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review 2020-01-14 11:08






THE GALAXY BRITAIN BUILT: The British Talent Behind Star Wars

David Whiteley

Foreword By Robert Watts: Star Wars Production Supervisor And Producer

Publisher: BearManor Media
Release date: December 11, 2019




David Whiteley's exploration into the behind-the-scenes British talent involved with the Star Wars franchise was first made public in a 1917 60-minute documentary broadcast over BBC television. Google the title The Galaxy Britain Built, and you'll hit on the YouTube and BBC trailers, videos, and interviews conducted by David Whiteley promoting the film throughout 2017 and especially 2018.


If you explore any of Whiteley's online videos or his new BearManor Media book, you'll quickly learn how proud he is to have been born on May 4, 1977, known to fans as Star Wars day. So, in his opinion, he grew up with the franchise and became devoted to investigating how so much Star Wars work took place in Elstree Studios in North London. Why London and not Hollywood? Costs. The studios didn't want to invest too heavily in a science-fiction film as sci-fi hadn't been big box office for them.


As it turned out, the British talent who worked on the films on the smallest of budgets and the tightest of schedules were just what the project needed, especially in terms of costumes, props, and sets. The results were so outstanding that lucas returned to Elstreet again and again, using as much of the original talent as he could retain.



Whiteley's book chronicles to beginnings of the British work in the hot summer of 1976 through undreamed of sequels produced decades later. The stories are built on interviews with participants even the most devoted Star Wars aficionados might not have heard of: These include Robert Watts, Les Dilley, Nick Maley, Roger Christian, Peter Beale, Gareth Edwards, Colin Goudie and Louise Mollo.


All of those involved contribute so many anecdotes about how the Star Wars mythos came to be. For example, Roger Christian tells us, "We called it the laser sword because we were British! I knew the lightsaber was the Excalibur of this film! I

knew it would be the iconic image . . . I went to Brunnings on Great Marlborough Street in London, whom we rented all our film equipment from: photography, anything we needed, and I’d buy equipment there. I just said to the owner, ‘Do you have anything here

that’s unusual, or stuff that might be interesting?’ He pointed me over to the side of the room. He said, ‘There’s a load of boxes under there, I haven’t

looked at those for years, go and have a rummage through.’ And it was the first box, it literally was covered in dust. It hadn’t been out for, I don’t

know, fifteen or twenty years. I pulled it out, opened the lid and there was tissue paper and then when I pulled it open . . . out came a Graflex handle from a 1940s press camera. I just took it and I went ‘There it is! This is the Holy Grail.’"


The Galaxy Britain Built is page-after-page of such nuggets and revelations. I imagine many diehard Star Wars fans will have heard many of these stories before. But I doubt all of them


Without question, you got to be a serious Star Wars fan to one degree or another to want to dive into this book, no matter how much you think you already know about the production history of the saga. It's a fast read as we get one short chunk of one interview, then another, then another, and so on. I definitely had a feeling I was taken behind the sets and scripts and actors to see how a galaxy far away had been built with a deepened sense of just how collaborative moviemaking is. If that sort of stuff is your cuppa tea, then David Whiteley's book is just for you.


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sun. Jan. 12, 2020:



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review 2019-03-14 12:07
To Infinity And Beyond!



Somewhere Beyond the Heavens: Exploring Battlestar Galactica

edited by Rich Handley and Lou Tambone.

Publisher: Sequart Organization (December 18, 2018)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Free on Kindle Unlimited



Reviewed by: Dr. Wesley Britton


Back in 1978, I considered a new TV series I dubbed Battlestar: Ponderosa (due to the presence of actor Loren Green as Commander Adama), along with sister production, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, as two disposable, diverting attempts by producer Glen A. Larson to capitalize on the success of Star Wars for the small screen.  As both series had short lives, I didn't expect to see much more of either of them. Little did I know.


In the case of Battlestar: Galactica, forty years have gone by with many repeated attempts to reinvigorate the franchise. We got novelizations, original novels, comics,  films, webisodes, board and video games, unproduced attempts at revivals, and, most impressing of all, Ronald D. Moore's extraordinary 2003 re-imagining of the concept for the SyFy channel and elsewhere that earned considerable praise for a remarkable reboot.


Now, the Sequart Organization has published the fifth, yes, fifth, serious book-length academic analysis of all things Galactica by forty comic historians, novelists, bloggers, subject-matter experts, and franchise insiders including Jim Beard, Joseph F. Berenato, Joe Bongiorno, Jeffrey Carver, and October Crifasi.


Sequart is touting the fact their new title runs 572 pages, making it the longest book in their history. This is rather surprising considering their past essay collections on popular culture subjects included Batman, The X-Men, Star Wars, and Planet of the Apes, to scratch the surface of their catalogue. As with all their tomes, Somewhere Beyond the Heavens touches every conceivable base you can think of regarding Battlestar: Galactica including close scrutiny of the creative processes, analyses of key episodes and characters, not to mention deep dives into the ephemera associated with the franchise. 

Clearly, Somewhere Beyond the Heavens is not a useful introduction for the uninitiated and not a simple overview for the mildly interested or simply curious. It's intended for serious devotees who might not need to explore every essay, especially if you're a fan of only the Glen A. Larson version or the Ronald Moore revision. For example, do you care about the background of the mysterious Count Iblis as portrayed by Patrick Macnee in a two-part episode in the original series? If so, this collection is for you.


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on March 13, 2019:



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review 2016-12-14 20:14
Battlestar Galactica: Six
Battlestar Galactica: Six - J.T. Krul

[I received a copy of this comics through NetGalley.]

In general, I found the artwork here problematic. The covers—both internal and external—are striking and often dramatic, and one of the reasons I requested this book; they easily evoked the internal turmoil and the ambiguity that I expect from Six. On the other hand, the inside panels, more specifically their characters, aren't consistent enough, and not really recognisable. Which is a problem, indeed, considering they should look like their counterparts in the TV series, but don't. Or not much. I probably wouldn't care as much about this if the comics was a series on its own, however when it's about translating real faces/actors to paper, it's all the more easy to notice when it fails. Moreover, it didn't convey the kind of feeling that would've paved the way to TV!Six, with her blend of seduction, ruthlessness and questioning.

I didn't enjoy the storytelling either. I was expecting something more enthralling, that would play on Six's psyche, what happened, what shaped her and set the foundations for how she would develop in the TV episodes. Well, it did try to explore those aspects, but the narrative(s) were too disjointed to make sense early, creating a sense of confusion—one that confuses the reader, rather than actually echoing the character's. Also, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who's never watched the series: some tie-ins are understandable even when you don't know the original universe, some others aren't, and this one is part of the latter category.

Conclusion: 1.5 stars.

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text 2016-08-12 18:30
Marvel's Ant-Man: The Art of the Movie Slipcase - Marvel Comics
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season Two Declassified - Marvel Comics
Battlestar Galactica Vault - Paul Ruditi... Battlestar Galactica Vault - Paul Ruditis

I got two sets of these - six books total - for 12 dollars, twelve seventy five with tax. 


Normally each set goes for 140 dollars - the first two at fifty each, the last at forty each - so that's 280 total.   Yay, yay, yay!  I snagged one set as a Hannukah gift, one for me. 


I also got a Beach Boys book - huge, picture book - and another huge, art book for an extra four. 

Today was good for me.

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review 2016-08-04 00:24
I found this confusing and convoluted
New Battlestar Galactica: Final Five - Seamus Kevin Fahey,Mel Rubi,Nigel Raynor,David Reed

Particularly, I believe, since i haven't watched the new series recently.   That being said, this was confusing and convoluted, and I'd probably think so even if I had seen it.   


I didn't like this at all.   Add to that, the machines mostly looked like humans and tried to procreate like humans...


I'd been hoping to see more Cylons, and I... did not.   But I got very excited when I did!   So, y'know, half a star for existing, half a star for having some Cylons.   No stars for anything else, as I didn't like the art, this story, or the dialogue. 

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