Moore speaks on the BSG backstory (and fracks it up)

These are Ronald Moore’s words, from the podcast, describing the backstory of the show.

This fundamental idea that once upon a time there were was a place called Kobol, the gods and men lived together. Man on kobol stole fire from the gods, that fire was the knowledge of life, how to create life, they created their own cylons. That creation and the destruction of their paradise was the end of kobol.

Twelve colonies, twelve tribes went that way, and the 13th tribe, 13th tribe of cylons went the other way, and they found and settled a planet that they called Earth, and at some point, the people on Earth, the cylons on Earth, repeated the pattern and destroyed themseleves as well. This feeds into the overall “all this has happened before and will happen again” mythology of the show.

He also says, when describing Anders’ story of playing “All Along the Watchtower”

“[The Guitar] was here on Earth, and Anders was here on Earth. Anders, he played the song for his friends, on earth, played it, it was also intended that he wrote it, that’s a subtlety that may not have come through”

Finally we also learn that this is Lucy Lawless’ last episode, which is why she is staying on the planet. Which suggests they don’t return to this planet.

This dashes a lot of fan hopes that this is a false Earth, that the real Earth colonized Kobol, and then a tribe of Cylons went off and found a different planet and named it Earth, after the ancestral homeworld. So this Earth seems entirely unrelated to our planet, and only has that name because this was the mythos of the original Battlestar Galactica in 1978. I had hoped he would reimagine that part of the story but he didn’t do it as well as I would have desired.

Many fan hopes were rising because people noticed that every time Moore would talk about the ruined Earth, he would say “they called it Earth” rather than saying this is our Earth. He seems to be saying that because it is not our Earth, but it also seems to be the only Earth in this universe. There will be no Bob Dylan in this universe.

This leaves a lot of things unexplained though. And he says there are some more major mysteries to explain.

  • Why do the 12 tribes have flags with star patterns from this Earth? How did this lost planet’s sky generate the flags and names of the 12 tribes?
  • How do the various dates mesh up: Temple of 5 from 4,000 years ago, Pythia from 3,600 years ago, wars on Kobol and Earth from 2,000 years ago.
  • Are the colonials also Cylons, or how was Starbuck able to download or be duplicated?
  • Why does everything happen again, and again?

Now, why do I say he’s fracked it up? Lots of SF is set in a universe that never was, an Alternate Earth — often one that is both similar and different from ours, usually in impossible ways done for dramatic purpose.

But I felt and hoped that Battlestar Galactica had the chance to be more. I thought it had the chance to be set in the future of the real Earth, and thus have more to say about the battle between man and machine. I’m not saying that you can’t say things about the real world in alternate realities. But I do think you can do it better if you start with the real world, and you always should if you can. And he could have, and seemed to be leaving clues that he had.

No, I am not going to stop watching, but I will do so a little less enthused.