Posts Tagged ‘Babylon 5’

gal-jeff-conaway3-jpgDo you have characters in books and shows who you love out of all proportion to their role in the story?

I know I do. A number of characters get killed in the books I’m currently ghost writing. Because I didn’t develop the plot, those deaths aren’t my own doing, and I still feel that emotional tug you do when you’re reading a book and a character dies. I feel some sad for these guys.

You’d have thought that the deaths of significant characters would be the most emotional, but so far the one that’s hit me the most was a minor character who existed to meet a horrible death. Knowing he was coming up in book two, I introduced him in book one as a friendly extra, so that he’d at least have a bit of significance. And it really worked. I hated to see that guy die. The extra effort I’d put into building him up meant I cared way more about his death, even though he hadn’t featured all that much.

The same thing happened to me as a viewer when the character of security officer Zack Allan appeared in Babylon 5. First the actor turned up as an extra in a security uniform. After he’d done that a couple of times I recognised him as ‘that security guard’. Then he got a few lines. Then a name. Then a place in the show’s credits and his own character arc. As a concept, he was one of the less interesting characters in the show, mostly there to fulfil some plot functions. But because I’d seen him emerge from obscurity, because I’d been cheering him on to become someone significant, I loved that character.

I have a vague idea that this is an underdog thing, or about a sense of ownership over the character, but really I’m just guessing. So what do you folks think? And do you have minor characters who you really love? Leave a comment, share your thoughts.

A lot of scifi explores how humans will react to the rest of the universe. But just as fascinating is considering how the universe will react to us. Alan Dean Foster’s A Call To Arms suggested that aliens might use our adaptability and aggression, recruiting us to fight their wars. In the TV show Babylon 5 we were treated as a curiosity, a slightly backwards race that couldn’t stop meddling in things beyond its abilities. The way a writer portrays those reactions says as much about how they view humanity as how they view the rest of the universe.

If you’ve got five minutes, stop and watch this entertaining video, another example of how the aliens might react. A public service warning against the dangers of humanity.