“We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocations of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things.” Those were the words that introduced Babylon 5 fans to the “technomages,” a mysterious order that exemplified Arthur C. Clarke’s old adage about any sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic. The technomages instantly became a popular slice of B5 mythology for many, going on to be explored further in several novels and the short-lived spin-off Crusade. And while the very concept of a “technomage” is intriguing in and of itself, I have no doubt that much of that initial attraction, that mystique, came from the performance of actor Michael Ansara, who played technomage leader Elric, and who passed away last week at the age of 91.
A veteran actor with nearly 60 years’ worth of roles under his belt, Ansara’s deep, resonant voice was instantly recognizable, even when he was buried under makeup. He was likely best known among GFR fans for three iconic roles: the Klingon Kang from Star Trek, the technomage Elric from Babylon 5, and a role that made perfect use of that voice, giving life to the tragic Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series.