Once upon a time there was a little TV show called “Babylon 5” which was the best SF show of the ‘90s, no matter what Sheldon says, and it totally was not a rip off of DS9. In fact DS9 was a ripoff of B5. But I digress.
Anyway, paaaaaaaaaaaaart of the whole “B5” concept was to provide a solid wall of canonical stories in several different venues. Unlike Trek and ‘Wars, where the comics and the books generally don’t count, in B5 they would! Hooray! No one had ever done this before because, honestly, it’s just too damn much work to make sure 22 episodes and 2 or 3 novels and like 12 comic books don’t contradict each other every year. Sheesh. But series creator J. Michael Straczynski said it could be done, and gave special super-secret notes about plot points to the novel writers so their stories would have something specific in the TV series to tie into. Brilliant, right?
So of course the whole thing fell apart almost immediately ‘cuz the Comic wasn’t popular and the novels were shit, and, yeah. There’s a reason no one had ever done it before: Laziness. And there’s a reason no one has done it since: It’s stupid.
Anyway, I’ll kvetch about how crappy the novels were at some future time. Right now I’m interested in the books that *DIDN’T* get published. You see, “Mongoose Publishing” ran the Babylon 5 RPG game. Following the end of the show, and the fans starving for new content, they decided to publish a series of six tie-in novels to keep interest in the game going.
Honestly, they don’t sound all that good. Three of the novels (“Visions of Peace by Matthew Sprange, Ranger Dawning by Richard Ford, and Birth of Heroes by Bryan Steel) were about the rangers, and sound rather yawn-inducing. One of them – “Baptism of Fire” – was written by Claudia Christian and concerns (No surprise) what her character did after leaving the show in the 4th season. One – “Ashes of the Past” by Bruce Graw – is about Sinclair’s dad, and there’s another one called “Actions of the Many” by MJ Dougherty that I can’t easily quantify.
“Visions of Peace” did actually come out in advance copy, but I’ve never heard anything about it. It didn’t go out to booksellers. The second book was to have been Claudia Christian’s, but then Straczynski put the kaibosh on the entire project, and that was that. Evidently all the books were written, and apart from this page here
and Claudia Christian’s occasional comments about JMS trying to kill her ‘little book’ as though it were some kind of vendetta, it’s all more or less forgotten.
And why did JMS kill it?
Basically poor quality. It was done without consulting him, but he had the contractual right to veto any merchandising. He found the books – or what he read of them – very poor quality, and that was that.
Bryan Steele was one of Mongoose’s writers. He did several manuals and expansions for the B5 RPG, as well as some stuff for Traveler, the greatest RPG of them all.
There’s a noteworthy novelist named “Richard Ford,” but he was already well established at the time, and I can’t see him slumming in this little project.
I can’t find anything by MJ Dougherty, but – and I can not stress this enough – he is *NOT* the guy who played drums for The Church from 1990-1994. That was Jay Dee Daugherty. Confusion is understandable.
Bruce Graw was another Mongoose staff writer for RPG expansions and whatnot, and he has written something called “The Glass Trilogy” which aaaaaaaaaaaaaapearrrrrrrrrs to be bondage-and-dominance fiction, so I’m not going to link to it.
Matthew Sprange was another RPG writer and the head of the company. He’s got something called “The Shadowmage Trilogy” which, I guess, is fantasy. It’s in paperback and looks real old (As do all his RPG dealies), but Amazon shows a publication date of 2012, so I don’t know what to think.
I’ve wondered about this for years. Another thing I’ve wondered about is Sprange’s announcement that the novel project had fallen through, which he followed up with the statement, "In their place, we have a new B5-related project waiting in the wings. More news on this soon!" To the best of my knowledge, he never followed up on that. What was the project to have been?
Should anyone out there connected to Mongoose or these projects stumble across our humble site, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’d love to know more about this whole thing.
Kevin Long is just zis guy, you no?
But he’s got a kickass website here that you should check out: