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Monday, November 7, 2011

Writing, Part IV B: Answering My Own Questions

This is the Book Four version of a post I made a month ago.  In case you're wondering, the trilogy's sequence of events are the ones I would rather consider canon, but Book Four is an interesting diversion; an alternate take on the history of the show as laid out in the series.

A few months ago, I pasted the first thing I typed up for LoK: a list of events and facts about Kobol we knew from the show.  Here, I will repost it, line by line, and explain how I tackled each tidbit in my head before I sat down to write to Book Four.

If you haven't already, download the entire trilogy (plus two) right HERE for free.

SPOILERS abound.  This post is for Book Four only; the post related to the trilogy (Books One - Three) is HERE.

The issues related to theology, The One, the "angels" and so on will be dealt with in a future post.

Distant past - Flood nearly destroys mankind.

In the trilogy, an asteroid hit the nearby sea and washed away most of the village, leading to the descent of the gods from the mountain.  In Book Four, I didn't want to go the asteroid route again, so I let the gods flex their muscles and Zeus washed away Prometheus' Thirteenth Tribe in a fit of pride/jealousy/fear.

2,000 years before Exodus - 13th tribe leaves for Earth (Why?); Temple of Hopes built on Algae Planet

If the Thirteenth Tribe was a pill to deal with in the trilogy, it was harder in Book Four.  Once I decided to work the "relation" angle between the Tribe and the gods in the trilogy, it kind of fell in place.  For Book Four, it had to be different, obvs.

With the gods as "angels"/messengers, I decided to work the Prometheus angle and tie him to the Tribe.  It makes sense, if you know the Greek mythology, since Prometheus gave knowledge to the people that Zeus didn't want them to have.  In most interpretations of Greek tales, this knowledge is usually represented as fire.  For the trilogy, Prometheus' conveyed knowledge was about The One and (supposedly) Larsa's true history. In Book Four, it's more explicit as Prometheus directly gives the people he gathered knowledge about life & death (DNA and resurrection, with Asclepius' help), space travel and The One.  All of this pisses Zeus off and makes him feel threatened ... if the Thirteenth Tribe were to mingle among the Twelve, the work the gods had accomplished over the last few centuries would be undone (in Zeus' mind).  So, Flood.

Their later departure is obvious enough, too.  Prometheus wants the Tribe to survive at all costs, so once Zeus cracks down after they get resurrection tech, their ship takes off (with Aurora on board).  Aurora's own "fire" and her prayers with the five people nearest her, later protected by Atlas, protects those six from Zeus' interference.

It's not explicit in the book, but Aurora goes on to be a leader of the Tribe since she is a goddess among the people (as they now believe).  Aurora knows the truth of the situation, but she decided to keep the peace and try to help as much as possible.  The five people who were shielded from Zeus, though, build the Temple of Hopes on the Algae Planet and dedicate it to "The One Whose Name Can Not Be Spoken," all with Aurora's help.  (After all, how will five priests in the service of an unknown god survive in a society that is polytheist toward a specific set?  Now, in the trilogy, these five were priests in those gods' service to begin with.  Not so here.)

1,500-1,600 years before Exodus - Pythia writes her prophecies, etc., for the Sacred Scrolls

In the trilogy, Pythia's interactions with the messenger being (the tender) form bookends.  Book Four, however, shows Pythia in a wholly different light as she has been imbued with the light of Gaia.  (There are some myths that connect Gaia with the oracles at Delphi.)  She is a member of the Thirteenth Tribe and since she has the fire and knowledge of a tender, she knows the whole truth of the situation, The Wager and more.  She also, thanks to her connection with Aurora and others who fled to Earth I, can sense things on that world and foresee moments in Kobol's future, unlike the Pantheon.  This makes her "prophecies" and writings much more important and truthful.

But Pythia knows her place, too.  She knows the truth of Kobol and these "gods," yet she still works to compile the Sacred Scrolls and does nothing to undermine the Lords' authority.  Her place is to write certain things so those thoughts can be preserved and looked to in later times.  She herself says something like her words are for "other worlds besides" Kobol, because she knows humanity will flee and the Sacred Scrolls will also guide people as they flee the Colonies.

1,000 years before Exodus - probe from 13th tribe is left in Lion Head Nebula

As I noted in the previous "Writing, Part IV" post, the timing alluded to in the series regarding the beacon is at odds with the timeline crafted elsewhere on the show.  Again, I stuck with the lineage they already made so the probe was left behind by Thirteenth Tribers coming back to Kobol as it was in the trilogy.  The difference this time relates to the shell that surrounds Kobol, placed there by The One to limit the tenders' powers.  They still have the illness that clung onto the beacon to infect the Cylons thousands of years later.  Books, the illness and other mementos from Earth survive the crash of the returning vessel (including the Arrow of Apollo ... see below).

Time of the Exodus -
Cylon revolt? (Confrontation at the "home of the gods?")

Again, we've never been told explicitly that Cylons revolted on Kobol, but it plays into the Pythia's cycle of time.  I called them "DoMeks" (dokeo mekanima - Greek for "thinking machines") just to mix it up.  The DoMeks were created by Hephaestus and his people to alleviate the labors of mankind, much like they did in the trilogy.

"Blaze" pursues mankind from the City of the Gods (nuclear?)

In the trilogy, the "Blaze" was nuclear.  In this alternate version, why not something different?  I forget when the idea solidified, but I became fully convinced to do it when I wrote Pythia's death scene.  She is suffering from an intense fever (thanks to the fire of Gaia burning through) and her vision is flashing ahead to the end of days on Kobol and she simply says, "Blaze."  Done.  The "Blaze" is a fever.  Tying it to a life and vanity extending desire of Aphrodite came later.

Again, I wanted to kill as many people as possible to make Kobol uninhabited later, so the Blaze needed to be really effective.  I looked to "Captain Trips" in The Stand which had a 99.4% mortality rate and backed off a little bit on that.  The few remaining Thirteenth Tribers survived and the remaining 1% survived.  Whoever didn't make it onto the ship would be picked off easily by DoMeks.

Human sacrifice (leaders at Tomb of Athena)

A big part of this story was that the gods could inhabit people as they had sex and they could pour out, so to speak, a bit of their "holy fire" into the offspring.  This diminishes the gods and after a few millennia of this, they know they want their "fire" rekindled.  Ares gets involved in sacrifices thanks to his innate desire to feed off rage.  Hecate does at least one sacrifice.  Zeus gets into it because he senses a slight flame of spirit within humanity that he feels warmed by as they die, though it does nothing to stoke their own fire.  At the Tomb of Athena, once The One has made them mortal, he kills all the leaders in a final desperate act to try to reclaim that energy.

It's all spacey/abstract stuff, but I'll delve into more in that future theology post.

Choice between the ship or the high road into the mountains

The ship gets made because Prometheus' designs survived and Apollo asked that a vessel be built.  I liked the hypocrisy of the gods in wanting to keep Prometheus down for giving people too much knowledge, yet over the next couple thousand years, they parcel out pieces of Prometheus' work.  Still, the ship gets filled up and the remainder flee into the mountains up the road toward the Tomb (where Zeus sacrifices the leaders).

Gravestones along the path

Again, easy.  The Blaze fells quite a few as they march into the mountains.

Mankind (12 or 13 tribes?) leaves from the Great Meadow aboard a ship named Galleon

I again preserved the ability for the Thirteenth Tribe to blend into the Twelve, which allows the inconsistency of the show on this issue to continue.  Mithras was mentioned in a season four episode of the show so I made him a leader of the Thirteenth Tribe that boards the ship.

And just one ship.  Not a full "caravan of the heavens" as it was in the trilogy.

Athena's suicide in despair over mankind's departure at Gates of Hera

Again, making Athena love the people so much that she would want to die when it all came crashing down ... that's all I needed to do.

(Who built Athena's Tomb if they all left?)

In the trilogy, the Tomb was built as a memorial to those who died in the Flood and as a shrine to Athena.  For Book Four, I knew I needed the Tomb to exist beforehand, too.  Thanks to the fornicating ways of the gods, there were lots of demigods so why not a Tomb of Heroes?  Isn't it cool to think that those caskets Adama and the others were standing next to contained the bones of Heracles, Atalanta, Theseus and more?

Arrow of Apollo

The Arrow was crafted by Apollo's worshipers on Earth I and the god really appreciated the gesture.  Since he wanted the people of Kobol to see their brothers on Earth again, he "hallowed" the Arrow and the Tomb of Heroes (meaning, did some magic shit) so the people inside could see the stars of Earth I and find their way there.

See the earlier post for details on how the stars of Earth I could have been similar to the stars of Earth II.

Once The One came back, it knew that the Tomb had been "hallowed" with the "wrong stars," so he made Athena go in and adjust it.  Done and done.

"Lower Demon" helped mankind

No fuzziness here.  There was a maintenance DoMek at the Forum that helped Zeus and the others.  Later, he was programmed to deliver a computer virus into the DoMek network that acted like a Blaze, too.

Dying leader

Thestor, High Pantheonic Priest.  Not nearly as much characterization as Stephen Acastus or Laura Roslin, but he serves his purpose.

Serpents "numbering two and ten"

There are allusions to snakes throughout, but especially in the scene when Zeus finds Asclepius and the twelve (wink) Thirteenth Tribers.  He sees their connections to resurrection equipment as long, snake-like tendrils that emerge from their heads and trail off toward the south.

God abandons Kobol (why?)

This will be dealt with more extensively in the future theology post, but I think it's pretty plain.  The One "harvests" the "trees" created by thinking beings' choices and free will.  The tenders were supposed to cultivate these trees but instead they were poisoned by the tenders' own fires, knowledge the people weren't ready for and other things, plus the tenders were "pruning" branches of the trees thanks to their own petty desires.  The gods created only a stump and this was something The One couldn't do anything with, so reboot on other worlds.

Zeus warns fleeing humanity not to return; "exact a price in blood"

The One issues the warning through Zeus directly this time.

humanity left Kobol after a "jealous god" tried to take over

Again, this tidbit comes from a deleted scene, wherein Elosha answers Tigh's question about humanity's exodus.  Because it's deleted, I don't think it's necessarily part of canon.

I'll get into more in that future theology post, but I didn't make The One jealous in this version of the tale.  In the trilogy, yes, The One appears to be very jealous.  Not so much here.  I did, however, let Agathe see a quarrel among the gods so if something got written down about a fight between the Lords, it would make sense.

(All BSG pics are from

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