In a year that has seen Chinese spy balloons and strange ‘alien’ shapes being shot down over the Americas, I stumbled at breakfast upon the secret behind the design of the enemy Cylon raider ships in Battlestar Galactica …
Being Women’s History Month, many of the blog followers are exploring female authors, including cartoon or graphic novels.
I had thought that I would get back into Bronte reading mode and started off reading the first few chapters of Charlotte Brontes novel Shirley (1849), which has interesting potential gaming scenario material. Inspired by recent 1830s and 1840s Chartist riots but set during the late Napoleonic Wars episodes of Luddite machine breaking, there is an interesting attack and defence of a textile mill.
Alongside this, I had lined up in my bedside table for reading another Bronte book from their edited juvenilia High Life in Verdopolis, A Story from the GlassTown Saga edited by Christine Alexander. Unpublished for over a hundred and fifty years since being written in 1834, this edition also has quite Gothic or Romantic illustrations of the main male and female characters by Charlotte herself.
What I ended up reading by accident instead, having found the Bronte books hard to get into, were the first two Star Wars film paperback novelisations that I had not read since childhood and the 1978 Battlestar Galactica novelisation, all well thumbed paperbacks.
Arguably, despite the male authors, there is one attractively feisty female role model in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in the form of no-nonsense Princess Leia.
Watching the Star Wars prequel stand-alone film Rogue One and sequels film Star Wars VII The Force Awakens and VIII The Last Jedi, I was pleased to see that in Disney’s version of the Star Wars franchise, outer space is now (alien races excepted) more multiracial and equal opportunities in its humanoids than it was in the 1970s Sci-fi days. More main female characters (Jyn Urso and Rey), more female fighter pilots of a mature age, more multiracial female role models, all this will hopefully attract a wider age range and demographic to these films, the sci-fi genre and potentially sci-fi and fantasy gaming.
It is a long time since as a child I saw bits and bobs of Battlestar Galactica on TV in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I completely missed the recent 2005 remake. The 1978 book and background scenario was surprisingly complex, including the metal clad robotic Cylon Warriors (Battlestar’s version of Star Wars storm troopers?). The Cylon villains regard the irrational, emotional nature of the human characters, along with the human imperialist or colonial expansion to other planets searching for resources, as a pest or threat to the peace of the rest of the galaxy. Interesting idea. I look forward to finishing this battered old paperback.
Being an American TV serial or movie like Star Trek, there are more black and female figures in the 1978 BattlestarGalactica than in Star Wars. The female characters in the book do get to pilot shuttles and analyse data but do seem more ‘eye candy’ than feisty. They often need rescuing. At least they get to do more than scream a lot at aliens like many of Doctor Who’s 1970s female companions. Some viewers may disagree.
These paperback novels (including the Star Wars Special Young Readers Edition that I think we bought cheaper through the school paperback book club) had not only the story and fairly accurate dialogue from the movie but x “pages of fabulous colour” pictures from the film. A bit of colour in the otherwise brown and orange 1970s colour palette.
In the late 1970s, before DVDs, videos, downloads and websites made film photos and footage easily available, this added feature of real colour movie photographs was really exciting. Alongside film still colour picture trading cards, I would have drawn these scenes many many times and used them to learn to draw the characters and spaceships.
These Cylon Warriors reminded me of some of the figures of the short lived 54mm / 1:32 Airfix Space Warriors.
The Airfix Space Warriors were only around in shop space in 1981 for a short while. I had one box. I missed these when reissued briefly in silver plastic 6 figure bags in 1995. Since then I have picked them up in ones and twos whenever seen and affordable.
Several more of the Airfix 1981 characters look as if they have a Flash Gordon (1980) Star Wars (1977) Battlestar Galactica (1978) Buck Rogers influence to this cloaked Starbuck / Apollo like space pilot figure.
These Space Warrior figures also contain the only fighting female 54mm figure made by Airfix, the Star Princess with space blaster. They are not often found second hand compared to the other figures. Maybe jealous sisters nicked them all?
I hope to get these figures painted and into action for the summer, added to pound store plastic ‘space warrior’ conversions, especially for future galactic garden games.