Fleeing The End: Why I Finally Watched The Force Awakens—and The Last Jedi


Two years back, I did an article on why I was holding off from seeing The Force Awakens. I watched it just over a week ago, with The Last Jedi on the next day. (Reviews for both TFA and TLJ.) Did my expectations of what I thought I would make of TFA actually pan out? I think so, but with one difference in that I did not really see the same movie as others would have seen two years gone.

Nope, the version I saw was technically the same, but I saw it having a lot more information about how it all came about than any viewer would have had then. Did that change it? It bolstered and supported the film’s weaknesses. Even a partial, incomplete account of where the First Order came from beats nothing, similarly a general picture of how the Republic works beats nothing. I would disagree much needed to be done to address these in the film, each could have been covered by a single line, say of First Order agents paralyzing the Republic politically, an older Resistance member quipping to another about a sense of déjà vu. Small details to be sure, but they would have helped the film stand more on its own.

And that ten percent of the film I expected to dislike? Well, the Bloodline book did de-fang a lot of what TFA does with Han and Leia, by dating the collapse of everything for them as roughly six years earlier. That changes the picture quite a bit and lessens the impact. It’s notable that Han’s claim to be good at smuggling is complete bullshit. He wasn’t that good at it thirty years previous and age hasn’t made him any better. As an excuse for a man who blames himself for things he should not, it does work. Leia’s focusing on what she can do, rather than what she cannot – like convincing Han he should not blame himself – that works too. Read More

Fleeing the End: Why I’ve Chosen Not to See The Force Awakens—Yet


I can already see the questions running through your mind – why not see it now? Why wait? Well, one answer is I know what happens and I’m not 100% in favour of it. Why opt for spoiler info? The last decade of Star Wars product, in terms of what happened a few decades later, is not a pretty story. It’s certainly a tale from which the conclusion to draw is not to trust those supplying it. As a general rule, if I need spoiler info it denotes a lack of confidence. At the same time, it seems abundantly clear that The Force Awakens differs from its predecessors in that it may actually be a planned trilogy. The significance? I’ll get to that, keep reading.

The reason not to see it now is a protective one. You can find info on what goes down in TFA easily, so let’s just say I’m not exactly enthused over what they decided to do with Luke, Han and Leia. I can be fine with it for now, but I suspect there’s a chance seeing the film could have a detrimental effect on my liking for SW. And yet…there’s a sense of déjà vu about all this. About fifteen years ago, I started posting over at Jedi Council Literature, and three months after I joined a book called Vector Prime came out and the forum ended up in a months long conflagration!

VP was the beginning of the New Jedi Order series that saw the galaxy invaded by a bunch of sadomasochistic, biotech-wielding religious fanatics – the Yuuzhan Vong. The threat isn’t taken seriously by the New Republic, even after the Vong have killed Chewbacca, which ultimately leads to the fall of Coruscant two years later. The short story is I wasn’t a fan, despite lots of other people being so – starting to see the pattern here? The big problem with any continuation is how to create a new enemy, without undermining or diminishing the previous victories – in this case, the Battle of Endor. The initial solution for 1991-1999 was to have new enemies but who were not an existential threat. Sure, for a book or two they might be on the edge of victory, but then there’d be a turnaround and, as all villains must, they lose. VP did not so much stick to that template as set it on fire. Read More

Fleeing the End Special: The Great Reboot (nearly) One Year On


It’s nearly a year since the Star Wars universe got rebooted. The reasons for that move will not truly become clear until December this year when The Force Awakens is released. It will be whatever events that reveals that will in turn likely explain why the move was warranted – or not! In the interim, how has fandom responded?

There have been three distinct streams of opinion: Pro-new EU only, pro-Legends only and the ‘a plague on both your houses, I’m enjoying both’ approach. Of these I have become aligned with the middle faction, no surprise there. Yet a year ago I thought it would not be the case. What has changed?

A large part of the change in my view can be attributed to A New Dawn (AND). For all people like to claim there is nothing special in it being the first of the new books, the claim is false. There is indeed something special by being first. AND is, due to being the first one out, the book that expectations come to rest on, and which influences the chance of future purchases. Read More

No Longer Fleeing the End: Time’s Up!

Sometimes it’s the little things that have the biggest impact. Such was the case with Dark Horse Comics’ solicitations for August 2014, for these included their last Star Wars listings, save for a Dark Times Gallery Edition due before the end of year which will cost you! (Probably be well worth it though) I’ve been reading DHC’s Star Wars output since 1992, that’s 22 years and, unlike the books, there has not been much in the way of reduction in my buying of the comics either.

So why use that as a signal to jump off the EU completely? Why not? My being a fan of SW, however defined it may be, is not dependent on my continuing to consume SW product and, in the case of certain items over the last few years, consumption likely would have been very hazardous to it! But it’s also a recognition of the most inescapable truth of existence – all things end – and the ending is needed. You can, with a fair amount of creativity, flee the ending of your SW consuming and keep at it, running through comics, books, video games, cartoons and more until…. Well, quite some time.

Oh but the new stuff will be great! Yes, yes it may very well be, but it won’t be the same. I found that with the Clone Wars when I tried to engage with the new stuff a few years back it just…. Didn’t work, couldn’t work, it could not possibly invoke or achieve that which the Clone Wars material did first time around. This should not be all that surprising despite Hollywood’s best efforts to ignore the concept that what is a thrilling innovation first time around tends to be significantly less so on the second. This is especially so for me where franchise fiction is concerned. Read More

Fleeing the End: Reboot Strategies

For fans of long-running series – Marvel and DC fans will be very familiar with this, as will Transformers fans – reboots are, at best, an occasional hazard and, at worst, a fandom-killer! Which will it be for you? Well, there are various strategies you can opt for to tilt the deck more in favour of the former over the latter and this article sketches them out briefly. Read More