We Came, We Saw, We (Mostly) Celebrated

swcocrowd

Ben: Welcome to the Eleven-ThirtyEight roundtable/Not a Committee/podcast thing, whatever you want to call it. It’s myself, Ben Wahrman, along with David, Sarah, and Jay. We’re gonna be talking about our experiences here at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017, different panels, and just general experiences with the con. To start with I just want to ask everybody real quick, how has the experience been for everybody? Above expectations, below expectations?

Jay: Our intrepid editor has informed us that we’re calling these Aggressive Negotiations, so here we are, aggressively negotiating the convention. This Star Wars Celebration has been sort of interesting; this is my fifth Celebration, and it’s the third one I’ve been to that’s been operated by ReedPOP, and it seemed to be the most disorganized of all the conventions I’ve been to, with maybe the exception of Celebration IV. But I think a lot of that is due to factors that could have been predicted, such as better signage, organization, better estimates of crowd sizes, crowd flow.

The problem with these little difficulties is they had a lot of knock-on effects on people’s enjoyment of Celebration. It really changed the nature of Celebration itself; instead of people going to the show floor at the time the convention opened and going through the list of activities, people had to pre-plan, get their selected wristbands in advance, and start lining up at pretty much 4am every morning regardless of whether or not there was an official line-up or not. And that’s what changed the whole nature of the convention, at least for me. » Read more..

Everybody Lives: Rebels and Character Death

kallus escape

Star Wars Rebels has just wrapped up its third season with the biggest Empire-versus-Rebellion showdown we’ve yet scene from the show. Prior to the episode, speculation swirled around the promised battle, with many wondering just exactly how the rebels we know and love are going to make it out of thione. And, inevitably and tiresomely, spirited discussion sprang up around which Ghost character would die in the ensuing conflict.

It’s not the first time there has been speculation around a major character dying in the show. Like clockwork, the closer we get to a season finale, the more discussion there is about why someone on the Ghost needs to bite it. Rex and/or Zeb needs to go out in a blaze of glory. Kanan needs to die for pathos and so the fandom can make tragic fics about Hera. Ezra needs to die because of a thousand and one reasons (the main one being that the majority of the older fanbase finds him irredeemably annoying). They all have to die because we don’t see or hear anything about them in the original trilogy. Inevitably, it all comes down to fans wanting to see that things are different, that the rebels have finally faced a serious threat and come up short and now have to find a way to overcome.

And yes, that’s certainly a good (and necessary) narrative to explore. After all, it’s not exciting if your heroes never face any serious challenges or defeats. But why is it that we automatically go to “major character death” as the best way to show the severity of a threat or to shake up the status quo?

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The Gang’s All Here: Looking Ahead to Celebration Orlando

celebration-sarah4Jay: Last time we had a Star Wars Celebration, I was the only member of Eleven-ThirtyEight there. The site was a couple years old, the new Star Wars around the same age, and we were all eagerly awaiting the new movie. Now, we have four staff writers attending — Sarah (who hadn’t joined ETE by the time of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim), David, Ben (who I believe is attending his first Celebration?), and I. I’m officially covering the event as press for ETE, but really, all of us will be covering panels and writing about the events. I thought we’d discuss what we plan to cover, what we hope to see, and what we think of Star Wars Celebration in general. In other words, how does Eleven-ThirtyEight approach Star Wars Celebration?

I’ll get us started with my initial thoughts on Celebration. This is my fifth Star Wars Celebration — I’ve attended all of the domestic Celebrations since Celebration III with the exception of Celebration V. Primarily, I attended them as social events: as a central meetup for all of my friends and fellow Star Wars fans, with the whole convention as sort of a convenient backdrop. The only panels I made an effort to attend were the books and comics panels. Aside from that? It was cool seeing costumes and stuff, but eh. But since Anaheim, Star Wars news has been huge — overnight lines, trailers dropping, wall-to-wall coverage. Being in the room for the <i>Force Awakens</i> trailer was an experience that I’ll never forget, and I’m eager enough to relive it that I’m going to be doing two overnight lines now for the 40th Anniversary and The Last Jedi panels.

For me, the social aspect of Celebration hasn’t changed — if anything, there are even more people I’ve gotten to know since Star Wars was revived and I want to spend time with all of them. But somehow I have to manage to see all the movie, book, television, and even toy news.

What about the rest of you? What were previous Celebrations like for you? What do you expect from Orlando, generally? » Read more..

Republic Rising – A Political and Cartographic Look at the Post-Galactic Concordance Galaxy

It’s a year since the Battle of Endor. As the dust settles on and above Jakku, the Aftermath (pun intended) of the climactic battle of the Galactic Civil War leaves the New Republic the sole major galactic power. Rebuilding, reparations, and de-militarization are the orders of the day. Yet, even after the signing of the Concordance under an ancient tintolive tree on Chandrila, the galaxy’s political alignments are still taking form. Chancellors, emperors, presidents, and warlords across the galaxy now have to decide where their allegiances lie. The New Republic – egalitarian, democratic, and freedom-loving – is eager to expand its ranks, but equally content to let worlds choose their own paths. The wounds left by the Clone Wars, the Empire’s harsh rule, and the Galactic Civil War can now heal – but scars will remain.

Thanks to books like Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, Bloodline, and various other canon sources, we now have a good idea of how the New Republic grew and expanded between Jakku and the destruction of Hosnian Prime. Yet, other powers emerged too. Large regions remained neutral, some to harbor the worlds that would be the harbingers of the First Order. The New Republic, victorious but still fledgling, comes of age in this galaxy. So, join me as we chart the political alignments and leanings of the galaxy in the years following the signing of the Galactic Concordance.
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The Case For a Reconstructed Thrawn

resistancethrawn

Ages and ages ago, I wrote a really long “Top 20 Expanded Universe Moments” piece for my personal blog at StarWars.com, which was a thing they let you have once.1 Most of it was the kind of thing your typical EU fan would gush over, but two entries were devoted to stories totally outside Legends continuity—what was then called Infinities.

One, actually my third most memorable moment, was a standalone Darth-Vader-versus-Darth-Maul story from Star Wars Tales, which sounds like the fanwankiest thing ever (and I mean, it was) but also happened to be a very interesting examination of Vader through the lens of a much more straightforward, dogmatic Sith Lord—who nevertheless proved to be the weaker of the two. The other was from the Infinites retelling of A New Hope, in which Han ends up accompanying Luke to Dagobah and, being a con man himself, immediately sees through the hermit routine—“this guy’s Yoda!”

What these two stories had in common was that they offered really interesting insights and character moments that couldn’t have happened in continuity as it was then.2 Ideally, that was the entire point of Infinities as a branding—not only can “what if” tales be great stories in their own right, but they can enhance our understanding of characters’ “true selves”, by showing how they might comport themselves in far-fetched circumstances. » Read more..

  1. If you’re interested, I ported it over to ETE when we got started here—it’s a pretty good snapshot of my tastes and priorities back when the EU was the only game in town. []
  2. Maul ended up coming back for real, of course, but that’s neither here nor there. []
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