BOOK REVIEW – The Science of Battlestar Galactica by Patrick Di Justo & Kevin R. Grazier

By Marty Mulrooney

The Science of Battlestar Galactica

The Science of Battlestar Galactica by Patrick Di Justo & Kevin R. Grazier is the official guide to the science behind the Battlestar Galactica universe. This insightful tie-in book, written by Wired magazine contributing editor Patrick Di Justo and Battlestar Galactica scientific adviser Kevin Grazier, delves into the science fact – and fiction – of the hit TV show, whilst also offering never-before-published information from show creator Ronald D. Moore’s legendary BSG Series Bible!

Galactica is science fiction in the greatest sense of the term, in that Galactica is a show about ideas. It is based, in part, around the ultimate science fiction question: What does it mean to be human?

– INTRODUCTION: Moore’s Law

The Science of Battlestar Galactica doesn’t ever try to claim that the show is based on 100% scientific fact. Even creator and executive producer Roland D. Moore admits “We always tried to make drama work with science on BSG, but when push comes to shove, drama wins.” However, it would be a mistake to dismiss the scientific merits of the show. This is a book that enhances the TV series by explaining the little details that may have only been on screen for a few seconds, but were pondered over extensively beforehand by numerous experts and advisors.

The book is split into four parts. PART ONE: Life Began Out There poses questions such as ‘Are We Creating Our Own Cylons?’ and ‘How Can Cylons Download Their Memories?’ PART TWO: The Physics of Battlestar Galactica ponders ‘What Is The Mass of Battlestar Galactica?’ and other physics-based conundrums. PART THREE: The Twelve Colonies and the Rest of Space discusses ‘Our Galaxy’ and describes how ‘There’s No Sound in Space, and No Color, Either’, amongst other things. Finally, PART FOUR: Battlestar Tech covers everything from ‘Artificial Gravity’ to ‘Electronics in the Space Environment’.

“Contrary to popular belief, a black hole is not an insatiable vacuum cleaner, sucking in everything in the universe. If our Sun were magically replaced by a black hole of the same mass, Earth and other planets would continue in their orbits like before. So the Cylon Colony and its Raiders, Galactica and her Raptors, could all fly around the accretion disk as long as they didn’t get too close to the black hole. But how close is too close?

– Black Holes

The best parts of the book are most definitely the case studies that relate to specific moments from the show. One of the best is ‘Throw ‘Em Out The Airlock’ which discusses the scientific plausibility of Chief Tyrol and his wife Cally being blown out of an airlock into space and surviving during the third season episode ‘A Day in the Life’. Although this may seem far fetched, the authors do a great job of explaining how this event is completely plausible and backing it up with scientific fact. This goes for the entire book: the science is explained clearly and often uses real-world examples so the less science-minded amongst us can still grasp what is being explained.

However, sometimes the science can become a little bit too dense and difficult to digest. The authors often go off on tangents, talking about quite complicated topics such as Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. The generous use of equations and diagrams can also often make the book drag a little, especially when you are trying to comprehend Special Relativity or Time Dilation. However, for the most part The Science of Battlestar Galactica succeeds in making a wide range of scientific topics interesting, fascinating and nowhere near as boring as many a school classroom would have you believe.

This is where Moore’s Law is at its finest. The point of Battlestar Galactica is to tell a story, not to present a scientific documentary. If it works better, in terms of interest and excitement, to have Starbuck emerge from the colorful clouds of a giant nebula in space, that’s what they’re going to do. It’s time to evoke the First Law of The Science of Battlestar Galactica: “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

The Science of Battlestar Galactica is a highly interesting and entertaining read that adds a lot more depth to an already extremely deep show. It is a shame that the book is printed in black-and-white – giving it a definite textbook vibe – and some of the writing can become a little bit complicated if you aren’t particularly science-savvy. However, look beyond all that and what you’ve got is a book that never takes itself too seriously and always strives to inform and delight the reader. If you are a fan of Battlestar Galactica and wish to delve further into its vast universe, you should definitely check out this book!

8.5 OUT OF 10  

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