Re: An Open Plea to Mr Straczynski

 Posted on 5/21/2006 by to

Matthew Sprange wrote:
> Hello to all.
> I would like to start by saying that I am very, very sorry to have to
> conduct any sort of discussion in this manner. I feel I have been forced to
> do so because Mr Straczynski has not answered any of our direct emails for
> some time.

No, that is not the case. This is public because you have been making
public claims about my involvement, which led fans of B5 to ask me
about it in a public manner, to which I responded.

> From our perspective, there is nothing we would like
> better than to be on speaking terms with Mr Straczynski, whose work we have
> the deepest admiration for and, indeed, we have been immersed within for the
> past four years.

Funny way of showing it.

> I fully understand that Mr Straczynski may be unaware of the processes
> involved in the approval process at Warner Brothers for publishers such as
> ourselves, particularly after the recent changes in their procedures.

I have been dealing with B5 licensees for ten years. I think I
understand the system, which has not changed overmuch.

> However, everything (and I mean _everything_) we publish or manufacture for
> Babylon 5 is approved by Warner Brothers, via their Burbank offices.

Curious, since on contacting some of the folks at WB licensing they
don't seem to be aware of any recent submissions for approval.

> Let;s bury the hatchet and begin
> to work together, as I have a feeling our goals are much the same. The
> Babylon 5 fans are still out there. Let us do something great together for
> them.

More on this in a minute.

> >>>Let me be clear: I have provided no outlines for novels to Mongoose.
> Nor are there any outlines of episodes beyond what was shot plus the
> two scripted but not shot episodes. There ARE no outlines to which
> they could have had access. So this is false.

In your reply below, you do not address your statement that you had
outlines by me. To say that you had scripts, about also which more in
a moment, and say "well, these are the outlines I was referring" is
disingenuous at best. An outline is an outline and a script is a
script. Unless one wishes to deliberately confuse the two to create
the impression of involvement.

> We have access to three scripts, which we were planning to use as the basis
> of the first Crusade novel, and a collection of notes collated mostly from
> things you have said yourself.

So you were planning to use my scripts, without so much as informing
me, and pillage my notes online, which are incidentally my property, as
the basis for your novels.


> There has, to date, been _no_ direct
> planning for Crusade beyond this.

Which is not what you said on your website, or in the interview.

> It is something we would very much like
> to do, but the first step was to round off the open end of the televised
> Crusade episodes.

Meaning by adapting my scripts, without telling me. Are you aware that
when someone adapts someone else's scripts there generally has to be
some kind of arrangement made, plus something as cordial as, oh, I
don't know...telling the person who wrote those scripts that you're

> There are larger implications for the B5 timeline with
> regards to Crusade, and it is something we would like to see rounded off as
> a whole because of the effect on continuity. However, this is a longer term
> plan and is something we would very much like to involve yourself with.

More later.

> >>>You cannot have less input than zero input. I have had zero input into
> these novels. So to say there is less now means that there was some
> before. Soi this is also false.
> I believe I am right in saying that the quote was made with regards to
> Babylon 5 projects as a whole, rather than the novels specifically.

No, actually, you are wrong, because the question was asked of you
concerning the novels, not the B5 projects as a whole. You again
dissembled, just as you are attempting to do here.

> So, I would like to make an open plea. We would very much like to re-open
> lines of communication with you, Mr Straczynski. We stand by everything we
> have done for Babylon 5 thus far, and would be more than happy to explain it
> to you, as we see it ourselves. We would like to bring you on board for the
> novels and the other projects that are being planned and, if possible, would
> like to commission you for original work on them.
> I believe we could have resolved all of this a long time ago if there had
> simply been better communication and understanding on both sides.

Such as, for instance, informing me that you were rummaging through my
scripts and online posts for your material without telling me...?

> I can understand how the situation must seem to you

I rather doubt that.

> and I ask you to try to
> understand how things are for us. I believe there is a common ground and,
> as I said, that our goals are likely similar. At the end of the day, we are
> a company of nice people who are passionate about Babylon 5 and wish to
> provide fans of the series with a service we can all be proud of.
> I am willing to email you this evening, or give you a call. We would be
> happy to fly you to England, at our expense of course, to bring you to our
> offices and show you, face-to-face, just what it is we are doing, how we are
> doing it and where we hope to go. If, after that, you believe we are on the
> wrong track, we would be happy to sit down and bring your ideas front and
> centre.

Let me make something as clear as I possibly can.

This is not about money, not about The Deal, not about a free trip to

First, this is about being honest with the fans. I have worked very
hard, since the very inception of Babylon 5, to always be as straight
as humanly possible with them, because the one thing about the truth is
that it always comes out, one way or another. Everything I say is
archived...if I prevaricate, if I lie, if I misrepresent, those words
are sitting there, waiting to be used as a bludgeon...a blunt
instrument that I willingly created for that very reason.

To date they have not been used in that way. Because I have always
been as straight with the fans as anyone mortal can be. Even when the
darkest hours came, and very few would believe me about how and why
Claudia left, time passed and sure enough the words I posted online
were shown to be true by her own comments made in the aftermath,
sometimes years later.

My involvement with the so-called B5 novels from Mongoose has been
mis-stated and misrepresented, and the conduct of pillaging my scripts
and posts without my knowledge or permission is dubious at best,
dishonorable at worst.

Second, and most important of all...this is about what drove the
creation of Babylon 5 in the first place: an attempt to ensure a
certain quality of storytelling within the framework of a consistent
universe. The first Dell books were not what they should have been
because they tended to operate outside canon; so steps were taken to
bring the Del Rey books into canon, working closely with the publisher,
and the fans across the board agree that those novels were better than
those which preceded them.

That is how we have dealt with every single licensee to date...with the
exception of this situation, and these books, which brings to mind the
following point:

You have also stated that these books are "100% canon." No, they are
not. Because for something to be canon means not that they have been
researched, but that the events described therein will be referenced
elsewhere, that they will be viewed as "having happened" in the B5 the Del Rey novels, and my own short B5 stories, are
canon. Things referenced in those stories can show up in any future B5
films or TV projects because they *happened* in our story, in this

The events in the Mongoose books do not fit this criteria. They are
licensed B5 fan fiction, nothing more, nothing less. And lots of folks
like that stuff, and that's all to the good.

But do not say that they are "100% canon."

And I have no desire to become involved with these novels, and will not
endorse them. It ain't the money, it ain't the Deal...I am for rent,
but I am not for sale, because I have an obligation to the viewers of
this show to be consistent and to always work for the utmost quality in
our storytelling within the framework of a consistent universe.

If you want to create a pocket universe, feel free. But it's got
nothing to do with the B5 universe insofar as I am concerned.

And leave my scripts and my notes out of it. I do not approve their

This conversation is at an end.


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