Mike: Last weekend’s Star Wars Celebration Chicago was not just my first Celebration but my first major convention of any kind. I had a blast and got to meet dozens of people from here and Twitter for the first time, but having technically covered the last few Celebrations here at Eleven-ThirtyEight and seen lots of rumblings about organizational issues (from both past events and this one) the thing I found myself most curious about as the weekend wound down was: how did Chicago stack up to the others?
I’ll be sharing more of my own thoughts soon, but suffice it to say that aside from a fair amount of stress over the status of my media application, I found the whole thing to be moderately logistically challenging but not to the point that it infringed upon my good time. If I wasn’t able to get into a panel I’d been hoping for there was always something new in the main hall to check out, or a friend to track down, or shitposting to do, so I never found it too bothersome.
But with this being my first con, I had no prior experiences to compare it to—better than average? Worse? Or typical? Luckily I had the novel opportunity to ask some of my staff writers—like, their actual physical selves—what most surprised them about this year. I should mention that while most of them are battle-scarred veterans of the convention floor, this was Abigail Dillon’s first Celebration as well—but I’m nice so I decided to ask her anyway. » Read more..
This fall saw the release of Women of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe, an expansive collection of profiles and original art featuring seventy-five different female characters from across the Star Wars franchise—from the original trilogy and the old Ewoks cartoon all the way up to 2018’s Solo. Since Eleven-ThirtyEight is always game for a fashionably late arrival to the party, Abigail and Jay wanted to take a moment to discuss some of their favorite entries from the book and what they meant to them.
As it happens, though, we may be late for the original release but we’re right on time for the digital release—if you’re paper-averse like yours truly but still want to check out Women of the Galaxy for yourself you can pick up a copy on Kindle starting January 8th. For now, though, I yield the floor. — Mike, EIC
Abigail: There are so many entries in this book that I adored and would have liked to discuss, so before I dive into my chosen characters, I’d like to point out what this book reminds me of. And you’re going to have to stay with me for a moment, because this comparison is going to start off sounding horrible.
I had a book about dog breeds as a kid. I loved it and it was critical to my play. My friends and I would flip through the pages and select what we wanted to be during that round of make-believe. Some days I would want to pretend to be majestic and wild, other days small and cute, and so the book was how I would choose my character. It provided a springboard for my imagination, based on the pictures and accompanying description. » Read more..
One of the things that most defines a hero in a Star Wars film is having faith. Faith in the Force, faith in fate itself, but most of all faith in other people, that they will do the right thing when it matters most. Luke has faith that Anakin Skywalker will not let the Emperor kill his only son. Obi-Wan has faith that Luke will become the Jedi his father never was. Leia has faith that her brother will be found and come back to help save the galaxy.
However, increasingly, we’re seeing deconstructions of that sort of faith. The sequel era especially seems to relish twisting that idea around. Rey is the poster child for this, everyone she has faith in turns away from her (Finn in The Force Awakens, Luke in The Last Jedi), dies (Han), or exploits that faith somehow (Kylo Ren). Her character arc is as much about having faith in herself as anything else. But all of our heroes from this era seem to run into this sort of problem, and Star Wars Resistance has brought another one of these to the forefront beyond the scope of the films: Poe Dameron.
While Poe having faith in his friends and comrades is a fundamental reason why Finn leaves the First Order and joins the Resistance, there is a subtext to Poe’s arc in TLJ that sometimes he can lean too much on this faith and not enough on facts or logic. It’s Poe’s faith in his comrades to do the impossible that lead to the loss of Cobalt Squadron, and his faith in Finn and Rose’s plan that almost destroys the Resistance entirely. And, rewinding the timeline a bit but moving forward in out-of-universe time, we come now to his faith in Kazuda Xiono.
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The Clone Wars. The rise of the Empire. The Galactic Civil War. The formation of the New Republic. The resistance against the First Order. In a galaxy plagued by warfare and strife, few worlds have played such a pivotal role as Mon Cala. Its leaders, its peoples, and its starships have affected the course of conflicts and have fought tirelessly in defense of freedom and self-determination. Famous admirals like Ackbar, mighty starships like Home One and Raddus, and selfless leaders like Lee-Char have been key to the formation and success of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, the establishment of the New Republic, and the resistance against the depredations of the First Order. From the depths of Mon Cala to Endor and beyond, this is their story.
Calm Seas to Rough Waters
The world of Mon Cala, located on the edge of the Outer Rim, is far different from the mighty industrial planets located in the Core Worlds. Home to both the Mon Calamari and Quarren, this ocean world has extensive underwater settlements and surface cities designed for contact with off-worlders. Despite a past history of conflict, the Mon Calamari and Quarren established a joint society, under the guidance of a constitutional monarchy that provided a voice to all the settlements and peoples of Mon Cala. Renowned shipbuilders though they were, the Mon Calamari didn’t build large military starships. Instead, classes of exploration cruisers, merchant vessels, and passenger liners were the primary focus of planet’s famed shipyards.
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As Episode IX steadily approaches, a year and a few months away from release, debate around the parentage of Rey has continued almost unabated, arguably intensified by The Last Jedi’s “surprise” revelation. Some fans still seem to want an easy way to connect the dots from Rey to the core family of Star Wars, even indirectly, as if the term “Skywalker saga” was a mission statement rather than a convenient identifier.
Part of this stems from how the information is revealed in The Last Jedi: a terrific anticlimax, prompted by Kylo Ren. Prompted…but not issued. The text of Rian Johnson’s film builds this up and suggests it through Rey’s tendency to look for parental figures wherever possible, even when those whom she latches onto are inadequate in some way. The “reveal” isn’t some fake-out gotcha, it’s a natural progression from what we’ve already been given, albeit couched in Abrams’s typically coy storytelling tendencies in The Force Awakens. We’ve been conditioned to expect reversal, so much so that a greater surprise comes from straightforward progression.
In a way, The Last Jedi fleshes out the thread that can make the sequel trilogy a truly essential addition to the epic of Anakin and Luke Skywalker: a story of individuals within the galaxy far far away interpreting and reconciling the tales that have come before to carve out their own path. And perhaps the best torchbearer for this journey of interpretation, emulation and discovery is someone who is a nobody from nowhere, someone without the baggage that weighs so heavily on the new arch-villain Kylo Ren. Rey, as it turns out, operates very differently from her predecessors, the Skywalker boys. She is grappling with entirely different types of problems – no more or less difficult, but complex in a different way. To that end, the scenarios in which we find each of Star Wars’ three core protagonists when first introduced to them (chronologically) hugely inform their stories to follow, both in nature and resolution. In some ways, Rey is far ahead of the Skywalker boys when we first meet her. In other ways, she isn’t. It is this contrast that helps drive this new generation forward, and helps reshape what it means to be a Jedi with “the most serious mind”, and the appeal of a nobody in the galaxy far, far away.
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