The Greatest Sin, The Most Forgiveness

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on 14 April 2017 by Megan

It’s deep in the human psyche that betrayal is the worst thing anyone can ever do to anyone. The crux of Julius Caesar is not whether the Caesar was a good or bad ruler who should or should not be removed from power — it’s a tragedy that hangs on betrayal, on E tu, Brute?

When Dante described the lowest circle of hell in his Inferno, he described a place reserved for betrayers — the worst sin that deserves the worst punishment. He also assigns the worst fate (being gnawed on by Satan himself in the center of the pit) to the two most famous betrayers in history — Brutus, betrayer of Caesar, and Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Christ. The creature who betrayed Christ fills us with such revulsion that we no longer use the name “Judas.” When Ben-Hur was being adapted into a film, the producers wanted to change the main character’s name from “Judah” because they thought it was too similar. All of this resonating from the deep human repugnance at the notion of betrayal.

This is a very literary opening, isn’t it? Well, Star Wars is literary and so am I. This is all leading somewhere.

In Luke’s Gospel, 7:47, Jesus makes the profound statement that one who loves much is forgiven much — and one who is forgiven little, loves only little. If betrayal is the worst thing one human can do to another, then it follows that a repentant betrayer is forgiven more and surely loves more than any other person. In light of this, let’s turn to the two most famous betrayers in the Star Wars Saga.

Although they were born 3,000 years apart on opposite sides of the galaxy, these two have remarkably similar stories in the great saga. Malavai Quinn, whose name literally means leader going bad, was born on Dromond Kaas 3,680 years before the Battle of Yavin. One of thousands of frustrated military men, he enters the saga as a companion of the Emperor’s Wrath during the cold war between Old Republic and Empire. A cunning military mastermind, he was exiled to a post on Balmorra after embarrassing a Moff; he only escaped execution due to the good graces of a Dark Council member named Darth Baras. Baras, an exacting master, was content to let Quinn rot on Balmorra until such time as he needed his services. The Wrath was merely an apprentice when Quinn joined his crew; when this Sith received the Emperor’s commission and became Wrath, he aligned himself against Darth Baras and put Quinn in an unenviable position of serving two masters, each wanting the other dead. Not knowing which master was truly serving the Emperor, or which truly desired the best for the Empire — Quinn’s driving passion — he obeyed Baras’ orders and attempted to destroy the Wrath in a crushing betrayal. Defeated by the Wrath, he begged forgiveness and begged to continue serving him for the Empire’s sake.

Lando Calrissian was born on Soccoro 31 years before the Battle of Yavin. Always a restless spirit, he left home as a teenager and acquired a reputation as a professional gambler. He participated in military actions such as the Battle of Tanaab but was always more of a businessman. Constantly sniffing out opportunities for profit, he more than once found himself uncomfortable when the situations went bust. One of his most successful ventures was when he took over as Baron Administrator of Cloud City, a tibanna gas mine that flourished under his control. Many of its citizens came from dubious backgrounds and criminal pasts; they viewed the mine as a way to start over, to go legit. When the Empire arrived on the hunt for Han Solo, it was a disaster in more ways than one. Lando and Han had been friends for years, but due to a falling out, hadn’t spoken for a long time. With the Empire threatening the colony of people who depended on him, Lando tried his best to make the situation work. Betrayed in turn by Vader, Lando was forced to call the city to evacuate and dedicate his energies to rescuing Han from the trap he had helped create.

Both of these men are forced between two profound loyalties when it comes to “the betrayal.” Neither of them choose to betray their friends for something trivial such as greed or lust. Both men are willing to sacrifice for and desperate to choose the best for their respective communities; however, it’s even two-pronged on Quinn’s part, for Darth Baras has treated him well for ten years, protecting him from Broysc’s pettiness, even confiding in him. By contrast, however much Quinn respects and admires the Sith Warrior who becomes the Wrath, this person is a recent acquaintance whose behavior may be quite erratic as far as the good of the Empire is concerned. Sith are notoriously self-serving, and Quinn believes he has ten years of Baras’ behavior to count on.

Both men defend the decision in the heat of it. Lando’s “I’ve done all I can! I’m sorry I couldn’t do better, but I’ve got my own problems” and Quinn’s “I didn’t want to choose between you, but Darth Baras has forced my hand” are nearly interchangeable. No doubt it’s on this very brief moment their detractors most focus — but look at how much, how weighty the evidence is on either side of this flash.

Both men instantly regret the decision. One could say they merely dissolve when it goes sideways on them, but look at their history and you can see that’s not in their character. They both express their remorse right away. Quinn programs battle droids to kill the Sith and Lando stands by while Han is tortured, but as Quinn realizes the Wrath is more powerful than he thought and as Lando realizes Vader intends to destroy Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, they freely acknowledge they’ve gotten in over their heads. Both take steps to rectify the error as quickly as possible. Quinn later explains to Darth Vowrawn that he is trying to make up for a past indiscretion.

Neither man is questioned on his loyalty again. Quinn is integrated fully into the storyline after the anticlimactic betrayal scene. And while Han’s last words to Lando before carbonite are a stony, “What’s goin’ on, buddy?”, the first thing he does free of carbonite is attempt to save Lando from the sarlacc. There’s no hesitation. Not only does Lando reflexively call out for Han to help him, Han leaps into action despite being blinded and weakened. And when Han takes a blaster to shoot the tentacle holding Lando prisoner, neither man even considers the possibility that Han would take revenge–Lando’s only concern is Han’s ability to aim with hibernation sickness affecting his vision.

Now, I understand that The Old Republic is a game, and the Emperor’s Wrath is a character that is played differently by everyone who plays it. While I’ve freely noted Han’s interactions with Lando, I’ve refrained from speculating on the Wrath’s. Maybe you play a really dark side Sith who would like to kill anyone who ever looked at him sideways. I don’t have anything to do with that. I only present the canon version of these events: namely, that Quinn is accepted into the Wrath’s crew once more and remains a player in galactic events, just as Lando is welcomed into the rebellion and becomes an integral part of the Star Wars. How you feel is your business; I am under no circumstances telling you how to feel. So far, I haven’t even mentioned how I feel. I’ve just given the bare facts of the story.

Now, this is how I see it: if you want to be like the kids who threw things at Billy Dee Williams’ car when he picked his kids up from school, if you want to be like the kids on Twitter who moan about how much they want to kill Quinn, it’s your prerogative. It’s my prerogative to love both of these characters. I love the friendship between Malavai Quinn and my Wrath, a Chiss named Chan’drakan’tah. I love the friendship between Han and Lando. I can only hope my real life friendships are as strong and as stable — I hope if I feel forced between loyalties and choose the wrong one, that forgiveness and not condemnation will meet me. I promise my friends that if they make the same bad choice, I will forgive.

Because he who is forgiven much loves much. And, also, I love both these characters. Much.

An Essential Universe

Posted in Fun, Opinion with tags , , , , on 17 March 2017 by Megan

or, 17 trEU books to read in 2017

Some reports say that a majority of people won’t read one book through this year. I’m not here to guilt you, even though I feel guilty enough if I don’t read at least 52 books a year — I just want to inspire you. I really enjoyed the list I put together last year, so I was inspired to do it again!  I’ve carefully selected these 17 realcanon reads to resonate especially with this year! Enjoy.

17. Allegiance by Timothy Zahn (10 years old!)

If your heart, like mine, is an Imperial-occupied zone, what better place to start than by picking up a novel that gives depth and faces to the men behind the white armor? It also introduces a young Mara Jade just starting off her career as the Emperor’s Hand.

16. Specter of the Past by Timothy Zahn

Jump straight to the end of the RebeLibrarian timeline, find out why I love Pellaeon with a passion, and watch both Luke and Mara succumb to human feeling and realize they’re falling in love. Read it with Vision of the Future it’s essentially a novel-length prologue. Bantam specifically commissioned this “Hand of Thrawn duology” to capstone the timeline, and, if you like, it makes a perfect and 100% satisfying ending to the Skywalker saga.

15. Union by Michael A. Stackpole

I’m not a fan of comics and I end the timeline at Vision of the Future, so you just know Union must be something special for me to grant it status! It’s a charming epilogue, a lighthearted story about how even Luke Skywalker’s wedding can’t be free of Imperial plots and drama.

14. The Bacta War by Michael A. Stackpole (20 years old!)

Stackpole’s X-Wing series is a crown jewel of the realcanon, and the development of Corran Horn along with Wedge Antilles’ team of crack pilots is not to be missed if you value your Star Wars soul. These books make me laugh and cry unapologetically no matter how many times I read them.

13. Tales from the Empire (20 years old!)

These anthologies are close to the beating heart of the EU, true expansions of characters and situations we see only vaguely or mentioned briefly on-screen. This brilliant collection includes a novella by Stackpole. Read it now!

Fifteen years ago, we got the second installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Honor that anniversary!

12. The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster

Returning to the Star Wars universe for the first time since 1978, and with his third and final offering to the universe, Alan Dean Foster explores the relationship between a maturing Obi-Wan and Anakin as they work with another master and Padawan. Remember Mace Windu saying that the two of them are recently returned from a border dispute on Anision? This is that dispute!

11. Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore

Although I never liked Salvatore and am never going to forgive him for his bizarre colorblind bungling in this novelization (with a redheaded Obi-Wan and red-eyed Jawas, it’s like he dropped acid before writing this thing…), the book is nevertheless a very important installment into the universe!

Now, forgive me if I mention Disney a few more times before I’m done here. I’ve saved the nine most significant books for last, and while four of them are celebrating 20 years, I admit that Disney doings are the primary reason I include them with such prominence.

10. Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry

If you want to know the trEUth about the Death Star’s construction and get a glimpse into what was happening on the other side during the events of A New Hope, trust Perry and Reaves to get you there! With bonus appearances by some of Reaves’ Pavan Cycle characters, Death Star delivers realcanon you won’t regret.

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7. Soldier for the Empire (20 years)
8.  Rebel Agent (20 years)
9. Jedi Knight by William C. Dietz

Kyle Katarn has a complex and compelling backstory, and this trilogy delves deep into his introduction to the rebellion, his first important mission for the same (aka stealing the Death Star plans), and his confrontation with the Inquisitor Jerec, the first Miralukan in realcanon. With breathtaking artwork and an awesome story, it’s an installment that deserves its stellar reputation.

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Han Solo is about to get a bad rap. A seriously bad rap. First 2015 had people saying he was dead. Next, rumor is they’re going say Disney came up with his origins all by themselves. Read on and be enlightened!

4. Han Solo at Stars End
5. Han Solo’s Revenge
6. Han Solo and the Lost legacy by Brian Daley

The very first tales of Han Solo appeared in 1979, penned by the same great mind that gave us the incredible radio adaptations of the Original Trilogy.

These books have undeniable historical significance and are a great deal of fun. Eighteen years before the controversy, Han brags about shooting first, and almost a quarter century before Crystal Skull, Han has an eerily similar adventure that even trashes a campus during a speeder chase! Read for the classics they are, the Daley trilogy won’t disappoint.

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And now! The number one books you should read this year — the three books you should read if you only read three books in 2017! —

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1. The Paradise Snare  (20 years)
2. The Hutt Gambit (20 years)
3. Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin

Read them before you can be brainwashed into thinking A.C. Crispen didn’t write the definitive edition of young Han Solo’s life! These books are three of the greatest in the entire EU. Who doesn’t love a good origin story? And the origins of how Han knows Wookiee; how he became a great pilot; how he met Chewbacca, Jabba, Lando, and Boba Fett; got the Corellian bloodstripe; and made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs is a nonstop thrill that will never disappoint. Ann Crispin, who died in 2013 less than six months before EU favorite Aaron Allston also passed, is by far the greatest female contributor to the EU. Applause!

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Top 10 EU Moments in Film

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 9 March 2017 by Megan

The Star Wars Special Editions turn 20 years old this year, and thinking about these much-maligned, much-misunderstood installments to the Star Wars saga got me thinking about how they demonstrate a very important point.

Something you’ve heard me assert over and over is that to George Lucas, the EU was just as canon as his films. Now, people get off on tangents of “he didn’t think the EU was canon because he didn’t follow it,” but that’s absurd. He was the creator. Why should he follow someone else’s ideas? But that doesn’t mean he didn’t consider the ideas he authorized to be just as “true” as the films he made.

Lucas asserted this himself over and over. But actions speak louder than words. Here’s eight times George Lucas went out of his way to reference the EU in his films, demonstrating his belief that it was canon and “counted.”

Honorable mention: Prince Xizor

Did you know that the Prequel Trilogy used more models and miniatures than the Original Trilogy? Despite criticisms that they’re “all CGI” and “CGI heavy,” the PT actually won awards for its miniatures. In one such model, the Phantom Menace crew inserted a Xizor action figure among the filler for the crowd attending the Boonta Eve Podrace. This pretty obviously isn’t intended to be a canonical reference, but it’s fun and so I point it out.

10. Twi’leks and Rodians

Although both species were obviously Lucas’ creation — Rodians appearing first in 1977 (Greedo) and Twi’leks in 1983 (Oola) — they weren’t named until later in the EU. West End Games published The Star Wars Sourcebook in 1987, coining the word “Twi’lek,” and their 1989 Galaxy Guide 1 gave us “Rodian.” published by West End Games. Although neither word is ever spoken in any of the films, George Lucas used the names freely and they appear in production notes and interviews throughout production of the prequels.

(Bonus points: Rystáll Sant, pictured with the Twi’leks and Rodian dancer above, is part Theelin, a species that first appeared in Dark Empire.)

9. Bogden, Muun, Rishi, Tund

part of the galaxy

These planets all appeared first in the EU in various places — Tund is oldest, from 1983’s Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka — and were used by George Lucas to seed the dialogue with the rich geography we could expect from a galaxy far, far away.

8. Force speed and Force grip

Force-users have special powers in video games, and some of those powers made it onto the silver screen. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon use Force speed to escape droidekas in The Phantom Menace, and Dooku uses Force grip against Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.

7. Aurebesh

“Alien gobbledygook characters” appear in the films, but it was Stephen Crane who designed a legitimate, sensible alphabet with the characters for West End Games in 1994. The DVD editions of the film edit Aurebesh translations into places where English was originally seen, and the PT uses Aurebesh meaningfully as well.

6. Quinlan Vos

In an interview in 1999, George Lucas stated that he wanted the EU to pick up background characters and give them stories. He used Aurra Sing as a specific example — but Aurra Sing had an identity supplied by the film. Jan Duursema asked for permission, picked a random person out of the background, and created Quinlan Vos from him. He got two comic series and some other appearances in the EU before George Lucas picked him up for Revenge of the Sith. Although his scene never made it to filming, Obi-Wan Kenobi still mentions “Master Vos” in a briefing to Anakin.

5. The Outrider

It’s fitting that Shadows of the Empire should have so many references in the special edition: Steve Perry’s work was used to test whether the public was receptive to such a major project as a restored re-release and new trilogy. A New Hope SE is full of swoop bikes, labor droids, and other minor ephemera from Shadows and WEG sourcebooks, but the most notable of all is Dash Rendar’s Outrider, seen flying over Mos Eisley.

4. Double-bladed lightsaber

The first double-bladed lightsaber in Star Wars belonged to Exar Kun. It appeared in 1995, in Tom Veitch’s Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War 3, The Trial of Ulic Qel-Droma. The same weapon then arrived in the hands of Darth Maul four years later in The Phantom Menace.

3. Lightsaber deflecting lightning

Timothy Zahn first considered that a lightsaber could deflect Force lightning and asked Lucas if he could include it in his Thrawn Trilogy. The Maker approved, and the combat move first appeared in The Last Command in 1993. Apparently the Maker approved so much that he had Obi-Wan Kenobi do the same thing in Attack of the Clones in 2002.

2. Aayla Secura

Speaking of Quinlan Vos — Padawans get all the luck, don’t they? Jan Duursema and John Ostrander came up with Aayla for Quinlan’s apprentice and she appeared in Star Wars 19: Twilight 1 in 2000. George Lucas was so taken by the artwork created for her that he created scenes for her in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

1. Coruscant

The biggest of all the big tamales: Coruscant. George Lucas had created the galactic capital city-planet for A New Hope, but he called it Alderaan and budget prevented him from ever realizing it on screen. The WEG sourcebooks Zahn was asked to use for canon material simply called the capital “Imperial Planet,” so he chose a word to capture the image of a city planet glittering in the cosmos: Coruscant. The planet first appeared — nameless but known — in Return of the Jedi in 1997, but Lucas vindicated the entire EU as co-canon with his films when he designated the galactic capital Coruscant in 1999. And there was not a Star Wars heart in the place that didn’t burst with pride when we first heard Qui-Gon Jinn say, “I’m taking these people to Coruscant” and we all knew.

A New Visual Guide to Sentients

Posted in Questions with tags , , on 1 March 2017 by Megan

The most popular post on my blog by far is my “Visual Guide to Sentients.” I collected 65 of what I felt were the most significant races in Star Wars — it wasn’t very polished, and since it’s become so popular, I’ve decided to do an updated version with the 99 most significant races in Star Wars with their name and first appearance.

In order to be considered significant, a race must have more than one living member at the time of the Original Trilogy (no Yoda) and must appear in more than one sequence (or be vitally important in the single instance in which they appear).

Planetary origin is immaterial: Alderaanians, Bakurans, Corellians, etc. are all humans, so they will not appear separately on the list. Mandalorians, not being a race on their own, do not appear either.

INDEX

Advozse — Aleena — Anzat — Aqualish — Arcona
Barabel — Besalisk — Bith — Bothan
Caamasi — Cathar — Cerean — Chadra-Fan — Chagrian — Chiss — Clawdite
Devaronian — Drall — Dug — Duros
Elom — Elomin — Er’kit — Ewok
Falleen
Gammorean — Gand — Gen’daii — Geonosian — Gossam — Gotal — Gran — Gree — Gungan
Herglic — Human — Hutt
Iktotchi — Ishi Tib — Ithorian
Jawa
Kaleesh — Kaminoan — Kel Dor — Kissai — Kitonak — Klatoonian — Kubaz
Lannik
Mirialan — Miralukan — Massassi — Mon Calamari — Muun
Nautolan — Neimodian — Nikto — Nimbanel — Noghri — Nosaurian
Ongree — Ortolan
Pau’an — Phindian — Polis Massan
Quarren — Quermian
Rakata — Rattataki — Revwien — Rodian
Sand People — Selonian — Sith — Snivvian — Ssi-Ruuk — Stennes — Sullustan
Talz — Thisspiasian — t’landa Til — Togorian — Togruta — Toydarian — Trandoshan — Twi’lek
Ubese — Ugnaught — Utai
Verpine — Vodran
Weequay — Whiphid — Wookiee
Xexto
Yinchorri — Yuzzem
Zabrak — Zeltron

Continue reading

My First Marathon

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , on 23 February 2017 by Megan

In my last two posts, I told you all about how Star Wars and I met. Yesterday was twenty years since Return of the Jedi blew my mind and became my favorite movie of all time. Today is twenty years since I first watched the original trilogy in a marathon.

Star Wars Marathons are a sacred tradition that, I’m sure, go all the way back to 1983, though I wasn’t around and can’t personally vouch for that. Three movies though they may be, they are simply parts of a whole, and to do the story justice, they must be watched one after the other.

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My first marathon was mismatched and a matter of sheer pragmatism: we only owned A New Hope and V and VI were due to return to the video store the next day. It was a Sunday, and back then a marathon only took about six hours. I had no idea when I would ever get to see E5 or E6 again, so I can tell you I was rapt for the whole thing.

That evening, my diary was bursting with six Star Wars-packed entries in a row; determined not to take up more than one page per entry (for some reason), I turned to the second string — the Lisa Frank diary from the year before that had exactly one empty page left. So February 23 has two separate entries about Star Wars . . . and a rather embarrassingly bad crayon drawing of “Good vs. Evil.”

February 23 also marks the date I heard my first prequel rumor: sure, Star Wars fans had been bandying the idea of a new trilogy for years, but two weeks before, I’d never even heard of Star Wars at all! “Mom said that Corey said that they are coming out with episode I (one) II (two) and III (three) When they were kids!!!”

There’s a tremendous irony to the fact that even though February of 1997 is crammed with diary entries featuring the words “Star Wars,” the same diary goes absolutely silent until October on the subject. I watched A New Hope four times in two weeks (and E5 + E6 twice in two days), had to write sideways in the margins of my diary to cover all my thoughts about it, and yet for all intents and purposes, utterly forgot the movie existed for the next six months.

It’s interesting that just as I had to have Return of the Jedi to really care about the trilogy, I didn’t really care about Star Wars until . . . the Expanded Universe.

And I guess you’ll just have to wait until December for that story. But don’t worry, I’ll post again in October to tell you all about the next big event in my Star Wars life ;)

Twenty Years, Part 2

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 22 February 2017 by Megan

It’s amazing what things stick with you and how clearly they stick. As I said in the last post, I remember with absolute clarity the first time I saw Star Wars: A New Hope. I even remember when I saw E4 for the second time and, with similar exact clarity, when I saw The Phantom Menace in the theater two years later. Ditto Revenge of the Sith. Yet for all that, I don’t remember the first time I saw Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, even though E6 is my favorite and the most important of the six.

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The first Star Wars I ever saw!

As I said last time, the first time I ever saw E4 was February 12, 1997. We watched it again the next day — 10 AM on a Thursday, my older sister grabbed me and said, “Hey, see if Mom will let us watch that movie from last night again.” A third, but partial, rewatch occurred again on February 18th, so already there was something major and significant about this movie.

Then, nine days after I saw A New Hope for the first time, Mom rented The Empire Strikes Back. I must have been after her to see it; I’d been watching anniversary interviews with the cast on Rosie and Oprah, not knowing who Billy Dee Williams was as he described angry kids yelling at him for betraying Han Solo. Han Solo got betrayed?! Was he killed?! I had to see this movie! Kroger — which did video rentals back then, if you can believe it — didn’t have any, so I remember Dad pulling a few doors down to the West Coast Video where Mom ran inside. It was raining. Can you believe I remember rain from 20 years ago? Yet I don’t remember the actual moment we sat down to watch the movie.

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I didn’t have much to say about it in my diary that night, either. The most significant thing was “It was almost 70 degrees!!!!” followed by how much I hated doing English (ironic given that I later majored in English…)

Then the bombshell. Then Return of the Jedi.

1983 ROTJ Poster

It was partly a bombshell because of how clever my mom is. She went into the video store alone because it was raining and we had groceries in the car. She let me hold the E5 VHS on the way home and put it on top of the TV for viewing. I absolutely took for granted that it would be at least one week before we could get E6. (“Town” was 18 miles away and going in for groceries was a weekly thing.) So I was pretty nonchalant about the cliffhanger ending.

The next day was February 22, a Saturday, and I was replaying The Island of Doctor Brain on our Windows 3.0 Compaq in Dad’s office.

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Even though that picture was taken in 2003, Dad’s office pretty much never changed the entire 16 years they lived there. Same computer! So the point is that’s where I was sitting sometime after lunch when I got to this screen:

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I’d played the game before, so I knew where all the Easter eggs were — the best thing about Sierra computer games was that you could right-click for jokes. And I called for Mom, always my first response upon a new discovery, and said, “LOOK! I never got that before!!” Right-clicking on the hut at the top left of the screen produced a box of text reading Don’t mess with Jabba the Hut.

We laughed and then Mom got a mischievous glint in her eye. “You want to see what he looks like?” she asked. I was like, Huh? and followed her out of the office, which was right next to their room, and she opened their closet and pulled out the opaque rental case for Return of the Jedi. My mind was absolutely blown that she’d rented both at once and kept it a secret.

So late in the afternoon, before dinner, I tore around the house rounding up Dad and my sister and we started to watch Return of the Jedi as the sun was going down. Huh, guess I remember more than I thought about the moment I first saw E6!

My diary couldn’t even handle all the information I had to unload:

Dear Pal,

We saw return of the Jedi. Lai is Luke’s sister! And Darth Vader is Luke’s father. But the Emperor was killed and Darth became good, only he was killed.

Love Megan

I like Luke, Leia, C3Po R2D2 Ham Solo best.

The clearest thing I remember is that when it was over, I passed by the front door to go upstairs and I stopped to watch the moon rising through the cut glass windows. It was nearly full, huge, and felt closer than ever. No movie had ever made me feel that way before. I loved stories, I loved reading and telling stories, but not even any of them had ever made me feel like that.

I wrote that Han Solo was my favorite, but even then, even before I bothered to notice Luke, he was the reason my imagination caught fire — the hero whose journey was the reason Star Wars changed my life.

Star Warsiversary

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , on 12 February 2017 by Megan

Let’s talk about what I was doing around this time twenty years ago exactly. It was a Wednesday. We’d moved from Columbus to Champaign County only about six months before, the house wasn’t even painted inside, and I was only just embarking on a decade of epic sulking about being removed from the house I was born in. I was eleven, loud and always in a hurry, emotional and easily frustrated, passionate about reading and spending every possible hour out in the woods.

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We were never a very TV-oriented family. Didn’t even have a set until I was three and that was just because Grandma got a new one. However, shortly after settling in Champaign County, we got a television four times bigger than the old one, and we started getting a pizza once a week and watching a movie over dinner. Being a homeschooling family with a full-time mom and a dad working from home, we defied traditional “weekends,” and Wednesday was pizza/movie night by virtue of being the day we went to the store. Unbeknownst to me, Mom had picked up a movie that afternoon that would change my life.

We gathered round the TV, I was sitting in my usual spot on the Mission oak couch with my legs drawn up so I could balance my plate on my knees — pepperoni pizza — and I could look out the sliding glass door to the screened in porch and the yard beyond. February 12 was a cold snowy day and there were the remains of several miniature snowmen I’d made and painted that afternoon.

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“Today I played in the snow. Made 5 snowmen (small ones) and made snow paint. Mom bought STAR WARS. We still have to get the other two in the trilogy. Played computer.”

I remember a lot of things very clearly about that first-ever viewing. Hearing the first lines and almost forgetting about my pizza. Being amazed that the first characters were so unapologetically robots. I thought the Stormtroopers were robots themselves. Actually I thought Vader was one, too. It was like a nothing but robots celebration! Like so many others seeing Star Wars for the first time, I was awed because it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. At 11, I’d seen very few movies at all, mostly animated or time-honored musicals like The King and I and Sound of Music. Definitely nothing like this 1970s scifi flick. I misheard half of what was going on (“Jedi knife” and “cologne wars,” for example) and thought Han and Chewie were the most interesting things in the whole film. I was impressed that the heroine looked exactly like me if I didn’t have bangs, though — I was going through a fit of being sick of every girl being a freakin’ blonde.

There’s a curious contradiction in the first time I saw Star Wars. On one hand, I was clearly struck by it enough that I recorded it in all caps and underlined in my diary. On the other hand, it was as much a footnote as the forgettable snow paint. I don’t remember being any more enthused about it than any other movie during pizza night (which included The Great Panda Adventure, a film about which I remember nothing except the kid said “American Gladiators” a lot . . . and there were pandas), but I must have expressed some extreme interest in it because in the two weeks between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, I watched every interview on TV that even remotely referenced Star Wars. I believe I’m the only person on the planet who saw the carbon-freezing scene for the first time on Oprah (or Rosie? I could never tell those two shows apart) during an interview with Billy Dee Williams before I even knew the name of the second film.

Yes, Return of the Jedi is the film that made my obsession bloom, but A New Hope gave me something. Over the years, it’s traded orbits with Attack of the Clones for being my least favorite of the six, but it is an amazing movie and it planted the seed of a love and passion that has been part of me for twenty years. Twenty years, beginning with stories scribbled in atrocious handwriting, making my own paper dolls because I wasn’t allowed to buy action figures, reading the books at the speed of light so I could get more; twenty years of anticipating new releases, of rewatching a film more than anyone could think possible, of buying books and toys and games. Twenty years of loving a film franchise as I’ve loved nothing else and as no one else has ever loved it.

Happy anniversary, Star Wars. Here’s to the next twenty years!