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Babylon 5
Scene from In the Kingdom of the Blind
Television Review
Babylon 5
In the Kingdom of the Blind
Episode E8

First aired in the USA 18 March 1998

Deceptions and conspiracies

It has taken a long time, but at last the closing events of Season Four's Epiphanies are pursued in an episode that contains some very disturbing moments. As always, it is a pleasure to see the conspiracies in the Centauri royal court and to witness what is happening to the Regent, whose strange behaviour is baffling everyone except those of us who know only too well what is wrong with him.
Meanwhile, back on Babylon 5, Bester's words about Byron in Strange Relations prove to be prophetic as Byron uses deceit to get a hearing in the Alliance council chamber. His method of drawing attention to the plight of the telepaths backfires and, as violence escalates, he loses Sheridan's protection and faces imminent arrest - just as soon as Zack's security team can dig him out of his stronghold, that is. Strangely, it is only Delenn who has enough understanding to see that the telepaths truly deserve better treatment, bearing in mind their genetic manipulation by the Vorlons and the subsequent tyrannies inflicted by the Psi Corps.
The conflict on the station is overshadowed by the sinister state of affairs on Centauri Prime, and particularly riveting is the way in which an attempt on Londo's life is foiled. And in spite of knowing what ails the Regent it gives an ominous foreshadowing of exactly what the next emperor will have to endure. The only question is, how long do we have to wait until Londo himself loses control of his actions? (8/10)
Deanne Holding
 

Star Trek
Star Trek: The Captain's Table #1: War Dragons
Merchandise Review
Star Trek
Strange New Worlds
Edited by Dean Wesley Smith (with John J Ordover and Paula M Block

Simons & Schuster Books
Price: £4.99
Out now
ISBN: 0-671-01467-6

Star Trek fan fiction gets a new outlet

One of the most unjust Catch 22s in our current publishing economy is that one can’t get an agent without having been published, and one can’t publish without first having an agent. Scores of talented writers are thus rarely heard from. Trek provided a place for agent-free good writing in The New Voyages I and II, published in the mid Seventies, and the same philosophy governs Strange New Worlds, the new anthology of ‘fan fiction’ chosen by contest. Edited by Dean Wesley Smith, perhaps the most reliably superior of all the Trek authors, Strange New Worlds offers 17 new pieces of short fiction ranging from the welcomed old friend (Cyrano Jones finally ending his ‘prison sentence’ on Space Station K-7) to the hilarious new take (what Data really does with all the extra think time his neural processing gives him). In general, this collection is well conceived and includes several beautiful pieces.
I have a couple of complaints, though. Why do we get only two DSN stories yet seven TNG stories? I personally could have done without Nog’s little love story, but without it DSN would have been even more under-represented. Why do the co-editors, John Ordover and Paula Block, get to include pieces they wrote years ago that flagrantly break the rules of the contest that produced this anthology? What’s up with these self-indulgent little afterwords, anyway? And a few of these names are VERY familiar, even though the rules say ‘nonprofessional’ writers.
These are but small quibbles. The quality of writing in these short stories is as a rule quite high, showcasing the abilities of Trek fans. Clearly the prize winners deserve their awards; The Grand Prize, a story from Chris Pike’s point of view, is simply brilliant. My favorite is newcomer Oltion’s See Spot Run, with its Ghostbusters in-joke, or it may be JA Rosales’ Ambassador at Large, which catches up with Lieutenant Bailey and Balok’s flagship Fesarius. Just about everyone will find a giggle in these pages. A highly recommended book, but don’t read the stories all at one sitting; the next anthology is about a year away. (9/10)

Megan O'Neill

 
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