Archive for bounty hunters

Favorite EU Book

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 26 June 2014 by Megan

Honestly, I didn’t plan for all my challenges to prompt me to talk about Star Wars books in the same two month period, I really didn’t. But since it asked, well, I’m bound to answer! I don’t want to do an official review for a challenge, though — my recent enthusiasm for I, Jedi might lead you to conclude that that was my favorite, but no. Don’t confuse something that I think “is the greatest” with something I know “is my favorite.” And without any further ado, allow me to introduce to you my absolute favorite Star Wars book of the expanded universe (pending a proper review):

K.W. Jeter is an highly acclaimed author who is credited with coining the term steampunk, everyone’s favorite cogs-and-gears bespangled new fashion statement. These books, however, take a beating in the ratings department — which is part of why I’m so keen to do a series of reviews that gives them justice — and so I shall frame this post as a defense of The Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy as my very favorite in the EU. The three books, The Mandalorian Armor, Slave Ship, and Hard Merchandise take place on a split timeline and follow the most popular of all peripheral characters from the films: the bounty hunters.

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

The books start “Now,” or during the events of Return of the Jedi, but move back and forth to “Then,” just before A New Hope, which is when the titular bounty hunter war takes place. Now, the first time I read book 1, I actually listened to it on tape and was 14 years old, and had absolutely no difficulty tracking the shifts in time throughout the narrative. K.W. Jeter has a clean, dry, acerbic storytelling style that I think meshes well with the character of his, well, characters.

Dengar — the fellow with the bandaged head there — is a Corellian who is in to survival. Having met a woman who has changed his life, taking him off the path of vengeance against the man who scarred his features (Han Solo), he’s just looking for enough of a break to get the money to settle down with her and retire forever. Where can money be had on Tatooine? Well, Jabba’s sail barge has recently exploded in the Dune Sea, and that’s where our story begins, with Dengar scanning the wastes for anything  he can make some cash on.

What he finds should properly shock any genuine Star Warrior: the soft, armor-free body of a human man, Boba Fett, stripped and shelled and vulnerable. “Sarlaac swallowed me. I blew it up,” he tells his rescuer before lapsing into silence. Dengar takes him to his hideout in the rocks, not sure what to do with him — but a young dancer from Jabba’s Palace, Neelah, she is sure what to do with him. She was mind wiped and Boba Fett holds the answers to who she once was. And she wants those answers in a bad way.

The question of Neelah’s identity isn’t the only mystery going on. Kuat of Kuat, one of my favorite characters of all time, has intercepted a message pod with some chilling evidence about who was really behind the destruction of the Lars’ homestead. And Prince Xizor of Black Sun reappears, just following Shadows of the Empire, with all his machinations and Falleen foibles. And you’ve got Bossk — the scaly fellow — out on a vendetta against Fett. It’s a largely peripheral book, with our main characters serving little more than cameos, which is something I always enjoy.

The events of “Then” are all about how Boba Fett was hired by a strange creature called The Assembler to start a war among the bounty hunters, with the eventual aim of breaking up the Bounty Hunters’ Guild. And it’s his involvement there that explains why Bossk is gunning for him so fiercely. The first book ends on such a cliffhanger, I will absolutely never forget the sensation of my panic between the books . . .

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

This is one of those rare trilogies that I was aware of as it came out. In fact, I remember clearly one day going into the local bookstore with Mom and making a beeline for the one shelf of “scifi/fantasy” near the front door (prime for sun damage) while Mom did whatever boring Mom stuff she was doing — and I saw Slave Ship on the rack and snatched it up in my unsteady fingers to belt down the first chapter before we had to go. Just to find out . . . did Slave I really explode on the final page of the previous book?! Well?!

I hear a lot of criticism about Jeter’s storytelling style, that the mystery is not well-developed and there’s a lot of telling without showing, but these are not objections I share. First of all, I dislike mysteries and the words “it really wasn’t a mystery at all!” will always be a compliment from me. And, as I said already, I feel that his narrative style exactly suits his subject matter. Jeter has remained one of my favorite Star Wars authors, and the warm feelings I have for this trilogy have even made me think I might, maybe, sometime go read his non-Star Wars stuff. (High honor, from me.)

Character crush alert!

Character crush alert!

And if nothing else, this book has given me Kuat of Kuat — head of House Kuat and ruler of the planet Kuat, and isn’t Kuat awesome to say? — one of my enduring EU crushes. Hmm, I have an abrupt memory of listening to this trilogy while playing Deer Hunter on our Windows 98. Wow! There’s an old chestnut. I do love these books; I moved them to Indiana with me, and even the other day when I was packing stuff in my storage unit, I had to take them out just to pet and smell them and say hi.

I feel like this post is a little more disjointed than most and a little rambly, but I’ve had a stressful week and am going to do a proper book-by-book writeup of this trilogy sometime in the future, so I think that makes up for it. The question was for my favorite EU book, and I have answered it, Sir!

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Favorite ESB Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 29 May 2014 by Megan

I’m surprised it took me so long to come up with this because this is one of the only scenes I used to rewind to watch more than once, and I distinctly remember looking forward to it every time I watched Empire Strikes Back.

I’m talking about the scene with the bounty hunters.

Where my scum at?

Where my scum at?

Naturally, any scene with the Imperial fleet is one that I look forward to and enjoy thoroughly. So here we’ve got the Executor smashing asteroids with aplomb, we’ve got deck officers moving around doing interesting stuff, and then we’ve got the bridge. Oh, the glorious bridge of the Imperial flagship! I love it.

Star Wars gave filmgoers normal, everyday life among people who took space travel for granted. There were farmers, merchants, knights, priests–the standard population not only of mythology, folktale, and fiction, but also of our everyday lives. Star Wars took for granted that this was the way the galaxy worked, an old and worn out galaxy at war, and that’s what people loved. Speaking of galactic warfare, you know what else is associated with civil war? Westerns. The American West in the 19th century, with Civil War veterans heading toward the Rockies for freedom, treasure, etc. etc. Yes, Star Wars has plenty in common with westerns, and that is how we get to bounty hunters.

“We don’t need that scum,” Piett hisses, affronted by the riffraff on his bridge. Most of these guys are members of the bounty hunters’ guild — Bossk is the son of Cradossk, the head of the Guild in fact. Although they dress shabby in patched armor, they all have money to burn, money they earn by hunting down anyone with a price on their head and turning them over for profit. In Elmore Leonard’s classic The Bounty Hunters, the eponymous band get paid per Apache scalp they turn in, but you know they aren’t scrupulous and some of those scalps belong to Mexicans. No doubt these bounty hunters follow a similar shifty code . . .

"I said my name is Boba Fett. I know my --- is tight. Start actin' right or you're frozen in carbonite!"

“I said my name is Boba Fett. I know my — is tight. Start actin’ right or you’re frozen in carbonite!”

Except for Boba Fett, of course. Boba Fett, the silent man in green armor who has entranced fanboys for decades and even his widely-criticized backstory hasn’t hurt his fanbase (much). Although some arguments are inevitable about just how much of a badass this guy actually is, it’s hard to deny the coolness factor to his iconic helmet and Batman-quality gizmos. I love Boba Fett as much as anybody, and in the original versions of the films, this was our first glimpse of the man. “As you wish,” he grates out in response to Vader’s demands.

But he’s not the only one there who is totally awesome. One of my favorite anthologies is Tales of the Bounty Hunters — which includes a sadly bittersweet episode 15 years after ROTJ with an aging Fett and his Slave II. These short stories give insights into the life of Dengar (the one with the white bandages), who was badly burned in a race with Han Solo and is out for revenge. IG-88, assassin droid, has actually duplicated himself four times and runs an empire-wide conspiracy to eliminate organic life. He’s the reason the probe droid self-destructed on Hoth — not to disguise the Empire’s intent but so that no organic would ever learn what  the droids were planning! (All four IG-88s died before they could implement this plan.) Bossk, as I said, is the son of the head of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, and even more of his story comes to light in K.W. Jeter’s stunning Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy. My longtime favorite has been Zuckuss with his droid partner 4-LOM (I talked about them here).

I don't know why it's so hard to get Zuckuss in one of these shots!

I don’t know why it’s so hard to get Zuckuss in one of these shots!

I love every character in this scene. The way the camera peers up at them, putting the viewer alongside the trim Imperial officers with their rampant disgust of the filthy bounty hunters — not because they aren’t human, (because there is no canonical evidence for galactically widespread, government-endorsed species related bigotry,and I don’t thank Timothy Zahn for inventing it) but because they are the scum of the galaxy, mavericks who would presumably sell off their own close family members for the right number of credits. The silent bounty hunters, more like Vader than anyone else on the bridge because they too are separated from everyone by armor, their faces just as unreadable, are fascinating just as a picture. Boba Fett’s curious stance as spokesperson for the motley group. Their backstories, explored in the two canonical sources I just offered you, are fun to explore. And as always, Boba Fett’s mask is as iconic a part of the Trilogy as Vader’s. Man, I love these guys!

The original motley crew. Because it was a long time ago, see?

The original motley crew. Because it was a long time ago, see?

Favorite Droid

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , , on 6 February 2014 by Megan

Let me just come out there and say it: I don’t like R2-D2. I just don’t. I don’t mind Threepio at all and I love Anthony Daniels, but he’s not my favorite. No, for my favorite, I’m going to have to go a little E.U. for this. And because information is so limited, I feel justified in giving you two droids tied for my favorite with a brief summary of each. My favorite droid is . . .

4-LOM the Bounty Hunter!

4-LOM the Bounty Hunter!

If you didn’t recognize him, shame on you! He is one of two robot bounty hunters seen in Empire Strikes Back, and, yes, I did consider IG-88 for a favorite as well, but I’ve always just felt too much triumph when Boba Fett destroys him to justify his being a favorite. What can you say about a droid who achieved self-awareness, made four of himself, and attempted to wipe out all carbon-based life in the galaxy? Back to 4-LOM. A LOM-series protocol droid, he was originally assigned to a luxury liner as a translator. The ship herself altered his programming so he would steal from passengers, and thus began his life of crime. 4-LOM just loves money, and his career has been all about the acquisition thereof. Working for Jabba the Hutt, his programming was altered further, and he became a bounty hunter.

His partner is the Gand Zuckuss, and the two have a strong friendship. They were hired by Vader to help capture Han Solo, though they later attempted to rescue him. With a wide and varied career, some highlights suggested in short stories and comic books, 4-LOM is a master thief, bounty hunter, and renaissance droid whose enduring friendship with Zuckuss has endured nearly fatal injuries and sicknesses for them both. He’s good people, man.

I-5YQ

I5 the Droid

I’m really going EU on you now. I talked to you about Michael Reeves’ miniseries (here and here), and while that series desperately fell off at the end, the characters he introduced in Shadow Hunter hold up.

I5 was a standard model protocol droid used for the care of some rich children who routinely tortured him — things like ordering him to jump off buildings — until he could no longer handle it. Lorn Pavan was a dispirited former employee of the Jedi Temple, thrown out and forcibly separated from his son after the toddler showed Force aptitude. Lorn helped I5 achieve sentience and freedom, and the two worked as partners on Coruscant.

On a mission to find Lorn’s son Jax, I5 meanders across the galaxy and through nearly half a dozen of Reeves’ books, some better than others. Luke Skywalker may say of Artoo “I’ve never heard of such devotion in a droid before,” when Artoo is lying about his origins, but I5 is the real deal. Boldly asserting his status as a free, intelligent individual, not to be owned by anyone, I5 questions what it means to be, well, “human” (i.e. sentient) and even figures out a way to program himself “drunk.” He’s clever, intelligent, loyal, and I enjoyed the trip even if Reeves let the whole series fall on its backside.

I notice both of these droids have unique partnerships with their sentient friends. Yeah, maybe I have a type when it comes to droids.