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Lords of the Sith: False Advertising at its Best

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—–WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD–—

Of all the novels that have been announced since the rebooting of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Lords of the Sith seemed to me to be the most interesting. True, there was Tarkin, but this was ostensibly a Darth Vader/Emperor Palpatine buddy cop novel: what more could any loyal Imperial ask for? Furthermore, it was set to blaze several notable new trails. It was Paul S. Kemp’s first foray into the Galactic Civil War (he was previously best known for The Old Republic tie-in Deceived and the Jaden Korr Crosscurrent/Riptide duology), and his first time handling any of the major characters from the saga. New blood is always a welcome sight.

Chronologically, it was also one of the earliest entries in the new timeline thus far, being set a few years after James Luceno’s biography of the titular Grand Moff, Tarkin. While it wasn’t the first villain-centric novel to be announced, it was to be the first featuring Darth Vader as a primary character. More significantly than any of these other things, however, it was announced that it would introduce readers to the Star Wars universe’s first LGBTQ character in the form of Moff Mors, advertised as “an incredibly capable leader” who “also happens to be a lesbian.” All things considered, Lords of the Sith was, at the very least, set to be an interesting read.

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Yankee Canon Swap: Reboot, Year One

sw2chaykinWe knew early on that a group piece would be in the cards to celebrate this, the one-year anniversary of the Legends announcement. But without really planning it, it just sort of worked out that several of us had their own larger commentaries to offer on the reboot, modern fandom, and the current state of continuity—such that by the time we got around to today’s piece, I thought something more distinct was warranted.

With that, allow me to present Yankee Canon Swap! Which is an odd title that basically means I told the gang to pick a canon story to replace with a Legends one they preferred. But! That would be too easy, and really, borderline whiny. The thing is, there are very few canon stories to choose from at this point, and (though opinions vary) there isn’t really one universally agreed-upon stinker in the bunch that would make for an easy answer—so what I wanted was to get us thinking about Bigger Things than just which stories we liked and which we didn’t; I wanted to talk about priorities, by potentially forcing ourselves to reject a good canon story because what it represented wasn’t important enough to us as what some other story represented. Read More

Hyperlane to the Danger Zone: Essential Elements for a Rogue Squadron Movie

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We don’t really know very much about Rogue One right now. We have a title that may or may not mean something to us, the release date, and the names of one member of the cast (in an unspecified role), the director, the producers, the score composer, the source of the core concept, the person who named it, and the writer. Unless more should be revealed in the time between when I write this article and when it’s published, that’s just about it.

Anything apart from that is nothing more than pure speculation. So, in order for this article to actually contain meaningful content, we’re going to have to treat a certain assumptions as if they were fact: specifically, that the name Rogue One does refer in some way to Rogue Squadron, and that it is a movie focused on the exploits of that particular unit of starfighter pilots.

Now, it’s entirely possible that these assumptions will be proven false in the coming months, especially if one takes the initial report regarding the concept art for the film into account. It may turn out to be something more along the lines of Wraith Squadron, dealing with hybrid commando-pilots.

It may not be a movie about starfighter pilots at all. Even if that ends up being the case, I will have no cause to complain, but I will continue to maintain the viability of a feature film centered around starfighter pilots and their spacecraft. Today, we’re going to talk about what steps might be taken to ensure that Rogue One is the best space ace movie it can possibly be.

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Pen & Paper: The Role of Role-playing Games in Star Wars

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Tabletop role-playing games have something of a reputation among those who do not play them. The concept of a group of people sitting around a table and rolling dice together while pretending to be bizarrely named (sometimes not even human) fictional characters is intolerably alien to many: since the release of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s original Dungeons & Dragons in 1974, role-playing games and their creators been accused of everything from promoting satanism to inciting their players to commit murder, and at one point had a sourcebook infamously seized by the United States Secret Service.

Even as recently as 2005, the Israeli Defense Forces maintained a policy of restricting soldiers who played Dungeons & Dragons to low security clearances. Yet despite their many controversies, role-playing games have successfully managed to carve out a niche for themselves in the broader gaming market, and remain a popular form of tie-in product for many major franchises, Star Wars included.

But given Star Wars’ longstanding “everything is canon” approach to its spawn, we can’t simply look at our role-playing games as mere offshoots of a prosperous fictional saga. Unlike many of its contemporaries, Star Wars’ sourcebooks can and do directly influence the content of its books, video games, and comics: the information they contain being equal in weight and value to any mainstream work short of the films themselves.

Perhaps this should not come as a surprise, given that a number of the franchise’s most prominent authors (Aaron Allston, Michael A. Stackpole, and Troy Denning, among others) had backgrounds in writing and developing role-playing games before they came to write novels for Star Wars. But despite this unprecedented level of acknowledgement for what would normally be considered purely supplementary material, it is their past that is of far greater interest to us than their present.

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Who Should Own Star Wars?

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The best part about choosing topics for Not A Committee, Eleven-ThirtyEight’s group format, is that sometimes I’m not sure how I feel about an issue myself. When I read this article on Vox a few weeks back, highlighting what’s known as the “Despecialized Edition” of A New Ho—ah, I’m sorry, Star Wars—and lamenting the fact that such exhaustive fan work can only be distributed in defiance of the law, I could see both sides of the issue. Not that I was clamoring for Star Wars to become public domain necessarily, but us dedicated fans are so used to talking about the franchise as modern mythology, the contemporary equivalent of Beowulf or The Odyssey, that we can kind of take for granted the fact that nobody owns Grendel and Odysseus, while Luke Skywalker is someone’s property—for a long time one specific person’s property, and now the property of one monstrously huge and mercilessly ligitious corporation.

So as I am empowered to do in these situations, I farmed it out. I put the question to the staff, in these exact words: “is there an argument to be made for ANH (at least) to be in the public domain, either by now or at some definite point in the future? Should Lucasfilm be able to own it for eternity, or does its cultural importance mean it should belong to everybody?”

While the complexity of this issue was one easy consensus to reach, the breadth, and content, of their answers were certainly an education. Read More