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.