The Babylon 5 Quotient

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Title: The Babylon 5 Quotient
Creator: J. Michael Straczynski
Date(s): 1992
Medium: online
Fandom: Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
External Links:
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The Babylon 5 Quotient is by J. Michael Straczynski. It was originally posted to a CompuServ bulletin board on January 22, 1992 and reprinted in that month in CCSTSG Enterprises #18, likely without permission.

Some Topics Discussed

  • the work that went into creating Babylon 5
  • how fabulous the show will be
  • how Deep Space Nine's creators ripped off JMS' ideas, and is a pretty strong shot across the bow of TPTB which couldn't have made him many friends


There is a lot you can do on a space station... That's the premise of Babylon 5, a TV series that's going to begin with a 2-hour movie airing Fall '92, and which has been in development with Warners for a very, very long time now. Last November the project was given a green light for production, and will roll film in May...

There has been a series bible [including 200 pages of backstory], pilot script (now being revised) and extensive artwork on this project for several years...and we have already locked down some of the country's leading SF writers to write scripts for the series. An entire 5-year story arc has been prepared. The development of any TNG spinoff came not very long after B5 was announced as a Go...

By the way, about two years ago, with the support of the CEO of United Television Network — the centerpiece of the new Warners consortium of stations that will air Babylon 5 — we pitched B5 to Paramount. The head of development there loved it, but said that at that time it conflicted with Star Trek... (Paramount's DS9 announcement is) an astonishing coincidence... At this time the sense seems to be, Let's let the two shows go on and compete fairly in the marketplace. If it's big enough to support two such shows, all the better. If not, let the best show survive. Darwinism in action. They will be very different [shows]. The Star Trek show will, after all, still be bound by many of the same rules that obtain in TNG, since it's been announced that they will occupy the same universe, there will still be the Federation, and so on. Babylon 5 has no such restrictions. Thus, you will see more internal conflict on B5, whereas I would imagine the DS9 will put more emphasis on external conflict. As with the current TNG, you'll doubtless have a show with a fairly homogenous crew facing disparate outsiders. On B5, you'll have a show with a very disparate crew, ambassadors, and travelers in conflict with each other.

...The ST universe is, with some exceptions, still the some basic universe we've hod now for 25 years; Klingons and Romulans and the Federation and the like. Babylon 5 represents the first real attempt since ST to create a new, completely thought out SF universe for television, with specific alliances and players and governments... Given that a) B5 was pitched to Paramount two years ago, and that they hod a copy of the full series treatment, two-hour screenplay and artwork, and b) the go-ahead for 65 was announced in the trades in November, and the concept for the new Trek show was developed quickly in December, there has been some speculation by others that the development people nudged the creative people in the direction of a space station in order to undercut or co-opt B5.

The greater proportion of people, however, accept what seems to be the case...that some ideas are simply in the ether, and a station like B5 or DS9 is a logical option. Also, bear in mind that the show is not entitled "Star Trek: Deepspace 9," just "Deepspace 9"[1], which alters the ownership or the show and alters such aspects as royalties and the like. It's a spinoff, not a sequel. TNG is a sequel. A spinoff must have its own identity, which in this case means you can't have it on a spaceship, or if s a sequel. So you're left with a space show that can't be on a starship. So what's left?...

Let's see what you make of this. I'm just putting it all together. The key to this, again, is remembering that Paramount had the B5 screenplay, bible, artwork, and series premises 2 years ago...and still has it.

Babylon 5 was developed over several years, and announced by Warner Bros, in November.

Deepspace 9 was hurriedly developed in November/December.

Babylon 5 and Deepspace 9... similar names.

Babylon 5 is a self-sufficient deep-space station out on the fringe.

Deepspace 9 is a self-sufficient deep-space station out on the fringe.

Both B5 and DS9 have alien representatives on board.

Babylon 5 is located at a major transit point for travelers from one sector to another, via a jump point.

Deepspace 9 is located beside a worm-hole making it a major transit point for travelers from one sector to another.

The B5 screenplay utilized a shape-shifter as a major plot point.

Deepspace 9, according to today's (1/22) USA Today, utilizes a shape-shifter as a major plot point.

Interesting, no?


  1. ^ the ed of CCSTSG Enterprise adds: "not sure this is true — there are conflicting titles in the press"