Babylon 5

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Fandom
Name: Babylon 5
Abbreviation(s): B5, Bab5
Creator: J. Michael Straczynski
Date(s): 1993 - 1998, 2002, 2007
Medium: television series, 6 movies
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: Babylon 5 at IMDb
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Babylon 5 is a science fiction television show that first aired on 26 January 1994.[1]

It is the story of the Babylon 5 space station, a neutral site meant to be a place where different planets and cultures can mingle and engage in non-violent diplomacy.

It was designed to be a five-year show, with one overarching story arc. Unfortunately, the show was threatened with cancellation, so the story had to be awkwardly wrapped up by the end of year 4. As it turned out, the show was not cancelled, and a fifth season was quickly written. Many fans mourn the possibilites that an uninterrupted arc would have brought.

The universe has gone on in in several tie-in books and three short-lived spin-offs: the two television series Crusade (1999, cancelled after 13 episodes) and Legend of the Rangers (2002, cancelled after just the pilot), and the 2007 straight-to-DVD movie Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.

Babylon 5 Fandom

Babylon 5 had a thriving internet-based fandom from its inception, thanks to the growing use of the web as the show started and the efforts of the show's creator. Babylon 5 has also been a popular show at general science-fiction conventions, for panel discussions, interviews, episode screenings, and cosplay.

Some fans also fondly remember or still play Babylon 5's official roleplaying game, wargame, and collectible card game.

Fan communities for Babylon 5 often sprung up on message boards, such as the official Warner Brothers and TNT fan sites. Pathfinder, for example, had a dedicated Babylon 5 message board which hosted a long-running real-time round-table fanfiction roleplay, called the Babylon 5 Never-Ending Story (Add Your Own Twists!) With several dozen participants, the narrative evolved from a free-for-all wish-fulfillment into a more structured story with planning, plot, and character development. The Never-Ending Story survived the merging of the dedicated Babylon 5 board into the general Sci-Fi Television board, a switch to a different hosting site entirely, and finally petered out on a mailing list.

This robust fandom community, however, had declined by 2000. In 2012, it was eligible for Yuletide, a fanworks community for "small" fandoms. A fan in 2012 said:
Babylon 5 went off the air just before the explosion of the Internet. But in—I'd say—'95 through '97, Babylon 5 was generating as much fiction as X-Files was. There were authors in Babylon 5 with as much popularity as authors in X-Files had. The thing is, it was kept off the newsgroups because JMS was there. It was kept on private mailing lists. It was kept on private websites. Because they didn't want the exposure. And everything is gone. [snipped] ...there wasn't [ever a major B5 fiction archive]. There were a bunch of little ones. And it was a very divided community. So there was Dia's old archive, there was the general archive, which didn't archive adult stuff, there was the John/Delenn archive, there were a couple other archives. So it started as a very divided fandom. And possibly because so many people formed private little lists— and the thing is—I just sometimes look at this, and I'm like, I know there was as much fiction being generated in that fandom, and it is all gone. And I saw some things—and one of the things that has always prompted me to keep on with Gossamer, and to try to keep it going and to try to keep it going the best you can, is because I watched a fandom disappear.... By 2000, Babylon 5 was gone. [snipped] To tell you the truth, I think a lot of people thought that they'd be embarrassed, because JMS also was friends with a lot of these people [in fandom]. Like, you know, they knew him, and—because the fandoms were just a lot smaller back then, and JMS was "out" in fandom, and you know, he came to all the cons and stuff. And, like, I was on the adult fanfic list back then, which was just R and NC-17 stuff that other fanfic lists didn't allow to be posted. And they didn't want JMS to know there was slash being written, and so, you know, they're keeping it private. And I guess, we never had a fear about Chris Carter and X-Files, so we didn't care. [2]

For a good overview of the fandom, see On Spreading the Gospel of Babylon 5.

International Fandom

On its first run in syndication, Babylon 5 aired internationally anywhere from several months to a year behind its US schedule. This led to much disgruntlement among international fans who wanted to participate in online activities, which were often overwhelmed with American fans wanting to discuss the latest episode. To keep up with the show in countries where the it wasn't airing yet, fans often copied and circulated VHS tapes with episodes recorded and mailed by American fans.

During the Gulf War, the Pentagon contacted JMS to tell him that the show improved morale among troops and to request advance synopses for episodes so that they could keep up with the airing schedule.[3]

Babylon 5 Fandom Today

After over twenty years, the fandom is still going strong. Even though the younger generation of fans mostly prefers the more 'comtemporary' fannish spaces, fandom has not completely abandoned Usenet either, and some of the old message boards, such as B5TV are also still around and active.

In journal-based fandom, Livejournal's Babylon 5 community is low-traffic but active, and the twice a month newsletter Universe Today collects discussion, fan fiction, art, and other interesting links from all over the web with plenty of links in each issues. There is also Babylon 5 Love Month, the annual fanworks fest celebrating the show.

One of the most active hubs of activity at the moment is on Tumblr, where the B5 fandom is well-known for welcoming new fans with open arms (and being considerate when it comes to spoilers). When a new fan posts in the B5 tag (usually to mourn for the perceived lack of fandom for B5), it is traditional for the other fans to reblog their post and welcome them to the fandom.

As one fan put it:

Seriously, though, the B5 fandom is probably one of the chillest fandom groups I’ve ever come across. You know what my favorite part about it is, though?

There’s no judgement. You could be an old fan of the show. You could be a brand new one. We don’t care. The general attitude seems to be that as long as you love it, we love you, too.

It’s funny because, in a way, I feel like our fandom does what the station itself set out to accomplish in the first place, and you know what? It’s beautiful. [4]

Characters

Pairings

Babylon 5 Fandom and The Powers That Be

From its inception, Babylon 5 fandom has had an accessible relationship with series creator, J. Michael Straczynski, as he was a regular contributor to the newsgroups alt.tv.babylon-5, rec.arts.tv.sf.babylon5 and rec.arts.tv.sf.babylon5.moderated.[5] JMS (as he is commonly known) would frequently answer fan questions about the show, not only about production or technical issues but about the backgrounds of the characters and the worlds he created. His posts, which are archived at jmsnews.com, are an early example of internet creator/fan based interactions [6].

Regarding his place as a showrunner and fan, he wrote in 1996:
I was on CIS and GEnie long before B5 got going. I figured, why change my habits just because now I was supposedly a vip? (And I'm not always comfortable with that designation.) Beyond that, my job as a writer is to know as much as I can about my characters and universe. In answering all these questions, I learn more about those areas, which helps me. Finally, it's a matter of being accessible and *accountable* to fans, as I'd wished producers had been when I was primarily a viewer. SF fans are generally the most exploited sorts of fans...you're told to line up, watch the show, buy the merchandise, and shut up. I didn't like it then, and I don't like it any better now that I'm on the other side of the lens. [7]

Fan interaction with JMS also helped to shape details in several episodes of the show. In the late first-season episode The Quality of Mercy, for example, there is a discussion of the rights of due process in a society where there are functional telepaths. JMS acknowledged on the newsgroup and in discussions that he fleshed out the on-screen discussion rather than glossing it over because there had been a high level of interest on the newsgroup.

Many cast members, such as Claudia Christian and Patricia Tallman, also often interact with fans online or at conventions, and contribute to fan-run projects such as The Babylon Podcast.

A good example of co-operation between fans and TPTB is Babylon 5: I've Found Her, a space combat simulator which continued the legacy of the cancelled Babylon 5: Into the Fire game with the help of the developers of the commercial game (and the unofficial blessing of JMS).[8]

JMS's Words

But JMS' active contact with fans was not all unicorns and roses. JMS' very frequent presence on USEnet meant that not only were discussions of fanfic prohibited, but also, apparently, fans' discussion of "scenes they'd like to see on the show."

September 1993:
Please do not post story suggestions for my view here. Any time this is done jeapordizes my ability to do anything approaching that story because of the ever-present reality of plagiarism suits. What you just proposed cuts into a story that we're developing, and now we're going to have to modify that in order to avoid any problems. This kind of thing causes us great difficulty. You can reassure all you want, but that doesn't change the reality...you seem like a nice fellow, but I don't know you, don't know if you'll change your mind, don't know anything. So I've had to make a blanket policy regarding stories: you can come up with stories, or I can be present. It's one or the other. I don't mean to sound harsh, because I know your intentions are good, but if this occurs again, I'm going to have to bail out of Internet altogether. This has happened once already; three would be too much. [9]
February 1994:

BABYLON 5 is owned by PTEN. The names, the characters, *and the situations* are all part of what is owned through copyright, trademark and other legal means. It can then choose to whom to license the right, for a fee, to produce material within that universe...novels, comics, whatever. That sub-entity then has the legal right to publish works that use the B5 universe. (And it's not just the names; if every character is the same, and the context is the same, and a work appears within that context with the names just changed, it is still copyright infringement.)

It is in the vested interests of PTEN to maintain ownership of its copyright and trademarks. Otherwise why should any publisher pay for the rights to, say, publish novels in that universe? If a work appears in the public domain, using copyrighted characters/situations, and is NOT gone after legally, then that portion of the original creation has itself slipped into public domain. PTEN is currently going after several of the companies that have provided services to B5, and then have gone around and published ads in various magazines using photos from B5 *without* the PTEN copyright notice. Those specific images run the risk now of becoming part of the public domain. This has to be stopped and will be stopped, by PTEN.

I understand the need, the utility, and the fun of fanzines. I've read many and own many. I, however, am not PTEN. I understand the desire to play with the characters, in electronic or printed form. But that has nothing to do with PTEN's desire to protect its copyright. The electronic medium -- BBSing -- has been found in several court hearings to constitute a form of publication. There are, in fact, now several electronic publishers who circulate books/stories via this medium. Any work appearing in this medium is subject to commonlaw copyright, so that the writer of that work owns it...which brings that writer into direct conflict if that work infringes upon the copyright of someone else.

If a flood of B5 stories (or camoflaged clones) began to appear on this or any other net, it would force PTEN to intervene legally with injunctions, cease-and-desist letters, and so on. My own feelings about this really don't enter into it.

It becomes a two-sided risk. On my behalf, I would simply have to withdraw rather than run the risk of being sued for something somebody might write that I might have seen. It doesn't have to be proven that I even saw it as long as I had *access* to seeing it. On the other hand, those doing so run the risk of entanglements of their own.

Is it fun? No. Not for either of us. Part of the reason I created the B5 universe was to see what other people would do with it. But this is the law. And the law doesn't have to be fair. It simply is. [10]
December 1994:
Re: 'zines...basically, I'm dealing with it the only way I can, which is to ask if such 'zines could be confined to nonfiction stuff during the first-run of the series. Afterward, do as you wish. jms [11]
March 1995:
Yes, I have asked that any B5 related zines refrain from now from (for now) from printing story ideas, as this could cause me great trouble. jms [12]
August 1995:
To this day, I don't think anyone at WB has ever had any kind of problem with fan computer art, freely distributed, based on the show, or altering images into something new and different. [13]
March 1996:
Except I don't think it's actually a story idea, but rather qualifies as parody (of a sort). Also, I've never said I'd go after anybody who posts story ideas, because I can't do that; I can only leave any forum where they come up. I can't interfere with that. Actual *published* fiction that infringes is another matter entirely, of course. [14]
June 1996:
I think the main reason there isn't much fanfiction is that I've specifically asked for there not to be any until after we've finished our run. And as is generally true of the SF fan community, if you ask nice and respectfully, you will generally be accommodated. [15]
October 1996,:

Bottom line, and real simple:

I've asked that fans *not* write any fan fiction set in the B5 universe while the show is on the air. Remember, most ST fanfic began after the show was over, to keep those characters alive. We're still around.

Fanfic is a threat to us, in that if someone writes a story, puts it in a fanzine, and something remotely similar is done in the show, that person could decide to sue. It happens; Marion Zimmer Bradley lost an entire *book* over this, when her publisher refused to put the book out because of the threat of lawsuit from a fanzine with a similar story. [16]

When someone posted a basic story idea similar to what was planned for "Passing Through Gethsemane," that script went into cold storage for over a year; only when the fan involved offered (greatly chagrined) to write and sign a legal release, and delivered it to me, could that story be put back into prep. If he had not been this kind, THAT EPISODE WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN MADE. Roll that one around for a while.

It seems to me that if someone wants to write B5 fanfic, it's because that fan likes the show, appreciates what's done, and respects those who created it. And that selfsame fan would not want to jeapordize the continued existence of that show. And would, therefore, honor this request from those who make it for the duration of the show. jms [17]

Babylon 5 Fanworks and the JMS Effect

While some fans reveled in JMS's participation and lurking on the discussion boards, other fans found JMS's presence in "their" space to have a chilling effect on conversation: "You definitely didn't want to go off on a rant about his, say, dialogue skills, for example. [You'd have to find] some other place if you wanted to talk about that." [18]

Another fan said: "Since he hung out in lots of different places, it meant there was no fan fiction in any of them. Which was a sort of a weird—like, you could say many many things about episodes, and people did immense quantities of analytics and whatever. But they had to be really, really cautious about where they posted their fan fic." [19]

Straczynski constantly requested that fans not post fanfiction or story ideas to the newsgroup he frequented as he didn't want his copyright compromised by the possibility of being seen to have stolen a fan's idea.[20] In one case he went so far as to delay an episode's production, pushing it off for a season, until he could get a release from the fan who had suggested a similar idea on the newsgroup.[21].

At least one zine, Third Age, was also dead in the water before it even began because of the no-fic policy.

JMS's interactions with fans was often sharp; he could be very blunt and critical of fans' comments. Some very random examples:

  • "Excuse me for being blunt, but since you're being blunt, you shouldn't mind a blunt observation in return. You are an idiot. [22]
  • "Excuse me, Michelle, but I resent your message. [...] I'm sorry if it's not sufficiently nasty at this point to satisfy your bloodthirstiness." [23]
  • "I would remind a very few of the feebs I noted before that in fact, there WAS no rec.arts.b5 area until I showed up on the alt group. At that point, membership jumped *dramatically* enough to merit the formation of a rec.arts group. I have no particular infatuation with my own sense of importance -- much the contrary -- but I do know that my being here is in many ways directly responsible for there BEING a B5 rec group. Now I'm being told, "Hey, why make special rules for him, who cares, let him blow off if he doesn't like it." [24]

Constant Pleas, and Constant Attempts to Control Fan Comments

JMS often spoke of being online 3-4 hours a day [25], mentioned the vast amount of email messages he received [26], and provided his personal email address, to fans. He spoke of being the only television executive of being online and interacting with fans in a meaningful way [27], and appeared to gain a lot of energy from these interactions. However, the thin line between being a showrunner, an accessible go-to guy, and a fan was a delicate balancing act. Because of these relationships, and transparency, JMS also spent a lot of time controlling what fans could say and where.

In 2001, he wrote:

I'm responding to this here because this individual ALSO sent me the note quoted here using my email account.

>How about a one or half season series about valen and the shadow war a 1000 years ago. Valen could come into the series after a 1 or 2 episodes, after wee see how the minbari were left with no central HQ.

I'm responding to this here because it seems no matter how many times I say it, there's always Somebody Who Doesn't Get the Message.

How many times are we going to have to go through this?

1) DO NOT USE MY EMAIL FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN PERSONAL ITEMS THAT CANNOT BE DISCUSSED ON THE NETS.

Do not COPY me on your public messages here, do not SEND me questions about how fast the White Star can fly vs. the Enterprise, do NOT use my email to ask about the frickin' DVDS, and

2) DO NOT SEND ME STORY IDEAS *EVER* FOR ANY REASON, ESPECIALLY IN EMAIL!

Understand that my being here is always a precarious compromise. If somebody sends me a story idea, and it happens to be anywhere NEAR what I am thinking about doing or might do in the future, it puts me at SUBSTANTIAL LEGAL RISK of being sued.

Think it's an unnecessary concern? Ask Marion Zimmer Bradley, who lost a whole NOVEL due to EXACTLY this sort of thing.

Because this has been posted here, you can be absolutely sure that I will now not do ANYTHING like this, at ANY time.

Let me be plain: this crap endangers my ability to participate on ANY and ALL net discussions. I've made only one really hard and fast rule, one request of the fans: DO NOT DO THIS TO ME. Do not put me in this position.

Do NOT abuse the email privilege, and do NOT send me story ideas.

Because eventually, if it continues, I will have to withdraw totally from all nets because it's not worth the legal danger, and it's not worth having to slog through ten thousand emails asking me about B5 weapons systems and the like. (And ever since the reruns began on SFC, I've been FLOODED with such emails.)

I apologize for having to be loud about this, but this really has to stop. If necessary I'll close this email account and use only a private one. [28]

"Why Am I Here?

In June 1995, JMS explained why he was online communicating with fans. See Why are you here?.

An excerpt from this lengthy explanation, and rant:

Okay, you want it straight up? Here it is. I'm here for a number of

reasons. 1) I like to get kind of a sense of the room; I'm not going to change anything, but writing for TV is like writing for a vacuum; you nevr (never) get to see the reaction. This is the ONLY chance I get to get a reaction to something I've written and produced, and maybe it's ego, maybe it's just that I work very hard to make something effective, and want to see if it had the desired effect. Writers and artists and singers are like that.

2) I think that TV producers in general get a very skewed sense of who's in the audience. This exchange gives access to people across the country to someone who makes TeeVee, and lets me hear them. How often would someone in Clearwater, Oklahoma, have the chance to express an opinion to someone in LA making a TV series? Not bloody often. And that is in large measure, I think, why TV has become so insular. And so unresponsive to its audience. So I'm kind of a test-case volunteer for this, in the hopes of luring more producers onto the nets and creating a more open exchange, making producers accountable for what they make.

3) I've dedicated over 15 years of my life to trying to demystify TV production and writing. I've written columns and columns, reams of articles, a book...all trying to help people understand how this medium works, because you can't control or influence something unless you truly UNDERSTAND it...why things are done a certain way. This is part of an educational project that I've been doing for over a decade, a natural outgrowth of that process. By the time this is all done, there will be an online document of hundreds of archival pages -- maybe thousands -- covering the development, birth and ongoing creation of a TV series at a depth never before chronicled, which will be available to students and universities and ordinary folks. I think that's a valuable experiment.

Finally: 4) I'm an SF fan. I think SF fans are, overall, the most exploited bunch around. They're expected to line up, buy the toys, watch the show and shut the hell up. I think it's time some respect for that audience was shown by allowing them a voice. This is part of my sense of personal obligation to the field that spawned many wonderful years of reading. [29]

Fan Comments

Regarding fanfiction:
I've been informed that J.M.S., as the creator of Babylon Five prefers to be called, requests that no one write B-5 stories until the series is officially and irrevocably cancelled, some five years hence. This doesn't exclude artwork or filk..." [30]
Several months ago I wrote to J. Michael Straczynski to inform him of my plans to publish a fan publication based on Babylon 5. I finally received a reply a couple of weeks ago from Joanne Higgins (assistant to Straczynski) of Babylonian Productions. Even though my letter emphasized the fact that this fanzine was not for profit, Ms. Higgins has expressly forbidden me to publish Third Age, stating that "all publications using the Babylon 5 name must be licensed through Warner Brothers as they own the rights." Apparently Warner Bros does not share Paramount's view that fan publications increase fan awareness and commercial success of a series (Paramount has no problem with Star Trek fanzines as long as they are non-profit). Warner must also be unaware of the other B5 fan publications that are out there. As a result, I will not be publishing Third Age as planned. I've written back expressing my disappointment in this apparent "ban" on B5 fandom. [31]
Not only did JMS request that fanfic be kept from his eyes, or not written in the first place, JMS's online presence was also another reason for there being less fanfic: A fan in 1996 wrote:

.... with as tolerant as jms has been of this stuff despite my gut feeling that it squicks him, I am quite prepared to keep it out of his hair if it makes life easier for him.

Frankly, though, there's a very simple idea why fanfic is written -- most character-centered fans watched the old "City on the Edge of Forever" show and went nuts at what happened to Kirk -- my god, the man's guts got torn out and stomped on. And next week, he was back bright eyed and bushy tailed -- that was just TOO much to take. And so fans started writing the stuff because otherwise the entire universe made NO fucking sense. It was at least partly an attempt to square the universe with real life and do the character-centered things that you knew WOULD have happened had the writers had any balls or desire to maintain episode to episode consistency.

But hell -- B5 doesn't DO any of that halfassed crap. There's no NEED to write "what happened when Marcus's colony got toasted and how he feels," because it was alluded to in one episode. Jms creates his people so realistically and gives them enough texture that you know it's going to come up anyhow. Why write the story yourself when you know the producer will get around to it in good time? No need to write "How John and Delenn came to love one another" because the typical bullshit angle of "well, they just uh, did" wasn't taken -- we *saw* it evolve over time so there was no need to create it.

Fanfic is written to fill gaps that drive you up walls. B5 has no gaps, so there's nothing to fill. This is I think why, even taking the "keep it out of jms's hair" thang into consideration, there is VERY LITTLE B5 fanfic written compared to other shows. You don't need to texture the universe and give it the depth of real life that is so badly lacking in Trek, f'rinstance. He already gives it that. [32]

JMS's no fan fiction policy--or, more accurately, a policy of "I can never say that I am in favor of fan fiction"-- was seen by fans as a request to keep the fanfiction where he could not see it. For a few years there was little Babylon 5 fanfiction openly published on the internet, with only a few archives and no discussion about it on the major message boards and forums. Because of this, Gen fans found themselves in the unusual position, formerly the place of slash fans, of needing to be introduced to invite only fiction mailing lists.

Art print of Marcus by Tim Kuzniar. Print is water damaged

Fanworks Today

After the show ended, the 'ban' on fanfiction should have been lifted. But even as late as 2001, JMS was trying to control fans and their questions and fanworks: "In 2001, he wrote:

I'm responding to this here because this individual ALSO sent me the note quoted here using my email account.

>How about a one or half season series about valen and the shadow war a 1000 years ago. Valen could come into the series after a 1 or 2 episodes, after wee see how the minbari were left with no central HQ.

I'm responding to this here because it seems no matter how many times I say it, there's always Somebody Who Doesn't Get the Message.

How many times are we going to have to go through this?

[snipped]

2) DO NOT SEND ME STORY IDEAS *EVER* FOR ANY REASON, ESPECIALLY IN EMAIL!

Understand that my being here is always a precarious compromise. If somebody sends me a story idea, and it happens to be anywhere NEAR what I am thinking about doing or might do in the future, it puts me at SUBSTANTIAL LEGAL RISK of being sued. [33]

It is unknown when Babylon 5 fanworks became more visible.

Popular topics for fanfiction now include what-if alternate universe stories (What if the Minbari did not surrender at the Battle of the Line, what if Sinclair was never replaced by Sheridan), relationship-centric stories featuring both canon pairings (John Sheridan/Delenn, Susan Ivanova/Talia Winters, Susan Ivanova/Marcus Cole) and non-canon pairings (Delenn/Susan Ivanova, Marcus Cole/Neroon, Londo Mollari/G'Kar, Sinclair/Garibaldi), and continuations of the original 5-year canon both gen and relationship-centric.

Babylon 5 was considered too large fandom for Yuletide until 2009, when it was allowed under the ten year rule (Crusade had been eligible for a few years until being disqualified because of the franchise rule). However, the next year it was again deemed not rare based on the number of stories on AO3 - only to allowed back again in 2012.

Inclusion of Gay Characters

In 1993, JMS said:
We have no intention of avoiding the gay question. We will not, however, do a "gay story," which is usually described by those friends and acquaintances of mine in derogatory terms...a la, "fags are people too."

The sense I get is that they resent the hell out of that kind of patronizing approach. The one suggestion that comes most often is, "Why not simply introduce a character, we get to know that character over the run of a season, and at some point discover, practically in passing, that this person is bi or gay...*don't* make a big issue out of it, just show it."

And that's what we're going to do. jms [34]

Tensions with Star Trek Fandom

Don't you think it's just the *teensiest* bit unfair to compare a show with a TWENTY SEVEN YEAR HISTORY to something that's only been on the air

less than two seasons? If B5 and ST came on the air at the same time, then you could make this comparison fairly. ST has, over nearly three decades, become part of the culture; B5 doesn't have that advantage.

On the whole issue of so-called "Trek bashing," part of my brain explodes every time I see this discussion dredged up from whatever place it rests in between sessions. For 27 years, many ST fans held up that show as being the Ultimate in TV SF. "Well, X is okay, but it's not as good as STAR TREK!" "Show Y really sucks next to Star Trek." And so on.

So now somebody says, "Well, Star Trek is okay, but it's not as good as BABYLON 5" and suddenly I hear a lot of whining and whinging and "Tell the bad mans to stop making fun of us! That's not fair!" Seems to me it's only not fair because somebody other than ST fans is saying it. (And please don't tell me the former stuff didn't happen; I've been on the nets since 1984 and at cons/in fandom since forever, and I've seen it.)

Most of the ST fans, I should point out, are quite accepting of B5; what I see most often is those who did the most bashing of every other show falling entirely to pieces because now they're at the other end of it, as though their show should be sacrosanct. To whom I simply say...tough. Deal with it, pink boy, it's *your* turn in the barrel, and if you don't like it, then maybe you shouldn't have been doing it yourself all these years.

This leads to comments like those from (either Berman or) Pillar in a recent magazine interview, in which he stated that yes, there are lots of other SF shows out there, but because his show has the Star Trek name on it, he really doesn't have to keep up with or have any sense of competition with any other show, since that name gives them an automatic advantage. That speaks to the heart of why many ST fans are now having a problem with that show, whose motto seems to be, "We're Star Trek, we don't HAVE to try harder." (Reminiscent of the SNL routine, "We're the phone company. We don't care. We don't have to.") It's sheer complacency.

When some ST fans berate or criticize other shows, they feel they do so from a perspective of quality, and thus they're automatically right; if another fan of another show does it to them, well, by golly, that's not

informed criticism, it CAN'T be, because ST is the True One Light, it must be BASHING! Screw that. [35]
If I had to turn to the Star Trek community, and express a concern, it would be only this. Gene Roddenberry advanced the idea of IDIC. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. It is another word for open-mindedness. Because Babylon 5 is on the air, it does not constitute a threat in any way to Star Trek. One is

no more disloyal to ST by checking out B5 than one is disloyal to the original Trek by watching a show using the same name but in no way created by the creator of Trek (Voyager).

We are not Trek. We have no obligation to be Trek. Nor, really, do I think anyone would want us to be Trek, because then we *are* irrelevant and redundent. We are another view of the future. It's not the same as the Star Trek future, but another possibility... which of course gets us into philosophical areas, and some of the objections some ST fans have toward B5 are, indeed, philosophical; this is how they want the world to be 250 years from now. Fair enough, and I don't have a problem in the world with that.

I have no problem with ANYone who gives B5 a fair shake, and then decides it's not for them; anyone who actually *embraces* the idea of IDIC and practices it; anyone who gives B5 the kind of fair chance that ST fans wish would've been given to the original show back in the 60s. Yet all too often, when someone comes into the B5 section on a kamikaze run, after they've dropped the bombs, you discover that, in fact, they've never seen the series, never seen more than some promos, or two minutes of a show; the same people who will, by their own statements, stick with a new Star Trek series, even though they hate aspects of it, for whole *seasons* until they figure out how to get it right.

There is NO reason for animosity between ST fans and B5 fans, for the simple reason that, every day, we gain more fans who began as ST fans, and in many cases CONTINUE to enjoy that show. Any hostility is as fundamentally silly as fans of Hill Street Blues declaring open warfare against anyone who likes NYPD Blue because they both have the word Blue in the title, and HSB was there first.

All that anyone wants, I guess, is that the show be given a fair chance. The lack of that chance was what helped drive the original Star Trek off the air after two years initially, and finally after the third. I can't see any reasonable

ST fan, knowing that history, and decrying it, then doing it to another. [36]

Also see JMS comments on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 at USEnet, see "Re: DS9 vs B5 comments," June 20, 1995

Fanzines

Links to Babylon 5 fanzines can be found at Category:Babylon_5

Forums, Mailing Lists

Fan Clubs

Meta/Further Reading

Resources

References

  1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0517669/
  2. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Deirdre (2012)
  3. As related in the Babylon 5 script books.
  4. Knightless about Tumblr-based fandom here.
  5. http://www.midwinter.com/b5/Usenet/
  6. The posts have also been collected into a five-part book series, compiled by JMS and a team of fans, that contains of every question JMS had ever answered on Usenet, AOL bulletin boards, GEnie, and in online chats, sorted by category. The books total approximately 2,000 pages and cover 5,296 questions. More here; reference link.
  7. from a CompuServ transcript
  8. I've Found Her official site
  9. Date: 8 Sep 1993 01:02:39 -0400 Subject: Scene I would like to see
  10. Re: Ban on creative works? Huh... (comment on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated); WebCite, February 13, 1994
  11. Perhaps the whole gay issue might... (comment on GEnie); WebCite, December 23, 1994
  12. ATTN JMS: Question regarding fanzines (comment on GEnie); WebCite, March 3, 1995
  13. from JMS in a CompuServ transcript, August 16, 1995
  14. from a CompuServ transcript, subject line was "Subject: B5 vs. DS9 filk story?"
  15. from a CompuServe transcript
  16. A oft-repeated urban myth, one carelessly repeated. See Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy for a much more nuanced reality.
  17. comment by JMS at rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, How does JMS feel about fan fiction?, October 7, 1996
  18. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Jinjurly (2012)
  19. Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Eruthros (2012)
  20. http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/resources/story-ideas.html
  21. http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/countries/us/guide/048.html
  22. Usenet, "Date: 27 Aug 1993 01:27:56 -0400 Subject: Re: A little scenario"
  23. Usenet, "Date: 23 Jun 1995 04:18:41 -0400 Subject: Re: Holy JMS-Re: DS9 establish"
  24. from Why are you here?, June 3, 1995
  25. "I spend 3 hours per day just on the internet." -- Why are you here?
  26. "It's now 2:03 a.m., and I have 248 Internet messages in my mailbox to get through before I crash tonight." - Why are you here?
  27. "I am, insofar as I know, the ONLY television producer to be on-line to this extent, creating what is really an interactive experience." -- Why are you here?
  28. at rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, reposted to Re: JMS Top Secret Projects??? FROM JMS, January 10, 2001
  29. posted to rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated: reposted at The Worlds of JMS; WebCite, June 3, 1995
  30. from the editorial of Grip #48 in 1994
  31. from Trexperts #37
  32. Janis C at How does JMS feel about fan fiction?, October 1996, comment at rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated
  33. at rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, reposted to Re: JMS Top Secret Projects??? FROM JMS, January 10, 2001
  34. at rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, reposted at WebCite, December 12, 1993
  35. from J. Michael Straczynski : CompuServ transcript, May 29, 1995
  36. from J. Michael Straczynski : CompuServ transcript, June 12, 1995
  37. reference link.