Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Short, Fun, Geek Read: Peter David's Long Night of Centauri Prime

David, Peter. The Long Night of Centauri Prime. Del Rey, 1999.

Babylon 5, a space station from 2057, was once the galaxy's last, best hope for peace. It failed, but along the way, it offered science fiction fans of the past a chance to imagine a future directed by Vorlons and Shadows and inhabited by humans, Cantauri, Narn, and Minbari (as well as almost countless minor races). Over five seasons, J. Michael Straczynski introduced us to this future galaxy, whose races and inhabitants struggled with many of the issues hotly contested, even today, on the continents of planet Earth. He also allowed us to fall--just a little--in love with characters such as hapless Vir (a Centauri), passionate G'Kar (a Narn), devoted Lennier (a Minbari) and a lot of humans.

The Long Night of Centauri Prime is set at the very end of the Babylon 5 television series (obviously excluding the Season 5 finale), primarily on the Centauri homeworld. Readers of this novel have a front-row glimpse into the life of Londo Mollari, whose rising status on the Centauri homeworld and acquantance with some troublesome associates gives him at once ultimate power and complete helplessness. Alone in the midst of his people, Londo must fight demons he never imagined existed, and watch as his world hovers between destruction and slavery.

Having seen the entire televison series on which this novel is based, I can't speak for its suitability for non-sci-fi geeks or those who haven't yet entered the world of space stations where aliens and humans can mingle and come to understand one another more fully. For a fan of the series, however, this book (and the two that follow) provide a fitting epitaph and patch up several of the holes left unfilled in the final episodes from Straczynski's universe. There are spots where the dialogue seems weak, and moments where the plot runs ahead of the literary elements, but, all in all, this is an enjoyable read, and well worth the time spent savoring a few last glimpses of characters and places I'd seen on camera for five short seasons.

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