“All this has happened before and all this will happen again.”
This is the phrase that defines the reimagined series of Battlestar Galactica that premiered in 2004 and only recently came to its conclusion. It dared to explore issues regarding faith and race, social class and modern warfare, artificial intelligence and the dignity of life–all within a sci-fi backdrop on an alternate history between human beings and their former creations, a race of cybernetic organisms known as Cylons.
The man responsible for this breathtaking series is none other than Ron Moore, a prolific writer and TV producer with an eye for worlds beyond ours with issues that seem all too familiar to us.
Much in the same way that Matt Stover brings a realistic element to the fantasy genre in his Acts of Caine novels, Moore invokes realism and common sense issues within science fiction, as seen by this quote in an interview from 2000:
The premise has a lot of possibilities. Before it aired, I was at a convention in Pasadena, and Sternbach and Okuda were on stage, and they were answering questions from the audience about the new ship. It was all very technical, and they were talking about the fact that in the premise this ship was going to have problems. It wasn’t going to have unlimited sources of energy. It wasn’t going to have all the doodads of theEnterprise. It was going to be rougher, fending for themselves more, having to trade to get supplies that they want. That didn’t happen. It doesn’t happen at all, and it’s a lie to the audience. I think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is not true. Voyager is not true. If it were true, the ship would not look spic-and-span every week, after all these battles it goes through. How many times has the bridge been destroyed? How many shuttlecrafts have vanished, and another one just comes out of the oven? That kind of bullshitting the audience I think takes its toll. At some point the audience stops taking it seriously, because they know that this is not really the way this would happen. These people wouldn’t act like this.
Battlestar Galactica was not the first attempt to look deeply into society and culture for Mr. Moore. He was also a writer for the series Star Trek: The Next Generation when it aired during the 90’s. He has the distinction of having written some of the best episodes in the series, such as “Sins of the Father” and the finale “All Good Things…” Even there, Moore delved into the questions of one’s heritage, looking at the Klingon culture, its emphasis on honor, and its militaristic standards.
Even now, Mr. Moore is hard at work on Caprica, a prequel series to Galactica that explores the origin of the Cylons, the roots of the Adama family, and the twilight of human civilization in the Twelve Colonies before their terrible war with the Cylons and their struggle to survive long enough to rediscover the planet Earth.
Perhaps one of the greatest bits of wisdom that runs through Moore’s work is the idea that faith in a higher power isn’t inherently wrong, but neither is it inherently right. Faith cannot be used to excuse away greater sins, nor can sin be used to denigrate what faith is left in the face of crisis. Faith is a struggle, a path to redemption and honor, to inspiration and perfection. Whether one is born a human, a Klingon, or a cybernetic life node, one always faces the choice of leading a life of quiet desperation or refusing to abandon hope even at the Gates of Hell.
So say we all.
Here’s a quick list of Ron Moore’s projects:
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1988-1994)
Star Trek Generations (1994)
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1994-1999)
Star Trek: Voyager (1999; Season 6)
Carnivàle (2003-2005; producer)
Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
Caprica (2010; in production)
As far as I can tell, dear readers, this will be the end of my “Inspirations in Artistry” series. However, if other writers and creators come to the fore or prove particularly noteworthy, then you will find another installment in some future post. ‘Til then, thanks for reading so long and hope you’ll stay for some more rich chocolately reading.
This is the Scriptorium, signing off!