Battlestar Galactica

Game Review: Battlestar Galactica the Board Game

Battlestar Galactica board gameBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Welcome to a brand new regular feature I’m debuting!

As those of you who’ve been with me a while know, Fridays here on my blog are for fun. It’s the day when we try to bring a little fantasy into our everyday lives through talking with speculative fiction authors, exploring places and creatures from our world that look like they belong in a fantasy, talking food and music that appears in books/movies/video games, and just kicking back as we head into the weekend.

To those recurring features I’m adding reviews of tabletop games, computer games, and maybe I’ll even convince my long-suffering husband to review some of his favorite PlayStation games. Because what better way to bring fun and fantasy into our lives than through games :)

These aren’t going to be reviews for hard-core gamers. These are going to be reviews for the everyday person who plays for fun and has a busy life. I’ll try to review a variety of game types, as well as review games with variety in how many players they can play and whether they’re family friendly and 2-player friendly or not. My hope is that if the game one month isn’t for you, you might enjoy the one I feature the next month.

So no more delays. On to Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game…

Enter into the story…

Humans created cylons to make their lives easier, but the cylons rebelled. After a brutal war, the cylons left to find their own planet, but now they’ve returned to slaughter humanity and take their worlds instead. In a surprise attack, they killed all but 50,000 humans. These remaining homeless humans are now part of a small fleet of space ships, with limited resources, running for their lives.

As one of the human survivors, you need to help the fleet reach the planet of Kobol.

Along the way, if the cylons reach the end of the Galactica boarding track, the humans lose. If one of your resources (population, food, fuel, and morale) reaches zero, the humans lose. If the cylons destroy Galactica, the humans lose.

Why does the game seem weighted in favor of the cylons? Well, read on…

How Well Does the Theme Work? You feel like you’re there.

If you’re someone who enjoyed BSG, then you’ll at least enjoy trying this game. Not only are the board and other components beautiful, but the game was clearly designed by someone who understood the show. Your resources are limited and hard to replace. The cylons are stronger than you. You don’t know who you can trust, and you might even end up being a cylon sleeper agent halfway through.

Battkestar Galactica game board

This is only part of the board you’ll be playing on.

Battlestar Galactica ships

Three of the ships that will be on the board either attacking or defending the civilian ships.

Beyond this, when you draw what are called Crisis Cards, they’re events from the first season. As a fan of the show, it’s exciting to recognize them and take part. You’re often facing what seems like a no-win situation where every result is bad (or at least doesn’t help you in any way). Just like the characters in the show needed to decide what to sacrifice just to survive, you’ll need to do the same.  

Crisis Card

Events are based on episodes of the show.

The roles are also unique. If you’re a pilot, your character can leave Galactica and climb into a viper to engage cylon raiders. If you’re the Admiral, you decide what planet the fleet will make a faster-than-light jump to. Each of the game characters has strengths and weaknesses based on their matching character from the show. I refuse to ever play Gaius Baltar. The slimeball.

Kara Starbuck Thrace

My favorite character to play :) I like to fly the vipers.

Type of Game: Cooperative with a traitor element.

At the beginning of the game, you’re dealt a secret loyalty card telling you whether you’re human or cylon. The humans all work together to reach Kobol, and so you win or lose as a team. You won’t always know who is a cylon (or a sympathizer) and who isn’t though, so this is partially a game of betrayal and deciding who you can trust.

In fact, you can’t even trust yourself. Halfway through the game, you deal a new set of loyalty cards. You might find out you’re really a cylon who was programmed to believe themselves a human. Suddenly the people you’ve been working with are your enemies, and the trust you’ve worked so hard to earn will be used to destroy them.

Length of Play Rating: Kill. Me. Now.

The game we won against the cylons took 4 HOURS. It’s shorter if the humans lose, but by the time you hit 2-3 hours of play, it all starts to feel a little repetitive.

Marcy’s Hint for Shorter Game Play: In the future, instead of needing to get 8 planet points + one jump to reach Kobol and win, we’ll be doing 6 planet points = instant win or 4 planet points + one jump.

Number of Players: 3-6 people

This game really plays better with 4 or more because it’s too easy to guess who’s the cylon in a 3-player game, and the cylon in a 3-player game makes it almost impossible for the humans to win.

Family Friendly? A snowflake’s chance in h*ll.

In other words, no way. The box says 10+, but this is really a 14+ game. In my opinion, the themes in BSG were too mature for children, so most kids won’t have watched the show and won’t know the story/characters. It’s a complicated game to learn, and it’s long.  

Would you try this game? What types of games are you most interested in having me review? And, the big question, are you a BSG fan?

Click here if you’d like to check out Battlestar Galactica (affiliate link).

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

And don’t forget that you can receive a free copy of my guide Everything You Always Wanting to Know about Hiring a Freelance Editor by signing up for my newsletter. <–Click right there. You know you want to :)

How Important Is Freedom?

Superman Man of SteelBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Man of Steel is supposed to be a story about the origin of Superman. It’s really a story about the importance of freedom.

On Krypton, Superman’s home planet, everyone is created for a specific purpose. They have no choice about the path their life will take. Superman’s parents dream of a free Krypton, so they conceive and give birth to him naturally. In doing so, they give him back the freedom of choice for what kind of man he wants to be.

And growing up as Clark Kent on Earth, Superman struggles with this. His earthly father encourages him to hide who he is at all costs, but Superman chooses to help others even if it puts him in danger of exposing who he is.

When General Zod of Krypton appears, Superman realizes why his birth parents made the choices they did. He chooses again to allow Krypton to go extinct rather than allowing Zod to commit genocide on the human race.

“I exist only to protect Krypton,” Zod says. “That is the sole purpose for which I was born. And every action I take, no matter how violent or how cruel, is for the greater good of my people. And now, I have no people. My soul—that is what you have taken from me!”

When he lost his freedom to choose to be something different, Zod lost other qualities as well, like compassion, hope, and morals. With Krypton and its people gone for good, Zod has no reason to live.

Few of us who live in free countries would argue that freedom isn’t important.

Its innate value is why many science fiction and fantasy books and movies explore it—and what could happen if it was taken away.

Battlestar Galactica took a look at freedom from the opposite side as Man of Steel. The Twelve Colonies were free. They had a president and elected representatives. People chose their careers and could change their lot in life through hard work. Then the cylons attacked, wiping out all but around 50,000 humans.

Running for their lives and looking for a new home, the remaining humans were forced to live on a small fleet of ships. This meant that people were pressed into jobs based on the needs of the fleet, such as working the fuel processing ship. They couldn’t change their job, and worse, their children were being trained up in the same job without any chance to be anything else.

But what other choice did they have? If the fleet had any hope of survival, they needed fuel processing, and waste processing, and all the other jobs done. They suspended freedom. They felt it was for the greater good.

In the episode “Dirty Hands,” after a labor strike that almost devolves into mutiny, the government of the fleet decides freedom is important enough that they have to protect it along with their survival. They institute training programs and a work rotation.  

But it raised an interesting question, one our own society is facing today, about whether there’s ever a time when certain freedoms should be suspended. Or is freedom of such a high value that it shouldn’t be violated in any circumstance, no matter the cost?

What do you think? Is there ever a time when freedom should be sacrificed for the greater good, or is freedom something that should never be violated?

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” botton.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

And don’t forget that you can receive a free copy of my guide Everything You Always Wanting to Know about Hiring a Freelance Editor by signing up for my newsletter. <–Click right there. You know you want to :)

Will Artificial Intelligence Ever Be Possible?

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

From Data in Star Trek, to David in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, to the cylons in Battlestar Galactica, we seem to be fascinated by the idea of robots who can think for themselves. (And the implications of that for our survival as a species.)

Scientists have made great advances in creating more adaptive code for their robots, in making them look more lifelike, and even in giving them the ability to mimic human facial expressions. Check out this video from the 2009 TED Talks.

But this is still a long way from robots being sentient. No matter how complex their programming, they still abide by it. No robot has been created who, like Data, can exceed the sum of his programming or who, like the cylons, can redesign their own programming and independently build more of their “species.”

So here’s my question for you. Do you think we’ll ever develop true artificial intelligence (in other words, sentient robots), or is this a concept that will forever remain a part of science fiction? More importantly, do you think true artificial intelligence would be beneficial or dangerous?

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” button. You can also join me on my Facebook page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

And don’t forget that you can receive a copy of my suspense short story “Purple” by signing up for my newsletter. <–Click right there. You know you want to :)

When Should We Follow the Rules and When Should We Change Them?

Battlestar GalacticaBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

The biggest fight my husband and I ever had was over Battlestar Galactica.

I know. We’ve now jumped to the very top of the nerd list because most couples argue over the really important things like money or children or whether the in-laws should be allowed to dictate what color they paint their guest room.

But the truth is, we weren’t really arguing about Battlestar Galactica. We were arguing about a theme in it.

When things go wrong, do you stick to the traditional way of doing things, the traditional rules, or do you innovate and rewrite the rules?

The premise of Battlestar Galactica is that humans created Cylons to serve them, but the Cylons rebelled. Years later, the Cylons returned to the human planets and destroyed all 12 colonies. Less than 50,000 human beings survived. Now they’re running from the Cylons, living on a convoy of ships, protected entirely by one battlestar—Galactica.

In other words, life as they know it will never be the same.

Which raised an understandable dilemma for the leaders of the survivors about what was the best way to preserve the species. And that’s where things in my house went sideways.

An episode came on where an officer and an enlisted man whose relationship had been overlooked previously were ordered to stop seeing each other. I thought it was stupid to maintain rules and regulations against fraternization because, as President Roslin said, the only way the human race was going to survive was if people started having babies. My husband thought it was more important than ever in that situation to maintain rules and regulations against fraternization.

And while the issue of fraternization was what kicked the argument off, what we were really arguing about was if rules should ever be changed, and if so, when.

My husband is a former Marine. He’s also a traditionalist. So when he received an order to jump, he didn’t ask how high. He just jumped. And if things are going wrong, he believes that’s the moment when you should stick even more closely to the ways that have worked in the past.

And I could see his point. In a combat situation, you can’t hesitate to follow an order or you and everyone with you might die.

But I didn’t agree that the old rules and old ways of doing things are necessarily the best way. Someone has to earn my respect before I follow them, and I need to understand the logic behind a rule before I obey it. When something stops working, I look for a new way.

You can see how this fundamentally put us at odds. We’ve had to agree to disagree and can even joke about it now, but the question remains.

Is there ever a time when we need to change the rules? If so, when?

(And if you disagree with me that sometimes the rules should be changed, don’t be afraid to say so. I welcome disagreement here as long as it’s respectful.)

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” button. You can also join me on my Facebook page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

And don’t forget that you can receive a copy of my suspense short story “Purple” by signing up for my newsletter. <–Click right there. You know you want to :)

Is There A Cost to Hiding Our Mistakes?

Cost of Mistakes Battlestar GalacticaBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Should we always admit our mistakes, sins, and bad decisions and accept responsibility for them, or are there times when we should simply move on and try to forget they happened?

The decision is probably easy when the stakes are small, but what about when we run into one of those situations where accepting responsibility would change our lives…and not necessarily for the better.

In the first season of Battlestar Galactica, two storylines look at both sides of this dilemma.

Captain Sharon Valerii (call sign “Boomer”) wakes up one day soaked with water. She doesn’t remember what happened, and she discovers explosives in her duffle bag. When she investigates the small arms locker, she finds six more detonators are missing. When Galactica’s water tanks blow up, leaving the entire fleet with a critical water shortage, Sharon and her lover cover up her role, sure she’s been framed.

Except Sharon wasn’t framed. She’s a sleeper agent who doesn’t yet understand (let alone accept) what she is. Because she and her lover lied and hid what they knew, Sharon is able to try and nearly succeed at assassinating the commander of the fleet. I’ve always wondered—if they’d confessed right away, would Sharon have fallen that far? Her character shows great ability for change and loyalty. Could her path have been different if they’d been honest instead of trying to hide? Or would they have immediately executed her as a cylon infiltrator without giving her a chance to redeem herself?

Unlike Sharon, Dr. Gaius Baltar is never caught for the part he played in the cylon destruction of the twelve human colonies. (Though, in his defense, he didn’t realize he was helping the cylons. He thought he was breaking the rules to help the beautiful woman he was sleeping with win a defense contract.) He even eventually becomes president of the remnant of humanity. In a lot of ways, he seems to benefit from hiding his past mistakes.

But watching what he has to do to keep his secret, you have to ask if it was worth it. He leaves a potentially innocent man to die to cover up for the fact that he doesn’t know how to build a cylon detector. He advises that the passenger ship, the Olympic Carrier, be destroyed, saying it might be carrying cylon infiltrators, when in truth he’s afraid one passenger (Dr. Amarak) might have evidence of the role Gaius played in the cylon invasion. Almost every action he takes is to cover up something else he’s done.

He never faces the consequences of his actions and never becomes a better person.

Where’s the line between what we should admit to and what it’s alright to make private?

If a husband or wife cheated on their spouse 10 years ago and wasn’t caught, should they confess now to ease their conscience or stay quiet and spare their spouse’s feelings?

What if you bump into another car in the parking lot and no one is around to see it? Do you leave a note? Does it change things if you are barely paying your bills and don’t know how you’ll manage to repair their car or pay a higher insurance rate?

And what might be the emotional costs of hiding our past mistakes?

What do you think? Should we always confess our wrongs? Are there times we should stay silent?

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” button. You can also join me on my Facebook page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Image Credit: Matteo Canessa (from sxc.hu)

Related Posts:
Could You Be An Evil Person?
Four Reasons Battlestar Galactica Isn’t Just for SciFi Fans

Could You Be An Evil Person?

"Water" Battlestar GalacticaWe all have evil within us.

In “Water,” the second episode of Battlestar Galactica’s first season, a saboteur blows up their water tanks, forcing all the ships in the fleet to ration their water. If they don’t find water quickly, the approximately 47,000 people who are all that remains of humanity will die.

They send out pairs of pilots to survey nearby planetary systems for water. One by one, the teams report back—negative for H2O.

Finally, only one team remains. Lieutenant Sharon “Boomer” Valerii and her electronic countermeasures officer, Crashdown, check the planets in their assigned zone.

“Still nothing,” Crashdown says. “And more nothing.”

The screen in front of Sharon flashes the words Positive for H2O. “I’ve got nothing here either,” she says, despite the results on her monitor. She blinks in confusion as her mind can’t make sense of what’s going on.

What we know, but Sharon doesn’t, is that she’s the one who destroyed the water tanks. She’s a Cylon sleeper agent programmed to believe she’s human. During the gaps in her memory, she’s planting explosives and letting other Cylons infiltrate the fleet.

Crashdown notices the strange tone in her voice.

“What’s on your mind, Boomer?” he asks.

“I don’t know. I have this feeling. Let’s run that sweep again.”

The screen flashes positive a second time, and Sharon hesitates. She tells Crashdown, “I’m having trouble saying it.”

You can see the battle between good and evil, human and Cylon, warring across her face. What she knows to be right, the love she has for her friends back on Galactica, wrestles with something deep within her that she can’t name, something dark and hateful and destructive.

Her hand slides down toward the explosives taped beside her seat. Her fingers tremble, hovering over the detonator.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe that humans are basically good or basically evil. When you bring both views down to their common denominator, we all have evil within us.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that, because we don’t steal or abuse or murder, we’re free from evil. But I do things I’m ashamed of. I’ve selfishly put my own desires ahead of someone else’s more than once. In the heat of an argument, I’ve said unkind, even cruel, things. And I struggled for years with a heart full of hatred for the drunk driver who killed my best friend. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to feel the pain that everyone who loved my friend felt at losing her.

Evil isn’t always big and flashy like a Cylon basestar come to blow up your ship. Sometimes it sneaks around in the dark and hides under the seats. And when we refuse to admit we could do something evil, the same way Sharon couldn’t accept that she might be a Cylon, that’s when we’re most vulnerable.

Having the potential to be evil is part of being alive. What matters is that, every day, every second, we fight it.

In the end, Sharon slowly pulls her hand away from the explosives and manages to tell Crashdown they’ve found water. She overcomes her programing—the inherent evil within her. She fought and she won. She’ll face more battles, but that day, in that fight, good prevailed.

Do you think evil is most dangerous when we think we’re immune to it? What helps you win the daily battle between good and evil?

Never watched Battlestar Galactica before? Find out why it’s not just for sci-fi fans.

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy My Little Ponies

Rebecca Enzor fantasy authorI’m excited to bring special guest poster Rebecca Enzor to you today. She’s a nuclear chemist who writes young adult and new adult fantasy and magical realism, and each Sunday has a Custom Pony of the Week feature on her blog where she highlights customized My Little Ponies based on books, TV shows, movies, or comics. Because of how much I love these customs, I asked her if she’d put together a Top 10 list of her favorite science fiction and fantasy My Little Ponies. We’re getting an extra treat because some of these ponies haven’t even been featured on her blog yet!

**************************************************************************************************************

First, I’d like to thank Marcy for asking me to guest post! It’s always nice to know someone loves the Custom of the Week feature on the blog :)

To give you a little bit of background information, My Little Pony is what originally got me into writing. When I was in fourth grade we had a city-wide competition in which everyone wrote and illustrated a book (my spelling and grammar might have been worse than my artistic ability at that point!). The book I wrote was called “My Life with Pone” and was all about a My Little Pony who was my invisible friend. Years later, in college, I started collecting ponies again and found a nifty little RPing community that allowed you to play as a pony in Dream Valley. I was hooked. I haven’t stopped writing since (I have sold my pony collection though – I had to pay for my wedding somehow!).

So now, my Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy inspired My Little Pony customs:

#10: Harley

Harley Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m cheating just a bit with Harley, because I’m the one who customized him, and as you can see, my artistic talent has not evolved much since fourth grade (those yellow dots are stars, by the way). I added him to the list because Across the Universe is one of my favorite books ever. It’s definitely the best book I read last year. And the author, Beth Revis, is a huge My Little Pony fan! When I found out she would be coming to town in November, I had to make a pony for her, and Harley was born. I can’t think of a character that deserved to be immortalized in pony form more than Harley.

#9: Doctor Whooves (by Jill Baguchinsky)

Doctor Hooves Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of a cheat again, because Doctor Whooves is actually a character in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series. But that doesn’t make him any less of a custom pony – he’s just customized by Hasbro! And who could resist snuggling up to the Doctor in plush form? Not me. Plus the customizer won last year’s ABNA in the YA category and her novel, Spookygirl, will be hitting shelves soon!

#8: Madam Em

Madam Em Medusa Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can’t guess who this pony is based on then you don’t know your mythology very well. With her mane full of snakes, Madam Em is Medusa-inspired. The detail that went into this pony is amazing, and if you visit the customizer’s DeviantArt page, you’ll see that she puts just as much detail into all of her beautiful customs.

#7: Deadpool

Deadpool X-Men Custom My Little Pony

 

Oh Deadpool, you have my silly little X-men loving heart. There was a time, in fact, that I played *coughownedcough* an X-men/MLP crossover RP. And one of my very best RP buddies played Deadpool. So to find a Deadpool pony custom was a real treat. And one that I think Deadpool himself would appreciate.

#6: Neytiri

Neytiri Avatar Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a biologist, I thought the Avatar films were really interesting. As a writer, the storyline was decent. And as a person who loves colorful, pretty things? I thought the film in IMAX 3D was amazing! So when I found this Neytiri pony, it immediately became a favorite of mine. And guess what? The customizer has published a novel too! You had no idea there were so many authors who loved MLPs did you?

#5: Mad Hatter

Mad Hatter Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I admit it. It’s the colors that really do it for me in this custom. There are at least a dozen other Mad Hatter customs that I’ve seen on Deviant Art, but the color scheme on this one sets it apart. And all those curls! And the tiny Doormouse! I am in so much love with this pony I can’t even explain it.

#4: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pony is absolutely amazing. From her sculpted clothing, to her fur coat, to her wolf mask and other little accessories, this twisted version of the Red Riding Hood fairytale has all the details just right for the wolf-as-the-victim twist. Since I first saw her, she’s been a favorite of mine.

#3: Howl

Howl's Moving Castle Custom My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, it could be the fact that Christian Bale voiced the role of Howl in the film adaptation that makes me love this character so much, but I think it’s actually the beautiful story arc that really does it. And this gorgeous half-pony/half-bird Howl does him so much justice. The detailing on the feathers is amazing, and the little Calcifer so adorable!

#2: Aragorn

Aragorn Lord of the Rings My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You didn’t really expect me to make a list of my Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy customs without a Lord of the Rings pony, did you? Plus, have you ever seen a pony with a beard? The customizer even went so far as to put a magnetic wire in the sword so that Aragorn could “hold” it with the magnet in his foot! Now that’s dedication to your craft. (This customizer has also made a Legolas pony, and has plans to continue with the other characters as well.)

#1: Starbuck

Starbuck (Kara Thrace) Battlestar Galactica My Little Pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You would think with all the stunning custom ponies out there it would be hard to choose a favorite, but ever since I saw Starbuck, I knew she was my all-time favorite custom pony ever. This pony is the reason I started the Custom of the Week feature on my blog. The character is one of my all-time favorite characters ever, with one of the strangest character arcs I’ve ever come across, and I think this custom captures her perfectly – right down to the thick eyebrows that give her the perfect Starbuck expression.

I hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy custom ponies. You can find all of the story-based custom ponies that I’ve featured on my blog by clicking on the Custom Pony link in the sidebar.

Did I miss one that was your favorite? Which ponies make your Top Ten list?

Four Reasons Battlestar Galactica Isn’t Just for Sci-Fi Fans

Please welcome back my husband Chris for a guest post on why he thinks one of our favorite science fiction shows, Battlestar Galactica, isn’t just for science fiction fans. If given a chance, Chris is convinced it would appeal to almost everyone.

********************************************************************************************************************

Picture Source: google.com via Marcy on Pinterest

I’ve written about Battlestar Galactica before, but only in passing, and only comparing a single BSG character to Star Wars’ Wedge Antilles. But BSG is one of the few science fiction shows with appeal for all kinds of viewers (such as Marcy, a Trekkie, and me, the Star Wars equivalent to a Trekkie), so I decided to put together this post to tell you all why I absolutely love Battlestar Galactica—and why you probably would, too.

Great Storytelling

The plot of almost every BSG episode was believable, interesting, and extremely engaging. We started off buying just the first season, but very quickly added the remaining three seasons because the story was just that good. And many were the nights where we stayed up until 2am or later, until we could barely keep our eyes open any longer, because we always wanted to watch “just one more,” to see where the story went. The writers had a talent for ending on a cliffhanger.

A Realistic Depiction of the Future

Star Trek has phasers and transporters and replicator technology. Star Wars has lightsabers and turbolaser cannons and the HoloNet. The Stargate series has interstellar gates. But none of these technologies are all that realistic when you look at today’s technology level and its likely rate of evolution even 300 years into the future.

In contrast, all the ships in Battlestar Galactica use kinetic weapons (weapons that don’t contain an explosive or electric charge). These range from a sort of machine gun in the nose of the human’s Viper starfighters to the nuclear-tipped missiles hurled by the Cylon basestars. Even the depictions of the Vipers’ maneuverability were more accurate than you’d expect, and included the use of attitude thrusters to move the ship around. Astronauts already use less sophisticated attitude thrusters today.

Galactica used an internal phone and intercom system, and lacked the comm badges, comlinks, and viewscreens of Star Wars and Star Trek. Galactica’s computer systems, even when networked, required several minutes to run complex calculations, and the comm systems in BSG all seemed to feature the type of distorted transmissions I would expect to hear over such long ranges.

Basically, I think the technology in Battlestar Galactica is closer to the technological reality we’ll have in the next couple hundred years.

A Unique Villain

The biggest sticking point for most science fiction is having a flat villain. If you don’t have a unique, believable, engaging villain, the show just doesn’t work well. Fortunately for us, BSG doesn’t have that problem. The Cylons (cybernetic organisms originally created to serve humanity) gained sentience and revolted against their former masters, disappearing after the first human-Cylon war and appearing again after 40 years to destroy the Twelve Colonies.

But the Cylons aren’t your typical cybernetic organisms. While the original Cylons looked like many depictions of futuristic robots, the Cylons have evolved and gained the ability to look just like a human, indistinguishable from a real person. The look, sound, and feel just like a real human, and the sleeper agents don’t even know they’re a Cylon until their sleeper circuit gets tripped. About the only difference between a “skin job” and a real human is that the female Cylons’ spines glow red during sexual activity.

And worse for the human survivors of the Cylons’ nuclear bombardment of the Colonies, the Cylons possess a Resurrection Ship, which automatically downloads a fallen Cylon’s memories and experiences into a new body and activates it, creating a never-ending stream of cybernetic warriors bent on grinding their former masters into so much interstellar dust.

How do you even fight against an enemy like that?

Engaging Special Effects and Cinematography

I found the special effects and cinematography of BSG to be top-notch. One of my favorite things about the show was how a lot of the exterior, long-distance shots were shown. Rather than the standard, steady, zoomed-in fare you get in most film, BSG has a lot of exterior shots that look like they were recorded on a hand-held camera, with the field of view zooming in too fast before resolving itself, and the recording itself being shaky, as would befit a distant observer.

For those of you who already love BSG, what do you think made it such a great show? If you haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica before, has this convinced you to watch an episode on Netflix?

Enter your email address to follow this blog:

Ace Combat: Wedge Antilles vs. Kara Thrace

Wedge Antilles vs. Kara Starbuck ThraceWelcome today’s special guest poster–my husband Chris :) He’s the biggest Star Wars fan I know (don’t believe me, check out the picture of him in his jedi Halloween costume to the left), and he’s also the one who introduced me to Battlestar Gallactica. I couldn’t think of anyone better to pit the best fighter pilot from each against each other and see who wins . . .

*******************************************************************************

In much the same way that sports fans have fantasy leagues to make dream-team matchups, it’s fun for science fiction fans to have dream matchups between some of the larger-than-life characters in the most successful science fiction franchises.

I’ve heard in a few places that Kara Thrace of Battlestar Gallactica (whose call sign is “Starbuck”) is the best fighter pilot in the sci-fi universe. I’ve also heard that Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo (all from Star Wars) are the best. With this thinking in mind, I decided to do my own little all-star matchup between Wedge Antilles, the long-time leader of Rogue Squadron, and Kara Thrace, arguably the best fighter pilot in the Colonial fleet.

(I didn’t choose Luke Skywalker or any other Force user, as they have an innate advantage through the Force. I didn’t choose Han Solo because the Millenium Falcon, although an amazing ship, is a heavily modified light freighter, and he doesn’t qualify as a fighter pilot.)

In terms of skill, Wedge and Kara are probably equal. They are both aces (they’ve racked up five or more kills), both served as commanders of large strike groups, and are highly respected for their skills inside the cockpit.

Wedge’s decades of experience (eventually he’s promoted all the way to Admiral), cool head, and innate calculating instincts serve him better than Kara’s fiery personality. Wedge excels at getting inside an opponent’s head, both with his flying and with his words.

Kara’s drive to excel probably matches or even exceeds Wedge’s, but hotheads like Kara can easily be manipulated, in much the same way a skilled martial artist uses his opponent’s weight and momentum against them. For example, in the Star Wars books, Wedge frequently uses his ship’s comm system to talk to opposing pilots. He would probably try to talk Kara down from a fight, while she would likely tell him to “shut the frack up” and be ready to lose.

If they both flew the same starfighter, it’d be a coin toss as to who won the fight. The difference between the two pilots really comes down to the equipment at their disposal, so let’s take a look at the birds they fly.

Imagine it like a dogfight . . .

Kara’s Viper Mark II would easily outmaneuver Wedge’s X-Wing, but she’d have to pack missiles to get through his shields, which can be placed into a double-strength configuration wherever he wants. And Wedge’s four laser cannons outclass Kara’s machine guns. As she maneuvers out of any lock he achieves on her and angles in behind him, he has his astromech droid program a proton torpedo to go off via a proximity fuse.  She has no shields, and a proton torpedo can destroy unshielded enemy fighters.

Should she manage to take out his weapons and disable his shields, all he needs to do is plot an emergency hyperspace jump and live to fight another day, while she has to wait for Gallactica to recover her, determine his course, and plot a trailing FTL jump to find him.

The Mark II Viper probably has an edge over the T-65 X-Wing in terms of speed, power, and maneuverability. However, the X-Wing has a definite advantage in terms of armament, range, supralight travel capability, navigation, and survivability.

The winner of this duel would be Wedge Antilles, based solely on the equipment used.

But I’m just one sci-fi fan.

What do you guys think? Would you bet on Wedge or Starbuck in a dogfight? What other science fiction or fantasy characters would you love to see faceoff?