4thofeleven: (Default)
While checking the names of various characters from TFA, I was pleased to see that while the old Expanded Universe is gone, its tradition of leaving no detail unexplained lives on, as spin-off materials are already providing background characters with more backstory than they probably need.

My favorite is learning that Captain Phasma's armor is salvaged from the hull of one of the Naboo cruisers from the Phantom Menace that had once been owned by Palpatine! Nothing says pulp space adventure like knowing the history and manufacturing process of a specific suit of storm-trooper armor!

I fully expect to see Tales from Maz's Cantina on shelves soon.

4thofeleven: (Default)
Idly browsing Wookipedia (mainly looking again to see if anyone's introduced a Jawa Jedi to the Star Wars EU since I last looked... nope), I find that apparently Callista from Children of the Jedi has reappeared... sort of.
 
"At some point on Ming's journey, she ventured into the Maw and discovered a dangerous planet. There, Ming encountered the dark side entity known as Abeloth, who stole her life energy and absorbed her, resulting in her death"

So, not just killed, but retroactively killed off-screen, apparently decades before the events of the novel in which she's mentioned.

Dammit, I kind of liked that there seemed to be a mutual agreement among authors in the SW EU to never even mention Callista again - it meant there was at least one character I liked that I knew wouldn't be affected by the increasingly idiotic developments of the novels.

(And meanwhile Admiral Daala's still running around, despite the fact that I've never met anyone who likes the character...)
4thofeleven: (Default)
Fandomsecrets today had a secret up from someone saying they vastly prefer Luke and Callista as a couple over Luke and Mara (No. 146 in this entry). I don’t see why that should be a secret, since only crazy people would disagree with that position*.

You know what I just realised is cool about Callista? She’s a Jedi from just before the rise of a Sith Empire, who returns in an era when the Jedi are extinct and knowledge their teachings all but forgotten. She survives events that should have destroyed her, but loses all connection to the Force in the process. She very quickly – some would say implausibly quickly – develops a strong bond with a fellow Force user. Her story ends with a question mark, where she went or her final fate a total mystery.

She’s the OT era version of KotOR 2’s Jedi Exile**!


* Because only crazy people have strong opinions about characters from the Star Wars EU.

** Yes, being similar to a KotOR 2 character is awesome. It's 'unpopular SW EU opinions' day, alright?
4thofeleven: (Default)
So I’m idly browsing Wookipedia to see what I’ve missed since I stopped following the Star Wars EU, and I’m amused to see that the Yuuzhan Vong weren’t all destroyed or driven away at the end of the New Jedi Order series, but instead surrendered, settled down and became just another background alien species.

Of course, this has precedents – the Mandalorians used to be the invading army that would doom all civilization, but by the time of the Empire they’re a minor group nobody really cares about. For that matter, the Bantam novels ended with the Empire itself accepting its fate as a minor fringe alliance that didn’t pose any real threat to anyone.

So here’s an idea – maybe every single species and culture in the Star Wars galaxy was, at some point, an unstoppable invading alien force from unknown space out to destroy the Republic!

The Jawas? Attacked the Republic ten thousand years ago with a high-tech armada. Only after the sacrifice of thousands of Jedi were they driven back, exiled to the barren Tattooine system alongside the last of their Tusken shock troops! Then a few years later they started selling scavenged technology, and everyone pretty much forgot about them.

The Wookiees? An unstoppably strong race of warriors that nearly brought the Republic to its knees, the Wookiees eventually surrendered in exchange for being allowed to keep Kashyyyk, the first world their armies had conquered. Rumours still exist, though, of degenerate mutated descendants of lost Wookiee regiments that refused to accept the cease fire, hiding out on hidden moons on the edges of known space.

The Mon Calamari? Had the bad fortune to launch their unstoppable invasion of the galaxy right in the middle of the Galactic Civil War, so nobody really noticed. They made a few token efforts to annihilate worlds on the rim as a demonstration of their might, but found their atrocities kept being attributed to the Empire instead. In the end, they signed on with the Rebel Alliance just to get some attention.
4thofeleven: (revolution)
I’ve mentioned a few times before that I pretty much lost all interest in the EU about halfway through the New Jedi Order series, largely because I found it pointlessly depressing. And since then I’ve had no interest in going back to find out what happened in the rest of the series. There’s two reasons for this; number one, I never really cared about the story when I was reading it, and two, because the ending I’ve constructed in my head is no doubt much more satisfying than whatever ended up being published.

See, in my trawling through the internet, I have ended up finding out one major detail about the storyline of the New Jedi Order – that Borsk Fey’lya sacrificed himself, killing thousands of Yuuzhan Vong soldiers in the process. So in my personal interpretation, that’s the end of the story. Fey’lya’s sacrifice destroyed the majority of the Vong invasion force, ending the threat forever and saving the galaxy.

Because, you see, Fey’lya is one of my favourite characters, and if he’s going to die, I want it to be a galaxy-changing event, and I want everyone to be forced to recognise his heroism and apologise for ten years of novels where he was portrayed as a villain, often with little to no justification.

Politics isn’t something the post ROTJ-EU handled very well.  )
4thofeleven: (Default)
I was sorting through my bookshelves and I found my battered old copy of Dark Empire. It’s practically falling apart; the binding’s completely gone. I used to read it all the time as a kid – even then I realised that it wasn’t actually that good, but damnit, it’s a Star Wars comic book – with big battle scenes and world devastators and Dark Side Luke! Clearly, if I just re-read it enough, it would become as awesome as it ought to be!

Reading it today, I can’t help but wonder if Dark Empire shouldn’t have been placed in its own continuity, separate from the novels. According to the dedication page, the story was first conceived in 1988 – before Heir to the Empire. It seems to have ended up rather ham-fistedly jammed into a spare slot in the Bantam continuity with very little effort to make it fit properly; a lot of the story makes far more sense if you assume it takes place very shortly after Return of the Jedi. There’s no indication within the story that the Alliance has ever held Coruscant or been the recognised government of the galaxy; the rebels are still hiding in isolated secret bases. Mara Jade is conspicuously absent. The novels don’t really help tie things back together either; The Jedi Academy trilogy makes only the most token effort to mention that only a few months before the Empire had reoccupied Coruscant and the Alliance was on the verge of total destruction…

The real problem with Dark Empire, of course, is that it has a lot of big events, but seems curiously unwilling to actually do anything with them. So Luke turns to the Dark Side… off panel. And then basically stands around behind the Emperor doing very little. I’m going to give Veitch credit here – Luke says that “I had to know my father… I had to know why he chose the dark side.”, and that’s probably as close to a plausible motivation as you can get for having Luke think it’s a good idea to study the ways of the Dark Side under Palpatine – it does kind of make sense that once he found out Palpatine was alive, Luke would want to try and learn something about his father from one of the few people who knew him well, especially if he could convince himself he was just staying with Palpatine to undermine the Empire from within… there’s a good story there. Except we don’t get to see it; we see Luke agree to work with the Emperor – and then cut to an unrelated storyline! We see Luke try to destroy the Emperor’s clones, only to end up with the reborn Emperor standing over him, a lightsaber at his throat, telling him that the Dark Side will break him – and then cut to an unrelated storyline! Seriously, if you’re going to tackle a story as big as the Emperor’s resurrection and Luke’s fall to the dark side, tackle it! Don’t get distracted by Boba Fett!

Boba Fett’s return ended up being one of the few events that ended up having a larger impact on the EU. In this story, Fett managed to ineffectually pursue Han for a few pages, then ends up nearly destroying his ship when he tries to fly through Byss’s security shields, while his co-pilot calls him an idiot. So, well in line with his characterisation in the movies.

I have to say, I do like the World Devastators. They strike me as the sort of thing the Empire would build; they’re running low on resources, but they’re sure as hell not going to stop building superweapons! No, they’ll compromise; they’ll build more efficient superweapons! Plus, the World Devastators are one of the few times when Qwi Xux’s naivety seems plausible – they really would make great mining tools! Lando should have ended up buying their remains for his next project…

In general, the art is pretty terrible; if I didn’t know better, I’d have assumed the comic was originally published in black and white; there are entire pages which are ‘coloured’ entirely in shades of green. As a result, Han appears to be blond for much for the story. The artist seems to have a real problem with faces; Han, Luke, and Mon Mothma (!) are all barely distinguishable. Leia spends a decent chunk of the story in what appears to be a baseball cap and really baggy pants, for no discernable reason. I do like the two-page spread of the battle raging on Coruscant, with Imperial factions battling each other. The TIE-style tank is a neat design… Not sure why the artist felt the need to have a bunch of Ewoks as part of the stranded Rebel crew, though. I mean, I kinda like the idea that Ewoks quickly became full participants in the New Republic army and navy after the Battle of Endor, but it’s still a kind of surreal detail…

The copy I have comes with an introduction by Kevin J. Anderson, in which his mostly talks about how Dark Empire fits in seamlessly with the upcoming Bantam Star Wars novels (The Courtship of Princess Leia! The Truce at Bakura! The Jedi Academy Trilogy! Whee!), and about the trouble he had replotting his own novels to take into account the events of Dark Empire. Specifically, he mentions that he and Veitch had planned their stories with different assumptions of how many children Leia had… I’m going to assume then that it was Veitch’s idea that Leia had had another kid after the twins, since her pregnancy is a fairly major plot point in Dark Empire, while Anakin is largely irrelevant in Jedi Academy – but then, practically everything ended up being largely irrelevant there, yes?

Anderson also mentions while discussing then-upcoming books that “Kenneth C. Flynt brings Luke back to Tatooine in search of an artefact that once belonged to Obi-Wan”. Anyone know what happened to that novel? “Kenneth Flynt” doesn’t seem to have any published novels when I searched for him on Amazon; I’m going to assume that Bantam ended up deciding against letting an unpublished author write a Star Wars novel…

In the end, Dark Empire isn’t that bad – but it’s also not worth tracking down if you haven’t read it. I’m glad I do have a copy, but mainly because otherwise my twelve-year old self would have been totally baffled by the occasional references to Luke turning to the dark side and a reborn Emperor in the Bantam novels… *grin*
4thofeleven: (Default)

The Jedi Academy Trilogy are Not Very Good Books.

All right, so that might not come as much of a shock to most people. Still, I recently reread them, and I was surprised by just how bad they were. I mean, I remembered that I never thought very much of them, but I’d forgotten just how terrible they were.

I started reading them a while back because, well, I hadn’t read them in a decade or so, and I wanted something light to read on the train. I thought, ‘hey, Kevin J. Anderson has written a ton of books; he must be at least a competent writer, if not a particularly inspiring one.’ I was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.

See, it’s not that Anderson’s a bad writer, or that he has bad ideas (though he is, and does) )


4thofeleven: (Default)
Yes, I know, there's a lot of contenders for that title. But in re-reading the craptacular Jedi Academy* trilogy, I think I've found the crown jewel: The Force Detector found on Coruscant in the first book.

What is it? Well, it's a pair of paddles that you put on either side of a person, and then it displays a hologram of them. If they're force-sensitive, there's a blue glow around them.

Stupid things:

  • Paddles. That just sounds silly on its own.
  • It's a machine that detects the Force, that pre-dates the Phantom Menace's midichlorians by five years.
  • It was apparently used by the Empire in the Jedi purges. That's right, the Empire detected Jedi by grabbing people off the street, putting them between a pair of paddles, and scanning them to see if they could use the Force.
  • It displays a hologram of the person you're scanning, despite the fact that the only data it's actually analysing is "Force Sensitive/Not-Force Sensitive". Can't it just beep or something?
  • Finally, what makes it really stupid: Anderson devotes an entire chapter to finding the detector, retrieving it from the ruins of a secret imperial lab, having Luke work out what it does... and then it never actually gets used. Well - no, Lando uses it once to check if a con-artist is a force-sensitive or not. Of course, it's pretty much a formality at that point, since Lando already knows how the con-artist is working his scam and that he's not using the force to do it - also, the con-artist is never mentioned again.
    So you could cut the Enchanted Paddles of Detect Force from the book entirely without affecting the story whatsoever, but Kevin Anderson apparently felt they were such a brilliant idea that they had to go in anyway!
And that's why the Force Detector is the stupidest thing in the Star Wars EU. Say what you will about the other stupid concepts and ideas of the EU, at least they existed to move the story forward...

* Couldn't find anything good to read; hadn't read them in years, alright?

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