Archive for the Questions Category

Do You Remember Your Mother?

Posted in Questions with tags , , , on 13 May 2018 by Megan

Happy Mother’s Day! Let’s take this as an opportunity to explore the only real continuity hiccup that exists in Lucas’ two-part saga.

LUKE: Do you remember your mother? Your real mother?

LEIA: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young. […] Images, really–feelings.

Now, the fact that there’s only one hiccup in a saga written over three decades, that’s impressive and nothing to knock Lucas over. But it still warrants explanation: who is Leia talking about here? Can she be referring to Padmé? I argue: no. In spite of anything you’ve heard or read, this line positively refers to Breha Organa. I’ll prove it.

First, to deal with authorial intention: Yes, in in 1983, George Lucas intended Leia to be recalling her biological mother who was also Luke’s mother. He once remarked that he had never considered the character of “Mrs. Skywalker,” who she was, what she was like, where she came from, not until he started writing the prequels. So when Return of the Jedi came out, he clearly had a loose idea of Leia having spent her first years with this “Mrs. Skywalker,” but by 2005, the story couldn’t sustain that. Padmé had to be dead at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and the line could no longer refer to her.

But to be frank about it, this didn’t introduce any sort of contradiction. At the end of E3, Bail Organa makes it clear that he and his wife will raise Leia as their own. Leia never had any idea that she was adopted, not until Luke said she was his sister and his father was Darth Vader. Her mourning in the Ewok village that night, and her struggle throughout the Bakura Crisis, revolved around her trying to reconcile her blood being Darth Vader’s and not Bail Organa’s. Furthermore, when such care had been taken to make Padmé still appear pregnant at her funeral, Bail would never have risked Leia’s anonymity by telling her she was adopted.

Not only can we be confident Leia never knew she was adopted, we can also be confident that Breha died sometime during Leia’s very early childhood. When Leia thinks back to the destruction of Alderaan, she mourns for her father, her aunts, and her cats, in that order — no mention of any mother, so Bail was a widower by the time Alderaan was destroyed, and the woman Leia thought was her mother died when she was “very young.”

It’s worth mentioning at this point that 2013’s Scoundrels makes a reference to suggest Breha and Bail both died at Alderaan’s destruction, but there’s 30 years of publications before it that emphasize Leia had no mother and felt the loss keenly. This was a merely unfortunate slip not uncommon in late publications of the EU.

Just because we knew who Leia and Luke’s mother was, it’s extreme on our part to insist that Leia’s “images, really–feelings” must refer to Padmé. Remember that statements must mean something to the characters who make them; we the audience are mere eavesdroppers, and characters do not automatically have access to the knowledge we do. So while we can look at the comic illustration there and say, “See! It’s a picture of Padmé!”, we need to remember that Leia doesn’t know who Padmé is, and the picture could just as easily (and far more logically) be of Breha.

Nevertheless, there are some extreme attempts to force “[I remember her] just a little bit” into meaning “I, Leia, have retained memory of Padmé Amidala.” So I’ll rebut those claims now.

One claim is that the Organas told Leia she was adopted and even go so far as to suggest Artoo even showed Leia pictures of Padmé. While this is an amusingly literal interpretation of “[I remember] images,” I feel I’ve already countered it: the Organas never told her she was adopted. It would be pointless to the point of foolishness. And while I’ll never understand why Lucas ham-fistedly had Artoo exempted from memory wipe at the end of E3, Leia never spoke to, communicated with, or even “met” Artoo before the events of E4. I’m confident Artoo was wiped at some point (why arbitrarily “spare” one computer from a defrag and not the other?), and he did not play clips from the PT for young Princess Leia.

The more common argument is that the Force, acting as an all-encompassing magic wand, somehow granted prenatal Leia with superhuman awareness and memory capability. Embryo Leia was therefore able, through the course of ~37 weeks long before the human mind develops long-term memory, to forge such a strong bond with her mother that she retained memories of Padmé’s kindness, beauty, and sadness well into adulthood, and keep those impressions fully separate from her impressions and memories of Breha. Breha, who was omnipresent in Leia’s life for some three years after the point when long-term memory develops, and who was also certainly kind, beautiful, and sad.

Leia’s connection with her prenatal twins is often used as evidence to show that this is possible, though what gets ignored in that it is Leia, as a mother who is Force-sensitive, who forms that bond. It doesn’t originate from the twins, but rather the twins develop it after her influence. Padmé was not Force-sensitive, and while I’m confident Luke and Leia had a strong bond through the Force while they were in the womb, there’s simply no way Padmé entered into the equation.

Speaking of Luke — I’m actually not skeptical about the ability of Jedi-in-embryo to use the Force to create bonds and even form memories, even to the extent of maintaining those memories after a span of time medical science would consider impossible. But Luke’s emphatic statement of “I have no memory of my mother; I never knew her” precludes any possibility that Leia could have performed this incredible feat of Force-sensitivity.

Throughout the EU, Leia expresses frustration that her Jedi training is waylaid, that she can’t do the things Luke can, that her skills in the Force are weak. And while Luke eventually realizes that she is simply talented in a different aspect of the Force, for embryonic Leia to accomplish this amazing thing would have made her a Jedi prodigy of unbelievable skill! For Leia to instinctively use the Force, without training, before conscious human reasoning has even developed, to filter and separate her memories of Padmé and Breha–to say “this memory is of the dark-haired, dark-eyed, sad-looking woman who taught me to walk, and this memory is of the dark-haired, dark-eyed, sad-looking woman who died one second after I was born”–she would never have doubted her skill or connection to the Force! In reality, five years after this conversation, she lamented never having time to hone her skills at all.

So in conclusion, the simplest explanation, the explanation that would have the most meaning in context for the characters who actually speak the lines, is that Leia is remembering Breha Organa. Neither Luke nor Leia have any recollection or knowledge of their mother, who remains as unknown to her children as she did to all fans before 1999. And that is the tragedy of Padmé.

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It’s A Date!

Posted in Opinion, Questions, Spotlight with tags , , , on 22 January 2018 by Megan

Not a trap. But don’t eat ’em.

It’s the much-awaited (by somebody, I’m sure) post about RebeLibrarian’s BetterTimeline™ for all your Star Wars needs!

Let’s start with this: nothing within canon itself sets dates explicitly. Nothing ever says “In the year of our Sith Lord, seventeen hundred and twelve…” Or, “It has been three years since…” The only character whose age is stated in a film is Yoda, who may have been using 900 literally or figuratively (that is, that could’ve been the day of his 900th birthday or he could be 902, 914, or 938). So every fan who watches these movies is operating under an assumption of when the dates are. Some people unconsciously absorb or casually accept tidbits scattered around the resources. I just happen to have been a great deal more methodical.

The moment that made me realize I had to create and enforce a dating system occurred to me over a decade ago when I read an online article that offhandedly referred to “seventeen-year-old Luke Skywalker.” This threw me into a tizzy.

First, the earliest interviews with Lucas and Hamill put Luke Skywalker at 20 years old in ANH. Hamill–age 24–even had a cutely self-conscious moment of thinking he might look too old to play someone that age. So the creator’s intention at time of creation was not to have a teenager in the role. In fact, the 1976 novelization published by Ballantine lists Luke as “twice the age of the ten-year-old vaporator” (p. 13, book club edition). I know the Del Rey timeline and 21st century sources fell all over themselves assigning Luke the age of 18, but consider this.

By necessity, Luke is exactly the age of the Empire. Since the Republic was gone before he was born, his “empire as the eternal way of life” statements make sense, coming from him. But Palpatine’s empire is not presented as a teenage dictatorship. Yes, of course an empire doesn’t need to be old to be powerful or destructive; the Third Reich only lasted 12 years, and Lucas did use Nazis as models. But the language of the expanded universe and the presentation of the films wants a somewhat older Empire.

Furthermore, Luke’s frustration at being stuck on the farm makes more sense coming from an older youth. Notice he complains to Owen, “That’s a whole nother year!” That means he wanted to go to the academy the year before, and Tatooine high school functions anything like it does in the States, then he would’ve been 18 then and 19 now–minimally. That combined with the 1977 statements that Luke was 20 seems to me that he can’t justifiably be any younger. However, what about my supposition that he can easily be older? Since Hamill was 24, I honestly think you could have Luke be any age up to 25. More years just means more frustration for him; they also lend weight to Biggs’ argument that Owen is going to feed Luke whatever line it takes to keep him on the farm.

(As someone who was 25 and dying slowly of stagnation in my adolescent bedroom, I feel this deeply.)

Let’s turn to the prequels, since the dating of the OT depends on the dates in the PT. My PT dating scheme is the more risky anyway, as there’s no doubt about authorial intention here. But hear me out about these insertions and see if they don’t make for a stronger story.

There’s more concrete information about characters’ ages with the PT: at the time of the E1 crawl, Obi-Wan is said to be “mid-20s” (so 25), Padmé is known to be 14, and Anakin is nine. In E2, Anakin says “I haven’t seen her in ten years,” and the assumption (which Lucas intends, I know) is that it’s ten years after the events of E1. But what if Anakin is referring to some adventure that he, Obi-Wan, and Padmé had three years after the events of Episode I? What if Episode II is thirteen years later?

Consider that Padmé never even interacts with Obi-Wan in Episode I. How does Palpatine explain referring to him as “an old friend” of the senator’s? The events of E1 don’t cover much more than a weekend; would you be comfortable if your boss volunteered a random dude you met once a decade ago to come stay in your house because you’re “such old friends”? But say Obi-Wan, 12-year-old Anakin, and 17-year-old Padmé had some hijinks–perhaps involving those disgruntled spice miners Mace Windu thinks would try to kill her? This is enough to grant Obi-Wan “old friend” status and offers stronger footing for the defiant relationship of Anakin and Padmé in E2.

This also makes Anakin a more respectable 22 years old in E2. Worth noting: Obi-Wan, at 25 years old, is not even under consideration for knighthood. Yet using the Lucas timeline makes Anakin have a tantrum about not being a master when he’s only 22 years old, three years before Obi-Wan barely attained knighthood! Yes, Anakin’s a prodigy and yes there are wartime exceptions, but that’s not enough to clear this hurdle: after a minimum of 24 years being raised by Jedi, inculcated in Jedi doctrine, with 12 of those years under the close personal tutelage of a veteran Master, Obi-Wan was not considered up for knighthood until an unusual circumstance intervened. The Council doesn’t even want to take Anakin in for training because he’s too old; even in wartime circumstances, it’s unreal that he’d be complaining about unfair treatment when he’s knighted after barely a dozen years of training with zero background.

Back to Episode II. Say Anakin is 22. He’s now at a much more reasonable age to be given independent assignment, and he’s now had at least as long of master-padawan training as Obi-Wan had by E1. Also, since Anakin was 12 the last time he saw Padmé, his feelings are less boyish than they would have been coming from a nine-year-old. Padmé (now 27) says “you’ll always be that little boy I knew back on Tatooine,” but that doesn’t negate the possibility of a slightly more recent adventure. People refer to when they met without it having to mean mean they haven’t met since.

I haven’t had any reason to quarrel with the Clone Wars being a three-year war. Anakin is knighted six months before Episode III begins. Depending of course on when his birthday is, that makes him somewhere between 24 and 25, which fits with the wartime conditions/prodigy element I acknowledged earlier–he’s now parallel with Obi-Wan’s evidently somewhat “early” knighthood (it’s easy to miss how against knighting Obi-Wan the council is in E1; you either have to assume he’s a remedial student or knighthood typically comes later than age 25!).

Padmé is now 30. The initially awkward age difference between her and Anakin is essentially erased by now. They’ve known each other on a fairly steady basis for a good 16 years, which highlights the deep emotional relationship Lucas wanted to give them but was unfortunately unable to capture on screen. And Obi-Wan, with gray in his beard, is 41, only seven-ish years younger than his mentor was at the start of E1 (Liam Neeson stated in an interview that he convinced Lucas to make Qui-Gon “about my own age,” or roughly 48). (I’ll also note here that E3 covers a period of six months the way there’s six months between E5 and E6.)

Having come full circle, I can now justify the 22 years I settled on for Luke: with Anakin’s adventure really starting in E2 at age 22, Luke launches on his father-finding quest at the same age, 22. And as Anakin was ~26 when he fell to the dark side, Luke is ~26 when he successfully resists, claims the light side, and saves his father. Anakin dies at age 51 (including the two 6-month periods), on a Death Star, as Obi-Wan had, as Anakin predicted he would.

Postscript: I regard the matter as settled there, but I want to pull the rabbit out of the hat. Keep reading!

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Diary Posts From A Long, Long Time Ago

Posted in Questions on 23 August 2017 by Megan

Ever notice that when Obi-Wan gets someone to do something, he’s INSPIRING, but when Palpatine does it, he’s cOrRuPtInG?

Anyway, the point is, my decision to obsess over my young self’s diaries is validated, as I’ve inspired another blogger to do the same! Enjoy.

Star Wars Anonymous

I was inspired a few months ago by Megan’s blog posts that included diary entries from 1999 and when The Phantom Menace premiered. It reminded me of when my own obsession began with Star Wars – also in 1999 and due to TPM.

I was 12 years old and though I had seen Star Wars previously, it had never spoken to me in quite the way it did with TPM. I’ve been through this before, so I won’t bore anyone with even more details.

When reading Megan’s posts, I couldn’t go back and dig out my diary because they were packed away for the move. I kind of forgot about doing a post on my past diary entries.

Then I was chatting with Imperial Talker two days ago and mentioned I had once written a Star Wars Anthem to the tune of our (US) national anthem. He encouraged me to…

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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.” A reader asked for a very simple visual guide to the humanoid species (races) in Star wars. So without putting a lot of effort in, I collected 65 of what I felt were the most significant races in Star Wars. The post wasn’t very polished, but since it’s become so popular, I decided to do an updated version with the 99 most significant races in Star Wars with their name and first appearance.

Admittedly “significance” is a fluid thing, so here’s my methodology: 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 either appear in more than one sequence, or be vitally important in the single instance in which they appear (such as the Ssi-Ruuk).

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. There are no droids, no non-sentient creatures, and no non-organic intelligence on this list.

One of the things about Star Wars is the variety of creatures. It goes without saying that  “aliens” have been popular throughout science fiction, but the beings in Star Wars seem groundbreaking, like the universe they inhabit. There’s far more variety of beings in the Star Wars universe than in any other I know of. These are 99 out of the estimated 20 million sentient races in the galaxy.

Here is a quick index to the species. After the jump, I have them in alphabetical order with pictures (all culled from Wookieepedia with a certain amount of assumed common use), an inventory of where they appear, and any other relevant information.

 

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.

megan_rosie1

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.

dscn5169

“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.