• The new B5TV.COM is here. We've replaced our 16 year old software with flashy new XenForo install. Registration is open again. Password resets will work again. More info here.

Babylon 5 Books

A lot of folks have asked me for information on the B5 books, lately. Here’s a run-down on the ones I’m aware of. The three recent trilogies are discussed in the large spoiler box, both as protection of those who haven’t read them yet, but plan to, and for those who haven’t seen the entire television series, whether or not they mean to read the books.

The Babylon 5 Security Manual – By "Michael Garibaldi" Compiled by Jim Mortimore with Allen Adams and Roger Clark. (Thanks, Lyta, for supplying the authors' names.) Technical information, written as if B5 is a real place. Similar to any number of books in the "Trek" universe.

Creating Babylon 5 - by David Bassom. Behind the scenes info on the show'sproduction. Pretty good, nice color photos, but not as informative as Jane Killick's series (which it duplicates to some degree. Thanks again to Lyta, for telling me who wrote it.)

The Babylon File I & II - by Andy Lane. A fan-written, season-by-season, critique. A little biased, in my view, and too willingly to believe every negative comment about the show in volume II, but these are minor blemishes in what is generally a very good guide to the show.

There was a Babylon 5 comic book, for which both Peter David and JMS wrote stories, if I’m not mistaken. I’ve never seen it, and it is long-since out of print. I think a couple of stories that extended over four or five issues each were collected into paperback “graphic novels” I don’t know the titles, or if they are still in print.

One dealt with Sinclair being framed for attempted murder almost immediately after he arrives on Minbar, with Neroon acting as prosecutor at his trial. The events in this story are referred to in Kathryn Drennan’s Sinclair novel (see below.)

That book may also have included a stand alone story or two-parter about Sinclair’s first meeting with Garibaldi, which finds them stranded in the desert and witnessing the arrival of a Shadow vessel that frees another long buried on Mars.

(Garibaldi tells an abbreviated version of the tale in the episode, “Hunter/Prey.” Interestingly he does not name Jeffery Sinclair as his companion on the trip, though he does say that two of them were involved.)

A second paperback includes the story “In Valen’s name”, in which B4 is located during the run of the series, and secret writings of Valen are discovered within it by Sheridan and others from B5.

If anyone out there has the comics or the paperback reprints I’d be grateful if you would correct any errors or omissions in the above, and provide any additional information that you think would interest folks.

The Dell Paperbacks, numbered 1 through 9

By general consensus, only two of these novels, numbers 7 and 9, IIRC, are good B5 and (pretty) good novels. The others tend to be one or the other (or neither.) The Shadow Within by Jeanne Cavelos tells the story of Anna Sheridan, Mr. Morden, and the ill-fated expedition of the Icarus to Z'ha'dum. To Dream in the City of Sorrows, by Kathryn M. Drennan, follows Jeffery Sinclair from his arrival on Minbar as Earth Ambassador to his departure for Babylon 5 and the events of "War Without End."

JMS has said that these two are between 80% and 90% "canon", that is, as much a part of the "real" story as the episodes themselves. (There are some minor mismatches in chronology and other details in both, and a few ideas that JMS doesn't feel bound to stick to if he decides to contradict this backstory in later TV or movie installments.) Not surprising, when you think about it. They are among the few books written after the series was on the air, Cavelos was the editor for the series, early on, and therefore had more access to show materials and to JMS, and Kathryn Drennan not only wrote for the series ("By Any Means Necessary"), but is married to JMS.

All of the early Dell books are now out of print, but the good news is that Del Rey has acquired the rights to republish them. They'll be released again starting December with The Shadow Within, followed by To Dream, since they are the two most requested.

Babylon 5: Season by Season by Jane Killick's. A series of episode guides including interview with cast and crew, synopses and analysis. Five volumes, one per season. Some people don’t realize that each B5 season had a title, like the individual volumes in a series of books. As is often the case with books, the season titles came from individual “chapters” (episodes) within each “volume” Killick takes her book titles from the season titles:

S1: Signs and Portents
S2: The Coming of Shadows
S3: Point of No Return
S4: No Surrender, No Retreat
S5: The Wheel of Fire

The TV movie books are:

Thirdspace by Peter David
A Call to Arms by Robert Sheckley
In the Beginning by Peter David

ItB was based on the script, and written before the film was shot, as is common with novelizations that have to be in the stores when a movie debuts. In JMS's script the Centauri "governess" who minds the children is not given a name. In the novel, David dubs her Senna, and makes her role a bit bigger. When it came time to outline the Centauri trilogy, JMS needed a female Centauri who would be a certain age in 2278.

Rather than invent a new character, he borrowed Senna and made her an important character in the events leading up to ItB, though circumstances still put her in charge of the children at the moment they burst in on Londo. For this reason the characterization of Senna is jarringly different in the book version of ItB and the later Centauri novels. Short of a major rewrite of ItB there is really nothing that can be done to fix this. Oddly the film doesn't suffer nearly the same problem, because Senna is such a minor character in it, and we learn so little about her.

Spoiler protection for those who haven't seen the whole series. No real spoilers for the books themselves:

<table bgcolor=black><tr><td bgcolor=black><font size=1 color=white>Spoiler:</font></td></tr><tr><td><font size=2 color=black>

The Psi-Corps Trilogy (Doesn't really have an over-all title) by J. Gregory Keyes

Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Corps
From the discovery of Human telepaths (about 100 years before the series starts) through the founding of the agency that will become Psi-Corps and the birth of Alfred Bester.

Strange Relations: Bester Ascendant
Bester's early life and his rise through the ranks of Psi-Corps. Ends with his departure for Babylon 5 in pursuit of the rogue telepath Jason Ironheart (S1, "Mind War")

Final Reckoning: The Fate of Bester
Picks up Bester's story many years after the Telepath War and the destruction of Psi-Corps. A hunted man for nearly 20 years, Bester decides to stop running and hide out in the last place anyone would think to look for him - Earth, headquarters of the government that has already convicted him of treason and war crimes in absentia.

Legions of Fire by Peter David

The Long Night of Centauri Prime
From Londo's ascension through the early years of Centauri isolation and the secret Drakh occupation. (Roughly 2262 to 2265)

Armies of Light and Dark
Resistance to "Londo's" policies comes from an odd quarter. Londo's isolation and powerlessness grow as ministers influenced by the Drakh take control of the government. The Centauri secretly plot against the Alliance, and the Drakh prepare to attack both Earth and Minbar with deadly weapons left by the Shadows. (Includes events that happen "off-screen" in A Call to Arms (2265 to 2267)

Out of the Darkness
The Ministers tighten their grip on Centauri Prime. The Resistance prepares to make its move. The Keeper in the urn siezes control of David Sheridan. G'Kar goes undercover on Centauri Prime to investigate recent events. Sheridan and Delenn risk everything to save their son. (2267 to 2278 - Overlaps with S3, "War Without End" and In the Beginning)

Peter David was evidently given a timeline that had a typo in it, because several of the events in these the novels are off by just about a year. I'm not sure how this was missed in editing. But this and one or two other minor inconsistancies are the only real flaws.

The Passing of the Technomages by Jeanne Cavelos

Casting Shadows
The technomages hold a convocation to induct new members, including Galen (A Call to Arms, Crusade) and three less skilled mages who will play a part in other novels. Disturbing hints emerge about the origins of the implants the mages use to work their "magic" Galen's mission to investigate these rumors brings him into contact with Anna Sheridan, now implanted in a Shadow warship, and brings him to the notice of Kosh, who is himself monitoring the mages. (2258, late S1)

Summoning Light
The mages decide to go into hiding on the eve of the Shadow War. Two of the mages join the Shadows, putting the escape of the others at risk. The group passes through Babylon 5 on their way out of known space (S2, "The Geometry of Shadows"), but what they allow Sheridan and others to see of their actions is mostly illusion and misdirection. You'll never look at the episode the same way again.

Invoking Darkness
Galen discovers the secret of the Mage implants, a secret that may destroy their order. The Shadows discover the identity of Anna Sheridan and remove her from her ship to use her as bait in a trap for her husband. Kosh is killed by vengeful Shadows, but manages to "break off a piece of himself" as Vorlons do, and implant it in John Sheridan. Galen confronts the renegade Mages even as Sheridan faces the Shadows on Z'ha'dum. (S3, 2261. Overlaps with several episodes, notably "Z'ha'dum")

The Cavelos books are probably most closely tied to the events of the series, since they all take place between 2258 and 2262, and frequently weave in and out of individual episodes in interesting ways. She also refers to events concerning Kosh, Anna Sheridan and Morden that come from her earlier novel, The Shadow Within. This makes Shadow a good, but not indispensible, companion piece to the Mage trilogy.

Personally I liked the Cavelos books best as novels, and, oddly, they are probably the ones that would be most enjoyed by someone who has never seen the series. I found the Psi-Corp books well-written and informative about the history of the B5 universe and Bester, but drier somehow, less involving. OTOH, I know people who loved the Keyes Psi Corps books, and view the Technomage novels as the weakest of the three. Everybody seems to like Peter David's Centauri books, he has a great feel for Londo, especially his way of speaking, but they don't seem to inspire the kind of passionate response the other two do in both those who like and those who dislike them.</font></td></tr></table>

Regards,

Joe


------------------
Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

joseph-demartino@att.net

[This message has been edited by Joseph DeMartino (edited January 25, 2002).]

[This message has been edited by Joseph DeMartino (edited January 27, 2002).]
 
And you claim you don't have any free time anymore!
Thanks again Joe
laugh.gif



------------------
"You know I? I rather like this GOD fellow. He's very theatrical you know, a pestilence here, a plague there... Omnipotence, Got to get me some of that, Hmmm?" - Stewie (Family Guy)
 
First off, great summarization by JoeD.
smile.gif
I will just add some things to help fill in some of the blanks I know. I am pretty tired so I hope this comes out understandable.
wink.gif


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino:
The Babylon 5 Security Manual – Sorry, don’t know who wrote it.. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Written by "Michael Garibaldi" and compiled by Jim Mortimore with Allen Adams and Roger Clark.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Creating Babylon 5 - also “author unknown”. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Written by David Bassom.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>There was a Babylon 5 comic book, for which both Peter David and JMS wrote stories, if I’m not mistaken. I’ve never seen it, and it is long-since out of print. I think a couple of stories that extended over four or five issues each were collected into paperback “graphic novels” I don’t know the titles, or if they are still in print. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It has been a while since I read these comics but JMS did start out in the comics biz with the B5 comics. It was very confusing to research information about these since they are out of print and the graphic novels were released in different countries. Oy, don't get me started! Peter David did contribute to the mini series "In Valen's Name".

My web site tries to explain and summarize these comics (including applicable JMS quotes). I have most of them but like I said, it has been a while since I read them. Also, visiting the Lurker's Guide on Comics could help as well.

That is all for now ... I will try to dig up my comics and look through them this weekend.

------------------
Monica Hübinette | Abyss : B5 <- New & Improved!
Pouch-sucking spawn of a bladder fish! Son of a fitch piece of smelt! Tok-swallowing fenbarger! Thrak it! --Na'Feel swearing in B5LR
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino:
The TV movie books are:

Thirdspace by Peter David
A Call to Arms by Robert Sheckley
In the Beginning by Peter David
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Joe, so I guess you haven't read A Call to Arms, and Thirdspace? Damn, I was hoping to see what you thought of those.


Regarding what you have in spoiler space (below), you have the "Summoning Light" on the Invoking Darkness description, and vice-versa.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino:
Spoiler protection for those who haven't seen the whole series. No real spoilers for the books themselves:

<table bgcolor=black><tr><td bgcolor=black><font size=1 color=white>Spoiler:</font></td></tr><tr><td><font size=2 color=black>

The Passing of the Technomages by Jeanne Cavelos

Invoking Darkness
The mages decide to go into hiding on the eve of the Shadow War. Two of the mages join the Shadows, putting the escape of the others at risk. The group passes through Babylon 5 on their way out of known space (S2, "The Geometry of Shadows"), but what they allow Sheridan and others to see of their actions is mostly illusion and misdirection. You'll never look at the episode the same way again.

Summoning Light
Galen discovers the secret of the Mage implants, a secret that may destroy their order. The Shadows discover the identity of Anna Sheridan and remove her from her ship to use her as bait in a trap for her husband. Kosh is killed by vengeful Shadows, but manages to "break off a piece of himself" as Vorlons do, and implant it in John Sheridan. Galen confronts the renegade Mages even as Sheridan faces the Shadows on Z'ha'dum. (S3, 2261. Overlaps with several episodes, notably "Z'ha'dum")
</font></td></tr></table>


<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>



------------------
KoshN
-------------
Vorlon Empire

http://www.scifi.com/b5rangers/
 
Kosh:

You're right, thanks. I actually had the books in the wrong order on my bookshelf and was just reading the titles off the spines when I wrote that.
smile.gif
The error is now fixed.

I have read the movie books, but it has been awhile, so I don't remember the details all that clearly. Also they follow the films very closely (while fleshing a few things out) so I didn't think they really required any kind of plot description, since most people have already seen the movies. To reveal whatever nuances the writers added would only constitute real spoilers for the books themselves.

If you liked the Centuari books you'll enjoy the two Peter David novels (keeping in mind the comments about Senna.) Sheckly has been an SF writer for something like 40 or 50 years. He may be better known to older fans. I, for one, was surprised to see that they managed to get him for a novelization. He's an old friend of Ellison's (they've collaborated at least once), so that may explain it. Anyway, I thought he did well by A Call to Arms, but I'd have to reread it before saying much more than that.

Regards,

Joe

------------------
Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

joseph-demartino@att.net
 
Just to add a little follow up to the comics info on Lyta's site:

I'm pretty sure that the Price of Peace book that collects issues 1-4 and 11 of the original American B5 comic (the Sinclair murder arc and the Psi Corps propaganda booklet) is the only one available in the US. The rest of the series, and the In Valen's Name miniseries that came out a while later, were not collected over here. (I'm also still trying to figure out how In Valen's Name took place between 'Into the Fire' and the first act of 'Epiphanies,' but whatever. People who like David's B5 work might want to look for the IVN mini, since he wrote issues 2 and 3 based on JMS' plot/outline.)

And for anyone who's interested, JMS also wrote issue 16 of DC's Star Trek comic back in 1991. One of these days I'd like to get a hold of that one.

------------------
Dave Thomer
This Is Not News
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>u forgot The babylon file, by Andy lane<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Nope, volumes I and II have been the second item on my list since the day I posted this. (Earlier than that, in fact, since I stitched this togther from a private e-mail reply and a post to another board, both from a couple of weeks ago. A recent post here about the Technomage books made me think the same kind of summary might be useful here.)

Regards,

Joe

------------------
Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

joseph-demartino@att.net
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino:
I have read the movie books, but it has been awhile, so I don't remember the details all that clearly. Also they follow the films very closely (while fleshing a few things out) so I didn't think they really required any kind of plot description, since most people have already seen the movies. To reveal whatever nuances the writers added would only constitute real spoilers for the books themselves.
...
Sheckley has been an SF writer for something like 40 or 50 years. He may be better known to older fans. I, for one, was surprised to see that they managed to get him for a novelization. He's an old friend of Ellison's (they've collaborated at least once), so that may explain it. Anyway, I thought he did well by A Call to Arms, but I'd have to reread it before saying much more than that.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, Sheckley did get more into Drake's background, Dureena's activity on B5, the Drazi's activity, and he gave the Drazi a name. However, the book did contain some strange errors, especially before the halfway mark.

------------------
KoshN
-------------
Vorlon Empire

http://www.scifi.com/b5rangers/
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dave Thomer:
Just to add a little follow up to the comics info on Lyta's site:

I'm pretty sure that the Price of Peace book that collects issues 1-4 and 11 of the original American B5 comic (the Sinclair murder arc and the Psi Corps propaganda booklet) is the only one available in the US.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is correct and I have tried to clarify that on my site now. I put up the B5 comics pages up quite hastily and they really need some work.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>The rest of the series, and the In Valen's Name miniseries that came out a while later, were not collected over here. (I'm also still trying to figure out how In Valen's Name took place between 'Into the Fire' and the first act of 'Epiphanies,' but whatever. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hmm, well I guess I better buy that TPB and find out what is really inside. All indications that I could find point to it being the collection of issues #1-3 of the mini series.
smile.gif
However, I have also seen people state that it is issues #1-4 of the original series (issues #1-11). Like I said before, it is confusing as hell.

As for the "Into the Fire" and "Epiphanies" statement, I am not sure where that came from.
crazy.gif


------------------
Monica Hübinette | Abyss : B5 | Rangers Sponsor List
Pouch-sucking spawn of a bladder fish! Son of a fitch piece of smelt! Tok-swallowing fenbarger! Thrak it! --Na'Feel swearing in B5LR
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Lyta:
Hmm, well I guess I better buy that TPB and find out what is really inside. All indications that I could find point to it being the collection of issues #1-3 of the mini series.
smile.gif
However, I have also seen people state that it is issues #1-4 of the original series (issues #1-11). Like I said before, it is confusing as hell.

As for the "Into the Fire" and "Epiphanies" statement, I am not sure where that came from.
crazy.gif

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, the In Valen's Name book offered at Amazon UK looks like a collection of the In Valen's Name miniseries -- the cover credits are accurate (Straczynski/David/Collins) and there's B4 on the cover. So I don't see why people would think it collects the original series.

Even though I have the miniseries, I wish that book were available here in the US, since it's a pretty good story.

The 'Into the Fire'/'Epiphanies' comment was just me musing about the story . . . it somehow takes place after the Shadow War but before Garibaldi resigns as security chief, which always puzzled me. Ah well.

------------------
Dave Thomer
This Is Not News
 
To add my 2¢ worth I have two of the comic books "Shadows Past and Present", which is the one where Sinclair and Garibaldi meet on Mars and get a glimpse of the Shadow ship as mentioned in Messages From Earth.

The other book is In Valen's Name where they find some information from Sinclair from l000 years ago and ends with the statement "I've received my own reward because I've found her at last".

I also liked the very first book which is called Voices by John Vornholt. It is a story about Talia Winters, Bester and Garibaldi and is quite a good addendum to the Psi Corps trilogy although it was written years earlier.

------------------
I always seem to be diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
 
Speaking of B5 books, are there any coming out soon (besides the Del Rey reprints)? Thanks.

------------------
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Speaking of B5 books, are there any coming out soon<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No, the Technomage trilogy (which was outlined back in 1999, while Crusade was still in production) represents the last of the planned B5 novels. (Which is probably one reason that Del Rey is going for the reprints - because there is still a market for the books, but no fresh material.)

There has also been talk of collecting the published B5 short stories, but their word count does not add up to a book-length manuscript. Del Rey would have to commission new stories to fill out a volume. I know they were considering this at one point, and that JMS had sounded out some writers about contributing to it, but I haven't heard anything since then.

I don't expect there to be any more novels, much less trilogies, until the fate of Rangers (which will likely determine the fate of Crusade and the B5 feature film) is decided. If Rangers is a no-go, JMS might consider telling the Teep War story or part of the Crusade story in book form. (Assuming that TV movies are out of the question.) But he won't even start thinking about that until he's exhausted all other ways of dealing with those plots, which are really the last "major" unfinished stories in the B5 universe.

Regards,

Joe

------------------
Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

joseph-demartino@att.net

[This message has been edited by Joseph DeMartino (edited February 06, 2002).]
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino:
There has also been talk of collecting the published B5 short stories, but their word count does not add up to a book-length manuscript. Del Rey would have to commission new stories to fill out a volume. I know they were considering this at one point, and that JMS had sounded out some writers about contributing to it... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Paging Mr. Ellison! Paging Mr. Harlan Ellison!
One can dream, can't one?
wink.gif


------------------
"What's up, Drakh?"

Michael Garibaldi
 
NO, I forbid you to dream.

------------------
"Crying isn't gonna get your dog back. Unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can sit here eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell like dog food or you can go out there and find your dog."-Homer in The Canine Mutiny
 
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Mondo Londo:
Paging Mr. Ellison! Paging Mr. Harlan Ellison!
One can dream, can't one?
wink.gif
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No, if he asks Ellison for a story, the damned book won't come out until 2015!
laugh.gif


Actually the names I seem to recall are Neal Gaiman, Kathryn Drennan, Fiona Avery and - I think - Anne McCaffrey. Jeanne Cavelos may also have been on the list.

Regards,

Joe


------------------
Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

joseph-demartino@att.net
 
Well, let JMS ask now, so the story will be ready for the collection that'll come out in 13 years!
cool.gif


------------------
"What's up, Drakh?"

Michael Garibaldi

[This message has been edited by Mondo Londo (edited February 07, 2002).]
 
Back
Top