The Past in “Battlestar Galactica”


(For BG fans who have not yet viewed the final season, I do NOT reveal how the series ends in this post.)

My scientist friend suggested at the end of last year that I might enjoy the science fiction cable TV show Battlestar Galactica.  I don’t subscribe to cable but by that time, the first three seasons were out on DVD, so I began at the beginning with season one.  Earlier this month, I put off watching the series finale for a week because I really didn’t want the series or my experience of watching it to end (even though I knew the finale had aired long ago).  I don’t recall ever being a huge fan of the original TV series, but I am of the new one.  I was riveted, watching for clues for how it would end.  The “clue” that interested me the most was when the Cylon hybrids said, “This has happened before and will happen again.”  Or something like that.

The past as the future as the past.  For example, Star Wars occurred “long, long ago in a galaxy far away.”  With BG, I half-expected a twist in the final episodes that revealed the timing of the story wasn’t the past but a simultaneous present, and they would discover this as a result of a singularity or something.  Starbuck or Apollo or Baltar would find themselves suddenly on a street in downtown Los Angeles.  Simultaneous time and alternate realities fascinate me, but apparently not the writers and producers of BG.  I suspect they wanted to explore a creation myth.

Science fiction often is used to address issues occurring in the present, most often set in the far future.  To set a science fiction story in a past time usually means the story grapples in some way with a creation, i.e. creation of a species, a society, a world, etc.  In Star Wars, viewers witnessed a family saga set against intergalactic conflict with overtones of spirituality, how they went from one type of civilization to another, and the worlds they found along the way.  In BG, viewers witnessed a creation myth with a heavy emphasis on religious belief.  It was also an intergalactic quest.  I especially admired that the writers/producers left more questions unanswered than answered, giving this series a highly provocative final season. 

Another element I especially liked about this show was the gritty, beat-up appearance of the sets — things appeared to be used — and the absence of a lot of high-tech gadgets.  Here is a civilization that knows how to “jump” from one point to another in space, but still uses paper for notes and clunky telephones for communication.  And they developed artificial intelligence that evolved.  I loved the main conflict between the humans and Cylons, a polytheistic civilization vs. a monotheistic one, the creators vs. the created.  And in almost every episode, there is an echo to our own planet, our own civilization, linking us to them.

The future in Perceval is in the near, not the far, future and I have chosen not to make it high tech or populated by extraterrestrials.  Rather than science fiction of the past, I’ve written a future historical.  Science fiction inspires me, fuels my imagination, and takes me to into dreams….

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4 responses to “The Past in “Battlestar Galactica”

  1. OMG! Don’t tell me how it ends!!! I’ve only seen up to season 3!

    • No need to worry, I do NOT reveal how the series ended! My comments are about the earlier seasons, primarily, the clues that were sprinkled here and there.

  2. I didn’t even realize the series had ended. I’m saddened & realized even more what you mean about not wanting to face The End. I’m left with the memory of the 1977 show, where Starbuck & Apollo & the 2 chicks were trying to “fit in” to modern Earth society. Of course, even then I got the impression that it was an “oops, no more ad revenues, Cut Production!” I thought – then – it was a pretty lame ending all things considered. Maybe it will be my graduation treat: sit down and watch the remainder of the story. I was sooo wrapped up in it. I haven’t had a chance yet to watch Razor, which you gave me. (thanks again!)

    • Yeah, it’s sad that it ended, and I suppose a lot of fans had quite a bit to say about season 4.5 which was the second half of the last season. I don’t recall the original show, but I know I watched it and I remember Apollo and Starbuck in it. “Razor” is the stand-alone extended episode between seasons 3 and 4. I could sit down and watch all four seasons all over again, but I’m currently watching “Dexter” DVDs. I have the BG DVDs. You can either come over to watch them or take them — and leave me a pint of your blood until they’re returned! — and watch them at home at your convenience. There’s now two “movies” — a prequel called “Caprica” and a “parallel story” that shows what the Cylons’ plan was.

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