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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
Battlestar Galactica: Swamp World "Swamp World"
Battlestar Galactica Annual 1978 (Grandreams)
Author Unknown
Artist Unknown

A madman from the fleet is chased to a small planetoid.

Story Summary

One of the fleet's ships, the Ganymede, reports to the Galactica that seven people on board have suffered food poisoning and it seems to have been plotted deliberately by a madman named Simmon, who has just killed and injured some troopers in order to steal a shuttle and escape from the fleet to a nearby uninhabited swamp world.

Apollo, Starbuck, and three other Warriors are sent to bring Simmon back and retrieve the stolen shuttle. They detect the shuttle on an island and they set down on the opposite end of the isle in order to sneak up on him. When they arrive they find the shuttle empty. Looking around, one of the group members, Riker, starts to climb up on one member of a group of large boulders in the area, but his hand immediately starts burning upon touching it. Then the rock suddenly begins to move and before anything can be done, the creature's long, hideous tongue lashes out, grabbing Riker and pulling him into its maw. The man is devoured almost instantly. Apollo fires his gun at the beast, but the bolts just bounce off the thick hide.

Suddenly Simmon emerges from behind a tree and cackles insanely about how the "toad-fish", as he calls them, feed off horror, fear, and pain. Apollo and Starbuck think he's just crazy as he tells them he has no fear, no feelings of revulsion or pain. Apollo reminds him he may develop fear of starving once they leave him here without the shuttle and its food supply. Simmon then does begin to fear such a future and begins to run back towards them, but another one of the toad-fish grabs him and swallows him up.

Apollo thinks some sort of justice has been done and they all leave the swamp world, returning home to the fleet.


Didja Know?

This story appeared in the British Battlestar Galactica Annual 1978, a book of short stories, articles and games all about BSG, geared towards kids.

Didja Notice?

The opening art piece of the story on page 1, of a Viper swooping low over the swamp world, shows a large boulder in the foreground, half in water. Notice that the shape of the rock foreshadows the fact that several of these rocks are actually living creatures, waiting for prey in the water, as revealed on page 4.
Hidden toad-fish

Page 2 of the story reveals that one of the ships of the fleet is named Ganymede. On Earth, Ganymede is known as a prince from Greek mythology and the name of the seventh (and largest) moon of Jupiter.

The planetoid is depicted as swamp-like, which would seem to make it a Delta-class planetoid according to the definition of "Delta-class" given in "The Young Lords".

Throughout the story, the Colonial Warriors' handguns are referred to as blasters, the term probably borrowed from the Star Wars series (though it was used in some earlier science-fiction as well).

Simmon's belief that the giant, rock-like "toad-fish" as he calls them, are telepathic sponges that feed off the horror, fear, and pain of other creatures does not seem to hold up with the events in the story. Simmon is apparently insane himself and does not seem to have been on the planet long enough (a little over an hour) to have figured this out on his own. It is possible he is somehow able to detect some kind of empathic ability from them and senses they enjoy those emotions in others, but not specifically to feed on, but rather to "spice up" the taste of the food! When the creatures devour first Riker and then Simmon, in both cases the human victim was feeling one of those emotions, Riker pain, and Simmon fear.

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