In Defense of Bantam

Thrawn_NECWe all have fond memories of the time when Bantam held the Star Wars publishing license- a time that brought us everything from the Thrawn trilogy to The Crystal Star. It’s a universe rife with opportunities and new ideas, full of unexplored territory and possibilities. The sense of wonder and exploration is one vital to the Star Wars universe, and the first authors to set pen into a much wider universe established many precedents. Some of this era has been retconned, some is known well as the strangest things of the EU, and some is lauded as the best of the best. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see why Bantam’s contributions to the EU are so vital, warlord of the week notwithstanding.

First of all, let’s make fun of Bantam. I think we have to start with Waru, the entirety of The Crystal Star, and the very fact that some extremely silly things happened in this era of Star Wars publishing. There are so many odd plot holes, confusing references to whatever may have happened in the Galactic Civil War, and myriad kidnappings of the Solo kids. There’s the ghost in the computer who possesses someone else’s body and falls in love with Luke Skywalker. Han Solo wins a planet in a card game, and no one seems to think this is weird.  However, this era does establish some good precedents. Seeing the Solo kids in danger all the time really establishes just how high-profile the New Republic’s First Family really are, even though the kids really just are trying to be normal kids. We don’t know what we’re going to find in backwater planets that haven’t really had much contact with the New Republic, and it could be extradimensional beings, unusual aliens, or stray Imperials. Having such a big galaxy and so few precedents set for just how it would all work gave the plotlines enormous creative freedom. Read More

In Defense of CGI


Computer Generated Imagery or, as it’s better known, CGI gets a huge amount of flak from just about everyone. It may have revolutionized filmmaking, it may have opened the doors to unrealized dreams for directors but none of that stops it from getting a regular royal kicking! Now why is that? I am inclined to suggest it is a combination of factors – lazy thinking and fool filmmakers. Together, these two factors form an unholy alchemy into a destructive firestorm of criticism that never fails to repeatedly roast CGI.

First then: Lazy thinking. The charge made against CGI is that it is lazy and unimaginative. This is the sort of charge anyone could come up, no matter their state of being. Drunk as a skunk? You can still slur that CGI is lazy. High as a kite? Hey man, I may be lazing here stoned but it takes a laze to know a laze and that CGI is a laze! This charge falls apart the instant it hits reality. Here’s the world of CGI as the accusers would like it:

CGI Data Monkey hits Run on his computer panel, goes down the pub for a swift couple of pints, comes back a couple of hours later and blam! Work’s done. Read More

In Defense of Cheesecake

Cheesecake (noun)

1. A pie made of sweetened and flavoured cottage cheese or cream cheese, eggs and milk on a crunchy base.
2. Imagery of one or more scantily clad, sexually attractive persons, especially young women; pin-ups.

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Often in the course of our diversity discussions at the Jedi Council Forums, people will object to what they see as an attack on the phenomenon of male heterosexuality. If people complain about the objectification of female characters (or all too often, characters who exist solely to be objectified), that’s taken as implying that there’s something wrong with finding a given type of imagery sexy, and that men should feel bad about it.

Of course, this isn’t the case—and complaints of that nature generally fall into the category known as “Not All Men” objections, in which people ignore the precise substance of a complaint and choose to argue against gross overstatements instead. But I’ve seen this particular flavor of debate come up enough at this point that I thought it would be helpful to demarcate what exactly can be considered, essentially, “good sexy” and “bad sexy”. Read More

In Defense of Superweapons

Ah, superweapons, Star Wars would not be the same without them! Despite this, they have a vexed reputation within the Expanded Universe. The frequent accusation is they cover for author laziness, need a SW story fast? Whip up a superweapon! But before that charge is investigated in more detail, what is a superweapon, one definition is this:

“A weapon, especially an extremely destructive one, based on highly-advanced technology.” (

And arguably one against which there is little or no defense! Certainly the Death Stars qualify, despite suffering reactor overload due to some really inconveniently placed torpedoes and missiles!

So, to the initial charge: Is the insertion of a superweapon really the result of author laziness? Or can it be said to instead represent the villainous heart of the story’s adversary? After all, only villains use superweapons? Don’t they?

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In Defense of “Ugly” SFF Art


Art is subjective.

Let’s get that out of the way, right up front. If you disagree with the perspectives expressed in this piece, I don’t think you’re a bad person. Misguided, perhaps, or even narrow-minded, but still, you’re entitled to like what you like for whatever reasons you choose to like it, and I’m equally entitled to roll my eyes at you.

Which is why I’m frequently exasperated when the Star Wars art of, say, Chris Trevas is regarded as being inherently good, and the art of, say, Scott Hepburn as inherently bad.

Trevas is an excellent artist, in my opinion—as is Tsuyoshi Nagano, the prolific Japanese artist whose name almost never comes up but whose work is goddamned everywhere. Outside of Star Wars, artists like Gabriele Dell’Otto and Greg Land are met with similar near-universal praise. All four artists are seen as exemplars of realism; of producing art that the viewer can almost believe is what a given scene or character would “really” look like. Exactly how well each of them pulls this off is again, subjective, *coughpornfacecough* but that’s fundamentally their shtick—it’s what lands a job in their inboxes instead of someone else’s.
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