Battlestar Galactica 9: Experiment in Terra (1984) – Ron Goulart and Glen A. Larson

This week, I dive into another Galactica adaptation. Not coming out until 1984, years after the show was cancelled, this novel adapts a pair of episodes, Baltar’s Escape and Experiment in Terra (which on retrospect feels like a trial run for the Bellasario created Quantum Leap).

This time out there are no Adama’s Journals or other insights intercut into the story, instead, Goulart keeps us a fairly faithful adaption of the two episodes, one leading right into the next, not quite organically, but it works nonetheless.

Baltar, being held on a prison ship, comes up with a plan for escape, pairing up with the Nomen, and the captured Eastern Alliance men from ‘Greetings From Earth.’ What follows is a hostage situation that Apollo and Starbuck easily defuse with the aid of two reconfigured Cylon warriors.

This leads in to Apollo, Starbuck and Blue Squadron pursuing the escaping Eastern Alliance craft on its way back to Luna Seven. En route, the Ship of Lights catches up with Apollo, and he’s brought on board and introduced to John. John informs the captain that he must travel immediately to Terra and speak to the governing body to prevent a nuclear armageddon before it starts.

John tells Apollo that he will appear to be a man named Charlie Watts, and that John will appear to him, no one else will be able to see or hear him (except maybe Starbuck and a robot). Which sounds very familiar to us Leap fans.

Goulart seems to have let his hate for Starbuck go, as the character doesn’t quite seem like such a tool this time around. Starbuck in Goulart’s previous adaptations comes across as really insufferable, and not charming in the least. This time around, he’s a little more in line with the televised character. Having said that, I did grow very tired of Apollo and Starbuck referring to each other as ‘old buddy’ and ‘chum.’

And much like the television series (and I love it so very much), everything is just solved a little too easily, amd it’s all a little too neat. Still, it was an interesting read, and I have to tell you, alongside Greetings From Earth, Experiment in Terra is the other episode I have a tough time getting through whenever I do a BSG rewatch.

Now that I’m through this adaptation, there’s only one more to go before a few original novels, continuing the story are up, not to mention the Richard Hatch authored continuation of the 90s. So all I need do is get through the adaptation of The Long Patrol, and then we’ll see how authors imagined the continuing journey of the Galactica and its ragtag fleet.

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