Sometime this month marks the fifth birthday—or “novayahren,” the term for a Colonial birthday according to Richard Hatch’s Original Series continuation novels—of the Battlestar Wiki.
To be honest, I’m not sure of the exact date, simply because I had never imagined that this site would take off and thus that bit of minutiae was of no interest to me. As familiar as I was with the Internet at the time, I knew the fickle nature of fandom participants and found myself skeptical of “community driven” websites like Wikipedia. “Social networking” was not even a phrase, as far as I knew, and sites like Twitter and Facebook simply didn’t exist in the social consciousness. Further, I never suspected that a show with the ridiculous name Battlestar Galactica would ever last beyond the first season, particularly when you “re-imagine” the concept and the fact that television science fiction changed and became more serious.
Science fiction fans of that time were no stranger to “reboots.” Lost in Space was “re-imagined” and that was a failure on multiple levels—and the John Woo television pilot is so horrendous that, from what I’ve been told personally, CBS would rather burn the film than ever see it released. (The only good thing to come out of that pilot? You know the sets for battlestar Pegasus? Yep. Those were from Woo’s “re-imagined” Lost in Space.) In fact, science fiction in general was in a rut, possibly as a result of the vagaries of reality and television. The Star Wars prequels were mostly horrible, Star Trek was dying its slow death, and the best that science fiction had to offer were shows like The X-Files and Babylon 5, both heralding a change (with Deep Space Nine)—a break from “childish science fiction” and into the realm of “adult science fiction” that tackled religion, corruption, social problems, politics, and war in a gritty way.
Keeping all this in mind, also keep in mind that I “grew up” on re-runs of the original 1978 series and its horrendous spin-off, Galactica 1980, during my years in high-school back in the late 1990s. That interest, and Richard Hatch’s efforts for a continuation of the original series, sparked a precursor for Battlestar Wiki, and I called that the Battlestar Galactica InfoSphere. The term “infosphere” had been derived from Richard’s books. It became reasonably well-trafficed, thanks to the help of my friend and Galactican inspiration Michael Faries, the previous operator of BattlestarGalactica.com and BattlestarPegasus.com. I was, in a way, a member of the original online BSG community… a community that became polarized when Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer’s continuation effort was adversely affected by the events of September 11th and David Eick entered the fold with the otherwise dreaded Bonnie Hammer. If you know the story, Eick found some bloke named Ron Moore and Moore tackled the story and subject matter, becoming the creative force for the show with the likes of Harvey Frand and numerous other people who you can find out about on the Wiki.
And with all the furor, bile and disgusting drama proliferated online, I had decided that I had more than my fill. So sometime in 2002 I closed down the InfoSphere and, sometime later, I had closed down the PDF-published news magazine, that was called The Galactican.
As a science fiction fan, I watched this thing that masqueraded as Battlestar Galactica featuring the following dramatis personae whom hailed from the Island of Misfit Characters: a Latino Commander Adama whose whiny British bloke of a bastard son hated him; a drunk Colonel Tigh whose wife is a whore; an intelligent, suave, snake-like sex fiend named Baltar who betrayed humanity for a blonde supermodel femme-bot; a Cylon chick that literally frakked humanity into extinction and uttered such trite and corny lines like “you make me so hot”; a “Starbuck” who swore, played cards and acted like a man with breasts; and a battlestar that appeared to be a hybridization of a ribbed prophylactic and an alligator with skis.
And on both the eve of and upon my birthday in 2003, I watched this impostor take the stage.
I have to be honest, I hated it. In fact, I distinctly recall being pissed off and saw it as a glorified rip-off of Wing Commander mixed with Blade Runner, 2001, and Space: Above and Beyond and thrown into the purée machine with Glen Larson’s cheese fest.
It wasn’t until late 2004 to the beginning of 2005 when I watched BSG‘s first season. I saw “33.” My opinion had changed. I started liking this show. I continued watching, as I had downloaded all the episodes from the Internet, for they had already aired in the United Kingdom.
By the end of the first season, I was comfortable with knowing that the Cylons were created by man, that Tigh was a man who had lost his purpose but regained it, and that Starbuck was not Dirk Benedict. I was fine with that, because the show did what good science fiction does: holds us up to a mirror and asks us to look at ourselves. It wasn’t post 1987 spandex Star Trek, where they spoon-fed you technobabble, political correctness, and morality plays (“No, don’t be bad to the aliens just because they’re different. Bad 20th century human, bad.”), but it was beautiful in its own right.
This is how I regained my love of Battlestar Galactica and set out to merge that with my webmastering techniques, which were rusty, and my love of collecting worthless bits of information and figuring out how they all connected together. So I begat the seedling of this leviathan, without any preconceived notion that this re-imagined show would last four seasons and spawn a prequel spin-off… No more than I knew that this site would be built by a community of talented people who have come and gone throughout these past five years, and knowing that hundreds of thousands of people repeatedly lurk on it and use it in their geeky lives.
I am personally thankful and am indebted to countless people who have placed their time, effort, and even trust in Battlestar Wiki. I am further thankful for all the opportunities that this site has granted not only myself, but to those who have had the foresight to take advantage of them, no matter how small. I shall speak only for myself when I say that this site has brought me a marvelous opportunity, allowing me to Jump to the foreign land of Vancouver (with its glorious Canucks and the Spiked Frapp) to see the sets of one of my favorite television sagas of my time. I have met new people and was at the right place, at the right time, where I had an opportunity to learn about myself as a human being. That ended up being very painful for me, and may have cost me potential friendships in and of itself, however… Thanks to the people who put faith in the Wiki, I was able to not only help build an auction house, but was able to help in the creation and execution of auctions of pieces from one of the finest, if not controversial, shows in science fiction television history.
I’m not going to tell you that my personal experience with founding and running this website—alongside some very talented people—was and is easy. It’s not. It’s a labor of love.
I will share this with you as well. Because of this website, I was mocked and ridiculed by a few people. I shall label them “unbelievers.” These people asked why I dug into my own pocket to finance the servers, why I would waste my own time on a “television show,” and why I didn’t do what “sensible, normal people” would do.
My answer to them now is the same as it was back then: because I enjoy it. It is a hobby. Similar to what “sensible, normal people” would do… mainly get drunk, party, live beyond their means, kill living creatures for sport, and fornicate.
And for those of you who demand “proof” of this site’s worth… just talk to the fans. Talk to the people who worked on the BSG and now work on Caprica. Talk to the folks at Propworx, if you want. Hell, look at the other Wikis and websites we’ve inspired, just like the Lurker’s Guide to Babylon 5 inspired me to build this website. It’s all connected, troops.
In comparison, I’m satisfied with the fact that my hobby brings harm and ill-will upon no one. It is hard work, but a kind of work that I enjoy, even when it gets frustrating.
So consider this my Valentine’s Day declaration, should you wish to do so. To the finest fandom I’ve come to know, I wish you all a grand Valentine’s Day. Thank you for your trust and your faith.
So say we all.