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..
Being one of those eternal constants of life alongside death and taxes, disappointment has been an inseparable part of Star Wars (like countless other franchises) since the very beginning: many of those who enjoyed A New Hope were turned off by the darker turn taken by The Empire Strikes Back and welcomed the comparatively joyful Return of the Jedi, while more modern critics and audiences are often inclined to have quite the opposite reaction. The prequels are even more divisive, ranging from those who wish they’d never even been made to those who consider them vastly superior to the Original Trilogy. Reception for entries in the Expanded Universe span a veritable roller coaster of reactions.
Significant events, whether they be on screen or transmitted through the written word, are even more likely to arouse controversy and outrage, especially when the matter of major character death arises. Chewbacca and Mara Jade Skywalker come to mind, to say nothing of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that will undoubtedly happen when the Big Three finally bite the proverbial dust. But, of course, a universe in which nothing ever changes and nobody of importance ever dies is hardly reasonable or suspenseful, either. So why is it that we’re so frequently disappointed by the products we buy, and what can be done about it?
Alongside the now-confirmed Han Solo movie and the still-theoretical Boba Fett movie, one of the most perennially-rumored spinoff films is one (or three!) centering on Obi-Wan Kenobi. While such a movie could conceivably be set during the Clone Wars thanks to Ewan McGregor’s annoying eternal youthfulness, speculation generally assumes the movie would be set during his exile on Tatooine (for the record, Ewan is currently 44, which in Obi years puts him at about six years after Revenge of the Sith). Speculation also tends to assume, at least when I’ve seen it, that the story would involve some sort of dire mission pulling him away from Tatooine for a brief time.
Leaving aside the conceit that anything could be important enough to pull him away from Luke, and leaving aside the fact that rather than twiddling his thumbs, the one thing we know for sure is that Obi-Wan spent that time communing with Qui-Gon and Yoda and learning how to transcend death (which was still a distant second on his list of priorities after safeguarding Luke), it bugs me when people take for granted the idea that an Obi-Wan movie would automatically require him to leave Tatooine, because for all its ostensible overuse in the film saga, Tatooine is really interesting.
Look no further than John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, a book dealing with that selfsame period that manages to restrict its action not just to the one planet, but to an area small enough to fit on a handy-dandy map. Kenobi, the first novel whose release Eleven-ThirtyEight had the privilege of covering, was a rousing and heartrending adventure story with more shades of the traditional western than A New Hope could’ve, ah, hoped to squeeze into its running time—and not for one second does the reader find themselves wondering “yeah, but what’s going on on Coruscant right now?” » Read more..
Aliens. Xenos. Extraterrestrials. UFOs. Little green men from Mars. Things not of this Earth have long fascinated the human race, whether it be debating if they exist in reality (and searching for evidence that they do) and what they might look like, or simply enjoying having them in our fiction in all their manifold forms. When it comes to the latter, there has been much discussion of their portrayal and characterization over the years, and not just in this franchise, with many prominent alien characters having gone on to become classic fictional icons: just look at Chewbacca, or Spock, or E.T.
And while the likes of Wicket and Jar Jar Binks may not necessarily be the most popular characters in the saga, they’re still guaranteed to be instantly recognizable by millions. But we’re not here today just to talk about specific alien individuals, that subject having been flogged to death and beyond already. What we’re going to discuss is the more general matter of aliens as species: their conception, design, and implementation.
Mike: While familiarity with the Expanded Universe is one strong connecting thread, I try to bring people on board at this site who represent a wide spectrum of perspectives on Star Wars so that each person’s writing feels distinct. That being said, reactions to the last couple years’ worth of novels have been universal enough (Kenobi yay, Heir to the Jedi meh, etc) that only now has one of our “primary” review pieces finally managed to differ almost entirely from my own feelings. Suffice it to say that while Alexander Gaultier very much did not care forLords of the Sith, I found it to be, at the very least, the most gripping Star Wars novel in years not written by John Jackson Miller. I thought it would be interesting to hash out our differences of opinion in a sort of friendly debate, and Alexander was happy to oblige me.
What little I’ve seen of Paul Kemp as an internet personality suggests a man with a distinct worldview, and very little interest in softening that worldview in an effort to be better-liked by Star Wars fandom—or anyone else. While I can appreciate that to a point (as I did with Karen Traviss), I can also see why it would rub some people the wrong way, and that that can color one’s experience with an author’s work. Personally, nothing I’ve seen of the man has been so offensive as to override my default setting, that being to take the work as it is and not factor the author’s personality into my experience.
All this is my way of saying that while there were moments while reading LotS when I stopped and thought “okay, that’s going to annoy people”, and that after reading your review, Alexander, I was able to revisit my experience and further recognize troublesome details, none of that comes close to outweighing the fact that I could barely put the book down. Before now, the harshest thing I might have said about Kemp’s SW books was that they were plodding and self-serious, and while the latter is still fair to say, the pacing of this book—in particular the assault on the Perilous, which takes up roughly half of the book despite only covering maybe a few hours—made it an absolute breeze to get through. » Read more..