Archive for the Questions Category

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

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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!

Review: Slave Ship

Posted in Questions, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 27 February 2016 by Megan

by K.W. Jeter, book 2.

slaveship

The Mandalorian Armor ended on a total cliffhanger, so the first chapter of Slave Ship comes off like an old-timey movie, taking a step back to show you how the hero escaped. Telling you that Boba Fett escapes isn’t really telling you anything new, since this is an entire trilogy about him and he shows up years later.

But we don’t read this trilogy to find out that he survives. We read it to find out how. And as the flashback sequences increase in complexity, the central book of the trilogy picks up its pace with a sense of urgency.

It makes one wonder how Boba Fett and Thrawn would ever do matched against each other. Both of these warriors have a skill at predicting and controlling other creatures’ movements, manipulating them into an outcome that does the best for their own ends. But while Thrawn looks for big pictures, Boba Fett looks only for profit. That makes me think Thrawn would win.

At any rate, I digress. The Bounty Hunter Wars have begun, and Xizor, Kuat, and the Emperor continue to move beings around the galaxy as if they were pieces on a game board. What is the significance of the symbol Nil Possondum carved on the floor of Fett’s cargo hold? In fact, what is Possondum’s significance, anyway, and what’s he got to do with the dancer Neelah? Can Bossk get revenge? Is Boba Fett just waiting for a chance to sell out his partners? Can Dengar survive a partnership with Fett, or will he just be another casualty in the long line of deaths caused by the neo-Mandalorian?

It’s not a bounty hunter’s job to ask questions, but there’s a lot floating around here. K.W. Jeter continues to weave flashbacks with the present, only now he explains that this is Dengar telling the mind-wiped Neelah the story of the old Bounty Hunter’s Guild. Treachery and deception runs rampant, but they might just be closing in on the prize at last.

The thing with this trilogy that I absolutely love are the characters. I hear a lot of people saying they’re bored of books about the Big Three; they’re bored of Force users. They want something else. Yet so few sample this trilogy! Why? There’s nary a Force user in the entire book, and the closest you’ll ever get to the Big Three is the occasional bounty hunter mentioning how much they’d like to catch one for the credits.

They may be the fringes of the galactic population, but these are the plain ol’ mortals of the Star Wars universe. They have strong stories, and Slave Ship leaves one hanging on every bit as much as The Mandalorian Armor. I may have cried. It’s so, so worth it.

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Book

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , on 8 August 2015 by Megan

Day 8 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

I know a week consists of seven days. (I also know the names of those seven days in A Galaxy Far, Far Away.) But first of all, this month started weird on a Saturday and I wanted the challenge to run Sunday-Saturday. And second of all, this is a librarian’s blog and the focus is always going to be on books.

The original challenge didn’t include books, because the SWPAS site focuses exclusively on the films. It’s not a choice I would make, but I’m weird because I can’t/don’t separate the films from the books anyway. There’s no difference in my mind between Cloak of Deception and Attack of the Clones. Deal with it.

That being said — what is my favorite prequel-era book? Well, a prequel-era book has to be one set during the decade the prequels actually cover — books set between 1108-1118. The highest rating I’ve given during that era is four stars and tied between Outbound Flight and Shadow Hunter.

shadowhunter

Honestly, I’m going to go with Shadow Hunter. Michael Reaves’ Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter is an underrated favorite I’ve loved since I first read it almost fifteen years ago. I can remember stumbling breathlessly through it, adrenaline and teary eyes only adding to the thrill ride.

In 1999, with Vision of the Future complete, a brand-new Star Wars era had been opened for exploration, and this way my first foray into it. No longer would the pre-ANH years be shrouded in mystery.

This is what happened before The Phantom Menace. This is who and what the phantom menace is. We had only just been shown the Old Republic for the first time, but already, this book ripped away illusions: corruption and weakness, even the Jedi choked by the weeds of hypocrisy and evil. (Yes, the Jedi¬†were evil — they kidnapped children! If that’s not evil,¬†what is?)

Lorn Pavan catapulted to near the top of my favorite Star Wars character lists, a tragic man with a lost son and a grudge against the Jedi. Darth Maul’s quest filled me with horror. And while the end of the book was inevitable, the ride was no less awesome.

I really need to reread this thing.

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Ship

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , on 7 August 2015 by Megan

Day 7 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Now, I was simultaneously surprised and yet not surprised to discover that this meant romantic. I still don’t like fangirls, I detest “feels,” and even if The X-Files is what gave us the concept, I really do not like or approve of “shipping.” There actually is a prequel-era relationship I “headcanon,” which I believe is the correct “shipping” terminology, but I’ve already done a post on it. See here for my detailed rave about Shmi-Gon.

But since I don’t believe in romance in any other capacity, we’re going to abandon the challenge-writer’s intention here and move on to far more interesting territory. If you want romance shipping, go read about Shmi-Gon. Because this post . . . this post is about the J-type 327 Nubian royal starship.

Naboo_Royal_Starship

I love this ship. I have been in love with it since the first time I ever saw it, the first time I turned to that page in the Episode I Visual Dictionary and learned all the minute trivia about it.

One of the undeniable highlights of the PT is its glittering design. Things are softer, more organic, more colorful, and filled with light. This ship looks like it congealed out of mercury, and remains surely one of the most beautiful starships in scifi. I used to imagine having one called The Seven Sins, because how prosaic is it the Naboo didn’t name their royal starship? They did polish it by hand, though.

NabooRoyalStarshipTatooine

The first I saw of the ship was in the Visual Dictionary I carried around with me for months in 1999, until it fell apart. I also eventually picked up the Complete Cross Sections and memorized the ship’s schematics in that.

Spaceships have rarely terribly interested me; they remind me of that “science” part of science fiction that I find boring and frustrating. But this elegant bit of quicksilver had my mind at once. It’s exactly what I could see myself traveling in if I lived then. Aerodynamic, sleek, beautiful, yes, it’s very flashy, but at the same time, it’s extremely practical.

I love everything about it, and it’s only one of the many reasons Episode I is such an awesome movie. So there!

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Film

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , on 4 August 2015 by Megan

Day 4 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Well, you know this. There’s only three of them. And as much as I love Episode I, Episode III still claims the title. (Sorry, II is not and has never been in the running.)

Kenobi_skywalker_duel

I don’t know what to say. It’s barely been over a year since I posted about “Favorite PT Movie.” What can I tell you?

Most anticipated film of my life, check.

Most epic lightsaber duel ever committed to film, check.

Most hilarious Chinese bootleg? Double check . . .

11a

I don’t love Episode III the most because it has the least sketchy material of the PT. Actually, it has some of the stuff I hate most — for having the most lightsaber duels of any of the six films, most of those don’t count because either people who should be stunning duelists get taken out like punks, or they’re visually absurd Yoda stupidity.

It’s all about subtext. Episode III is a great object lesson for why “show, don’t tell” is important, because an aging George Lucas became all about telling instead of showing. “We’re best friends,” says Obi-Wan. “The Sith are bad!” says the Council. “I don’t want you to die,” says Anakin. Nothing in the film backs up the statements; you have to import it on your own. But I like importing things on my own.

Episode III made A New Hope worth watching. Right before going to see E3 at midnight, I watched I and II back to back. The next day, I watched A New Hope and actually saw it for the first time. Episode III came out just over eight years since I first saw ANH, but with the context of III, I suddenly noticed every long look, every hesitant pause, every flicker in the eyes of Obi-Wan, Owen, Beru. I’m with Mark Hamill: I don’t know how Alec Guinness was able to do that, knowing less than we know now, but it was masterful.

ANH_still2

Visually stunning, Episode III is almost so beautiful, I can’t stand it. That sweeping view of the Battle of Coruscant is etched on my memory. The blaze of blue sabers against red lava was straight out of the dreams I’d been having for eight years. Anakin, matured and handsome after three years of war, is a tormented creature you want to pull out of the cage before he’s destroyed by people who only pretend to be friends so they can use him.

3ep3_01

And Obi-Wan is a warhorse, a general, but one so blinded and in thrall to the Jedi Council that he can’t see the big picture, can’t see the threads of deceit and betrayal from both Jedi and Sith.

The whole thing is heartbreakingly Greek tragedy. It’s the perfect center to the saga, and well deserves its place as my #2 favorite film of all time.

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Side Character

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , on 3 August 2015 by Megan

Day 3 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Which has immediately launched me into trying to determine what constitutes main characters, side characters, and background characters . . . I am instantly thinking of a lot of background characters I love. Aayla Secura, Eeth Koth, Twi’leks, people with no lines. Those have to be background and they can’t possibly count.

So a side character is a non-protagonist who has lines. That narrows it down. I love Dexter Jettster so much, but I’m really not wanting to do another post about him. I know it’s been like three years and I said it’s not redundant but there are so many characters . . . surely there’s someone else.

You know who is cool? Captain Panaka is cool.

Panaka2

I tend to forget how much I like him because I get distracted by how much I dislike his stupid nephew Typho. But Panaka is great. Out of place, an oddity, he is a real warrior and a patriot on a pacifist planet. He understands that pacifism is all well and good, but it can’t be practiced without soldiers — a contradiction his contradictory soul can be at peace with.

He wants what’s best for Naboo and is willing to do anything for the Queen. I don’t know what kind of seedy underbelly stuff is going on where pacifist Naboo trains body double guards for its ruler and keeps handguns in the throne, but Panaka is definitely no rent-a-cop. He’s one of the few people in the movie who has a backbone, and he’s not awed by Jedi reputation into accepting their word as law. Hugh Quarshie, who played Panaka, gave this telling insight into his character portrayal:

“I figured the tougher I was, the tougher it would make the Jedi seem to be. Obviously nobody out-toughed the Jedi, but Captain Panaka was going to give them a run for their money!”

Qui-Gon earns his respect, or he never would have let his charge wander off with him alone into a gangster-controlled slaver world.

Moff_Panaka

In a lot of ways, he reminds me of General Veers. He lost his sister and became dedicated to soldiering as a result. He later turned more to politics, becoming a sector Moff. His loyalty and dedication to Palpatine never wavered, and he considered that his compatriot held the galaxy together and brought order from Separatist chaos.

So you see, in the end, while he was wrong about Palpatine, Panaka becomes one of those near and dear to my heart — EMPIRE FOREVER!