Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Galactica: Unity Does Death Rock

News is slowing down a bit, but here's something from the SciFi Wire:

SF author Steven Harper told SCI FI Wire that his latest novel, Battlestar
Galactica: Unity, is set in the universe of the SCI FI Channel original series
and takes place after the episode "Flight of the Phoenix" and before "Pegasus."
"We have the stealth fighter at this point, and as far as Galactica knows,
they're the only game out there," Harper said in an interview. "The Pegasus
hasn't shown up yet. Sharon is still in the brig and barely showing her
In the novel, the ragtag fleet has just found a planet rich in
algae that'll allow them to replenish their food and medicine supplies, Harper
said. "They're really low on antibiotics, in fact, and dealing with a serious
outbreak of strep," he said. "They've converted one of the mining ships into
something that can harvest the stuff, and as the crew is working, a basestar
full of Cylons shows up. Starbuck, Apollo and the other pilots manage to beat
the bad guys back and destroy the basestar. In the debris, however, Starbuck
finds a colonial rescue pod. She brings it back to Galactica. Inside is a man
named Peter Attis. He's a rock star from Caprica, and his arrival causes quite
the furor. He says he's been a Cylon captive since the colonies were destroyed.
The people are starved for entertainment, and Peter gladly agrees to give a
concert. Afterward, however, people start falling victim to strange fits. They
convulse and speak in tongues. Gaius Baltar and Dr. Cotter realize Peter is
spreading a Cylon-engineered disease. Unfortunately, a religious cult has seized
on Peter as a savior, and they'll do anything to stop the doctors from finding a
The storyline was inspired by the lack of popular culture references
in Battlestar Galactica, Harper said. "We've seen one
sport—Pyramid—and gotten hints that professional sports are popular, and we've
seen people play cards, but that's about it," he said. "I wondered, 'Who are the
movie stars? ... Who did the general public go crazy over? And what would happen
if a professional entertainer turned up on board?' ... I'd also been doing some
reading on doomsday cults. These are groups of people who see the end of the
world as imminent and are doing their best to prepare for it. These two concepts
sort of wandered through my head for a while, then bumped into each other and
Peter unwittingly spreads a disease that attacks the nervous system,
which meant Harper had to invent one, he said. "Viruses and bacteria and
protozoa have been done over and over, of course, but when I was looking into
infections that go after nerve cells, I came across bovine spongiform
encephalopathy—that's mad cow disease to you and me," Harper said. "This led me
to investigate prions, which turned out to be way more interesting than I
thought they'd be. With the help of a biochemist friend of mine, I made a few
science-fictional tweaks to some prions and voila! ... As it happened, the way
prions work also had a significant impact on the plot, since curing a prion
isn't so easy." —John Joseph Adams

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