Complete Details of Babylon 5 Asked & Answered
Asked & Answered, Part 1
Publication Date: May 13, 2009
It's true. The creator of Babylon 5 answers 5,296 fan questions covering every aspect of the show in over 100 categories.
J. Michael Straczynski answered these questions as they surfaced over a period of 18 years as part of an online experiment he started in 1991 and continues to this day.
This makes Asked & Answered something that has never been done before with a television show: an oral history IN REAL TIME. No revisionism. Nothing forgotten. No detail spared. Because this dialouge with fans starts in 1991, it pre-dates the production of the Babylon 5 pilot, so you'll discover JMS' complete vision for the series, many aspects of which never made it to the screen.
Even better, these questions and answers include interactions on AOL Bulletin Boards, GEnie Forums, the moderated usenet group, CIS Discussion threads and Chat Transcripts, some of which are not available in archives anywhere.
In addition to Babylon 5, Asked & Answered includes JMS' responses to personal questions about his life, politics, love, religion, writing and more. These responses are grouped with a related B5 topic showing fans – for the first time – the provenance of the Babylon 5 philosophy and culture. All that plus JMS' real life stories behind the stories.
To make this the ultimate reference, this series took 2½ years and a crew of four B5 experts – in addition to J. Michael Straczynski – to compile, categorize and edit.
J. Michael Straczynski
May 25, 2003
WHY IS THIS SERIES TECHNICALLY 5 PARTS AND NOT 5 VOLUMES?
Because Asked & Answered is essentially one very long document, we've divided it into 5 parts. Each part is one book and there are 5 books altogether, each of which will be launched separately. (Part 1 was released on May 13, 2009 and is the only part to be released so far.)
Together these 5 books – the complete Asked & Answered series – will total approximately 2,000 pages. To honor the fact that Asked & Answered is one document, the pages in each volume are number sequentially starting with the next page number from the previous volume. For example, Part 1 ends on page 385 and Part 2 begins on page 386. So that you can identify each part at a glance, the text on each cover is a different color. Note that Part 1 is red, the same color as the first Babylon station, and Part 5 is blue, the same as the fifth Babylon station.
WHY SHOULD I GET THE ASKED & ANSWERED SERIES IF SOME OF THE DATA IS STILL ONLINE?
The goal of this series is simple: offer a document to fans for whom canon is everything and therefore would want a printed record of the most important JMS messages in one place, grouped into categories and presented in the order they were written. In other words, the opposite of the online experience.
DOESN'T THE TWO COLUMN LAYOUT PAD THE CONTENT WITH WHITE SPACE?
All of the books in the Asked & Answered series average 115,000 words. For context, the average novel or non-fiction book is 90,000 words or less.
WHY NO KINDLE OR EBOOK EDITION?
Contractually we can't publish electronic versions with the exception of limited length excerpts.
HOW IS ASKED & ANSWERED ORGANIZED?
All questions are organized by topic, then by category and then by date. This triple level of organization on 100+ categories aggregates the B5 canon in a way never before seen in a Babylon 5 book. We also include a 2-page production timeline at the end of each book to easily cross reference the message dates.
TOPICS COVERED IN PART 1
Behind the Scenes
Philosophy & Beliefs
Casting Guest Stars
B5 5 Alien Repertory Group
Clark William Morgan
Ulkesh Naranek (Kosh 2)
B5 Culture & Society
Crime & Punishment
Government & Military
Army of Light
All this plus more than 200 questions just about CRUSADE, with topics covering the crew, characters, casting, music, TNT and more in addition to specific questions about the 13 episodes.
PART 1 RANDOM SAMPLING OF THE 1,000+ QUESTIONS
- Why not re-cast Sinclair?
- How do you deal with a challenge like Ivanova's departure?
- Did you ever consider having another actress play Ivanova?
- Why don't you like going to award shows?
- Which of your awards means the most to you?
- Why did Earth name the station after Babylon?
- Why keep rebuilding the Babylon station if there were so many attempts to destroy it?
- How did Earth have the resources to build five Babylon stations?
- Did the Narn contribute to the building of Babylon 5?
- Why doesn't Babylon 5 have engines?
- What does "Babylon" mean?
- Why don't the ambassadors have offices?
- Where are the various religious facilities?
- Who lives in the alien sector and who doesn't?
- Why do you call them "Cobra Bays?"
- How big is that docking bay?
- Is "DownBelow" a reference to something in C.J. Cherryh's books?
- Are there animal life forms in the Garden and does it have seasons?
- Isn't Medlab a bit small to service one quarter million inhabitants?
- Is there a backup Command & Control for the station?
- How can the crew shut down C&C every day?
- Shouldn't people in C&C be floating around, or using grips to stay anchored?
- What is the origin of the word "zocalo?"
- Why would a space station be floating in the middle of nowhere?
- Is Grid Epsilon a reference to your fans on GEnie?
- Will you be using real stars and constellations?
- How much of the galaxy is known?
- Where is Babylon 5 relative to the five major governments?
- Is that Earth's moon Babylon 5 is orbiting?
- How was Babylon 5's location chosen?
- What's the travel time from Earth to Babylon 5?
- Can Babylon 5 really contain 250,000 living quarters?
- Why aren't Babylon 5's security guards more heavily armed?
- Who runs Babylon 5 when Sheridan and Ivanova are absent?
- How does the station deal with nearby refuse, debris, and bodies after a battle?
- How are the fighters released from their bays?
- Why have fighters on Babylon 5?
- Why doesn't Babylon 5 send fighters to escort ships to the station?
- How do Starfuries dock?
- What's the design theory behind the internal doors on Babylon 5?
- Why are Babylon 5's internal doors so strangely shaped?
- How does one use the doors to private quarters?
- Why top off at 2Gs?
- How are different gravities maintained on Babylon 5?
- Wouldn't Babylon 5's staff require exercise to maintain muscle tone in low gravity?
- What's the range of gravities on Babylon 5?
- Did the station stop rotating during the Vorlon attack?
- What are the two protuberances on the front of the station and the fin-like things at the back?
- Does Babylon 5 have a tractor beam?
- Shouldn't the inner and outer portions of the station counter-rotate?
- Is there weather on the station?
- Can you describe a typical day on the set?
- Did you base Clark's swearing in on the famous LBJ photo?
- Did Jerry Doyle's broken arm cause you any continuity problems?
- How rigidly did the cast and crew of Babylon 5 execute the script as written?
- JMS describes the unofficial B5 crew greeting.
- JMS tells of crickets on set causing production stoppages.
- JMS talks about how Peter Jurasik gets into character.
- JMS tells about lunchtime at Babylonian Productions.
- Is it true that Buffy the Vampire Slayer beat Babylon 5 at paintball?
- Was it Doug Netter who once set fire to your office door?
- Is Casting Director Mary Jo Slater actor Christian Slater's mother?
- Do you believe what you write about in Babylon 5?
- Do you believe there's life out there?
- Do you believe in telepathy?
- What is risk?
- Do you think humanity will go to the stars?
- How will you know if Babylon 5 is a success?
- Is self-sacrifice a key theme in your writing?
- Is it really necessary to feature Susan's relationship with Talia?
- Can Babylon 5's story be broken down to good versus evil?
- What's the significance of the questions asked by the Vorlons and Shadows?
- Isn't it interesting that JMS includes controversy rather than skirting it?
- What was that quote about "lines of excellence?"
- Is it wrong that I'm an incurable romantic?
- What is the meaning of life?
- Do you have the answers?
- Do you think we have a purpose in life?
- JMS on courage.
- Does B5 reflect your idea of the future?
- JMS's rule for living.
- Has writing Babylon 5 changed your opinions on anything?
- Is B5 about the common man taking a stand?
- How do you feel about the death penalty?
- Is Babylon 5 more about ethics than morals?
- Did you have a glimpse of your future like Londo did?
- When is the killing of an individual a valid action?
- Who owns what rights as regards Babylon 5?
- Kawasaki didn't pay Babylon 5 to feature the Ninja, did they?
- How much money has Warner Bros. made on Babylon 5?
- Why not go after some big stars like Gibson or DeVito for guest roles?
- Do the actors know what's going to happen to their characters?
- Why is G'Kar only in 12 season one episodes?
- How do you decide who to see for each new role you have to cast?
- Do you have many folks who have played multiple roles on the series?
- Have you ever been star struck while working on Babylon 5?
- Do you personally audition every actor with a speaking role?
- My friend thinks you shouldn't have cast Walter Koenig in a non-Star Trek role.
- Are there any cameos in the first season?
- Why don't character names always match the actor's ethnicity?
- How many different actors did you see before you found Bruce Boxleitner?
- Why was Bruce Boxleitner your choice for Sheridan?
- Why are your characters so one-dimensional?
- Have the actors' performances impacted your writing of their characters?
- Do you have a favorite character?
- Do you feel that anyone in Babylon 5 is a "true seeker?"
- Wasn't Garibaldi supposed to have a strained paternal relationship?
- How did General Netter come by his familiar name?
- What sort of administrative problems do you imagine the station's crew handling?
- How do the extras deal with the alien make-up?
- Why won't you have any children as regulars?
- Will we see married Earth Alliance personnel?
- Which ambassadors have last names and are they family names?
- How can you not have robots on a show set in the 23rd century?
- Didn't you feature a robot in the pilot?
- How expensive is space travel?
- Why doesn't the Earth Alliance do something about the lurkers on Babylon 5?
- Why not just send all the Lurkers back to Earth?
- What's on the Ranger pin?
- Are there any female Rangers?
- Are "Entil-zha" and "the One" the same thing?
- Why name the leader of B5's monks Theo?
- Is there something wrong with Walter Koenig's hand?
- Wouldn't you love to see Zathras interviewed, just asked questions on the local news?
- What would you say to the Sisters of Zathras?
- Are there ten Zathri or is one just an avid time traveler?
- What's the plural? Zathrases? Zathrasi?
- Why did Lyta train as a Psi Cop if she was only a P5?
- Does Lyta die during the Teep War?
- Why wasn't Zack in the year two opening credits?
- JMS on Marcus Cole and his hair.
- Isn't Vir a bit over the top?
- Is Vir Cotto based on the title character from I, Claudius?
- Is Delenn another riff on Spock?
- Is Delenn's headbone part of her skull?
- How can Delenn stay if Sinclair goes?
- What kind of input have you had on the prosthetics and costumes?
- How much clothing does Delenn have on station and do her outfits reflect her mood?
- How does the Minbari sleep-watching ritual compare to a human marriage proposal?
- Is Delenn's clan the "Mir" clan or is "Mir" her family name?
- Has Delenn ever changed castes?
- JMS discusses Richard Biggs' funeral.
- Will you re-cast Stephen Franklin for a Babylon 5 film?
- G'Kar is so theatrical — do you really think aliens would act like him?
- What does G'Kar mean by "pleasure threshold?"
- How old is G'Kar supposed to be?
- Why do aliens always seem to be aroused by human females?
- Is G'Kar's ambassadorial status more important to Narn than Londo's is to Centauri Prime?
- How can one have sympathy for G'Kar when he's caused so much carnage in the past?
- Why doesn't G'Kar have an aide anymore?
- Was it ever revealed why a member of the Kha'ri was serving as a lowly ambassador on B5?
- Is Garibaldi a master of martial arts?
- Why is Garibaldi both a security chief and a pilot?
- Is Michael named after Giuseppe Garibaldi?
- Is Ivanova just a rewrite of Takashima?
- What kind of Jew is Ivanova: Orthodox, Conservative, or Reformed?
- Where have Ivanova's Russianisms gone?
- Is the star on Ivanova's helmet a Red Star?
- Susan always gets the best lines, doesn't she?
- Is Susan Ivanova's middle name a variation of her father's name?
- Why does Ivanova wear only one earring?
- Was Keffer added to address complaints about officers flying into battle?
- How did Kosh's encounter suit open for Dr. Kyle?
- Why did Lyta see a hand extending from Kosh's encounter suit?
- How is truth a three-edged sword?
- Is Kosh to the point rather than cryptic?
- Why does Kosh use "we" instead of "I?"
- Can Kosh speak to other Vorlons without the translation device in his encounter suit?
- How did you decide upon the name "Kosh?"
- What was Kosh's stature with other Vorlons?
- How old was Kosh?
- Do you have any idea how many tears we've shed for Kosh?
- Did Lorien know Kosh?
- What caste is Lennier?
- What was the name of Lennier's clan?
- Is the character of Lochley a good idea?
- How is Lochley different from Ivanova?
- Why did you give Londo such absurd hair?
- Can you explain how Londo's wig works?
- Is Peter Jurasik's accent real?
- Why didn't you just replace the character of Na'Toth with another Narn aide?
- Didn't you say you had to keep Na'Toth because she had vital information to convey?
- Is it a coincidence that Sinclair and Sheridan share the initials J.S. with their creator?
- Why didn't Sheridan beat Sinclair for the command of Babylon 5 in the first place?
- How did Sheridan learn Narn?
- Why don't the Minbari like Sheridan when he should be revered as a great warrior?
- Isn't the combination of ambassador and commanding officer a bit much for one man?
- Does Michael O'Hare have any flying experience?
- Why is Sinclair the head of Babylon 5?
- Is it just me, or is Sinclair really intense?
- Will we ever see Sinclair loosen up or relax?
- Why is Sinclair always out in a fighter?
- Is Sinclair always going to be dodging laser blasts like other action heroes?
- What kind of education does Sinclair have?
- What is Talia's Psi rating?
- Is Talia a P10, given her telekinetic powers?
- Who pays Talia's salary?
- How do you design make-up and costumes?
- Will there be lawyers on B5?
- Will there still be prejudice in the time of Babylon 5?
- Are there any military traditions aboard Babylon 5?
- Why no pets on Babylon 5?
- Are the Olympics still held and why have we not heard about them on Babylon 5?
- What happens when aliens break Earth laws?
- Is marijuana legal on Babylon 5?
- Can you explain how guns get aboard the station?
- What happens if someone dies on the station?
- How do ordinary people afford space travel?
- Are there exchange rates on Babylon 5?
- What is the economic system of Earth in the 23rd century?
- How do Babylon 5 employees earn money?
- Do any of our aliens have dietary requirements as part of their culture?
- If it's only a two-day jump from Earth to Babylon 5, why are eggs special?
- What Earth food does spoo most taste like?
- How do the various alien species communicate with other sentients?
- What language is spoken on the station?
- If all the aliens don't speak Interlac or English, how will they communicate?
- Isn't it impolite for you to have characters refer to other races as "alien?"
- What's that symbol I see on the White Star — is it Minbari?
- What does Marcus call his Ranger pin?
- Why would aliens speak English amongst themselves — shouldn't you use subtitles?
- Why not use subtitles for alien speech?
- What time zone does the station observe?
- Will you announce or otherwise mark the date in each episode?
- Does an episode of Babylon 5 last more or less than 24 hours?
- What is Earth Standard Time?
- Why do the characters of Babylon 5 speak more formally than those on other shows?
- How often does an actor come and ask for a line change and do they usually get it?
- Is your relationship to the cast and crew that of an employer or a colleague?
- Did you become an executive producer to protect your work?
- Has anything ever been easy in the production of this show?
- What kind of governments do the Centaurians, the Minbari, et al have?
- How did the Minbari, Centauri et al become the five major governments of the Babylon 5 Council?
- What are the five major governments and do they have other species within their borders?
- Are there alien embassies on Earth?
- Do any major powers control colonies composed of other species?
- We know the president's name, but who's the vice president?
- How large is the Earth Alliance?
- Was Santiago an isolationist?
- Who owns Babylon 5 and collects the revenue generated?
- Are we going to see stories dealing with Babylon 5's funding problems?
- Who owned/owns the Babylon stations and how can they afford to keep producing them?
- Did other governments subsidize Babylon 5?
- How much did B5 cost to build in current dollars?
- What color were the earliest Babylon stations?
- Do humans have colonies?
- Is Mars part of the Earth Alliance?
- How many colonies comprise the Earth Alliance?
- What branch of service are the Earthforce ranks based upon?
- Why is Sinclair out picking up every derelict ship in Babylon 5 space?
- Does Earthforce have anything like a "don't ask, don't tell" policy?
- Why can't you have younger starship captains in Babylon 5?
- Shouldn't it be Psy Corps, as in "psychology?"
- What is a Psi rating?
- Can someone refuse to let themselves be scanned?
- What's that pin I see Lyta wearing?
- Can Psi Cops tell if a telepath is lying?
- What's the Psi rating for a Psi Cop?
- Are telepaths born with their Psi rating or do they train to move up the scale?
- Didn't Lyta do a scan to prove guilt in the pilot?
- What was Sophie Ivanova's Psi rating?
- How did Psi Corps come to be?
- Why did Alisa Beldon not wear gloves and what was her rating?
- How much do Lyta Alexander's services cost?
- When was the Psi Corps founded?
- Is Lochley bound by law to report Byron's group to the Corps?
Again, these are just a sample of the 1,000+ questions asked and answered in Part 1.
All this plus an introduction by J. Michael Straczynski welcoming fans to this ground-breaking book series.
Asked & Answered, Part 2
Publication Date: July 16, 2009
Part 2 (pages 387-778) includes more than 800 missives grouped into the following topics:
JMS discusses his experiences at conventions: what the adulation is like, how it feels to be behind-the-scenes, how and why he signs autographs for 3-4 hours at a time, what really happened at the Wolf Convention (and why he won't apologize), what it feels like to see fans standing in line for hours just to see him, his hilarious message to a Gallifrey One panel when he couldn't attend, fan fiction -- how he feels about it as a writer as well as the legal ramifications, why he discouraged fans from a letter writing campaign to ensure a fifth season, why he believes fans have a right to complain, and how the fans inspire him.
FIVE YEAR ARC
How the arc was structured, what the cast and crew really knew about where the characters and story were headed, specifically what JMS had mapped out and to what level of detail, who had seen the entire series outline (and who hadn't), which actor knew the most about the entire arc, why he wouldn't leak a fake 5 year arc, what would happen if anything happened to him during the series run, why he wrote the arc so that the fans could never know for sure what was going to happen next, how he wrote the show so fans would not be lost if they missed an episode, what one question he intended not to answer at the end of the 5 year arc, why he structured the show as a novel, how he balanced the characters over the 5 year run, why Babylon 5 was a 5 year story and why he could never extend it (even if he wanted to), what he meant by "accelerating the arc," how he compensated for cast changes, how the long wait to sell the show to the networks benefited the arc, specifics about how he adjusted the arc on the chance the show was canceled after the fourth season, how he wrote the arc so that nuances would surface for fans watching the series for a second, third or fourth time.
FUN WITH JMS
This compilation of responses groups the best of J. Michael Straczynski's online repartee, banter, bon mots, comebacks, quips, retorts, sarcasm and witticisms on topics such as holidays, typos, the truth, Sinclair's "duck", being a Techno-mage, the longest sentence he's ever written online, the one word he uses to describe Babylon 5, a wedding toast, the one thing he can never do, the story behind the jet that nearly landed on his head (no joke!), his struggle with the word "epitaph" and what happened when he channeled Zathras.
INFLUENCES - FILM, TV & MUSIC
JMS discusses his favorite movies (and how they influenced Babylon 5), what he considers the best TV show ever produced, what TV shows he watches, his favorite watch's connection to Rod Serling (and how Rod Serling profoundly influenced him), what music he listened to while writing Babylon 5 and why he considers himself a "musical mutt."
INFLUENCES - HISTORY & LITERATURE
JMS writes about how ancient Babylon relates (and doesn't relate) to B5, how much of Babylon 5 and other JMS writings borrow from history, the spark that originally got him interested in language (and how that is a big part of Babylon 5), his favorite SF books, what makes him most nuts about B5 being compared to other works, how Z'ha'dum was not inspired by Dante but by a legendary Greek figure, how classic heroic stories have influenced B5, why he created a show with a timeline, what happened when he rewatched an old episode of He-Man he had written, how Tolkien's work was instrumental in the creation of B5 but how Lord of the Rings was not, the importance of Norman Corwin and Mark Twain to his own work.
JMS ON JMS
JMS comments on life after B5 including why he stayed in television, what it feels like to be considered an A-list feature writer after a career on the small screen, working with Ron Howard and Clint Eastwood and how the Cannes premiere of Changeling was the most surreal experience of his life. All this plus the most personal side of JMS: his likes, his loathes, how he feels about vacations, shyness, why he doesn't have kids, favorite colors, food, what's in his office, aging, the complete Buddy story, his extensive knowledge of Superman and what the super hero means to him, lucid dreams, the one school subject he failed (3 times), college life, what happened when he encountered a tachistoscope, how the Babylon 5 success affected him, what it's like to be called The Great Maker and the dumbing down of television.
JMS ON POLITICS
In this section J. Michael Straczynski addresses issues that bobbed and weaved throughout Babylon 5's run including a citizen's responsibility to their government, why he believes that government should have no interest in religion, how the aftermath of war holds more possibility than war itself and how civility can be employed in political campaigns.
LAST DAYS & LEGACY OF BABYLON 5
JMS recalls how the industry reacted to Babylon 5's novel-for-television structure, why he never considers himself an SF "superstar", the aspects of B5 that he is most proud of, what it's like to be the guy who created B5, how he reacts to others' interpretations of the show, the lessons he learned producing B5, his feelings on the set the last day of shooting, the truth behind the "cast turmoil" over the ending of the show, his reaction whenever SF shows are compared to Babylon 5 and what has to happen for there to ever be more Babylon 5 on the screen.
MERCHANDISE OF BABYLON 5
JMS discusses merchandising philosophy, the toys that did happen and those that didn't, why he wouldn't approve a B5 theme park in Las Vegas, the history and behind-the-scenes of the B5 comic and how it impacts the show's canon, all about the Babylon 5 novels, the DVDs, the Revell Starfury model, the history of the 14-volume limited edition script series -- why he did it and what he hoped to accomplish.
MUSIC OF BABYLON 5
In this section JMS talks about his goals for B5's music, how his musical tastes influenced B5, why Stewart Copeland scored the pilot but didn't score the series, how the composer times his score to picture, how he decides which music goes where, how JMS and Christopher Franke worked together, why he changed the theme each season, how Chris worked with an orchestra in another country and why JMS didn't change the music in the end credits at the start of season 3.
J. Michael Straczynski's interaction with fans in the online world is showcased in this section which focuses on the highs...and the lows of that ongoing conversation. With messages dating back to 1991, JMS addresses why he put himself in an Internet forum, his concerns about fans having too much information, his motivation for his exchanges with fandom, specifically how his online conversation with fans has been helpful to the writing process (and how it has not), the biggest benefit to his online presence, how he "waved" to the GEnie forums in the pilot, how he remained unaffected by what he read online, why fans couldn't post story ideas, what he really thinks of the online communities, his move to the moderated newsgroup, how he handles criticism, details of one of his worst experiences online and his thoughts at the 10 year mark of his online experiment.
PHYSICS & BABYLON 5
The "sound in space" issue is thoroughly explored along with how JMS tried to incorporate real physics into the show and details of the Starfury launch sequences, the science behind it and the difficulty of showing speed in space.
PLACES & PLANETS
This section features on questions about Centauri Prime's moon, Earthdome, Epsilon 3, Proxima 2 and the much more popular Proxima 3, jumpgate ownership, why a jumpgate was built at Sigma 957, the rim and what really exists beyond it (the philosophical implications are staggering!).
PRODUCTION OF BABYLON 5
Harlan Ellison's involvement kicks off this package of posts along with how much material was edited out of each episode, what JMS cut that he wishes he could put back, how the editing process works and how it impacts what the fans see, the varied shots used by directors to tell the story, how JMS learned not be upset by production glitches, what he would go back and rework if he could, how the B5 production model differs from most other shows, how he and the team handled revisions, step-by-step what happened from script to screen, how JMS got the most value from the budget, why there wasn't a bathroom scene in the pilot, what he would have done if he had had $1 million more per show, how the crew expressed their "feedback" to JMS and his policy for how opinions about the show were to be expressed and how directors maintained his vision for the show.
Asked & Answered, Part 3
Publication Date: August 12, 2009
Rants, religion, money, sex and Star Trek...just a few of the topics covered in the most volatile release of the entire Asked & Answered series.
Part 3 (pages 779-1,183) includes more than 1,100 missives grouped into the following – often heated – topics:
This is JMS unplugged. He shares his thoughts – unfiltered and often exasperated – on a breadth of topics including: the sound in space issue, comparisons of Babylon 5 to Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, Dune and every other saga of any import, atheism, language and culture, the idea that a five-year arc prohibits the organic development of a story, the perils of being the topic of an online forum, religion in Babylon 5, predictability of stories, why he almost quit the online community forever, why the tone of his online posts changed over the years, and how he really feels about people expressing an opinion that conflicts with his.
This section covers a wide range of religion related questions including: What are the religions of each alien species? What are the spiritual convictions of the principal human characters? Why is religion in the 23rd century a valid premise? How did Earth's religions deal with the existence of aliens? Why do B5's alien races have more than one religion? Why did JMS showcase religion when most TV shows avoid it? What happened when the topic of Babylon 5 was raised at a multi-faith meeting of interdenominational leaders? What are JMS's thoughts on the pagan group that makes its new members watch B5 in its entirety?
REMUNERATION AND MONEY
How much was JMS paid for Babylon 5? How much does money matters to JMS? Could JMS have gotten a better deal for the show? What does JMS spend money on? Why has he never gotten a cent of residuals on the DVD sales?
What are the hookers are like on Babylon 5? Why does prostitution still exists in the 23rd century? Can different species breed with each other? PLUS JMS's thoughts on bi, gay and lesbian characters.
How does CGI impact the script? Why did JMS choose CGI over models? How did B5's space shots differ from what came before? What happened when California wildfires threatened the visual effects facility? PLUS over 30 questions and answers detailing the show's pioneering use of computer generated imagery.
How did JMS design the Vorlon ships? Which ships can enter B5's space? Who can use the station's facilities? How do Starfuries launch? PLUS details of the unused Northrodyne C31-03 Patriot, details of Starfury design down to their engine parts, and the facts about White Stars and other alien spacecraft.
What is "walla?" How was B5's soundtrack different from those of other shows? What was JMS's fresh approach to the sound of weaponry? Which of the unique sounds on the show were original creations (and which where not)? What are "wild tracks?" PLUS the truth about Kosh's voice.
Everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask in 256 questions about: Centauri, Drazi, Humans, Minbari, Narn, pak'ma'ra, Shadows, Vorlons and other First Ones. PLUS detailed explanations about their characteristics and their histories (don't miss JMS's note comparing and contrasting Narn and Centauri history or his detailed list of the which races were at war or allied at the time of the pilot) as well as the theories behind the design of each race.
Did the Babylon 5 crew ever socialize with any of the Star Trek crews? How did Babylon 5's budget compare to that of the various Star Trek series? How did JMS fight allegations that this concept or that idea was originated by Star Trek? Is JMS "the next Gene Roddenberry?" Does it make JMS crazy when every article compares Babylon 5 to Star Trek? Did Paramount use JMS's concept to create Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? How did Deep Space Nine most impact Babylon 5?
Four categories highlight the technology of the 23rd century: GENERAL (medicine, space suits, time travel and transporters), COMMUNICATIONS (links, BabCom, ISN and Universe Today), TRANSPORTATION (hyperspace, jumpgates, the core shuttle, and the transport tubes) and WEAPONRY (mass drivers, PPGs, projectiles and stealth tech).
ALL THIS AS WELL AS SECTIONS COVERING: THE TITLE SEQUENCE (JMS offers insights and anecdotes about the show's varied title sequences, including the concept, the visuals and the narration), THE UNIVERSE OF BABYLON 5 (featuring detailed histories and background including the Earth/Minbari War, Earth's first contact with alien life, and the funding of the Babylon Project despite four failures), THE SHOW'S VISUAL AESTHETIC (including logos, graphics and cinematography), THE WARDROBE (gighlighting costumes, makeup and prosthetics)
and last but not least —
WRITING BABYLON 5
A comprehensive section with thorough discussions of the cast, the characters, the episode titles, the origins of the story, the planning of the series, the process of writing the scripts, story structure, themes, JMS's personal dedication, the achievement and the reactions gathered along the way.
Asked & Answered, Part 4
Publication Date: October 14, 2009
Asked and Answered Part 4 is J. Michael Straczynski's real-time history of the beginnings of Babylon 5: from before the pilot (including the online announcement of the series) and through Season 1.
Part 4 is loaded with details that never made it to the screen as well as the origins of what did eventually air.
As you move through the following topics, you'll relive what it was like to be part of Babylon 5's launch:
- Announcing Babylon 5
- Creating Babylon 5
- Babylon 5 Backstory
- Filming the Pilot
- Approaching Airdate
- Fan Reactions After Airing
- Behind the Scenes Immediately Before & After Airing
- Deleted Scenes from the Pilot
- Changes from Pilot to Series
This section also includes JMS's first archived post about the show (and it's so early in the process that he even hyphenate's the show's nickname as B-5). Here's just a small sampling of the details he discusses in this section:
- The designing of prosthetics to prevent actors from being typecast;
- The moment JMS changed "Jackarr" to "G'Kar" and why the switch was made;
- The reasoning behind the design of PPGs;
- The process of hiring a composer (including his interactions with pilot composer Stewart Copeland of The Police);
- The development of Babylon 5's production design (including the design of the Garden, the video displays throughout the station, CGI for the Vorlon ship, early uniforms) along with concepts that were scrapped like the "Being Mover";
- An early description of the chrysalis device Delenn would eventually construct across Season 1;
- The announcement of each cast member along with the insider scoop on the auditions;
- What happened when the cast read the script aloud for the first time;
- Clues JMS told viewers to watch for in the pilot that would pay off down the line;
- The unused opening narration for the pilot;
- The reasons for the long delay between the pilot and the series;
- Walter Koenig's reaction to seeing the pilot;
- Negative feedback from industry insiders after a private screening;
- The link between the pilot's airing and Oprah;
- The actor in the end credits of the original pilot edit who was not in the show and why;
- The scenes cut from the original edit of the pilot;
- A step-by-step account of how JMS re-configured the pilot for the TNT Special Edition;
- The whys behind the cast changes from pilot to series;
- Why JMS chose to shoot Season 1 in secret for a month before announcing that filming had begun.
Following the pilot section, Asked and Answered Part 4 moves into fan questions about the particulars of Season 1 with entire sections dedicated to the following episodes:
- Midnight on the Firing Line
- Soul Hunter
- Born to the Purple
- The Parliament of Dreams
- Mind War
- The War Prayer
- And the Sky, Full of Stars
- By Any Means Necessary
- Signs and Portents
- A Voice in the Wilderness Part 1
- A Voice in the Wilderness Part 2
- Babylon Squared
- The Quality of Mercy
And if all that wasn't enough, Asked and Answered Part 4 begins with detailed insights about J. Michael Straczynski's career as a writer – a compelling look behind the scenes at the life of Babylon 5's creator.
This section's topics include: how to become a professional writer, tips on good writing, what life is like for the average TV scribe, why he doesn't put his name on freelance scripts he re-wrote, how much of himself goes into his characters (and which ones), what issues are worth writing about, the irony of copyright law as established by the Berne Convention, the essential ingredient for all drama, what he would do if he could no longer write scripts, his exercise in song writing for "Walkabout," G'Kar's impact on a terminally ill patient, what a showrunner thinks when he's watching other people's shows and what compels him to write.
Given the depth of content inventoried here, it's no surprise that Part 4 contains 1,073 missives packed into 414 pages – the biggest book so far of the Asked & Answered series.
Asked & Answered, Part 5
Publication Date: November 11, 2009
The long-awaited Asked & Answered Part 5, the fifth and final book of the Asked & Answered series, has arrived. Packed with 1,301 questions, Part 5 has the most questions asked (and answered) of any book in the 5 book series.
Picking up where Part 4 left off, Part 5's questions and answers are all related to the specifics of each episode and movie, starting with Season 2 (Season 1 was the final section of Part 4) and continuing through "The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark."
- Points of Departure
- The Geometry of Shadows
- A Distant Star
- The Long Dark
- Spider in the Web
- Soul Mates
- A Race Through Dark Places
- The Coming of Shadows
- All Alone in the Night
- Acts of Sacrifice
- Hunter, Prey
- There All the Honor Lies
- And Now for a Word
- In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum
- Confessions and Lamentations
- Divided Loyalties
- The Long, Twilight Struggle
- Comes the Inquisitor
- The Fall of Night
- Matters of Honor
- A Day in the Strife
- Passing Through Gethsemane
- Voices of Authority
- Dust to Dust
- Messages from Earth
- Point of No Return
- Severed Dreams
- Ceremonies of Light and Dark
- Sic Transit Vir
- A Late Delivery from Avalon
- Ship of Tears
- Interludes and Examinations
- War Without End Part 1
- War Without End Part 2
- Grey 17 is Missing
- And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
- Shadow Dancing
- The Hour of the Wolf
- Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
- The Summoning
- Falling Toward Apotheosis
- The Long Night
- Into the Fire
- The Illusion of Truth
- Racing Mars
- Lines of Communication
- Conflicts of Interest
- Rumors, Bargains and Lies
- Moments of Transition
- No Surrender, No Retreat
- The Exercise of Vital Powers
- The Face of the Enemy
- Intersections in Real Time
- Between the Darkness and the Light
- Rising Star
- The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
- No Compromises
- The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari
- The Paragon of Animals
- A View from the Gallery
- Learning Curve
- Strange Relations
- Secrets of the Soul
- Day of the Dead
- In the Kingdom of the Blind...
- A Tragedy of Telepaths
- Phoenix Rising
- The Ragged Edge
- The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father
- Meditations on the Abyss
- Darkness Ascending
- And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder
- Movements of Fire and Shadow
- The Fall of Centauri Prime
- The Wheel of Fire
- Objects in Motion
- Objects at Rest
- Sleeping in Light
- In the Beginning
- The River of Souls
- A Call to Arms
- The Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight
- The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark
Here's a glimpse, a hint, a peek, a preview of the info-nuggets you'll discover in Part 5's 1,301 answers:
- J. Michael Straczynski's least favorite episode and which one took his breath away
- How the story would have proceeded if Sinclair, Takashima, Kyle, Alexander and Sykes had remained in the cast
- How JMS's childhood is part of the origin of Londo's recurring dream
- How "Midnight on the Firing Line" and "The Coming of Shadows" are mirror-images of each other
- The significance of the season two episode titles
- How Sinclair's storyline is like a certain famous trilogy
- How the change in commanding officers benefited the show
- Why Earthforce can't track Minbari vessels
- Why and how candles are a key symbol in the show
- Which episode has the Abraham Lincoln quote
- How Ivanova's sex scene was a verbal compression of human dating
- Why it's so difficult to write Kosh's dialogue
- The famous writer that Morden really looks like
- Who won the sixth game of the 2259 Worlds' Series
- How an actor's broken foot impacted the series
- The basis of the techno-mage symbols
- What JMS meant by a "race that speaks in macros"
- Why Sheridan didn't ask Delenn for help in fending off the Earthforce attack
- JMS's favorite quotes from "The Coming of Shadows"
- Why Sheridan didn't give Major Ryan a field promotion
- Details of the Robert Foxworth debacle
- Why Garibaldi said "nuts"
- The reason JMS drilled down on the Marcus and Lennier characters
- What "Sir Transit Vir" really means and why JMS used it as a title
- When it's okay for the Minbari to lie
- Why we couldn't see the surface of Narn after the mass drivers
- How the Earth/Minbari War actually began
- Why the cast and crew shunned JMS at lunchtime for a couple days
- The intent in showing hand-to-hand combat below decks
- The number of crew members necessary to pilot a White Star
- What it was like on the set when Michael O'Hare returned in "War Without End"
- The genesis of the Minbari sleep watching ritual
- What was written on Vir's Minbari coat of welcoming
- Who financed the Ranger colony and why it was in Drazi space
- The origins for the idea of the Vorlons and Shadows representing order and chaos
- How many years Valen lived
- What Edgars was reading on the couch
- How Season 4 was different from the previous three seasons
- The scene in which Jerry Doyle fell and broke his right arm and right wrist while filming
- JMS's 14 word response to the question about the 14 words that will make someone fall in love with you
- Why Lyta isn't mentioned in "Sleeping in Light"
- The final image JMS had in mind before a frame was ever shot on the series
- Exactly what JMS was thinking during his "Sleeping in Light" cameo
- And, at long last, how many Minbari it takes to screw in a lightbulb