Skip to main content

Queen’s Peril – An Interview with E. K. Johnston

How does a fourteen-year-old girl become queen of an entire planet?

This is a question many of us have had since being introduced to Queen Padmé Amidala in The Phantom Menace. For years, Padmé has enjoyed a celebrated position among fans, especially women who grew up with the prequel trilogy. She was a fiery character, equally at home making passionate arguments in the Senate as she was shooting a blaster at bad guys, she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what was right, and she had an absolutely killer wardrobe. But despite her dedicated fanbase, it took twenty years for Padmé to star in her own novel.

Last year, I talked about how much of a revelation Queen’s Shadow was, and how incredible it was to finally get to read a story that not only gives one of my favorite characters her long-overdue chance in the spotlight, but was the rare story that focused entirely on women and their relationships with one another. It’s not a surprise to learn that author E.K. Johnston has been a fan of Padmé since the character’s debut, because her love for Padmé and the handmaidens came through in every word and detail.

While Queen’s Shadow focused on Padmé transitioning from Queen of Naboo to galactic senator and dealing with the fallout of her actions in TPM, Queen’s Peril goes back farther to focus on her coming of age on the political stage as she becomes queen, builds her inner circle of handmaidens and learns to navigate her personal life amidst the major galactic events beginning to take shape around her. E.K. Johnston was kind enough to sit down with us via email to discuss Queen’s Peril, writing prequels, how her fanfiction background aids her as a writer, and the importance of the teenage-girl experience.

Read More

Ended, The Clone Wars Have

What a journey we’ve had from 2008 to now! Through a cancellation, a surprise release of a sixth season and story reels, and a few arc adaptations to comics and books, The Clone Wars has at last reached the finale that we’d been teased about for years. Staff writers Ben Wahrman, Sarah Dempster, and myself (Abigail Dillon) got together to talk about following the show over the years and how we felt it ended.

Sarah: Hilariously, what got me to actually watch TCW was learning that Maul was coming back. I loved the character but didn’t want to jump in in the middle of Season Three so I figured I should start from the beginning. I was in high school when the movie came out and I mostly ignored it; I was in a lull in my Star Wars fandom and some random cartoon movie didn’t interest me. And I regret to say that I was definitely one of those “too cool for school” fans who thought Ahsoka was annoying, the show was dumb because Anakin had a Padawan, etc. etc. It wasn’t until the whole show was on Netflix (and had been canceled in the wake of the Disney acquisition) that I really started watching it while I worked on costumes in the lead-up to Celebration Anaheim in 2015. But I still think it’s funny that my interest in it started out purely because of Maul; my brand is strong!

Abigail: Look, if fandom isn’t about being On Brand, then what actually is its purpose? For me, getting into TCW was a way for my brothers and I to reconnect when they came back from college over Christmas. We set up a laptop to watch the show on StarWars.com as we built a blanket fort and played with LEGOs. That’s really my earliest memory of watching it, and while I liked it, liked Ahsoka and Rex, and caught up with it all when it was on Netflix, I didn’t become a massive fan until “Twin Suns”. That got me back into Star Wars as a whole in a big way and turned me into a Maul fan so…I guess Maul’s to blame for two of us being here.

Read More

The Rise of Skywalker: It’s Kind Of A Lot

This piece contains major spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker. Like, all of them, probably several times over. Proceed accordingly.

Mike: Well, that happened.

I anticipated that my piece on The Rise of Skywalker two days ago would likely serve better as a semi-conclusive statement on the sequel era than something I forced myself to stay awake for in the aftermath of the movie, so instead of tackling this reaction piece single-handedly I invited the whole staff to weigh in with their first thoughts—but some quick ones from me first, because I’m in charge.

My friend Pearl and I both loved The Force Awakens, but we had absolutely polar reactions to The Last Jedi, and we’ve been arguing about it for two years, and will probably keep arguing about it forever because we’re like that. What I kept thinking during my first viewing of Rise tonight was that the movie felt precision-calibrated to make both of us, despite the separate universes we’ve been living in, equally happy—or at the very least, minimize our unhappiness at all costs.

Palpatine’s alive, but kind of not. Rey’s parents were nobody, from a certain point of view. Rose is there, but she doesn’t do much. There’s a gay kiss, but not the one people wanted. There’s a Reylo kiss, but it’s quick and vague and then he drops dead. Chewie dies and comes back. Threepio “dies” and comes back. There are porgs, but just barely. Hux goes rogue, but just barely. And on, and on—J.J. Abrams seems to screamingly, desperately want to make as many of us as happy as he possibly can, and if it required smothering logical and thematic coherence with a pillow, he was just the guy to do it.

But the thing is, superficial enjoyment is Abrams’s number one skill—and I’m honestly not saying that in a critical way, he’s really good at it. TFA definitely has a much, much easier lift than this thing does, but it’s got superficial enjoyability leaking out of every frame—and when it’s dumb, it’s just as dumb as Rise is. So I find myself in a weird position where I’m intellectually cynical but emotionally content, because a surprise acid trip that ruined your plans for the evening is still an acid trip, and chemically, it’s got you.

Read More

The 20 Most Memorable Moments of the New Star Wars Canon, Part III

Welcome to the final chapter in Eleven-ThirtyEight’s 20 Most Memorable Moments of the New Star Wars Canon, as voted on by our entire staff! If you’re just joining us, be sure to check out Part I and Part II as well. Before we get to the main event please enjoy the last of our Honorable Mentions—moments that came up in voting but didn’t make the cutoff.

rr-heracham

Honorable Mention: Hera’s Code Switch, Star Wars Rebels (Mike Cooper)

I remember very clearly how strange it was when Aayla Secura first appeared in The Clone Wars and for some reason known only to the Creator, she had a French accent. It wasn’t just her, though—it was all Twi’leks, at least all that we got to see. I don’t know if it was intended to give the Ryloth arc a Les Miserable vibe or just a random whim on Lucas’s part, but having a distinct cadence—even one transported whole cloth from Earth—quickly set the Twi’leks apart from most alien species in Star Wars, who typically sound totally normal, totally alien, or, um, uncomfortable.

But Star Wars accents, even at their best, are almost always just for flavor, and trying to make sense of them is a fool’s errand. So when we met Rebels’ Hera Syndulla and she spoke with a normal American accent I thought very little of it—even after she was confirmed to be the daughter of French-sounding Cham Syndulla—and certainly never expected it to be addressed in the story. But late in season two they did just that, and Rebels was richly rewarded for it.

Cham finally made his way onto the show for a two-part arc in which our heroes attempt to forge a relationship between their own Phoenix cell and his Ryloth-based rebels. The arc was a great window into the growing pains of the eventual Rebel Alliance—do we fight the bigger fight or concentrate on our own backyards?—and Hera’s upbringing in particular. The well-worn nature of this debate becomes clear when, during a heated exchange with her father, Hera slips back into her native accent. Read More

The 20 Most Memorable Moments of the New Star Wars Canon, Part I

While Eleven-ThirtyEight was founded in 2013, the earliest piece of writing hosted here is much, much older. In the summer of 2005, soon after Revenge of the Sith “completed” the saga, Star Wars Insider magazine published a feature by Abel G. Peña and Enrique Guerrero entitled “The 20 Most Memorable Moments of the Expanded Universe”. The piece concluded with a prompt for readers to share their own lists, and that was just the excuse I needed to begin a new blog at StarWars.com, which was a thing they let people do in those days.

The final product was my first major piece of Star Wars writing outside of TheForce.Net, and while I didn’t end up doing much else over there, I remained pretty fond of it, so with the official blogs long since defunct I took the opportunity of ETE’s birth to port the thing over here, where it has lived happily in seclusion ever since.

While I’m normally not a fan of “listicles” (gag) or retrospectives on content long past, that “memorable moments” concept has always stuck with me as one of the more acceptable ways of approaching both things—so with the five-year anniversary of the Star Wars continuity reboot last month I decided this would be a good opportunity for us to stop and look around a bit.

While the ranking that follows is of course despicably subjective, it is the result of an obnoxiously elaborate ranked-choice voting system: each of our nine regular contributors offered their own list of ten moments, with everyone’s top choice counting for ten points, their second choice counting for nine points, and so on. That left us with sixty-two distinct “moments” and several ties, which we then voted on until arriving at a conclusive top twenty.

With no further ado, enjoy, and be sure to check back on Wednesday for Part II! – Mike Read More