We’re back again, this time starting the first trilogy of novels, collectively called the “Psi Corps Trilogy.” This set of books were based on a script written by JMS, and are considered canon, and all three were written by J. Gregory Keyes. In this first novel, we learn Bester’s backstory, and see just how the Psi Corps began. The novel starts in 2115, then quickly covers 80 years of time—basically from 130 years before the events in the movie “In the Beginning”, and ending about 50 years before the same. If compared to Season 1 of the original series, these events span from 142 years to 62 years before the start of Season 1.
When the trilogy was released, JMS endorsed it heavily, stating, “For my money, this is probably one of the best B5 novels ever done, and it takes quite a risk, because even though you see ancestors of some of our characters, there are none of the regulars in it. It’s our first attempt to really flesh out the B5 universe and future history. Anyway, it’s a hell of a read, and I commend it to you without reservation.” Our one side note: you may actually see one regular in this book. I’m sure you’ll figure out who it is before it’s pointed out to you though…
The action begins when the presence of telepathy is proven, resulting in widespread distrust and paranoia throughout the human population. People turn on those they know or suspect to be telepaths, and “teeps” find themselves hunted. An organization called the Metasensory Regulatory Authority (MRA) is formed by Senator Crawford, publicly to identify and protect telepaths, but quickly it could be argued that the regulation, segregation, and training given to telepaths to serve society was actually a way to control them. Within a short amount of time, it’s also learned that telepathy isn’t a naturally-occurring ability in humans, leading to further fear.
During all this trauma, many telepaths see what’s happening and don’t want to be regulated. Instead they hide from the MRA and forma a small network (a resistance?) to try and remain free. Psi Corps is then formed to attempt to bring members of the resistance (rebels…rogues) back into the fold, unharmed. This only confirms the fears of those resisting and the rogues become militant in an attempt to protect themselves and their freedoms. The irony is they’re not fighting “normals”; they’re fighting other teeps.
As all these struggles unfold, Kevin Vacit and Natasha Alexander (Lyta Alexander’s grandmother) go to Venus where they meet with the Vorlons and are told about the Shadows. Now aware of what is a dire threat, Kevin decides he can’t maintain or support the existence of the MRA and Psi Corps on one hand, and the rogues on the other. Based on the threat, he orders the hunting and elimination of the rogues. Interestingly, just like Natasha is the grandmother of one of the series regulars, Kevin is the grandfather of a significant regular in the series. (If you don’t mind knowing who it is, we’ll post the name at the very end of this entry.)
In spite of the amount of time this novel covered, we were in strong agreement that it was a fantastic start to what should be an incredible trilogy. Furthermore, while knowing the full B5 story that is revealed in the TV shows and movies definitely helps with overall context, this book could very well be enjoyed by any science fiction fan, and may even serve to bring new fans into the larger B5 universe. Our ratings were a 4.5, 5 and 4.5 (out of 5), giving us an overall Boom Scale rating of 4.66.
Next time we’ll discuss the second book in the Psi Corps Trilogy, called Deadly Relations: Bester Ascendant. If it’s anything like this first book, it’s going to be awesome.
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Just remember… When there’s no boom today, there’s boom tomorrow. There’s always boom tomorrow!
(As promised, if you want to know who the other regular is, who Kevin Vacit is the grandfather of: it’s Steven Kevin Dexter, renamed as a child to protect his identity as the offspring of rebels. His new name: Alfred Bester. As an interesting nugget of additional information, he’s named after a real-world Science Fiction author.)