I stumbled on “Crusade: What the Hell Happened? vol.1” (released last August) while packing, and wondered what happened to book 2. Apparently I’m not the only one wondering that, because it turns out that the website just posted an update last week, saying:

Volume 2 is still a work-in-progress. We will send out a news alert the moment it is released.

Now there’s timing!

Ever since J. Michael Straczynski started selling his Babylon 5 script book series, I’ve been hoping we’d get a book with the scripts from the spinoff Crusade. Especially the scripts that were finished, but never produced, and would have set up the real story. That whole thing about finding a cure for the Drakh plague before it wiped out Earth? JMS strongly hinted at the time that it wasn’t going to be the main arc, but rather the mission that got the Excalibur out there and exploring, at which point they’d get caught up in the main story.

Two of the scripts were made available briefly on an e-reader site, using a Java applet that was specifically designed to make it as hard as possible to copy and paste anything (and incidentally made it a serious pain to, y’know, read it, which may be why the site is long gone). As I recall, they included a project to reverse-engineer Shadow technology, and the first hints that the Technomages used Shadow tech (before Jeanne Cavelos’ novels fleshed out that connection in detail.)

Anyway, we’re still waiting for the Crusade scripts, but here’s the next best thing: Crusade: Behind the Scenes [edit: dead link].

Characters, story, world-building, production issues and design, executive meddling, interviews with the cast and crew, photos, etc.

There’s a note at the end of the write-up:

CRUSADE: Behind the Scenes does NOT contain any of the show’s scripts. It is a compilation of interviews and images. The Crusade scripts, including those that were never filmed, will appear in J. Michael Straczynski’s forthcoming 3-volume series, “CRUSADE: What the Hell Happened”

Sadly, given the title, I suspect the script books are a joke. But who knows? Stranger things have happened with B5.

  • Wow… Kenneth Turan really liked Changeling. Yay JMS!
  • Announcement over phone system: “There are cupcakes in the lunch room.” 2 seconds later, loud footsteps running down the hall.
  • Smurfs are 50 years old? WTF! I thought they were creations of the 80s!
  • Saw “Let the Right One In.” Less horror, more twisted revenge fantasy/coming of age movie. With vampires.

Wow.  The Babylon 5 Scripts team keeps finding more ways to get my money.  The latest: The Chronologies of Babylon 5.  And it includes every single piece of B5 canon, down to the six short stories JMS wrote after the series ended and even the unproduced Crusade scripts.

The script books have mostly been interesting for the commentary and supplemental material. Though I was disappointed that they couldn’t get Neil Gaiman to write an intro for his Day of the Dead script in the latest volume. It just reprinted the contents of the solo script book you can get from the CBLDF, which has a brief intro by JMS and a handful of footnotes by Neil Gaiman.

So, here’s what we’ve got so far (including what’s been announced):

  • 15 volumes of Babylon 5 scripts by J. Michael Straczynski.
  • 3 volumes of “Other Voices,” the B5 scripts by other writers.
  • 1 volume of the B5 TV movie scripts (announced).
  • 1 volume of chronology (with a Q&A and presumably commentary).

In theory, that covers everything except Crusade, which is what I’m really looking forward to. Probably two or three volumes, and I’d hope they’d include the unproduced scripts. IIRC there are two by JMS and one by Fiona Avery, and the Chronology list mentions one that was assigned but not written. The two JMS scripts used to be available online through some PITA Java-based reader that theoretically prevented people from copying the text (though that can’t stop screenshots or manual transcription), but also made it really difficult to do things like scroll. The site folded years ago, probably in the dot-com crunch, and they haven’t seen the light of day since. I remember one of them contained the first indication of a link between Techno-Mages and the Shadows.

Back to the chronology: on one hand, it feels like they’re starting to milk the audience for all it’s worth now that they’ve seen the success of the script book series.  On the other hand, it’s only one additional volume.  And it looks really cool…

I just got an email with the reminder that J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 Script Book Series is going out of print at the end of the month. Monday, June 30 is the last day.

It’s hardly a surprise, since the series was always advertised as a limited edition.

The weird thing is that they’re also shutting down the related store, with all the quote merchandise, until August. Presumably that includes the Londo/G’Kar campaign signs as well.

Meanwhile, the companion series, Other Voices, with scripts and commentary by the other writers who worked on the show, just released the second book. (To give you an idea of just how much of B5 JMS wrote, his scripts take up 14 volumes. The others add up to just 3.) It’s been interesting to compare the different styles of commentary. Some wrote epics, some did Q&A or interview-style introductions, and David Gerrold simply wrote half a page about why he resisted writing “Believers,” and what he did when he realized exactly why they wanted him to write it.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve only just started reading the bonus volume of the original set last weekend (in between bouts of re-reading The Ringworld Throne and writing). After so many years wondering “what would have happened if Sinclair had stayed?” you’d think I’d be in a bigger hurry to find out. Okay, I was busy with the whole moving thing, and then unpacking, and then trying to catch up on a fan site, and then trying to launch a blog, and I keep getting sucked into comic forums…

I think I need to sleep more.