Review: Revan

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on 30 June 2016 by Megan

revan_coverby Drew Karpyshyn.

Ah, Revan. How does one embark on a book about the most popular character ever spawned by a Star Wars computer game? Well, although I’d had this book for a few months, I actually only picked it up to read it because I saw on Twitter that it’s mostly about Lord Scourge. Lord Scourge is the coolest! So I picked it up.

It’s a few years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic II (which I haven’t played; nor have I finished KOTOR 1, but that didn’t make a difference as far as the plot was concerned). Revan, an inconvenient hero kicked to the curb by the Jedi, is having nightmares about a storm-covered planet and some darkness he is sure he and Malak discovered on the Outer Rim. He simply can’t remember what.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the Sith Empire that remains hidden from the Jedi. The Dark Council are plotting against the Immortal Emperor, and a young Sith lord named Scourge is stumbling across the first threads of this plot.

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Scourge is my homeboy!

Anyway, my overall impression of this book is that it feels incomplete, which is probably inevitable with a book based on a video game and written by a guy who writes video games. The player supplies massive amounts of context to the game, but that style can’t be translated into a novel. It just made it feel like whole chunks were missing; there was no real inner monologue for anyone, and the descriptions were heavy handed. Unlike Joe Schrieber, who invoked the feeling of TOR in me even though I don’t even know if he’s ever played the game, Karpyshyn seemed to be working hard to make sure I never forgot for a minute I was reading a video game.

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Yes, stylistically, I found the book wanting — however, since the reason I picked it up was Scourge, I was not disappointed in that department! Much of the action centers around him, so if you’ve played the Jedi Knight class in TOR and went through his entire conversation arc, you’ll get a lot of blanks filled in. The book also strongly compliments the Revan flashpoints in TOR (Maelstrom Prison and The Foundry), and so in that respect it’s worth every minute to read it.

Canderous Ordo makes an appearance, though sadly nothing to indicate why you can find his skull in TOR (hahaha). HK gets a mention, though not an appearance, and a pregnant Bastila Shan shows up along with T7’s adorable predecessor. It’s definitely an information and companion story goldmine that’s worth reading if you enjoy these games.

It’s also a good background on Revan and what the big deal is with him if you aren’t particularly interested in the games. However, I assume due to being the main character in a first-person RPG, there’s very little development of him as a person or character, and my main impression at the end of the book is that he is by far the most depressing person in the entire Star Wars canon. His existence makes me uncomfortable and I dislike him for those reasons.

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In conclusion: Scourge. All Scourge, all the time, because he is cool. He’s also the most developed and most interesting person in this book, and I would again reiterate that if you read it for him, you will not be disappointed! It’s a fun little video game novel, so really I have no complaints about it.

Zahn Plot First

Posted in Opinion with tags , , , , on 10 June 2016 by Megan

EU fans and realcanon warriors have been disappointed and upset by remarks made at Awesomecon last weekend by Timothy Zahn. (Daily Dot interview here.)

First of all, Timothy Zahn did miss the point. I have to tell you, the way he’s behaving is exactly how pretty much all Star Wars fans would be behaving if the reboot had not demanded the decanonization of all prior Star Wars. As I addressed in last week’s open letter to Lucasfilm: reboots are common and they don’t make people mad. They don’t make people mad because they don’t threaten what people love or have invested in.

Understand this, there would be no problem whatsoever about Thrawn appearing in Rebels (for example) if Lucasfilm had not gone out of its way to declare Heir to the Empire non-canon. Declaring the EU non-canon and then cherry-picking “cool stuff” from it is as if you took your car in for an oil change, the mechanic told you the vehicle was totaled, and then you saw him cutting parts out of it to repair other vehicles. If that scenario would infuriate you, understand that’s why we’re infuriated about the EU.

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Zahn, like so many other fans, simply doesn’t seem to understand that Disney canon didn’t merely restart the timeline the way Star Trek (2009) did. It seems that, like so many fans, he thinks it’s only been bypassed. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins kept Scarecrow and Batman’s parents being murdered without declaring every pre-2005 incarnation of Batman “never canon,” so it makes sense to people that Disney would restart Star Wars without having any ruling on prior material. But that’s simply not what happened. That is what we’re angry about, Mr. Zahn — we’re not angry that they might use Thrawn in Rebels; we’re angry that they said “Thrawn never counted in the first place (but let’s just rip him off for spare parts…).”

I hope you can see the difference.

Secondly, even if he does understand the level of total decanonization that took place, he’s not upset. And he doesn’t want fans to be upset. “Lucasfilm owns it,” he kept repeating. “They have total control.” And while this is something he’s been saying since the 90s — “We’re playing in George Lucas’ driveway; we can’t be mad when he backs over our toys” — how can he be so zen? So resigned?

Could it possibly be because Star Wars already executed the biggest betrayal on him they possibly could? When the EU killed off Mara Jade in Legacy of the Force’s incessant quest to murder every classic character they could think of, do you think that could possibly have caused him to stop caring what they do? “They own it, they have total control,” he could have muttered ceaselessly to himself after finding out — after publication. They didn’t even have the common decency to tell him before the book came out. Authorial collaboration seemed to go the way of the dodo after NJO.  Nobody even thought to ask him, “hey, would your character do this?”

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When I talked with him at a con last year, he brought up her murder himself. His politically gracious attitude really seemed to waver at that point, after half an hour of wishing fans well at The Force Awakens, thanking and acknowledging them for comments like, “That should’ve been about Thrawn!” When the conversation got to Mara Jade, it seemed to me that he was struggling with a lot of anger. They killed her. They didn’t even tell him.

And maybe in killing her, they killed his ability to care about what happens to Star Wars in the future.

And maybe, just maybe, if all those trashy books that killed her are decanonized, maybe Disney can fix it and bring her back.

I’m not defending Disney. I’m not attacking you, if you’re some giant FotJ fan. I’m just saying, what if? What if he doesn’t care about the worst they can do, because Lucasfilm before Disney already did the worst it could to him?

Don’t blame him for not being upset about something that upsets you. He doesn’t have to be.

Understand this. The authors and actors do not have to be on our side. That does not determine the legitimacy of our position. We are fans. Fanatics. By definition, we care way too much about stuff. It’s not external; it’s never been external. It’s internal. It comes from within us.

Please understand that the real reason we are angry is that Disney said “none of it ever mattered.” Zahn says they aren’t going to come into our homes and take our books; no one believes that. No one is afraid of that. What we are upset by is that by saying the EU doesn’t count, never counted, Disney/Lucasfilm is telling us that we don’t count and never counted. It’s personal.

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So I want you to learn two things from this post. One, that we are upset about the EU being declared “not canon,” not about its being set aside for new material. And two, that there is some stuff Zahn said that we need to take to heart.

Calm down, relax. I appreciate your loyalty and your passion. But really, relax. It’s OK. It’ll be OK.

With as upset as everyone has been over this interview, those are some words we need to take to heart. It will be okay. Because Star Wars is never going to change. Star Wars canon is never going to change. No matter what Disney/Lucasfilm ever does or does not do, they cannot alter the heart of what Star Wars is. If you never hold Sword of the Jedi in your hand, the trEU will still exist as the only realcanon, ever.

Yes, we want Disney/Lucasfilm to grant the EU the legitimacy it deserves. Yes, it would be super smart for them to start selling new material set in “Legendsverse” as well as “Disneyverse.” But the bottom line is that Star Wars is not determined by external influence. I’m angry that Disney lies and calls their stuff “Star Wars” when it isn’t, but as long as we have the truth, we are more powerful than they are. So take his words in the spirit with which they were offered, and not the spirit with which trolls want to needle you with them.

Accept that Timothy Zahn and George Lucas are the two who gave us Star Wars, and that Star Wars 1976-2014 can never change, no matter what some random rodent emperor does.

And above all, never stop telling the rodent emperor the truth about what Star Wars is to us. Because if they never change their minds, never do what we want, at least we will always be able to say we never stopped asking.

Let Them Eat Canon,

Posted in Announcements, Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , on 3 June 2016 by Megan

or,What Do Those Billboard People Want, Anyway?
An open letter to Lucasfilm in response to the letter they’ve been replying to #GiveUsLegends correspondence.

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In pretty much every article that ever popped up describing the billboard and the fantastic dedication of fan love it represents, the authors were baffled about what “Give Us Legends” is about. You’d think it’d be straightforward. I mean, there’s even a press release on the site! But it’s not just the media — Lucasfilm itself has zero comprehension of what we’re asking for. Check out this letter received by some of our realcanon warriors:

And now, allow me to respond.

Dear Lucasfilm,

Thank you for sending letters back to the dedicated fans who spend time and postage on writing to you begging for the lives of Star Wars characters we all love. It’s amazing and exciting to be acknowledged.

Unfortunately, you have no idea what you’re acknowledging. This communications breakdown between us is why I think this schism in the fanbase is continuing to grow and hurting everyone involved.

You’ve probably heard this famous story. A naive French aristocrat was told, “The peasants have no bread to eat!” This young woman, completely unable to understand the reality of peasant life, merrily replied, “Then let them eat cake!”

No, it probably wasn’t Marie Antoinette who said that, but I’m not here to clear up historical misapprehensions — I’m here to clear up your misapprehension, Lucasfilm. Because I think this conversation has taken place in your offices a time or two since 2014.

Ever since you Order 66’d the Universe, announcing that more than 90% of Star Wars’ unprecedented and record-breaking canon was no longer canon due to your new movies coming out, you have been trying to throw us the bone that “some stuff is going to get integrated.”

For two years, you’ve seemed baffled that we aren’t responding to that with the unbridled enthusiasm you expected. You apparently refuse to ask why we don’t like that, because you keep throwing it in our face over and over again. “We’re going to recycle it. It’s not going away. We’re going to take cool stuff and integrate it. Why aren’t you excited? What is wrong with you?”

Did you ever stop to think that maybe we aren’t excited about you poaching the trEU (that’s True Expanded Universe) because we’re angry about what you did to it in the first place?

"Recycling"

“Recycling”

Fans say “Give us legends,” “We want legends,” “Bring back legends,” but it’s clear that you don’t understand what they’re saying. I’ll be honest: I don’t think they really understand what they’re saying, either.

Because continuation is a side issue. It’s not the main thing. Cutting off the story isn’t where you goofed, Lucasfilm.

Declaring it non-canon is where you goofed.

Take a look at every other reboot and remake in history. You — I mean, your master Disney has done remakes before and not gotten this response. Why? What’s the difference?

The difference is, when Christopher Nolan made Batman Begins, he didn’t issue a press release before the premier saying, “This is super exciting. NONE of the Batman stuff you knew and loved is canon anymore, but I’ve integrated all the best stuff into my new movie, which isn’t a reboot even though it’s meant to replace everything that came before. Actually, none of the Batman stuff that came out until now was canon anyway. Enjoy!”

When Star Trek (2009) hit theaters, it included a bit of timey-wimey whitewash to very graphically emphasize that it took place in an alternate timeline, but Paramount didn’t feel the need to tell all the world’s Trekkers that all prior Star Trek canon was rendered moot and had never, actually, been canon in the first place.

Are you seeing the difference? You’re denying our universe the legitimacy it is owed.

Understand this. If you had said “No, the new movies aren’t going to follow the EU,” no one would have been surprised (Abrams set that precedent with Trek 09), but more importantly, no one would have fought you. People would’ve seen the movie out of curiosity. Pretty much nobody would’ve bothered picketing it because it wouldn’t have been a threat.

Your “nucanon” is a threat to us, Lucasfilm. It’s a threat because you’re taking away the legitimacy of a canon that made your current life possible, replacing it, and treating us like we’re idiots for not loving the decision.

This is bad. It’s bad customer service. It’s bad franchise/fandom relation. Do you see why we’re so insulted when you say that you’re going to cherry-pick the stuff you like and “bring it back”? It’s because you threw it in the trash, said it never counted, and then you’re basically plagiarizing it.

It’s as if the Empire blew up Alderaan, told the people of Alderaan it was for their own good, and then started processing what was left of the planet into cheap furniture to sell back to them.

That’s why continuation is important but it’s not the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is that you’re lying to us all. Fix it. Make it right, Lucasfilm. It’s not too late!

All you need to do is say, “Yes, Star Wars 1976-2014 is canon, but it’s a separate timeline from the canon of 2015 and after.” People won’t be confused, I promise. Nobody watches Star Trek Into Darkness and is baffled about how it fits with Deep Space 9.

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We get it!

We’re smart. We’re geeks; it’s our defining characteristic. We can figure it out. And then instead of fans spending time and money trying to get your attention to right this wrong, those fans might start dedicating time and attention to checking out your alternate timeline.

Now, I said continuation is important. It is important. A lot of fans feel that continuation is the heart of the issue, which is why there’s all this confusion. But hear me out. Understand that granting us LEGITIMATE CANON STATUS is what you need to do to fix this, but that continuing the storyline is a great idea because it will completely double your profits.

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Do you know how many fans are saying they would try Lords of the Sith if they only had Sword of the Jedi, too? Do you care? You should. You think it’s more trouble than it’s worth monitoring two timelines? I promise, the EU has been self-policing for decades. Give Leland Chee his job back, fire up the holocron, and for pete’s sake give them their Sword of the Jedi.

I can guarantee you that your profits will soar, and that fans, set at ease that the canon they invested in before is solid and available, will be willing and maybe even eager to explore alternate universe options. Star Wars Infinities were always popular. I promise, after all these decades of X-Men, geeks know how to process and keep alternate universes separate.

Think about it.

Sincerely yours,
Rebel till I die,

The Star Wars Realcanon RebeLibrarian.

Dear Mr. Lucas

Posted in Spotlight with tags , on 26 May 2016 by Megan

I have complicated feelings about George Lucas. Really complicated feelings. Sometimes I think, “I don’t like him but I respect him” and then I’m like, “But I don’t respect him much either.” And then I go, “no, this feeling is definitely respect, but I don’t think much of him.”

I own a shirt that says Show us on the trilogy where George hurt you, which, unlike the creators of the shirt, I got in 2014 to express my bitter disappointment over his selling the franchise to “white slavers” (his term). They made the shirt because they’re whiny babies about the prequel trilogy, but I think it sums up my betrayal far better. At the same time, though, I have a shirt boasting George Shot First.

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I don’t know the man; I’ve never met him. These are impressions gleaned from behavior, interviews, biography, etc. But it seems to me that George Lucas is a egotistical control freak with social anxiety and no leadership skills. And if that makes you mad, keep in mind that we’re all humans and have flaws. I’m not criticizing him for his personality. He also has a stunning imagination, more knowledge of film than I could ever gain in a lifetime, and a filmmaker’s vision I could no more aspire to than I could aspire to paint the Mona Lisa. His ability to force control of everything in filming the PT resulted in weaker films than they should have been, but that’s balanced by the fact that the OT is weak in its own ways. So what? I’ve said it before: Star Wars is a coloring book. He gave us broad strokes and we can fill it in how we like. That’s the magic of it. That’s why it has universal appeal.

Even though I don’t like George Lucas very much, I’m awed by his accomplishments and I love his work. I have semi crippling social anxiety myself and know he must be some kind of hero level boss in order to overcome it and produce these films; and lest I become guilty of divorcing the trilogies from the EU, let me acknowledge that the EU ALSO CAME FROM GEORGE LUCAS. This was all his idea, his gift to fans. What did “fans” give him? Bile. A decade of harassment and derision.

I think he was manipulated and deceived into selling the Wars, manipulated like the Jedi Council by Senator Palpatine. And when he was tricked into selling his child to white slavers (as he stated in a 2015 interview Disney tried to hush up), the people who should have stood by him cheered instead. And now he’s had to helplessly watch as people who should have been his friends methodically shred his legacy and leave nothing but ashes and bones like a moisture farm after a Stormtrooper raid.

He deserves better. He deserves to have a true legacy, deserves to be allowed to retire. His mistakes should be acknowledged, but they also shouldn’t be held against him forever. We all have mistakes; ours are shrouded in privacy he’s denied.

So I’m setting aside one day a year to thank him. I’m setting aside the last Thursday of May to send him a thank you letter — the last Thursday in his birthday month, the month that gave us his films, the six greatest movies in the world. I think you should write to him, too. In fact, here’s a form letter you can use.

And here’s mine. My letter which should’ve reached him today — a true fan’s open letter to the creator of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. In celebration of the First Thanksgeorging Day.

dearluas

May 23, 2016

George Lucas
Skywalker Ranch
5858 Lucas Valley Rd.
Nicasio, CA 94946

Dear Mr. Lucas,

I’m writing you this letter for a holiday called “Thanksgeorging Day.” It’s an obvious play on “Thanksgiving Day,” celebrated on the last Thursday of May, the month all Star Wars fans set aside to celebrate this wonderful and amazing thing you gave us.

I’m writing to thank you for that. Thank you so much for creating the Star Wars universe. You must have heard this many, many times – but I know you’ve heard other things, less positive things, nasty things as well. I want this holiday to drown out some of that negativity. I hope you can hear the voice of the muffled majority, your fans, the real fanatics who love what you did and are grateful for what you gave us.

It’s the truth: you gave us something no one else did – or could. The spark in your imagination that somehow combined space adventure with mythology and classical themes became a fire, and that fire in turn sparked our imaginations, too.

You once said in an interview that you made films that pleased you, and you were surprised and pleased that they delighted others, too. I just want you to know how much it means to me. Return of the Jedi woke something up in me, gave me my first passion, and the way Star Wars has shaped my life, I think it’s safe to say what you did has helped me become who and what I am today.

It’s not just the films, not just those six pieces of art that defined imagination for generations. It’s the expanded universe you also created, the stories you inspired, the characters you breathed to life and set on journeys written by others. There’s not a day that passes without me thinking about my friends from Star Wars – Luke Skywalker, so much like myself; Qui-Gon Jinn, so much how I’d like to be; even background characters that took on lives of their own, from Wedge Antilles to Lobot.

Your universe has been an encouragement and a pleasure to me when I most needed it. You’ve given me things I can never thank you enough for – but thank you for this universe, for inviting us to join you in it. I’m sorry you’re no longer a part of it, but your Star Wars will always be the (only) Star Wars to me. I just want you to know what a great gift you have given me and fans like me.

Best Regards.

Game Time Started

Posted in Fun, Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 25 May 2016 by Megan

4A review of Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) which I have officially been playing for exactly one year today.

This is how Star Wars has gone for me: 1997-2005, Oh my gosh Star Wars is the most awesome thing ever and I swear I will know everything about it that was ever created or published because knowledge is power and I will be the most powerful Star Wars fan ever. 2005-2011, Education is distracting and anyway all that new Star Wars stuff is crap written by people who don’t know jack diddly about Star Wars. I know better than all of them so I can’t be bothered to read their stupid ignorance anymore. 2011-2012, New renaissance! Life is good and wow I missed a bunch of Star Wars stuff and need to catch up. 2012, My life is in the dumpster and to top it off, Star Wars has been destroyed. I give up and quit. 2013- New new renaissance! I will NOT be told by a mouse to get out of my fandom! Star Wars is MINE.

This includes games. I never really played Star Wars games, either because I never had computers that could handle the graphics, or Sims took up all of my non-school hours. Dark Forces II was a perennial favorite, but frankly the way everybody went on about Knights of the Old Republic had me pretty confident I was going to ignore it forever. (I don’t like things people go on about.) I didn’t know The Old Republic was separate. I got sick of hearing KOTOR this that and the other and determined never to play.

And then Disney took everything away. Disney made me reevaluate Star Wars. Also, GOG sold games I could install on Windows 7. So I bought KOTOR and decided to give it a try. And then I found out that The Old Republic was something different.

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Somebody from the Star Wars group encouraged me to get an account, so I chipped into the game with extreme caution. I logged in, did the first scene, walked out into the cantina, and immediately had a panic attack.

It was huge. It was mind-bogglingly, indescribably huge. And every person I saw was a real person who could see me, too. And they were all judging me. I hadn’t even wanted to ask the NPC in KOTOR for the tutorial because I thought he’d think I was an idiot; how could I handle an entire game full of a hundred real life people actively actually judging me walking into walls, getting killed, and behaving with general incompetence?

Sweet relief, the phone rang and I logged out. I genuinely thought at the time that I probably would never log back in again. So my one-year-ago-to-the-day experience was quite truncated.

Funny thing was, I couldn’t stop thinking about that initial cutscene. As much as everything else made me panic, the fact that I could click on buttons and my character actually said real words filled me with awe. Every other game was stuff like “ask about X” and the person replied; there was no first-person dialogue from me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with interest to know what my character would say. So I tiptoed back in.

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She’s a Zabrak because as f2p, I didn’t have any other nonhuman options. I’ve always come up with insane backstory for every character I’ve ever played — seriously, the hours I used to spend as a kid playing Alley Cat, I spent the whole time coming up with complex histories for the cats. So by the time I’d finished creating Anmaradi, she had a rich history — and I truly intended for her to be me if I existed in the era of TOR.

She made me feel like a badass. It wasn’t easy to learn, especially in pre-KOTFE days, especially for someone who had barely even heard the term “MMORPG” before. But the cutscenes kept me coming back and for awhile, I played just cutscene to cutscene.

And then we decided to form a guild. The group expressed interest mainly in a Republic side guild, so I had to make a pub side character. Anmaradi acquired a brother — a Zabrak smuggler with a grudge against the Empire.

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By then, I realized that I was enjoying the game and that I didn’t like KOTOR. I broke my neck to get internet connection in my new apartment because all I wanted to do was play TOR. And with my first long weekend, I bought a hardcopy of the game from Amazon for $9 and finally got to play as a subscriber.

Which made me really want to make a Twi’lek.

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And then we were collaborating with another guild so I decided making an ambassador alt would be a good idea. And because I had cartel coins — and didn’t imagine I’d ever have another use for them — and I like Sith and didn’t really want to play a Jedi anyway, I decided for the ultimate joke, I’d make a Sith Jedi.

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Safe to say by the time Vulkeen rolled onto the scene, I was addicted. The music was incredible. The graphics were incredible. I was still addicted to cutscenes. There was so much to do, so much to explore.

When I found out that there were Chiss specific interactions, at least for bounty hunters and agents, I embarked on a new quest — to play every class as a Chiss. And just like that, I’d gone from “not logging back in again” to “gonna play the agent and that’s it” to “four characters is plenty” — to “I’m going to play all 8 classes twice.”

It’s addictive. It’s stunning. I’ve never encountered anything like this game before, but I don’t think that’s why it’s so breathtaking. The story, graphics, characters, companions, gear, everything is made with such attention to detail, such attention to Star Wars — real Star Wars, the way George Lucas originally envisioned it — even though it’s 3,000 years before the Battle of Yavin IV, it feels like Star Wars.

I laugh. I cry. I ride tauntauns and fight with lightsabers. The books seem more vivid when I read them, because I know how it feels to fight my way down a corridor of shock troops. I’ve looked up at a Hutt from his beast pit; I’ve told an emperor his overconfidence will be his undoing. I’ve walked a path of pure light and of pure dark and discovered how each can be painful and difficult. I’ve made friends, lost them, avenged them, married them.

And I’m not even halfway through.

TOR is a great gift. Thanks to the Star Wars group person who got me into the game. Thanks to the people who made the game. Thanks to swtorfamily on Twitter.

And thanks a bit to Peter Cushing’s Ghost who caused me to discover another 40% of the game I’d utterly been missing, because she got an account in January and I discovered just how awesome the social aspect of the game can really be.

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Love.

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Get social.

I now have 13 total “toons” with at least three more in planning. My first has 6 days, 3 hours, 8 minutes of play time, while my second has 5 days, 14 hours, 58 minutes on the second. After racking up 48 days, 17 hours, 56 minutes of total play time in one year (that’s roughly 40% of all non-working, non-sleeping hours!), I couldn’t ask for more from a game 💝

16 Star Wars Books You Should Read in 2016

Posted in Fun, Opinion with tags , , , , on 13 May 2016 by Megan

And unlike the pitiful Disney “17 Villains” list, I won’t have to scrape any barrels to come up with 16 satisfying realcanon reads for the year.

Yes, halfway through Maul (May) is a weird time to give you a list of books to read for the year. But I’m weird, so that fits just fine. Actually, I was inspired by something I saw on Twitter today and thought, “People love lists, and this would be a great topic for a list!” List posts are extremely trendy, so I’ll try to give this a clickbaity promo line and go from there.

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16. Jedi Search
15. Dark Apprentice
14. Champions of the Force

Together, this 1994 trilogy makes up the real Star Wars: Episode VIII as Luke Skywalker battles demons from his run-on with the Dark Side and founds the Jedi school Yoda urged him to create all the way back in Episode VI. Mon Mothma is poisoned and the Sun Crusher is out to destroy whole star systems while a deranged Imperial tries to kidnap Anakin Solo and turn him into a new model Darth Vader.

13. The Truce at Bakura 

If you want to know what happened after Endor, what the day after Return of the Jedi‘s Ewok party was like, then Kathy Tyers has the whole thing right here for you — since 1993.

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12. Darksaber
11. Planet of Twilight

I know these are both part of the so-called “Callista trilogy” but I will never recommend anyone read Children of the Jedi, ever. Darksaber, however, is one of my favorite books. Soviet-esque Hutts attempt to build a superweapon among their own greedy shortcuts; Crix Madine is a war hero; and Luke gives his weird girlfriend a clip show of the best planets of the original trilogy. Planet of Twilight has some cool moments, a dark side vision of Leia, and the character Leigious Vorn to make it worthwhile.

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10. Ambush at Corellia
9. Assault on Selonia
8. Showdown at Centerpoint

This underrated Corellian Trilogy, which joined us in 1995 but which became my first Star Wars book ever in December 1997, is in my opinion a must-read for every treu fan. A chance to glimpse into Han’s past and the reclusive Corellian system turns into a disaster for the Solo family, as an evil cousin takes Han hostage and a sinister archaeology project flings the three kids into their first big adventure. Also, Lando hires Luke to help find him a wife, and lightsaber-wielding Mara and Leia destroy a government building! Non-stop thrills.

Home stretch! These are books with significant birthdays this year —

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7. Star Wars, From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker

Not really Expanded Universe because it doesn’t expand, this adaptation of the 1977 film is historically interesting and significant, not least of all because it’s the first Star Wars anyone in our galaxy ever experienced when it was published in December of 1976. It turns a distinguished 40 years old this year.

6. Jedi Twilight

This ten-year-old novel may be the first book in the Coruscant Nights trilogy (2) (3), but it’s the fourth book in Michael Reeves’ Pavan Saga, so bonus points if you read Shadow Hunter, Battle Surgeons, and Jedi Healer first! Otherwise, it tells the story of a Jedi in hiding who has become a private eye in the wake of Order 66.

Thrawn_CHISS

5. Outbound Flight

Another one turning ten this year: Timothy Zahn’s own prequel to Heir to the Empire, showing how the Chiss made first contact with the Republic and showing us what a lovable old cuss the real Jorus C’boath was in life. Thrawn’s first appearance.

4. The New Rebellion

A book with a mixed reputation, to be sure, New Rebellion is also turning 20 this year and deserves to be remembered for the character of Brakiss, who could have been so much more, and the eerie post-bombing chaos of the Senate chamber. (Who else freaked out when Leia was bleeding from the ears?) The skull-faced villain has his moments. It should not be discarded simply because of an over-the-top scene of Luke lightsaber dueling Mr. Bubble’s evil cousin. Nope! Worth reading.

The gang's all here!

3. Tales of the Bounty Hunters

Bounty hunters — we do need that scum! Visit arguably the best of the short story anthologies from 1996 as some favorite Star Wars authors tell the tales of our favorites, Dengar, IG-88, 4-LOM and Zuckuss, Bossk, and even Boba Fett!

2. Rogue Squadron 

One of my favorites of all time, the perfect book for you if you’re bored with the Big Three and/or Force users and bounty hunting scum just aren’t up your alley. Top Gun x-wing flyboys show you what it’s like to be a real Rogue.

And the #1 book you should read this year —

shadows

Shadows of the Empire turned 20 years old on April 1 (no kidding!). This book is wildly important in the history of Star Wars. You can catch my full review here!

Star Wars’ Holy Month

Posted in Announcements with tags , , , , on 9 May 2016 by Megan

What’s up, Wars Fans? I’ll tell you what’s up — the month of May. Or as I’ve decided to call it, Maul. (Jadeuary, Fettuary, Marr, Aaypril, Maul, see?) The month of all months as far as any self-respecting Star Wars fan is concerned. Yes, yes, there’s that greeting card holiday business with May 4, and if you really want Sitho de Mayo or Revenge of the Sixth or whatever the next two days are, you’re welcome to them.

But there are bigger and better holidays afoot, my friends! Star Wars Day is May 25, the date that gave us Star Wars back in 1977 as well as my personal favorite Return of the Jedi in ’83. May 16 gives us Episode II’s birthday; May 19 is for Episode I and Episode III. Empire Strikes Back gets its day on the 21st. And there’s a cornucopia of Star Wars actors’ birthdays this month, too, not least of all Peter Cushing (May 26) and Christopher Lee (May 27).

George Lucas

And then there’s the patriarch. George Lucas. The literal Maker as far as the Wars is concerned. His birthday is May 14.

Now, I legitimately don’t care what you think of George Lucas. My own feelings and opinions are as complicated as they can be about someone who amounts to a complete stranger who created a thing that takes up roughly 40% of my entire life. I don’t like him, but I respect him. I don’t have a high opinion of him, yet I admire him, his imagination, his creations, his tenacity. This guy was barely older than I am now when he was catapulted to the top of an unforgiving industry. And like me, he seems like someone with severe social anxieties, someone ill-equipped for such massive fame on such an abrupt scale. Yes, I think he let his ego get in the way of smart choices when it came to filming the prequel trilogy — but if I’m honest, I could look at Paradise Lost and say “I wouldn’t have done it that way.” The point is not “how would you have done it” — the point is, “Is what was done great?”

The answer is yes. Yes, it is great. All six Star Wars films are great. The Indiana Jones films and TV series are great. If his other contributions — Willow, Howard the Duck— are not great, they are not terrible, either, but are unfortunate mediocre younger siblings of geniuses who would stand just fine on their own if they weren’t constantly compared to their elders. I’ll level with you: I was far more entertained by Howard the Duck than I was by THX-1138. But here, the point is not “do you like it” — the point is, “Is it great?

And the answer is still, yes! George Lucas’ visions have not shaped one generation — they will shape many. By using Joseph Campbell’s themes on mythology, by combining and rearranging the best that the best filmmakers of his lifetime had to offer, Lucas created something no one ever had nor ever will again create. Space mythology, space opera — a Casablanca of science fiction, where a hundred cliches expertly linked can move us to tears. And the life that George Lucas breathed into it came from something else, from having a heart and passion for the fans. Once in an interview, Lucas drew an analogy of Star Wars being a sort of “trinity,” himself the “father” (in control), the works themselves “the son” (physical form), and the fans being the “holy spirit” that breathes life and vision into the works. On the back of Star Wars Through the Years, there’s a quote from him that he was trying to recreate scifi as he remembered it, those “free and fun” old serials — he achieved it and then some.

Fanaticism, by definition, knows no bounds or control. Despite the negative opinions I do have about George Lucas, I more than freely acknowledge he has not deserved the treatment he’s gotten. Fans essentially appropriated his brainchild and pushed him out; it is burning insult to that injury that Disney has treated his legacy with as much care as they’d treat a bag of garbage. Childish disappointment in films that could never live up to 25 years of mental hyping caused some of the fanbase to behave abusively toward the man they literally owe their entire fanaticism to.

So the stance I would urge people to take is one of fairness: acknowledge that the man, like any human, has innumerable faults and has made bad choices. Guess what, so have you, and at least your faults and bad choices are generally protected by privacy and anonymity, luxuries he has not had. At the same time, acknowledge his greatness: he created something no one else ever could have. He had the vision and the crew to produce this amazing thing that hit the public in the right way at the right time. We owe him for that.

If you love Star Wars, you owe Mr. Lucas your thanks. That’s basic. That’s human decency. You don’t have to love him; you don’t have to pretend he doesn’t have faults. Just acknowledge “Here is a human being who is responsible for creating something I think is so great that I spend most of my life thinking about it.”

And if you’re really hardcore, how about you send those words his way?

See, friends, what I’m introducing in this post is the concept of a new holiday: Thanksgeorging. This holiday is for Star Wars fans to celebrate on the last Thursday of May (the 26th this year). Although I encourage fans to send Mr. Lucas a note for his birthday, which is Saturday, I know that may be pretty short notice for you. So let’s get together, coordinate our efforts, and send Mr. Lucas a thank you note for our new holiday. Here’s a handy stock guide, if you don’t word good — just be sure to adjust it so it fits your personality!

And lastly, a shout-out to my new favorite blog/store: George Shot First. I invite you to dress the part on the first Thanksgeorging Day, and send me a picture of yourself rocking one of these awesome shirts. I’ll be doing a post on May 26 to showcase pictures of your shirts, letters, and anything else you happen to send me that has to do with thanking the Maker!

thanksthreepio

And if you don’t send me anything, I’ll do a much lonelier version of me celebrating my new holiday by myself . . . *cue sad music* So, come on, let’s show George Lucas what his work means to us!

I’m trying to get the word count to 1138. Can you tell? I’m so close and it’s so fitting! More details will follow, but for now — get your shirt, write your letter, send me some pics. George Lucas deserves some thanking. For more, see also this post.

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