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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

New-New BSG and Colonies of Kobol

Like many of you, I was surprised by the news last week that there would be a new Battlestar Galactica series coming to NBC-Universal's upcoming streaming service, Peacock.  Since so little was released about it, I didn't have much of an opinion.  I just thought, "Feels a little soon," and, "ANOTHER streaming service?!"

Then the producer of the new show, Sam Esmail tweeted.  You might know him.  He created Mr. Robot.


Anyway, he tweeted, "BSG fans, this will NOT be a remake of the amazing series @RonDMoore launched because... why mess with perfection? Instead, we’ll explore a new story within the mythology while staying true to the spirit of Battlestar. So say we all!"

At first, I read this as somehow being a third iteration of the broader concept that wouldn't touch on Ronald D. Moore's version.  After all, the press articles kept saying "reboot," so why wouldn't I think that?  But ... "a new story within the mythology" ... within the broader mythology/concept of the shows or within the specific mythology established by Moore's version?  Since the tweet, most people have settled on the latter interpretation.

Well, this had a surprising effect on me.  My mind spiraled; I contemplated putting Colonies of Kobol on the back burner; I felt like I had wasted so much godsdamned time ... because if they're adding to the canon of BSG, I would have to incorporate it.

I made a mental list of possibilities, assuming that new-new BSG is, indeed, set in the RDM universe (as my books are).  I categorized the possibilities according to A) how likely they were and B) how much impact they would have on my writing, both what I have finished and what I have not.

Here we go:

I.  New-new BSG is all about the Lords of Kobol.  This is the one that would cause me to throw my hands in the air and walk away.  So much is predicated on my first four books (get them here for free) that there would be no way to recover, no way to incorporate the new canon, and have it all make sense.  HOWEVER, I feel that the likelihood of this is very, very low.  One reason: if the show is called Battlestar Galactica, being on stuck on a planet, even if it's Kobol, doesn't make much sense.  (Unless we're supposed to believe that Pythia's cycle is so ridiculously literal that Kobollians had a battlestar named Galactica, too.  Well, I hope not.)

II.  New-new BSG is set right after the Colonials settle on Earth II.  Maybe Cylons commandeered Galactica and the rag-tag fleet before Sam could fly them into the sun!  Now Adama, Tigh, and the gang have to get into space to stop the Cylons ...  Nah.  It would undo too much of the finale.  Not very likely, and even if they didn't do that specific plot for the series, setting a show named Battlestar Galactica on Earth as people try to learn how to farm doesn't strike me as thrilling.  Still, if they found a way to do it, it would have a substantial impact on my conclusion to Colonies of Kobol.

III.  New-new BSG is set in our own future.  Maybe we jump ahead several decades or so, see Earth II Cylons, and we have our own battlestar named Galactica.  (Again, a bit too literal reading of "all of this will happen again," but maybe.)  Likelihood?  I'm going to say somewhat likely.  I can see it happening, though I feel it would undermine the finale as well ("Does all of this have to happen again?"  "This time, I bet no.").  Impact on my writing?  Substantial.  It would necessitate a complete rethinking of the ending I have in mind for the entire saga; not just the Earth II book, but Colonies of Kobol and Lords of Kobol, too.  That would ... not be good.

IV.  New-new BSG is set during the First Cylon War.  Ronald D. Moore once said he felt that another spinoff show could be sustained if it were set during the Cylon War and lived with the crew of the Galactica at various points during that twelve-year-long conflict.  We ended up with the (in my opinion, mediocre) one-off, Blood & Chrome.  I think it's very likely that Esmail sees the rich narrative possibilities in this ... plenty of built-in action, plus great stories to tell with two thousand people cooped up on a ship at a time of war.  So, if I had to put money on it, this is what I would bet on.  How will it impact my writing?  Well, it's hard to say at this point.  Right now, I'm wrapping up work on Book Thirteen: Caprica which includes the beginning of the Cylon War, the founding of the unified federal government of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, the launch of Galactica, etc.  If the new show is comprehensive and includes some of that foundational material, then I'll have to chuck a couple hundred pages of stuff that I've written (of which I'm rather fond).  If the new show picks up in medias res ("in the middle of things"), then I might not have to worry.  If the series is laser-focused on the ship/crew/war, maybe I can keep some of it intact.  The impact is potentially substantial (but localized to one or two parts of CoK) and also potentially minimal.

CONCLUSION: to quote Douglas Adams, don't panic.  I can't do anything about it (unless they want to hire me as a writer for the show, in which case, email me, Sam).  I just have to wait for more news and for the series itself.  In the meantime, I'll keep writing Colonies of Kobol and I'll make whatever changes I have to when the time comes.

(To be clear, I want the show to be good and I want it to be successful.  And to those of you who may be saying, "Screw new-new BSG!  Write your thing and ignore it!"  I can't do that.  I can't ignore substantive canon of the show just because it inconveniences me [looking at you again, Blood & Chrome].  Thank you for your confidence in me, but I'd rather try to find a way to make it all work.)

Now, as a treat for my readers who have been so supportive, here's a fun chapter from Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica.  I hope you like it.

Day 458 of the First Cylon War

The Vipers aligned in the black sky and swept as a single unit over the rim of the asteroid.  They were pristine white ships with red stripes and their fins created visual triangles astride blue flames no matter the viewer's perspective.  Behind them came the contingent of Raptors.  Dark gray and brown blocks with the corners hewn away.  Tall tails at the rear on either side of a large cannon.  Some carried at least one battery of missiles but their most important tasks were to monitor communications and jam Cylon signals.

"Keep it tight," the CAG radioed.

Ahead they saw their target.  An oblong brown rock, nearly two kilometers across.  Cylon machinery worked on its surface and below even now, ferrying tons of tylium away and to the enemy.  The Colonial Fleet Headquarters, now functioning from their new permanent home on Picon, had their eyes on this location for some time.  It was heavily defended and the admirals knew they would have to wait for the arrival of the battlestars to take it on.

In the Combat Information Center of the Battlestar Galactica, Commander Silas Nash stared at the DRADIS screen that hung from the ceiling.  A line swept this part of the Erebos Belt and the tylium base was between the carrier and her birds.  Several hours ago, the Galactica launched these squadrons and then jumped to a sensor blind spot on the opposite side; another asteroid almost a thousand kilometers away from the base.  It was a precise jump and the new ship maintained a dangerous dance with the rotation of that rock.  They couldn't move for fear of showing up on the Cylon's DRADIS.  Most of their systems were powered down.  They sent no signals.  There was no active DRADIS pulse.  Every contact they had came from the Cylons' own signals.

The presence of the eighty Vipers and twelve Raptors was quickly detected by the machines.  Their Raiders launched from the surface of the asteroid and screamed toward the fighter craft.  A Cylon cruiser stationed close to the base came to life, too, and rose up from its shadow.

"Standby action stations," Nash said.  On the screen, the four Colonial squadrons approached the base from the top.  More than sixty Raiders departed the asteroid at the center and moved up to meet them.  Galactica sat still at the bottom of the screen and waited for its cue.

"Bandits inbound!" the CAG said.  "Red and blue squadrons, break off and attack."  The Vipers and Raiders began their dances.  In the opening moments, the rapid cannon fire destroyed eight of the oval Cylon craft and seven of the triangular fighters.  Soon, the remaining fighters of those two squadrons were fully engaged with the first wave of Raiders, and the second wave was almost upon them.  "Yellow and green squadrons, break off and attack!"  All four Colonial groups swarmed around the enemy and the battle, though hard fought, seemed in their favor.  Then the third and final wave approached.

Nash held his breath.  He stared at the mass of green triangles and red circles with another line of red moving up the screen.  He waited to see what that third line would do.  Then, as they had hoped and planned, the third group of Cylons flew past the battle and into the empty space beyond.

"Galactica!" the CAG signaled.  "A wave of Raiders has broken through!  Inbound to you!"

The commander nodded at the lie and said, "Action stations.  Condition one."  After the first bleats of the alert klaxons sounded and the lights shifted to red, he felt an electricity move over his skin.  He looked at his executive officer and said, "Stand by to launch silver and gold squadrons."

"Sir."  Colonel Manden picked up the receiver and said, "Stand by silver and gold squadrons.  Stand by silver and gold.  Reserve squadrons one and two, on deck."

"Sir," the DRADIS officer said, "the Cylon cruiser is moving away from the target."  Nash looked at the screen and waited to see which way the large red dot moved.  When it ticked a step up toward the bait and away from Galactica, the officer said, "We've got them."

"Helm, push off from the rock."  The battlestar moved away from their cover and into the open.  He watched the movement of the Cylon vessel away from the tylium asteroid.  Once it was more than five hundred kilometers out and moving at full speed, Nash said, "Come about, three-one-zero carom one-seven-five.  Ahead flank speed."  The helm officers did their work and the deckplates rumbled as the six sublight engines engaged at full power.

The battlestar crossed the space between their hiding spot and the asteroid.  The tension was palpable in CIC.  Young officers stared wide-eyed at their screens and occasionally glanced at their commander.  Nash, for his part, stood still under the command and control screens and watched the moving icons with his characteristic eager smirk.  Colonel Manden towered over the shorter commander and he held the receiver in his hand, ready to bark orders.

"The cruiser has spotted us," the DRADIS officer said.  "They're coming about."  He shook his head and said, "They won't get here in time."

"Distance to target?"

"Two hundred kilometers."

"Helm, begin braking and reduce speed to one quarter."  Nash looked at the XO.  "Launch silver and gold." 

Manden said, "Launch silver and gold.  Launch silver and gold.  Reserve one and two in the tubes."
Nash turned to the tactical station, "All batteries forward.  Salvo fire on the base.  Missile batteries on standby."  The lieutenant nodded and communicated with the appropriate crews. 

In the blackness, the long, gray battlestar bore down on the tylium asteroid.  From both flight pods, forty Vipers launched and symmetrical streams of fighters bent away from the ship and toward the rock.

The forty heavy batteries along Galactica's dorsal and ventral spines began to fire and heavy cannon bursts poured across space and splashed on the rock with fire and metal.  Shockwaves rippled over the surface and destroyed the structures within reach.  Soon, the salvos dug into the planetoid and exposed the Cylon infrastructure below.  Holding tanks of unstable tylium precursor ruptured and blew apart even more of the mining operation.

"Cylon wave three is coming back," a lieutenant said.

The enemy only now realized that they were tricked into going the wrong way, thinking the battlestar had launched the Vipers from behind their approach.  Nash nodded and said, "Helm, begin braking and turn to port, five hundred.  Starboard broadsides on the base.  Comms, signal Smokehouse.  Tell him to bring the squadrons back."

The crew swooned with the inertia of the turn and the comms officer said, "Sir, the CAG is gone."  Nash and Manden shared a look. 

Before they could say anything, the DRADIS lieutenant interjected, "Cylon cruiser is launching Raiders."

Nash's smirk was gone.  "Silver and gold are to maintain their runs on the base.  Tactical, turn batteries toward the cruiser and stand by.  Set close-in weapons to auto fire.  Comms, get me Lieutenant Stentz."  As the various officers complied, he turned to the helm station, "Turn us away from the base and toward the cruiser."

"Stentz on the line."

The commander picked up the receiver and said, "Jaws, this is actual."

"Go ahead, actual."

"You're my CAG now."

Pause.  "Sir?"

"Jaws, you're the CAG.  Bring the squadrons back home."

Her loud exhale was followed by a subdued, "Yes, sir."

"What do you hear, Jaws?"

"Nothin' but the rain."

"Grab your gun and bring in the cat."

"Boom, boom, boom."  There was an obvious smile in her voice and he hung up the receiver.

"Cylon Raiders on top of us," a lieutenant said.

There was a slight shudder as small missiles from the enemy fighters hit the hardened hull of the vessel.  Nash looked toward the screen and saw the CIWS take out four of the enemy icons.  "Tactical, batteries on the cruiser.  Fire at will."

The ship withered under the heavy fire from a battlestar's primary offensive weapons.  The Cylons attempted to shield themselves with short-range flak fire, but it was of little use.  Its small hangar was destroyed and a sublight engine ruptured.  Most of the cannon went still and fuel lines along the rear of the craft blew apart.  Then, the other three engines exploded and the ship had become a flaming burst of light.

"Helm, get us some distance."

"Cylon virus detected," the electronics warfare officer said.  "Isolated in primary fire control.  Auxilliary and backup systems unaffected."

"Sir, new DRADIS contacts."  The commander looked at the lieutenant and saw his worried face.  "Cylon light cruiser.  Cylon carrier.  Two Cylon destroyers."

Nash grabbed the front of his uniform and pulled it down to flatten any wrinkles.  He looked up at the screen and saw that the four squadrons were almost near Galactica.  "Signal Jaws.  Tell her to keep her birds back until they launch Raiders."

Manden stepped closer and lowered his head next to the commander's bald pate.  "Four ships?"

Without taking his eyes off the combat screens, Nash said, "It's almost unfair."

The Sagittaran smiled.  "For them."

"Raiders launching from the carrier and cruiser."

The commander tilted his head.  He looked at the four ships lined up on the screen.  He reached for the monitor and pressed a button.  The DRADIS angle shifted and he saw the Cylons from a head-on perspective instead of top-down.  His smirk returned when he saw that the vessels were truly in a straight line.

"Helm, change bearing to eight-eight-zero carom two hundred.  Ahead one-half."

The colonel looked at the screen and said, "Between them?"

"Hoping for a little crossfire."

The Galactica leapt away from what remained of the cruiser.  Being such a large ship, her movements were slow, but the engines could accelerate Galactica to great speeds.  The newcomers began to fire missiles but their positions did not change.

"Odd batteries, change to flak fire and surround us.  Fire now.  Even batteries through twenty, target the two ships to port.  Even batteries to forty, target the two to starboard.  Evens are to standby."

Manden looked over the command table and asked, "Missiles?"

Nash immediately knew that his XO was asking about Galactica's own.  "Won't need them."

With a bloom of light and fire around the perimeter, the battlestar closed on the enemy.  The missiles were easily dispatched before they reached their targets.  When the Colonial ship was barely fifty kilometers away, the Cylons saw their tactical error and began to spread their vessels out.  It was too late.

The flak shield tore across the hull of a destroyer on the port side.  The designated batteries fired at their targets and hit them all.  The destroyer on the starboard was immediately split in half.  The single flight pod of the carrier shattered and fell away from the bulk of the ship.  Cylon battery and missile fire became a confused mess, and though the enemy missiles were destroyed in the flak, half of the Cylon shells hit other Cylon ships.  When Galactica emerged on the other side of the group, the second destroyer exploded, sending parts of its hull into the light cruiser.

"Helm, slow to one quarter and come about.  Tactical, all batteries fire at will."  The flak shield faded and the main guns targeted the two remaining capital ships.  By the time the battlestar was facing its opponents again head-on, the cruiser and carrier were also aflame and adrift.  "Finish them off."  Moments later, the enemy was gone.

Manden looked toward the DRADIS officer.  "Anything new?"


"Status of the base?"

"Silver and gold squadrons report that the target is destroyed."  The comms officer then pressed the earpiece against her head and said, "Message from Jaws, sir.  She reports, 'We're bingo bandits.'"

Nash smiled and said, "Commence landings.  Keep silver and gold in CAP, just in case any more toasters decide to stage a rescue op."  He glanced toward the LSO captain and nodded.  "It's all you."  The commander turned and saw his XO's extended hand.  "Good work, colonel."

"Thank you, sir.  Congratulations."

He looked around the CIC and then up into the core.  "Good work, all of you."  There was some applause and Nash walked toward the air traffic stations on the far wall behind the landing signal officer.  He saw a young woman writing in a log book.  "Ensign," he asked quietly.  "How many did we lose?"

She nodded and flipped a page.  "None from silver and gold squadrons, commander.  We lost nineteen Vipers and four Raptors from the other squadrons, altogether."

"Too many."  Slowly, he moved toward the damage control station and he looked at the schematic of Galactica.  There were a few yellow lights along the perimeter of the ship but no red ones.  One main battery was offline.  That was it.

Nash nodded and walked back to the command and control area where he stood and listened to the LSO coordinate the landings of their squadrons.

On Gamoray, the Cylon War Council sat on their platform and looked at the projection against the wall.  A gold-armored commander was standing beneath them and pressing buttons on a device.

"Tylium base in the Erebos Belt of Alpha.  Five ships, an estimated one hundred Raiders.  Mobile shipyard station in orbit of Styx in Delta.  Two ships, twenty Raiders.  Strike group assault number three on Scorpion Shipyards.  Seven ships, one hundred-fifty Raiders."

"Halt."  The operations commander looked at the other units on the dais and said, "Have there been no successful campaigns since the battlestars were launched?"  It knew the answer.


The Alpha commander said, "We should pull back our mining operations and shift combat tactics to small groups and quick strikes."

The leader paused and thought.  Finally, it said, "Agreed."

The platinum-armored council looked down at the commander.  Gamma said, "We need a vessel to match the Colonial battlestars." 

The leader concurred, "Begin planning immediately."

"By your command."

That is all.  More to come.

Friday, August 9, 2019

"Colonies of Kobol - Book Sixteen: EARTH"

Yes, I'm still writing Book Thirteen: Caprica, but since this is the eighth anniversary of my publishing of the Lords of Kobol series, I thought I'd share a little treat.

The below is the first chapter that I wrote for Colonies of Kobol nearly two years ago.  The idea wasn't mine ... it was Edward James Olmos'.

I saw him at Dragon*Con in Atlanta several years ago and he was asked at a panel about continuing the show in a series of movies beyond The Plan.  He said he had an idea for how such a continuation would start, and what he said is exactly what I did.

Read it after the JUMP.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Chapter from "Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica"

I'm most of the way finished with Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica ...

I've said before that I'm regarding this particular entry as seasons two and three of the TV series.  "Season two" is the first half of the book, filling in the time between the end of season one and the events seen in the epilogue of the finale episode, "Apotheosis," and then a bit more to get us to the start of the First Cylon War.  "Season three" is the second half of the book, which is about the beginning of the Cylon War, with primary focus on the formation of the Colonial government, the rise of the Cylons, etc.  At this point in time, I don't intend to do a blow-by-blow account of the war ... I mean, the damned thing lasts twelve years and this book is already longer than any book in the Lords of Kobol series and I'm not finished yet.

I did, however, just finish an action-packed chapter that I thought was pretty cool.  Not every chapter in the book will be like this, but there are several action beats.  Still ... I hope you enjoy it.

You can read it after the JUMP.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Update on "Colonies," plus FLAGS

I know it's been a while and I apologize for that.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you'll see that I've been writing for most of the last year.

Someone around here (me) may have stated a while ago that Colonies of Kobol would be released in 2019 to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the show's ending.  Well, needless to say, that was a damn dirty lie.  To paraphrase Dr. Malcolm, "Life, uh, got in the way."

Writing continues apace on the Caprica portion of the series (with Earth I and The Colony largely finished), but that still leaves about thirteen sections untouched.  Perhaps I should use the tenth anniversary of the publication of Lords of Kobol as my new goal, which would be summer of 2021.  That's a nice target, but I won't be planting any more flags on the calendar because I don't want to disappoint you guys again.


As I'm writing about the pre-federal days of the Colonies (meaning, before they united against the Cylons), I've been using the cool little book Beyond Caprica: A Visitor's Pocket Guide to the Twelve Colonies.  Written by Bob Harris, this book (and the QMX map) was also worked on by people behind the scenes of Caprica as they fleshed out the worlds of the Colonies for the show.  It's considered "quasi-canon," which basically means that any detail in it could be contradicted by something in the show if they thought of something better for a storyline.

Regardless, we're all aware of the federal-style flags for each of the Twelve Colonies:

These are the banners seen hanging behind Adama or Roslin at a big event or funeral, etc.  Naturally, one would assume that each individual colony had their own flags before the Cylon revolt.  Beyond Caprica helps illuminate this.


Well, not for Caprica.  No specific symbols or flags are mentioned in the book, BUT, in the show Caprica, we can see a banner-like flag on the stage behind Agent Duram in the pilot episode and it looks exactly like the federal-version of the Caprican flag seen above, but without the federal "eagle/phoenix" emblem that we've come to recognize as the Colonial seal.  This leads me to believe that -- since Caprica was the seat of federal power for the Colonies -- they must have designed the flags for the other worlds, too (given their similar style).

Just for kicks, I made a rectangular version of the Caprican flag:


Beyond Caprica states that "the informal symbol is the numeral 'two.'"  OK, sure.  To make it into a flag, I chose a similar style and colors used in some eastern European nations, since Gemenese cities, names, and language are modeled on Romanian, largely.


I think you'll be able to sense a pattern, because the book reads, "You probably know Tauron by its symbol, the bull."  The zodiac plays a big role, unsurprisingly.  For the flag, I went with a color to match the all-important soil of Tauron, and I made the bull large and aggressive.  (It was hard to find one that didn't look like a sports logo or a malt liquor mascot.)


"The informal Pican symbol is two stylized fish circling each other."  I wanted to evoke the simplicity of the Japanese flag (with maybe a little of the South Korean flag, too).


If you don't know, Virgon is known as "The Blue Colony," because the plant life contains oils that evaporate and cast a blue tinge everywhere.  The book states that the Virgan symbol is "simply the pale electric blue known as 'Virgan blue.'"  Perhaps they had a more complex flag during their imperial days, but for just prior to the Cylon War, we're just going with a blue flag (and I like the longer dimensions for it, too).


Here the book gets specific: "The Leonan symbol is the Leonis royal crest: a lion in profile wearing an ermine-and-silk cape, set on a golden shield, surrounded by royal purple.  The shield is topped with a large nine-pointed mural crown."  Unfortunately, I couldn't draw an ermine cape to save my life, so I just left it off.


"The informal Sagittarian symbol is a simple outline of a drawn bow, its arrow poised to spring forward."  Since Sagittaron is also the most exploited of the Colonies, I went with an African color scheme for its flag.

Revision suggested by Chris Dykes

Also, in searching for clip art for a drawn bow, I came across a great, evocative image that made me think this could be the flag for Tom Zarek's "SFM."  (Sagittaran Freedom Movement?  The show never said.)


Beyond Caprica made this one easy for me: "The symbol of Scorpia is a red scorpion curled to strike, on a black-white-black tricolor."  Done and done.


"A set of scales set in a pale blue circle on a deep blue field."


"A silver crab on a red field."


"A blood-red pair of ram's horns on a white field, between a pair of red horizontal stripes."


This is another flag that was explicitly described in the book.  (Even down to the "asterisk" and the "star" in the corners.  I'm not sure I get it, but there you go.)

And that's that.

No more dilly-dallying.  Back to writing for me.