lazypadawan: (Default)
A couple of days ago, Reuters mentioned in an article about the Mayan temple that doubled as the Rebel base on Yavin IV in ANH that Eppy VII was about Luke setting up the Jedi Order there...naturally people thought this lowly Reuters staffer knows something the rest of us don't. Folks, Michael Arndt isn't going to take his script to a bar and leave it there like a drunken Apple employee for a Reuters reporter on his way to Guatemala to discover. I knew right away the guy who wrote the article was referring to Kevin J. Anderson's books from the '90s and he probably got that from scouring Wookieepedia or something. Nothing to see here, move along.

Then came more chatter about Marvel getting the comics license when the current one with Dark Horse expires, this time from a Disney blog. Sadly this is probably true. It would be really surprising if Disney were to allow Lucasfilm to license its own comics to a rival when Disney owns one of the biggest comics publishers in the world. Disney likes to keep it in the family. Even though not every Star Wars comic from the past 20 years was a winner, Dark Horse has been a great home for the GFFA. It went from being a small indie to the third largest comics publisher (behind D.C. and Marvel) just as the Star Wars renaissance was happening in the '90s. While the old school Marvel Star Wars comics had their hokey charm, I liked that Dark Horse's stable took the mythology a little more seriously. I thought they had a better handle on what Star Wars is and at the same time, were willing to take chances and expand the universe even beyond what has been in the books. At least back in the late '70s, Stan Lee was still in charge. Frankly I am not a fan of current Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and I worry about what that guy will do to Star Wars titles. Not to mention that in my humble opinion, most of the guys who work for the big two are the usual fanboy hacks, while Dark Horse finds really good, interesting artists.

Update: Yesterday, Dark Horse's Randy Stradley posted on DH's forum in response to the rumors, "Don't believe everything you read on the internet."
lazypadawan: (Default)
Oh, those rascally expanded universe reading fans! They’ve gotten into a tussle again!

It all started when a gal posted that the books need to “star” more female characters that we’ll actually like. It’s a point that’s been made a zillion times over at Fangirl Blog though it’s not the only site to promote that opinion. Along comes “Chris” over at the popular EU Cantina who posts last Friday why he (I’m assuming it’s a “he” anyway) doesn’t think it’s necessary. The problem is he does so in a rather ham-fisted, illogical way even if he does have a few—and I mean few--valid points. If the line “Star Wars is...(apparently) aimed at young boys” doesn’t make your forehead meet your keyboard, then the line about books on Leia or Padmé would be “snoozers” will (though he'd reconsider if they were action books):

http://www.eucantina.net/archives/11915

Look, bro...there have been plenty of snoozer books that weren’t about those characters. That’s why I hardly read the books anymore. And you can’t tell me that a book about the oddball political relationship between Palpatine and Padme wouldn’t be amazing if done with the same amount of skill as “Darth Plagueis.” You can’t tell me a book about Leia getting involved with the Alliance wouldn’t be great if done right. I have lamented many a time that Del Rey/Lucas Books have strangely left the prominent heroines of Star Wars on a shelf and not taken advantage of their potential. It didn’t help when they recently pulled the plug on the Nomi Sunrider book.

The response to Chris’s piece was enormous. Fangirl Blog, Club Jade, and others filed responses which is all fine and good. Never tell a gal she has no right to complain (same goes for “you’re being hysterical”). But I concur with Chris that what should matter first and foremost is the quality of the book. It didn’t bother me there were no prominent female characters in “Darth Plagueis.” So what? It was the best Star Wars novel in 20 years. Fangirl Blog seemed to blithely dismiss Chris’s arguments with “well, those characters do exist but since I don’t like them I’ll speak for all women and say women don’t like them.” Unless you’ve polled every woman interested in the subject, it’s a rather sweeping statement to make without anything to back it up.

http://fangirlblog.com/2012/05/missing-the-point-star-wars-fandom/

What bugged was the criticism saying this is about “equality.” Am I seriously supposed to believe that I’m a lesser person in society because there aren’t enough Star Wars books starring female characters? This is supposed to keep me up at night? What annoys me about their not using Star Wars heroines in their book is that they’re leaving characters I’d rather read about on the shelf so they can publish novels about no-name Hutts. Maybe the real issue is that the publishing arm of the Star Wars license is making two assumptions about its readership: 1) most people who read Star Wars novels are male and 2) males are not interested in reading about women unless it’s “Leia’s Magical Bikini” or “Padmé’s Handmaiden Tickle Party,” topics that are too R-rated to touch. (I’ll also repeat my lamentation that they haven’t looked at the MASSIVE young women’s market.) Everybody though makes assumptions about their intended market. Sometimes they are accurate, sometimes they’re not. But it doesn’t have to do with “equality.”

Bugging me even more is the argument the books need “diversity.” I know “diversity” is one of those buzzwords that has been beaten into our heads for the past 30-40 years, but I don’t think every single possible group needs to be represented to validate either the books or the readers. Do we really want bean counters to ensure every Star Wars novel has an adequate number of homosexual Jawas with one kidney or transgendered Wookiees in wheelchairs? Where does it end?

But what bugged me the most were the people, mostly commenters, demanding EU Cantina dump Chris. I read his piece in its entirety. The column's arguments might be boneheaded, but he does have a right to be wrong. Attacking the guy with Kafkatrapping phrases like “white male privilege” or demanding his head because he just doesn’t agree with you is typical of what passes for discussion on the internet. One commenter even called the guy a "racist." THERE WAS NOTHING RACIST IN WHAT HE WROTE!! I do worry greatly the younger generation has no respect for the concept of free speech. They seem to think that if it bothers/offends them, it needs to be silenced (trolling notwithstanding). It's frightening, and a whole lot worse than a guy's silly column or the lack of chick power in a publishing line.
lazypadawan: (badfanfiction)
BOOK EDITOR 1: What can we do to take Star Wars to the next level? I mean, we've published craploads of novels with every dysfunction imaginable. How can we remain on the cutting edge?

BOOK EDITOR 2: Hey, take a look at this:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/my-immortal-the-worst-fanfiction-ever#.Tk_sR81lYjw

BOOK EDITOR 1: Whoa! Who is this Tara Gillesbie? Where has this great talent been hiding all of these years?

BOOK EDITOR 2: I don't know but it's clear she can handle licensed property. Nobody has seen such a fresh and original take on the Harry Potter universe and I think with vampires being hot right now, her work is so of-the-moment.

BOOK EDITOR 1: Definitely!

BOOK EDITOR 2: And if you want edge, this girl delivers! Her Potter novel is full of "sex, torture, rape, time travel, guns, goth concerts, ludicrous and confusing nicknames, dramatic entrances, tears of blood, wrist-cutting, homo-/bisexuality, fishnets and clothing descriptions worthy of American Psycho," according to T.V. Tropes.

BOOK EDITOR 1: No freakin' WAY! (Eyes bug out with excitement.)

BOOK EDITOR 2: There's Satanism too.

BOOK EDITOR 1: Be STILL my heart! (Stars fanning herself with a manuscript.)

BOOK EDITOR 2: The characters all do "pot, coke, and crack."

BOOK EDITOR 1: Get me her agent, stat! We need to get her started today!

BOOK EDITOR 2: I'm not sure if she has an agent, but I'll find her one!

BOOK EDITOR 1: And let's give her a $100 grand advance. This is gonna be gold! I can feel it!
lazypadawan: (twisted by the Dark Side)
Or at least I hope so! James Luceno's "Darth Plageuis," arriving just in time for Kwanzaa this December, chronicles what I'm sure will be the touching tale of Darth Sidious/Palpatine and his old Master, Darth Plageuis. I'd love to know how Palpie managed to kill that guy in his sleep. He's got a big ol' head:

http://www.starwars.com/vault/books/darthplagueis/index.html

Don't let me down, Luceno!
lazypadawan: (Default)
On Twitter re one of the recent post-ROTJ books:

Ewww gross, more Daala/Bwua'tu. I never needed to read about how her rubbing his fur always gets him going. Anyone got brain bleach?

I assume this other character is a Bothan. Has Daala ever had sex with any normal being at any time in her life? Good gravy.
lazypadawan: (ahsoka please)
Tired of having their arcane lore disrupted, contradicted, and otherwise rendered obsolete, a band of expanded universe fans has started a petition to tell Papa George to leave the carefully-constructed worlds of the novels and comics be and obey their continuity.

Okay, I'm being snarky. Certainly fans of the books have every right to make their case but hey I've been trying for years to get official fandom to show proper respect to half of the actual film series, and that has been like rolling a boulder uphill both ways in the snow. I really doubt that 2000 book readers is going to make everyone at the Presidio say to themselves, "Gosh, you know, maybe we were wrong."

Lucasfilm took way too long in the '90s and '00s to make it clear to fans where the books, comics, etc. stood as opposed to the movies though a few of the authors admitted that Lucas's vision overrules everything. Because fandom somehow became obsessed with the concept of continuity, the books themselves were assembled with almost the same level of obsessive attention to continuity. There was a long and complicated process for approval; sometimes Lucas had to approve things (which he did because in his mind it didn't count anyway). Books and comics got a lot of publicity from starwars.com and the Insider. Sometimes, as with "Shadows of the Empire" or "Vector Prime," there was a big rollout. So it got in the heads of many readers that this is just as real and as official part of the saga as the movies themselves. I kinda used to believe that.

Leaving aside my disagreement with the direction of the novels, there's a very practical problem with basing every future endeavor on Work For Hire products. It's all denser than a fruitcake. I can't keep everything straight. Lucas knows his story and his universe. He's not on Wookieepedia constantly keeping up with every obscurity in every novel. Sometimes he's more involved, sometimes he's not involved at all with this stuff. Sometimes he sees something he likes and ends up using it, his way of course. What's important is allowing Lucas to flex his own creative muscles; slavish obeying the expanded universe continuity would constrain him.

Maybe it's because I've detached myself from the novels and chalk 'em up as paid fan fiction that I don't have that emotional reaction to something being changed and can't relate to it. I might have felt differently in 1997. Or not.
lazypadawan: (Default)
The Fangirl Blog has been posting a number of long and well-thought articles on why she believes the quality of novels has declined and why apparently a number of fans have lost interest. Her latest piece is here:

http://syndicated.livejournal.com/fangirlblog/9837.html

My opinion is if they want me back as a reader, they need to toss a stick of dynamite into the post-ROTJ continuity and start over fresh. I agree with the post that the post-ROTJ continuity was supposed to bring forth the next generation of heroes and it's in my opinion they utterly failed. Fangirl thinks they can salvage it by making some changes to the existing storyline and characters. To me, they shot themselves in the foot, hit an artery, and went from "tis only a flesh wound" to being dead.

Here's where I get to the "preach it" portions of Fangirl's post:

The Powers That Be seem to have misunderstood the thematic importance of the Prequel Trilogy. It wasn’t tragedy for its own sake, or darkness for the sake of grim storytelling. Instead, the Prequel Trilogy, the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, only works because the Original Trilogy ensures the fans of a hope-filled ending. The short-sightedness of the Powers That Be in their post-NJO storytelling decisions was in not recognizing that what comes after the darkness in Star Wars is not more darkness, but light and hope and most importantly family and friends to love.

I would add they misunderstood the thematic importance of TESB as well. I think it got stuck in Del Rey's head that everybody likes TESB or ROTS because those movies were dark and the more bad stuff that happens, the better. Good triumphing over evil? The fellowship of family and friends? Pfft, that's for suckers!

The editorial vision at Del Rey and Lucas Books wasn’t necessarily aligned at the end of the NJO, and it has been almost completely lacking since then. The NJO had a thick story bible, plot and character arcs designed from the beginning in a series of story conferences that didn’t include most of the authors who subsequently wrote the books, and a management team that coordinated the writing, editing, and later mini-story conferences among the authors. Since then, the flagship storyline has been developed by story pitches, not central planning: Dark Nest was pitched by Troy Denning; Jacen’s fall in LotF was also pitched by Denning, while the involvement of Boba Fett and the Mandalorians came from Karen Traviss; and the Skywalker “Odyssey” plot in FotJ originated with Shelly Shapiro.

This method of story design has caused real problems. For one, the pitches often contained a core premise but the other subplots never got developed thoroughly; for example, Jaina’s insignificant role for most of LotF is incongruous with her crucial role in the denouement, while the authors of FotJ seemingly have no clear idea of what Han and Leia are contributing to the story. Another problem is that the pitch-by-pitch method has caused the overall story to take a direction incrementally that it very well might not have taken if it had been planned from the start. For example, in the December issue of Star Wars Insider, Troy Denning discussed the morally gray state of Luke Skywalker’s mindset midway through FotJ. That version of Luke isn’t George Lucas’s Luke anymore, and I’m not sure that the editors would have deliberately brought Luke to that point by conscious design, particularly if they were relying on movie fans to buy those books. The OT hero is simply unrecognizable to a movie fan who picks up FotJ because they see Luke Skywalker on the cover.


Mostly a technical issue, but she's right. It may be why there aren't going to be any big multi-book series coming any time soon. And Luke morally gray? Noooooooooo....

We’ve also seen a dramatic increase in niche books – heavily skewed toward Sith plotlines and original character Jedi – that are generating little enthusiasm among the broader EU fanbase. Death Star is a perfectly fine book and I’m sure Perry and Reaves enjoyed writing it, but who exactly was the target audience for it? Or books like Kemp’s Crosscurrent or Reaves and Bohnhoff’s Shadow Games, about decade-old videogame characters Jaden Korr and Dash Rendar, respectively? I’m sure Jeff Grubb is a fine novelist, but did anyone think they’d hit big sales with a book about the Hutts? Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty of room in the EU novels for standalones and niche books, but even those books must be a part of a broader strategy for the overall picture of the EU marketing strategy. Who are the customers, what do they want to buy, and how are we going to deliver that product to them?

Jumps up and cheers. I liked the Darth Bane books, but I think you have to have a really good writer and a really solid character to make concepts like it work. And I can't understand for the life of me why Del Rey overlooks ideas one could easily extrapolate from Clone Wars or the movies (which I've discussed before) but green lights a book about some obscurity or other.

Don’t let individual authors become too invested in their own personal ownership of their contribution to the saga, whether it’s Traviss and the Mandos, Denning and gray morality, Golden and the Lost Tribe, Miller and Knight Errant’s dark ages, or even Zahn with Mara Jade, Thrawn, and the Chiss. The saga is bigger than any one contributor, and the interests of the saga always should come first.

THANK YOU!! Sure, I've enjoyed some of these books/authors but sometimes they are so much in love with their own little niche, it ends up all you read about. I liked Karen Traviss, but the Mandalorians in her LOTF novels were just there for the sake of being there and every one of her later books came with Jedi bashing at no extra charge. I don't think Tim Zahn has ever written anything that didn't bring in the Emperor's Hands, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, or anything else he originally created.
lazypadawan: (new ahsoka)
Lucasfilm's continuity czar Leland Chee on the Holocron and where CW and EU fall on the canon scale:

http://bit.ly/hgaPLG
lazypadawan: (Default)
I finally got around to finishing the second Darth Bane book. Given Drew Karpyshyn's comments in his last interview on starwars.com, I was worried it would be an exercise in moral relativism where Jedi and Sith are no better than the other. Fortunately, the book doesn't turn out that way. In fact, on many levels it's rather disturbing as Bane's young apprentice starts down her path to the Dark Side.

Spoilers )
lazypadawan: (Default)
I finally finished the Ulysses-length Republic Commando book today. Is it just me or at this point does it seem like there's too much going on with too many characters? Imagine having to keep score and keep your Mando-English dictionary handy as you read about all of these guys who, in your mind's eye, all look alike?

Traviss raises a great question about the ethics of creating human beings purely to fight in combat and not having much in the way of rights. Let's just say they don't take to going AWOL too kindly. In another scene, Republic medics want to pull the plug on a badly-injured clone commando because the guy's not worth anything. Traviss knocks the Jedi quite a bit for tolerating this whole situation. In fact there are a lot of ethically-challenged moments in the book.

I also continue to enjoy the story arc about Etain and her love child with clone boyfriend Darman. Darman might look like a man but hardly has the maturity to deal with being a father, so for now his paternity is a secret. You know it won't be pretty once he finds out. Etain isn't IMO the warmest, fuzziest character, so in a way Darman brings the humanity to the relationship.

I think there's a slight tie-in with the LOTF series (if I'm right, it's bad news for Boba Fett!) and Gilad Pellaeon makes a cameo.
lazypadawan: (madaotcani)
I finally finished it last night. The deal with the essential guide books, ever since they started putting them out in the mid-1990s, is that they are more like guides to the expanded universe than they are to the movies themselves. Sure, info from the movies is always included but a good chunk of the material are sourced from the books, comics, roleplaying games, and videogames. Part of the reason is volume; there's just a lot more characters, locations, and so forth mentioned in the expanded universe than the films. Part of it is good ol' fashioned synergy. It makes sense for the company that publishes the other books to cross-promote them.

This particular essential guide is no different. The conceit is that you are reading entries collected by Jedi scholar Tionne, who is a creation from the expanded universe. 90% of the material references books, comics, and games, all in an effort to collect the histories of both the Jedi and the Sith.

The design and layout of the book is beautiful and the art is incredible. If there's any reason at all to buy this book, it's the amazing art. Where else will you see a pic of a young Sidious training under his master or Shmi arriving on Tatooine with a toddler-aged Anakin? The material is exhaustive and detailed, with every attempt made at smoothing over inconsistencies that inevitably come up after a publishing program that's lasted this many years.

There is one problem with it however that will likely ruin the whole thing for some fans. As you know, I'm hunky dory with the EU. There are a lot of things I'm willing to forgive and overlook if the story is a good one. But one thing the EU should never, ever do is undermine what's in the films. I was enjoying the book and eagerly looking forward to reading the chapter on The Chosen One, which by the way, has some great passages in it. However, the guide's author decided to nuke Anakin's claim on being The Chosen One. He didn't destroy the Sith like the prophecy says, so he can't be the guy!

Aaaaaagh!!! *Headdesk.* *Barf.*

The reason is simple: if Anakin's not The Chosen One, then there's no inconsistency with having armies of post-ROTJ Sith Lords running around, an EU plot staple.

Thanks a lot, Del Rey!
lazypadawan: (Default)
Darth Pipes linked to this preview of Dark Horse's big fat Vector extravaganza that ties in four time periods:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=92159514&blogID=346217141
lazypadawan: (twisted by the Dark Side)
starwars.com posted an interview with Drew Karpyshyn, author of the Darth Bane books, the second of which comes out the day after Christmas.

Now I enjoyed Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction quite a bit and I look forward to this book. However, something in the interview with Karpyshyn disturbed me. It goes back to my recent post on official fandom's emphasis on the bad guys and the creeping moral relativism as a result:

The dark side is a philosophy that celebrates the power of the individual, which on its own isn't necessarily bad. The problem comes when this philosophy is pushed to extremes, resulting in a lack of respect for the rights and lives of others. However, at least in Bane's era, followers of the dark side don't have any choice but to be extremist in their actions. The Jedi are fanatical about trying to wipe out the followers of the dark side, so the only way for the Sith to survive is to meet their enemies with the same level of fanaticism. If the Jedi were more moderate and tolerant of those who follow the dark side, Bane might have evolved into something very different . . . but that wouldn't necessarily make for a good story.

Those poor wittle Sith! Those mean, intolerant Jedi!

The Dark Side isn't just about the power of the individual. Palpatine isn't Ayn Rand with Force lightning. It's about control, domination, and serving yourself. The movies make that clear. But stuff like this confuses fans and it just panders to the sentiment that moral ambiguity is somehow deeper and more sophisticated than moral clarity.

The reason why I care about this is because for 30 years, many have looked to the SW saga as a moral fable. The characters aren't all perfect but the principles and ideas the heroes stand for and fight for are the right ones. Yes, that's still true in the PT. An awful lot of us learned about right and wrong, good and evil from these films. When fans start to dismiss canon narrative as "Rebel propaganda" and seriously argue there's moral equivalence between the Jedi and the Sith (worse yet, arguing the Sith are morally superior), there's something wrong and Lucasfilm ought to be concerned about what signals it's sending out.

I'm leaving this entry open, but I will be screening comments.
lazypadawan: (Default)
As Sio Bibble says, "The people have decided!" And we have our two additional EU characters added to the mix:

Ben Skywalker
Kyp Durron

They will join the following characters in the contest to see who is the best of the best:

Nomi Sunrider
Ulic Qel-Droma
Captain Gilead Pellaeon
Gaeriel Capistan
HK-47
Talon Karrde
Exar Kun
Aayla Secura
Quinlan Vos
Corran Horn
Jacen Solo
Jaina Solo
Anakin Solo
Cade Skywalker
Asajj Ventress
Mara Jade
Baron Fel
Grand Admiral Thrawn
Tenel Ka
A'Sharad Hett
Tahiri Veila
Siri Tachi
Xanatos
Kyle Katarn
Darth Revan
Darth Bane

Let me just say I'm really surprised nobody voted for any of the Yuuzhan Vong or that K'Kruhk was as popular as Jagged Fel or Tycho Celchu, all of which just narrowly missed the final list.

But this is going to be fun! The first poll will be tomorrow!
lazypadawan: (Default)
After going over the votes you submitted for great EU characters, I will add the following to my list:

Captain Gilad Pellaeon
Gaeriel Capistan
HK-47
Talon Karrde
Exar Kun

Several other characters were nominated as well, but they all got one vote each. I've decided to go ahead and add Nomi Sunrider, because I like her a lot and forgot to put her on my original list ;). Nobody voted for Ulic Qel-Droma, but I'm going to add him anyway.

So here's what I'm going to do. Below are the rest of the one-vote wonders. Pick which ones you'd like to continue on in the polling. The top two vote-getters will go on, while the others will get an auf wiedersehen, but without the smooch from Heidi Klum:

I-Five
K'Kruhk
Cindel Towani
Ben Skywalker
Kyp Durron
Tionne
Naga Sadow
Jagged Fel
Ysanna Isard
Tycho Celchu
Ferus Olin
Bollux
Blue Max
Droma

Please do not suggest any new characters to include. Voting is open until this Friday.
lazypadawan: (Default)


Do you think Jaina is going to go medieval on Jacen's butt in this novel?
lazypadawan: (Default)
Over the coming weeks, I will be running a series of polls to determine who is the Greatest Expanded Universe Character Ever.

Here's the deal. Since this is my LJ, I have taken the liberty to lay out my list of the EU Hall of Fame from comics, books, and games. They're not all necessarily characters I love to pieces and I realize not everybody on my f-list likes the EU. My criteria is simple. If they are great characters who hold their own, if they are characters who have affected the SW fandom, and/or if they are just plain hard to ignore, I've nominated them. Love them or hate them or indifferent, they're the all-stars of EU-dom. The following are already "in":

Aayla Secura
Quinlan Vos
Corran Horn
Jacen Solo
Jaina Solo
Anakin Solo
Cade Skywalker
Asajj Ventriss
Mara Jade
Baron Fel
Grand Admiral Thrawn
Tenel Ka
A'Sharad Hett
Tahiri Veila
Siri Tachi
Xanatos
Kyle Katarn
Darth Revan
Darth Bane

Who else deserves to be considered? I'm leaving that up to you. Nominate your fave EU characters or the ones you think are important. They can be obscure or well-known, they can be from new stuff or from "Splinter of the Mind's Eye." They can be from the games, comics, books, or other spinoff media. The only thing is they MUST have originated in the EU. Aayla Secura became a canon movie character, but she started off in the comics. Don't nominate Boba Fett even though he first appeared in The Star Wars Holiday Special; he was created first as a movie character. Got it?

Next Monday, I will add the seven most popular nominees to my list. Then the first round of polls will begin the following Sunday.

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