Stargate Universe: Air, by James Swallow (Fandemonium, 2009), ISBN: 1905586469, $7.95 U.S., £6.99 U.K., 288 pages.
It can be said that the novelization of an episode is nothing more than the script put into prose. And, in some ways, the novelization of “Air,” the Stargate Universe premiere, is just that. Lines and scenes are reproduced verbatim and there are certainly no plot twists or surprises not seen in the 3-hour episode. What you saw on the screen is pretty much what you’re going to read in the book.
That said, the novelization of an episode does benefit from a freedom from time limits, special effects budgets and actor availability. As such, it can be a richer and more rounded experience than the episode itself.
Anyone who has read the Harry Potter books and then watched the movies, for example, knows that sacrifices are often made to move a plot or keep to a time limit when a written work is turned into a visual one. And, in this case, what was likely a couple hundred script pages were embellished and expanded upon to turn them into almost 300 pages of story.
In this novelization we get a glimpse into Lt. Vanessa James’s attitude and personality. We have insight into that infamous broom closet scene that we don’t get from the episode. And that’s not the only scene, nor is Lt. James the only character whose mind and mentality we get to peek into.
We find out bits about Nicholas Rush and his motivations, and the feelings of Eli Wallace, Matthew Scott and others. We get to peek into characters’ minds, and read in words those actions and feelings that previously were only left up to the interpretation of the viewer.
When I started to read Air, I was expecting to re-experience the 3-part episode. And I did. But I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the book contains more than the episode does. Are you curious what O’Neill and Rush talked about on their way to pick up Eli? Or would you like to have a bit more of the conversation between Carter and O’Neill? We get expanded scenes with Jack and an explanation of why people are stationed at the Pentagon, along with an insight into just how Homeworld Security works.
Those scenes – and more – are in there and they certainly add to and embellish an already good story.
There’s no way to know if these scenes were originally in the script and cut for time, or if they are additions by the author. If the former, I’d love to see the DVD release include them. If the latter, then the author’s handle on and interpretation of the characters lines up with mine, which makes it an enjoyable read.
As I was reading it I did discover one odd thing that stood out — a scene between Young and his wife that I didn’t remember from “Air.” And I was right, it wasn’t in “Air,” it was in “Darkness.” This suggests to me that perhaps the scene was shot, cut from the series premiere and then inserted in the later episode. I have to admit, it makes more sense in “Air” than it did in “Darkness.”
All in all, the novelization is what it is: prose written from the scripts of the episodes. There will be no shocking plot twists, no fantastic revelations. However, if you enjoyed the 3-hour premiere, you will enjoy this book. And the knowledge you get from it is knowledge that will give you a greater sense of insight and understanding in the characters of the show.
I enjoyed the writing style and I enjoyed the book. I recommend it to anyone that liked the premiere.
Reviews represent the opinion of the author, and not necessarily that of GateWorld or its owner.