Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 4: Episodes 5-8

“This episode seems like a series finale.”
“Yeah, I’m confused, too.”

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Season 4: Episodes 5-8

5: The Long Night 

Londo’s planning is apparently accelerating as he’s gathered a bunch of Centauri together plainly voicing his plan to rid them of Emperor Cartagia while he’s vulnerable outside of court.  Sheridan exhorts Ivanova to find more of the First Ones in order to help fight the battle/stop the Shadow/Vorlon war. She reveals her own innermost fears in a touching moment, and Sheridan gives her backing that she asks for.

I just want to pause here and say I didn’t expect this. Yeah, the Shadows were fore, er, -shadowed as a major enemy even in season 1, but the Vorlon always seemed some powerful, probably protectorate type of people who, at worst, wouldn’t back the humans in the war. Now they’re major players, but not on the side of the humans nor with the Shadows but as a major antagonist themselves. It’s a surprising development. It shows, too, how deep the show is. A generic space opera, this is not. It’s got far more depth than I ever expected. 

Mollari runs to G’Kar to make last-minute adjustments to the plan and this makes me realize there’s a lot more going on here, because Mollari tells G’Kar not to directly harm the Emperor because otherwise he won’t be free and his family will be harmed. Mollari insists his people will take care of things. So what is G’Kar supposed to do? Again, layers of subtlety that aren’t expected in a show like this on the surface. Moving on, the plan goes somewhat differently from planned. Did G’Kar actually break super reinforced chains? Vir ends up killing the Emperor because the Emperor was fighting with Mollari. 

The council of allied worlds decides to send a suicide mission into Shadow space to try to set a trap. It’s kind of a strange moment as Sheridan asks the captain if he’s married. One wonders about all the rest of the crew of the 5 total ships being sent in. The Narn try to make G’Kar into a new emperor, which he roundly refuses. Instead, he tries to lead the people towards renewal. But other voices of the Narn demand vengeance and war. Seems like this is another major plot that may unfold. 

6: Into the Fire

Ivanova works to continue to get the First Ones in order to try to fight the war against the Shadows and/or Vorlons. Meanwhile, Sheridan and Delenn work with Lennier to lead a huge strike force against the baddies. Marcus and Lyta, meanwhile, set up some nukes around on asteroids, presumably as some kind of minefield?. Back on Centauri, chaos reigns but the newly minted Prime Minister Mollari seems to be establishing order.

Lorien and Ivanova’s conversation about the First Ones, particularly his variety of First Ones, is revealing. He talks about the universe making short lived peoples. His own people nourished and helped other races of peoples. But he also talks about how his people as a group have lived so long that they’ve left behind joy, hope, and love because of how transitory it is. Humans and other peoples whose lives are brief “can imagine that love is eternal.” He tells Ivanova to embrace that illusion as a gift. I can’t decide if this is horrifically ominous or simply cynical.

Finally getting the truth behind Mollari’s love’s murder. Morden killed his love, and Mollari went to Morden. Mollari absolutely loses it. It’s a startlingly genuine and well-acted scene as Mollari comes to grips with the fact that he went down the path he embarked on due to a vile deception. He was played, as he says. And he does not wait around to exact his vengeance. He has his guards kill the shadows that accompany Morden. Morden says Mollari is insane, and Mollari responds: “On any other day, you would be wrong. Today? Today is a very different day.” OMG HE BLEW UP AN ISLAND! OMG. That was EPIC! I admit I was extraordinarily surprised that Mollari didn’t have Morden killed. But I was even more surprised when, later, he  has Vir go check on the last of the Shdow’s influence. His head is on a pike, and Vir is able to wave at Morden’s lifeless eyes, just as he said earlier. Mollari is definitely climbing back into my favorites on the series.

I’m trying to figure out why Sheridan used the nukes to blow up the Shadows and Vorlon instead of just letting them blow each other to pieces. Why not just mop up whoever was left? Apparently it’s because he’s acting in dfense of a planet of innocents that the Vorlon are planning to destroy due to Shadow influences. Sheridan calls in the First Ones, against Delenn’s advice, because he thinks with his heart instead of his head at times. 

The scene with both Sheridan and Delenn being tested by the Vorlons and Shadows independently is fantastic. The Shadows see themselves as pushing evolution–and Delenn calls them on their ideology. The Shadows happily grant that it’s about ideology. Meanwhile, the Vorlons try to claim a moral high ground, attempting to manipulate without revealing their own deceptions. Both Sheridan and Delenn reject the reasoning of these First Ones and their false dichotomies. I have to admit I’m shocked by the revelations here, that the Vorlons were basically using everyone else for their proxy war against the Shadows. In a way, the Shadows have been telling the truth the whole time. And now the Shadows and Vorlon just… leave? 

Lorien leaves Delenn and Sheridan with words that they must guide others to greatness and to move “beyond the rim” in some sort of higher plane of existence. Vir and Mollari celebrate a brief, wonderful moment of success. Delenn and Sheridan reflect on the apparent end of a terrible war. Delenn suggests they can make their own legends and future, and it’s a simply fantastic moment. It feels like the end of the series, to be honest, and yet there’s still 1 2/3 seasons left!?

Literally my face watching this.

7: Epiphanies

Somehow I knew it would be the awful Earth government that would be causing trouble after the Shadow War was ended. I wonder what the Earthers were doing during the time Babylon 5 was out there, I don’t know, uniting multiple alien species into an alliance that defeated the First Ones. The surprises keep coming at a breakneck pace in this episode, though. Bester seemingly gets sent to destroy B5; Mollari’s back on station; Garibaldi resigns after some weird light show thing appears to activate some memory buried in him, and Elvis impersonators are still a thing in the future. The speed with which some of these developments play out is surprising, as it is in the most of the season so far. However, the writing is so good and the acting is well done enough to maintain the sense of reality it all has, such that even at a seemingly rushed pace, it is enjoyable. 

Bester: “Haven’t we learned by now to trust each other?” Sheridan: “No. Sit down.” I loved this confrontation over Lyta. It had elements of humor to it, along with a sense of possibly bigger things going on. I don’t think Lyta’s done being developed, especially after the early comment she makes about no one being interested in hanging out with her. After a disastrous attempt to check out Z’ha’dum which apparently sets off a trap that blows up the planet, he checks in on his love in the cryo chamber. Sheridan outs Lyta as a pretty powerful telepath who apparently set off the trap herself. Zach enters immediately after Sheridan leaves and in what is possibly his best moment on the show so far, offers Lyta a pizza and help. 

Wait, what the HELL is that eye on the court person’s shoulder doing there!? What!?

8: The Illusion of Truth

I started this episode with the thought that “I better find out what the heck is that eye on that court guy’s shoulder.” Keep that in mind.

There’s a renegade news agency come to Babylon 5 to try to tell the “real story” of what’s going on. Lennier gets roped into showing them around the station. Shortly into the episode, though, it appears there may be something more nefarious going on with these news folks. Not only do we seem to see the cameras taking pictures at somewhat odd moments, but also the way the reporter guy pushes questions on Sheridan/Delenn. They’re questions that are structured to drive wedges between people. 

Garibaldi is out and about causing trouble still. We also get some insights into his flashbacks when he sees a picture of a creepy alien and has a flashback with a voice saying “You work for no one but us.” 

And then we get the actual news story. A remarkable example of disinformation. That seems an understatement, but the way this is done in the show is masterful. Calling in the expert psychologist to analyze Sheridan and others. The painting of everything in a nefarious light seems 100% on brand for what’s going on on Earth. They use Garibaldi to play up fears about Sheridan. Along with that, they play on the cryogenic chambers to create a completely fabricated storyline about what’s happening on Babylon 5. The whole thing is pretty awful and honestly raises some questions about how easy it was to create a compelling counter-narrative painting Babylon 5 as some kind of alien factory for producing weapons. What does this mean about some of our own news? How careful should we be of disinformation ourselves? These are questions worth asking, especially in this age of information. Track down your sources, see who’s telling you what, try to discern why they might spin stories that way. Most importantly: never reduce yourself to one outlet for news/media consumption. 

I’m left wondering one thing above basically everything else, though. What the hell is that eye doing on that guy’s shoulder!? 

Link

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

“Brittle Innings” by Michael Bishop- A literary achievement

I did not expect to find one of my favorite books ever when I began reading Brittle Innings. I read it because it was a Hugo Award nominee, and I love reading lists. Going in, I saw it was a science fiction novel with a baseball on the cover, and that was it. What I found when I read it was a sublime work of characterization and insight into 1940s America.

Brittle Innings is less a work of science fiction than it is a perfectly constructed character piece about playing minor league baseball in the southern United States (Oklahoma) in the 1940s. I was captivated by the story of Danny Boles trying to navigate the dusty baseball diamond and the dust-bowl like setting of the novel. In exacting detail, Bishop drew me in to Boles’s world and would not let me go. I could smell the dust of the diamond. I could feel the dust kicked up as someone attempted to steal a base. I could hear the conversations on the bus traveling between venues. I sweltered in the heat of an Oklahoma summer and smelled the scents of a hot kitchen.

Boles’s journey is not without difficulty, nor is he a perfect world. And Bishop does not sugar coat the racial tensions of the time, showing the disdain for which many characters treated black people throughout the novel–and there is use of unedited racial slurs throughout. Boles is, for most of the novel, unable to speak, and so we experience most of the world through his narrative voice, without the other characters ever hearing his voice. It’s an interesting device that serves to allow much introspection along the way.

Of course, the reason this novel ended up on the Hugo list is it is science fiction as well. Bishop has imagined a kind of sequel to Frankenstein here, and that part of the plot only really ramps up on the second half of this 500+ page novel. I knew this twist was coming, having seen a brief blurb about the premise for the novel before reading it. I was a little worried it would seem forced into the midst of the plot. But this interwoven plot is also excellent. Bishop writes in a voice that readers could be mistaken for thinking truly was Mary Shelley writing the parts of the Frankenstein monster’s journal. More incredibly, Bishop has created a follow up that feels worthy of the original while expanding in his own way.

The book is also a period piece. It’s totally immersive as such, as well. Whether it’s the language used, the events taking place, or the references to contemporary events, the book reads like it was lifted directly out of the 1940s. I wonder how much research Bishop put into it before he set pen to paper. It’s frankly incredible to see how he managed to create such a believable setting. Our protagonist deals with prejudices, biases, and taboos of his time in ways that sometimes brutalize the reader. This is not a book for children, as sexual violence and racism run rampant. But it is a book that also puts readers into that world through the eyes of an outsider, the Frankenstein monster. And what he sees as humanity and inhumanity becomes subversive in surprising ways.

Brittle Innings somehow manages to be a riveting literary work about baseball; a period piece; and a surprising science fiction narrative all at once. The novel is a literary achievement. 

(All Amazon Links are my Affiliates link.)

Links

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Reading the Horus Heresy, Primarchs Book 1: “Roboute Guilliman: Lord of Ultramar” by David Annandale

I know I’m late to the party, but I finally decided to start reading the “Horus Heresy,” a huge series of novels set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000 (though it is set much earlier than the year 40,000). I thought it would be awesome to blog the series as I go. With more than 50 novels and many, many short stories, there will be a lot of posts in this series (I doubt I’ll get to all the short stories). I’m reading the series in publication order unless otherwise noted. There will be SPOILERS from the books discussed as well as previous books in the series. Please DO NOT SPOIL later books in the series.

Roboute Guilliman: Lord of Ultramar by David Annandale

I took a break from the mainline Horus Heresy novels to dive into the Primarchs. I got the audiobook of Roboute Guilliman in a Humble Bundle and thought I’d give it a go, despite some middling reviews. I enjoyed the audiobook very much. It was well-read, and the pacing was spot on. As far as the book itself is concerned? I have mixed feelings.

My expectations going into a book about a Primarch are pretty straightforward: I expect to learn about the Primarch. Yet, I was surprised to find that Roboute Guilliman only resides in the background of the story, barely showing up, and when he does show up, it’s largely in his writings that introduce each chapter. So if the goal of the Primarchs series is to clue readers into the Primarchs, I’d say this book failed. And, given what the series seems to be advertised as–it’s literally titled “Primarchs”–I can’t help but assume that’s what the goal of the series is. 

But–and this is a big but–the book is actually quite enjoyable. It’s not very long, and the pacing is quick enough that it never feels bogged down, which is the problem I’ve had with several of the books in the main Horus Heresy series. The main thread of the plot finds the Ultramarines fighting over a planet with the Orks, basically trying to see if there’s anything worth recovering there. What surprised me (though readers who know a lot of the lore of Warhammer 40K may not find it a surprise) was the intense focus both on specifics of strategy and on the notion that cultures are worth recovering/restoring. The former is largely found through the few times Guilliman is featured in the book: as chapter introductions with excerpts from his writings. These open windows into the thought process of a Primarch who may not be the best strategist but is certainly one who values gaining the victory in an efficient, rather than glorious, way. The latter–the question of recovering/conserving cultures–had a twist at the end wherein it turns out the Ultramarines felt the culture they’d discovered wasn’t that worth learning about after all. Except that it held a warning for the Imperium, that a culture based upon war seems destined to fail. 

The action in the book doesn’t let up. I enjoyed the amount of action we had, with very little downtime. It made each character moment and conversation seem more valuable to the reader. The characters themselves were fine. They seemed to fit into tropes of Space Marines without being overly absurd or very deep. I noted before it Annandale avoids the pacing issues that have dogged several books in the Horus Heresy series, and I thought this felt fresh because of that.

Roboute Guilliman: Lord of Ultramar is a pretty fun installment in the Horus Heresy, but I don’t understand why it is considered a “Primarchs” book. It barely features the titular hero. As an Ultramarines book? It’s pretty fun. As a Primarchs book? I was disappointed. A good read, but don’t expect to learn much about Guilliman. Scoring the book was quite difficult, and I settled on a middling score myself when I rated it:  3/5 due to it not really living up to expectations, but still being a fun read. 

Links

Horus Heresy and Warhammer/40K Hub– All my posts on the Horus Heresy, as well as books throughout the Warhammer and 40K universe can be found here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

 

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- Season 4: Episodes 1-4

This guy is the worst! *Imagine the GIF of Jean Ralphio from Parks & Rec singing “The Wooooorsst” here*

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Please don’t spoil anything from later seasons or episodes for me! 

Season 4: Episodes 1-4

1: The Hour of the Wolf

The various people of the alliance are losing confidence in Babylon 5’s mission and are apparently willing to abandon it. Some justify this by claiming the war is over, but as others argue with them, several admit they don’t think it’s over but that they’d rather pull back to their own planets and try to survive. The B5 mains are left disgusted as the alliance apparently falls apart in front of their eyes. 

We net get an introduction to Emperor Cartagia, who surprises Mollari with his short crest of hair. Apparently this is due to his desire to wander amongst the common people and do whatever he pleases without having others defer to his rank. I’m already getting A Bad Feeling about this guy at the beginning, and every scene in this episode going forward confirms it. He later reveals he is letting the Shadows come to burn the planet. Morden survived–UGH!–and convinced the Emperor that he can get godlike power if he just lets the Shadows hide out on his planet. I’d be asking why the Shadows are so swift to go into hiding. Because the Vorlon are mobilizing? Yes, we’ve seen the Vorlon defeat them, but en masse are the Vorlon really more powerful than the Shadows? (Edit: see below, layers upon layers of space opera going on here!)

Apparently Not-Kosh (the new Vorlon ambassador after Kosh) is using Lyta to walk around among humans, and it looks creepy. Cue up another Bad Feeling. Also, I fricking knew Sheridan was alive! I mean, obviously that kind of got spoiled by the cover of season 4 having his face on it, but I knew it instinctively anyway! YES! But who’s this weird alien?

2: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi? 

The title alone is the question I asked when they were talking about Garibaldi being missing in the previous episode. The weird looking alien starts off extremely cryptically, telling Sheridan he’s dead, and he checks for a pulse, but there is none. Then, the alien goes on to say that Sheridan might be in between moments–life and death. On Station, Dr. Franklin works to help with Delenn’s apparent health problem. 

Meanwhile, G’Kar is working to track down Garibaldi, and the discussion gets heated. But! YES! Enter Marcus to save the day! I did not expect that, but I should have, given how often both G’Kar and Marcus seem to get into brawls. Later, after they go on the run, G’Kar and Marcus talk about how they met. Turns out Marcus followed G’Kar, and he delivers yet another fantastic line: “I heard you were looking for Mr. Garibaldi on the assumption he was in trouble. So I went looking for you… on the assumption you’d probably get into trouble.” They verbally spar, making fun of the Minbari weapon Marcus uses, and then get down to the business of finding Garibaldi. In a touching moment, G’Kar mentions Garibaldi as his friend who wasn’t a Narn, and Marcus talks about how few friends he has and how many have ended up dead. G’Kar gets shot when he’s in hiding! Captured by the Centauri! 

Delenn gets pulled from her stupor by a recording of Sheridan, and she summons the Rangers to “Strike one last blow that will be heard and remembered 1000 years from now.” Back with the Centauri, Mollari is summoned by the Emperor to be presented a gift–and before he even said it I guessed it would be G’Kar. But seeing G’Kar completely in chains and tied to a post was more emotional than I thought it would be. Mollari, though, looks absolutely horrified at first, and maybe a little confused. And now I’m confused by Mollari’s response. Am I possibly right about a redemption arc for Mollari? G’Kar’s words when the Emperor asks–Do you by any chance happen to know where Mr. Garibaldi might be?–are so on point. A quick cut to Garibaldi shows him imprisoned… somewhere? Then it’s back to Mollari, now having an intimate conversation with G’Kar in which he reveals the torturous death G’Kar is going to endure. But Mollari doesn’t want that to happen, and reveals that he sees the Emperor as a “monster” on the throne. Mollari wants G’Kar to kill the Emperor, but G’kar makes Mollari promise to have the Centauri leave Narn if he does so. It seems a massive win-win, and a surprising one–can Mollari really guarantee the promise he made? But maybe G’Kar is just so desperate that he’ll accept even the faintest possibility. 

Sheridan is apparently talking to the one who claims to be the first of the First Ones. The strange alien says Sheridan has a Vorlon inside of him. And also he may be able to bring Sheridan back by “breathing on the embers” of his life. Looks like Sheridan is coming back, and that he did die! 

Guess who’s back, back again. Sher’dan’s back, tell a friend.

3: The Summoning

I loved the opening with Marcus and Delenn carefully avoiding telling Ivanova that she can’t actually speak Minbari well. G’Kar being dressed in a torturous jester costume in order to be laughed at by the insane Emperor’s court… not so much. It’s awful. And going from there, the scene where the Emperor complains about torturing G’Kar and not having him scream or anything while his hands are covered with blood… it’s just absolutely terrible. Not in the sense of it being bad television, but in the sense of it being so awful to watch and realize what G’Kar is going through. It’s a rather masterful way of building tension without having to show all the blood and gore on the screen. There’s an element of using one’s imagination that can be worse than anything they could have shown.

Not-Kosh and Lyta’s relationship seems clearly abusive. She finally pushes back enough to be shown into Not-Kosh’s mind. But while watching the episode, I really doubted Not-Kosh would show her anything. Garibaldi is back and confused. Meanwhile, the awful Emperor–and my Nero comparison continues to seem ever more appropriate–tortures G’Kar into screaming before the final stroke that would kill him with an electric-whip. The Emperor must be destroyed. (Also, as a side note, the 39 lashes are the number traditionally ascribed to Jesus, due to Deuteronomy 25:3. See also 2 Corinthians 11:24, where Paul says he received 40 lashes minus 1 on 5 occasions. A fascinating, and I’m sure intentional, parallel.)

SHERIDAN IS BACK! And just in time to stop a complete rebellion and destruction of the alliance. “We thought you were dead!” “I was. I’m better now.” 100% epic. And then he goes on to pump up the crowd and reunite them with the power of his words right before snuggling Delenn. Kickin’ ass and takin’ names: Sheridan. Lorien is on Babylon 5 now and Garibaldi is supremely unimpressed, which doesn’t surprise me. 

Lyta later reveals that the Vorlons have decided to destroy everything that the Shadows touched, apparently deciding to burn everything in the galaxy in order to try to stop anything having to do with the Shadows continuing to exist in any way. So that seems… bad.

4: Falling Toward Apotheosis 

A Babcom message from Ivanova informed viewers that the Vorlon are blasting more planets, which, as I said above, seems bad. Garibaldi remains skeptical of Sheridan and especially Lorien, while people on Babylon 5 are apparently viewing Sheridan as some kind of savior figure. 

The depth of the Emperor’s insanity continues to be revealed as we see the truth behind the severed heads incident, along with his obsession with becoming a god. He also continues to show parallels with Nero as he wants it to “all end in fire.” Nero, the Roman Emperor, allegedly stage acted while Rome burned (though the common phrase about fiddling while Rome burned is wrong, because fiddles weren’t invented yet), and here Emperor Cartagia (possibly a reference to Carthage, the long-time enemy of Rome? How many layers of depth are going on here) wants to turn the world into a pyre of destruction for what he thinks will be his elevation to godhood. 

Back on B5, the leaders seem to be planning to bring the fight to Not-Kosh, apparently by killing him? Dr. Franklin’s face after this discussion basically reflects my own skepticism. His face says it all: “Uh, how the hell? What? That’s not gonna happen, but you’re really gonna try it?” I truly didn’t expect this to develop in this episode, but we move from the planning to immediately trying to forcibly remove the Vorlon from the station, and it obviously does not go well as Not-Kosh easily defeats the whole security contingent, though apparently without having anyone permanently harmed. And Lyta–I forgot to mention she’s been modified with gills or something?–seems to be in on the game, trying to set up Not-Kosh for some kind of trap. And the trap gets sprung right away in this episode! The slow burn of seasons 1-2-most of 3 is over. It is GO TIME in Babylon 5. And the Not-Kosh creature is a creepy electric apparition. Also, this is unrelated but why the heck is Delenn there? 

OMG did Kosh just go to do battle against Not-Kosh!? They get sucked out into space with some kind of crazy First Ones vortex and go to the Vorlon ship, which explodes? I’m so confused and amazed by what’s happening with the Vorlon. I knew something wasn’t right about them! I didn’t express it, that I can see, in previous reviews but I thought something possibly bad with the Vorlon was going on with how Kosh was. On the flip side, now I sound like I’m siding with Morden in saying the Shadows are to be pitied, which is not at all true.

Mollari tries to convince Emperor Catargia that he must spare some of his people so that he can be worshiped. Redemption arc, begin? Part of his plan also seems to be to free G’Kar to act against the Emperor. Going back to Lorien, Delenn, and Sheridan we learn Sheridan only has till his 60s to live, which is pretty rough on Delenn. But they get engaged! 

At this point it’s worth noting how enthralled I’ve become by Londo/Vir/Cartagia’s storyline. Mollari was my favorite character in season 1, but he quickly became a “bad guy,” and I hoped for his redemption. Now, we see him looking on with horror as his people are led by a monster. It’s a fascinating rise, fall, and perhaps rise again that we’re witnessing. It’s so good. Obviously G’Kar is a huge part of this, as well. I am amazed by how they’ve managed to create basically a whole secondary storyline with new characters that is just as compelling as the main plot.

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Indie Highlight: “The Carnelian Fox” by Kay MacLeod

The “Indie Highlight” is a series of posts in which I shine the lights on Indie/Self-Published books that I believe are worthy of your attention. I’ll be writing reviews and recommending them, along with providing links on where to get the books.

The Carnelian Fox by Kay MacLeod

I love Pokémon. I love monster collecting games in general, and have tracked down a bunch on Steam and other platforms. I’ve always craved books that capture (hah!) that same feel of excitement, exploration, and bonding with creatures of games like Pokémon. Kay MacLeod’s The Carnelian Fox is a fantastic book that does exactly that.

In the world of Maiyamon, some corporation made real life monsters that could be caught out of everyday creatures. Of course, this included giving them stats, bonuses, and other things that go along with monster catching games. The company faded and interested in the ‘mons faded along with it, but the ‘mons remained, and became a problem for the real world to deal with.

Jump forward in time, and we get to follow Sam, a Maiyamon trainer who wants to better herself and her team as she sets out to become a great trainer. She gets paired with Lucy, a wealthy young woman who wants to use her Maiyamon(s) for show (think of dog shows), in order to protect her and earn some money. From there, readers follow a series of adventures, competitions, and more as we get exposed to the world of Maiyamon.

MacLeod has created a beautiful experience with this book. The battles feel just like what I had hoped for–real time, epic battles between ‘mons that still have a kind of pseudo rock-paper-scissors aspect to them. The battles are one of the major highlights of the book. I also quite enjoyed the bonding between the Maiyamon and trainers that happened. Sam cares for her critters, and their interactions are sometimes touching. I didn’t expect to feel emotional in this book, but I did. MacLeod’s characterization is great, and genuine (often witty) dialogue is the name of the game.

There are a few typos here and there, and a few sentences that end with a question mark that doesn’t seem to fit. These are more jarring than I expected (I tend to be pretty good at ignoring such things) because of how few and far between they were.

The Carnelian Fox is a great indie read that absolutely, at last, scratches that Pokémon itch. If you like monster training games and have longed for a novel that can give you that same feeling with a great story, you should run and grab this book. I recommend it.

(All Amazon Links are Affiliates)

Links

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.