Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And So It Ends: Peter David and the Legacy of Babylon 5

David, Peter. Out of the Darkness. Del Rey, 2000.

Embarrassingly, there are few books I've read as swiftly and as lethargically as Out of the darkness the third volume in Peter David's futuristic Centauri Prime trilogy set in the universe of Babylon 5. On the one hand, I quite imagined that this volume would hold the key to many mysteries left unanswered in the earlier volumes as well as in the Babylon 5 television series itself; on the other hand, I was hesitant to allow the series to end. It seemed that this concluding volume was among the shortest books I've ever encountered: it began, it continued, and--all too quickly--it ended, and this is less a praise of the volume's marvellous pace than a slight criticism of its very rushed feel.

Out of the Darkness, it is to be confessed, would make very little sense without a good knowledge of the Babylon 5 universe created by J. Michael Straczynski for a television series of the same name, and without a perusal of the first two volumes in this trilogy, The Long Night of Centauri Prime and Armies of Light and Dark. In many ways, this volume provides the closure that is still lacking at the end of the final episode of the original television series: it demonstrates the ways in which many foreshadowed elements from the series are played out, allows fans and readers a glimpse into the future of Centauri Prime and the Interstellar Alliance, and allows the prophecies of earlier television seasons to reach natural and anticipated closures. For readers in search of the next great work of literature, this book leaves a little to be desired: its characters and events, while rich, lack the elegance of fleshing-out that would make this volume a standalone novel. For fans of the television series, Out of the Darkness is the end of an era, and the icing on an already very interesting and pleasurable cake.

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