The Atlantic is a terrific magazine, but possibly the last place I would have looked for an article on Battlestar Galactica, the edgy TV series that’s probably done more to shake up science fiction on television since the original Star Trek. Nevertheless, in the new (Jan/Feb 2009) issue, James Parker writes in The Atlantic about BSG, just as the show locks and loads for its final stretch (hitting the cablewaves next Friday night!). In Lost in Space, Parker gives a reasonable account of the origin of the reimagined show, except that he brings L. Ron Hubbard into the account—Hubbard having said that space opera was really “the stuff of deepest prehistory, somber emanations from the memory of the species.” That dovetails, admittedly, with BSG’s premise that Earth is not the cradle of humankind, but rather the latest stop on a long journey.
Parker turns a tad snarky about the direction of the show, saying that “Battlestar Galactica is presenting all the symptoms of a an extended-run high-concept TV series in its decadent phase.” Now, he may be right—certainly I’ve wondered more than once whether the show’s writers actually know themselves where they’re going with the story. I’ve wondered that ever since I wrote the official novelization of the miniseries, and had the feeling that there was a lot they weren’t telling me about the direction of the show because they weren’t sure themselves. Fair enough. Half the time I don’t know where I’m going when I’m writing a novel. Why should it be any different for the creators of a years-long TV series?
On the other hand, maybe those writers know exactly what they’re doing, and we’re just entering the twistiest part of the world’s most gut-wrenching aerobatics show. That’s my vote, an expression of white-knuckled faith. They better know what they’re doing—it’s coming back on, and looks like it could be augering in, and I, for one, want to know how they’re going to land that baby!
“You write about the thing that sank its teeth into you and wouldn’t let go.” —Paul West