BABYLON 5 FINAL RECKONING THE FATE OF BESTER BY J. GREGORY KEYES

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Copyright 1999.

The Telepath War is over and Alfred Bester was on the losing side. Once the most powerful and feared man in the Earth Alliance he is now a hunted war criminal. He decides to hide out in Paris. Under a false identity he stays at a small hotel. He falls in love with the owner and takes a job as a literary critic for a small publication. Yet he is a hunted fugitive from the government and Michael Garibaldi. Garibaldi is an obsessed man with hunting down Bester and uses his corporate fortune. Soon Bester is discovered and an exciting chase begins.

Now I thought the most logical third book would deal with the Telepath War but instead Straczynski decided to go with the aftermath. I have to say that this story was the best of the trilogy. We get a real character study in Alfred Bester. A man who has an enormous ego and completely narcissistic. Yet it also revealed a human side to him when he falls in love. He actually tries to become a better person. He fails and when the chips are down goes back to his old ways. Something unexpected to have this fearsome character settle down to life of being a literary critic.

The story ends with a very exciting chase sequence that shows Bester is a very skilled operative that leaves the reader in doubt as to the outcome. Yet he ends up captured. At trial he is unrepentant for his crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment. In the end outside his prison they erect a statue of his mother and father with their missing newborn baby. That baby is Bester and he is the only one who knows it. He finds a moment of peace and finally accepts that he is Steven Dexter. He dies and is buried at a lonely grave. At the end Garibaldi comes and drives a wooden stake into his grave in a symbolic gesture. Bester was an interesting character in the series but this trilogy gives the character such a fascinating and in depth story. Del Rey was showing that they knew what to do with this series.

BABYLON 5 DEADLY RELATIONS BESTER ASCENDANT BY J. GREGORY KEYES

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Copyright 1999.

Alfred Bester is raised by Psi Corp from infancy. The Corp is mother, the Corp is father. He is a loner but an ambitious child and determined to become a Psi Cop. He had a ruthless drive to get to the top. No friends or even the woman he loved would stand in his way. He would eventually achieve his power and after defeating the director of Psi Corp become its undisputed master.

This book tells the story of Alfred Bester from his early childhood all the way to adulthood. A rich story of a creepy upbringing that conditioned him to be ruthless. He would even turn in his first love because she was going rogue. Straczynski really created a rich detailed background for this character. He must of had it in his mind when he wrote it for the show. The character of Alfred Bester was one of the most fascinating in the series and now I have a much more understanding of the character. There were some parts that I wish the story didn’t skip like his time during the Minbari war interrogating prisoners. Still this story told enough and ends just at the place were he first went to Babylon 5 and was introduced to the series. A great place to end it and an excellent book. Definitely a must have for any fan of the series.

BABYLON 5 DARK GENESIS THE BIRTH OF PSI CORPS BY J. GREGORY KEYES

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Copyright 1998.

The year is 2115 and science has made a shocking discovery. Telepathy is real and many people have it. The news causes mass panic as telepaths real and imagined are killed by mobs. Senator Lee Crawford of the young Earth Alliance government takes advantage of this. He is put in charge of a new agency the Psi Corp. An agency to regulate and protect telepaths. It soon becomes clear that there is an ulterior agenda to use telepaths for covert government motives. Fiona and Matthew Dexter lead the resistance against Psi Corp. Only the rebellion is crushed and their only child a newborn infant named Stephen is taken by the Corp. Given a new name Alfred Bester he would grow up to be the most ruthless operative Psi Corp ever had.

Del Rey acquired the book rights to the series and took a different approach. By this time the series was coming to an end and the spin off Crusader was fated to be cancelled after half a season. There was a lot of elements to the Babylon 5 universe that were never addressed. So they wisely decided to fill in some gaps with a series of trilogies. All were outlined by the show’s creator. The first dealt with the Psi Corp, that sinister agency created to regulate telepaths. This first book tells the story of the birth of Psi Corp. We get a look at the early days of the Earth Alliance. We see how the Corps was formed and how it became the agency that we came to know during the show’s run. This was a really engaging book and a great start to the trilogy.

BABYLON 5 BOOK# 9 TO DREAM IN THE CITY OF SORROWS BY KATHRYN M. DRENNAN

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Copyright 1997.

Captain Jeffrey Sinclair is relieved from duty as commander of Babylon 5 and assigned as the first Earth ambassador to the Minbari. The Minbari specifically requested him but Sinclair soon finds that he has no support from Earth. He does find that the Minbari and their Vorlon allies want him to take command of The Rangers. A legendary force from the past that defeated the Shadows. He learns that the Shadows are back and is to recruit Humans as well as Minbari for the revived Rangers. He runs into resistance from the Warrior Caste who oppose a mere Human leading the Rangers. Soon he manages to gather many recruits including a young Marcus Cole who lost his brother to the Shadows when they attacked the family mining operation. He also recruits Katherine Sakai his fiancee. His first test will be attacking a Shadow operation around Babylon 5 that could alter the course of history.

The final Dell book in the series is probably the best of the books so far. It was written by a woman who was a writer on the show from an outline by Straczynski the creator himself. The woman also happened to be his wife. It tells the story of Jeffrey Sinclair who was originally the captain of Babylon 5 in the first season. He would of course be appointed to Minbari as Earth’s first ambassador. He would train the Rangers and eventually go back in time and become Valen the mythical leader of the Minbari. We get to find out his story between these events from the show. Also a glimpse into Minbari society, culture and history. The author seamlessly integrates the story with events from the TV series. We also find out the origin of Marcus Cole and the fate of Katherine Sakai. It also shows that creator would get much more involved in the novels. When Del Ray takes over he outlined the stories for the three trilogies that would follow. If you are a fan of the series than you will love this book.

BABYLON 5 BOOK#8 PERSONAL AGENDAS BY AL SARRANTONIO

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Copyright 1997.

G’Kar is the prisoner of the mad Centauri emperor Cartagia. He has to suffer daily tortures for his amusement. Captain Sheridan has decided to rescue him. So he sends Garibaldi, Ivanova and Dr. Franklin disguised as Centauri jewel dealers. There is also a Narn elite unit that has infiltrated the planet to rescue G’Kar. Only G’Kar doesn’t want to be rescued. He is in on a plan with Londo Mollari to assassinate the mad emperor. His reward will be freedom for his planet. So now the elite Narn unit kidnaps Mollari to trade for G’Kar. Garibaldi and company must now somehow with Vir Cotto convince the Narn to release Mollari and let G’Kar carry out the plan.

This is another one that Straczynski was heavily involved in. He gave the author the idea and title. This was a fairly lighthearted story. Almost a comedy in spite of the seriousness of the situation. There were some moments where it worked as in the subplot of Vir trying to get out of his arranged marriage. Some got just downright cringe worthy with Sheridan and Delenn pretending to be spies with trench coats to break up a Martian terrorist smuggling ring. On the whole I kind of enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and had an interesting story. This was the authors only book for the series.

BABYLON 5 BOOK#7 THE SHADOW WITHIN BY JEANNE CAVELOS

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Copyright 1997.

The year is 2256 and Anna Sheridan an archeologist gets a job offer to be second in command of an expedition to the rim. The planet Z’Ha’dum was once the home of an ancient race. The mission has a number of mysterious members including a representative of Psi Corp. There is also the mysterious Dr. Morden an Earthforce archeologist. It soon becomes apparent that someone is working against the expedition for their own agenda. On the planet they also soon discover that the ancient dead civilization may not be dead after all. In fact there is an ancient alien race that could be a threat to all the galaxy. Meanwhile her husband John Sheridan has recently been promoted captain and takes command of The Agamemnon. He soon finds out that the ship’s last captain was lax with discipline and rewarded his cronies. There is heavy resistance to his command and he has his hands full restoring discipline. Only he soon finds out his orders are to stop a group of Homeguard terrorists from blowing up Babylon 5. All this while a traitor among the crew works to sabotage his mission.

This book tells the story of how Anna Sheridan and the crew of the Icarus managed to wake up the Shadows. It also gives us a look at a younger Sheridan and his early command of the Agamemnon. I really loved this book for it fills in some of the gaps from the TV show. We get to see how the Shadows came about and the origins of Mr. Morden the sinister Shadow operative. Morden actually is a tragic and sympathetic character in that he lost his wife and daughter to a terrorist attack. I believe Straczynski had a role in outlining the story which helped in keeping it consistent with canon. Jeanne Cavelos will go on to write a trilogy at the end of this series and this book gives me high hope to expect it to be good.

BABYLON 5 BOOK# 6 BETRAYALS BY S.M. STIRLING

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Copyright 1996.

It is 2259 during the Narn-Centauri war. A temporary truce is called and the two parties are to have a peace conference on Babylon 5. The Tlinn a conquered people of the Narn have come to disrupt the conference. Also coming to the station is Semana MacBride an art dealer to deliver a new statue for the park. She is also a con-woman and has a plan to play off both Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari and Narn ambassador G’Kar over a priceless stolen Centauri artifact. Susan Ivanova has to deal with a new arrival under her command that is mentally unstable. He has started to leave her doctored videos that show her brother as a traitor. Will they be able to prevent the Tlinn from disrupting the peace conference.

This book by Stirling is a good book but not great. He is a good writer and has a grasp of the show’s characters and situations. This was sort of three different stories going on at the same time. My big complaint is the story read as an average episode of the series. It was competently done but didn’t have anything to make it stand out. Sort of an average entry into the series.

BABYLON 5 BOOK# 5 THE TOUCH OF YOUR SHADOW, THE WHISPER OF YOUR NAME BY NEAL BARRETT, JR.

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Copyright 1996.

An alien presence is approaching Babylon 5. A long twisting band of green light over 9 million miles long is on a direct course. Yet is remains invisible to sensors. Soon everyone is plagued by nightmares. Nobody can get any sleep and tensions rise. Some groups think it’s God. Others an illusion. Soon the lack of sleep and nightmares gets worse. The green band seems to intensify peoples hatreds and paranoia. Soon full blow riots erupt. People go nuts. One religious fundamentalist attempts to blow up the station. Captain Sheridan and the crew struggle to find out what this band of light is while trying to keep the station intact.

This book is a bit better that the last one I read in this series but not by much. An idea that might have some potential but really didn’t go anywhere. The whole story just meanders around. People start going nuts because they can’t get any sleep and when they do they have nightmares. The Narn and Centauri are fighting each other and kidnap each others ambassadors. There is a biker gang called Fermi’s Angels that are made up of physicists. (Who would have guessed physicists could be such a wild bunch.) Lennier starts to go around wearing a loincloth and carrying spears. Delenn and Sheridan start at the end battling each other with axes. Than the mysterious band hits the station and…that’s it. Everyone goes back to normal. Leads up to a whole big nothing burger. A very unsatisfying story.

BABYLON 5 BOOK#4 CLARK’S LAW BY JIM MORTIMORE

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Copyright 1996.

The Narn-Centauri war has come to an end. The Tuchanq are a world that was conquered and brutally exploited by the Narn. With the Narn defeated the Tuchanq have overthrown their masters. Yet their world is hopelessly polluted by the Narn heavy industry and they need help from others. So a delegation departs for Babylon 5 to seek aid. Their arrival results in one of their delegation D’Arc going nuts and killing a human visitor. The alien is injured in the assault and loses her mental capacity. Effectively rendering her with the mind of child. Yet President Clark of the Earth Alliance pushes for her to get the death penalty. Soon Babylon 5 faces unrest from this decision as Captain Sheridan deals with the moral dilemma of following an immoral order.

So I guess it had to happen that a book would be written in this series I didn’t care for. The writer clearly is not a fan of the show. He probably got some material and maybe watched a few episodes but he clearly didn’t understand the characters. None of them seem like the characters in the series. Also he basically wrote a 279 page anti-capital punishment book. It was a very heavy handed and unrealistic look at that issue. Never a good thing when someone has an agenda instead of writing a good story. There is a sub-plot that involves G’Kar trying to assassinate Londo the Centauri ambassador but that seemed awkward too. The writer is an Englishman who has written some novelizations for British TV including Doctor Who. Otherwise his big accomplishments are being an award winning graphic designer and musician. Hopefully he didn’t quit his day job because I didn’t care for his writing. This was the first and only book in the Babylon 5 series by Mortimore.

BABYLON 5 BOOK#3 BLOOD OATH BY JOHN VORHOLT

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Copyright 1995.

Ambassador G’Kar gets a message from the daughter of Du’Rog. Mi’Ra has declared a Shon Kar or blood oath against G’Kar’s. Seems G’Kar framed Du’Rog as a traitor so he could gain a coveted position with the Third Circle. G’Kar decides to frame his own death in a shuttle explosion so he can return to the Narn Homeworld and set things right. Susan Ivanova and Michael Garibaldi are assigned as the Earth’s representatives for the funeral. They find a harsh world filled with extreme class differences. With his aid Na’Toth the four must navigate Narn society to make amends to the wronged Du’rog family without falling victim to the Shon Kar.

This is the second and last book in this series written by John Vornholt. Like his first one this was an interesting story that explored a world outside Babylon 5. In this case the Narn. A race that are very stratified by class and still mired in old blood feuds. I always enjoy when books based on TV series go outside the limits of the series and this one does. Our two humans are given another human who lived on the world as their guide which helps the reader explore this world. This book gives an excellent insight into G’Kar and Narn society. A well written book with plenty of action and a satisfying ending. Something I can’t say for all the books in this series.