This is a quick review of Eaglemoss and Hero Collector’s Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships.
The 192-page hardback is due out later this month.
I found the book fascinating.
I’m absolutely a BSG fan, but only in the casual sense. I can’t tell you the names of ships, the ranks of characters or when we first saw that supporting role.
I just know what I like, and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica with its spin-offs captured my attention. Even the spin-offs. They even provoked some nostalgia for the original, despite the silly robot dog.
With that in mind, I might not have been the target audience for a book all about the spaceships seen in both show variants. It might have been too niche, too specifically nerdy for my flop-on-sofa-and-relax interest.
However, I also adore art, and this book is full of it.
What’s Designing Spaceships like?
There are essentially three things inside this Battlestar Galactica book. There’s
- Art in the shape of spaceship renders, illustrations and sketches
- Clever commentary joining dots behind the scenes
- Quotes from the people involved
Mark Wright, Paul Ruditis and Ian Spelling pulled the manual together, and they have experience. Wright is a journalist and an author. He’s worked on tie-ins with the likes of Power Rangers and Doctor Who. You frequently see his name in the Doctor Who magazine, and he co-wrote The Borg and The Delta Quadrant.
Paul Ruditis, meanwhile, has also covered TV shows for companion books. We’re talking about other Battlestar Galactica projects, Star Trek, Buffy, the Walking Dead and even Charmed. The Star Trek Visual Dictionary was his work.
Suffice to say, these two know what will interest fans. Those could be die-hard BSGs or casual like myself. I was in safe hands, I felt, with Designing Spaces. If there was a story out there for the sharing, Wright and Ruditis would include it if it was good to know. If there were insightful dots to be connected, those connections would be made.
In contrast, quotes from crew and talent on the show are random. Sometimes there’s great insight. Sometimes we discover the show went with a spaceship design because “it looked neat”.
As it happens, I think the latter is just as worthy information. I found it quite entertaining to see how much thought went in… and how much didn’t!
A good chunk of Battlestar Galactica’s success seems to be down to instinct and natural talent rather than fiendishly clever audience intelligence.
Given that we’re dealing with designs from the legendary Ralph McQuarrie and the likes of Eric Chu and Andrew Probert, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Look and feel
I don’t mind admitting it; there’s a vanity aspect to owning Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships.
And it comes through.
It’s not as if I’ll need to design a fleet of stalwart heroes who have a fighting chance of escorting the last of humanity through the skies in search of a new home/old home.
Okay, as a tabletop gamer, I might be designing a fleet in fiction. However, I won’t need the same sort of aesthetic considerations that this book gets into it.
But, absolutely, I will have friends over (lockdowns allowing) and Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships absolutely is a book I can distract them with while I make some coffee. Therefore, I want it to look good.
It looks good, and it looks clever.
Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships isn’t scared of white space or pictures that fit nicely on to neither one or two pages exactly, and yet it all fits together.
Nothing is crowded. Yes, there are some pretty bare bone sketches in there but not too many, and it never looks like the authors barely had enough source material, and we’re now padding things.
It’s a graceful book to flick through. That said, I’ve a PDF copy, not the hardback that’s coming to shops. Not a complaint, but it means I can’t judge the production values, weight or paper-turn joy. I suspect, though, it’ll be high. Hero Collector is for collectors.
Across the two shows, there are 18 ships, including some of the Cylon’s own menace.
Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships isn’t just for hardcore BSG fans, but it is for fans.
To get the most from this book, you must either want to know details about Battlestar or, like the show, lean towards sci-fi and be interested in the process. If you can’t check off enough of those boxes, then I don’t think this could possibly be a bingo. It’s too niche.
My strong hunch, though, is that most people reading this review on Geek Native are BSG-orientated enough to appreciate the book. It’s one of those titles that will see a flurry of sales over Christmas, I suspect and then settle back onto the slow and steady where it’ll be ready for the next BSG rumour.
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships to read in advance, for free, to review..
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