Can fandom, any fandom, be truly free?
If you count time as an expense, definitely not. In terms of literal money, opinions differ. Do you live in a city or a rural area? Do you have a library card? Are you able to access public transit? There are more potential barriers out there than many might think, but the idea that you can’t be a Star Wars fan without spending some amount of money can be a tough pill to swallow.
With that in mind, myself and several others are coordinating “Mynock Monday” (today, natch) as a counterpart/response to the (admittedly exciting) spending spree that was Force Friday. Mynock Monday isn’t the anti-Force Friday as much as a supplement—an opportunity to recognize all the fans out there who have to choose between Star Wars and basic necessities, and the many, many creative ways they make up the difference that are low-cost or even totally free.
To follow along with the event, simply watch the #MynockMonday hashtag on social media (we’re mostly on Twitter, but we’d love to see it branch out to other platforms) and if the spirit strikes you, share your own fun activities, DIY doodads, or even just your thoughts on that initial question—how do you feel about the consumer element of your fandom, and do you think it’s possible (or even desirable) to avoid it entirely? » Read more..
One of the first adult Star Wars novels of the new canon was Tarkin, by franchise veteran James Luceno. Many of Luceno’s books have been “biographical” in nature, choosing a subject and covering a large swath of their existence in one story. Sometimes this works well, as in Darth Plagueis, which had a pretty open canvas to work with and, perhaps most importantly, a definitive climax and resolution that had never been told in detail. Other times, notably when alternating between backstory and events in the “present day”, Luceno has had trouble maintaining a balance between the primary plot and the wide-ranging flashbacks (do you even remember what Millennium Falcon‘s framing story was? I don’t).
This was the case with Tarkin, I felt—“the central story of Teller and his group of renegades stealing the Carrion Spike and cutting a swath through the Empire with it was actually pretty interesting,” I wrote at the time, “but ultimately I think I would’ve preferred a novel of just that.” Unlike with Falcon, I was more interested in the present than in the past, but the issue was the same—an imbalance wherein the thing I really wanted to read was constantly being interrupted by something far less interesting and only nominally related.
I thought then that a good solution would be to just jettison the alternating structure and tell overtly biographical stories, but wouldn’t you know it? Over the last few years, Star Wars has repeatedly followed that very advice—and I’ve come to see things very differently. » Read more..
One of the best aspects of fandom is the constant ongoing discussions you can have with your fellow fans. Interpreting stories, theorizing about where they might go, fanning out over our favorite characters tends to fill us all with amazing satisfaction. Star Wars has offered us the richest content for over forty years, and we should of course be grateful. However, in these ongoing discussions, it is also okay, and should even be encouraged, to be constructively critical as well.
Each of us is a different consumer with different backgrounds that will inform how we take in a property. While there are certainly many shared things we love, we may love those things for different reasons. For Rey, an example of a character that most people love, some love her for her courage. Some love her for her ingenuity. Some love her for being a paragon of feminism. Some love her for her mystery. Or for all of the above and more! Those same backgrounds and interpretations feed into whether each of us likes or dislikes a story or its elements.
Fans shouldn’t be hard on each other for being critical of certain aspects of our favorite franchise. Just because you recognize a few blemishes in your favorite film, TV series, book, or comic doesn’t mean you love it any less than others. It should be okay for me, for example, to say that I think that Rogue One, a film I love dearly, handled Saw Gerrera poorly by oversimplifying him in writing and performance (don’t get me started on how much I don’t like Bor Gullet, haha). While others might see a great character who exemplifies someone destroyed mentally and physically by his crusade, I saw a caricature with (mostly) weak dialogue and overacting from Forest Whitaker. The performance didn’t sell me, and Gareth Edwards’s previous interpretation of the character (which we glimpsed in the first Rogue One teaser) intrigued me more. Please note that this is not a dig at the reshoots (criticism of which, in my opinion, is mostly filled with hot air), which are normal for most films, but a criticism of the creative process going into this particular character. » Read more..
Few Star Wars fans need an introduction to Dan Wallace. Over the course of two decades, Dan has been one of the undisputed kings of worldbuilding, lore, and back history for the Galaxy Far, Far Away. In the old Expanded Universe, Dan’s Essential Guides were truly essential reading for fans who longed to know more about the characters, species, and worlds of the Star Wars universe. This trend continues in the new canon, with the book Star Wars: On The Front Lines.
Released this past week in the US, On The Front Lines is an up close and personal look at the major battles that defined the Clone Wars, Galactic Civil War, and the new war between the First Order and the Resistance. Dan was kind enough to take some time to discuss this book and one of his upcoming works, Journey to The Last Jedi: The Rebel Files. Without further ado, let’s get into the interview!
First off, thank you for your time, Dan! This is your first foray back into traditional guidebooks for Star Wars in a few years, correct? What was the main driver behind this guide and what was the development process like?
Yes, this is the first Star Wars reference book I’ve worked on since Ultimate Star Wars in 2015. But I’d done many reference books before then, everything from kid-friendly warfare guides like Star Wars: Battles for the Galaxy to dense, lore-heavy tomes like The Essential Atlas. So writing this was like putting on a comfortable pair of boots. » Read more..
This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.
With one line from the first trailer for Rogue One, Jyn Erso established herself as something quite a bit different from the movie heroes we’d seen before. She was less noble freedom fighter and more scrappy loose cannon. But despite the immediately iconic nature of this line, it didn’t make an appearance in the final film. Nor, for that matter, did most of what we saw of Jyn’s personality. Rather than the antihero we expected, whose fiery bluster covers up a near lifetime of pain and anger, we got someone a little bit softer around the edges, whose main trait seems to be indifference.
Rebel Rising, by Beth Revis, fortunately stepped in to give us the hard-edged antihero promised by the movie trailers. Not only did it build off the movie (and excellent novelization by Alexander Freed) to develop Jyn, but it gave her a harder, scrappier edge than any protagonist we’d yet seen in a Star Wars film. And more importantly, it made Jyn a far more morally ambiguous (and occasionally, straight up awful) person.
Reportedly, part of the reason for the infamous reshoots on the film was to make Jyn less abrasive and more empathetic. Many of the scenes from the trailers hint at this; from General Draven’s laundry list of her crimes, to her mocking “yes sir” and, of course, her defiant “I rebel.” And that early version of Jyn still survives in the novelization, giving us a glimpse of what could have been. Her early scenes on Yavin and with Cassian show a woman who openly mocks authority, is ready to physically fight perceived threats at a moment’s notice, and whose biggest goal is just to do the job with as little fuss as possible so that she can be left alone. We see the morally gray figure Jyn was originally conceived as. However the final cut of the film showed a Jyn with a much less fiery personality. Instead of being hostile and antagonistic and actively insulting Cassian and the others, she comes across as more aimlessly indifferent to the struggle at large. In other words, her fierceness was cut to make her more likable.
But why should she have to be likable?
» Read more..