Mar 12, 2013

[Books] Battlestar Galactica: Sagittarius Is Bleeding

My first romp into the alternate reality of the Battlestar Galactica novels with The Cylon's Secret was rather disappointing, to say the least. It was a barely decent venture into creating a prequel story for the reimagined TV series but it wasn't anything spectacular. Plus the cover had been rather misleading versus the actual content of the story.

But I had already purchased this book, Sagittarius Is Bleeding, at a bargain book sale, so I figured that I might as well read it. Plus this book was written by Peter David, who has worked within the confines of many different franchises including the Star Trek universe. So that had to give this book some potential, right?

I think the biggest challenge of these books is the fact that BSG has always had a rather tight narrative universe to work in. It's not as open-ended as the Star Trek and Star Wars universes. And thus in order to effectively write a story into the primary continuity, you'd need some degree of disclosure from the show's writers and creators in order to properly plot your story. But given the show was still in-progress at the time these books were written, I'm sure a number of key plans for the characters were not available for sharing or may not have even been written just yet.

Tricky indeed.

Synopsis: Battlestar Galactica: Sagittarius Is Bleeding is the third novel written for the Battlestar Galactica series. The author for this title was Peter David and it is set approximately between the Season 2 episodes "Black Market" and "Scar".

President Laura Roslin is one again being plagued by rather disturbing dreams. But this time she is left with the unusual and yet disturbing message - Sagittarius is bleeding. However she has no idea what this message could possibly mean and thus she continues to struggle in her attempts to interpret what these dreams may represent. But of course her political life goes on and she needs to not only deal with the Quorum of Twelve (including Tom Xarek) but also with a new request by a group know as the Midguardians who wish to petition the Qurorum for full membership as a colony.

Meanwhile a pregnant Sharon Valerii - or at least a copy of Sharon - remains in the Galactica brig. Young Boxey, who had been rescued from Caprica by Sharon and Helo before, manages to slip past security to talk to her and try to understand what makes her different - what makes her a Cylon. Naturally this action casts suspicion on him potentially being a Cylon agent, especially when it seems the Cylons have found a new way to compromise their FTL jumps leading to potential ambushes.

Now the core premise of the book has Roslin doing what she does best - act a little crazy and see visions left and right. Before we had her odd experimental cancer medicine to blame. Now we seem to have transcended that and we just have her somehow being touched by divinity - or perhaps by Sharon's unborn baby, if you buy into that story. Either way, she's barely lucid throughout the book and it's a wonder why her shenanigans don't get her taken out of office.

And as for the visions themselves, they just seemed too vague for my comfort. Maybe this was classic Peter David world-building and thus the visions were seeds planted for a more developed story arc covering several books at once. But in terms of this one book - which was further complicated by the predictions in the Edda, there was just too much fortune-telling going on for comfort.

The Adama presented in this book seems a lot..sterner than I remember him to be. As much fans of the show know that Adam has ended up making some pretty grave decisions over the course of the show, the book didn't quite feel right in how it presented him. I'd go as far as saying that I don't think that he'd so readily condone a lot of the things that ended up happening in the book, especially that last bit with Sharon. That just seemed a little beyond Season 2 Adama.

There's little to no military action here - which isn't all that unexpected given the nature of BSG as a series. There's definitely a lot of drama and political intrigue this time around, but at the same time some of the story elements didn't seem fully developed. Maybe it just shows that David was not 100% comfy with all the characters or maybe I'm already speaking from the perspective of someone who watched the TV series until the end, and thus I know how much more mature the characters become realized.

The book did have nice feel for the general mood of the show and I liked a lot of the maneuvering. While the individual characters weren't all as "complete" as I would have liked them to be, in-tandem they still operated as the familiar team that we've come to appreciate from the show. And in that sense the book does achieve its objective. But I also see how this really wasn't a sustainable franchise given the constraints on the storytelling.

Battlestar Galactica: Sagittarius Is Bleeding is a decent book with a lot of Roslin craziness. But at the end of the day, I didn't quite feel like the visions were fully realized and Adama ended up being a bit of a dick - even more than usual. Still, I'll grant the book 3 always fun moments between Baltar and Caprica Six out of a possible 5.

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