Archive for Opinion

The March of the First Order – How Star Wars Resistance Reveals a New Form of Evil

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The First Order invasion of the Star Wars galaxy has been characterized on the big screen as efficient, effective, and merciless. The Force Awakens opens with a brutal First Order attack on a settlement on Jakku. While the movie goes on to depict the destruction of the Galactic Senate on Hosnian Prime by Starkiller Base, the details of the brutal methods utilized by the First Order to exert authority over individual planets are not fully explored on the big screen. The first season of Star Wars Resistance reveals the shocking truth behind the ongoing march of the First Order.

Home, Home on the Colossus

On the edge of Wild Space lies Castilon, the oceanic planet that serves as the setting for the first season of Star Wars Resistance. While the surface of the planet is covered in water, no land is necessary for the Colossus, an old supertanker depot that serves as a final refueling point before the Unknown Regions and also as a hangout for speed-junkie ace pilots. Far from the cosmopolitan Core systems – where planets which serve as the seat of the galaxy’s political and cultural power (like Coruscant and Hosnian Prime) are located – Castilon is, by the admission of Flix the acquisitions clerk, what most people mean when they say “the other side of the galaxy”. » Read more..

Star Wars Celebration Chicago: A Retroactive Diary

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As I mentioned last week, this year’s event was not just my first Star Wars Celebration but my first major convention of any kind—after living in Pittsburgh for nineteen years I’ve only even been to our own Steel City Con once, and suffice it to say I wasn’t missing much. There was never much to draw me there content-wise, and the rest was just aisle after aisle of the type of knickknacks I could always find at my local comic shop if I cared to. I left behind most of my interest in merchandise years ago and I never had much interest in meeting celebrities, so what was left to get me there? Well, Pittsburgh-wise, very little. But thanks to this site, and the hundreds of people I’ve gotten to know online because of it, Celebration is able to offer not just an incomparable slate of programming but the opportunity to spend time with literally dozens of people I’ve come to think of as friends but never actually met.

Mind you, four days in California or Florida is generally out of my price range. I always told myself, though, that if they ever came to the northeastern United States I would make it happen. So when they announced Chicago as the next Celebration locale roughly a year ago, it was time to put up or shut up.

What follows is the full, unvarnished1 story of my experience—both the headaches and the thrills. While I definitely had my share of the former, allow me to be very clear: I had a fantastic time, met lots of cool people, and have essentially no regrets. There were some huge unknowns that made my pre-show experience pretty stressful, but for the most part they were particular to me and my own choices and while I want to relate them authentically, they should not be taken as a warning. If you haven’t attended a Celebration before, I hope you find the below enlightening—but know that nothing can compare to doing it for yourself, an experience I strongly recommend. » Read more..

  1. Well, lightly varnished. []

Master & Apprentice: The Tie-In Book The Phantom Menace Always Needed

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This review contains minor spoilers for Claudia Gray’s novel Master & Apprentice

Since the Star Wars “canon” was reset in April 2014, I’ve had a wish list of stories I wanted to see told, all filling gaps in the prequel era. While the first few years following the “reboot” focused mainly on the original trilogy, I held out hope that we would eventually see a novel about Padmé set between Episodes I and II; an origin story for Dooku’s turn to the dark side; and the great missing piece from The Clone Wars, the Siege of Mandalore. Someone must have been listening.

What I wanted more than anything, though, was a novel about my favorite character, Qui-Gon Jinn. And after her incredible short story “Master and Apprentice” in 2017’s From A Certain Point Of View, I knew I wanted Claudia Gray to write it. From the heartbreaking Lost Stars to her work with Leia in Bloodline and Princess of Alderaan, Gray has been one of the shining stars of the new novels. So maybe I was pre-programmed to like this. I can honestly say, though, that Master & Apprentice is everything I wanted it to be, and more: a look inside the mind and beliefs of Qui-Gon Jinn, an unexplored take on his relationship with Obi-Wan, and something of a love letter to fans of The Phantom Menace.

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Age of Republic – A Nuanced Kaleidoscope

Panels from each Age of Republic issue

“My thoughts were in turmoil.
I can’t allow this to be done.
The Second Law of Robotics tells me I must follow orders and stay in the niche.
The First Law of Robotics tells me I cannot harm this tyrant who wishes to destroy me.
Must I obey the laws?”

– Isaac Asimov, “Cal,” Gold.

My entry into science fiction fandom was shepherded by a pillar of the genre: Isaac Asimov. It’s been a while since I’ve actually picked up one of his works, but you can still see the shape of his influence in my reading habits today. Namely, I have him to credit for the array of short story collections gracing my shelves. I, Robot was the first anthology I ever read, and from there it was a series of dominoes leading to a diet of short stories and anthologies.

There are gems to be found in anthology collections. When multiple authors are gathered under a single cover, such as Unnatural Creatures, we can explore variations on a theme. How does each author interpret the topic at hand? Answering this is a kaleidoscope of ideas. When it’s the work of a single author, such as I, Robot or Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, we get targeted explorations of the theme with deliberate nuance.

Age of Republic is an anthology that gives us the kaleidoscope and the nuance alike. It’s a work of art, a collection of individual stories beautiful on their own, but which spark to new life when seen in comparison with the whole.

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Queen’s Shadow: The Celebration of Women That Star Wars Deserves

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While there are no major spoilers below, I do discuss the contents of Queen’s Shadow in detail—consider yourself warned.

On May 19, 1999, The Phantom Menace opened in theaters. It was the first new theatrical Star Wars movie in sixteen years and kicked off a new trilogy exploring the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker before he became Darth Vader, a character that had already earned a spot in the pantheon of classic villains. However, rather than opening the movie on Tatooine, where we learn that young Anakin is living as a slave, we instead start on an unknown planet in danger of invasion, ruled by a teenage girl who will do anything to save her people.

And yet, despite a whole movie and a handful of tie-in novels that centered around Queen Amidala, she became increasingly sidelined as the trilogy went on and her character became inextricable from her doomed relationship with Anakin. Her cadre of handmaidens made a brief appearance in Attack of the Clones, but by Revenge of the Sith she was alone and left to watch her world crumble around her without any apparent support. She ends the trilogy by giving birth to the next generation’s heroes and then, at the age of twenty-seven, loses her will to live and dies of a broken heart.

Three years ago I wrote an article advocating for a Padmé novel. For far too long she had only really existed as an extension of Anakin and wasn’t given a chance to shine on her own. As arguably the main character of The Phantom Menace and (inarguably) a key figure in the story of the final days of the Republic, she deserved a better legacy than only being remembered as the object of Anakin’s fears and an indirect reason for his turn to the dark side. More importantly, for a character who started with so strong a story and so interesting a backstory, it was a shame that her movie potential was wasted with bad writing. So to finally have her given a voice after getting the short end of the stick for so long is incredibly meaningful in a way that’s difficult to put into words.

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