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In Battlestar Galactica (the reimagined series), as far as I can see all the paper have their 4 corners removed. While I don't remember an in-universe mention of it (there wasn't really a need), did the writers or producers or anyone ever explain or mention it?

Even books had the corners opposite from the spine cut off. I have always been curious about it as it must have taken some effort to make sure all paper was like this but there wasn't any obvious gain from it.

  • 2
    Interesting information here. This must make it a real pain in the rear to keep your place in a book without a bookmark! – user16008 Jul 16 '13 at 17:48
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    @Dan: If you don't have a bookmark, just use any old piece of paper: a receipt, a business card, a clean napkin, etc. Stop mutilating your books! – Lèse majesté Nov 16 '13 at 20:58
  • Those damn Cylons keep stealing them! – John Sensebe May 11 '16 at 21:46
  • I thought that maybe paper was extremely expensive at one time, so the corners of pages were cut and reprocessed to make more paper. Later, people just became used to paper with cut corners and thought square corners looked odd. In other stories, like Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series, and the movie "Water World", paper was very precious. – Howard Miller May 12 '16 at 0:20
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    Wow, all these comments and answers, and not a single picture. So here, for reference. galacticaa.net/wp-content/images/bsgtp.jpg – Mr Lister Feb 6 '17 at 13:40

11 Answers 11

109

There's no in-universe reason provided but there are rumours that it was done in the mini-series because SciFi was constantly pushing them to "cut corners" in addition to providing a neat styling difference. As an in-joke they did exactly that on all the paper in the show. However there's alternating versions out there, as highlighted in this quote from Wired:

Wired.com: Did it have anything to do with cutting all the corners off their paper?

Di Justo: [Laughs] To the best of my knowledge, no. I think that was just a joke about having to cut corners on the show.

[Editor's note: In a press conference at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, executive producer Ronald Moore said that this story was a myth. "These people just hate right angles," he said.]

To expand on the Editor's Note, there's this obviously tongue in cheek quote:

1/30/2005 -- Question: Why is it that the paper in the Galactica universe has the corners cut off, even the tractor feed.

This is a closely guarded secret of the show and certainly not a wacky design element that someone came up with during the miniseries.

The producers have since commented that it became a massive nuisance once the show was adapted to a weekly television series, because it became quite a bit of work to repeatedly remove the corners.

What do the humans in the show have against right angles on paper anyway?

Moore: Now that's one of the deepest mysteries of the entire show. That is the Da Vinci Code of Battlestar Galactica.

Eick: That's purposely left unsolved just to torture the fans. All I know is the prop guy from the miniseries who had that idea lived in infamy for the next five years, with assistants shaving corners off of everything in sight, saying "I want to strangle whoever had this idea."

Over all it sounds like a deliberate design decision, something simple but obvious to indicate the small differences between Battlestar's universe and our own but there may well be some truth to the original rumour, i.e. whoever originally came up with the idea may have been inspired by the cutting of corners in the miniseries.

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    Given 90% of what I found by Googling was simply repeating of IMDB's comment on a reference to "cutting corners", it was interesting to find actual quotes indicating otherwise. – dlanod Mar 1 '12 at 22:37
37

The original series also had the cut corners. It mirrored a number of other visual elements, such as Adama's cloak medallion, the video monitors, etc.

I always took the same "effect" in the re-imagined series to be an homage to the original.

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    Wow, if this is true, then it's definitely the case... Even if Moore and Eick forgot/didn't realise it themselves. – Django Reinhardt Dec 9 '13 at 15:52
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One of the major themes of Battlestar Galactica is that "everything has happened before". That's why the human planets looked so similar to contemporary Earth, including architecture and even automobiles.

That said, it stands to reason that different technologies developed at different rates. That might explain why they had faster-than-light drives yet still used relatively primitive projectile weapons.

I know it seems simple, but perhaps the reason for there being no corners was the result of their comparatively unadvanced printer technology? Maybe their method of feeding paper into the print heads required that the paper have a specific orientation.

Further, technology regressed quite a bit as the result of the Cylons rebellion. Perhaps the military or society in general had become paperless, thereby extinguishing the need for paper printing technology, and when they were forced to regress the only technology readily available was, ostensibly, reminiscent of 19th century technology of our time period.

6

In Blade Runner, Dr. Eldon Tyrell's glasses much resemble the paper in Battlestar Galactica. Edward James Olmos (William Adama) was in Blade Runner (Gaff) and he seems to have been very, I guess, interested with Blade Runner (just my conclusion from watching David Eick's "blog" videos (Olmos mentions Blade Runner more than once). I know it seems like a stretch of the imagination but it's possible that Olmos possibly wanted it in there.

  • If you watch the interview at the bottom you can see what I am talking about Blade Runner wise -- He really wanted to incorporate some part of it: EJO Interview @ Comic-Con – Denim Vallorosi Jun 5 '12 at 15:39
4

Over time the right-angle corners of a book tend to get smashed and worn which eventually exposes the book board underneath due to wear. The 3/4 book bind, which puts leather on all the corners and spine, is intended to make the book last longer. Maybe if you cut the corners this is less likely to happen. Although, the idea that they started "cutting corners" to make a point to executives is cute.

People who had to cut all those corners off while working may have been annoyed, but the idea is genius. I mean, it is a notable touch that has generated quite a bit of interest.

I am a bookbinder and would like to know who made the books used on set. Maybe it's time to start cutting some of my own corners!

2

There is an easy, plausible, in-universe answer for the cut corners of all paper articles.

Conservancy. There is no real reason to retain the corners of paper since there is very little data contained there, and every corner removed is that much more paper pulp that goes back into paper production.

Since everything has happened before, perhaps at some point in the past there was a shortage of paper, diminishing forests and resources and the need arose to conserve even tiny bits of paper as a resource, and the practice just "stuck." Just like the push the "reduce, reuse, recycle" of Twenty-First Century Earth.

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    That would require all paper to be cut into its final form at the mill, which just isn't practical and would most likely just generate more paper waste than the normal system, where mills provide reams of full-size (28"x40") paper or equivalent rolls that printers can print multiple pages onto and cut as needed. You'd also have to replace all printing presses to take small sheets of oddly shaped paper. It's also much harder to efficiently layout text in non-rectangular formats. – Lèse majesté Nov 16 '13 at 21:46
0

The cut corners are simply an element they retained from the original 1978 series: you'd have to talk to the Production Designerof the original series, to get the real answer. I suspect it was at least partially because design in the original was a lot more "sci-fi" than the reboot, and cut corners seemed more alien or exotic.

0

The efficiency of a space vessel goes down as the weight goes up. In a society of where travel through space is common, weight must be cut from everything including personal effects. Cutting the corners of each book is a no brainer. It may only reduce the weight of one book, but scaled up all the books on a spacecraft, the weight savings is significant.

As already mentioned: information is rarely put in the corners of books, lighter books cost less to ship, and its easier to remove books with rounded or removed corners from shelves and tight spaces. Its a system without any downsides to the user. It's odd that publisher's haven't already done this to just to reduce their shipping costs.

  • Is there any evidence of that, though? – Adamant Jul 30 '16 at 16:59
  • I've upvoted this to compensate for the n**b that downvoted. In the mini-series it does start with why they regressed and do little with computers. The only bit that's weird is "publishers reducing shipping costs" as (right now....) the cost of removing corners will exceed this. – Alec Teal Apr 14 at 17:56
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The Show Was Not Consistent

In Season 2, Episode 16 "Sacrifice," at the beginning of the episode when Sesha Abinell is in her office plotting the terrorist attack to get the Cylon Sharon Valerii released to them, the room has paper all over—desk, walls, floor—that all has corners on it.

enter image description here

While this is probably a production mistake, nevertheless it ends up making an anomaly in the universe that shows: (1) not all paper has corners clipped (the paper represents magazine clippings, post-it like notes, photo copy-like papers, etc., so a variety of paper from a variety of sources) and (2) the paper that does have it clipped is even more mysterious as to why it does (in universe).

-1

When shelf space is limited, it is easier to add or remove a book from the tight shelf if the corners of the books are trimmed; it requires less space. Try lifting a large book from the bottom shelf of your book shelf.

  • What to they do with the recovered "wasted space?" – Major Stackings Mar 14 '16 at 5:28
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    Do you have any evidence from the producers that this was the reason why the corners were cut off? – Null Mar 14 '16 at 5:37
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    Seems easier to believe that they'd want to reduce unnecessary WEIGHT lifted to orbit & beyond. That's an imperative in today's space program, at least, but even NASA still uses square corners. – Ralph J May 12 '16 at 1:07
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Maybe the point is to cut the weakest and least used part of the sheet rendering the remaining portion more sturdy. Also the portion that is cut can immediately be recycled.

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    How is the corner of a piece of paper any less sturdy? – neilfein Jan 22 '13 at 3:50

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