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License to Kill: How Does Del Rey Fit Into The Disney Era?

anewdawnNow that we’ve all had well over a month to digest the Force Friday releases, some big-picture reactions are taking shape. Recently Jay elaborated on how the Servants of the Empire series tells us a great deal about the canon Empire and why it falls; maybe even more than it set out to. Before that, Sarah discussed how my early fears may have been unfounded, and that the earliest rounds of The Force Awakens merchandise appear to be far more progressive and gender-inclusive than similar items from that other Disney wunderkind, Marvel.

Another thing that’s been bouncing around my head has proven to be a little harder to talk about; but the truth of it remains: it seems to me that Disney-Lucasfilm Press—the in-house publishing division that has released numerous middle-grade books like the Servants series and the “young adult” Lost Stars—is officially running circles around Del Rey. Some might say that producing books for younger readers (even dozens of them) is an easier job than producing “adult” novels Del Rey-style. I don’t particularly think that’s true, but even setting aside all the short stuff, Lost Stars is the equal of any adult novel in both length and maturity, and for many is simply the best novel—no qualifiers needed–of the new canon. Lost Stars is proof that Disney and Lucasfilm are capable of producing a full-length novel that deserves to stand alongside anything ever published by Del Rey, or Bantam before them; and they’re capable of doing it in-house.

Compared to a lot of other fans I know (including some who write for me), I’m a relative pushover when it comes to Star Wars books. It’s very rare that I emphatically dislike anything; when I was reviewing for TheForce.Net I almost never rated a book less than 3 / 4, because the GFFA is such a fun setting that I can usually enjoy even a disappointing book on some level. So none of this is to say that I think Del Rey’s output has sucked over the last year; not everything has been my cup of tea but I’d only describe Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi as remotely disappointing; Aftermath, and Chuck Wendig himself, was a rollicking breath of fresh air for Star Wars publishing, and John Jackson Miller is quite simply one of my favorite Star Wars writers ever and can do no wrong in my eyes. Read More

The Theatrical Trailer – The First 24 Hours

Almost exactly eighteen months ago, Lucasfilm announced the reboot of the Star Wars Expanded Universe—or Legendsification, if you will. It happened on a Friday, and it was such a seismic moment for your humble nerds at Eleven-ThirtyEight that I wanted to document the days that followed as accurately as possible. The next Monday, we published Das Reboot – The First 48 Hours, a group piece that, unlike our average Not a Committee, I presented entirely in chronological order, timestamps and all—so readers could feel the sequence of emotions unfold in “real time”.

With Tuesdays being an off day, I thought it’d be fun to cover the first 24 hours after the new trailer the same way—but while the trailer technically went public at about 10pm Monday night, interest was so high that the Jedi Council Forums were down on and off for a couple hours (and then again Tuesday afternoon)! I eventually got a DM off to the gang, though, and below is what followed.

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12:14 AM – Mike: So, JFC, LOL, and TBH, that was a trailer. I’m not even going to try to be especially coherent right now, but there’s just so much to freak out about here: new character voices! A mountain range with a familiar-looking trench in it! Finn’s “oh shit” face when he sees Kylo’s lightsaber! Han and Leia being all tender and stuff! How are you guys feeling? Read More

Force Friday Flashback: A New Kind of Marketing

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It’s been a little over a month since Force Friday and the explosion of merchandise for The Force Awakens. The midnight release event was eagerly awaited by both kids and collectors alike. It was the first merchandise push for the upcoming movie and many fans wondered what, exactly, to expect.

Earlier this year we speculated on what the merchandise marketing for TFA would look like. At the time the only thing we had to compare it to was Disney’s treatment of Marvel merchandise and, well, the outlook was not favorable. It’s well known that Disney views Marvel as their “boy” property and, as a result, Marvel items marketed towards women (or even items featuring women) are nearly nonexistent. Outside of geek-specific retailers such as ThinkGeek, WeLoveFine, and Her Universe, finding merchandise that featured any of the prominent women in the Marvel cinematic universe was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We feared the same thing would happen to Rey and Captain Phasma.

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Starkiller: Superweapons and the Sequel Trilogy

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Buried in the Force Friday blitz at the beginning of this month was the first The Force Awakens-related update to StarWars.com’s Databank section. Naturally, very little new information actually came out of the new entries; many didn’t include pictures, and some of the character entries were nothing but the same one-sentence bios from the back of their action figure cards.

One big new piece of info did show up, though—or rather, if you follow the spoiler reporting, a confirmation of one of the oldest rumors: there’s a superweapon on the table.

I actually stopped reading spoilers a long time ago, but even I had heard bits and pieces to this effect; and sure enough, the exceedingly minimal entry for the First Order’s Starkiller Base nevertheless deigns to include the apparent in-universe reasoning for its name:

“An ice planet converted into a stronghold of the First Order and armed with a fiercely destructive new weapon capable of destroying entire star systems.”

While certain reporting (and certain memes) has tended to paint the First Order as an upstart group of ne’er-do-wells rather than a serious galactic power, the ability to destroy an entire star system? Well, that changes the equation. Superweapons have a mixed reputation among Star Wars fans, though; the Expanded Universe is known for adding a whole bunch of ’em to the lineup (including the Sun Crusher, which did exactly what the Starkiller is alleged to do and was totally invulnerable besides), and even many movie purists will tell you that concluding the original trilogy with a second Death Star wasn’t exactly George’s Lucas’s most creative idea. So I put the question to the staff: is this a mistake? A ham-fisted attempt to replicate the feel of the OT? Or are superweapons a crucial part of Star Wars’s magic formula? Read More

In which we chat about the post-Endor war situation but really TFA

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If you’re new to Eleven-ThirtyEight this may be the first real Aggressive Negotiations piece you’ve seen here—unlike most of our content, Aggressive Negotiations are raw, largely unproofed live chats among our staff and occasionally others. Being so very off the cuff and unscripted, they can sometimes get a little out of control (this one in particular tops out at over seven thousand words, which just might make it the longest piece on the site), but the goal is to present fandom in its most pure form—and this is absolutely that.

Today’s topic: the post-Endor political status quo, prompted by the latest round of The Force Awakens bits and pieces from Entertainment Weekly and elsewhere. I couldn’t make it to this one myself, and in fact as of this writing I haven’t even read the damned thing yet, so this ought to be fun for all of us. Force Friday ahoy! – Mike, EIC Read More