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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
Battlestar Galactica: The Cylons' Secret The Cylons' Secret
by Craig Shaw Gardner
Published 2006


Freshly posted to the battlestar Galactica, Colonel Adama and Captain Tigh investigate a super secret Picon research installation on the edge of Colonial space, from the days before the Cylon War.


Read the story summary of this novel at the Battlestar Wiki


Notes from the BSG chronology


The novel opens on the day before the beginning of the first Cylon War and goes into the day the war started (the first two, short chapters). The rest of the novel takes place 20 years later, which is still 20 years before the annihilation of the Colonies in "Humanity's Children".


At the end of the book, Admiral Sing tells Adama he's going to recommend him to take command of the Galactica. This is very different from the way he is given command of her in "Endings and Beginnings", almost 15 years later; it seems like the latter story is probably the more accurate to the characters' timelines and so The Cylons' Secret should probably be considered as taking place with a different battlestar than the Galactica, and Adama still a Colonel or less.


Didja Know?


The author dedicated the book to the owners of Pandemonium Books, a book and gaming store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Throughout the novel, Admiral Sing is in command of the Galactica, on an exploratory mission on the deep edge of Colonial space as his final tour of duty before retirement. No one under the title of Commander is mentioned.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story





Captain Saul Tigh

Colonel William Adama

Admiral Sing

Captain Frayn

Tom Zarek





Comm Officer Griff (of free cruiser Lightning)

Captain Nadu (of free cruiser Lightning)

Engine Officer Robbin (of free cruiser Lightning)

Lt. Tara "Athena" Tanada

Lt. Nik "Skeeter" Mino

Lt. Junior Stith

Chief Purdy

Dr. Villem Fuest

Betti Fuest (mentioned only, deceased)




Gamma (Cylon Butler model)

Beta (Cylon Mechanic model)

Epsilon (Cylon Centurion model)






Dr. Jaen (mentioned only)

Captain Draken

Chief Murta


Delta (Cylon Nanny model)

Chief Nedder

Chief Tracy


Didja Notice?


Chapter 1:


The novel reveals that inhabitants of the Twelve Colonies had individual Cylon appliances in their homes, including Cylon Chef, Cylon washer/dryers, Cylon entertainment centers, and Cylon vacuums. Factories had Cylon workers, colonies had Cylon soldiers, Cylon miners, Cylon traffic wardens, Cylon deep space explorers.


The novel also reveals that on the day before the Cylon War started, a signal was sent from a central location to all Cylons in the Colonies, re-programming them with new instructions to leave their human masters.


Chapter 2:


During the first Cylon War, each side came close to victory several times, never quite achieving it.


When the first war finally ended with an armistice, an annual meeting between the two sides was negotiated to occur at Armistice Station. According to the book, this worked for "a year or two" before the Cylons stopped showing up there and disappeared for the next 40 years. But "Humanity's Children" implies that the Cylons never showed up at the station even at the beginning; the novelization of the mini-series states the Cylons sent a representative to Armistice Station the first year, but after that, sent none.


Chapter 3:


This chapter reveals that Tigh and Adama met when Adama aided him during a bar fight and they both signed on to the same transport crew. This is similar to the scene of their first meeting in "A Bird to Fly", but the details of the brawl are a bit different.


This chapter reveals that Adama got married, and eventually gets back into the military as a captain on a battlestar thanks to his persistence and skill at convincing others. This is quite a bit different than his path back into the military as depicted in "A Bird to Fly", where we see that his wife's father, the CEO of Heracles, Inc., a defense contractor, pulls some strings to get Adama reinstated. Still, the description of these events in the novel is pretty vague; we could choose interpret it as Adama being effectively glib with his father-in-law.


Adama had promised Tigh he would find a way to bring him back into the service as well, but after a few years of no results, with Tigh working on the crappiest freighters, and finally falling out of touch with Adama for over a year, the alcoholic Tigh decides he's going to commit suicide. But that night is when he is notified by the Colonial Navy that he's been reinstated as a captain on the battlestar now being XO'd by Colonel Adama, the Galactica. In "Endings and Beginnings", Tigh is already a colonel as Commander Adama's XO aboard the battlestar Valkyrie. The later episode "Hero" confirms that Adama was the commander of Valkyrie before he was given command of Galactica, so I think we have to assume that Admiral Sing's recommendation later in the novel that Adama be assigned command of Galactica was not accepted at this time.


Tigh pays a visit to CIC to see Adama before beginning his shift training the new pilots. CIC stands for Combat Information Center and is also the bridge of a battlestar.


When the humans had networked the computers of the battlestars to run and monitor all ship's functions, the Cylons had become able to hack in and use the computers against them, "shutting down life support, exploding fuel tanks, even plunging whole spacecraft into the nearest stars."


This chapter states that inter-Colony wars of a century past led to the invention of the Cylons as war machines. This conflicts with the Cylon invention seen in Caprica; the Caprica version must take precedence.


Chapter 4:


This novel introduces Tom Zarek, a crewman on the free cruiser Lightning. He goes on to play an important role as an agitant in the fleet in BSG2000.


The Vipers used by the scavenger crew are referred to as Vipes. Chapter 7 describes the ones in use aboard the Lightning as old Viper Mark I models, pre-Cylon War.


The Lightning detects a warning signal from the Colonial Science Protectorate, a government department that hasn't existed since the Cylon rebellion.


Chapter 5:


The novel reveals that the best Viper pilots get call signs based on the ancient stories, then they're expected to live up to those names. This is how names like Apollo and Athena get assigned.


Lt. Tara "Athena" Tanada is said to have wisdom, "why else would they call her Athena?" In Greek mythology, Athena was the goddess of wisdom. Presumably, the Lord of Kobol known as Athena was also known for wisdom.


Chapter 7:


The crew of the Lightning discover a forgotten research outpost from before the Cylon War called Omega Station. The station has a skeleton crew of humans as well as about 100 Cylon servants/co-workers referred to as "companions" who did not rebel with the rest of the Cylons in the Colonies. The research station was set up before the war to build a more perfect society of human and machine working together in mutual freedom and cooperation.


Captain Nadu recalls how he and his former crewmates on the scavenger ship Crusher had discovered a cache of the drug Crystal Blue. Possibly, the author named this drug after the 1969 song "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James and Shondelles, which many listeners think is about using the drug called crystal meth or blue LSD tablets.


Chapter 9:


In the novel, Zarek's homeworld is said to be Caprica, but it's pretty clear in the TV series that he is from Sagittaron. Zarek also seems to be just coming into his own here, but the TV series implies he should already have been politically active for 10 years at this point and being convicted and incarcerated for terrorist actions at this point in the timeline (20 years before the annihilation of the Colonies). The 30 years figure as stated here must be considered the accurate one, as the TV episodes' versions of the characters take precedence when conflicting data is presented.


Zarek's father was a successful businessman and considered Tom a failure, mostly because Tom insisted on doing his own thing, without the help of his family's business or money.


Chapter 10:


The old model military Cylons described at Research Station Omega have snakelike arms instead of the standard, jointed arms typically depicted.


Chapter 12:


The Cylon companion called Epsilon is an old warrior model, a Centurion, an improvement on an old Harbinger of Doom prototype. This is the first and only mention of the Harbinger of Doom prototype Cylon warrior model.


Chapter 13:


Admiral Sing mistakenly refers to Adama as "Captain" instead of "Colonel".


Chapter 15:


Admiral Sing remarks that even after the armistice was signed to end the Cylon War, the Colonies still never really knew what started it.


Chapter 18:


On seeing the Cylon servant models standing with the humans at the landing field of the research station, Tigh recalls that his family had never been rich enough to afford Cylon servants when he was a kid. Of course, later stories in the series reveal that Tigh never was a kid, being a secret Cylon himself. For continuity's sake, this would have to be considered a cover memory.


Chapter 22:


The Cylons' original basestars are revealed to have been experimental Colonial Dreadnaughts, round in shape, of which three were built before the war, the Relentless, Supreme, and Invincible. In Chapter 24, they are described as almost 10-times the size of the Galactica. They were designed to be run almost entirely by Cylons, with a handful of humans in command. When the Cylons broke away and started a war with the Colonies, they commandeered the Dreadnaughts. The Relentless, and Supreme were destroyed during the war. The novel reveals the Cylons still have the Invincible and, though damaged in the course of this story, it still survives.


The novel reveals that Adama was part of the Battle of Gamelon Beach, where the Dreadnaught Relentless was destroyed. "Gamelon" was presumably taken from the series bible (where the name is used), though it describes Tigh as fighting there, not Adama.


Chapter 24:


The Invincible seems to be outfitted with Cylon Vipers rather than the Raiders seen in Blood and Chrome and other stories set during the Cylon War era.


In this chapter, the planet on which the research station resides is said to have no moon, but in Chapter 12, the planet is implied to have at least two moons, when Laea sees the Dreadnaught in orbit and compares it to the size of "the planet's smaller moon".


The command region of a Dreadnaught is called Central Command.


Chapter 25:


The Pegasus assists the Galactica, along with five more battlestars.


Chapter 26:


The companions decide they must hide and shut themselves down so they can end their existence as equals with humans.


After a flirtation with Laea, Tigh decides he would like to meet a woman closer to his own age, maybe a bit of a party girl, to settle down with. This is a sort of flash-forward to his upcoming relationship and marriage to Ellen Tigh.


At the end of the book, Admiral Sing tells Adama he's going to recommend him to take command of the Galactica. This is very different from the way he is given command of her in "Endings and Beginnings", almost 15 years later; it seems like the latter story is probably the more accurate to the characters' timelines and so The Cylons' Secret should probably be considered as taking place with a different battlestar than the Galactica, and Adama still a Colonel or less.

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