In the original Battlestar Galactica, there was a two-part episode, The Gun on Ice Planet Zero. It was based on the film The Guns of Naverone, a World War II story where a fleet was bottled up in an area, and the only deep channel they could use to get to open sea was guarded by a pair of guns in a Nazi fort that had to be destroyed so the fleet could safely pass.

In the Galactica episode, Adama said he felt the human fleet had been herded or led in a certain direction, and they were trapped between the Cylon fleet and a large gun on an ice planet.

How can one gun on a planet trap an entire fleet? Why can't they go around the other side of the planet?

Is there any actual reasoning for this to work, or is this just an inescapable plot hole?

  • “Why can't they go around the other side of the planet?” Maybe the planet rotates too fast. Aug 5, 2015 at 15:09
  • They could go around the other side of the star, then. As for rotation, well, if the planet rotated that fast, then there would be a number of issues with it.
    – Tango
    Aug 5, 2015 at 22:01
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    It was fully loaded with Plot Ammunition. Jul 21, 2018 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


Definitely the latter.

If there was a resource they required in that system, or there were other contributing factors to why the fleet couldn't bypass the system entirely (or even partially), then the plot hole woudln't exist.

But as it is, it's just a shoddy rewrite of an older story.

  • My thought was even if they needed a resource in that system, they could pass on the other side of the planet. Either the planet rotates, so they could go when the gun was pointing away from them, or it's locked and not rotating, in which case, they just go on the other side. But, even more, I would think they could pass far enough away within that system that the gun would either miss them or the delay for a ray going at lightspeed would be too much to allow any practical aiming.
    – Tango
    Feb 10, 2012 at 15:10

Though it contradicts certain episodes (The Eastern Alliance) in which the Galactica makes independent jumps to FTL, the general consensus is that the Galactica must transition from Lagrange point to Lagrange point to move across the stars, presumably through some kind of wormhole effect which can only be opened at those points-


And that each point lies at opposite sides of the star system from that which a ship using the wormholes entered.

If true, this would also explain how the ships of the Rag Tag Fleet, which the original novelization of the TV pilot said were strictly sublight craft (intra system freighters and the like) could keep up with an FTL capable Battlestar. Galactica is moving the remnants of a planetary population as gene base at the accepted risk of very slow navigation across star systems.

Hence, when Adama said he felt 'herded' what he was saying was that other Lagrange points had been denied to them (presumably by Cylons, jumping ahead and cutting of system exit points except along one route, something which Viper scouts would discover).

Here it is also important to note that the Galactica TOS supposedly had a means to jam or 'stealth deny' acquisition by Cylon tracking systems and thus could maneuver beyond the Cylon's ability to track them, at least initially.

This was part of what got the RTF to Carillon where the Ovions nearly ate them.

If Adama thought he was still in charge of his own fate in terms of localized pinpointing of the RTF but was almost certain that he was being forced into a corridor that approached a given system, it would be reasonable for him to think that the Cylons simply went where he -could- go and narrowed down his options like a pack of wolves cutting a sick buffalo from the herd at Yellowstone before running it to exhaustion and killing it.

i.e. He knows what's happening but cannot do a thing about it because of the nature of the RTF and non 'hyperdrive' based FTL travel between systems.

One other thing deserves mention. In the novelization of 'Gun On Ice Planet Zero', there is mention that the world they are on is actually a planetoid or asteroid, not a real world. It is stated that the Cylons used their antigravity systems to move such huge bodies around as battle stations and staging bases, during the millennia long war with the humans.

And that large quantities of diethylene were a trace chemical resulting from this propulsion method (presumably some form of ionization of ozone similar to what happens when CBR hits the atmosphere here). This is in fact what originally get's Creeds attention in the book.

Where a 'pulsar' would still have limited range and capability before the beam lost coherence and where a -real- spaceship, capable of several thousand feet per second diversions would be all but unhittable, based on historical data from 3-4 light second distant images, the planetoid could still be moved VERY CLOSE to Galactica's and the RTFs final passage lane towards the escape Lagrange Point. Whereupon the pulsar could engage within .5 light seconds or so and simply slaughter the civilian RTF, even if the warship was either armored or agile enough to avoid a killing blow.

  • 1
    Could you explain why that source about Lagrange points should be considered anywhere near canon? This all sounds like a convoluted rationalization that builds on multiple stages of assumptions.
    – Tango
    Aug 5, 2015 at 22:02
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    I went to the source given tecr.com/galactica/engines/engines.htm and it is speculation. Yu can either accept it, or reject it and accept some other speculation, or say it is a hopeless plot hole. Jan 27, 2017 at 17:35

It was a plot hole as it presumes that the fleet couldn't simply use their FTL capabilities to travel around the entire solar system to avoid the weapon. After all, the ships in the original BSG series had to be FTL capable as any such trip through space would have taken centuries or millennia at even relativistic speeds.

Upon reflection if the weapon had launched guided missiles which themselves were FTL capable , then it would have presented a far greater and far more realistic threat. However,missiles are a a much more complex weapon system than a single gun and as such wouldn't be as easily destroyed as a single target.


If the Cylons have enough basestars chasing the ragtag fugitive fleet (RTF) they can herd it in the direction desired.

The Cylon basestars can be arranged in a cone, or a cylinder, or five sides of a cube, or some other formation. The basestars have to be close enough together that if the RTF tries to get though the formation, enough fighters and basestars will reach them to destroy the RTF before it can get out of range.

Thus the only way for the RTF to escape immediate destruction is to keep heading straight forward though the center of the opening in the Cylon formation. Deviating course from the center of the opening in the Cylon formation will bring them too close to the side of the formation and they will be destroyed.

I don't know the minimum number of basestars required for this to work.

At first glance I would say four is the absolute minimum. The four bases stars would be at the four points of an equilateral tetrahedron, with the RTF fleet at the center of the forward side of the tetrahedron surrounded by three basestars and the fourth basestar following at the other point of the tetrahedron.

But I think that would not work. If the four basestars are close enough to reinforce and support each other if Galactica tries to break out, they will already be close enough to attack the RTF all the time.

I think that five basestars would be the minimum.

Four basestars would converge on the RTF from the four angles of a square. This square and the RFT would be points on a plane. This plane would be oriented perpendicular to the direction to the gun on Ice Planet Zero. So the best course for the RTF fleet to travel would be perpendicular to the plane of the ships and thus either toward Ice Planet Zero or away from Ice Planet Zero.

If the fifth basestar simultaneously came from the direction away from Ice Planet Zero that would force the RTF to head toward Ice Planet Zero.

Of course if the Cylons have enough basestars in the area they can englobe the RTF, surrounding with a spherical shell of evenly spaced basestars and then close in on the RTF for the kill without any need to herd them toward Ice Planet Zero.

So fans of Battlestar Galactica (1978) should hope that a sufficiently detailed mathematical anaylysis would show that there is a range of numbers of basestars that are high enough to herd the RTF in one direction and also small enough that herding the RTF toward Ice Planet Zero instead of englobing and attacking would be a reasonable strategy.

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