Friday, December 18, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Star Wars Week

It’s Star Wars week, which means that we’ve spent the last few days getting bombarded with new Sci Fi movie trailers.  Is this good?  

Returning soon to a galaxy far, far away...
It is if the movies are good.
1.  You Won’t Live to See the Final Star Wars Movie (Wired)
This is the best article I’ve seen in months about Star Wars, storytelling, and the specific joys of comic-style shared-universe storytelling that is at the heart of so much that is both excellent and abysmal in pop culture in quite a long time.  I strongly recommend the whole article, but the bottom line is this:

[I]f the people at the Walt Disney Company, which bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, have anything to say about it, the past four decades of Star Wars were merely prologue. They are making more. A lot more. The company intends to put out a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as people will buy tickets. Let me put it another way: If everything works out for Disney, and if you are (like me) old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film, you will probably not live to see the last one. It’s the forever franchise.

This next bit actually opens the article, but it’s so amazing that I’m dropping it in here as well.

“Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star.” The plans are the MacGuffin, the thing everyone is chasing. The spies? No one mentions them again…
The [movie] that comes out December 18 is not [that] sci-fi spy story. It’s director J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, the seventh—oops, sorry: VIIth—movie to tell the story of Darth Vader’s family. [The above] idea became Rogue One, due out in December 2016.

So yeah, that’s the Marvel approach applied to Star Wars, and it looks like it might just work.
Another great article spoiler-free Star Wars piece.  This one illuminates an aspect of the Star Wars that I’d not thought much about until I read the article.  However, it seems obvious in retrospect and is made plain in a lot of the new in-cannon material Disney is putting out to support the new movie.
As before, the entire article is worth a read if you’re interested.  Two salient points are presented below:

18. Luke is a Rebel Poster Child, but Not Widely Accepted as a Jedi
A humble farmboy made good...
When the most recent The Force Awakens trailer premiered, people wondered how the Jedi could be so easily forgotten. After all, Luke Skywalker was single-handedly dropping AT-ATs with a lightsaber and explosive charge. He should be a living legend, a household name.
Despite his talent and popularity, however, Luke’s Jedi skills weren’t widely recognized. Most of his training occurred in private and his most impressive feats happened away from the eyes of Rebel troops. That left only a handful of eye-witness accounts that amounted to hearsay, and everyone knows how war stories are exaggerated after the fog of war.
The public opinion on Luke is split. While some people believe he is a proper Jedi, the larger population of onlookers (those not in his immediate circle of comrades) simply scoff at his stories of heroism and blame it on luck.

There are a handful of new Star Wars prose novels and a whole shit-ton of comics.  Most of the comics are set in and around the original trilogy, but Battlefront: Twilight Company, and Lost Stars are both said to be good books that actually expand the universe in meaningful ways.  By contrast, no one seems to like Star Wars: Aftermath very much at all.  I’ve not read any of them as of this writing, so I don’t yet have an opinion.
The companion piece to #18 is as follows:

16. Darth Vader’s Dark Side Powers Were Barely a Rumor to Imperials, and a Boogeyman Story to the Rebels
The Chosen One.
Like father like son. As with Luke, not everyone in the galaxy is quick to accept stories of a masked-man wielding magical powers. Instead, most saw Darth Vader as a talented and terrifying leader amongst Imperials. Sure, he regularly force-choked people in front of an audience, but that’s not the type of gossip you want to spread as an Imperial officer.
Vader also preferred the “take no [Rebel] prisoners” approach. So, although there may have been horror stories of him as a Sith Lord, or a Force-wielding menace, his presence was widely denigrated as lore by those who never witnessed his power.

It does seem weird, right?  That the whole galaxy would have forgotten these guys?  But think about the heroes of Vietnam or Desert Storm.  Desert Storm happened in 1991, and it was on TV every night, but besides Gen. Schwarzkopf, how many of the war’s actual soldiers can you name?  Even something as seminal as the Battle of Seventy-Three Easting is little known outside of military circles, and even then, I’d bet that fewer than one in ten of today’s West Point cadets can name more than one of the officers involved in the fight.
What I’ve realized is that almost no one in the Star Wars universe would’ve realized who Darth Vader was, where he came from, or what he could do.  He just sort of appeared out of nowhere once the Jedi Order was destroyed, and then he started killing people who pissed him off.  Meanwhile, most folks probably think of Luke Skywalker in the same way that real people think of Audie Murphy.  Good kid, came out of nowhere to do great things, and then disappeared back into the populace.  Of course, a few people will know more—Murphy’s fate is hardly a state secret—but the world is a big place, and most folks just aren’t paying that much attention to those kinds of details.  
This is actually quite clear in the original Star Wars movie, but after watching these same characters for three movies and endless tie-ins afterwards, it’s easy to think of them as household names in their own right.  We know what they can do.  However, folks in-universe do not.  For example, it’s a huge surprise—even to his closest friends—when Luke lifts C3-PO with the Force in Return of the Jedi.  It seems unlikely in the extreme that he would ever have explained what happened on Dagobah or how the fight went down between him and Vader on Cloud City.  Truth is, Han and Chewie barely know everything.  By the time you start talking about guys like Wedge and Biggs, you’re well into myth and rumor territory, and if you ask that weird alien who flew copilot for Lando at Endor, he probably has no idea whatsoever.
Star Wars was never about science fiction — it was a spiritual story. And it was more of a fairytale in that regard. For me when I heard Obi-Wan say that the Force surrounds us and binds us all together, there was no judgement about who you were. This was something that we could all access. Being strong with the Force didn’t mean something scientific, it meant something spiritual. It meant someone who could believe, someone who could reach down to the depths of your feelings and follow this primal energy that was flowing through all of us. I mean, that’s what was said in that first film! And there I am sitting in the theater at almost 11 years old and that was a powerful notion. And I think this is what your point was, we would like to believe that when shit gets serious, that you could harness that Force I was told surrounds not just some of us but every living thing. And so, I really feel like the assumption that any character needs to have inherited a certain number of midi-chlorians or needs to be part of a bloodline. It’s not that I don’t believe that as part of the canon, I’m just saying that at 11 years old, that wasn’t where my heart was. And so I respect and adhere to the canon but I also say that the Force has always seemed to me to be more inclusive and stronger than that.
There’s more.  This bit was easily my favorite, though.
3. Two Sci Fi Trailers
Independence Day: Resurgence

I like that one a lot more than I expected I would.  When I heard they were talking about a sequel, I can’t say that I was overly excited, but this trailer gives me hope.  The sequel I wanted was about humanity exploring space, running into aliens, and slowly coming to terms with its place in the universe.  This isn’t that, but it doesn’t look too bad, either.
Star Trek: Beyond
I heard that they wanted to make the new Star Trek movie feel like Guardians of the Galaxy, and if that was the goal, then yeah, they succeeded beyond my wildest expectations.  Not sure how they’re gonna work that Beastie Boys soundtrack into a Star Trek story nor why they decided to go with a Space Marines plot for the Star Trek franchise, but whatever.  I’m sure the movie will entertain.
5.  Credit where it’s due…
I really like Navy’s “Damn the Torpedoes” hats.  Hadn’t much noticed them until Saturday’s game, but they are very cool.  

Can we get something similar, maybe saying, “There is no substitute for victory”?  Please?

Support this Blog
I write this column for a few reasons.  Yes, I like to write, but I also want to attract interest in this blog and in my writing in general.  My first book, Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki, is out for the Kindle App and on Patreonand the follow-up, Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto, came out just last month.  These are D&D-style fantasy adventures; they use the same WTF-style plotting that I use in all of my writing.  If you like Dr. Necropolis or any of my RPG stuff, you will probably like the Sneax stuff, too.  As of thise writing, Sneax is rocking a solid 4.6 stars in Amazon's reviews section.  Don't take my word for it.  Go check it out for yourself.
Look, I’m not asking you to buy anything right this instant.  However, if you’re looking for something to read, and you have a tablet, please at least consider checking out Sneax.  There are several stories up on my Patreon page that you can read right now for free.  If you like those, and you want to support this blog, then buy my book.  That is by far the best way to support my writing.

Thanks in advance.


  1. Interesting Star Wars thoughts there. Also, that song was in the 2009 Star Trek movie, as Young Kirk drives away in his step-dad's car.

    1. I read that about the song. It just seems weird in a Sci Fi piece set more than a hundred years from now. It's like putting "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" behind a car chase in a "Fast and Furious" movie. Maybe it would work, but it would probably strike most viewers as deeply weird.