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March 17, 2012

WonderCon 2012: ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and the science of fiction

Posted in: TV

11 WonderCon 2012: Battlestar Galactica and the science of fiction

Col. Saul Tigh, Adm. William Adama, Laura Roslin and Lee "Apollo" Adama in the "Battlestar Galactica" movie "Razor." (Carole Segal / SyFy)

The acclaimed SyFy show “Battlestar Galactica” aired its final episode nearly two years ago but the deep-space (and deep-thinking) epic was still echoing at WonderCon, the pop-culture expo that opened Friday in Anaheim.

The first day of the convention featured two Q&A sessions devoted to the show, one with Richard Hatch, who acted in both the original 1978 series and the re-imagined SyFy series that launched in 2004. The other panel featured Kevin Grazier, the scientific advisor for the more recent show.

Grazier, who worked for a time at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, got a foothold in the entertainment business when he co-wrote a “Star Trek: Voyager” spec script that got him in the pitch process at Paramount. That led to a meeting with “Battlestar” co-creator Ron Moore and, eventually, a gig as scientific advisor. More recently, he’s been a hired brain for Alfonso Cuarón’s upcoming film, “Gravity,” which stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, and also counseled the writers of “Eureka” and “Falling Skies.”

For his talk, Grazier, no surprise, brought charts and  graphs in a PowerPoint slide show that put the science in fiction. He also got an unexpected visual aide; playing the part of a know-it-all fan, Hatch — wearing a red puffy vest, black beanie and sunglasses — stepped out of the audience to shout accusations about Cylon biology. An extended (and scripted) argument followed, which Grazier revealed to be a passage from his book, “The Science of Battlestar Galactica.”

Grazier said science led to plot ideas at some points in the show. Grazier said his off-hand comment about planets’ first life forms led to two episodes, “Rapture” and “The Eye of Jupiter.” And when he designed the star system for the Twelve Colonies (a quaternary one with four stars to support life for 12 planets), writer Jane Espenson suggested that Caprica and Gemenon be in mutual orbit. “She put the Las Vegas planet in mutual orbit with the Salt Lake City planet,” Grazier said. “So there’s using science to create drama.”

battlestar galactica 630px WonderCon 2012: Battlestar Galactica and the science of fiction

The cast of "Battlestar Galactica." (SyFy)

At the end of his talk, Grazier screened a trailer for the upcoming “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome,” a two-hour television film which is set in the 10th year of the First Cylon War. Edited at rapid-cutting pace to Trent Reznor and Karen O’s cover of “Immigrant Song” for  “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” – which was actually quite fitting with images of ice-covered planets and (space)ships – the trailer ended with title cards flashing the words “It’s time for a SyFy game-changer.”

– Emily Rome


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