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Let Every Village Send a Warrior – The Case Against a Galactic Republic

My memory doesn’t work like most people’s. I’m bad with hard details—from minor trivia-question stuff like what year the TIE interceptor debuted in-universe all the way to the major plot mechanics of books I read even a handful of years ago. I can tell you that Kenobi is my favorite Star Wars novel, but when writing my recent EU Explains piece I still had to read the plot summary on Wookieepedia to remember what the hell actually happened in it. What does stick in my mind is the big picture, the tone, the flavor of a character, a book, an era. That’s why I’ve always been into the sweeping, historical aspect of Star Wars canon(s); I have a good eye for context, and I enjoy picking out new insights from the tapestry of stories the franchise puts out and how they interact—intentionally or otherwise—even as their particulars are quick to flee my mind.

What’s been especially interesting over the past five years has been the things I notice about the new canon that feel distinctly different from Legends continuity. Foremost among these is the sense that the Galaxy Far, Far Away is bigger now; more anarchic, harder to get around.1 While the EU tended to portray galactic society as not too different from contemporary Earth—where the relationship between Corellia and Rodia, say, was roughly along the lines of that between Vermont and Colorado, or Greece and Luxembourg—in the new canon there barely is a galactic society. Luke Skywalker is a myth, the Empire was good for employment, and it’s entirely possible to go through life without running into anyone who’d testify otherwise.

While novelist Alexander Freed has played with this provincial take on the galaxy more than most, one particular detail in his recent novel Alphabet Squadron really stood out to me. The central protagonist Yrica Quell isn’t the only Imperial defector in the cast, but as a participant in Operation Cinder, she is by far the most loyal Imperial in the book not currently serving with the Empire. Yet despite her cooperation with the worst the Empire could dish out, we also learn that during Yrica’s youth, her sympathies were with…the Rebel Alliance. Lacking any other way to receive flight training, she enlisted in the Empire with the express intention of learning just enough to ditch them and fight for the other side. Sound familiar?

As much as Yrica’s backstory reads like Luke Skywalker’s worst-case scenario, the commonalities of their two stories—combined with the rest of Alphabet‘s cast of rebels—catalyzed something in me: maybe the galaxy is just plain too big, too ornery, to individualistic, to comprehensively govern. Maybe its natural state is not representative government so much as rebellion itself.

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  1. Even as hyperspace travel seems much faster than it used to be. []

Aceing It – Vi Moradi and Queer Representation

Ben Wahrman: On the day Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire was released, there was a good deal of hullabaloo on Star Wars Twitter about it, including a lot of posts by the author Delilah S. Dawson during a promotional tour through Galaxy’s Edge in Orlando and other nearby locations. But one string of tweets by Elizabeth Schaefer, Del Rey’s lead Star Wars editor, caught a lot of attention and a lot of appreciation. In her short thread, Schaefer notes that it was an idea of Dawson’s that the main character of Black Spire, Vi Moradi, would “come out” as asexual. Schaefer shared her appreciation for that decision and direction for the character, as she herself is asexual and feels the representation is much needed. Considering the traction her tweets gained, she was not alone in that.

After I saw these posts, I knew that my fellow contributor Abigail would have feelings about Vi and who she is. And I wasn’t wrong! I had a lot of thoughts and feelings of my own, so we decided to jointly discuss both of those things and talk about Vi as both a character and as a representative of the asexual community, as well as the wider issue of the representation of asexuality in Star Wars and media at large. We’ll begin by talking about our introductions to Vi before the advent of Black Spire.

When I read Phasma, Vi stood out to me as a character that a lot of work and heart had been poured into. For a book that was ostensibly all about, well, Captain Phasma, the team of Vi Moradi and Captain Cardinal stole it from her almost wholesale, despite them being more of a factor in the framing story than in the main flashback narrative of the book. Vi always struck me as a charming, fun character and I certainly hoped to see more of her after Phasma, but I never would have guessed that she’d wind up with such a large presence now, a featured character at the theme park and with a whole novel to herself.

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How The Empire Strikes Back Ruined Star Wars

“The saga comes to an end”, announced the trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. It isn’t the first time we’ve heard that.

In 2005, Revenge of the Sith was marketed with the tagline “The saga is complete,” and the first six movies are still available in a blu-ray box set titled “The Complete Saga”. The sequel trilogy was an unnecessary addition to the story of Anakin Skywalker, and the prequels themselves were unnecessary additions to the story of Luke. What is now a multi-generational saga, with a final episode which will define the legacy of the Skywalker family, was, just a few years ago, the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Darth Vader; and a few years before that, it was the hero’s journey of a farmboy.

Nothing, however, changed what Star Wars is more than The Empire Strikes Back. With Episode V, we gained a blockbuster franchise, a sprawling family saga, a modern myth. But we also lost something – a weird, fascinating high-concept movie, an episode of a Flash Gordon-style serial that the audience would stumble upon without ever knowing what came before, or what came afterwards; and the completion of a thematic trilogy of films by a young filmmaker which dealt with leaving home and going out into the world.

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What Star Wars Fandom Can Learn from Isaac Asimov’s Robot Canon

I am a woman conflicted.

I was relentlessly eager for Claudia Gray’s Master & Apprentice, but once it was released, my enjoyment of the work was overshadowed by my childhood love for Jude Watson’s Jedi Apprentice series.  

I feasted on the rumors and then the announcement of an Obi-Wan Kenobi series, but at the same time, I’m not ready to say goodbye to John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi.

I want to set Del Rey up on a blind date with author Ann Leckie to bring the Young Satine Kryze novel we deserve into being, but I dream of this while clutching the Schrödinger’s canon of A Star Wars Comic‘s Satine issue to my chest.

I am not unique in these anxieties. Even if it’s not these particular characters and these particular stories, everyone has pieces of Star Wars that they want to see the light of canon. Perhaps it’s something that people want to see make the jump from Legends or theories that they want confirmed. Engaging with stories is always personal, and while critiquing the work we consume is important, there’s also a space where we must be willing to let go and accept the contradictions between our expectations and the stories created by other, equally invested people.

A good practice ground for engaging in these contradictions is the robot stories of Isaac Asimov.

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Not Just a Walk in the Park: Why the Galaxy’s Edge Books are Worth Reading

Tie-ins have a bad name. The term isn’t neutral, and it frequently suggests low quality, or stories that are simple cash grabs. Discussions of the recently-released Galaxy’s Edge tie-in novels Crash of Fate and Black Spire have occasionally focused on references to locations and objects from the parks that come across almost like product placement or commercials for the Disney Star Wars theme park. To be certain, corporate synergies are at play when designing and creating products that tie into other aspects of a multimedia franchise, whether it’s a theme park or a newly-released movie. But are Star Wars tie-in novels published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press and Del Rey just commercials for other Star Wars products? I don’t think they are.

A lot of my favorite Star Wars novels published over the last few years have been tie-ins. Del Rey’s Battlefront novels are among the highest-regarded of the adult canon Star Wars novels, and they have the name of a video game plastered on the front of them. The Servants of the Empire series tied into the Star Wars Rebels television series, but they’re among the highest-quality middle-grade novels in Disney-Lucasfilm Press’s repertoire of high-quality middle-grade novels (I will always say that you should never miss out on the Star Wars young adult and/or middle-grade novels, because they are almost always superb). Heck, Rogue One was surrounded by well-regarded books from the film’s novelization to companion stories like Catalyst, Rebel Rising, and Guardians of the Whills. And I haven’t even mentioned any of the Marvel creations here because I’m focusing on the Del Rey and Disney-Lucasfilm novels.

These tie-in novels exist to do more than just promote a film or theme park, more than just making a quick buck out of people who are excited about a related product. They are genuinely good stories that flesh out and expand characters and locations from their baseline story. Think about the Canto Bight novella collection: we got a series of great stories about random characters we might see for just a moment in The Last Jedi. Those great stories are what you’re paying for.

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