Babylon 5 magazine folding...

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Wed Mar 8 04:25:31 EST 2000

From: "Shaz" <hypatia at>
Date: 6 Mar 2000 18:36:57 -0700
Lines: 238

<tap, tap, tap>


<ahem> Yes. I am a Babylon 5 fan.

What? You don't know what that is? Well, it's this really excellent piece of
Science Fiction...

Yes, I know, but Science Fiction can be just as good as Eastenders or any
other soap. Why? Well, because the plots aren't predictable for a start.

Anyway, Babylon 5 is a really good story about a space station...

No, it's NOT Trek! Different thing altogether.

No it's not even LIKE Trek.

No, I don't dress up as a Klingon. That's the Trek universe.

Anyway, it's this really good 'novel for television'...

You know, like a book? Book: thing with pages that you read. Thick.

Thicker than a newspaper.

Yeah, but it's LIKE a novel. It tells a story that has a beginning, a middle
and an end.

Yes, it HAS finished. It had 5 seasons of 22 episodes a season, plus four TV
movies. Look, do you want me to explain this or not?

Right, thank you. It tells the story of a space station that is like a UN in
space at the hub of 5 races who don't always get on. It's got humans who run
the station...

Well, because it was our idea, really. You see, we got into this war with
another race called the Minbari who nearly destroyed us.

No, in the story I'm trying to explain to you. Not in real life.

Hmm? Well, they look a bit like humans except they're bald with a crest of
bone that stands up at the back. They're stronger than we are, denser boned,
a much older race and far advanced technologically speaking. Anyway, after
the war...

They surrendered.

We don't find out until season 2, but they had their reasons.

Will you let me get on with this? Right, after the war it was decided that
to stop things like that happening again there would be a place where people
could try and work out their differences peacefully. Except, of course, it
doesn't always work like that.

Yeah, like a said, a UN in space.

Well, there are two other races out there. One called the Vorlons, and the
other called the Shadows.

Yes, I KNOW I said there were 5 races but they're the ones who work on the
station regularly. The Shadows are always in the background because they
don't want peace. They like war.

Because they believe it helps younger races develop. But I'm jumping ahead
of myself. Anyway, the Vorlons and the Shadows...

The Shadows look like six foot tall black preying mantises and their ships
look like giant black spiders in space, but with more legs. The Vorlons look
like whatever they want to look like when you actually see them, but most of
the time they hide behind an encounter suit that allows them to interact
with other races without being seen as they are.

Colourful shower curtains attached to a horse-collar with a rectangular head
on top and a single eye in the front. The ships look a bit like a giant
garlic plant and they're alive.

The Vorlons AND their ships.

Yes, the Shadow ships are alive too.

Yes, the Shadows are scarier. They're supposed to be. And these two races
have taken it upon themselves to either help the younger races along (that's
us) by giving us help directly, or stirring up trouble to force us to come
up with our own solutions. And on this space station the humans and other
races get caught in the middle of the fight.

Well, it's more than that because as well as having that war going on in the
background, you've got a civil war on Earth that leaves the station out on a
limb, the in-fighting between the various races aboard the station,
occasional interruptions from other races who have their own problems, and a
brewing battle between two of the younger races who hate each other's guts
and would like nothing better than to destroy each other's planets. You've
also got the telepaths on Earth who are controlled by a bunch of Psi cops
who look like the Gestapo and are trying to get power for themselves.

Psi, it's a Greek letter of the alphabet. It's the name used for the
telepaths' organisation, the Psi Corps. Frankly, they're not a nice bunch at
all and some of the ordinary telepaths are a bit annoyed about how they're
being used.

They have no choice. There are rules laid down to protect non-telepaths from
being abused by telepaths and the existence of the Psi Corps is one of those

Yes, it is a good idea. Anyway, underneath all those interweaving plots you
have the notion that one person can make a difference if they are willing to
give everything to it. And by everything I do mean everything.

Yes, people die. Lots of them, actually. An entire race on one occasion.
Even some of the good guys die sometimes.

No, they're NOT wearing red shirts! Even the leader of the station dies.
Twice, in fact, but the first time he's given twenty years to finish what he

No, he's not Spock. He's a human who cares enough about what's going on
around him to try and stop it and make people work together instead of
killing each other. But he's wounded, captured, tortured, forced to do
things he doesn't want to do to try and save everyone else and, ultimately,
he sacrifices himself for the rest of us.

No, he's not Jesus in space, although there are elements of religion in the
series. It's based more on ancient Greek and Norse mythology than anything

OK, OK. It's an intellectual Trek with a long term story that is nothing
whatever LIKE Trek, will THAT do?

No, they're not perfect. They make mistakes. The head of security is a
recovering alcoholic whose addiction sometimes overcomes him. The first
officer is a very low grade telepath who's trying to keep away from Psi
Corps because of they way they practically murdered her telepath mother, the
security chief's second isn't what he appears... actually, no one in this
show is what they appear to be. Not even the Commander of the first season
or the Captain of the second to fifth, or the Minbari representative, or any
of the others. The characters change and grow over the course of the series
and what happened before affects what happens in the future. That's why I
said it's a novel for television.

Nope. No reset button. This isn't a game of toy-soldiers where you take out
the pieces, put them in danger for 30 minutes and resolve it all in ten
before putting them back in the box and starting over the next week. It's
more like a game of chess.

Yes, there are battles. Whopping great big ones, in fact. Sometimes the good
guys win and sometimes they don't, but enough survive to carry on.

Yep, the special effects are awesome. All done with computers and they had
Nasa and the Jet Propulsion Labs explaining things to them so battles aren't
done with the protagonists simply facing each other. Sometimes they attack
from above, below, whatever works. Really impressive stuff.

Yes and no. As Delenn says, the war is never completely won. But they
achieve what they set out to achieve. It's just not as clean as they'd like.
No guarantees.

Yeah, it's clever, it makes you think, it can make you laugh or cry. Once
you get into it it's really hard to stop watching.

Well, it's on Channel 4 at somewhere between 1 am and 4 am Sunday
night/Monday morning here in the UK. I can't say exactly because they
pre-empt it for things like cricket. In the US it's on at around 7 am in the
morning on TNT.

Yes, we are a dedicated bunch. We don't get much choice. It's always been
shunted around and treated like shit. But if you're interested I have all
the videos and I'd be happy to lend them to you so you can get some idea.

Nope. Not much in the shops. The good stuff you can get at the on-line base
of the show called but the creator didn't want a whole
load of merchandise when the show was running because he didn't want 'the
tail wagging the dog' as he put it. You know, games manufacturers asking him
to put a particular type of gun in a show so they could sell it. And now the
show's over and so damned hard to find, people aren't aware of it so sales
of what there is aren't all that high. Even the magazine is shutting down
and that's the last thing we have to keep the show alive that's officially

Well, with the show over there's not much to write about.

Yes, there are stories that other people have written unofficially because
they love the show, but since that's a violation of copyright  they'll never
be published. You can get them on line, though. A lot of it is garbage, but
some are really amazing and capture the characters incredibly well.

No, the magazine can't publish them because they're a violation of copyright
. Anyway, I don't think they want to wade through the 99% of bull out there
to find the 1% of gems they *might* endorse if there was a way around the
copyright laws.

Yeah. It's hard to find, you can't get stuff for it unless you're REALLY
dedicated, it's not being supported by WB or anyone else to promote it
properly, it's treated like the poor relation at the wedding, the fans can't
keep it going on any major level without risking copyright lawsuits, the
story's finished and even its creator has moved on. But I STILL support it,
love it, re-watch it to find those details I missed the first few times, and
will continue to support it for as long as I can because it's a GOOD show
that told a very powerful story that deserves to be told over and over, like
any good myth. It's a moral story that requires some modicum of brains to
appreciate. Anyway, the show itself was always saying how just because
you're the underdog doesn't mean you should give up. I'm just hoping that
one of these days someone will take it up who actually appreciates the show,
makes it their flagship, and does what's necessary to introduce new fans to
it. Just because the story we know is over, doesn't mean the whole thing is
over. There are a LOT more stories in that universe that are waiting to be
told. I'd just like to be able to watch them or read them.


Never mind. What's the use? I'll just stay here until they switch off the
lights. I saw the heyday. Now I guess I'd better pack my bags because the
game's being called on account of darkness. I can still carry the message of
the show with me for the rest of my life. I don't have to go willingly into
that good night, and while I can I will continue to rage against the dying
of the light.

It's from some poetry. Something you find in books, and not just the two
year old copies of Reader's Digest you have stacked up in the bathroom.

Excuse me. I have a copy of The Golden Bough I have to go back to. It's
about  ancient mythology.

Yes, I AM an SF fan. Amazingly, you can like the future and appreciate the
past. The two aren't exclusive, you know. Good SF, like Babylon 5, uses the
ancient stuff because we haven't changed that much. We're still human, and
whether we stay here and die as a species, or go to the stars, we will
*still* be human and have the same loves and worries and fears no matter
where we are.

Watch the show. You'll see what I mean.


From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 7 Mar 2000 22:03:58 -0700
Lines: 16 you WERE there when I tried to explain the show to the execs at


(jmsatb5 at
B5 Official Fan Club at:
(all message content (c) 2000 by
synthetic worlds, ltd., permission
to reprint specifically denied to
SFX Magazine)

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