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Middle-Chapter Romance – How The Last Jedi Holds The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones Accountable

As regular readers of the site may know, I do not interpret The Last Jedi as romantic. However, I understand many of the reasons why others do, even if I don’t agree. Romance has always been a part of Star Wars, and many relationships end up being mirrors of each other. For my part, I can read romance into The Last Jedi from that angle, though it’s not necessarily a positive spin. With parallels to the previous Star Wars romances visible, I can see this film as a commentary on The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones.

Movies are a type of communication. And like any type of communication, movies can communicate their ideas well, poorly, or anywhere in between. So when I speak about how the two previous “middle chapters” of Star Wars fail in their romances, I am not discussing the idea of Anakin or Han as romantic leads, nor am I critiquing fans who see either of them (or Kylo) as just that. I’m discussing how the film communicates those ideas of romance. This is a Doylist discussion.

The Last Jedi in general is a wonderful exercise in Watsonian and Doylist interpretations. “Watsonian” is from the universe: John Watson explaining the events of his adventures with Sherlock Holmes. “Doylist” is from the meta: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle explaining why he wrote those events.

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An Element of Redemption – What The Last Jedi Tells Us About Grace

There was a moment in my first viewing of The Last Jedi in which I went “Welp, there goes my credibility. The website is never gonna let me write for it ever again.” Understand, I’m not much of a theorist. I’m better at reflective analysis, and overall, I prefer it. It keeps me from being disappointed that my Snoke theory didn’t work out.

Nevertheless, I tried my hand at theory in my first guest piece here at Eleven-ThirtyEight, ending on a claim that Finn would become an iconic Star Wars archetype – the arbiter of compassion – and would become a mentor of sorts to Rose. I was certainly wrong about that.

Yet somehow here I happen to be, on staff at the very site of my blunder. It’s a small example of some evergreen Star Wars discourse. We discuss frequently the nature of redemption, especially with our most recent antagonist, but this is a broad topic. One person may use “redemption” to mean forgiveness, while another uses it to mean recompense, and a third will use it to mean repentance.

Repentance is not the same thing as recompense, and neither of them are remotely similar to forgiveness, and yet all are invoked to build this idea of redemption. In my understanding of it, redemption is not a concept that stands on its own, but rather is comprised of many elements that weave together. One of these elements is grace.

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What Star Wars Fandom Can Learn from Isaac Asimov’s Robot Canon

I am a woman conflicted.

I was relentlessly eager for Claudia Gray’s Master & Apprentice, but once it was released, my enjoyment of the work was overshadowed by my childhood love for Jude Watson’s Jedi Apprentice series.  

I feasted on the rumors and then the announcement of an Obi-Wan Kenobi series, but at the same time, I’m not ready to say goodbye to John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi.

I want to set Del Rey up on a blind date with author Ann Leckie to bring the Young Satine Kryze novel we deserve into being, but I dream of this while clutching the Schrödinger’s canon of A Star Wars Comic‘s Satine issue to my chest.

I am not unique in these anxieties. Even if it’s not these particular characters and these particular stories, everyone has pieces of Star Wars that they want to see the light of canon. Perhaps it’s something that people want to see make the jump from Legends or theories that they want confirmed. Engaging with stories is always personal, and while critiquing the work we consume is important, there’s also a space where we must be willing to let go and accept the contradictions between our expectations and the stories created by other, equally invested people.

A good practice ground for engaging in these contradictions is the robot stories of Isaac Asimov.

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Cover Art of Myths & Fables

Myths & Fables & Bedtime Stories: On Reading the Tie-In for Galaxy’s Edge

“George, you can type this s[tuff], but you sure can’t say it!”

Harrison Ford

First night at Celebration Chicago, my dad and I plopped on the floor of our hotel room, pizza in hand, and cracked open Master & Apprentice, freshly purchased from the Del Rey booth. Trading off eating and reading at each double-paragraph break, my dad somehow always ended up with the sections filled with Kitonaks, Shawda Ubbs playing Growdi harmoniques, and long strings of Huttese. We finished the first chapter that evening and did not continue this activity the following nights. Partly, we were simply too exhausted by the end of each day’s events, but also – as good a novel as it is – Master & Apprentice was simply not written to be read aloud.

In contrast, when I decided to try reading aloud a single story in George Mann’s Myths & Fables, by the second page, my tone had taken quite the dramatic turn. By page three I was up out of my chair, pacing the apartment. Page five had me gesticulating with my free hand like a bard with an audience gathered about a tavern’s hearth.

Now this is a book tailor-made to be read aloud, beside a fireplace or at the foot of a bed.

Spoilers and Direct Quotes Ahead

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The Asexual Awakens – An Interpretation of the Journey to Adulthood

“Every Generation Has A Legend”.

That we fade from Rey to these words in the Rise of Skywalker teaser is of cultural significance: that a woman would define a generation. In the exhibit hall at Star Wars Celebration, the declaration drew a thundering howl of approval from the audience. However, I found myself affected for another, more personal reason. When examined through a queer lens, Rey’s journey from “no one” to “legend” can be interpreted as the acceptance of one’s aromantic and asexual orientation.

The path of the Jedi is one that’s long been associated with adulthood, and the burgeoning maturity of our leading characters. By their powers through the Force, we see our own adolescent journeys amplified. All of our emotions and choices – for good and ill – are made physically manifest as these characters form into Jedi or Sith, the adults they will become.

Most of our heroes actively pursue their paths of dark or light. Those that need extra prompting are usually granted it by the loss of a parental figure, frequently by the death thereof. It’s a metaphorical shedding of childhood to take their first steps into the larger world of adulthood.

For Rey, this aspect of childhood was shed long before we meet her in The Force Awakens. Yet she doesn’t immediately embrace the path of the Jedi laid out before her. She rejects it to the point of running away from the first offer of a lightsaber. This carries into other areas in her life: avoiding job opportunities, the chance to have her own ship, and other milestones that could define her adulthood. She keeps trying to press pause on her own life.

In our world, society likewise marks our paths to adulthood. We have achievements like driver’s licenses, certain levels of education, employment, or housing. Emotional milestones like one’s first love or sexual awakening which lead to socially-treasured events such as marriage or the loss of virginity. The lack of any of these is usually interpreted as an adulthood on pause, the indicator of something childish, repressed, or stagnated.

Rey keeps delaying her journey as a Jedi because she doesn’t see herself as one. It’s how I once felt I was holding myself back from maturity because I wasn’t matching the narrative of adulthood that I was watching play out around me. It’s how I felt before I embraced my identity as aromantic and asexual.

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