Title: Babylon 5: Dark Genesis – The Birth of the Psi-Corps
Author: J. Gregory Keyes
Published by: Del Rey Books
Publication date: 29th Aug. 1998
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Private Collection
Long before the Babylon 5 space station brought Humans face-to-facewith alien races, they discovered an extraordinary breed among their very own . . .
The year is 2115. Shock waves follow in the wake of astonishing news: science has proven the existence of telepaths. Amid media frenzy, panic, and bloodshed, Earth’s government steps in to restore order–and establish tight control over the newfound special population . . . by any means necessary.
Ambitious senator Lee Crawford spearheads the effort, overseeing the creation of the Psi Corps–an elite unit charged with tagging and monitoring all telepaths “for their own protection.” But the real agenda behind the crackdown is one of government control. Many question the telepaths’ origins, while others view them as a coveted weapon. As the Corps tightens its iron grip, the stage is set for a cataclysmic confrontation–one in which the future of Earth will be decided.
I picked this book up again as a quick and easy re-read after suffering the abomination that was Battle for the Abyss, it took me a little longer to get through than I was initially hoping but that was no particular fault of the books.
A lot of time is covered in this book – over a hundred years – detailing the founding of the Psi-Corps and the emergence of the Telepath in every-day society and the horrors that their arrival brings. As such, this book feels like the background details for the rest of the trilogy. The first half of the book covers events surrounding the emergence of the telepaths from a political angle and really sets the scene for events as they unfold. Centring around Senator Lee Crawford and the early, founding years of the Psi Corps. As such, while I enjoyed the more factual feel of the section of the book, I found it hard to get attached to any of the characters as they didn’t seem to stick around for all that long – but it was interesting to see how humanity absolutely falls apart when the discovery of telepathy comes along. How it effects both entire families and those on the fringes of society. At times some of the events are quite harrowing, especially when drawing on the comparison to the persecution of Jews. Some of the snippets of how cruel ‘normals’ could be towards ‘teeps’ are somewhat hard to swallow, but they’re well written and handled from a sensitive point of view. It’s these events that lead to Senator Crawford founding the Psi-Corps under the guise of protection for both telepaths and normal people.
There is a small number of characters that bridge from one half of the book to another. They feature more in this first half, but I honestly found them difficult to connect to. They had individual, well-written personalities, but I felt that they were pigeon-holed into a small section here that there wasn’t really a feeling of connection to them; unlike characters that emerge later on in the novel.
Originally, I picked up these books because I’m a fan of the Babylon 5 TV series. Especially the Psi-Corps. However, it has been such a long time since I watched any of the series that most of my knowledge of it has long gone. I think that actually helped me enjoy the book all the more. I could detach from any previous thoughts towards the series and enjoy Dark Genesis for what it was – an origin and science-fiction book in it’s own right.
I found some elements in Dark Genesis really well documented – other than the founding of the Psi-Corps – the first contact with another, alien species stands out and brings the first half of the book to a close.
The second half of the book has more of a focus a group of Resistance fighters. Telepaths who refuse to join the Psi-Corps and the struggles that they face. It’s three of these characters; Fiona, Matthew and Stephen, that a sense of connection comes from. Through there eyes we see the horror of what the Psi-Corps really is and their alternative perspective offers a much broader insight to the ‘telepath problem.’ These characters survive, mostly, against all odds and I found myself entranced with their progresses and failures. I found the love triangle between the aforementioned characters believable and the motivations that came from it satisfyingly complete.
What is truly captivating about Dark Genesis, however is the path that Kevin Vacit, Senator Lee Crawfords aide and successor, takes. His discoveries about how Telepaths came to be is the real hook of the story and what kept me turning the pages to find out. Obviously, there is a big reveal in the book that makes a lot more sense having some recollection of the TV series, but I think even without that knowledge the reader can take something away from this book. Having said that I think fans of the series will take away more. There are some names mentioned in the book that will give an ‘Ah-ha’ moment to fans of the series. Alexander and Winters, for example. These are little rewards that I found rather satisfying, but as a whole I don’t think I needed them to get full gratification from the book as that came in the form of the other discoveries and revelations made.
An enjoyable science fiction novel that you don’t have to be a Babylon 5 fan to get full satisfaction from. Hosts a lot of political events over a long period of time which can make the novel feel a bit hollow in respects to character connection and because of this might take a while for the reader to get their teeth into the book properly.