Battlestar Galactica 11: The Nightmare Machine (1985) – Glen A. Larson and Robert Thurston

It’s been a while since I checked in with the Galactica, and we’ve now left the episode adaptations behind and moved on to original stories. So, in 1985, long after the original series ended, as well as the short-lived 1980 continuation, Thurston and Larson give us new Galactica.

And it’s not a winner. In fact, it honestly feels like a tossed aside script from the series. As the Galactica continues its journey towards Earth, the cylons capture Ensign Greenbeam. He’s tortured by Baltar and Lucifer, and subjected to a device Lucifer has created that amplifies any feeling that the machine chooses.

Weaving transmitters into his clothes and buttons, Greenbeam is mind-wiped, and returned to the Galactica, where his clothes began emanating waves of guilt that plague almost everyone on the Galactica, causing work, discipline and procedure to come almost to a complete standstill.

What I did like about the book is that they make sure to tie it in to the continuity not only of the episodes, but the novels as well, characters from as far back as Saga of a Star World make an appearance. Parts of the Galactica that you think would be occupied, considering the over-crowded nature of the fleet, are still deserted, although Starbuck is familiar with some of them because of some adventures in the previous novels.

It feels like a loosely cobbled together plot where the good guys and the bad guys are easily divided, and it reads like it would be a weaker episode had it been produced for the series.

And then, if I really want to nitpick, I didn’t care for the cover design, it’s a reference to the climax, so we don’t even learn who the bearded fellow is until almost the end of the story, and that’s supposed to be Starbuck, one assumes by the hair, and by the things that happen in the story, but he’s pulling his blaster left-handed, which is an Apollo trait.

While it was fun to see that there was an audience for more Galactica stories, even into 1985, the fact that they weren’t treated as intelligently as they could have been doesn’t speak very highly of it.

I know it shouldn’t be compared to Star Trek or Wars, but Trek had a fantastic series of books already going by that point (sure some of them were iffy) and when Wars really started delivering their novels, they didn’t treat the subject matter as loosely as this book seems to want to treat a beloved series.

It’s great to continue with the characters, and see where they are going. I was just hoping for a little more from the journey.

Still, there’s a couple more to come, before Apollo himself, Richard Hatch, took up the pen to deliver his own continuation. We’ll see what happens when I dig into Die, Chameleon! in a little while.

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