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Chronicling the Cylon War

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Over the last couple of years, novelists making a name for themselves in the comic industry have come in all shapes and sizes. From Brad Meltzer to Tamora Pierce, from Charlie Huston to Alexander Irvine, lots of writers have crossed over to the world of graphic storytelling. Because of this steady influx, many readers no longer raise an eyebrow when a new author takes on a comics project—it’s almost become standard practice.

With that in mind, Dynamite Entertainment must have thought that pairing two novelists on a top property would garner fandom’s attention, and announced with much excitement that Joshua Ortega (((Frequencies)), Necromancer, Star Trek: The Manga) and Eric Nylund (Halo novels) will jointly pen Battlestar Galactica: The Cylon War.

BF sat down with Nylund and Ortega to get the skinny on the miniseries, which will reveal what really went down during the first Cylon War and the 40-year truce that followed afterwards.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Battlestar Galactica: The Cylon War will act as a prequel to Dynamite’s recently started New Battlestar Galactica series. Will the title solely focus on the Cylon War?

JOSHUA ORTEGA: It’s a big story, very epic in its scope—it spans over 40 years¬ of Battlestar Galactica history—but it also possesses a very strong human element. And a very strong Cylon element, of course!

ERIC NYLUND: The title kind of gives it away, I’m afraid.  This is the story of why the Cylons turned on humanity, the ensuing war, and the rustling truce that leads up to the start of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries and television show.

BF: Which familiar faces are set to appear?

JOSHUA: Oh man, we’re going to seem really cagey here, but again, we can’t say too much at this point. Suffice to say, there will be some familiar faces in the story… though you may or may not catch ‘em!

ERIC: I can think of one familiar “face” that’s going to make an appearance.

JOSHUA: Touché!

BF: Is Cylon War expected to have some ramifications for the ongoing series that you know of?

JOSHUA: For me personally, and Eric may or may not agree here, but I see this less of a story that will create ramifications, as much as it’s a story that deals with ramifications and events that we’ve always heard about but haven’t been fully explored.

ERIC: Agreed.  It’s going to explain many of the biggest unanswered questions—like why the Cylons hate humanity.    

BF: How did each of you become involved in the project?

ERIC: Josh was talking to me one day about this hot new gig he had for Galactica.  I was enthused, and said, “Of course you know exactly what story you have to tell, what every fan is dying to know.  You’ve got to do the Cylon Wars, man!”  In about five minutes we sketched out all the major story beats.  Josh then asked if I wanted to co-write it with him.  Thanks, Josh!

JOSHUA: You’re welcome—just remember me at the holidays! Seriously though, let me add that this story would not be nearly as compelling without Eric… His talent for writing military Sci-Fi is really going to shine through here, and comic fans who are unfamiliar with his work are in for a real treat.

BF: How’s the team-up working out thus far? Is it more fun to write a project together than it is to write something by yourself?

JOSHUA: At least with Eric, it’s actually easier than writing solo. It may take a little bit longer since we need to go back and forth, but it’s great to a have a continual sounding board and editor, as well as someone to share the workload. So often when you’re writing, especially with “top secret” projects, you don’t have someone to bounce ideas off of, but when you’re co-writing you always have someone who’s in the same headspace, the same fictional world as you, and that’s a cool experience. Normally, you just have to talk to walls or whatever… [Laughs]

ERIC: It’s been a lot of fun.  Josh comes up with ideas that I’d never dream up!  By talking about the story conversationally, I think we go much deeper into the meaning behind everything than I normally would.

BF: So, Eric, how does it feel to take your first steps as a comic book writer? Is it turning out how you hoped it would, or does Josh have to ghost-write your next novel to make up and so you can sit back and relax? [Laughs]

ERIC: Ha!  I wish. My next novel is a 200,000 word behemoth!  Hardly a fair trade.  No, actually it’s been pretty fun... a lot like writing a screenplay without all those annoying limits on page count and restrictions on giving camera instruction and actor direction.  

BF: Who is the artist on the series and what does he bring to the table?

JOSHUA: Dynamite’s holding that announcement for a later date, so we can’t spill the beans!

BF: Joshua, when I interviewed you on Star Trek: The Manga, we briefly compared the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. While not as iconic as those two, many people feel Battlestar Galactica is the best Sci-Fi show on TV these days. Do you guys agree?

JOSHUA: Oh yeah, it’s the crown jewel in Sci-Fi television right now. No doubt.

ERIC: Absolutely!  Star Trek and Star Wars are great, iconic, as you say… but they’re not what people at work talk about in the hallway.  That’s Galactica.

BF: So then what do you guys feel are the biggest strengths of Battlestar Galactica? What makes it at once great science-fiction and different from other franchises in the same genre?

ERIC: First and foremost, Battlestar Galactica pulls NO punches.  People die.  Worlds get nuked.  There’s no going back via time travel and fixing things for a happy ending.  Every action, every life saved, and every friend that dies means something.  Also, the story is on-going. Much like the late-great Babylon 5, Galactica is not as episodic as most broadcast television shows.  There is one large story arc running through everything.  That makes people want to tune in (an anachronistic term there) to find out what happens next.

JOSHUA: Ditto what he said… Battlestar Galactica is really a unique property in Sci-Fi right now, and big thanks/props/shout-outs to Ron Moore and Co. for doing such an amazing job with the concept.

BF: Also, which do you prefer: the classic show or the new version?

ERIC: New Battlestar Galactica.  It’s harder hitting.  Grittier.  You can show things today on cable that you could never get away with decades ago on the original show.

JOSHUA: New Battlestar Galactica for storytelling and all-around experience, but Classic Battlestar Galactica will always have a great nostalgia factor for me—when you first heard those Cylon voices as a kid, man, that was sweet!

BF: Do you guys have a favorite episode as well?

ERIC: There’s no way I can pick just one. The best ones for me are Season 2: Resurrection Ship (both parts), Season 1: 33, and naturally the miniseries that started it all.

JOSHUA: Taken as a whole, definitely the miniseries for me.

BF: You mentioned earlier in this interview that you had to settle on the Cylon Wars story, because there’s a lot of stuff than can be adapted to comics. Any chance of either of you doing more Battlestar Galactica work?

ERIC:Sure.

JOSHUA: Yeah, I’m definitely open to the possibility. Just depends on what it is, what format, etc. Battlestar Galactica is a great universe, and it’s great to be able to contribute to its history.

BF: And, since you both love the genre so much, what about doing a new creator-owned Sci-Fi project together down the line?

ERIC: I have plans within plans, my friend. [Laughs] Take that as a “yes.”

JOSHUA: Agreed on both counts…we’re having a great time working on The Cylon War, and we’re constantly talking about new ideas and concepts, whether that’s comics, novels, video games, or movies. It’s all just a matter of what we each have time for, and the right time to do it...we’re both working on an incredible number of projects right now, but we’re used to juggling, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you heard about something before too long!

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