20 Year Anniversary

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , on 13 November 2017 by Megan

Star Wars has always been one unified galaxy to me, one single saga told over a variety of mediums, all equal parts of the same body, all the undeniable history of a single place. The main reason for this is that I originally encountered all three branches of the saga–the Original Trilogy, the Expanded Universe, the Prequel Trilogy–within one year of each other–and that year, by and large, was 1997. So as I’m guessing you’ve heard me say once or twice over the last few months, this year is absolutely full of significant anniversaries for me.

Storytime!

November 12, 1997. I was twelve and, after seeing Star Wars for the first time ten months ago, I’d begun to consider “Star Wars fan” a foundation of my identity. Also foundational to my identity, “horsewoman.” I’d been taking riding lessons at a local horse farm over the summer and my mind was full of daydreams where I get my own horse, achieve horsemanship certification level 4, and eventually teach students how to ride like my idol, the woman who taught our class.

Anyway, in November, the horse camp offered an opportunity to local homeschooling families, an opportunity to come out during a week and spend a couple days during the off-season learning horse-care chores and, I guess, helping them get the place closed up for winter.

This time of year, Ohio becomes a blanket of gray. The sky is like a field of slate. Bare trees with gray trunks stab black branches into the heavy clouds. Even the earth in the empty farmland has a grayish cast. Snow isn’t uncommon, and I used to make jokes about “White Thanksgiving” when I was about this age. That week, temperatures were between 20-30 °F (average of -2 °C). It was dark long before dinner, and for some reason, I had gone upstairs to the bunk room before it was time to eat. I don’t know if I was just looking to get away from people or after something I’d left in my bag, but I found someone else sitting in the room.

“The House” at Marmon was an old, creaky building, and the girls’ bunk room was at the top of the stairs and to the right. There were bunk beds along both walls and a window at the far end. Sitting under this window was a girl named Megan who looked just like me only she didn’t have bangs. She was sitting on the edge of the lower bunk, hunched over, reading something. I caught sight of the raised foil lettering and before I could think, I exclaimed, rather than asked, “Is that a Star Wars book!”

It was Assault at Selonia. She let me hold it for a minute, but I could tell she was more focused on reading than anything else, so I handed it back and left. We sat together at dinner, though, and were inseparable for the rest of the trip. That night, I switched bunks with someone else so both Megan and I had top bunks with our heads together and I read my first EU book–her book, her flashlight, which we shared by reading one chapter before passing it back to the other.

I couldn’t have slept that night for anything. My brain was more fireworks than it had been after finishing Return of the Jedi back in February. I had known for some time there were books; I have no idea when or how I found this out, but I knew they were out there and I took it absolutely for granted they were equal status with the films. A novel set 14 years after Return of the Jedi may seem like an awkward starting place, but after all, A New Hope starts with a 20-year-old empire and plenty of unspoken backstory. I was ecstatic that Han and Leia had three kids. And one was (almost certainly) a hot, intelligent, awesome boy my own age! And hysterical that Han was being held prisoner and tortured by an evil cousin. Selonians were instantly fascinating. The galaxy had suddenly grown that much vaster and my brain could barely keep up with all the expanding territory.

Eventually, one of the chaperones scolded the Other Megan and I into keeping the light off, but I still doubt any sleeping actually took place. We were glued together through the next day, taking work assignments together and polishing dozens of saddles in a semi-heated room that would eventually become the camp gift store. We talked nonstop, mostly about Star Wars, but a few personal details crept in. We also played a game dubbed “Star Wars railroad,” which consisted of giving a Star Wars word that started with the same letter that the previous word ended with. i.e., Star Wars – Selonia – Anakin – Nien Nunb – Bakura. I described the day in my diary when I got home:

Elisa went home and I went to camp today. There were 3 Megans in our room. One Megan looks like me, dark hair and Eyes, and she’s my age, loves Star wars, has a dog named Abby, and rode Toby! She’s letting me borrow ‘Assault at Selona’. We soaped saddles then we oiled them. Toby wasn’t there. Rode Vandi.

Megan ultimately ended up being the source of my first dozen EU books, as we were both in a play that December (pictured), and then we went on to be in the same electricity class in the new year. We were both in chess and horseback riding, though not the same sessions, so we began trading letters. For a few years, we wrote letters regularly and called on weekends when cell phone minutes were free. The last time I really remember talking to her was the end of May 1999, when she was exuberant over having seen Episode I and I was wallowing in disappointment that I wouldn’t get to see it for a few more weeks.

Still, I have a box of letters in the closet, all signed “Megan ‘Han Solo'” and with the opening greeting, “Red Leader to Gold Leader.” (All mine to her began “Echo Five to Echo Seven.”) She made trivia cards and sent them to her; I made bookmarks. She also sent me clippings, stickers, and a Luke Skywalker poster I kept in my closet for years so no one would know I had it.

Ooh! Fun story about that Luke Skywalker poster. I had two closets in my room and one I considered “my office.” I used to shut myself up in it especially if my nieces were over and I wanted privacy. I actually slept in there one night my oldest niece was being a particular pain in my neck; I “locked” the door by tying a bathrobe sash to the knob and tying the other end to the shelf so she couldn’t get in. I had the mini-poster of Luke on the wall, not to mention a bunch of cozy blankets, and a plastic cart with three baskets in it where I could keep things. I can’t find a good picture of that bedroom, but it wasn’t big, not like a walk-in closet or anything. Just a regular clothes closet. I can’t believe there’s no pictures. Anyway…

The point of all that is, 20 years ago this very week, I read these words for the very first time:

And I knew, knew that being a Star Wars fan was inseparable from being a fan of the EU. The EU is Star Wars. Star Wars is the EU. To pretend otherwise would be like cutting one of the six movies from existence–like pretending to make movies without George Lucas–both incomplete and also a little obscene.

Advertisements

Really Is the Best

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

In a day and age that makes it easy to take cheap shots at George Lucas, even while glorying in his imaginative creation, Ahmed Best tells it like it is in a refreshing change of pace.

Quotes to note:

“George Lucas really does things that he believes. He has an incredible conviction behind every decision that he makes. That’s not the way Disney does movies. Disney does movies in a way that has to please stockholders, and that has to please a wide swath of people, a huge general audience”;

and,

“I appreciate filmmakers who have that type of vision, I appreciate filmmakers who really go out on a limb and take a risk. With these new movies, these filmmakers are different. They’re not George Lucas.”

via Ahmed Best ‘wouldn’t change anything’ about The Phantom Menace

Review: The Ruins of Dantooine

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on 14 October 2017 by Megan

by Voronica Whitney-Robinson

Not gonna lie, I’ve been avoiding this book for years. I didn’t like the cheesy cover, I was ambivalent about SWG being a legitimate source of canon, and seriously, what kind of name is “Voronica”? But if a book that disappoints me can fill me with more passionate hatred than one I simply didn’t like, a book that takes me by surprise and impresses me deserves all the love I can throw its way!

I think I am seriously living in the second-most stressful series of months in my entire life right now. Having Scribe out to visit in September was the highlight of the last 3 years, no doubts there, but it was immediately followed by me stupidly getting my truck laid up in the truck hospital. My sister and I had been planning this trip to Portland for a few months now, but there was a lot of disappointment there. Wildfires kept us out of a lot of what we’d counted on doing, and on our last night there, our brother called to say Mom was in the hospital. (She’s home now and recovering quickly.) I’m still not stress-free because next weekend I’m delivering a paper I haven’t finished at a conference I somehow have to get to (I hate driving!). Aiiii.

Anyway, my point with unloading all that is that The Ruins of Dantooine did something Star Wars has been doing for me for 20 years: salving my stressed out soul.

I was initially skeptical of a protagonist named Dusque Mistflier, but the book is absolutely worth four stars. Dusque is an Imperial scientist who travels the galaxy capturing and studying creatures the Empire might find of interest. When she finds herself wrapped up in a rebel plot, including the handsome agent Finn Darktrin and a holocron hidden away on Dantooine, all her quiet anti-Imperial doubts begin to explode.

Naturally the Empire is out to get this holocron as well, which is why the rebellion’s got agents trying to get there first. It’s a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style race for the artifact where there can only be one winner. Loam Redge is an Imperial Inquisitor whose job is to track down Force-sensitives; he’s also after the artifact and I enjoyed his character very much–not least of all because I suspect he’s the little blond kid from Revenge of the Sith whom Anakin rounds up in the Council Chamber with other young Force-sensitives to be trained as Inquisitors for the New Order.

I never got a chance to play SWG, but I gather the whole premise was very much how this book feels: Who is the Star Wars Everyman? The laypeople? The Joes and Jainas? This book gives rather regular people at regular jobs: concerts, paychecks, gas stations. Family drama. And all worked in with the bigger theme of galactic intrigue and spy games.

DNpcWfqWAAEjjsv.jpg large

As a fun additional note, I picked it up here, in the Star Wars section of the largest bookstore in North America! Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, has a fantastic selection of realcanon, including some beauties I’ve never seen in a shop before! I could’ve spent $300 if I had it (and room in the suitcase going home).

So in many different ways, The Ruins of Dantooine is a great book that I found in the perfect location and which got me through a tough week. Good job, Voronica! Too bad there weren’t more in this series.

Review: Rule of Two

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on 30 September 2017 by Megan

by Drew Karpyshyn

Well, that didn’t last.

I had very high hopes for this one on the basis of the last one. I’ve also been waiting to read this one for about 6 years. See, this was the one I bought at the Friends of the Library bookstore in Bloomington during my, “I really need to get back into Star Wars” phase. I went ahead and bought it because I knew all Old Republic materials would have to fit into my timeline, since it’s an open-beginning timeline.

Path of Destruction ended on a pulse-racing finale with the Valley of the Jedi, the thought bomb, the miner Des totally transformed into the dark heart of the Sith, Bane. Departing the scene of the explosion, he comes across a lost little girl who used the Force to explode Republic troops. He adopts her as his apprentice Zannah.

I was very much looking forward to exploring the master-apprentice dynamic between the two of them, with Bane such an Imperial scholar with a revolutionary idea. However, Karpyshyn discards most of this potential without a second thought by jerking the action forward ten years and then proceeding to sprinkle the rest of the book with liberal flashbacks–pages and pages of italics (not that easy to read) inspired by things as simple as, oh, Zannah opening a door. This completely disrupts the action, since by the time the flashback wraps up 5 pages later, you don’t remember why she was opening the door in the first place. And the flashbacks are so frequent and so close together that there was no reason not to simply continue telling the story chronologically without the ten year skip.

The orbalisk armor and quest for immortality are extremely interesting, as are the machinations of two Sith who know the other will attempt to kill them when they aren’t useful any longer, yet who must decide when that usefulness has actually expired so they can make their move. But the padding in this book was heavy, with a lot of preoccupation on what people are wearing in addition to the endless flashbacks.

I kept trying to be curious about what was coming next, but in a far cry from my stretched lunch breaks of Path of Destruction, this book had me wrapping up as soon as I was finished eating and heading back to my desk only 15 minutes later because I was too bored to read another chapter. Toward the end, I found myself muttering, “Blah blah blah get on with it” under my breath a lot. Very disappointing.

Review: Path of Destruction

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on 29 August 2017 by Megan

by Drew Karpyshyn

Had this book for awhile, and with The Alliance book group choosing it to read for August, I figured now was as good a time as any to finally pick it up.

I buckled in for this one because I did not enjoy Revan much and figured it’d be much of the same shallow and incomplete writing that bugged me in the other Karpyshyn I dragged myself through. Plus, the Old Republic era just doesn’t interest me much, so it two major handicaps right up front.

I was pleasantly surprised! Des is an interesting, compelling character with actual complexity, quite unlike Revan. He’s a simple miner on a hellish planet, getting through day after day and brooding on the death of his father. He plays sabacc, has few friends, and also has a secret–he’s aware of a dark power within himself that he knows nothing about.

I appreciated how the book highlighted Republic hypocrisy and indifference to the galaxy’s wellbeing as a whole. I liked the portrayal of the warmongering Jedi (there’s a reason Bib Fortuna says, “Bargain rather than fight? He’s no Jedi”). And my pulse kicked into overdrive when I saw “Ruusan” and realized that this was the prequel to Dark Forces 2 and the Valley of the Jedi adventure, long one of my favorite things in the entire EU.

I chewed through this book pretty fast. I remember stretching a few half-hour lunch breaks into 45 or 50 minutes just so I could get to a good stopping place. It made fun connections with SWTOR–first Des is a nobody, then he’s a trooper, then he gets picked up to go to the Sith Academy. It was fun tracing his journey against roles familiar to me from playing TOR.I also loved the character of the Sith instructors at the Academy, and how Bane moves forward and backward on his journey. Recoiling from the power of the Dark Side, he renders himself unable to use the Force at all. He educates himself in the Sith ways in the library, a plot point which is hard for me to resist. Some of the best lightsaber combat I’ve read in a novel, too.

While some parts felt needlessly swift and brittle, it is overall an engaging and fun read that I’m happy to finally have picked up. Looking forward to the next one. Has Karpyshyn redeemed himself??

I Dream Of Star Wars

Posted in Fun with tags , , on 25 August 2017 by Megan

If your post about Star Wars diary entries inspires someone else to post about diary entries, and their post is about dreams and you’re inspired to do a post about Star Wars dream diary entries, is that inception? My head’s already buzzing and I haven’t even started!

Pretty much my whole life, I’ve always had extremely vivid dreams. I used to be able to remember them very clearly, but these days, not so much–and that’s not a discipline thing, because I used to automatically remember them and think about them all day, and over the last four years, even as I try to remember, I totally forget by the time I’m on my feet. Star Wars dreams, though, were this unattainable holy grail. I’ve barely ever dreamed about Star Wars, and it feeds one of my theories that if something is part of your conscious thinking, your unconscious won’t produce dreams about it. At least mine doesn’t. I fell asleep during The Omen and had a totally banal dream. And while I have had intense nightmares, including years of sleep paralysis, waking dreams, and exploding head syndrome, they’ve never been connected with anything going on with me.

This is why I can pretty much give you all the Star Wars dreams I’ve ever had, and hope you’ll find them as entertaining as I do, haha.

Tuesday, October 6, 1998

Dear Diary, I had a great SW dream last night. In the beginning; Luke Skywalker, Leia? and myself were solving puzzles so we could escape this locked door-room. 3 of the pictures were STAR WARS, (the puzzles were pictures with multiple choice guesses) I solved those. After we solved them, an ostrich like bird that kept appearing and dissapearing in different places came and said something like: “We thought you would solve them… that is why the… made it SEEM like you (?)…” I don’t remember the rest.

Then Darth Vader is there. He is laying down, Leia & Luke lean over him. Leia leaves. I am now only an observer. Luke and Vader both have lightsabers lit, Vader says “Luke, they told me I was going to kill you” or something. Luke and Vader lean close, or at least Luke does. They turn off their sabers. Darkness.

Now to Han Solo. He is wearing Scout Trooper armour. The helmet breaks. He rips it off, and says to Chewie. “It’s OK with me if you want to go fight those bird-things with the legs, but what the [hell] are you going to do now?” I woke up.

Notice with that one that even though Han very clearly said hell in my dream, scandalizing my innocent little brain incredibly, I wrote heck in my diary. Not because I thought anyone would ever see my diary or care, but because writing the word hell was just wrong. (Yeah, I didn’t start getting sweary for many years after that.) What’s really amazing about this one is I can still really vividly picture the green grass and Han in his Stormtrooper uniform on this alien planet.

(Between October. 6 and December. 3)

(2nd dream, after alarm). Another STAR WARS dream. Kari & I (and Dad, later) were at this one place. We got to rolls of prisoner-herd tape inside (it started as an advertisement for a STAR WARS Nintendo game). I said “we’ve got to get to Leia!” She (KJ) & Dad & I were trying to hide from Stormtroopers. I got lost (and separated) from them. There was a big room with a swimming pool lagoon. The water was green, it was shifty. There were also lots of plants. I heard Stormtroopers going by. I ran out and walked up to a man in charge. “Hi!” I said.

“Hello! Do you want to go out for coffee?”

“Have you found them yet?” I asked.

“Nope,” he said.

“Where would I be most likely to find them?”

“Down that way,” he pointed.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

I went down that way. Kari was talking to someone, then she turned around and said, “Oh, there you are! I was soo worried!” I told Dad I wanted a CD. We did a few more things, I almost got lost again and we were outside going somewhere. I woke up. Somewhere in here, Kari & I got some small, alien prisoners that disappeared by the end.

I have to admit, this one doesn’t read very well, but I loved it at the time because I felt kind of powerful flirting with the guy for information and/or to trick him. Again, it doesn’t read like that’s what happened, but that’s how it felt.

(Dream 1, before alarm) We were in a place. We saw a church play, and ate some kind of beef & vegetables, someone got burned. Obi-Wan was there every once in a while.

All I can say here is that for some reason, I didn’t write down that I was the one that got burned, and it was because my leg had fallen asleep and it woke me up with pins and needles. I have no idea why I didn’t record it that way.

As I mentioned earlier, I basically never dreamed about Star Wars, so here are a couple more one-offs I don’t really have anything to say about, but they’re entertaining:

Sunday, August 8, 1999 Dear Diary, I’m going to tell you about 3 dreams I’ve had lately about Star Wars: There was a poster girl thing-whoozit that was alive. I was trying to protect my Star Wars notebook that had a picture of Qui-Gon in it. I don’t really remember much more except that I was pretending to be dead & turned into a flat poster whoozit or something. I just remembered that I don’t remember the second. The one I just had just had me holding my notebook & I did something about Qui-Gon snoring.

Monday, August 9, 1999 Dear Diary, SW Dream. M & some people from E1 (Qui-Gon too) were in a Gungan sub going through the planet core. Then we saw Jar Jar Binks out there swimming and being chased by Opee sea killer, Qui-Gon goes out to rescue Jar Jar (of course!) and then they return to the bongo and we get out of there and have a picnic, where I’m Jar Jar and I started talking really high pitched. I said something like “Thank you for save my.”

Thursday, August 26, 1999 Dear Diary, Had another SW dream. Obi-Wan was there. He was in a little space-pod that was rattling around in some big ship. It was graspbed by some Sith dude whose name started w/G. He demanded to speak w/ “his master”, but Sith refused. Then “I” (I don’t know who “I” was) was with these other guys, Bossk was one of ’em, Boba Fett & some gal in Mandalorian Armor.

I also remember once having an insanely detailed dream of being partnered with Obi-Wan while we ran through these tunnels trying to find Xanatos, but I can’t find it in a diary anywhere. Weird!

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…

View original post 927 more words