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The Cylons' Secret: Battlestar Galactica 2 by Battlestar Galactica Books
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0765315785
Date: 22 August, 2006 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Tom Zarek, lackluster son of a wealthy and influential family on Caprica, joins the scavenger crew of the cruiser Lightning to strike it rich. He knows he wants to be important but hasn't figured out how. When Captain Nadu gives him command of a mission to scout a new find—a research outpost calling itself Research Station Omega—Zarek quickly finds that this station embodies his childhood terrors.

There are Cylons on the station, protecting and serving the scientists. Did they never get the summons that called the Cylons to revolt...or are they part of a dark conspiracy to further the Cylons' ultimate plans? When a Cylon-crewed battleship shows up above the research outpost, Zarek's suspicions seem amply confirmed. Shot down by the battleship, Zarek has only Laea—the daughter of scientists stranded at Research Station Omega—offering a slim hope of survival.

The arrival of the Galactica may tip the balance—but as Adama and his pilots learn more about the Cylon-human enclave, the less they trust it. There are deadly secrets here; even the Galactica's firepower may not be enough to save it from this hidden threat... but the greatest danger may be one that firepower cannot overcome.

Gardner puts his long and diverse experience as a writer to excellent use in this book, capturing the essence of many characters while reinforcing the basic "bible" of Battlestar Galactica. What happened when the Cylons left? What is their secret agenda? Gardner teases the answers in the margins, tacitly acknowledging that he cannot expose the series' deepest secrets, but making this account of a younger Adama, Tigh and Zarek interesting despite those limitations. And he does manage to work in something that should prove shocking, paving the way for later developments.

He introduces some strong supporting characters, such as Galactica pilots Athena and Skeeter. They come upon Zarek and Laea and survive a Cylon attack in the wilderness. Skeeter is haunted by Cylons' atrocities, while Athena is cool and competent. Laea, an innocent caught up in this flare-up of human-machine violence, tries to make sense of things as her cozy little world is shattered; she must question all that she knows, realizing that the "companions" she has trusted all her life may be treacherous enemies in waiting. Her growth is one of the hallmarks of the story.

The familiar characters are also given additional depth; Adama is every bit the thinking man's warrior he is on TV, Tigh is an impulsive hothead with a tragic incident in his past, and Zarek a schemer. Tigh's own history with the Cylons is explored, with the revelation that he survived the destruction of a Cylon battleship like the one above Omega Station. Now he must face that memory if the Galactica is to survive. And Adama has an unexpected personal connection to the dreadnaught facing off against Galactica as well.

Readers may expect greater revelations than they receive, but The Cylons' Secret nevertheless tells a good tale about an encounter between the Galactica and the Cylons long before humanity nearly became extinct. Fans of the show in particular may glean some interesting tidbits.

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