Hey Star Wars – Hire These Women

While I’ve long taken up the banner of diversity in Star Wars as one of my pet causes, I have to confess that while I’ve gone to great lengths to quantify its in-universe demographics, I’ve never really spoken up about perhaps an even more important aspect—the demographics of the people making Star Wars.

Part of it is that my sci-fi/fantasy interests have never extended much beyond SW and I’m just not familiar with a lot of female creators, and I think the other part is that—like with the lack of gay characters—the white guys have such an enormous lead that it’s hard to even know where to start.

Luckily, Star Wars’ real-world component has made some decent strides on its own in the last several years; the departures of Karen Traviss and Sue Rostoni from the publishing program were followed by the arrivals of Karen Miller and Christie Golden and Jennifer Heddle, Lucasfilm’s public face is increasingly that of women like Kiri Hart, Amy Beth Christenson, Andi Gutierrez, and Vanessa Marshall, and of course, the whole damned thing was bequeathed by George Lucas in 2012 to Lucasfilm veteran Kathleen Kennedy.

There’s still lots of room for improvement, however—notably, not a single female writer or director has yet been linked to any future SW film—and this awesome piece on women in comics over at that other “ThirtyEight” website inspired me to ask the gang for their recommendations on new female faces to join the Star Wars ranks. Here are their thoughts. » Read more..

Evidence of Absence: Jedi in the Dark Times

rr-training

“Maybe it’s a good thing the old religion died.”

Ben: What sort of galaxy would there be without the Jedi? Without its foremost peacekeepers, its moral compass? What if the guardians of justice for generations simply vanished overnight? What if the ones to replace them sought to sow fear where the Jedi had sown hope, to control and dictate where the Jedi had let the Force and life take its course?

When the Emperor ordered the Jedi exterminated, he instantly turned the galaxy-wide war against the Separatists into a sideshow and brought the entire Republic under his personal dominion, to be shaped as he saw fit. Everything changed. The galaxy became a darker, more materialistic place. The Force became a forgotten term for an outdated and mocked religion. The Jedi were whispered about in the dark for a time, then slowly forgotten. What few Jedi survived the purge live a lie, hiding in such deep, dark places from which they might never emerge. An entire generation of beings emerged who were raised in a galaxy without its brightest light. » Read more..

What Star Wars Can Learn From Marvel’s Secret Wars 2015

Announced at the recent New York Comic Con, Secret Wars will be Marvel’s big 2015-16 event. Marvel have followed that up in over the last fortnight with a barrage of teasers for even more events for summer 2015. What does it all mean? For right now, two things are obvious: If you are on the inside of Marvel’s continuity and have been following it for a while, this will look like the most ambitious undertaking ever. If you are on the outside, having kicked the habit and stayed off the books in the main, it will look entirely incomprehensible!

So, what’s the problem with it? The problem with Secret Wars 2015 is it will be a line-wide event, now with an array of satellites, which appear to be specific to each group of titles, but also eras too. The problem is nothing gets to avoid it! The Ultimate books? It is going to cover those too! If you buy into the idea for the event, it sounds great, it sounds like something you want to read. If you do not buy into it? Too bad, you’re going to have to if you keep reading the books up to a certain point in 2015. That’s the problem. This is practically polarizing consumer interest into two directions – towards or away from Marvel’s entire line for a year or longer. (Plus, once you are out of touch with Marvel superheroes for that kind of duration, you may not hop back on-board.) » Read more..

Skyhoppers, Hovertrains, and Landspeeders

Boonta_Eve_Podracers

In Star Wars, even something as mundane as simply getting around is a visibly futuristic process. Cars are replaced with landspeeders that glide smoothly over even the roughest terrain without needing a single wheel to touch the nonexistent roads. Their governments must save a fortune on infrastructure upkeep. Skyhoppers and airspeeders are more like flying cars (or what flying cars would be like, if we had them) than planes, complete with being totaled by thrill-seeking young drivers.

A speeder bike is something like a motorcycle, only about a dozen times faster, with no wheels, and an even worse safety record when it comes to crashing headlong into inconvenient obstacles like trees. Crossing the great void between the stars to new worlds is as simple as booking passage on a vessel headed in the right direction, the galaxy’s denizens having long ago circumvented that troublesome little matter of the light barrier that’s been keeping us from our round trip to Alpha Centauri all these years.

With casual interstellar travel being so accessible to the general public, one can safely assume that travel time between cities or continents on the same world would be all but nonexistent in the vast majority of cases. War machines are regularly produced in bipedal and quadrupedal configurations and deployed to great effectiveness, despite the obvious limitations and weaknesses of the design. Clearly, someone has an extreme aversion to wheels and tank treads (to the disappointment of car chase enthusiasts everywhere).

It’s easy to dismiss these things as being nothing more than irrelevant bits of background information and lore; the means by which our heroes hop, skip, and jump between their interstellar adventures. Flavor for something that would be otherwise stale, of interest only to the most overzealous of pedants. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

» Read more..

Character Building and the Art of Filler

rr-zebezra

“You did all this…for fruit?” “No! …okay, maybe a little!”

When a TV show is written, the staff has a choice to make: How will the show find its balance between character development and the plot? The Clone Wars was a show where the events of an episode held precedence over characters. Not that there were no character moments or any development, but the story came first, especially early on when summaries of episodes could be “Godzilla IN SPACE” or “the Seven Samurai WITH BOUNTY HUNTERS”. Whatever concept the TCW writers wanted to put on screen, they put there, regardless of whether it was a good fit for the characters drafted into various roles. While there were episodes that got away from this, it’s a tendency that colored the show’s entire run.

Another decision, one more specific to action-oriented media, is the stakes of a given story. From episode to episode, something or other may be at risk or hanging in the balance. Is it the fate of a world, or merely the well-being of a few people? TCW tended toward the dramatic side, where the stakes were high, be it to save hundreds of lives, catch a dangerous fugitive or stop a superweapon. While there were some low-stake episodes that focused less on the action and more on character interaction, they became fewer and fewer as the show moved into its later seasons and more driven, multi-part stories took over. » Read more..

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