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The First Order: Old and New, Plans and Opportunities


Sometimes creative people are akin to magicians in that they like misdirection – and where Star Wars’ newest villains, the First Order, are concerned there is a lot of going on right now. I should declare here that this is a purely speculative piece, no inside information, nothing up my sleeves… It may be nuked to high heaven by the revelations of Episode VIII, whose bombardment begins December 2017. Or, it might bolster what I lay out here. We’re not going to know for ages so let’s have some fun instead…

In the wake of Bloodline, it seems everyone is going ‘ah, that’s what the First Order is!’  This is a major error because you’re looking exactly where they want you to look, even better you are focusing on one aspect, when the enemy is rather multifaceted. Looking at the pieces available the inescapable conclusion is the First Order is a combination of pieces. It is neither precisely this or that thing, at a surface level it defies easy categorization by being a supposedly chaotic assemblage.

What are the pieces we have? There is Bloodline’s political cabal, lusting after more of everything. There is, way in the background, the successor to Brendol Hux’s Arkanis Academy. (Rebels: Servants of the Empire quartet of course, and no, I’m not going to stop mentioning it) There is a disappeared Imperial Fleet. There is the move to the Unknown Regions of much Imperial resource and materiel. There is, from Aftermath, the desire to find the source of the dark side in the Unknown Regions too. Old and new elements are all jumbled in a crazy patchwork. For something that calls itself the First Order where is the order in all this? Read More

Star Wars: Bloodline – NOT a “Fix” Book!

cloakofdeceptionA “fix” book? What on earth is a fix book? Much as we may love it, over the years, Star Wars has acquired a deserved reputation for some quite off the wall plot concepts. Ideas like casually dropping the bomb that Vader is Luke’s father to the far more infamous taxation plot of The Phantom Menace. In some cases, a book comes out and addresses such plots head on. It considers how to either make a broken plot work or enhance an existing one that works adequately but could be improved. With the advent of the prequels, this became more noticeable but was not restricted to them. Is Bloodline one of these books? No, it isn’t. Why? Read on…

It was Cloak of Deception in 2001 that first showed what could be done to support the films. This took the much loathed foundation for the Republic Senate falling apart and sought to provide a logic that explained why the taxation of trade routes was so problematic. James Luceno also wove in pieces on the Jedi, on Darth Sidious and almost every other plot strand that the film had slung around with abandon. In the process, this prequel-to-a-prequel improved nearly everything.

Jump forward a year, to 2002 and the New Jedi Order volume of Destiny’s Way came out. It remains hard to know exactly how much of that series really was planned out and how much was winging it, the finale The Unifying Force suggests rather more improvisation than might want to be admitted. Now, I doubt that would make any difference but back then, you had to have a plan! Or claim to have one. Everyone seemed to get far more cynical about this stuff after Lost. Read More

The Shadows of the Clone Wars


This article was sparked off by regular ETE commenter John, in response to the Fantasy Foresight piece that considered how simply killing all Imperials would have been insufficient to stop the Starkiller. What might these shadows be? And how do they play into that superweapon’s development? At the risk that the impending book Bloodline will blow up most of this, let’s consider a few possibilities.

First, the elephant in the room – that the New Republic was caught napping by the Starkiller. Would a government set up by those that destroyed Death Stars really be so spectacularly lacking in vigilance? The answer has to be probably not, but what of time eroding that? A decade on, the need to keep an eye out for threats would have reduced – likely certain politicians would be making political capital out of efficiency measures that reduce the spend on such monitoring. Two decades on? The deck tilts further towards no need for it. Add even more years in and… Read More

Fantasy Foresight – Could the New Republic Have Prevented the Starkiller?


It has to be said, of all the effects I could perhaps consider The Force Awakens having on the Star Wars fanbase, this wasn’t on the list. Yet it’s become something of a thing fairly quickly.

The basis of it is simple: The Empire clearly did not honour its post-Battle of Jakku treaty obligations. Instead it went and constructed new weaponry of mass destruction in the form of the Starkiller and killed billions of New Republic citizens. Therefore, the New Republic should never have signed the treaty and spared the Empire (the New Republic will be referred to as just the Republic from this point on). Thus: No Empire = No First Order = No Starkiller = No billions dead.

The problem is what the ‘no Empire’ part would have committed the Republic to. It would amount to killing millions, maybe billions on the basis of a fantastical superweapon way off in the future. Now, that could be done, but if it were? The Republic would no longer be the Republic, indeed, in quite literally killing the Empire they would have become it! Read More

Why Give A Damn for Dameron?

poecomic1So, I’m not seeing The Force Awakens yet but am very much interested in the Poe Dameron series, why? Surely, the very act of being interested in such a comic indicates cognitive dissonance at work in my psyche? I say I’m not seeing TFA yet am intrigued by a comic featuring one of its characters? I suppose I could blame Before the Awakening. I did pre-buy that way before the film came out and was stuck with it. But, I haven’t yet found a duff story written by Rucka and so it proved to be so three times over with that book! In this case, I have no such excuse – so why do it?

Let’s consider a tale of taxation. Yea, I refer to the now infamous opening scrawl of The Phantom Menace. Taxes? That’s never going to work as a Star Wars story, no one is going to care about taxes. And that was the view for a while, then a year or so after the film came out, a book called Cloak of Deception was published. A prequel to a prequel, it actually took that nonsensical scrawl and brought order to its chaos. Luceno would go on to do two more books in a similar vein and each aided the main story being told by the films.

Going further back, there is the little matter of how the fan base for Wedge Antilles was tapped to end up with an entire line of stories – ten-to-fourteen books, depending on how you count them and a thirty-five-odd-issue comic run are very respectable stats for what are minor characters. They are also, in the majority of cases, Force-less. What made the X-Wing series sing more than anything else was a downplaying of the Force and the mystical powers it grants. Instead the flying skills of Wedge and Tycho – and later, the deadly Baron Soontir Fel – were portrayed as superb fast thinking combined with equally skilled three-dimensional situational awareness. There’s a great section in I, Jedi, where one of the exceedingly few Force-sensitive pilots, Corran Horn, sims against Tycho Celchu. Horn taps into the Force pre-cognitive ability but finds it is of limited use because Tycho’s adaptive abilities are too damn fast. Sure, Horn can tell what Tycho might do, but at any one time, Tycho’s also running a slew of contingency options, any one of which he can go for. Horn only just won, and only by resorting to the Force. Read More