Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Tessa’s take on Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars

Today, on Farscape

“Your father and I want you to have a name that means courage and strength.  So we have chosen D’Argo Sun Crichton.”

“Little D, we don’t know what life has in store for you, but whatever it is, you’ll figure something out.”

“But you will never walk alone.”

“And God willing, you’ll never know war.  Instead… Come here.  Your mother was right.”

“Your mother is always right.”

“Get used to that.  You ready?  This is your playground.”

peacekeeper

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Noel’s take on Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars

“Once upon a time, there was a boy named John, and John was an astronaut. He lived in a faraway place called Earth, which is so far away, you’ve never heard of it.

“One day, when John was out doing astronaut things, a big blue wormhole gobbled him up and spat him out at the far end of the universe.

“Things were looking grim in Mudville, till our hero met an amazing living ship, made some nice new friends, and he hooked up with his dream girl. We could’ve lived happily ever after, but the Peacekeepers raped, chased, and tortured us for years on end.

“Then, two months ago, we got our asses shot off again. This time, it was the Scarrans – big reptiles, wooooo – and Moya, our living ship, limped her way to your happy planet for a little R&R. Because, we figure, it’s empty. Hey, no one is gonna bother us.

“Next thing, me and the future Mrs. Crichton are having a private moment, when you guys fly by, boom bada-bing, squiggly line squiggly line… Crystalized.

“And it’s two months later.”
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Farscape: War Torn

Noel

Oh look, it’s still not Peacekeeper Wars.

Yeah, about that… So not only did we have every intention of doing a Peacekeeper Wars piece soon after finishing season 4, but we actually started to write it. We ran into some conflicts over how it should be laid out and put a pin in it, and before we had a chance to start it up again, life happened. Marriages, breakups, moves, job changes, sired offspring, cats, new projects. Life kept giving us other stuff we needed to prioritize, so instead of bringing some closure to this long-running piece, we held off so long that we started to move on.

So here’s my promise.
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House of Cards – A Farscape Novel

Noel

When the crew agrees to take on a well-paying passenger who wants to return home, he leads them to Liantic, the gambling mesa of the uncharted territories, where hotels and casinos wrap the entire world, and where Rygel goes too far in a game of cards, betting and losing Moya. Netoros, the local leading council member and ruler of that casino sector, offers them a chance to buy off their debt if they’ll stay around for a few days, offering up the services of Zhaan to identify plants in a fellow councilman’s treasured garden, D’Argo to play bodyguard to a lounge singer that’s received a few threats on his life, and John (already famed for his wormholes) to the labs to solve a little problem with their atmosphere.

Following an assassination attempt a few years back against a specific ship’s engine drive, the atmosphere is now clouded with particles that make it impossible for inorganic vessels to fly, which has been a huge blow to the planet’s economy. All Liantic has are crummy little organic ferry pods that have a bad habit of rapidly deteriorating and dying. Such as the one Moya intercepts just as it leads to the death of the Peacekeeper its carrying. A Peacekeeper striking a back alley deal with Netoros to give her the techno-organic ferry of Moya and overthrow the council in exchange for our heroes and opening up the planet to Peacekeeper “protection”. So, yeah, Rygel’s loss was rigged.

This is a solid setup. The world of Liantic is sprawling and rich, with its constant nickle-and-diming and copious advertising, the Big Bird-like Lians are fun to visualize with their various styles of head feathers, and the main cast is worked into things well and each given something to do (thankfully for Zhaan, given how overlooked she was in the last books). While the main three are doing their things (D’Argo snarling at the singer’s eccentricities, John wrapping up the atmosphere problem lickety split thanks to his knowledge of human exhaust systems, and Zhaan realizing she herself is intended to be featured in the councilman’s expansive garden) we get the added threads of Chiana hitting the town both for fun and to seduce info from people, Aeryn encountering an exiled and bitter Peacekeeper tech that she was responsible for getting kicked out, then has to slip back into her old role to impersonate the Peacekeeper envoy who winds up dead, Moya is trapped in the atmosphere with a Chlorium field that’s slowly numbing her the point where systems are shutting down, and Rygel just wants to hit the gambling tables some more in the hopes he’d be able to win back his freedom. Which everyone instantly says no to.

The first half of the book plays out just fine, with everyone staying in character as they gradually settle into this world and uncover the conspiracy winding through its underbelly. The world-building is great, the interplay fast and funny, showing Keith R.A. DeCandido has a great handle on their voices and personalities.

In the second half, it largely falls apart. Some threads are entirely dropped, with the Lian who brought them there in the first place suddenly never being mentioned again, leaving Chiana to head back to the ship and perform a clumsy funeral on Moya’s behalf for the fallen ferry. John has little in the way of a quest to solve the atmosphere problem, just instantly locking onto his module’s exhaust and calling it a day. D’Argo and Zhaan both wrap up their threads rather easily, then go to the press with the story, which suddenly yanks everything into a resolution, even interesting threads like Rygel wooing another council member or Aeryn struggling with her Peacekeeper persona, both of which seemed to be building to more than what they ultimately ended up being. And then there’s a planet-destroying bomb pulled completely out of Keith’s ass in the last 10 pages just so Aeryn can suddenly resolve her arc with the exiled tech, who was so underused for the majority of the book as to be largely forgotten by this point.

This book is fine, with a setup that fits the series and plays its character well, but it never escapes the disposable nature of tie-in novels – like Dark Side of the Sun mostly managed with its ambition and intensity – and it completely drops the ball in the second half, leaving an interesting build to fizzle with little in the way of a satisfying end.

Dark Side of the Sun – A Farscape Novel

This tale opens on Crichton’s toothache. Not being a fan of dentics, he hasn’t been keeping up with his oral hygiene, and his face stings with pain every time he does anything but keep it still. And even then, it aches. So Zhaan gives him a stronger dentic. Which takes one nibble on his tooth, then dies, leaving his mouth tasting even funkier than usual. So John tosses it in the recycler. Unfortunately, John didn’t know that YOU NEVER THROW A DENTIC IN THE RECYCLER, because Moya consumes that matter and John’s toothache bacteria has now blown up into a necrotic virus eating away at Moya’s muscle tissue and nervous system. If they don’t do anything about it, she’ll be dead in about a day. And even if she does survive, she’ll be severely crippled for life. All because John had a toothache.

So they go for the closest help they can find, a floating pirate city assembled from inter-docked black market trade crafts, hidden near the corona of a dying sun. The place is run by Jansz, a being mentally interlocked with a community of assorted dealers who all act as his eyes and ears within the city. John figures this means Jansz is a tiny being, all brains, no brawn. In reality, Janz is a massive, clawed, bearlike coil of muscle with not one, not two, but three mouths filled with razor-sharp teeth. But at least he’s a polite bundle of killer physique and mental abilities, provided the trade the crew offers is enough to barter the stem cell grafts for Moya’s wounds, which one of his ships excels in.

And leave it to Rygel to screw things up. Why? Because he comes across a slave girl in a golden bikini – a Hynerian slave girl in a bikini – and recognizes her as Nyaella, the love of his life, who he was forced by his father to abandon so he could enter political marriages as part of his grooming to be Dominar. He never stopped loving her, though, but his attempt to free her goes bad and Jansz ups his price. He wants Chiana. Since this was from late in season 1, Chiana still has her doubts about the rest of the crew and sees a chance for wealth and action, so she agrees. Then Rygel actually succeeds in breaking Nyaella free, leading to John and Aeryn being captured, so Chiana, as part of her initiation, is ordered to shoot John (she does), then watch as Aeryn fights to the death with a scorpion being who leaves her poisoned with a lethal toxin.

I went waaaaay beyond the setup there, but I just wanted you to get a nice taste of this story, and tell me that doesn’t sound like it would make for a great Farscape episode. All the trust John’s earned up until this point is tossed aside when he does the stupid human thing and brushes his teeth in a way that leaves Moya hopelessly infected with leprosy. Rygel becomes the dashing (if you give him a second to catch his breath) adventure hero, finally able to reclaim the life and love he was forced by familial obligation to abandon, as he and his bikini-clad bride-who-once-was flee and con their way through a pirate city, at one point escaping multiple gangs of goons by triking them into taking each other out. John and Aeryn get to make out in the heavens with a dual dogfight before both are captured and Chiana is forced to make some tough choices she instantly regrets, leaving John on life support and Aeryn losing the fight against the poison in her blood.

And it all culminates with a massive action sequence as everybody has guns pointing at everyone else, Aeryn goes on a brutal last mission to get John out alive because, dammit, if she’s going to die, she’d not going to let him join along, and Chiana tries like hell to make everything right again. Oh, and the sun starts going supernova. And oh a Peacekeeper Armada shows up and starts shooting everything. So, yeah, great setup, some great action bits, and one hell of a climax. Andrew Dymond’s prose is what some might call purplish, but there’s a vividness to it that really juices up the action and gives the characters a pulpy spark that captures the show.

Where it didn’t work so much are the flashbacks. And there are a lot of flashbacks. Every single one of the leads gets to dwell on their past and how it somehow reflects what they’re going through now. Sometimes this works, like Aeryn focusing on the hardships of her training to push through her own impending death, or Rygel and his past with Nyaella, where we learn about the honorable man he lost the opportunity to be. Other times, it just drags, like John pondering his dad, or Zhaan and D’Argo pondering the murders that led to their imprisonment. Oh, I haven’t mentioned Zhaan and D’Argo yet, mainly because they don’t do much of anything. D’Argo stands around, then spends half the story unconscious. Zhaan uses her abilities to try and comfort Moya, then also spends half the story unconscious. Because I guess there wasn’t enough action filling the massive climax to slip D’Argo into it in any way? And why couldn’t Zhaan have been the key influence that turned Re into helping the ship?

Ah, Re. The biggest flaw of the book.

Re is a collective hive mind of small aquatic organism, centered around the first member of their species to have created a religion. There was war between their kind and many were wiped out, but all that remain are now for and of Re. Unfortunately, they’re on a water moon about to be swallowed up by the dying sun. So they reach out. There’s a prologue bit, but they otherwise sit out the majority of the story until they set up some kind of deal with Jansz, but then reneg when they instead latch onto the dying Moya and, for some reason, sacrifice themselves to swarm all over the dying craft and fix everything that’s broken. We knew Moya had to be cured by some point, but this is beyond convenient, especially given how late Re came into things and how it took very little convincing for it to decide to do so.

So, yes, miracle dues ex machina ending, the low-point of the otherwise thrilling and deep climax.

This is a good book. If you’re a Farscape fan, absolutely track it down. The characterizations are great and the story reads like something straight out of the show. Just be prepare to slog through a dozen too many flashback sequences, and the eyerolls induced by Re. But if you can get through all that, I think you’ll have a fun time.

Ship of Ghosts – A Farscape Novel

“My voice… ahhhhhhhh… they won’t obey my voice?” cried Rygel. “It’s… oooooooh… a voice that has commanded billions! If I can’t use my voice, I can’t use the furze!”

Pilot looked quizzical. “I do not understand that term, Rygel.”

“The furze, the furze… that’s the device that stimulates the rudimentary glandpod at the base of the herpian suplex in the sphirochetia lobe of my brain! Ooooooooooh… stop… oh… That’s why I can talk to them…” Rygel shook with painful laughter.

There was dead silence from Pilot, then with low and sincere tones, he commanded the former ruler, “Use the furze, Rygel!”

Noel

Sorry for the stretch of zero updates that was the last couple of months, loyal followers. We started work on our big finale – which includes Peacekeeper Wars – but were forced to scrap it and weren’t able to get things rolling again before we had to take a break for Kevin’s wedding (congrats the lucky man, folks). We’ll be getting back on track with the finale this month, so keep your feed peeled in the coming weeks, and in the meantime, I’ve decided to take a three-part look at the Farscape tie-in novels published by Tor during the show’s original airing.

Ship of Ghosts introduces us to the Nokmadi, a now fabled race of beings who, centuries ago, set out to map as much of the cosmos they could. Operating out of a massive ship built from organic plant fibres, they eventually developed a technique to leave their bodies behind and take on an immortal non-corporeal state. They preserved organic samples of their entire race so they can reassemble their bodies and once again feel the sensations of a physical existence upon returning to their homeworld, but upon completing their mission, one of their member rejected the idea of giving up immortality for what she saw as a backward step in existential progression. So she destroyed her own physical samples and built a cult of followers who want to wipe out all physical samples, condemning their entire race to an eternal quest throughout the heavens. This splits the Nokmadi between the Dayfolk and the Nightfolk, that both long for a physical being, the Promised One, to enter the physical sample chamber and settle things one way or the other.
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Episode [4.22] – “Bad Timing”

Today, on Farscape

“You tell my grandkids about me.”
“Ha, that’s a no-brainer. They’ve got to know who my hero is.”
“You’re going to find when you have your own, you want them to surpass you. Be better. Climb higher. I guess if that’s the measure, I’m the greatest dad on Earth.”
“I love you, Dad.”
“You’re the heart and soul of my life, son. I love you.”
“Goodbye.”

The Scarrans are heading for Earth. The Peacekeepers want Scorpius back. And through it all, Crichton must make two decisions, both of which will alter his life irrevocably…
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Episode [4.21] – “We’re So Screwed, Part III: La Bomba”

Today, on Farscape

“You used me.”
“We use each other.”
“You’re better at it.”
“Oh, you’re learning.”

The crew’s initial plan falls through, their escape routes are cut off, and Crichton’s bomb is deactivated. Scorpius claims to have a way out, but it comes with attempting a last ditch blow against the Scarrans…
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Episode [4.20] – “We’re So Screwed, Part II: Hot To Katratzi”

Today, on Farscape

“What am I offered for all the powers of the universe?”

In which the Moyans once again penetrate a hostile base to suppress the use of wormhole technology. This time, they’re dropping in uninvited, and the security measure is rather more… extreme.
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Episode [4.19] – “We’re So Screwed, Part I: Fetal Attraction”

Today, on Farscape

“You nearly killed me.”
“No I didn’t…….. But I did kill others. By my actions, I have taken innocent lives.”
“Welcome to Moya.”

Moya and crew take their first step into Scarran space to track down and rescue Aeryn, only to find her ready and waiting for them. Along with bunches of guards, Charrids, an automated security system than kills anyone carrying a weapon, a Scarran, and a plague of their own making.
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