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 Babylon 5

1: ON BABYLON 5

Section Index


  1. B5 Technology
  2. Telepaths
  3. Dark Forces
  4. Ancient & New
  5. Revolution

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1: On Babylon 5
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caveat: As can be inferred from the date of publication, this article may no longer represent my current views and style. It remains here for archival purposes to provide a sense of documentation and should be treated as such.

1. B5 Technology

The problem of fiction in our time is that it seems that everything has been told already in one way or the other, but that on the other hand variation can create new aspects and also something entirely new. It is said that there are just a few basic story lines, and that might be true.

Same can be true for sf technology: The dominating Star Trek influence could make it difficult to write space tales that are not trying to use warp drive or tractor beams or things like that.

B5 has done a good job of inventing some image of future technology of its own. It might be less advanced than its Trek counterpart, but it is not less interesting: Maybe B5 might be a look into our direct future, maybe B5 tech would become available during our next century.

But in general the scientific development of the B5 Earth Alliance seems much too slow for me, that would implicate that the political situation would have to have been different. It could also be a matter of first contact -- besides, Trek Earth made first contact with the Vulcans, B5 Earth had to face the Centauri instead -- any further explanation necessary? Besides, Starfleet hadnít had a major enemy like the Minbari at its beginning, the Klingons and Romulans would not count.

But then, B5 seems to be less sf than Star Trek is. There is certainly less technobabble, but also less explanation of the scientific background. That leads to the fact that B5 might be a futuristic show with some sf effects and background, but that doesnít really make it an sf show in the strictest sense. I could even say the same for DS9, although the sf quotient there seems to be slightly higher than in B5. But those discussions arenít worth a dime. Letís accept that each show has its own characteristics. IDIC.

PJK
May 7th, 1998







2. Telepaths

While Vulcans and Betazoids seem to be the only major races in the Star Trek universe that have telepathic abilities, B5 chooses another approach. Thatís a much more interesting fact -- that all species will improve physically within the centuries (not due to genetic engineering, of course), but then the episode Zíhaídum seems to tell another tale -- are telepathic abilities created by older races -- or are they just increased, is the development being accelerated?

Would telepathy (and perhaps even telekinesis) be natural consequences of evolution? Thatís like asking the question of whether we will be like the Q ore the Organians one day. Or at least like Vorlons or Shadows?

Both shows seem to imply such a development. Would this mean evolution by mutation (TNG ís "Transfigurations"), via the genetic code (TNG ís "Genesis") or through Borgification? Wouldnít it require genetic engineering to arrive there? That could be the reason for the difference between Star Trek and B5 concerning this matter: The latter had no Eugenic Wars that we know of. While Trekian regulations fought genetic improvement attempts (CL ís "Space Seed" and Star Trek II; DS9 ís "Doctor Bashir, I Presume"), there seems to have been nothing like that within the B5 Earth history.

During the last five or more millennia, the nature of human beings has been much the same. It is just our knowledge and our history that makes us different from our ancestors. But those factors cannot change our physical nature, unless either we apply our knowledge unto us or wait for some mutations due to a higher plan or destruction of the environment. But thatís something our generation wonít probably find out.

PJK
May 7th, 1998







3. Dark Forces

Is there a conflict of Good against Evil that manifests itself within separate physical entities? Can there be something like an entirely evil man and an entirely good one? The first one would be Satan, the latter Jesus.

Is there a physical apocalypse? Is there a judgment day? I know Iím getting a little bit ahead of myself, but I just wanted to ask these questions.

My answer? There is nothing like separateness. Everything is connected -- this connection is called creation, and it would span much more than the four dimensions and the one universe we know of (see also: General Discussion Pages).

Again I have to quote Star Trek in this B5 article, but the example Iím thinking of is CL ís "The Enemy Within": The good Kirk canít live without his bad counterpart. Both are aspects of creation: Creation and destruction are one. But that cannot lead to the kind of judgment the Shadows use (Zíhaídum): It is not our task to decide what is good or bad, it is not our task to define the rules of evolution. War is not a game meant for the survival of the fittest.

We don't have to decide whatís good or bad because we know it. Thatís whatís called conscience.

(see also Dark Matters)

PJK
May 7th, 1998







4. Ancient and New

Normally we think of ourselves as being the latest and finest produce of creation, -- but does this attitude reflect reality? There are stars much older than our own, whole galaxies consisting out of ancient stars, and our perception of the universe being determined by calculations that try to assume the time of a big bang but can just do kind of an educated guess.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

(1 Cor 13,11-12)

We are still children, will always be children. The older species in the universe are just a bit older, but that doesnít make them invulnerable or almighty, it doesnít give them the right to enforce their laws upon us.

Vorlons and Shadows might be B5 inventions, but they sound like people who are living in the past -- they think theyíve seen it all and condemn the present for changing the world. But then there are people who think of living in the future, they are the new ones. They think of the wonders ahead and of all they could and should and might do, but they never will proceed -- and then there are the ones who try to combine ancient and new to see the whole picture. This is a much more difficult process: To bring all factors and people together. Sheridan and Delenn form such an alliance -- it is a pragmatic one, but based on morality.

You never get old when you try to understand the present and the future, and you never think too childishly when you try to learn from the past.

PJK
May 11th, 1998







5. Revolution

The crucial episodes in Season Three of B5 concerning the Earth topic are "Point of No Return" and "Severed Dreams", where we see Sheridan trying to define his loyalty. The declaration of his stationís independence forces him into the position of a revolutionary -- against a government which doesnít earn his trust anymore.

There have been revolutions all over Earth during all the millennia, which were driven by various interests and groups -- mostly to rebel against a government that would no longer uphold the rights of the many. Today revolutions in postmodern states look a bit different -- they might not aim at destroying the state but at changing the attitude towards ethnical minorities or women or homosexuality or age or handicapped people or technology or religion or something else. They can also occur through the influence of new technologies that change everyday life. Just imagine how the face of todayís world has changed during the last decades.

Some revolutions are silent -- the economical revolution of the late twentieth century is creating a world economy while politics are still mostly nation-based. The internet creates possibilities of communication and connection and information that are not just innovative but revolutionary.

We should be thankful that we live in countries that enjoy a certain political stability, but we should also think of those who have to pay the price for this. And maybe the future will not look as bright as we hope.

PJK
May 11th, 1998





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