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.” (http://www.answers.com/topic/super-weapon)
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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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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More than any other work in Star Wars, the New Jedi Order (NJO) arc gave rise to a sense that for the Republic and Jedi to win the war something quite heinous would have to happen. Deploy Alpha Red? No, that isn’t smart against an enemy with superior biotech, but once having gained a decisive advantage over the enemy, would they all have to be fought to the death? The finale to the story, The Unifying Force (TUF), had to tackle this thorny question head-on and gave a decisive, unequivocal answer. No.
I recently re-read TUF, it’s been a decade since I last read it, so neither I nor the story can possibly appear the same. In the climatic battle which sees a Yuuzhan Vong armada assault Mon Calamari, the allied fleet gives a strong accounting of itself but is, nonetheless, outnumbered and outgunned. They cannot win this by force of arms. And, in a lot of ways, that’s the point! Star Wars may, by title, be a story about wars in space but there’s nothing that actually requires the victories be particularly military. In some respects the series is quite anti-militaristic.
One area is in its victories and this goes all the way back to the Original Trilogy. A small solo-piloted starfighter destroys a moon-sized battlestation able to destroy planets? And then, heaping further insult upon the Empire, an entire fleet of Star Destroyers, with a Super Star Destroyer as its flagship no less, loses to a “pitiful band” they outnumber and out-gun! Should the Rebel Alliance have won at Endor in military terms? No. Should Thrawn have won at Bilbringi? Probably. The Yuuzhan Vong? As shown in The Unifying Force, certainly, they had the superior fleet numbers and strategy.
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