Having finally watched Babylon 5 for the first time (check out my posts for that series at my Babylon 5 Hub), I decided to dive into the novels. I’ll be reading them largely in publication order and reviewing them individually as we go along. Please do not spoil later books for me. There will be SPOILERS for the book reviewed going forward.
Accusations by Lois Tilton
Accusations is the second Babylon 5 novel, and, like the first, it’s an imperfect experience. The core plot here is about Ivanova and Garibaldi solving a murder mystery on Babylon 5. That’s certainly a plot that one would expect to be within their purview, and Lois Tilton does a good job integrating enough twists and turns to let this be the central plot for the whole novel.
The writing isn’t half bad, either. Tilton captures Ivanova’s role fairly early on, and I enjoyed the tie-in at the very end of the book that basically bookends the novel with standard Babylon 5 operations. There’s a complexity to Ivanova’s portrayal here that makes it engaging. However, the problems with the book begin with Ivanova as well. She ends up at one point letting Talia Winters scan her, something that would never have happened with the Ivanova we know from the show, especially from later seasons. Accusations was published in 1995, so sometime during Season 2. But that makes it difficult to look back on with the knowledge from later seasons that negate this somewhat key scene.
If you’re willing to ignore such problems reconciling this book with the later series–something a reader could probably do by assuming the scan happened and Ivanova somehow convinced/coerced Winters to not tell too much afterwords–you’re going to get good mileage out of this novel. Tilton’s prose sometimes captures the conversational style punctuated with humor that the show does so well. At other times, it can fall flat. But for a tie-in novel, her writing does the job.
I do have to ask: Why is G’Kar even on the cover? He barely even appears in the book–so little that I’m questioning if I even remember him showing up or if I’m conflating it with the first book in my head. I was hoping he’d have a role in some of the plotting happening on the station. But he doesn’t, and neither do any other alien characters. This is a story almost entirely about Ivanova, Winters, and Garibaldi, with a cast of other humans thrown along for the ride. That doesn’t necessarily make this a bad novel, but it does take away some of the feel of Babylon 5. On the other hand, this hyper-focus on humans means that we get some insights into how far force, human corporations, and some workings of the politicking happening behind the scenes. It’s not a lot, but it is interesting to get just a glimpse into some background there.
Ultimately, Accusations is a decent read for fans of Babylon 5. It captures Ivanova’s character well–apart from the major flub discussed above–and mostly captivates readers with an interesting mystery plot at its core. There are also revelations about human forces shaping into potential for later conflict in the TV series, as we saw in later seasons. The book is an imperfect but satisfying read for fans, especially if they’re inclined to be forgiving when reading tie-in novels.
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