Escape Pod: The Feel of the Bantam Era

waruI love the Bantam era, and have in fact written in defense of a whole period of Star Wars publishing that, though ridiculous, is near and dear to my heart. There’s a sizable chunk of us fans who were brought in by books like the Thrawn trilogy and who kept reading even through The Crystal Star and The New Rebellion. Now, we’ve all had discussions about the plot quality, the villain and superweapon of the week, and all the other things we laugh at this whole era for. However, there are many good things. And one of them is the way this whole era handles politics and world-building. A galaxy that’s undergone two major government changes in the last twenty years of history won’t be the most reasonable place, and perhaps it took a publishing era of mixed-up timelines, impressively blundering villains, bizarre technology, and Waru to make it all really feel like Star Wars.

When I first heard that The Force Awakens might have a galaxy in which the New Republic or whatever wouldn’t be fully in power, I was suddenly excited. Even when I was twelve and devouring every last Star Wars book I could grab, I wondered just how the Rebel Alliance had made themselves into a functional government in just five years. How could they have gone from a rag-tag band of freedom fighters to a normal government, complete with bureaucracy enough to make us believe they’d been in power for years? It seemed a bit hard to understand, and seeing the New Republic withstand threat after threat to their rule and always come out unscathed made me wonder. Hearing that the reimagining of the galaxy might not be so secure actually made me feel better about TFA- it’s hard to reconstruct the government of a galaxy no matter what. We see that whatever’s going on between the New Republic and the Resistance and the First Order and whoever else is there, it isn’t very organized. Something happened that created the First Order, something happened that destroyed whatever Jedi were rebuilding, and the New Republic and the Resistance aren’t the same people. There are so many factions, so many layers of politics, and that makes for many stories to be told. Think back on all the different sides of the story in the old EU; we saw many small parts of Empire and Republic and others jockeying for power. It was a complicated mess, and that made for lots of storytelling space and a big galaxy for new problems to arise in.

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The Escape Pod Explains – The Battle of Taanab


One of the frustrating things about running an op-ed blog instead of a news blog is, you occasionally have to set aside what you’re most excited to talk about in favor of the thing that’s most fully developed. In this case, I’m writing these words within hours of the announcement of the first standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One, but it’s way too soon to have anything worthwhile and intelligible to say about what’s basically just a title at this point. If you’d like to see me talk about why this appears to be great news, you can head here to see me make the case for a Red Squadron novel about a year ago, or stay tuned to Tosche Station Radio, where I’ll be a guest next week for just that reason.

Moving on—the other weird thing about this piece is that I couldn’t quite decide whether to bill it as an Expanded Universe Explains or an Escape Pod, for reasons that will become clear shortly. For starters, though, let’s talk about Taanab. Originally referred to, of course, in Return of the Jedi, the “Battle of Taanab” was a conflict that for some reason involved civilian (and scoundrel) Lando Calrissian back before he got mixed up with the Rebellion. When he was awarded the rank of General despite seemingly no military experience, he speculated that Alliance leadership must have heard about his “little maneuver” at Taanab. Read More

Escape Pod: Ossus

As I’ve previously noted, I pretty much checked out of Episode VII rumors—ah, I’m sorry, make that The Force Awakens rumors—a month or two ago. Before that, the rumors were coming so fast and wild that I was happy to glance through them without taking anything so seriously as to feel like I’d been spoiled. But one thing seemed to come up pretty consistently (spoiler alert, I guess): at the start of the film, Luke is out of the picture. Maybe kidnapped, maybe in exile. Maybe for ten years, maybe for thirty.

Indeed, it’s possible we have a clearer picture of this situation now than the last time I looked, but one possibility that was being entertained was that Luke was off either on a Force pilgrimage of his own or training new Jedi recruits. Another consistent rumor was that there isn’t really an active New Jedi Order when we start off, and to my mind Luke having gone off the radar to start an academy feels nicely in line with both of those scenarios. Read More

Escape Pod: Wedge Antilles

The coming sequel trilogy has put a lot of value on the presence of the older generation of heroes and on the impact they had. While it remains to be seen how the Rebellion/Alliance will fare in the new continuity, it’s a safe bet that a New Republic still exists even if it’s not necessarily by that name. In that new Republic the vested veterans of the Rebellion, the heroes of the original trilogy, will likely have influential positions, just as they did in the Legends stories. Leia will likely be a politician still, Han may be a military officer, and Luke a veteran Jedi Master, perhaps the head of a new Jedi Order. But they are not the only veterans of the war against the Empire.

Consider one Wedge Antilles.

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Escape Pod: Winter

winterDespite the Prequel Era being off-limits during the heyday of the Expanded Universe, a few details did sneak through here and there that served to color in the pre-Republic period we would eventually see on screen, and while most of them were intentionally vague, for every outright error, there was a lucky guess. One of the best examples of this comes in the form of Winter, a character introduced alongside Thrawn and Mara all the way back in Heir to the Empire.

Winter was a close childhood friend of Princess Leia’s while growing up on Alderaan, who had also functioned as her attendant and decoy during state (and Rebellion) business. In the parlance of the prequels? She was Leia’s handmaiden.

In addition to her convenient physical resemblance to Leia (though her natural hair color was a stark white), Winter had a photographic memory, which led to her also becoming a highly effective, and notorious, intelligence agent for the Rebellion under the code name Targeter. Many an Imperial upper-cruster would recall sharing a delightful conversation with the beautiful young Alderaanian princess at a gala or banquet or what have you, when in reality they were being picked clean of intelligence and added to the flawless holocron that was Winter’s mind—all while the real Leia was likely off getting into trouble herself somewhere else. In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that Winter’s role as “backup Leia” played no small part in the princess’ status as a Rebel agent staying under wraps for as long as it did. Read More