Some years ago, I found an old copy of the novelization of Battlestar Galactica in a second-hand bookshop. The book featured a large, symmetrical, top-shaped spaceship either on the cover, or in photos within the book. I assumed it to be the eponymous spaceship. The photos were proper, colour photographic paper prints, not black-and-white images on the regular pages of the book.

Today, I had a chance to see the first episode of the original 1978 series, and, well, Galactica looks nothing like that.

I did see something that resembled the ship when Apollo tries to identify the unknown ship at the beginning of the show:

Unknown Ship from Cover

Can anyone identify what ship was shown in the novel?

As it turns out, I was mistaken about a few things:

  • The book is a lot more than a two decades old
  • It was on the back cover, not the front,
  • The ship is identical to the image seen on the scanner.

back coverfront coverpublishing information page

  • If it matters: I found the book in India. And when I say "years", I mean years: it must have been around a decade ago, and the book itself could have been a decade old at the time. I'll have to dig it up again.
    – muru
    Apr 8, 2016 at 12:11
  • 5
    Hehe. I've just found this cover on the front of the 1997 Thai edition. That's not right. That's not right at all :-))
    – Valorum
    Apr 8, 2016 at 12:41
  • @Richard a reverse Google search of that brings up DS9 as the likely candidate. And I'm hard-pressed to identify the script used in that cover. I'm no expert, but I am familiar with the most popular scripts used in India.
    – muru
    Apr 8, 2016 at 12:46
  • Xerox Scriptfinder identifies it as Thai.
    – Valorum
    Apr 8, 2016 at 13:04
  • According to Google Translate, it's Thai for "vehicles civilized". Whatever that means. But trying other languages doesn't yield any translation.
    – Mr Lister
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


This looks very much like Ralph McQuarrie's (original BSG's concept illustrator) early Cylon Baseship concept art.

Here are some samples from the above page (click for larger images):

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More images from here that look a lot closer to the book's cover:

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Someone even built a Lego version of it.

The final product in the show was quite different. The ship was renamed as "Cylon Basestar," and would end up looking like the images below:

enter image description here

  • I was about to say you and I have very different interpretations of "very much like", but then you posted the update. So, it is a Cylon base ship. Is it identified in the show/movie as such?
    – muru
    Apr 8, 2016 at 17:22
  • The final look (and name) in the show is different. I'm guessing the novelization's publisher wanted to get the images early, before the show's production was completed. They must'e settled on the first images they could get their hands on, even though the final product ended up looking differently. The ship was renamed as "Cylon Basestar," and it looks like what @LAK posted in his answer.
    – Chahk
    Apr 8, 2016 at 17:28
  • Nice work. I think that is the paperback I have at home, but I probably haven't read it since 1979 :-).
    – LAK
    Apr 8, 2016 at 18:18
  • It's funny how blatantly those 3 ships flying towards the base in the 3rd picture look almost exactly like the Millennium Falcon... Apr 8, 2016 at 19:35
  • In what episode in the 1978 original series where they ever called "Basestars"? They were always called baseships to my knowledge, the name was changed to basestar in the 2004 series.
    – user76394
    Apr 26, 2020 at 21:21

Cylon Basestars in the 1978 series looked a bit like two wide, shallow cones connected base-to-base, like this. Could that have been it?

Now that I see your wireframe picture, maybe the book publisher knew vaguely what they wanted the cover ship to look like, but couldn't find (or maybe get the rights for?) a picture of the actual Cylon Basestar from the TV show, and had to settle for something that has a slight resemblance instead.

I recall from the show, and my own copy of the novelization from 1978, that Apollo and his brother did see the Cylon fleet at the beginning, so that's probably what you are remembering him seeing that reminded you of the cover.

  • No. It looked much like the wireframe in the question - broad at the top, tapering down towards the bottom, and, IIRC, about as tall as it was wide.
    – muru
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:14
  • Oh, there's a picture in the question? I sometimes can't see those, something with my browser addons, probably. Sorry. Ok, used a different browser and now I see it. I'll edit my answer.
    – LAK
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:20
  • I'm sorry for the confusion, but the wireframe is from the TV show. It's the closest thing I saw while watching it. The book's image was a full ship.
    – muru
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:25
  • Hmm, it's been a long time since I saw the actual TV episode. I assume the wireframe was on a computer display. If so, the technology available to a 1978 TV show for computer graphics was very limited, so maybe it was just a very simplistic representation of the basestar. I wonder whether the episode is available on YouTube or Netflix.
    – LAK
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:29
  • I posted a photo of the book cover. Do see the update.
    – muru
    Apr 8, 2016 at 17:14

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