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To Buy or Not to Buy

Lucas: All of us at Eleven-ThirtyEight are passionate about Star Wars. But that doesn’t mean we’re passionate about all the Expanded Universe material that’s being put out. That puts us in a position shared by many fans: do we keep buying all the EU even if we don’t care for particular works, do we pick and choose carefully, or do we check out of the current output to some extent? We’ve brought together three Eleven-ThirtyEight contributors at various positions on that spectrum for a discussion about what we buy, why, and what impact it has on our fandoms.

First, I’d like everybody to give an idea of where you’re at in your Star Wars purchases. Myself, I’m at the buy-everything end. Within reason, because I don’t have endless money, I don’t play the RPG, et cetera, but I’m a completionist at heart. I wait for paperback on a few things, and there are a few books and comics that I have low interest in and haven’t picked up quite yet, but I intend to get around to all of them eventually, and basically, I buy all the books and comics that come out. I always have.
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Star Wars in Five Seconds

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I know I’ve expressed disdain with what you might call “Buzzfeed-style” articles here before, but let’s be honest—who doesn’t love a good animated gif? A few properly-chosen seconds from your favorite piece of media can be like a little fortune cookie that allows you to reconnect with it for just a moment; in service of a larger point, to illustrate recurring imagery, or just for the fun of it.

I recently asked the staff to share their quintessential Star Wars movie moments; not just cool stuff, but the moments that spoke to them deep down, that encapsulated everything they love about SW in just a few seconds. On a whim, I then set out to track down an appropriate gif of each moment to go along with their responses. That part was a lot harder than I’d expected. Let’s see how I did.
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Our New Year’s Resolutions for Star Wars in 2014

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Welcome to 2014! After a bleak Christmas with no new articles for a whole week, one could be forgiven for submitting to the doldrums. To liven things up and kick off the new year with a bang, I asked the gang to share the resolutions they’d like to see the Star Wars franchise adopt in 2014.

Jay Shah: Don’t Force the Storytelling

Star Wars may well be part fantasy, but the mystic aspect has dominated in the years since the prequels. Whether we’re looking at the books, comics, games, television shows, or even the movies themselves, the Jedi and Sith loom large over Star Wars. Lightsabers and magical powers may well be iconic, but one could be forgiven for imagining that they were the only thing Star Wars was ever known for. Stormtroopers? X-wings? Smugglers? Eh, not a big deal.

There are a handful of releases these past few years that have kept things diversified. Fantasy Flight Game’s Edge of the Empire RPG materials are the best example, as they practically avoid most mentions of the Force except as a fleeting whisper, a myth given credence by rumor more than observation, which fits the game’s OT setting. The Old Republic has multiple character classes as part of its game system, meaning that players are free to diversify, but is dominated by the titanic struggle between Jedi and Sith in the pre-movie eras. As we approach the inauguration of the Sequel Trilogy and Episode VII in particular, the Force will have to play a large role in events: we’ll doubtless see the reëstablishment of the Jedi Order in some fashion or another and we’ll probably see the continuation of the Skywalker story. This is well and good, but Disney mustn’t forget that a large part of what made the OT great was that it featured political struggles — Rebels versus Imperials — or the heroism of the everyman in response to the calling of destiny.
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The Pitch – Darth Vader TV Specials

A couple months back, a Disney licensing brochure hit the interwebs outlining several upcoming Star Wars merchandising opportunities over the next two years—Rebels, for example, Lego Star Wars, and of course, Episode VII. But included on the list was the tantalizingly vague “Darth Vader Themed TV Specials”. While the news item included a photo of the brochure and it appears to be a legitimate thing, no official information on these “specials” has been released since. Could they be one-shot episodes from the Rebels team? Tiny interstitial animations like the original Clone Wars Animated Series? Or even fully-produced live action material? No one has any freaking idea.

Could the staff of Eleven-ThirtyEight ask for a better opening? I submit that we could not. Here’s what we’d like to see.
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The Pitch – Novels Humbly Requested by Eleven-ThirtyEight

Whatever one thinks of the Star Wars novels that have come out since Fate of the Jedi ended, one has to admit that their primary distinguishing feature is experimentation—in a little over a year we’ve gotten a western, an Ocean’s Eleven riff, a female-led Dawn of the Jedi story, and the first X-Wing book in thirteen years, among others. Now that no one—not even, it seems, LucasBooks’ Jennifer Heddle—is quite sure what’s going to become of the Expanded Universe in a couple years. It seems there’s never been a better time for the EU to just go for broke and see what works. To that end, the staff of Eleven-ThirtyEight humbly submits the following for your consideration.

Mike: X-Wing: Red Squadron

Seriously, now—how has this not happened already? In addition to being the perfect mix of fan-bait and movie tie-in, a book telling the origins of Red Squadron would be the perfect opportunity to sort out the myriad gaps and inconsistencies of this era and deliver a coherent history of the pilots who destroyed the Death Star.

If they were really into the idea, the concept could even spawn two different books—one pre-Yavin, detailing the initial formation of Red Squadron from pieces of several other units of the early Rebellion (and incorporating the proto-Red Squadron from the X-Wing game that gave us Keyan Farlander, one of the few Yavin survivors), and one post-Yavin that tells of the “Rogue Flight” era, when Luke and Wedge, alongside Commander Narra (an important character who dates all the way back to the Empire radio drama yet has had few moments in the spotlight) rebuilt Red Squadron almost from the ground up and eventually evolved it into the Rogue Squadron seen on Hoth.
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