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How Nick Spends His Free Time…

I find myself of late pondering the nature of villains. To be honest, this line of thought stems mostly from my recent intoxication with Greggory Macguire’s Wicked, both the novel and the musical. I’m sure this makes our very own Rachel ecstatic. Though I’d been meaning to get around to those works, it was her, in her constant role as catalyst for my love of all things musical, that got me off my rump and actually delving into the wonderful works of Oz. While The Wicked Years have brought me close to the world of L. Frank Baum—until now a work I could find little enthusiasm for—my musings ventured beyond the confines of the Emerald City, past the borders of Munchkinland and the Vinkus. This past month of consideration has brought me to several conclusions, few surprising, but none that I had openly considered before.

Obviously, no piece of fiction is complete without a proper antagonist. Often it is the villain of our heroes that most stick within our minds. Why is that? Forced to consider it, I have to say that while we all strive to be the hero—saving the maiden, righting wrongs—do we not, perhaps, relate to those more villainous? Though unconsidered until I was jotting this down, I find myself increasingly convinced. It’s no surprise we have a tendency to see the worst of ourselves. This harsh introspection is a trademark of human character, and our fiction is ever a reflection of ourselves. Furthermore, heroes by nature are larger than life, and those that possess flaws seem flawed in ways we’d almost wish for. Let’s be honest, heroes, as a whole, are a fairly unbelievable lot. Without that constant foil of their dastardly foe, even our favorite protagonists would fall a little flat. Heroic figures are role models, unachievable in their epic proportions, and therefore they are hard to understand and hard for us to relate to.

Consider with me, what makes the best villains you’ve ever seen? Who are they, what do they look like? On the surface, they are either frightening and powerful, else so smooth and cool you may mistake them for an ally to our hero before realization comes crashing down on you. While there are all sorts of effective villains, many of them find their roots in something all too familiar to us. Perhaps it was heartache and love that drove them to criminal behavior, like Mr. Freeze from the Batman franchise, intent upon saving his wife at all costs. The villain may hide behind their pride and virtue, like Judge Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, using that umbrella to justify his insatiable lust towards a woman and the deeds it drives him to. Maybe an immense ego places them above the reproach of their peers, like Professor James Moriarty from most Sherlock Holmes incarnations. After all, if one has no peers, does that not give them the right to do as they wish? My point, longwinded as it may be, is this; villains resonate within us because we see in them the vices and failings that we deal with in ourselves each and every day. Certainly we also possess the merits of the hero, more than we know, but those are far harder to recognize.  How do you know that you were brave, or noble? Not only are the occasions to showcase those virtues scant at times, but often are so part of our nature that we don’t even realize when we have displayed them.

That all said, we come around to the central theme of this post, which seems to be a continuing examination of what makes Star Wars the cultural phenomena it is. An unintentional turn to my postings, but enjoyable nonetheless. When last I left you, I had examined some of the fights that, to me, had helped to make the franchise stand out. This time around, I will, obviously, look at the villains that challenge our ragtag group of heroes.

I can’t deny that the various antagonists of this universe have been central to the success of the franchise. From the Fetts to the classics—the likes of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine—the villains have captured the imaginations and support of a large portion of Star Wars’ fandom. Even though, cinematically speaking, the Empire is undoubtedly the “bad guys,” they have a loyal and, might I add, large fan following. Not only do the films present us with compelling figures to lead this tyrannical government, the various mediums within the Expanded Universe have done a wondrous job of introducing members of the Imperial forces that have taken us by storm. The likes of Thrawn, Pellaeon, and Daala joined the Imperial ranks as strong, powerful figures that secured themselves a place in our memories. We as fans found that, despite being cast as undoubtedly evil, we rather liked the Empire.

For all this, however, it all comes back around to the original villains in the films. When A New Hope hit the screens, we had our first look at Darth Vader, a dark, imposing figure that strikes fear into the heart. From the size, to his suit—was he a robot, or was that body armor?—to the brilliant voice of James Earl Jones, he was the perfect villain. We saw him as a highly skilled, merciless adversary. We certainly wanted to hate him. Yet, as we progress through the original trilogy, we come to learn more of his past and, more importantly, his present state. Vader is not evil, that had never been his intent. Instead, we see he is a man who lost everything, including much of his body. His spirit is broken, and he moves throughout the films as a specter of who he could have been.  That changes in The Empire Strikes Back. When he learns that he has a son, more importantly when we learn he is Luke’s father, his first words are, “Come with me. My son, I’m offering you the galaxy.” Paraphrasing, sure, but that’s hardly a selfish sentiment. We see a depth that we thought beyond the man. When he witnesses his son being brutally murdered before his eyes, Vader rises up and destroys his master of decades. That spirit returns, Vader is healed, and it is a glorious redemption. In those last moments we see Vader for who he is, and suddenly the depth of his character becomes a little clearer. It’s subtle, but once built upon by the Expanded Universe and Prequel Trilogy, (Though, I think the character of Anankin Skywalker was criminally mishandled, so much so that it almost ruins the character of Vader for me, but that is a conversation for another day) we see that depth at its fullest and Vader steps forward as, perhaps, one of the best villains in recent history.

Even Vader, however, would not be nearly as effective without Palpatine looming over him. Here we have the classic villainous mastermind. Powerful, cunning, manipulative, you want to hate Palpatine. The Emperor, that classic twisted figure, boils your blood with his self-assured manner. A man that rose to take dominion of the majority of the civilized galaxy with primarily his cunning, he is the ultimate evil, serving to illustrate the merits of the heroes in the film. Add in the more minor villains—Boba Fett, Grand Moff Tarkin with his condescending confidence, even the minor moffs and Jabba the Hutt—and you have a broad spectrum of top notch villains that certainly make the galaxy a far more complicated place for our scrappy little rebellion friends.

The films themselves see phenomenal success in the area of bad guys, but it’s not until we get into the Expanded Universe that Star Wars shines in the field of villainy. With the downfall of the Empire, we see factions and splinter groups cropping up everywhere. A young New Republic struggles to assert dominance. We see the introduction of new villains who, in the end, we’re not sure if they truly are villains. Politicians in the New Republic end up more corrupt than their Imperial counterparts. Every which way we turn, we can’t be sure who to root for and who to boo down. Logic may dictate who the “bad guys” are, but our gut tells us that it’s simply all one big mish-mash, and depending on your point of view, the tag of villain can be thrown all over the place, just as the moniker of hero can. In my opinion, this is when a work transcends a simple story and becomes a living, thriving world. As the reader—or viewer, or player, whichever is applicable—begins to realize that the depth of the universe is such that it is possible to see the merits of any faction, that there are no true good guys or bad guys, they begin to experience it all more personally. It feels more real. When you reach this point, everything is connected and the universe begins to develop such depth that it is easy and, in fact enjoyable, to get lost in the intricacies, to forget for a moment that you’re sitting on Earth, reading a book.

For all the flak I give Star Ward of late, in particular the Expanded Universe, the hodge-podge of ideas, beliefs, styles, and preferences of the various authors, illustrators, designers, etc. have all come together to form a deep, thriving world that’s alive in its own right. These characters and events aren’t just stories told us once upon a time, but people and places that have taken root and live a little bit in each of our hearts and imaginations.  As a collective fan base, we have kept alive the universe we love between the droughts and valleys, waiting patiently for the next movie, the next series, the next video game. While the world is compelling, while the heroes are endearing, it’s the villains that, inevitably, keep us coming back to the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Regards,

Nick

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Why We Draft

Hai guys, Tristan here, and there’s something I’d like to talk to you all about today. It’s one of my favorite things about fandoms,  and Star Wars in particular.

So there’s this crazy thing that some of us more absurd fans go in for, drafting characters in a team and pitting them against other teams. I’m sure you’re at least familiar with the concept due to fantasy sports leagues and such, but you see, this has nothing empirical about it. It’s just all of our opinions going up against each other and trying to convince each other who’s right and drafted better. Why would we do such a silly thing? It’s all completely subjective, so there really isn’t any right or wrong answer to any of the matches. Well, I can think of a few reasons to participate in them.

First, it’s a place you can basically nerd out on something. You can show your knowledge of the topic, present it in a logical fashion, argue it, post quotes or scans of relevant information, and really just dig into something you enjoy just that much deeper than you normally would. You can read things in a focused manner, trying to draw out something that might get your participant a win. It lets you feel involved in a way that simply reading the books for enjoyment doesn’t, and it also tests your memory.

Second, it’s a way to be more passionate about something you care about. I mean really, people wouldn’t put the time and effort into five and ten page arguments if it wasn’t something that they could find it in themselves to really care about. Otherwise it’s just a waste of time and energy. I should know, I’ve put in the time and effort to write some of those arguments, and it really feels good when you see results out of it.  But there really is nothing much more passionate in a fandom than arguing or debating with another fan about the subject. Especially if you’re both convinced you’re right.

Third would be the participation. Think about it for a moment, you’re spending time talking to other people about something you love. Sure, you probably do that anyway, but in that kind of setting it’s completely expected. You can hypothesize about things that in more regular company you’d be laughed at or would garner all kinds of strange looks. That’s incredibly freeing. If I were to talk about things in that depth with, say, my girlfriend (who does like Star Wars, and reads the books) I’d get an eye roll or a sigh. In the draft? I get debate, and passionate responses.  And it’s understood that you’re even supposed to argue or debate this stuff, so no one gets mad at you for disagreeing with them. Normally anyway.

Fourth you have competition. It’s a test of your knowledge of the topic, which you really can’t get in a lot of other ways. You not only have to know enough about the subject to even want to get involved, but you have to know enough about it to put together a competitive team. This is not as easy as it might sound. By any stretch of the imagination. It took me almost five years to actually win one, and I’ve not actually come that close most of the time. For one thing you don’t necessarily know the judges, or what their opinions about things are, you have to formulate your own, and you have to know who will actually work with who and when they should be picked. So not only do you have to know the subject and characters involved, but you have to learn about how to draft in and of itself. For those with a competitive streak, this ends up being very fun. Others do it just to put together a joke team, i.e. just for the fun of the drafting process and being able to say that you “had” the character in your possession for a time.

While in some ways this really is a silly past time, it’s no more so than fantasy football or playing a video game. In some ways it’s probably more fun. At least with this you get more direct interaction with other people, which everyone needs to one degree or another, so why not get that interaction through a draft?

For those that still aren’t convinced about drafts, lemme ask you something. How many times have you said something like “Batman would totally beat Superman in a fight”? Haven’t all really serious fans said something like this at one point or another? That’s all this is basically, only putting it in a more formal setting and actually analyzing things as best we can to come to a somewhat legitimate answer instead of merely stating an opinion. We all do this kind of thing, even if it’s just in our minds. And wouldn’t you say there’s just something about being able to say “I have Mace Windu on my team.”? I’d like certainly like to think so.

In my next post we’ll be going back to the more regularly scheduled programing of my chronological read through, and looking at the overall first story arc of Dawn of the Jedi. That’d be the first five comics for those of you wanting to follow along with me. There’s a chance I might do several posts on that storyline, but we’ll just have to see what happens. If nothing else you have a flying Rancoragon to look forward to. Have fun, peace out, and enjoy.

So here’s me

(So I started writing this a couple weeks ago, then got sick, so that’s why the dearth of content on my end. Sorry ’bout that everyone, and here’s hoping that won’t be a problem going forward.)

Hai guys, I’m Tristan, and I suppose we’ve already gotten to know each other a little bit already. I like to read (obviously), play games, and that’s enough of the canned singles ad kind of stuff. Why do people do that? It really doesn’t tell you anything about the person. When you say you like to take moonlit walks on the beach, why is that? Is it simply because it’s pleasant, or is a beach the last place you ever saw your dad and it brings back memories of him? And in the case of that last one, am I intruding? You see, all it does is make things even less clear than it was before. This won’t be one of those.

So who am I really? I’m a guy that loves Star Wars for a myriad of reasons, writing simply because it is interesting combining words to form maybe not poignant thoughts, but thoughts nonetheless, and making people smile. What better thing is there to give someone than a smile? You can’t take it away because the moment has passed, and they’re free and easy to cause.

I think in some way I’ve always been a writer, all you’d have to do is ask my mom about the stories I dictated to her before I could read or write a single letter. It was something I struggled with for years, because that’s what writing is, a struggle. Even admitting you like doing something as stressful as writing can be tough sometimes, as it took me more than a decade to finally admit that to myself, and now here I am writing on a blog simply because it’s something I like doing. I like it well enough to try going for a creative writing degree like Rachel, but unlike her I couldn’t handle some of the other required classes (damn that physics or chem requirement. My mind works with words and images, not numbers.) Now I’m working on a novel with Nick, and it’s somewhat shocking (and appalling far too many times) to look back at what we wrote three years ago and see how utterly mediocre it actually was. At least there was a good story in it, or we might have just dropped the whole thing.

Oh, speaking of images, I’m also something of an artist type person. At least I like to pretend I am, and that’s why I’m currently getting a Graphic Design degree. At least it means I’d be doing something different on a regular basis, because I am not one to deal with monotony well. I also don’t think I had much of a chance on this one. I’ve been surrounded by art and artistic people my whole life, from my Grandfather (he made totem poles and wooden statues in his back yard, I even got to help when I was nine), to my Dad with his Masters in Fine Arts, to my mother who’s been fooling around with the stuff since I was a wee little tyke. I do it because that’s what creative people do, they just have to find some kind of outlet to do stuff or they get depressed or a case of the crankies from hell. I’ve dealt with both, and neither one is terribly fun.

I suppose that’s probably enough rambling about stuff like that, and we should probably come to the point of this site: Star Wars (and the broader spectrum of Sci-Fi/Fantasy). I’m unfortunately too young to have seen it in theaters, but I’m hoping to remedy that as the 3-D versions come out (knock on wood). But what I wasn’t too young for was my Grandfather to show me the first one when I was seven or eight, and to have a marathon viewing of them because I was hooked. I even liked the ewok movies, which I suppose should qualify as a “dirty little secret”, but if you can’t talk about that kind of stuff around here, where can you? I suppose because of that I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for ewoks, with Tarfang easily being my favorite. Just the idea of an ewok with a deathmark and a dirty mouth is just funny.

From the movies it was an incredibly easy jump to reading the books, as I became an avid reader at a very young age. Maybe not to the point of my brother who read the Silmarillion at age seven, but you know, not everyone can do that kind of thing. I honestly don’t even remember what the first Star Wars book I read was considering how long ago that was, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was either the Thrawn Trilogy (doesn’t everyone start there?) or Shadows of the Empire, which is probably one of my favorite books and one I’ve re-read seven or eight times. There are few other things I’ve read as many times, but another Star Wars set of books is on that list as the Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy is one of those few, and one of my favorite sets of books as well. As of right now I think I’ve read about 130ish Star Wars books, possibly more. So you could say I’m a bit of a nerd, and it’d probably be an understatement.

Incredibly, Star Wars has actually had a huge impact on my life in ways I never could have guessed. I’ve met some of my best friends as a result of my interest in it and finding boards.theforce.net way back in 2005. I’ve also met my current girlfriend because of that site. And then there’s Nick, who I’m currently writing with, as well as all of the other fine folk that are involved in this blog. It’s kind of amazing what kind of impact something as seemingly inconsequential as Star Wars can actually have on someones life. It’s the little things you could say. It was also role playing games on those same discussion forums that made me finally admit to myself that I enjoy writing, and where I started working on improving my abilities in regard to that. Sure, I wrote some fanfic, but it was definitely not the primary area that I worked on writing.

So where does that leave me now? I’m not terribly sure, as I’m still discovering myself, and still discovering Star Wars, which is something that I don’t think you can ever fully understand or know. Something as large or complex as an individual, or a universe like Star Wars, is always changing and growing, and hopefully we can all do some of that throughout the life of this blog. Maybe we’ll even have some fun along the way and find something thought provoking in that galaxy far, far away.

My Journey Into Fandom, And Some Favorite Shots of the Saga

As a recommendation from a few of our writers, and following the excellent post from Nick yesterday evening, we are going to roll out some introductions for each of the staff members here at SWR, hopefully to lend some perspective into where we come from, and provide some entertainment as well.

My journey began in the summer of 1999, the summer following my 8th grade year, when I went to go see The Phantom Menace with a friend in theaters.   To be completely honest, I don’t remember much of the film sticking out to me for the first hour and a half – but then, this happened:

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Yeah, I know it’s predictable.  I wasn’t much for television as a child, so I had not seen any previews, etc. for the film.  I had a vague concept of what Star Wars was, even though I had never seen the original trilogy – I knew what a lightsaber was, and who Darth Vader and Yoda were, but that’s about it.  As this furious battle between two Jedi and this demonic, acrobatic bad guy erupted across the screen, with the epic “Duel of the Fates” score to back it, I did not know at the time, but I’d never be the same.  It took a little while, though.  A few years later, I picked up Attack of the Clones on VHS, and loved it (I still do, to this day).  Then I picked up the OT, and finally became immersed.

I am a very odd Star Wars fan, in that I am a shameless defender of the prequels, and unabashedly prefer them to the Original Trilogy. I went to see Revenge of the Sith at midnight, my first experience out amongst the community, and if I were to point to one experience that really sent me “over the edge,” it would be that.  I had been participating on TFN’s Episode III board, but that began to transform into more interactive experiences, including fan audio.  In 2006, after listening to Nathan P. Butler’s Chronoradio, I ventured out on my own, and launched “Star Wars: In The Beginning,” a podcast aimed towards the PT and its EU, and debating its characters and themes.  The show lasted for about 15 episodes, after which a graduation and the sharp drop into the real world put it on hold.

But I always intended to come back.

And so we have, with Star Wars: Rise. Throughout my time in the world of fandom, I can say that the group that we have put together on this team are some of the most knowledgeable and skilled writers I’ve come into contact with, and their passion for the SW Universe matches my own- and that’s quite a bit of passion.  It is a privilege to write alongside them, and interact with them across the net. Our collective aim is that this blog, and our upcoming podcast, will reach fans in the leadup to Episode 7 and perhaps impacts them in the way I was impacted in the leadup to Revenge of the Sith, and brings them into this magnificent world, which has played a huge part in my life.  I thank you for reading, and hope that you are able to find the joy that I have in reading, viewing, and analyzing this great Saga.

And now, as the second half of this post, I would like to take a look at my five favorite visual “shots” of the saga.  The only qualifier here is that the scene was portrayed on a screen, at one time- any and all TV series, any and all films.  Let us begin.

5) The Battle of Mandalore, Star Wars Clone Wars (S05-E16) (G.Lucas)

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While this episode may be remembered for the epic duel that breaks out between Sidious, Maul, and Savage, it is the alliance struck between Bo Katan and Obi-Wan in an effort to get him off planet that provided my favorite storyline.

4) Obi-Wan Taps the Dark Side, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (G. Lucas)

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While his duel with Anakin in ROTS would match this one-on-one in terms of speed and ferocity, the emotion shown by young Kenobi dueling the mysterious Sith just feet from his mortally wounded master is my favorite duel of the Saga.

3) The Return of Anakin Skywalker,  Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (R. Marquand/director, G. Lucas)

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A very divisive image, this is. I’m on the side of progress, I guess you could call it. As devastating as the end of ROTS, it’s nice to know that Anakin will re-appear- that he’s not gone forever.

2) The Goodbye, Clone Wars Microseries (S01-E01) (G. Tartakovsky)

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amidalabye

I remember seeing this episode for the first time, and in among the over-the-top style was this scene. With a particularly different version of “Across The Stars” playing, we see something that we really never see again on screen- the strain of war in this young marriage.

1) The Ruminations Scene.  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith (G. Lucas)

amidalarums

Nothing I can write can do this scene justice. It is the most powerful scene I've ever seen on screen, I recall the packed capacity theater (full of children, teens, and college students) falling completely silent, while the loud whaling track accompanied this brutally difficult scene, because even the "spoiler-free" knew what was coming. George Lucas' finest cinematographical accomplishment in the six films, as far as I am concerned.

Nothing I can write can do this scene justice. It is the most powerful scene I’ve ever seen on screen, I recall the packed capacity theater (full of children, teens, and college students) falling completely silent, while the loud whaling track accompanied this brutally difficult scene, because even the “spoiler-free” knew what was coming. George Lucas’ finest cinematographical accomplishment in the six films, as far as I am concerned.

Introduction to a Jaded Cynic, Plus Some EU Discussion!

While perhaps unnecessary, I feel quite strongly that introductions are always necessary when entering into new circles. Seeing as I only know one of the other authors around these parts—never mind what they know of me—and we shant even consider how little I know those who might read this post, I don’t think this such a radical idea.

To be short, if such things are even possible for me, my name is Nick, though any readers hailing from the boards at TheForce.net may know me better as Chukles38. I’ll be, what, a guest author? Maybe a full author? Who knows, but I should shoot some things up here occasionally to enlighten, inform, or… actually, pretty much to entertain, I think. I would say that I am an author, but that implies that I have been able to complete something. Instead, we’ll tack an aspiring on there and leave it at that. I have picked up a few things, here and there, though about writing and the processes involved, so I’m available to answer any questions, comments, concerns, or criticisms you may have. Hopefully I’ll be able to focus on just one project here and keep at it to completion. I’m not entirely hopeful.

At any rate, I have been a fan of Star Wars since I was quite young, and in fact it’s difficult to recall a time that I didn’t love the series. I remember pretending to be Luke Skywalker, flipping out of Sarlacc pits and hacking up anything in my way with the lightsaber I didn’t have. I’ve always had an active imagination, however, so this was an insignificant detail. When my brothers and I were first introduced to toy lightsabers, well, we were in heaven. I can say, with confidence, that we broke many of them, mostly on each other. Some duct tape though and we were right back at it, fighting off villains and the like. My childhood is laced with viewings of the movies, rereleases, action figures, and Legos. It still is a slight disappointment to me that I am far too young to have experienced the original trilogy in the theatre.

I say this as a sort of counter point to the rest of this posting. In recent years, I find myself drifting away from Star Wars as a whole; the universe, the movies, the video games, the books. I think back on it, when it was such a magical world full of wonder and amazement for a young boy, and wonder where that feeling went. I could take the easy way out and say that the Prequel Trilogy got too wrapped up in CGI and special effects and lost the feeling that, to me, defined Star Wars. That’d certainly be true enough. Perhaps, though, it also has to do with the introduction and constant expansion of the Expanded Universe by multitudes of authors, all with their own ideas and agendas. That’s probably closer to the mark. What it boils down to, I think, is that the Star Wars universe has just gotten too damn big.

What did it for me in the end, I think, was the New Jedi Order. Until then, I devoured the books in the EU. I started into that series with reckless abandon, and even as I type this I look over and see the first eighteen books on my bookshelf. As I pushed on, however, it just got to be too much. At first, it was wonderful, but then it was over. Then another author picked it up, and suddenly we were plunged back in to a plot that we thought was over. The story jumps its focus, book to book, which wouldn’t be a problem were the storylines and characters consistent throughout, but they aren’t. It occurred to me that what I once loved about Star Wars was now my biggest hold up. I tried some books after that, but they just couldn’t recapture my interest.

It’s not just the multiple authors, though. As my dear friend Tristan covered in his rather nice post on the nature of the Force, that changes. Who’d have thought the Force would change, back when all we had were the Original Trilogy? Sure, some of this is authors and companies taking liberties, but even Lucasarts is guilty, to some degree. Not just for the changes to the Force, I’ve never been a big proponent of their animated works, and certain video games, while fun, drive me further from the universe. They all seem to just not fit, as of late. Granted, that is completely my personal opinion, and I’m fine with that. I begrudge no one the right to like the entertainment they wish.

Somehow, though, against my will, I became a slightly bitter and jaded fan. I’m sure none of this is news to most of you. I’m hardly the first one to have these issues. On the other hand, heaven knows I’m not a purist. I don’t have any issues with those who like the various mediums in which the EU reaches us. I even still like quite a few individual books or series. Despite my disillusionment, I can’t deny I still love Star Wars. I’m more excited for the new trilogy then I thought I could be, though granted I have my reservations. I suppose, what I’m trying to say, is to be warned. I probably won’t be all fuzzy and warm towards the universe in my posts, but that’s okay too, right? It takes all sorts, and a fresh, even if unoriginal, perspective is always nice.

To conclude, I’m still a fan, and probably will always be, though I can’t help but wonder if most of it is rooted in nostalgia. Some days I wonder if I would still love the franchise were I to be first exposed to it today. There is a part of me, perhaps the child from my memories, that says of course I would. The Original Trilogy  hasn’t changed—well, much, but that’s for another time. One would think that its appeal would persist. Still, with all the changes foisted upon it by the various EU contributions, all the ideas and perspectives clamoring for recognition, who can say for sure?

Regards,

Nick

An Adventure Begins… (Dawn of the Jedi)

Hai guys, Trimaj here again. I’ve recently embarked on something of a crazy, daunting task: a chronological read through of the entirety of the Star Wars saga (or as near as I can manage it) including the comics. I realize this is not going to be anywhere near a short project or anything like that, but I figured I’d bring you along for the ride as I go through things as interesting topics of discussion occur to me. For instance, I may do a chapter commentary on books as the fancy strikes me, but I can pretty much assure I’ll have something to say on pretty much anything I read as I go along. Hopefully it’ll provide some interesting topics and thoughts throughout the journey, and it will certainly provide a new perspective on the Star Wars universe as a whole (if for no other reason I’ll finally be familiar with almost all of it one way or another). If you’re wondering, yes, this will include the Marvel comics run, and quite possibly the Jedi Prince series of books as well, dubiously canon though they are. So without further ado, the purpose of this post today: Dawn of the Jedi.

I have to say that is probably one of the more interesting series of comics that I’ve read in quite some time, and it provides a distinctly intriguing look at the GFFA millennia before it forms into what we’re all familiar with. This is before the Republic is even a thought, before hyperspace travel is even remotely a safe thing to do, and is during the time of the Infinite Empire of the Rataka, and is overall a distinctly darker place than anything near what we’re used to. But none of that is really what I want to talk about right now, as what really grabbed my attention was the first issue, which takes place which takes place an additional 10,000 years earlier, 36,453 BBY to be precise. And it starts with a group called the Dai Bendu and objects called the Tho Yor. The Dai Bendu were apparently Force sensitives (at least the ones present at the momentous time that the Tho Yor finally spoke to them), and spent a millennium contemplating what this immense monolith could possibly be, and what secrets it could contain. They wondered this because it was obvious it did not belong on their world. They didn’t find out until everything about them was in balance, meaning all aspects of the Force, including the Dark Side. Then the Tho Yor invited them in, and took them on a journey. That journey culminated on Tython, the original home of the Jedi, a unique and bizarrely Force attuned world.

The Tho Yor as they take some Dai Bendu to Tython.

The Tho Yor as they take some Dai Bendu to Tython.

The Tho Yor did this with eight races in all, Wookiees, Dathomiri Humans, Selkath, Twi’lek, Sith (the species), Cathar and a few others that aren’t specifically mentioned (and sadly I didn’t recognize). Overall a rather diverse mix that I wasn’t expecting, the Sith in particular given their reputation later on in the GFFA. Apparently the Tho Yor could sense when a group had finally come into complete balance in the Force, and took those that were willing to a place they could learn more about the force. It turns out this was something that also happened to the Kwa (of Infinity Gate fame and another of those ancient races that we know so little about that randomly disappeared), and that they’re responsible for raising up the Rakata into the monsters they became, but that’s for another time most likely.

What makes Tython so interesting is that it VERY directly reacts to those Force sensitives around them, and whether they are in balance or not. Should someone be leaning too far towards the Light Side you have bad things happening and the planet rebels against this until balance is found again, the same thing happens with the Dark Side, with storms it would seem, and depending how far out of balance they can be pretty bad… but more on that later. What this resulted in was the Jedi being in perfect balance with the Force, and utilizing both sides of it perfectly without being corrupted. Not only this but they utilized alchemy, sorcery and manipulation of animals to create new ones (like a flying rancor), powers and abilities that are normally attributed only to the Dark Side and unattainable by those who would seek to do good. This shows that a few assumptions that are made by the latter day Force users is patently false, mainly those that the two aspects of the Force are mutually exclusive. To reference back to my previous post, this would also seem to be the kind of situation that the Father was in more control of than either of his two children, just a minor aside I found to be interesting.

So what does this mean overall? I honestly don’t know, but it certainly paints a very different picture of what the potential is relative to the Force, and how simplistic the views of both the Jedi and Sith actually are. Not to mention it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth to the Baneite Sith in that Gravid was right about what the best way to get the most out of the Force is, he just went about doing that a bit wrong. I’m sure going insane didn’t help matters, but what happened with during Dawn of the Jedi would certainly suggest that it is more than possible to utilize both sides of the Force in conjunction with each other, and even be more capable as a result of it. Go figure.

The State of Star Wars Video Games

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Hello readers, my name is Lazy Stormtrooper and as a quick introduction to myself, I love to talk about Star Wars (why I am here) , editing videos is one of my favorite thing s to do in life and I love to play video games. So today as my first post I will be discussing the State of Star Wars video games since the Disney buyout in late 2012.

As we all know by now (unless you have been living under a rock), Disney has bought Lucasfilm (which came w/  the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises) and announced Star Wars: Episode VII. After that happened the internet exploded with rampart rumors and speculation and personally I started jumping off walls. But during this time LucasArts which was also brought in the acquisition was quietly put on standby.

When this happened six games stopped their development (along with an online service that was suppose to revolutionize the industry). These games included 1313, First Assault, Outpost, also a open-world RPG, another first-person shooter and a flight-sim.

In March 2013 the news of the of the pause hit fans and gamers alike and it was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in sadness. Pretty much everyone one who was following any of those project were saddened by the news. If these games did well it would be the start of a new golden age for LucasArts. Even notable internet personalities such as some of the cast of the Youtube channel SmoshGames talked about how they were disappointed in the halting of these projects (for them they were mostly looking forward to 1313). But then it got worse.

On April 3rd, 2013, about one month after the news of the “pausing” of the aforementioned projects The Walt Disney Company closed LucasArt’s development division. 150 people lost their jobs and the company was reduced to only about ten workers who would run the licensing department for any new games to be developed from the the series LucasArts used to create/distribute. At this point in time the future of Star wars games were unknown. All of the games that were in development at the time were deemed by the public to be canceled till further notice (still waiting for that further notice). The only news we got in this time period was that a RPG-game set in the Dark Times era was in the concept phases but that was quickly debunked.

Then on May 6th, 2013, Disney made a conversational move and official declared that all Star Wars games in the near-future will be made by Electronic Arts and its subsidiaries. While personally I kinda liked the move as in some of my favorite game series are made under the EA name brand such as Need for Speed, Mass Effect, and Battlefield. But a large number of people did not like the polices EA had in place with online passes and their downloadable content (Note that since the announcement on May 6th EA has halted it Online Pass program for any new games). Then everyone forgot about all of that (for he most part) when EA developer, DICE, announced the reboot of the Battlefront franchise at EA’s E3 press conference.

Now, even though EA’s DLC polices are still debatable the future of Star Wars gaming looks amazing. With legendary developers like BioWare, DICE, and Visceral designing more parts of the Star Wars galaxy to play in it and rumors of a Jedi Knight 3 in development along with Battlefront it looks like we are going to have an awesomely fun next few years.

Come back soon for my top ten best and worst Star Wars games of all time.

Also if you have any constructive criticism or suggestion for what I should write for future posts please tell in the comments. Thank you.

The Force, The Whole Force, and Nothing but The Force

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The Youngling’s guide to the Force!

Hai Guys! Trimaj here, with my first post on this here blog, and I’ve been ruminating on the Force (as if you can’t tell by the title, I mean really). Mainly on how it’s evolved from the magical and mystical “energy field created by all living things” of the Old Trilogy to the pseudo-scientific midichlorians of the Prequel Trilogy into even more… strange things when you get into the Expanded Universe and Clone Wars cartoons. Overall it seems like Lucas hadn’t really considered what the Force really was when he started all of this, and it sort of got lost in the expansion of the EU with the PT midichlorians being his attempt to ground it, as it were, in reality. Personally I think it’s a real shame that Lucas even felt the need to do this, but it also makes sense in universe for the Jedi to have figured out what connected them to the Force after something like 35,000 years. But I don’t think that when Lucas did that it was actually known how long the Jedi had actually been founded (feel free to correct me on this one in the comments). Overall, I’d have to say that the mystical, penetrating, life energy was probably my favorite phase of the Force, just because it’s so mysterious and you know so little about it. It seemed like anything was possible back then, just like the entire Star Wars universe was so much of a blank slate with the OT and immediately after. Admittedly I’m not QUITE that old, but I did see the movies before I was able to even pretend to read any of the books, and it was such a captivating place. I never imagined back then that we’d actually GET another set of movies, and was amazed when I did finally get into the books, starting with TImothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy (a great starting place for anyone really). Then we got The Phantom Menace, and the picture of the Force changed forever.

You see, what Lucas did by grounding the ability to use the Force in an organic organism was to irrevocably change it and make it less mystical and more magience. This was a sad thing to me, mainly because there is so little in Sci-Fi worlds left mysterious in many ways. Everything has to be grounded in Science, even if it’s in another galaxy where not everyone is going to understand everything because that’s just the nature of reality. That is one thing I’ve always liked about fantasy worlds in general, that mysterious unknown where they don’t even attempt to explain things, but that’s another discussion entirely. Basically we’ve gone from magic to magience, which I suppose is a typically good thing in a Sci-Fi world, but this doesn’t do anything to explain how it works, or what the Force even is. That’s what we have the next section of this post for.

Now things start getting slightly wacky, as we have to look at Mortis, the Ones and how they fit into things. Or how they don’t, because they jive with this universe about as well as actual time travel and Waru. Sadly both of these actually exist in this universe via The Crystal Star and Crosscurrent (no I’m not saying either of them are actually bad books (though Crystal Star is), just that they don’t really fit within the established mythos of Star Wars. While it was interesting to finally get some information on the mysterious Celestials in Apocalypse, going and looking at the Ones was just underwhelming and confusing. If the Force has a will, was it theirs? Where did they come from? Were they the original Force users? And that’s just the tip of the questionberg that we’re left with relative to them.

What I’ve personally been able to glean from them was that they influenced the will of the Force, otherwise how could it have a light and dark will if it is just an energy field? I could never really figure that one out, and in a way it is a relief to know that there is something outside of the Force that is influencing it. But since they’re kind of dead, it would suggest that they’ve merged with the force and legitimately become its will after Anakin was there and all of the Ones died. Or merged with the Force, or whatever it is that Force Entities actually do. Basically what I’m thinking is that the Jedi were guided by the Daughter, for a time, and to a degree turned their back on her to do whatever the republic wanted them to do, which is why their ability to use the Force started diminishing. As a result of that the influence of the Lightside was grossly weakened (which might have been why the Father got sick, now that I think about it. This entire thing is almost stupidly convoluted at this point :-P). Darth Plagueis even commented on this in the book of the same name by James Luceno. This was what started me thinking about this, along with my colleague’s post Blinded, Are the Knights. Plagueis was talking about that time, and what had happened the entire thousand plus years running up to that, and how they had lost their opposite to deal with. Essentially the war between the Son and Daughter was taken away from them as the Son started a different kind of war, and the Jedi stagnated and ended up pulling away from the Daughter. Given that this is what the entirety of the balance of the Force is about, their fight and how it evens out under the Father’s watchful eye, it does make sense that the Jedi became lost and in essence had a perverted lightside imbalance as it wasn’t lining up with the Daughter’s will. Now, whether this is actually a GOOD thing or not I can’t really say, but it does seem like that’s what happened. In a way, by the Daughter winning the war between the Jedi and Sith she ultimately lost, because the Jedi didn’t have as much need of listening to the will of the Force, or the will of the Daughter if you will.

Another thing I’m thinking is that the Son might have noticed how much Exar Kun was capable of doing on his own, and might have realized that there doesn’t have to be a lot of people following what he wants so long as they are powerful. In essence he focused almost all of the darkside of the Force in the Baneite Sith to bring about the downfall of the Jedi and the Daughter. And as I said, I think this might be why the Father grew ill, because things were so far out of balance due to the Son’s actions that he essentially caused the fall of the Ones at the hands of Anakin Skywalker. I do find it very interesting WHEN precisely Anakin Skywalker happened, and that it was right after Plagueis and Sidious had raised someone from the dead for the first time, and done it over and over. Even more interesting that Plagueis had been playing with that very idea, a being created by the Force. To me, this is something that has the Father’s fingerprints all over it, especially since he wanted Anakin to be his replacement. So in a way, the prophecy about Anakin was completely correct, he WAS meant to bring balance to the Force in a far more penultimate role than even Lucas could have imagined. What makes this even more interesting is when you look back at the Dawn of the Jedi series of comics, and what the Jedi originally were as the Jed’aii. But that’s for another post (my next one in fact :-P).

As this is starting to get rather on the longside, I’ll leave you all with this: The Force is something that will continue to evolve, and likely change completely with the new trilogy of movies coming out as well as all of the tie-ins that are planned. Not to mention that the current EU will also probably end up dumped by the wayside (this saddens me greatly, but what can you do?). But we can be sure that with the evolution of the Force, and by extension the very foundation of Star Wars itself, that we’ll have new theories and ideas to keep interest in the philosophical and metaphysical side of that galaxy far, far away.

Join me later this week as we look at the origins of the Jedi, and I’m sure I’ll be returning to this topic sometime in the future (hopefully in the comments on this post, but if not at a later date). Thanks for reading, any thoughts and comments in general are appreciated.

Trimaj out.