it out. There were some copies of the original unedited version released, but they are difficult to find (and the differences are fairly minor). For example, there was a special version of the novelization printed with a plain blue cover for the 1978 ABA convention. It is also possible (though not certain) that the Canadian edition of the novel may be unedited.

In the Adama Journals, Adama states that the Cylons attacked the humans first without provocation more than a thousand years ago (There is never any mention in the novel of Colonial units of time such as yahrens, centons, microns, etc). This was contradicted in the movie and even later in the novelization when we hear Adama say during a meeting of the Council that the Cylons did not attack the Colonies until the Colonials aided a race that the Cylons had enslaved.

Zac, instead of volunteering to go on patrol, was forced to go on patrol by Colonel Tigh as punishment for "that little rest and recuperation escape with Pay's chief nurse in sick bay."

Apollo was famous among all the battlestars in the fleet for his war achievements.

Adama is a much more stern, strict man than he appeared to be in the TV series. "The members of Adama's crew feared Adama as much as they loved him."

Baltar was a self-proclaimed count; a rich trader, a dealer in rare items.

Adama severely disliked Baltar from the beginning and didn't trust him.

Adama and Adar went to the space academy together and were assigned to the same battlestar.

The Colonial warfleet has five battlestars, not twelve. The fleet apparently had many other kinds of warships besides battlestars.

A unique description of the Galactica is given: "(Adama) took great pride in the unanimous acknowledgment of the Galactica as the greatest fighting ship in the Colonial Fleet and the most efficiently run of all the Fleet's five battlestars. Commissioned at least two centuries before its present commander's birth, and commanded by Adama's father before him, the Galactica had survived thousands of rough encounters with the enemy, no mean achievement when one considered the notorious Cylon deviousness. With the destruction of the Atlantia's sister ship, the Pacifica, Adama's craft had become the largest fighting battlestar in the Fleet. And since he had taken over command its record had become as impressive as its size. The most heroic exploits, the most suicidal missions, the highest number of Cylon kills were now part of the Galactica's gallant history. If this peace lasted any time at all, the battlestar would surely be declared a monument to human achievement.

While it appeared to drift placidly, the Galactica was actually idling at near light-speed. Its slowness was due to the fact that it had, as guardian of the Atlantia during the peace conference, to keep its pace down to the Command Battlestar's speed. No wonder. Where the Atlantia was a hive of bulkily designed sections, the Galactica was a slim-lined, multi-level vehicle whose functional components allowed for the rarely achieved combination of size with speed. In regular space it could traverse distances nearly as fast as the fighting craft launched from it. Its fuel system provided the most power possible from the mixture of Tylium with lesser fuel sources. Its launching decks could be activated within minutes, emerging as long extensions from the cylindrical core of the vehicle, and its guidance systems had been refined - at Adama's orders - so that his pilots could land on an InterFleet Memo without smudging a single letter." It sounds like the Adama and Galactica of the novel would put Cain and the Pegasus to shame.

The Galactica seems to have been a much larger ship in the novel than in the TV series. "Adama recalled his father saying that the Galactica was the size of a small planet, that a traveler could use up most of a lifetime walking its corridors without having to retrace a single step. He had learned later that the old man's description was somewhat overexaggerated, one of the outrageous tall tales he had so savored in the telling. Still, the Galactica would be a mighty challenge for the dedicated hiker."

Adama and his wife Ila had not seen each other in over two years. In their married life, they had spent more time apart than they had spent together, but Ila always argued that their love was intensified as a result.

Starbuck's gambling is so famous that his name is part of fighter-pilot slang. To be starbucked meant that you had maneuvered yourself into a position where defeat was inevitable. It was applied toward both battle and gambling.

Boomer, Jolly, and Greenbean are with Starbuck in the card game. Starbuck loses a big hand to some Gemons, but then he comes back and wins just as the alert is sounded.

When the Cylons attack the Colonial warfleet, two fleet battlecruisers explode almost immediately (evidently, there were many other ships besides the 5 battlestars). The Galactica is the only battlestar that manages to launch all its vipers. By the time the other battlestars launch their vipers, the Cylons are able to pick off most of them as soon as they clear the launch tubes. Thus, the Galactica warriors are left to lead the defense of the fleet.

The Solaria is the last battlestar left in the fleet. It is destroyed, and then the Cylons leave the remaining vipers. Starbuck, Boomer, Jolly and the others are able to find refueling stations that were shielded from Cylon scanners.

Starbuck, Boomer, and other pilots angrily confront Colonel Tigh on the bridge about the Galactica's withdrawal from the battle. Tigh replays the footage of the Destruction for them. This scene can be found in the Missing Scenes section.

The Cylons are organic underneath their armor, unlike in the TV series. The way the Cylons look is not really described, but they must look very different than in the TV series because one of the Cylons on Carillon actually laughs. The Cylons in the TV series were incapable of laughter or displaying such emotion.

Imperious Leader has many eyes. He has three brains. Typical Cylons have one brain, and secondary officers have two brains. Imperious Leader uses part of his brain to access the human form of thinking as a way to anticipate what his enemies will do. He dislikes using that portion of his brain, but it is invaluable in battle. Leader sees the humans' notions of good and evil as ridiculous. As far as he is concerned, such things simply do not exist. The Leader wears a helmet that allows him to personally direct the battle.

Every Imperious Leader holds power for roughly three-quarters of a century, and then steps down after naming a successor.

Serina has auburn hair and green eyes. She does not know Boxey when she helps him during the Cylon attack (unlike in the TV series where she is his mother).

The rag-tag fleet is composed of 22,000 ships (not 220).

Apollo creates a force field that hides the fleet from the Cylons. This makes their escape from the Colonies more believable, and it shows that the early character of Apollo was much more scientifically skilled than the Apollo of the TV series.

Athena is a blonde and Cassiopea is a brunette.

The original script has extra dialogue between Cassiopea and Starbuck during their first meeting on the shuttle. It survived intact in the novel, but you can also read it in the Missing Scenes section

The novel makes it clear that a socialator is far more than a common prostitute. It takes years of preparation as one has to take endless courses concerning social behavior and human knowledge before a license is granted. A socialator has the ability to cure mild illnesses with intricate massage techniques.

In the launch bay, Cassiopea blatantly asks Starbuck for sex. "I want to make love to you. That's all it is. Not as a socialator, not as a refugee, just as me. Okay?"

When Athena sees Starbuck and Casseopia in the launch tube, they are making love (not simply kissing as they were in the movie).

In the Adama Journals, Adama talks about how a number of people even to this day still consider him to be a coward for leaving the Colonial warfleet during the surprise attack.

Adama once had a talk with Zac who said that he loved Apollo but he had to surpass his achievements. This reveals the rivalry between the two brothers that was never defined in the movie.

Imperious Leader considers Baltar to be the vilest of all humans because he is a traitor. When he orders Baltar to be executed, Baltar tries to bargain his life by offering information. Leader promises to spare him, and Baltar then tells him that he heard the Galactica survives. The Leader then breaks his promise and Baltar is taken out of the chamber to be executed. We never see Baltar get executed, so the continuity of the story is not disrupted when later novels reveal that Baltar survived.

The novel hints that many people did not want to be part of Adama's quest to find Earth. Apollo wants to fight the Cylons. Serina simply objects to the idea of looking for Earth. Adama simply tells her she will do what he says. In the Adama Journals, Adama talks about how a leader, no matter how benevolently he regards himself, has to be something of a tyrant.

Solium is a fuel, a derivative of the fuel source called Tylium.

The Sire Uri of the novel is described as "handsome."

Adama resigns as President of the Council due to the burdens of leading the fleet despite protests from most of the Council members. This is why Adama is unable to simply overrule the Council when they later propose destroying their weapons.

There is not enough fuel for the entire fleet to make it to Carillon. One third of the fleet makes the journey and will return once the fuel is found. Uri votes for the plan only after he is guaranteed that his ship, the Rising Star, is one of the ships that is selected for the trip.

Droids were banned on Caprica because Capricans didn't believe in using mechanical substitutes for human effort. That helps explain the lack of robots among the Colonials.

The Muffit of the novel looks exactly like a real daggit. He actually pants and has a tongue.

In the Adama Journals, Adama tells a story of how he once tried to catch Starbuck and reprimand him. He followed Starbuck down several hallways one time and walked in on a card game between him and several others. When Adama asks him what he was betting on, Starbuck tells Adama that they are betting on what will be the day that Adama dies! Adama becomes enraged, and Starbuck says the game was fixed; he knows the answer. Adama then asks what will be the day he dies, and Starbuck shows him the sheet of paper he wrote the answer on. It reads, "Never." Everyone, including Adama, bursts into laughter, and that was the last time Adama ever tried to catch Starbuck.

The Colonials are unaware of the mine field blocking Carillon. Adama picks Apollo, Starbuck, and Boomer to clear the minefield at the last moment. Athena protests this to Adama, mostly because of her feelings for Starbuck. The hopelessness of their situation makes her want him even more.

There are three different mines. The first are regular mines. The second are jamming mines that make the vipers controls go haywire if it gets too close. And the third are mines that send out a blinding light when they explode. This is why the viper cockpits are sealed. At one point, Tigh suggests to Adama that the mission be aborted when it appears the trio won't be able to destroy the mines.

The Ovions are selling all of their tylium to the Cylons, but they are forced to because the Cylons rule over them. The Ovions actually despise the Cylons.

Monogomy is prevalent on some Cylon worlds, and the Imperious Leader considers this to be a bad thing.

The boss of the casino gives Starbuck and Boomer free food and drink when they first arrive. The short simian waiters are "mildly telepathic", enabling them to serve Starbuck his favorite drink, Sagitarian straight-arrow, and his favorite dessert, Aquarian ambrosia cake, without him having to ask for them.

Jolly is the first to be captured by the Ovions. Muffit is also captured along with Boxey.

The Imperious Leader recalls a conversation he had with a captured human scientist. After several days of communication, the man became lethargic. When the Leader asked why, the man explained the concept of boredom. The Leader found the concept so loathsome that he refused to accept it and became incensed with rage. The man also became angry and argued that no one liked to be bored, but it was unavoidable. The Leader commented that the man now seemed much less bored, therefore talking about boredom must not be boring. The man screamed that he was now more bored than ever, that the Imperious Leader and all the rest of the Cylons were such smug hypocrites with little personality that any sensible human could not help but be bored after a few days in their company. Although Imperious Leader did not believe boredom to be a genuine state, he resented the man's claim of boredom in Cylon company, and he banished the man from his presence forever. He probably had the man put to death, but that was a piece of information he would not have bothered to preserve in any of his brains. Ironically, Imperious Leader was now feeling bored while waiting for the Carillon trap to be sprung on the humans. When he hears news of the Galactica's arrival at Carillon, he orders the Cylon task force at Borallus to be ready to travel to Carillon.

Adama goes with the Council to Carillon, but he refuses to eat any of the Ovions' food. The food is drugged, and that explains why the rest of the Council so stupidly wanted to destroy their weapons.

Athena asks Adama for permission to go to Carillon, and he says yes. She dreams of one day having her own battlestar to command.

The three singers on stage are from the planet Tucan. They have two mouths each instead of three.

Serina uses her reporter skills to try to talk to one of the Ovions named Seetol, but her attempt is mostly unsuccessful.

We never hear Adama discuss his secret plan with Colonel Tigh. Tigh actually does go down to the surface for the party so he can report what is happening to the Galactica.

Sire Uri comes on to both Cassiopea and Serina. Of course, they reject him.

Apollo and Serina spend a night together on Carillon. It is strongly implied that they have sex.

When Cassiopea storms away from Starbuck, Athena angrily hands him the room key and leaves as well. Later, Athena regrets not having stayed with Starbuck.

When Cassiopea is captured by the Ovions, she is wrapped in leaves inside a pod that at first make her feel peaceful and happy. Soon it wears off and the leaves grow painfully tight, and she begins to scream.

The captured humans' bodies are slowly absorbed into the leaves of the pod. They are diluted into a liquid used to feed Ovion babies when they hatch.

The Cylon attack force is referred to as the Cylon Supreme Star Force.

The Cylons discover the portion of the fleet left behind when a glitch occurs in the force field, but the Cylons decide to wait to attack because they don't want to alert the Galactica.

Seetol and the Ovion queen, Lotay, are killed during Starbuck and Apollo's escape from the mines.

During the mass exodus from the surface of Caprica, Starbuck and Cassiopea pilot a shuttle filled with highly volatile Tylium. They barely evade the attacking Cylons and return to the Galactica.

The planet Carillon does not explode.

Once the Cylons at Carillon are routed, the Galactica warps back to the rest of the fleet which is also being attacked by Cylons. The Colonials win the battle. Imperious Leader is shocked at the turn of events. He realizes in his anger and hatred he has become like the humans, and that makes him more determined than ever to destroy them all.

Muffit is shot by a Cylon on the surface of Carillon. Boxey is very sad because of this, and the book ends with Doctor Wilker revealing that Muffit has now been repaired. Boxey is happy again, and Serina makes a toast to Adama: "To Earth," she said.


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