(urth) BSG Spoiler vs Wolfe

Thomas Bitterman tom at bitterman.net
Mon Mar 23 11:53:17 PDT 2009

On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 4:56 PM, James Wynn <crushtv at gmail.com> wrote:

> Here there be spoilers.
> I am not convinced (and very much doubt) that the writers of BSG had these
> particular resolutions to the visions in mind when they wrote them or any
> resolution at all.

They have been clear (in specials, interviews, etc.) that they made up a lot
of things as they went along.  Whether that is a plus or minus is a matter
of taste.

I think they decided at the end to have a final showdown in the C&C room and
> so formed it to vaguely fit the visions. The question left open was "Why did
> this need a vision?" It didn't. If God could arrange a race on far-away
> planet have DNA compatible with the colonists, then He didn't need that song
> and dance to get Hera to the Bridge. It was a big build-up for very little
> pay-off.

That is always a problem when God is a character - "Why doesn't He just do
X?", where X would save everybody a lot of trouble.

> Wolfe has no problem with involving the Increate or Outsider in his
> stories, but in all cases He works his plans through rational events,

Maybe I've missed some things, but my impression has been that Wolfe refers
to the Increate some, hints at His involvement a whole lot, but rarely has
Him as an actual character.  Even those who claim to carry out His will are
(in general) just guessing.

> and, when he acts directly (ala Outsider), Wolfe makes him a character in
> the story who can explain Himself and His motives.

Again, I may have forgotten a scene or two.  Did the Outsider have a page or
two of exposition where He explained why they were all in this giant rock
traveling to a planet of vampire-plants while worshiping a two-headed

Wolfe is a great writer, but even he is not up to explaining why God does
what He does.

> There's none of that in BSG, because, I presume, they find the idea of a
> rational, "actual" God to be a little quaint. So when they tell a story
> where such a Person exists, he ends up cartoony and quaint.

The God of BSG is more like the Increate than the Outsider.  Even the angels
can only guess at what He wants.  The theodicy is simply "We don't know why
it's that way".  If this seems cartoony then whole areas of religion,
particularly mysticism, must also seem cartoony.

> Roslin came off looking like a pretty cold cookie as well. She could have
> at least put $50 in the guy's pocket. Its not like Wolfe's protagonists
> always behave so admirably either, but when Sev takes advantage of the
> passed out Jolenta, no one imagines it to be a meaningful step in his
> personal development.

Why give him $50?  It was consensual sex between adults, not a financial
transaction.  She asked him to leave shortly afterwards (and one can
speculate on why - my bet is that she realized that she had used having sex
with a younger man as a form of self-affirmation (after a recent
depression), and decided that he deserved better than to be used as an
object, so sent him away before a real relationship could develop), but the
point is that this is how things happen to real people sometimes.  In BSG
people have (and don't have) sex for all sorts of human reasons, and have
all sorts of human reactions.  In Wolfe people apparently have sex to show
what bad people they are, and suffer for it later.


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