Battlestar Galactica Vault: The Complete History Of The Series, 1978-2012 by Paul Ruditis
|Battlestar Galactica Vault: The Complete History Of The Series, 1978-2012 by Paul Ruditis|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: While being perfectly able to preach to the converted, this brilliantly-created book can appeal to the casual fan, although does so in a less than ideal way.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: October 2014|
|Publisher: Aurum Press|
For those who don't know, or can't remember, Battlestar Galactica was a '70s piece of American sci-fi TV, launched to great acclaim as a parallel to the rather similar Star Wars with a full-on TV movie, then one lengthy season of hour-long adventures, that even had Fred Astaire playing a bit part before audiences dwindled and the show died out. It shot itself in the foot with a sort-of sequel soon afterwards, then languished for decades before two crafty creatives found a way to put more meat on the bones, and to marry the show with much more modern sensibilities. It's not a programme I would necessarily have entered a 'vault' for, as I was only a fan of the original, and possibly only then as opposed to now. I've not seen a BSG entity since my youth – but I know a heck of a lot about what I have pushed to the back of my mind since then, courtesy of these pages.
This book is a 'vault' in that it tries to be all-encompassing, and giving freely of time, knowledge and artefacts, but is in no way an encyclopedia. There are sketches of details and no more at times, such as the identities of the people giving the show the green light then the red way back when, and the decisions of shutting the modern incarnation down after four seasons are not mentioned at all. One of the many things that would make the first series a bit of a no-no these days, the use of chimps to be a sort of furry cyborg pet character, is only in one set of pictures and its caption.
But to repeat, here are artefacts – nicely chosen ones securely attached to the book, which comes brilliantly bound in magnetically-clasped wrap-around hardback form. Here is knowledge – the author certainly seems to have got his details correct and his opinions nicely formed, courtesy of some new interviews from earlier in 2014. Here too are many, copious pictures – not the typical 'appreciation' ones of the cute girls from both series (and all the creators were definitely guilty of casting the females on looks) but real, proper geeky ones – storyboards, spacecraft concept art, etc.
The pictorial element does hide the fact the book has quite a small word count, considering it isn't completely short and flimsy, and is in a large coffee-table format. What also comes out of checking those words is the fact that at times the story is told several ways, which is a little unfortunate. We get the typical and fully expected chronological look at the creation and presentation and cancellation of the two shows, and the same to some extent for the Caprica spin-off and more, then a concentrated look at the mythology of the piece, which can mean the book hits on the same moment and theme more than once.
There are a couple of other flaws to the book. In length it certainly denigrates the original series – as if it doesn't realise that without the original there would be no sequel, and therefore no vault. It raves over the ability of the new series to be serialized as opposed to being built from stand-alone adventures as was the case with the first, when something like Doctor Who had hardly ever had a stand-alone story in its life, and was doing 2-, 4- and even 13-part stories before BSG was ever thought of.
But on the whole the book is perfectly attuned to the fan of the series. It provides just enough suitably fresh voice to the connoisseur, and the artworks will be what sell the vault to many. It knows too how to perfectly pitch the programmes for the browser – it's noticeable that the lack of encyclopedic data means there are a host of spoilers carefully avoided, so the inquisitive would still gain more than enough from getting a download of the programmes. And on that subject, it does rightfully portray the second coming of BSG as being right on the cusp of changes in the entire TV industry – audiences not sharing the water-cooler moment, but absorbing their dramas in their own time and in their own ways at their own conveniences yet supported by an Internet-based fandom such as no prior TV programmes had ever dreamt of.
So webisodes running between seasons, voice-over download commentaries, and the whole novel idea of Sky TV in Britain co-funding the series to make it more appealing to the franchise's American owners yet getting global premier rights – all are aspects of a TV series with an intriguing story to tell, both on screen and off. Paul Ruditis has for many reasons made this a very decent companion to both series, and while not nostalgic enough for the first iteration of BSG, has made something many fans will willingly pore over for years to come. You never know, it may well need an updating to countenance a third version before that time is up.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
If more up-to-date TV is your bag, then you would probably need to know about Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Companion to Breaking Bad by Ensley F Guffey and K Dale Koontz.
You can read more book reviews or buy Battlestar Galactica Vault: The Complete History Of The Series, 1978-2012 by Paul Ruditis at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Battlestar Galactica Vault: The Complete History Of The Series, 1978-2012 by Paul Ruditis at Amazon.com.
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