The second season of the new Battlestar Galactica debuted
Friday, smack in the middle of the San Diego International Comic-Con,
granddaddy of all sci-fi/comic/collectible conventions. Not
suprisingly, several publications reacted to this convergence by
dusting off their canned fluff pieces about sci-fi and Galactica, which
included a plethora of almost unwavering praise. Even the New York Times got into the act, interviewing Ron Moore, the exec producer for Galactica who once worked for the Star Trek franchise and who is largely responsible for making Worf a memorable and compelling character.
Which is why it pains me to disagree with the breadth of the praise.
People are lauding Galactica for how different it is than Star Trek,
and how many sci-fi conventions the new series has broken. An all-star
panel at Comic-Con even claimed that Star Trek: Enterprise failed because it wasn’t Galactica. Some have gone so far as to proclaim that Galactica has redefined science fiction.
Okay, that’s a bit much.
I love the new Galactica. It’s bold, relevant,
character-driven with complex characters to match, and it dares to
expect patience and intelligence from both itself and its audience. But
redefining sci-fi? Not hardly. It may be the best sci-fi television
show of its generation, but there were bold, complex, daring science
fiction novels decades before even the original Battlestar Galactica sullied the airwaves with its derivative schtick. Go read any of George Herbert’s original Dune novels and then talk to me about complex. Go absorb Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and talk to me about tackling hard issues. Go digest Accelerando or Singularity Sky by Charlie Stross and talk to me about cutting edge.
By all means, watch, love and learn from Galactica, but don’t
mistake it for the first of its kind. Sci-Fi, SF, and science fiction
all have a deep and wide variety of genius to offer. Galactica
may be a vanguard to the shores of television with this level of
quality, but there are thousands of equally brilliant tomes waiting for
their chance to shine.