Reading the Babylon 5 Novels: “In the Beginning” by Peter David

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.

In the Beginning by Peter David

Novelizations of movies aren’t often great. They’re often just cash grabs for the novelty of having a book in hand to tell the story. Peter David, however, is no hack. He’s written a number of Star Trek novels I quite enjoyed, and I was excited to see what his take on this Babylon 5 film would be. In the Beginning is largely a 1-to-1 retelling of the movie, but David adds in a bunch of detail and asides that make it feel very much like a Babylon 5 story is being told. Honestly, I enjoyed it even more than the film.

The story of In the Beginning is that of Mollari as Emperor telling some children what happened in the Earth-Minbari war, which would of course set up numerous later events and lead to many of his own self-inflicted problems. Like the movie, it’s all told from his perspective. Because this is a novel, however, David is able to keep the entire story in the voice of Mollari. Yes, the movie does much of this as well, but David adds more comments from Mollari, along with internal rationalizations of what he’s saying. All of this adds depth of character to the story that already has plenty going for it.

There’s no question that Mollari is among the most interesting characters in a cast of greats on Babylon 5. This book reads just as though you, the reader, are having the whole story being told from his perspective. Again, the film attempts this (and largely succeeds), but the novel turns it up a few notches. I can’t tell you the number of times I chuckled appreciatively at something that was absolutely on point for Mollari as a character. Chapter after chapter revealed additional insights not only into the main characters of the show, but into Mollari himself. I found myself looking forward to seeing what comments David might put into Mollari’s mind or mouth as he continued the story. It’s just a fabulous way to read about Babylon 5. Honestly, I’d love to have more novels written like this–just Mollari (or another character) retelling various events with commentary.

In the Beginning is definitely the best of the Babylon 5 novels I’ve read so far. It not only retells the story of the movie, but it expands upon it and fills in background in numerous delightful ways. Peter David’s novel absolutely captures the feel of Babylon 5 the whole time, and it is worth the read for any fan of the series.

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.

Watching Babylon 5 For the First Time: “In the Beginning” – the TV movie

Hello Darkness, my old friend.

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. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

In the Beginning

The first scene opens, and we see an older Mollari! This instantly makes me hopeful that this movie may answer some of my left over questions from the series. In particular, I want to know about the Shadow ally and whether Mollari ever escapes it. And he tells a story to two young Centauri children, which of course features a younger… Mollari! Time to sit back and enjoy this ride! 

What a ride it is! We get an enormous amount of backstory for the whole series. I was thrilled to see that we might be getting insight into the Earth-Minbari War. We see Mollari chastising the humans for their audacity to confront the Minbari. We witness Delenn’s discussion with the Gray Council. The outbreak of the Earth-Minbari War is a major part of the movie. And it gives us a lot of background into what our favorite characters were doing way back when. Including Ivanova! And G’Kar! Seeing G’Kar as an arms dealer is excellent. He’s doing it to help his people, of course, as it seems he’s done everything. And Dr. Franklin, already an expert on alien biology, apparently, gets arrested for refusing to use his knowledge to help kill Minbari. 

One of the best scenes is when Mollari is voicing over the near-end of the war: “In the end, they didn’t run out of courage–they ran out of time.” The scenes going past during this voice over are well-done and beautiful at times. Most of the rest of the scenes are things we already know with a bit of expansion. 

Mollari intersperses comments throughout. At one point,  we witness his condemnation of the arrogance of humans, then we see him blaming himself for the war. But the format made me worry that I wouldn’t be getting any answers to my most pressing question after all: what happens to Mollari after the series!?

The end gives us a quick peek at an earlier point in the series, in which we saw old Mollari confronting our heroes–Delenn and Sheridan. Mollari toasts them as he apparently gets into a drunken stupor to placate the Shadow Keeper. And that’s the end! we don’t find out more here! But it’s a tantalizing look. I wonder if I’ll have to wait to go through the books before I find the main answer I’m looking for. 

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.