Severed Dreams

Episode 56: Severed Dreams (Season 3, Episode 10)

Synopsis: In which everything hits the fan.

Other Hugo nominees in 1997 for “Best Dramatic Presentation” were Star Trek: First Contact, DS9 “Trials and Tribble-ations,” Mars Attacks and Independence Day.

Max was particularly vocal this episode. Enjoy his dulcet tones.

Robert Foxworth’s treason is discussed by JMS in length on the Lurker’s Guide page, linked above.

Point of No Return

Episode 55: Point of No Return (Season 3, Episode 9)

Synopsis: In which the crisis with the Nightwatch comes to a head and Londo and Vir learn their destinies.

The legendary Majel Barrett:

Before her death, Majel Barrett’s voice was recorded phonetically so it is still possible we may get her voice for our phones!

Star Trek Continues:

Emmanuel Goldstein and the Two Minutes of Hate:

Messages from Earth


Episode 54: Messages from Earth (Season 3, Episode 8)

Synopsis: In which Sheridan must take drastic action to keep President Clark from obtaining a shadow ship, and the Nightwatch steps up their operation on the station.

Stove Top? I’M STAYING!

The Ultra Menace Missile!

The Shobijin from Godzilla vs Mothra:

Night Boat! The Crime Solving boat!

The Reflex Gun! Another Star Blazers reference!

Lyanna Mormont, baddest badass in the Seven Kingdoms. It is known.


Episode 53: Exogenesis (Season 3, Episode 7)

Synopsis: In which a creepy bug/parasite thing appears to be possessing people and Ivanova tests Corwin’s loyalty.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was interrupted while writing Kulba Khan by “the stranger from Porlock”

Which led to Rush’s “Xanadu,” possibly my (Chris) favorite of their songs. If you’ve never heard it, can tolerate prog rock, and have eleven-odd minutes to spare check it out. I’ll be over here rocking out hard:

Aubrey Morris, this episode’s Duncan, appears as the Roman emperor in this episode of The Prisoner - “The Dance of the Dead.” Once you’ve watched that Rush video spend 40 minutes checking this out too.

Fantasy recasting of Marcus:

Chris - David Tennant:

Jon - Richie Campbell:

Here’s our first pass at the prestige 10 episode breakdown for season 2. Much of this didn’t survive contact with the discussion we have in this episode but it was a starting point.

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The zones of total exclusion thing came from the French Zone Rouge, an area of France entirely incapable of supporting life because of damage from World War 1. Details:

And of course there’s a TV Tropes page as well (because of course there is).

Dust to Dust

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Jon’s outline for prestige season 1:


A   Narn-Centauri War (Midnight)

B   Ivanova's Family (Purple)


A   G'kar Black Rose / Londo assassin (Purple / Parliament)

B   Sinclair and Sakai (Parliament)


A   Religion Festival (Parliament)

B   Garibaldi and Mars (Lianna) (Survivors)


A   Deathwalker (Deathwalker)

B   Franklin and the Children of Time (Believers)


A   Sigma 957 (Parliament)

B   Talia and Kosh (Deathwalker)


A   Morden (Signs)

B   Sinclair kidnapped (Sky)


A   Babylon 4 (BB)

B   Ivanova and Koslov (TKO)


A   Epsilon 3 / Draal, pt. 1 (Voice1)

B   Garibaldi and Mars, election of Santiago (Voice1)


A   Epsilon 3 / Draal, pt. 2 (Voice2)

B   Sinclair and Earthforce (Voice2)

10 = Chrysalis, as filmed

Jason Morningstar - Fiasco is really a terrific game!

Jon & Tracy’s excellent podcast on gaming and education, Game Level Learn:

Voices of Authority

Episode 51: Voices of Authority (Season 3, Episode 5)

Synopsis: In which Marcus and Ivanova search for allies in the war against the Shadows, and the Clark administration attempts to tighten its grip on the station.


The Seraphs’ ship from the 1978 Battlestar Galactica:


Balok from Star Trek’s “The Corbormite Maneuver”



Marie Crane, the candidate who lost to incumbent Luis Santiago in the 2258 election:


Shari Shattuck:

.38 Special’s “Caught Up In You”

A Day In The Strife


Synopsis: In which G’Kar must make difficult decisions regarding the resistance on the homeworld and an alien probe makes a generous offer.


Vidkun Quisling, head of the Norwegian government during Nazi occupation


Cixin Liu’s “The Dark Forest”


And believe not or not, there’s a good explanation of the “chain of suspicion” to be found on Quora:


The Culture:


The possible dangers of the METI project:


Stephen Macht:


Episode 48: Convictions (Season 3, Episode 2)

Synopsis: In which a mad bomber terrorizes the station and a number of pilgrims begin to arrive.


Mode Training is a philosophical/quasi-religious doctrine from David Gerrold’s “War Against the Chtorr” series. It is intended to let individuals move beyond human psychologies. The founder of the movement writes under the pseudonym of “Solomon Short.” Make of that what you will.


Brother Theo’s monastery is New Melleray Abbey in Iowa. The monks there are Cistercians or Trappists, who make a darn fine jam.


Gene Roddenberry was indeed an ardent humanist and disdainful of religion.


Somehow we had a whole conversation about religion and spirituality in sci-fi without mentioning either incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. You should probably be listening to a better podcast.


In the 13th century Pope Innocent IV sent a letter to Guyuk, Khan of the Mongols, telling him that the Mongol forces should stop attacking Christendom and maybe even convert to Christianity.

Guyuk’s response to the Pope: "You must say with a sincere heart ‘We will be your subjects; we will give you our strength.’ You must in person come with your kings, all together, without exception, to render us service and pay us homage. Only then will we acknowledge your submission. And if you do not follow the order of God, and go against our orders, we will know you as our enemy."


Babylon 5 Season 3 intro:


Space: 1999 Season One theme. Mixing 2001’s orchestral epicness with funk electric guitar that for some reason actually works:

Season Two leans fully into the disco horns. Whether it “works” is best left as an exercise for the reader:


Matters of Honor


Episode 47: Matters of Honor (Season 3, Episode 1)

Synopsis: In which the army of light gains a new ally and a totally awesome new ship, and dark alliances are revealed.

“Welcome back, your dreams were ticket out” is from the theme song to the classic sitcom Welcome Back Kotter.

“And they told two friends. And so on, and so on, and so on…”

At less than a minute into season 3, Jon and Chris reveal they are old as DIRT.

Strider/Aragorn (John Hurt) meets the Hobbits at the Prancing Pony, from Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings:

Ambassador Fox (Gene Lyons) from “A Taste of Armageddon”:

Season 2 Wrap Up!


Episode 46: Season 2 Wrap-Up

This episode was recorded in the lobby of our hotel (because the godforsaken Hilton only saw fit to give me one chair in my room so we had to look elsewhere, and there was a 20,000 person game convention AND a Pride parade going on outside with about the same attendance, plus some kind of investment/retirement/MLM fleecing seminar in the hotel...some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!) so there’s some echo and noise from people walking by. I’ve done what I can with it but obviously it’s not as clean as a regular recording.



Jon’s top 5 episodes:

5) Acts of Sacrifice

4) And Now for a Word

3) In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum

2) The Long, Twilight Struggle

1) The Coming of Shadows


Chris’s top 5 episodes:

5) Knives

4) And Now for a Word

3) In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum

2) The Coming of Shadows

1) The Long, Twilight Struggle


Jon’s bottom 3 episodes:

3) Come the Inquisitor

2) The Long Dark



Chris’s bottom 3 episodes:

3) The Long Dark

2) Geometry of Shadows

1) Soul Mates


The discussion of the network forcing JMS to include a hotshot pilot (Warren Keffer) is apparently from the DVD commentary to “The Fall of Night.”


The Fall of Night


Episode 45: The Fall of Night (Season 2, Episode 22)

Synopsis: In which Earthdome takes sides in the Centauri/Narn conflict, Zack falls deeper into the Night Watch, and Kosh is revealed.


A very brief overview of the Sudentenland crisis and Chamberlain’s Appeasement policy. Again, entire careers could be spent on this one issue, but here’s a very high level thumbnail:


Charles Lindbergh’s America First Committee was ostensibly focused on keeping America out of the war, but Lindbergh himself and others were suspected of being Nazi sympathizers. Certainly his racial and anti-Semitic views were in line with a lot of what the Nazis were selling at the time.


Comes The Inquisitor


Episode 44: Comes the Inquisitor  (Season 2, Episode 21)

Synopsis: In which the Vorlons send a sadistic mass murderer to judge whether Delenn and Sheridan are worthy, and G’Kar attempts to secure some help for his people.


“From Hell” is an amazing comic series from Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell focusing on the Jack the Ripper murders and, Victorian society, and mystical geography of late 19th century London. Incredibly detailed, very challenging.


“Letters from Whitechapel” is a really great logic/deduction boardgame.


The Prisoner’s “Once Upon a Time” where Number 2 attempts to break Number 6 using “degree absolute”


Legion An amazing show with an almost breathtaking presentation of telepathy and identity.


David Lee Roth’s “California Girls” The first minute or so of the video, before the song actually begins, has that same fisheye lens closeup technique we see in this video. It’s very unsettling in both contexts.


DS9’s “Empok Nor,” directed by Mike Vejar

The Long, Twilight Struggle


Episode 43: The Long, Twilight Struggle (Season 2, Episode 20)

Synopsis: In which the Narn/Centauri war comes to a tragic close.


Battlestar Galactica’s “33”:


It it nearly impossible to find an article on whether the decision to use the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to bring a quicker end to World War II was the “right” decision without the article having a bias toward one answer or the other, or that doesn’t devolve into “you are all idiots!” So in the end you get a wikipedia page  One could easily spend a lifetime analyzing the rationale for that one decision.


The Andromeda Strain is a fantastic film that 47 years later remains chilling


Star Blazers !!!


John Schuck is a national treasure

Divided Loyalties


Episode 42: Divided Loyalties (Season 2, Episode 19)

Synopsis: In which Lyta Alexander returns to expose that someone on the station is not what he or she seems.

The Ultra-Humanite, the best mind-transferring ape villain ever, on the cover of one of my favorite comics issues ever.

The Traveller returns. Not what you’d call a good episode.

“Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!” When this is the vibe your evil character is giving off in their gloating, it’s time to go back for another draft.

To go along with our discussion on paper in Babylon 5, here’s how to make a papercraft Omega-class Destroyer:

(no, my googling didn’t give me anything useful about why paper is so persistent in the B5-universe)

Patricia Tallman in Army of Darkness

Confessions and Lamentations


Episode 41: Confessions and Lamentations (Season 2, Episode 18)

Synopsis: In which an epidemic brings about the end of the Markab people.


“Your glasses are intact, you’ve got some books…”


“The Outcast” episode of TNG. What a stinker of a Very Special Episode.


“The Cloud Minders” episode of original Star Trek. Based on a story by our beloved David Gerrold. I (Chris) am not sure I’ve ever seen this episode.


Mary Douglas Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo


Perdo Zamora:


A discussion of the Diff’rent Strokes “Bicycle Man” episode:


Here’s an article on “Maude’s Dilemma” from 1992, fairly close to the time B5 was on the air:


“A Taste of Armageddon” Such a good episode.

“Far Beyond the Stars” (based on a story by Marc Scott Zicree, writer of B5’s “Survivors”)


Do we really need to link to Space: Above and Beyond again? I didn’t think so.


“Edith’s 50th Birthday” from All in the Family Again, Norman Lear showing how it should be done.


Family Ties’ “Speed Trap” They all look so young!

No shortage of “War is Hell” messages


Dammit, I (Chris again) said Norman Mailer instead of Norman Lear. TWICE! Bad liberal, no cookie!


Sense8 is (was) such a wonderful show, cut down too soon.  Imagine if, like B5, JMS and the Wachowski sisters had gone into the show with a five-year story planned out and had gotten the chance to tell it.


“You’ve wasted another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk” goes the line. The only show where the hosts laugh at their own jokes more than we do.

In The Shadow of Z'ha'Dum


Episode 40: In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum (Season 2, Episode 16*)

Synopsis: In which Mr Morden has Captain Sheridan’s undivided attention, and the secret history of the Shadows is revealed.


*It would be weird to have “Knives” after this episode. Sheridan’s reaction to seeing Anna’s ship would be VERY different.


“Coming to you live from the Kingdom of Nye in the High Desert of the Great American Southwest” - the intro of the legendary Art Bell (, who passed shortly before we recorded this episode. He wasn’t without his issues but there was no one like him and he defined a genre of radio - and possibly podcasting.


Tolkein’s Legendarium: The world is so much larger than the story you’re reading. A key element to any Mythic-level fantasy (or sci-fi).


The Vir Wave:

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Episode 39: Knives (Season 2, Episode 17*)

Synopsis: In which an old friend of Londo comes seeking a significant favor and once again strange things are afoot in Sector 14.

*The Lurker’s Guide notes that JMS says this episode should have come before “In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum” but was actually broadcast after it because it demanded so many special effects.

The Forms of Kanly have been obeyed!

Another great example of an honor-bound society with ritual combat: Wakanda. There’s a terrific dissertation in the treatment of ritual/honor in genre fiction and how it evolves over time to reflect the “current” world.

KJ Parker is a pseudonym for author Tom Holt. Jon and Chris cannot recommend Parker’s works enough.

Here’s a decent piece on Parker’s works for a new reader:

Devices and Desires, the first book of the Engineer Trilogy, was where we started. Pick it up and take a read and let us know what you think.

Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint Smaller “world,” more focused on a handful of characters.

Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series book 1.

Later books that spin out and explore more pieces of the world are fantastic as well. Another really terrific example of worldbuilding.

Carmen Argenziano. Where the heck have I seen this guy?

And Now For A Word


Episode 38: And Now for a Word (Season 2, Episode 15)

Synopsis: In which an ISN reporter comes to the station for a special feature on the Babylon project.

I went looking for Dateline clips from 1995 and came across this promo and wow, this is exactly the sort of thing that JMS is banging on about here, and frankly which hasn’t changed much in 20 years.

WCVB’s Chronicle  - your home for rustic New England nostalgia

Christian Science Monitor

Revisionist History’s episode on Churchill

Churchill and India:

Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing with Kyle MacLachlan:

From the Psi Corps commercial. What the heck is with that lamp???

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There All The Honor Lies


Episode 37: There All the Honor Lies (Season 2, Episode 14)

Synopsis: In which Captain Sheridan is accused of murdering a Minbari civilian and a gift shop opens on the station.


Peter David tells the story of the bear in this episode and how it became a long running back and forth between him and JMS:


From that piece I learned that the gift shop story was supposed to end with a bit about a toy gun being mistaken for a real gun, so it was not wholesale inserted by JMS simply to space the bear.

Mea culpa.


Simeon Stylites -  You know, 37 years on the top of a pillar sounds pretty good some days. As long as it gets wifi and I can get Chinese food delivered..


Carlin Barton’s Roman Honor: The Fire in the Bones


The Art of Manliness podcast episode with Prof. Barton. Well worth a listen.


w/r/t/ Gary Indiana


The Expanse also seems to use Mandarin/banded collar shirts as a shorthand for “the future.”

And Garibaldi’s shirt definitely has the Mandarin collar.