As you can tell from my Amazon.com name, "Battlestar Galactica" is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi series. Shown on ABC-TV from 1978-79, it was the most expensive sci-fi series aired on television up to that time (it cost roughly $1 million per episode, which led ABC to cancel it after only one season, despite its consistently high ratings). The large and impressive cast was led by Lorne Greene (Pa Cartwright of "Bonanza"), as Commander Adama, the captain of a huge warship called the Galactica. The Galactica was (presumably) the only human warship to survive a sneak attack by the Cylons, a race of ruthless, single-minded mechanized warriors whose primary mission was to exterminate the entire human race. After destroying humanity's defense fleet, the Cylons then laid waste to the twelve human colonies, killing billions. Under Adama's leadership the survivors of this holocaust gathered together a large rag-tag collection of old spaceships. They set sail for the legendary "lost" thirteenth human colony, Earth, presumably the last outpost of human civilization in the universe. Of course, the Cylons had no intention of allowing the last remaining humans to escape, and so they began a relentless pursuit of the human fleet, led by a scheming human traitor named Baltar and his sinister android assistant, Lucifer.
This novel, "The Living Legend", is based on one of Battlestar Galactica's most memorable episodes. As the episode begins the Galactica and her fleet of survivors are in desperate shape, as the fleet has nearly run out of fuel, and three Cylon battleships (called "basestars") are closing in for the kill. However, a fighter patrol led by Adama's son Apollo and his best friend Starbuck are captured and taken to another human warship - the famed Battlestar Pegasus, led by the legendary military genius, Commander Cain (Lloyd Bridges, in a memorable guest performance). The Pegasus was thought to have been destroyed in a battle with the Cylons years earlier, but Cain's military genius had allowed the Pegasus to escape and survive in Cylon-controlled space. Cain is often a hot-tempered, egotistical rulebreaker, and he and the higher-ranking Commander Adama soon butt heads as to who's in charge of the human fleet. But it soon becomes clear to Adama that Cain - for all of his recklessness and refusal to follow orders - is also the only person who can defeat Baltar and the Cylons, capture the fuel supplies his fleet desperately needs, and thus save the human race. This two-part episode featured some great battle scenes (the special effects for the series were created by John Dykstra, who did the FX for the first "Star Wars" movie), and it is often listed by fans as the single most popular episode of the original series.
This short novel, written by "Galactica" creator and producer Glen Larson, adds a wealth of detail to the episode's storyline, and while I don't expect a TV novelization to resemble fine literature like "Cold Mountain" or even Stephen King, this novel is surprisingly well-written, and the prose flows smoothly. If, like me, you enjoyed watching the "Battlestar Galactica" TV series as a kid, then you'll probably enjoy reading this account of a fondly-remembered episode. Long live the Pegasus!