Review: Heir to the Jedi

Heir_to_the_JediOf the new books, I was most excited about Heir to the Jedi. This time frame is my favorite part of the EU. Star Wars, to me, has always revolved around Luke’s story and Heir to the Jedi is the new beginning of Luke’s Expanded Universe journey. I was also apprehensive about this book because I, Jedi is one of my favorite books and it is the only other Star Wars first person POV book. My standards for this book were probably impossibly high but despite those high expectations the book was a pleasant surprise. Heir to the Jedi continues the trend of the new EU having a higher quality.

The first person POV from Luke was fascinating during this time frame. Kevin Hearne did a great job of getting into a young Luke’s mind. I really enjoyed reading the insecurities and feel that Hearne brought a previously missing depth to Skywalker. Other authors have attempted to give us this, but without actually reading Luke’s thoughts it was difficult to really capture how Luke felt after Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death and discovering the ways of the Force. So much of this part is seen in Empire and Jedi but the movies can only do so much without random narratives that wouldn’t have worked in with the rest of the films. It was fun to read Luke’s thoughts concerning his inadequacy with women and other things alongside his thoughts on the Force. Sometimes I think that Luke had to grow up too fast and this book served as a great reminder on how naive he really was when he blew up the first Death Star. » Read more..

Happy Anniversary, Wookieepedia—Time to Start Over

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For those of us old and crotchety enough to remember the dawn of Wikipedia, certain guiding principles remain hardwired to the concept, no matter how much the world of open-source encyclopedias has evolved in the intervening years. “Be Bold“, for one—in other words, when in doubt, go ahead and make the edit. A flawed addition is better than no addition. Another is Disambiguation, which is probably less well-known as a principle than it is in practice, in the form of articles like Mercury (element) or Razor (clone trooper). Another concept that brings me back to those early days is Instruction Creep: the bureaucratic process by which rules, procedures, best practices, and so on are slowly codified in response to new circumstances and specific incidents, eventually becoming overwhelming to new users and obscuring the true goals of the organization in question. Wikipedia’s page on Instruction Creep cleverly uses the picture of kudzu vines that begins this article as a metaphor for this process.

Over on Wookieepedia’s version is the following text: “Wookieepedia is not supposed to be bureaucratic. Procedures are popular to suggest but unpopular to follow, due to the effort required to locate, read, learn and abide by them.” Of course, the wook also takes great pains to clarify that it is not Wikipedia, and just because something is policy at one site doesn’t mean it should be taken for granted at the other; nevertheless, the “avoid instruction creep” page remains. It continues: “our contributors are volunteers, and will simply go away if the policies are too confusing or too difficult for them to follow.” » Read more..

Bringing it Back: The Parallel Plot

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The ideas of parallelism and the end of a story referring back to a way it began are, of course, hardly new or innovative concepts. Many great books, films and other forms of media close much the way they open, be it visually, thematically or even straight-up repeating themselves. A few weeks ago, I was make aware of a superb (and lengthy) article/essay that speculated on the circular storytelling model that united the Star Wars film saga into one united narrative. Whether you agree that such a pattern was George Lucas’s intention or not, the idea of parallelism is riddled through the Star Wars universe, a franchise where references to past material is expected far more than a wholly original concept.

When Kanan was captured, it meant that the Ghost crew had a decision to make: leave Kanan in the hands of the Empire, laying low somewhere until the pressure brought on by Grand Moff Tarkin blows over; or come up with some way to track him to where they are holding him and stage a daring Death Star-style rescue. It was a test of loyalty for the entire crew—loyalty to Kanan measured against loyalty to their mission; loyalty to their crew measured against loyalty to the greater good of Lothal, the sector, even the galaxy as a whole. » Read more..

Base Delta Fulcrum: The Lothal Conspiracy Theory

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It’s always fun to speculate about what our favorite TV shows have ready for us. Shows like Twin Peaks or Lost turned the art of teasing and fueling fan speculation into an art, and why wouldn’t Star Wars Rebels get a piece of that cake, as small as it might be? The serial nature of Rebels, unlike the anthology structure of The Clone Wars, lets Dave Filoni and company drop hints and seed future storylines in a very organic and natural way. The traitor Senator Trayvis appears twice in the background before the episode that features him, for example, and these appearances hint towards his eventually revealed Imperial allegiance. Most serious fan speculation so far has been directed towards the identity of the mysterious Fulcrum, the main intelligence source of the Ghost crew and apparently also the hand directing Hera Syndulla’s actions, probably the main mystery of this season. Although recent spoilers appear to be strongly pointing in one direction, we prefer to wait until we see it with our own eyes, so we are all here awaiting the official reveal of Fulcrum’s identity in the season finale. But there’s another really interesting theory that’s been gaining adepts among fans because of how intriguing and macabre it is. Let’s call it the Base Delta Zero theory.

Most of the audience probably missed the first mention of Base Delta Zero in Rebels, as it’s a pretty hard one to spot unless you already know what to be looking for. In episode 1×03, “Rise of the Old Masters”, our heroes are watching Holonet News when Senator Gall Trayvis interrupts the signal to broadcast the news that Master Luminara Unduli is alive and in the hands of the Empire, the main focus of the episode. When the pirated signal goes out and Holonet News returns, we can hear a brief fragment of a sentence before Sabine turns off the holoprojector: “–and another successful planetary liberation utilizing the Base Delta Zero initiative.” The regular fan probably didn’t think anything of it, considering the fragment just some random mumble jumble and promptly forgetting all about it. The old timer? Well, let’s say my wife had to elbow me a couple of times to get me to stop laughing. » Read more..

Insert Coin to Continue: The Future of Star Wars and Video Games

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It is an indisputable fact that Star Wars is, first and foremost, a film franchise. But while the movies will always be the most important part of the galaxy far, far away, it should not be forgotten that it also encompasses countless tie-in novels, comics, toys, and (the part relevant to this article) video games.

Beginning with a scrolling shooter based on The Empire Strikes Back released for the Atari 2600 in 1982, Star Wars games have been released in almost every genre you can imagine – from real-time strategy to first-person shooters to racing to ecosystem management (no, really). While the repercussions that the announcement of the sequel trilogy had for the Expanded Universe are by now well-known, we still have not yet seen the results of the video game license changing hands from LucasArts to Electronic Arts.

That there will be significant differences is inevitable: much time has passed since the golden age of Star Wars video games, with only a handful of notable titles released after (what we had assumed was) the saga’s completion in 2005. The era of the expansion pack is over, and downloadable content (DLC) is now the order of the day. Demos, too, have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Digital releases are the norm – and Steam the undisputed king among distributors. Popular new games have come, upended the status quo and redefined gamers’ expectations for entire genres, and gone. And so the question we now have to ask ourselves is this: what examples should Electronic Arts look to when developing new Star Wars games to ensure that they are as (and more) successful as their predecessors?

» Read more..

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