Between the candle and the star
This dissertation explores the limits and possibilities of science fiction at the level of television. It examines the narrative strategies of the television series Babylon 5, arguing that the programme has created a radical new sf discourse for television. In doing so, Babylon 5 has also created a new form of television narrative. The Introduction establishes the parameters of the study. Part One examines science fiction in context, considering how the genre may be identified, and in Part Two, examines its possible precursors and the influences of the epic, the Romantic novel (particularly the Gothic) and Sublime. It also considers the role and visualisation of the Western and the epic settlement of the frontier in American mytho-history. Part Three establishes the general criteria for an aesthetics of television, discussing television narrative, and examining episodic and serial drama, soap opera, before considering issues of authorship and industry. It also explores representations of sf on television with series such as Star Trek; Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Dr Who, The X Files, Space: Above and Beyond and Stargate: SG-1. Part Four examines the five-season text of Babylon 5, arguing that in form and content it creates an ideological break with the binary ideology of the past, creating a new form of television which is both epic and novelistic, serial and episodic in nature. Part Five concludes the dissertation, proposing that Babylon 5 offers the first television epic and creates a discourse where the ideology of the past and the values of traditional television sf are questioned and subverted, resulting in a new mythos based upon the infinite discourse of diverse humanity.