Babylon 5 Novels

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Babylon 5: The Psi Corps Trilogy

Babylon 5 was an immensely popular television series. One of the most interesting aspects of the show was the existence of telepaths. The telepaths were forced to belong to a government-controlled group called Psi Corps. Many episodes of Babylon 5 dealt with Psi Corps and the controversies surrounding it and its evil leader Alfred Bester (played by Walter Koenig of Star Trek fame). But the origins of Psi Corps were never adequately explained in the TV series.

In these three volumes, the birth of Psi Corps is explained, as is the rise of Bester. The final volume takes place after the Babylon 5 TV series and explains the ultimate fate of Bester. While this trilogy could be read and enjoyed by people who did not watch Babylon 5 on the small screen, the enjoyment of the books is enhanced if you followed the TV series.

Babylon 5: Dark Genesis by J. Gregory Keyes

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In the year 2115, the world Earth is shocked when scientists prove the existence of telepaths. Riots ensue and many telepaths are killed during the turmoil. In order to protect (or is it control?) the telepaths, an ambitious senator forms Psi Corps… an organization charged with the tagging and monitoring of all telepaths. However, many telepaths do not wish to join Psi Corps and have their lives controlled. These "rogue" telepaths form an underground organization, which wages constant war against Psi Corps, who wants to help them and the normal human population, who hates them.

Meanwhile, scientists seek to discover the origin of the telepaths, who apparently did not exist until about 100 years before this confirmation of their existence. Are the telepaths a weapon? A source of protection? The fate of Earth could be uncertain.

This is the slowest moving of the three volumes. It took a great deal of effort on my part to plod through the first half of the book due to the Ice Age-like plot pacing. However, the action picks up towards the end of the book and the plots move much faster in subsequent volumes. Despite its slow start, do not be tempted to skip this book. It contains valuable background material on the origins of Bester. The book is also a bit short on character development, but it fills in many of the gaps skipped by the TV series.

Reviewed by Alan

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Babylon 5: Deadly Relations by J. Gregory Keyes  

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By 2190, the underground is smashed since its leaders have been killed. But Psi Corps forges ahead as an institution of aggression and control. Into Psi Corps comes Bester, the only son of two underground leaders. Bester’s background is unknown to all but a few Psi Corps leaders, since Bester was given a new name to hide the ties to his past. Bester is a telepath of exceptional ability and makes an admirable addition to the ranks of Psi Corps. But Bester, not satisfied to be a good Psi Cop, will not rest until he has control of the entire Psi Corps. To achieve this end, Bester will put aside all feelings of love, friendship and compassion. But is being the leader of a paramilitary organization worth the price of his soul?

An excellent volume that sheds much light on the reasons why Bester became the hated enemy that he was in the TV series. There is more character development than plot in this volume, but the book still moves along at a brisk pace. The character development focuses almost exclusively on Bester, but this actually enhances the story rather than detracting from it.

This volume is the easiest for non-Babylon 5 fans to understand since the story is very self-contained. Given Bester’s upbringing, it is easier to understand his motivation behind the evil things that he did in the Babylon 5 TV series. The one flaw is that the pace of the action is a bit hurried at the end (seems to skip over a lot of ground)… almost seeming forced.

Reviewed by Alan

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Babylon 5: Final Reckoning by J. Gregory Keyes

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Bester is the most wanted man in the galaxy. During his reign of terror while at the helm of Psi Corps, he committed unspeakable acts against his own kind (telepaths) in the name of freedom and justice. He is now hunted across galaxies in a vain attempt to bring him to justice at a war crimes trial. Bester has always been one step ahead of the authorities… even his arch nemesis Michael Garibaldi. Years before, Bester had used Garibaldi as an unwitting dupe to betray his good friend John Sheridan, the commander of the Interstellar Alliance. Unable to forgive Bester for violating his mind, Garibaldi wages a one-man crusade to bring Bester to justice. But it is a big galaxy and the aging Bester wants nothing more than to settle down and live out his remaining years in peace. Can Garibaldi find a "needle in a haystack" and finally put his obsession behind him?

This is clearly the best book of the series. However, it will be difficult for non-Babylon 5 fans to follow since the action takes place after the Babylon 5 TV series. There are many references to the TV series and the author assumes you know what transpired in the TV series plot regarding Bester and the PSI Corps. However, it is an excellent character study of Bester and the changes his personality goes through as he ages and his youthful passion cools to glowing embers. The character development of Garibaldi is very thin and you actually need to have seen the TV series to understand Garibaldi’s reasons for hating Bester and the reasons that Garibaldi hates himself. All in all, it is a good fast moving plot about a fascinating character. Although the ending is a bit predictable, I still enjoyed the book and read it very quickly.

Reviewed by Alan

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