Writers Talk "Battlestar Galactica: Cylon War"

For fans of Sci Fi's award-winning "Battlestar Galactica," the end is finally near. But to writers Joshua Ortega and Eric Nylund, things are just beginning. While the TV series sees the second half of its fourth and final season get underway with new episodes starting January 16, 2009, the untold story of how the Cylons first broke free of humanity's hold will be unfurled in January's four-issue Dynamite Entertainment miniseries, "Battlestar Galactica: Cylon War," from the scripting pair and artist Nigel Raynor.

"It's funny, I think we finished this series about a year ago and all of a sudden a bunch of our projects that have to do with war are coming out at the same time," Eric Nylund told CBR. "I swear we didn't plan it! Joshua just wrapped on 'Gears of War 2,' I just finished up the 'Halo Wars: Genesis' graphic novel, and I'm about to launch a new epic fantasy novel series called 'Mortal Coils' about the ongoing wars between immortals and inferanls! War War War!"

"Should we be trying to pitch for War Machine at Marvel at this point?" laughed Ortega, known to comics readers for his work on Image's Frank Frazetta-themed titles. "Seriously, though, it is really cool to know that 'BSG: Cylon War' will be coming out in a little over a month. And the fact that it ties-in to the show is even better, and it was a great move by Dynamite to tie-in to the show's final season. It all feels quite serendipitous, really."

As early images from the series have shown, "Cylon War" aims to live up to its title by digging into scenes of the human population getting beaten up and bombed out by the Cylons across the 12 colonies of Kobol. But although the events of the book take place decades before the television series timeline, the creators promise a strong connection to the events and characters fans know.

"We use the events that open the television series - i.e the bombing of Caprica - as the frame for this miniseries," noted Nylund. "We then go back and explain all the reasons that that happened - not just the treaty violation that we've seen in the television series, but we delve deeper into the reasons why the Cylons hate humanity so much. We also show a bit of the early history of the 12 colonies - the good times and the bad. As you can imagine, with twelve disparate societies all interacting there's a lot of opportunity for rich and complex interactions. And, of course, conflict."

"But amidst all the conflict, you will get to see at least some happier times for Caprica, though unfortunately, they won't last too long," added Ortega.

Leading the resistance on behalf of humanity falls on the shoulders of new character and Caprica native Ben Tanner, who Ortega described as "an old soldier when the book opens, but we'll also get to see him as a teenager and as he grows into a man and becomes an important part of Galactica history. H has a very full character arc in this series."

"He ends up being very important to Galactica history," Nylund agreed. "More than any one character, I'd say he has the most intimate relationship with the Cylons. With regards to the other characters in a television series, we're careful not to force anything; after all, the events of this first Cylon War happened 40 years before the beginning of the television show. There are one or two of the older characters, however, that we just couldn't resist including."

Of course, humanity isn't alone in the series, as the titular Cylons leading the war have a life much closer to humans in this part of the BSG timeline than they do in the TV show. "Prior to the first Cylon war, robotic companions and servants were fairly common in, at least, Caprican society. Their relationships are pivotal to the events that set in motion the cataclysmic war," Nylund said. "As a science fiction writer, the robots give me a mirror to reflect present-day societal concerns. They view humanity with a logical and unbiased eye (something we have a hard time doing ourselves). As a storyteller - that's pure gold."

Ortega agreed, "And the notion of fully functional, autonomous A.I. is a fascinating one to explore, just in of itself, even without any allegory. But then you mix in that metaphor and deeper meaning. On the human/Cylon note, a strong character like Tanner is the key. Cylons can be all around him, but he'll be anchoring this tale throughout, with a few surprises along with way, of course."

And while many of the details of "Cylon War" remain under wraps due to both the sensitive nature of the series and the TV show, both writers promised a heavy dose of action and intrigue in their four-issue run. "We cram decades of wartime action, the disintegration and reuniting of all of humanity and the rise of the new sentient race in four issues - we really want to give our fans their moneys worth," explained Nyund, who teased explanations for how the twelve colonies united, why robotic life rose up against humanity, how and why the Battlestars came into existence, not to mention "how the heck humanity survived a war against a clearly technologically superior race and how they fracked it all up."

"Battlestar Galactica: Cylon War" #1 goes on sale in January from Dynamite Entertainment.

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