Time travel in Babylon 5

Babylon 5 was a space station built in 2257, ten years after the Earth/Minbari War, which almost wiped out humanity. The war started by accident - an Earth starship captain got spooked and opened fire on a Minbari ship in a first-contact situation, because the custom of Minbari is to respectfully show all the ship's weapons, that the other part can see that they come honestly, that they are not hiding something. "The Babylon Project" was to build a big diplomatic space station in neutral territory to prevent this type of accidental wars from happening again.

Babylon stations 1, 2, and 3 were destroyed by internal sabotage. Babylon 4 was completed, and then disappeared without a trace 24 hours later. Babylon 5 was the replacement.

Epsilon 3, the planet Babylon 5 orbits, was thought to be lifeless, but late in the 1st season, it turned out to have "The Great Machine" on it, though it's purpose was unknown and it's keeper told the Babylon 5 crew to just keep their distance.

Later in that year, Babylon 4 re-appears, with a strange little alien named "Zathras" on board. The Babylon 5 crew spends most of the episode attempting to evacuate the Babylon 4 crew before the station gets yanked out of time again. In the process, we see an older version of one of the main characters.

The next year they have more dealings with "The Great Machine", which turns out to have some aliens living in it, servicing the machine. One of them is named "Zathras" but he hasn't met the humans yet, although they know him from the Babylon 4 reappearance incident.

As a sideline during all of this, we learn that there's a species called "The Shadows" who turn up every 1000 years or so, and they attack all space faring species, destroying many of them, and then they go away again. The Minbari hero of the last Shadow War was named "Valen". He united the warring Minbari clans into one government, one society, and fought the Shadows off. Valen left VERY SPECIFIC prophecies that pretty much always come exactly true. Valen appeared mysteriously in the darkest days of the war on an enormous space station seen in archeological images, and it's obviously Babylon 4.

Eventually a letter FROM Valen turns up and explains that Valen was, in fact, one of the main characters of the show, and that they basically have to go back in time seven years, seal Babylon 4, bring it forward in time 4 years to let the crew escape, and then send it back in time 1000 years so that it can turn the tide of the Shadow War. If it "doesn't" then the Shadows will win, and history will be different. Valen's prophecies were simply memories of things that had happened to him before he traveled back in time.

This was spotted by the SF-writer Kevin Long in Mayfield, Nebraska,
http://www.kevin-long.com June 1, 2013


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