Science Fiction Book Review

Stargate-SG1 - The Essential Scripts

(2004) Sharon Gosling (Ed), Titan Books, 16.99, pbk, 349pp, ISBN 1-840-23887-9

Stargate-SG1 is the MGMTV spin-off from the 1994 movie Stargate. The stargate itself is a portal enabling wormhole travel over vast distances to other planets. SG1 are the most senior of the teams sent out through the stargate to make contact with other races, many descended from humans. The series combines one-off storylines with season-long story arcs, primarily targeted around their attempts to thwart the aims of the evil Goa'uld in enslaving every planet they encounter, including Earth. SG1 has four members; Jack O'Neill (the wise-cracking, sarcastic military commander of the team), Samantha Carter (military science 'geek'), Daniel Jackson (civilian archaeologist, linguist and ancient historian) and Teal'c (a Jaffa freedom-fighter, liberated from servitude under the Goa'uld).

This book features a selection of six representative scripts, one from each season, each accompanied by an introduction and a conclusion incorporating insights from the episode writers. The episodes are: 'The Torment of Tantalus' (season one) - Daniel Jackson discovers that a young professor passed through the stargate in 1945, years before the first recorded journey, never to be seen again. The SG-1 team embark on a mission to find him and bring him home; 'The Fifth Race' (season two) - Whilst visiting an ancient abandoned 'library' Jack O'Neill is grasped by a face-hugging wall-mounted device which, when it releases him, has downloaded the ancient knowledge it holds into his mind. Sounds ideal? Not really. Jack's mind isn't capable of retaining the information and, as it begins to take over, rapidly loses his ability to communicate in his own language. The team need to find a way to restore Jack to his former self and prevent him being 'lost' forever; 'Window of Opportunity' (season three) - Following an encounter with an alien device, Jack and Teal'c find themselves stuck in a ten hour time loop of which only they are aware. They are doomed to live out the same period again and again unless they can find a way to break the cycle; '2010' (season four) - A glimpse into the future sees the Earth as a place of peace with no disease and suffering. All of this is due to an alliance with the Aschen, but they are not the friends that they seem and are out to ensure the extinction of the human race. The team soon realise that the only way to save the human race is to send a message back in time to prevent the alliance in the first place; 'Wormhole X-Treme!' (season five) - The 100th episode is a spoof of Stargate-SG1. A TV show is in production about a stargate-type portal through which teams travel to other worlds. The writer is an old acquaintance of SG-1, an alien living on Earth following the destruction of his own world. He has no memory of his homeworld or of his previous encounter with SG-1, but it's clearly still in his subconscious as the series is too close to reality for comfort!; 'Abyss' (season six) - Jack is captured and tortured by the Goa'uld Ba'al. The team, including an ethereal Daniel Jackson (who has ascended to a higher plane), have to launch a rescue to save their leader and friend.

The episode introductions are a fascinating insight into the creation of an episode, including quotes from the writers, and you gain a real understanding of the degree of teamwork that goes into creating a successful show. They do, however, have a major problem... Some of them are incomplete, literally. Although the page numbers follow on correctly, in some cases the introduction is left in mid-sentence and the script itself begins!

They are well laid out and very easy to read, although it definitely helps to visualise them if you have seen the episodes. Each script is interspersed with notes on script changes and so on, making them that bit more than just a straightforward reproduction. The short conclusions provide an insight into the writers' post-production views and, as with the intros, are interesting to read if you're a fan of the show. The book is illustrated throughout with a combination of screen shots from the featured episodes and behind-the-scenes photos. Unfortunately all the photos are of fairly low quality and are in black and white. For a cover price of 16.99 I would expect at least a colour photo section

All in all Stargate-SG1 - The Essential Scripts is an interesting and entertaining read, but I would have to say that the price is far too high, and I would wait until it undoubtedly appears in the discount book shops to buy a copy.

Julie Haves

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