The second novel we read in the “set” of stand-alone novels is Accusations, written by Lois Tilton. This is her only B5 novel. Accusations was 278 pages and published by Dell in April 1995. Like Voices, this story occurs in 2258, during Season 2 of the original B5 series, and is also not officially considered canon.
There were some interesting similarities and differences between this novel and the previous one. While the story here is different and occurs primarily on B5, once again we see the themes of false accusations made to cover up some other issue, the accused being guilty until proven innocent, government corruption at high levels, corporate corruption, and tensions between Earth and Mars.
In Accusations, Commander Ivanova’s old flight instructor, J.D. Ortega, sends her an urgent and very short message from Mars letting her know he’s on his way to B5 and asking for a face-to-face meeting. Susan is intrigued and arrives at the meeting location, only to discover Ortega’s murdered body. As would be expected, she reports it to Mr. Garibaldi. They quickly learn that Ortega is (surprisingly) a wanted terrorist from Mars, setting the stage for the rest of the novel. Susan can’t reconcile what she knows of her old instructor with this fresh allegation. B5 is told an officer from Earth (Commander Wallace), will arrive shortly due to high-level interest in Mr. Ortega related to his supposed terrorist activities.
Meanwhile, raider attacks on commercial shipping remain problematic, and have come to a point where it seems as if the raiders know when and where freighters will be, and when they’re just far enough from protection to be most vulnerable. Susan begins looking for, and starts to identify, commonalities between the attacks: shipments originating from Mars, and apparently always carrying strategic metals. She suspects these attacks and seizures of cargos have a criminal aspect tied back to Earth and Mars.
When Wallace and team arrive, not only do they seize the entire murder investigation (something normally left to B5 security), but they present credentials from the Joint Chiefs that lock Mr. Garibaldi out of his own security system and all evidence tied to the case. Related, although Ortega’s contact with Ivanova has only been seasonal (characterized as exchanging Christmas cards over the years), Wallace accuses her of the murder and ties her to Ortega’s alleged terrorist activities as an accomplice. Wallace has Susan received of her position as XO.
Sheridan smells a rat but goes along with things, since technically everything appears to be proper. While only Wallace and his team keep the details of the investigation away from B5 leadership, Sheridan creatively uses Susan’s enthusiasm and analytical skills to take command of a Star Furry wing and begin to meet freighters at the locations she’s determined they’re most vulnerable. She and her wingmen end up in multiple confrontations with raiders, and capture one for questioning. She quickly confirms the raiders are in fact given specific shipments and locations to attack in order to take the cargo—the strategic medal called Morbidium, used for military weapons. She also learns Ortega was aware of this and had evidence there was an insurance scam (or worse) going on, facilitated by senior members of Earth Gov and the shipping companies.
As the story wraps up, we learn that the metal wasn’t just Morbidium, but ingots of a new medal called “Super Morbidium” which could be used for the secret development of new weapons that could essentially cut through all known metals. While this advance in technology would be truly beneficial to Earth in light of the recently ended Earth-Minbari war, and useful to prepare for what we know to be the upcoming Shadow War, it was being handled in a way to allow select government and corporate officials to profit. Worse yet, this profit was coming at the expense of lives. Ortega and Ivanova were simply the most recent two being set up to pay the price for knowing too much—with Orgega murdered to ensure he didn’t talk, and Ivanova silenced with the risk of even worse consequences for having connected the dots between the loss of select cargos and her old instructor Ortega. Even so, our heroes do what they do best, and maneuver the situation to ensure Wallace is exposed for what he’s doing. Ortega’s honor is restored posthumously, Ivanova’s honor is restored and she resumes her duties as XO.
We all enjoyed the “feel” of the story, and agreed the characters were written in a manner that they were consistent with the characters from the show. As we observed, we could “hear” their voices as we read the novel. The only real exception was Sheridan, whom we all agreed was written okay, but somehow just a little “off”. We also noted that there was one awkward moment with Susan that seemed out of character, involving a red dress. (If you read the novel, you’ll see what we’re talking about.) The only big beef we had with the author was her apparent lack of research into and understanding of military rank and authority. Even so, overall we liked the novel.
At the end we cover our favorite plot points and quotes. When you listen, we’d love to know if any of our favorites matched yours. We’d also love to hear your overall thoughts about the novel, so be sure to let us know on social media or by email.
Overall, your hosts rated Accusations with a 3.5, a 2.5 and a 4.0 (out of 5 booms), for an overall Boom Scale rating of 3.33.
Next, we’re on to the novel Blood Oath, the second of two novels by John Vornholt. Read up and join us for the conversation!
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Just remember… When there’s no boom today, there’s boom tomorrow. There’s always boom tomorrow!