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To Novelize or Not to Novelize—Is There Any Question?

anh-novelMike: Sometimes you can know something without really being conscious of it—and often you can be very much aware of something without fully grasping its implications. One such fact occurred to me recently: getting a new Star Wars film every year means that there is every reason to believe that we will also be getting one film novelization every year. In perpetuity.

Going off of Del Rey’s recent publishing schedule (though Disney-Lucasfilm Press adds an interesting new dimension to this), that amounts to roughly one in five “adult novels” from now on. When the prequels were coming out, there were around seven adult novels per year instead of five, and of course only one movie every three years—meaning roughly five percent of Del Rey’s output at the time was novelizations, versus twenty percent now. That’s a huge shift.

Now, I’m not here to say I want to return to seven original Star Wars novels every year. Even with the excitement of the new canon, what we’ve gotten over the last couple years has been more than enough new material to sustain my interest as a reader, while leaving enough energy for me to check off an old Legends book once in a while. My interest is strong, but my time and energy have waned as I’ve gotten older—so while I’m actually grateful that the publishing has slowed down a bit, I’m also more choosy about what I really do want to read.

And I don’t know that I want to read a new novelization every year. While most people will agree that at least one, Revenge of the Sith, was able to break out of the box of, let’s say unremarkableness, that firmly contains most novelizations, that’s only one out of seven—and The Force Awakens seemed to confirm that RotS was the exception to the rule rather than a new priority. I don’t think it was bad, it was just…unremarkable. The fact is, the basic mission statement of a novelization doesn’t demand a whole lot of an author, and plenty of good ones have failed to break out of that box, or even, seemingly, to try. I get why they exist, I don’t really expect Del Rey to stop doing them anytime soon, but—I’m seriously wondering if they’ll soon stop being worth my time. Read More

The Pitch – New Ongoing Comics

vader25A few months ago, we ran a group piece on something I had been thinking about since Marvel started publishing Star Wars comics again—had the medium actually gotten stronger since the original Star Wars series, or would we look back on this era as being just as silly and dated as those early days of Jaxxon and Cody Sunn-Childe? What I noticed then that I hadn’t really considered before was that a good chunk of the regular staff here actually doesn’t read the comics and has little in the way of opinions on them.

Then last week, when I started thinking about what Marvel might come up with to replace the soon-to-conclude Darth Vader series, I decided to bring the question to the staff, and this time I wouldn’t accept “I don’t read comics” as an answer. It’s hard to argue that Marvel haven’t done a great job maximizing Star Wars sales among the existing comics audience, but I was especially curious what they might do to bring in all these superfans I knew who nevertheless barely touched the things. I got some interesting ideas back, to say the least—here they are.

Ben C: As Marvel takes the bold move of ending Gillen’s Darth Vader title, what’s next is a logical question, as is what they should do. The cynical response is to say Marvel will simply re-launch the book with a new creative team in a few months, pocketing the ker-ching generated by it. Here’s the non-cynical response: What if they don’t? What then? Well, over the last two years, Marvel have proved to be competent custodians of the Star Wars license. Due to some very smart creative combinations of writer and artist, with a mix of ongoing and limited series and a restrained use of events, the only question left to ask is what does Marvel have left to prove? Read More

Fatal Faves: The Jedi Academy Trilogy–Fond (?) Memories

jatcoverFor the latest piece in our Fatal Faves series, Megan Crouse of This Blog is Full of Words/HoloNet Digest and I got together to talk about the Jedi Academy trilogy! We both have fond memories of this much-maligned trilogy from our younger days, and we revisited them together. With much laughter, mocking, and nostalgia, here’s our conversation!

Megan: So I think maybe the first thing to discuss is whether the series even holds up – obviously we’re doing this because we’ll defend it, but would you recommend it to a fan who has maybe never read Expanded Universe material before?

Rocky: Hmm. I’d say probably not. I got into the EU due to JAT, but I also wasn’t super familiar with Star Wars before then, and didn’t know what other Star Wars books were out there. I think one of the reasons this series holds up for me is because when I first read it, I didn’t have a point of reference. But for most people, who have had at least some exposure to Star Wars? Probably not.

Megan: That’s funny that you say that, since it was one of my first exposures to the EU too. Reading it after seeing the sequel trilogy makes me realize how many parallels there are – Luke’s fears about his own power (which isn’t directly confirmed in the ST but could be a factor in his exile), Mon Mothma’s illness, Han being a father figure to a dark-haired ball of rage. That said, the corny moments are very corny and the awkward moments are very awkward (…everything, everything about Moruth Doole) so it might be a better introduction thematically than tonally?

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Bloodline: Just the Story I Needed

star-wars-bloodline-posters_crkkBloodline was just the Star Wars tale I’d been waiting for. I love politics, and I have been wanting a good Leia-centric book in which she’s really in her element as a politician. In that, Bloodline was outstanding- and it did indeed answer a good deal of my questions about The Force Awakens‘ political situation and just what had happened to the galaxy. I’m glad that not all of the questions were answered, and that there is still so much room to tell stories in the galaxy, but this was just what I needed to read.

Confession: I actually enjoyed The New Rebellion. A sudden crisis, bringing out internal conflict within the New Republic. Leia having her political competence questioned. Endless intrigue. This felt like a new reimagining of some of those themes, though with substantially better storytelling. Today on Twitter (yes, I write a lot of my articles the night before), there were many lists of favorite Star Wars books, mixing both new and Legends. Consistently, I saw Bloodline and Heir to the Empire, two books from dramatically different eras. Books that honestly don’t feel that different; twenty-five years and two GFFA’s apart, they feel so complementary. This is something that I, and many other old Legends fans, often need to keep us happy in Star Wars. I miss the feel of the Star Wars I grew up on, and reading a re-imagining of it brings me right back to this fandom.

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A civil chat about the uncivil politics of Bloodline

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Here at ETE, we’ve been waiting for Bloodline with scarcely contained anticipation. Politics is a favorite subject matter of ours, and you can bet that a pre-The Force Awakens politics book with Leia as its main character basically checks off all of our boxes. So as the second of what’s looking to be five pieces on Claudia Gray’s latest contribution to the Star Wars universe, we have a little chat about different aspects and observations we’ve made about the book.

Sarah, Rocky, and I each couldn’t wait to start talking about the book. We’ve already heard some of Sarah’s thoughts on disparate points of view and how that affects the political dialogue in the New Republic. We’ll definitely have to chat some more about that. But first let’s start with some general observations on Bloodline.

Jay: It’s a book we’ve waited so long for (excitement built for it even before TFA, before any of us had any idea what the book would be about, simply because of the “New Republic” tag it originally had). Being on the other side of that is still odd to me, but it’s a good feeling because we got the novel we wanted. We got the Leia political novel that not only teased the developing politics of TFA, that not only featured an excellent portrayal of Leia, but surprised a lot of us with the nuanced characterization of Ransolm Casterfo. We expected the intrigue and the politics, but I don’t know that we expected so many feelings from this book. I’m glad to get to know what Hosnian was like before it got blown up, glad to meet my apparent doppelgänger Casterfo, and will be on the #VoteLeia train for all eternity.

Rocky, what are your opening thoughts about the book?

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