Monday, November 29, 2010

Novel Release Alert! VORTEX

NEW RELEASE: Tuesday November 30, 2010:  
Fate of the Jedi: Vortex


Pick up your copy of FotJ: Vortex, the newest release in the FotJ series where ever books are sold.  

400 pages of awesome from Troy Denning.  


I'll be downloading my copy to my Kindle tomorrow.  Should have a first impressions post, a spoiler free and a spoiler review posted later in the week.  Check back for my thoughts.  


Description from the dust-jacket:
In a stunning turn of events, Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben, joined forces with members of the Sith armada sent to kill them -- and turned their combined might against the monstrous being Abeloth, whose power was causing young Jedi Knights to go seemingly insane. But with Abeloth gone and the Knights sane again, the Sith reverted to form, making a treacherous attempt on Luke's life.
Luke and Ben have no time for retaliation. A new and even more insidious threat is rising, one that endangers not only the Jedi but the entire Galactic Alliance. Unless the Skywalkers survive to sound the alarm -- and to pass along the secrets they have learned about Abeloth and the Sith -- the galaxy will suffer as it has never suffered before. But the reinforcements they need remain grounded on Coruscant, where the political battle of wills between the Jedi Council and Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala has reached a boiling point.
Now Luke and Ben must go on the run, taking along the inscrutable -- and dangerous -- Sith apprentice Vestara Khai. With a host of Sith warriors in hot pursuit, the Skywalkers soon find themselves trapped on the moon Pydyr, caught between their former allies and a mob of angry Fallanassi. A new truce may be their only hope. But can a Sith ever be trusted?
With the Jedi's most famous father-and-son team outnumbered and outgunned, the countdown to galactic disaster has begun -- and time is running out!
Amazon.com link to Vortex

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Clone Wars Season 3: Episode Top 10 (S3.1-S3.10)


Ten Episodes into Season 3: Secrets Revealed is a good time to take a look back at the season so far and rank the episodes from worst to best.

#10 Corruption (Episode 5) 
Corrupt government officials allowing smugglers to import toxic tea, makes Mandalorian school kids sick.  Yawn.....This was unfortunately one of the worst episodes of the entire series.  Pacifist Mandalorians are boring enough, but the plot felt contrived and pretty pointless.

#9 The Academy (Episode 6)
A return to pacifist Mandalore.  This Scooby Doo like episode was better then "Corruption," but that is not saying much.  There was some interesting foreshadowing that potentially suggests Duchess Satine Kryze isn't the political idealist she has been portrayed as.  Could she be a wolf in sheep's clothing, a villain to break Obi-Wan's heart?  I doubt it, but it would be a much more interesting direction to take her character.

#8 Supply Lines (Episode 3)
I will say this for Jar Jar Binks, he works better in the cartoon series then he did in the movie.  But for some reason Senator Bail Organa, doesn't feel quite right to me in the series.  I'm not sure why, but his character is just kinda blah.  Jedi Master Di and his last stand on Ryloth was the highlight of this episode.

#7 Sphere of Influence (Episode 4)
Riyo Chuchi, the Pantoran Senator is a interesting and cool looking character, but other then establishing that she and Ahsoka know each other and are friends, I'm not sure what this episode contributes.  Its  disappointing that George Lucas didn't voice Chairman Papanoida, that would have given the episode more buzz.  It wasn't bad, it just felt more like a story from Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, then anything else. 

# 6 Evil Plans (Episode 8)
A dinner party interrupted by Droid torture.  Nobody asks what Anakin is doing at Padme's apartment for a dinner party with other Senators.  Are the citizens of Courscant as naive as the citizens of Metropolis?  Surprisingly this episode actually worked for me, I enjoyed the R2-D2 and C-3PO focus.  But Cad Bane was slightly disappointing.  The coolest part of the episode was the Holo-Hutt Counsel at the end.  Hutts were pretty prominent in the Bantam era expanded universe, I miss those filthy slugs.

#5 Clone Cadets (Episode 1)
The first of the two-part season premier was actually  part 1 of the 3 part story arch, Clone Cadets-Rookies(S1.E5)-ARC Troopers.  It was cool to return to Kamino and get a glimpse at clone training.  It was very dissappointing they didn't use Mandalorian training sergeants.  To me that seems like an easy way to tie the EU into the series, you don't even have to use the particular Mandalorians mentioned in Karen Traviss' novels to make it work. 

#4 Heroes on Both Sides (Episode 10)
The new demolition droids were pretty awesome.  The new character models for Anakin, Ahsoka and Palpatine also look great and make this episode a keeper.  A lot of criticism I have heard is that the terrorist attack by the Separatists wasn't a big enough threat to cause such fear by the Republic Senators, but I think critics are forgetting just how important power is on a planet that is entirely reliant on technology.  Courscant is a planet covered by layer upon layer of cityscape.  From solar mirrors to atmosphere scrubbers, everything from light, heat, oxygen relies on power to keep the planet functioning.  The subplot of Ahsoka-Padme behind enemy lines was interesting, in that it causes Ahsoka to shift her perspective on the war.  The Separatist Senate scene was pretty cool, as we haven't seen much of what goes on behind the Separatist lines among the flesh and blood members of the CIS. 

#3  Assassin (Episode 7)
Ok, so admittedly we know going in that the assassination attempt is going to fail, but Aurra Sing is just really cool and evil looking.  Who cares that they ignore her force using abilities as described in the EU, as long as they don't explicitly contradict it, there are no continuity issues for me.  Ahsoka having force visions and consulting Yoda, is a nice nod to Episode III.  Padme traveling to Alderaan, the future home of her daughter is a nice connection to Episode III and IV.  Just a fun episode overall. 

#2  Hunt for Ziro (Episode 9)
This episode stars the two weirdest creatures to figure prominently in the series.  Ziro and Sy Snootles were strange, but they worked very well.  Mama the Hutt makes Jabba look handsome.  The return of Obi-Wan and the introduction of Quinlan Vos were great.  Cad Bane fighting with a lightsaber.  The betrayal at the end was a little telegraphed as soon as that scene started, but overall this episode was a home run.  Felt like an hour instead of 20 minutes. 

#1  ARC Troopers (Episode 2)
The Clone Wars on a grand scale.  The invasion of Kamino was awesome.  This episode has some of the best visuals of the entire series.  The scene with Ventress entering the DNA chamber looked like something out of one of the Prequel movies, stunning.  Great story, great action.  I would gladly have paid $15 bucks to see this on the big screen. This series needs more episodes like this.   Credit writer Cameron Litvak and Director Kyle Dunlevy for a great episode.

Blu Ray.  If you haven't seen this series on Blu Ray, you have no idea what your missing.  It is the best looking Blu Ray product I have seen.

SHOTO LIGHTSABER: Size Matters Not

One of the most recognizable aspects of Star Wars is the lightsaber.  Whether its the image of the laser sword, or the familiar snap-hiss noise of its activation.  The lightsaber is synonymous with Star Wars.  While the original trilogy gave us Luke, Obi-Wan and Vader using what can best be described as standard lightsabers (note that Vader's hilt was over sized) .

The Expanded Universe and the Prequel Trilogy gave us more variety in lightsaber design and technology, from the movies most notably, Darth Maul's Dual-bladed lightsaber, Count Dooku's curved hilt, and Master Yoda's minaturized (arguably Shoto length) saber.

In the Expanded Universe during the Legacy of the Force novel series, we see the reintroduction of a character Lumiya, a Dark Lady of the Sith who first appeared in the Marvel Comics Star Wars #96: Duel with a Dark Lady.  Lumiya uses a unique weapon, a lightwhip.  In battling Lumiya, Luke Skywalker constructed a Shoto lightsaber to use in addition to his regular lightsaber to attempt to counteract the multi pronged attack advantage that the lightwhip gave Lumiya.



With Lumiya's return as Jacen Solo's Sith mentor Luke and his wife Mara Jade Skywalker see the need and dust off the old Shoto to face the threat from Lumiya.  Admittedly this novel series was my first introduction to the Shoto, as I am not an avid comic reader. The term Shoto is Japanese for "short sword" and it generally referred to a sword that was between one to two feet in blade length.  I thought it was pretty cool that the in universe term for the short lightsaber was taken directly from the sword fighting tradition in Japan.



In terms of Star Wars fans the Shoto is about to explode in popularity.  The reason is that in addition to the new character model for Ahsoka Tano (voiced by Ashley Eckstein), she also got a new weapon.  A shorter green Shoto lightsaber to use in conjunction with her regular lightsaber.  There are two benefits to the Shoto, not only does it provide an offensive advantage, a second means of attack.  But it also can be used like a shield to deflect an opponents attack, while pressing the offensive with your other lightsaber.

There is a very logical reason for (as I believe is rumored) Anakin to build this Shoto for his Padawan.  There are three main lightsaber wielding enemies we have currently seen in the Clone Wars Series.  Dooku, Asajj Ventress, and General Grievous, of these Ventress uses two lightsabers, and Grievous varies from one to four lightsabers.  We also are soon to see the appearance of Darth Maul's brother Savage Opress using either his brother's dual bladed lightsaber or a lightsaber of the same design. 

Anakin clearly wants to increase his Padawan's chance of survival, so giving her a Shoto and teaching her a new fighting style gives her a better chance to survive and potentially win encounters with Ventress, Grievous and Opress. 

From the perspective of a fan of the Clone Wars series, the addition of a second lightsaber, hopefully portends an increase in lightsaber fighting, and the inclusion of multiple lightsabers and different lightsaber combat styles/forms could make for some awesome visuals.

The addition of the Shoto, is also a way to further show the character growth of Ahsoka Tano as she ages and gains more experience as a Jedi and a deeper understanding of the Force.  It makes her character more nuanced and just plain cooler.  I can't wait till we see Ahsoka and her Shoto in action in the series....


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Preview Review: Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber: Chapter 4 *SPOILERS*


Warning: The following contains spoilers for the forthcoming novel, Red Harvest.


In what hearkens back to old serial novels, Starwars.com continues to release Joe Schreiber's novel Red Harvest chapter by chapter.  This is a very curious move.  If the novel is complete enough to release this much of it so far, why not push up the publishing date to before Christmas and attempt to get a bump in sales?

Is it part of some test balloon of viral marketing?  Get a cult following for a novel before its released and see how it effects sales?  I'm not really sure what Del Ray/Lucasbooks is thinking with their approach to this novel, but what I do know is that so far so good.  This book looks awesome.

So far we have gotten a close up view of Sith Training, Sith Alchemy, and Sith Bullying.  But the latest chapter is like something out of Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter novels.


Chapter Dramatis Personae:

Pergus Frode, Sith Academy Mechanic
Darth Scabrous, Sith Lord, Head of Academy
HK, HK Droid (Model # unknown)
Skarl, Nelvaanian Male, Bounty Hunter/Tracker/Dinner
Dranok, Male Human,Bounty Hunter

Knights of the Old Republic fans will be excited over the inclusion of the HK Droid.  Statement: Stupid Sith Meatsacks. 
Chapter Excerpt #1:
“Statement: It’s through here, sir,” the HK said, gesturing up at the
tower. “Right this way.”
Dranok paused in his tracks and looked up. He’d seen some weird
architecture in his time, but the Sith Lord’s tower was unsettling in a
different way. It was imposing, yes, and much taller than it had looked
from the air, but there was another quality to it, an indefinable sense of
wrongness, as if it had been built at some unnatural angle so that it
seemed to curl down on top of him like an immense black claw. He’d
once overheard talk in some spaceport about the Sith, how they’d
learned to manipulate spatial geometry itself, creating buildings that
were, in themselves, detached from physical reality. The guy telling the
story had claimed you could get lost inside a Sith labyrinth and never
escape. Dranok had dismissed it as a lot of drunken superstition, but
looking at the tower now, he wasn’t sure. He didn’t like standing in
front of it, and liked even less the idea of going inside.
Not only does Schreiber make the Sith creepy, he makes their architecture creepy.

We also get a nice description of Lord Scabrous:  Chapter Excerpt #2
The bounty hunter froze at the sound of his own name, the voice
turning his breath to dry ice in his lungs. Up ahead, standing between
him and the exit, a tall, dark- cloaked figure gazed back at him from the
other side of a long stone table. Dranok realized that he was looking into
the face of a man with long, refined features, the aquiline nose, raked
brow, and prominent cheekbones stretched out until they were almost
a caricature of arrogance. Thick gray hair, a strange silvery blue color,
swept back away from his forehead. The figure extended one longfingered
hand, gesturing him forward, and at the same moment Dranok
saw the man’s eyes flicker and pulse as if reflecting the burst of
some far- off explosion.
We also found out that the particular black orchid that Lord Scabrous is after has a name, its Murakami Orchid.

We also get some confirmation that Lord Scabrous has probably been training Rance Lussk, because he uses the same Dark Side technique that Lussk used on his fellow student Wim Nickter.

Chapter Excerpt #3:
He stared at what lay underneath, sudden horror piling up inside
his throat like a clogged siphon. It took less than a second to realize
that the shaggy thing in front of him was the severed, stewed head of
his partner, Skarl. The Nelvaanian’s mouth had been pried open wide
enough to accommodate the ripe red jaquira fruit that had been thrust
between its jaws. Dead, boiled eyes gaped up at him with what almost
looked like accusation....

“Every traitor makes a meal of his allies.” Scabrous held up a knife
and fork in front of the bounty hunter’s face. “This is your last meal,
Dranok, and you must eat it, every morsel. That is the offer I present
to you. If you can do that, I will allow you to walk out of here alive.”
Dranok recoiled, struggling harder to pull himself free. But the only
part of his body that he could move was his right hand, the one that
Scabrous was allowing him to lift in the direction of the dining uten-
Star Wars: Red Harvest 29
sils. Jaw clenched, he grasped the knife from the Sith Lord’s hand—
and then thrust it forward, as hard as he could.
 The chapter preview also ends on  a cliffhanger and what appears to be the first appearance of our zombie friends....

Read Chapter Previews 1-4 below and get hooked on some Sith Zombies...

Download Red Harvest Chapter 1: Here
Dowload Red Harvest Chapter 2: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 3: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 4: Here

Pre-Order Red Harvest from Amazon.com: Here

Follow Joe Schreiber: Twitter @joeschreiber1 and his blog, http://www.scaryparent.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 26, 2010

Red Harvest Chapter 4: Released on Starwars.com

Star Wars.com continues the serialized release of Joe Schreiber's forthcoming novel Red Harvest.

Chapter 4 is now online in PDF form.

StarWars.com article

Direct PDF download link

Look for a Preview Review of Chapter 4 later this weekend...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Podcast Profile: We Talk Clones


We Talk Clones, is a podcast produced by Solosound.net, the podcast has been going since season 1 of the Clone Wars and has over 50 episodes at this point.  I came across the podcast this past summer and has been in my podcast rotation ever since.

As with all of the Solosound podcasts, the production quality of this podcast is extremely high.

Hosted by Stephen, Tom and William, the WTC provides a very nice recap and analysis of each Clone Wars episodes, you may have missed something in the episode and not even realize it until you listen to these guys dissect it.

They have just posted Episode 52: Heroes on Both Sides.

To listen go here: http://www.solosound.net/category/wetalkclones/

Follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/WeTalkClones

There email is: WTC@solosound.net

For other high quality Star Wars Podcasts, also visit: http://www.solosound.net/

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

LA Clone Wars Special Savage Opress Screening Date Changed to December 6th.

I Just received the following e-mail regarding the LA Clone Wars Screening that was scheduled for Tuesday December 7th.  Not sure if other cities are being changed as well.

A gofobo studio representative has sent you a message regarding the following screening:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Monday December 6, 2010 @ 7:00 pm
Hollywood, CA

Message:
Dear Attendee:

We apologize for the inconvenience but – due to the overwhelming response from fans – the date and location of the STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS debut episode screening in Los Angeles has been changed to accommodate more people.  The new time/date and location are now:

Monday, December 6th
7:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre                                          
6712 Hollywood Blvd.                                          
Hollywood, CA 90028

We ask you to please reprint your passes with the new information by logging into http://www.gofobo.com and selecting MY FOBO at the top of the page. Once on MY FOBO see the right side of the page and locate the STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS screening and select "Reprint Passes." A new PDF of your passes will generate on your desktop and you can print out these passes to replace the passes with the old location. Please recycle the old passes if possible.

Please note that these episodes include some intense scenes.

If you cannot attend the screening please go to MY FOBO as directed above and select "Cancel RSVP" to allow your passes to be claimed by other members wishing to attend the screening.

If you have any questions, please contact our support staff at (866) 372-0272, or e-mail at support@gofobo.com . Our skilled support staff is available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday CST to answer questions and to guide you through any technical issues.

Thank you and again we apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

Sincerely,

The gofobo team
 Time to reprint your passes LA Star Wars fans.

Update: Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion ( To Be Released 3/20/12)

Pablo Hidalgo, Lucasfilm's on-line content developer for Starwars.com, gave a recent interview to http://korpil.net/ .  Its a wide ranging interview, but for Star Wars novel fans, we got a great update on the new Essential Guide that is going to be covering the written material in the EU, primarily novels.

It is called: "Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion."


16. The announcement of the Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion sounds like a great addition for those who don’t know how to delve into the Star Wars Expanded Universe. What can you tell us about this book?

It’s still coming together. In a nutshell, it’s basically Star Wars: The Comics Companion but for prose fiction. A high-level summary of all the novels, short stories and young reader novels in a chronological reading order, with what I hope are interesting footnotes that track the evolution of the expanded universe. A big bonus is that there will be all new art to depict characters and events that have yet to be depicted.

17. The addition of new illustrations for previously non pictured characters is simply great, do you have a list of the artist who will be collaborating with this project?

Not yet. I would expect a lot of the artists who have contributed to Essential Guides in the past to be onboard, joined by new ones as well.

-Full Interview by Korpil.net

Previously we had received this blurb from Sue Rostoni's SW.com blog:


March 20, 2012 - Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion by Pablo Hidalgo. Trade paperback. A super guide to the novels, short stories, e-books, etc. With new illustrations of characters you've only read about. This will be organized chronologically according to in-universe dates and written out-of-universe so that it won't be like the Essential Chronology but more like a non-fiction guide to fiction, with side-bars calling out related comics and events.
http://blogs.starwars.com/eeusuestornii/15

Podcast Profile: Star Wars Book Report


 In what will be an on going series, I am going to highlight some of my favorite, Podcasts, blogs and websites concerning Star Wars.

Sci-Fi/Star Wars Book Report is a website and Podcast Run by Jesse and co-hosted Wayne. Jesse is a one of the more insightful Star Wars novel reviewers that I have come across.  His podcasts are a little irreverant at times, but entertaining and he has scored some very good interviews.

He has just released his 13th podcast episode and is going onto my MP3 player as we speak.

So head on over and download the podcast at http://starwarsbookreport.com/

For quick download links, the RSS feed for the podcasts:  http://starwarsbookreport.com/?feed=podcast

If you like what you here contact Jesse at  jesse@starwarsbookreport.com and send him your comments and suggests.

Keep up the good work Jesse.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Preview Review: Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber: Chapter 3 *SPOILERS*


Warning: The following contains spoilers for the forthcoming novel, Red Harvest.


In what hearkens back to old serial novels, Starwars.com continues to release Joe Schreiber's novel Red Harvest chapter by chapter.  We now have 3 chapters out but given its December 28th release date, I would not be surprised if they go up to Chapter 5, to try to slowly build an audience for the novel.

After the 3 short chapters we have received, I am invested in the characters and I am anticipating the novel much more then I was when we first learned about this prequel to Death Troopers. I actually enjoy Schreiber's shorter chapters, I think it makes books easier and quicker to read, especially if your busy and not reading it in long sittings, it makes for more convenient stopping points.

Chapter 3 is subtitled, Deep-Down Trauma Hounds.  In this chapter we see our unfortunate Sith whipping boy Wim Nickter, and well he is worse off then when we last saw him.

Nickter has become an unwilling lab rat for the twisted Sith Lord Scabrous (Scabs to his friends).  What exactly is Scabs doing to poor Wim, well that's not entirely clear.  Nickter has at least 6 tubes running from a pump into his spinal column.  The pump is filled with a yellowish/red liquid.  We also have some creepy black lotus flowers and a Sith Holocron for good measure.

Schreiber does a particularly good job in this chapter setting a creepy and evil tone.  Scabs is one of the creeper Sith Lords we have been introduced to, and this is only a glimpse of what we will see in the full book I am sure.

What is the fate of Nickter?  Does he day, another in what appears to be line of failed Sith evil botany experiments?  Or does he become the blood slobbering Sith Zombie that appears on the cover of the novel?

I was only so so on Mr. Schreiber's Death Troopers novel, it was a good read, but didn't feel enough like Star Wars for me.  So far in the first three chapters of Red Harvest, I think Mr. Schreiber has nailed the tone and feel of Star Wars.  This book looks like a keeper to me, I'm sure it will make a killing.....muahhaaahaaa

Download Red Harvest Chapter 1: Here
Dowload Red Harvest Chapter 2: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 3: Here

Pre-Order Red Harvest from Amazon.com: Here

Follow Joe Schreiber: Twitter @joeschreiber1 and his blog, http://www.scaryparent.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ahsoka Tano: From the Penumbra of Star Wars



Ahsoka Tano:  From the Penumbra of Star Wars

One of the more controversial moves in recent Star Wars history was the introduction of an adolescent girl to the saga.  This decision caused a radical change in our understanding of Anakin Skywalker and his tragic fall from Jedi “Chosen One” to Darth Vader the slaughterer of younglings and the iron fisted enforcer of Emperor Palpatine’s New Order. 
Who is Ahsoka Tano? Where did she come from?  And why the heck is she here?
In a 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Justice William O. Douglas writing for the majority made an analogy using the term penumbra which generally means a shadow or darkness.  Justice Douglas said, The foregoing cases suggest that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance…. The Ninth Amendment provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)
In a similar way Ahsoka Tano could be said to spring from the shadows created by the Clone Wars and the story of Anakin Skywalker.  Her purpose to those stories is to “help give them life and substance.”  It doesn’t matter if she was specifically envisioned by George Lucas, just as Justice Douglas didn’t believe it necessary for the framers of the Constitution and the bill of rights to have foreseen specific unenumerated rights.  What is important is whether or not Ahsoka improves the saga of Star Wars and whether or not she serves the purpose for which it is created.
It is clear that over the course of the years Star Wars as we have come to know it has gone through many permutations in George Lucas’ mind and through the creative process, elements of story have changed, characters have been created and discarded, ideas laid aside but later used.  It is not out of the realm that he at some point long before the Clone Wars cartoon series had the idea in his head that Anakin had an apprentice (Padawan).  Out of this bud of an idea sprung Ahsoka. 
I.                    How Ahsoka fits into the Fall of Anakin Skywalker and Rise of Darth Vader
The fatal flaw of Anakin Skywalker is attachment.  He learned to love and attachment to his mother and too friends before he learned to be a Jedi.  This provided a flawed foundation upon which the Jedi through Obi-Wan Kenobi tried to build a Jedi Knight.  Anakin grew up as a slave, deprived and forced to labor for the Hutts.  What do we know about his childhood beside the facts that he possessed a droid (partially built C-3P0) and a junker podracer.  Not a great deal in terms of material possession.  But Anakin’s entire world is focused on his love for his mother.  Initially upon the Jedi introduction over dinner he is thinking the Jedi have come to free the slaves, freedom for himself and his mother.  He re-builds C-3PO for the express purpose of helping his mother.  This is a little boy who loves the only parent he has ever known with all his heart.  The first major loss of his life is the separation from his mother.  While he was excited to learn to become a Jedi, there is no doubt that his mother was on his mind everyday from that point on.
In Attack of the Clones we have Anakin sensing his mother in pain and danger, returning to Tatooine too late to save her, having her die in his arms and his subsequent slaughter of the Sand people.  On top of the loss from the earlier separation from his mother, now he experiences the total loss of her in death.  Anakin now has the guilt of abandoning her in the first place to train as a Jedi and the guilt of not being there in time to save her. 
The introduction of Ahsoka provides yet another chance for this flaw in Anakin to be accentuated and to help explain how severe Anakin’s fear of loss was in Revenge of the Sith.  As much as the Jedi spurn attachment we have seen that the Master-Padawan relationship is a hybrid relationship that is surrogate parent/sibling, teacher, and friend.  The potential loss of Ahsoka is like Anakin losing a daughter or little sister.  The loss of Ahsoka if taken in view of the total story of Anakin Skywalker would represent the potential for Anakin to lose all of the potential major female family members; Mother (Shmi), Daughter/Sister (Ahsoka), Wife (Padme).  With the loss of his mother and Ahsoka, not only does Anakin’s fear for Padme make more sense in its intensity, but the rapid turn to the dark side makes more sense as well.  This was a guy who experienced tremendous emotional trauma in his personal life as well as the trauma caused by constant fighting in the Clone Wars.  The major question is not why did Anakin fall to the dark side, but why did it take so long and how did more Jedi avoid falling as well. 
II.                  How Ahsoka fits into the Continuity
Ahsoka also fits as a Retcon, if Ahsoka dies in the course of the Clone Wars series, especially if it is set close to the events of RotS, then in plays in nicely as to why she is not mentioned in the movie.  Both Obi-Wan and Padme would know that the loss was too fresh for Anakin to deal with, so conveniently it goes unmentioned in the movie. 
Once the story of Ahsoka is concluded in the Clone Wars series, I think we also see references to her popping up in the Expanded Universe novels or Comics.  Once other writers know what Ahsoka’s fate is, we can fit her to a greater degree in the Post-Battle of Endor EU.  If she survives somehow, she could appear and interact with Luke’s Jedi Order at some point down the road.  If she dies, some record, be it a holojournal, reference to her, etc. could be found and used as part of a story.  But I am sure at this time Lucasfilm has made her pretty off-limits as a character as to not create a continuity problem for its current main Star Wars vehicle (The Clone Wars). 

III.                Ahsoka, a character or caricature?

In both the original trilogy and the prequels we have a strong leading lady in the person of Princess Leia Organa and of Padme Amidala.  However, if you pay attention for the most part the world of Star wars is male dominated.  It makes sense to take the chance and make the new main character of the latest Star Wars story not only a young person, important for a show whose target audience is children, but also a girl.  Not only does this send a positive message to female viewers, but it also creates a fresh take on storytelling from operating from a female perspective that is limited in Star Wars story telling. 
If you follow the expanded Universe we have seen a number of stories featuring and some primarily so, lead female characters.  You don’t have to be a guy to swing a light saber.  We have any number of examples of leading lady Jedi’s in the EU, for example Barriss Offee (Medstar Duology), Etain Tur-Mukan (Republic Commando’s series), Tahiri Veila (Junior Jedi Knights Series through current FotJ series), Jaina Solo (Dark Journey, as well as many other novels especially the LotF series), and of course Mara Jade Skywalker(Zahn’s novels and rest of EU until Sacrifice).
The introduction of Ahsoka into the Star Wars universe was awkward to say the least. The Clone Wars animated movie was not probably some of the weakest storytelling of the entire Clone Wars series.  So not only do you have a so-so movie, but the characterization of Ahsoka was rather unappealing.   A snarky tube top and mini-skirt wearing teen, who was rude to her new Jedi Master, is not the most endearing character ever created. 
                Ahsoka has been best in the Clone Wars when she is either on her own or paired a Jedi other than Anakin.  In these situations the focus shifts off of Anakin and onto Ahsoka who can and should be the star of the show.  So far in the first two seasons of the show we saw Ahsoka very much learning on the job, making mistakes, overconfident at some times and unsure at others.  But as we get deeper into season 3 we are seeing a maturing Ahsoka.  Ahsoka is also getting a long overdue fashion makeover.  Some fans and critics of the show have commented on Ahsoka’s attire or lack thereof.  While I don’t think this is a huge deal, it is nice to see Ahsoka getting a less revealing and more situational appropriate outfit. 
                Only the future episodes of the show will tell us where the character of Ahsoka goes, but I think Dave Filoni, George Lucas and the writers of the Clone Wars series have redeemed a character that was poorly executed in the Clone Wars Movie, but who has become integral to the story telling of the Clone Wars television series. 

Author’s note:  I would like to give credit to Nathan P. Butler (Star Wars Timeline Gold) and the crew at We Talk Clones (Solosound/EuCantina.net) for the inspiration of this editorial.  It was Mr. Butler’s analogy of the Star Wars continuity to the differing interpretations of the Constitution (strict constructionist vs. living breathing) that brought the idea of penumbras to the surface of my mind.  We Talk Clones and EU Review are two of the best Star Wars related podcasts on the web and are a must listen for fans. 



Friday, November 12, 2010

Red Harvest Chapter 2: On-line serial preview of the novel continues...

If they are prepared to release the first two chapters on-line, why not bump up the novel on the publishing calendar to before Christmas?  Missed opportunity or looking to cash in on the gift card market?

Read the chapter Excerpt in PDF here.

A peek at my bookcase....

My nearly complete Star Wars Novel collection.






Thursday, November 11, 2010

Savage Opress: This looks incredible.

Darth Maul's Brother: Savage Opress







In an incredible move Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming to the big screen for a limited theatrical engagement on December 7th.  Featuring a 3 episode story arch that promises to expose the secrets of Darth Maul and introduces his brother Savage Opress.

The screening will take place in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, L.A., NYC, Philly, San Fran, Seattle, Phoenix and D.C.

Not only is it a chance to see the episodes a month before they air on the Cartoon Network, but its free and Lucasfilm is only asking for guests to bring unwrapped toys as a donation to charity.

I scored my wife and I both scored passes to the L.A. event which appears to be full right now.  If you are interested in attending check the website and different cities to see if any tickets are still available.

When Dave Filoni introduced Savage Opress at Celebration V, I have to admit I groaned.  Great I thought to myself a silly name that is supposed to be pronounced in a french accent, and a character who is a recycled Darth Maul.  Boy was I wrong.  If these clips are any indication, Savage Opress has the potential to be the best Star Wars villain introduced since the original trilogy.  This looks epic, these could be the best episodes of the Clone Wars that are ever produced.

I am calling it right now.  Savage Opress will cause the Clone Wars series to explode into another level of popularity and will instantly be a huge fan favorite.

He is the very opposite of the highly refined Darth Maul.  Maul trained since his youth by Darth Sidious, was a weapon made flesh.  Opress is a force of nature that Darth Tyranus is trying to contain and channel by training.

Watch and behold the awesomeness that is Savage Opress.

Trailer #1


Trailer #2

Vode An: To our Veterans on Memorial Day. A Star Wars tribute.


VODE AN (Brothers All)

Kote!
Kandosii sa ka'rta, Vode an.
Coruscanta a'den mhi, Vode an.
Bal kote, darasuum kote,
Jorso'ran kando a tome.
Sa kyr'am nau tracyn kad, Vode an.

Kandosii sa ka'rta, Vode an.
Coruscanta a'den mhi, Vode an.
Bal...
Motir ca'tra nau tracinya.
Gra'tua cuun hett su dralshy'a.
Aruetyc runi solus cet o'r.
Motir ca'tra nau tracinya.
Gra'tua cuun hett su dralshy'a.
Aruetyc runi trattok'o.
Sa kyr'am nau tracyn kad, Vode an!


Glory!
One indomitable heart, Brothers all.
We, the wrath of Coruscant, Brothers all.
And glory, eternal glory,
We shall bear its weight together.
Forged like the saber in the fires of death, Brothers all.

One indomitable heart, Brothers all.
We, the wrath of Coruscant, Brothers all.
And...
Those who stand before us light the night sky in flame.
Our vengeance burns brighter still.
Every last traitorous soul shall kneel.
Those who stand before us light the night sky in flame.
Our vengeance burns brighter still.
Every last traitorous soul shall fall.
Forged like the saber in the fires of death, Brothers all!

Note: Vode An text from Wookieepedia.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Preview Review: Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber: Chapter 1 *Spoilers*



What is Red Harvest?

Red Harvest is Joe Schreiber's follow up to last years Death Troopers.  It will be released December 28th in Hardcover and Unabridged audio CD.  Its a short hard cover novel coming in at only 272 pages.  It is available for pre-order on Amazon for $17.82. Blurb:

The era of the Old Republic is a dark and dangerous time, as Jedi Knights valiantly battle the Sith Lords and their ruthless armies. But the Sith have disturbing plans—and none more so than the fulfillment of Darth Scabrous’s fanatical dream, which is about to become nightmarish reality.

Unlike those other Jedi sidelined to the Agricultural Corps—young Jedi whose abilities have not proved up to snuff—Hestizo Trace possesses one extraordinary Force talent: a gift with plants. Suddenly her quiet existence among greenhouse and garden specimens is violently destroyed by the arrival of an emissary from Darth Scabrous. For the rare black orchid that she has nurtured and bonded with is the final ingredient in an ancient Sith formula that promises to grant Darth Scabrous his greatest desire.

But at the heart of the formula is a never-before-seen virus that’s worse than fatal—it doesn’t just kill, it transforms. Now the rotting, ravenous dead are rising, driven by a bloodthirsty hunger for all things living—and commanded by a Sith Master with an insatiable lust for power and the ultimate prize: immortality . . . no matter the cost.

Chapter 1: Preview Review  *SPOILERS*

Setting: 3645 BBY, Sith Academy on Odacer-Faustin,  Dueling Ring.


Chapter Dramatis Personae: Wim Nickter, Sith Acolyte;  Lord Shak'Weth, Sith Blademaster; Rance Lussk, Sith Acolyte.

Summary:

In a scene familiar to those who have read Drew Karpyshyn's Darth Bane novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, in the first chapter we are taken to a Sith training academy.  We are introduced to a Sith Blademaster reminscent of Lord Kasim, in the person of Shak'Weth.  We have a duel between Lussk the undisputed strongest student at the academy, someone that has defeated and destroyed dueling opponents, and unassuming Sith Wim Nickter.  But this duel is not all it seems, and Lussk has ulterior motives in choosing Nickter as his dueling partner, as he tries some rare Sith mind control technique to dominate Nickter's will and leaves Nickter lucky to be alive.  At least alive for now....

Chapter Excerpt:

I own you, maggot, it said, the strength of the other cadet’s will booming through Nickter’s skull, and you will do as you’re told.  No. Nickter’s jaw clenched, summoning what remained of his resolve.
He understood now that his only hope lay in freeing himself, wresting his will away from Lussk’s authority. What the other acolyte was practicing on him now was obviously some advanced Force mind control technique learned from one of the Sith Lords at the academy, perhaps at the knee of Scabrous himself. Had the rumors of his secret tutelage been true after all? Whatever the case, for reasons known only to Lussk, he’d decided to try it out this morning on Nickter, and Nickter had nothing to counter with.


Impressions:

I purchased and enjoyed Mr. Schreiber's novel Death Troopers.  That being said, it didn't really have the feel of Star Wars to me. I gotta say this book has me much more excited.  Ancient Sith and Jedi are a lot more interesting then an Imperial Prison Barge.  I really enjoyed the Darth Bane novels, so the chance in this brief glimpse to see some more of Sith training and the ultra competitive nature of Sith academies is entertaining to read.  Is Nickter going to be our luck Sith Zombie survivor? Or an early victim?  Should be interesting to see.  The two characters I am most interested in don't appear in this excerpt.  The mysterious Lord Scabrous and failed Jedi Agricorps member Hestizo Trace.  Why does Trace help a Sith?  There is a ton of potential for interesting story telling with that character.

The chapter is only nine pages long, if most of the book follows a similar pace it could be a short novel with small chapters which makes for a very quick read.  There have been some good short SW novels, but much of the time with the sub-300 page books it seems like there was missed storytelling opportunities within the structure of the story.  The idea of Sith sorcery is not new, we have seen it a number of times including recently in Darth Bane: Rule of Two, with the technobeasts created by Sith Lord Belia Darzu. It will be interesting how far Schreiber goes with this zombie virus and whether this book feels like Star Wars. 

To read the full chapter excerpt in PDF click HERE.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Star Wars meets Science #1: Holographic Communications

Princess Leia: [in a holo message] General Kenobi: Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars; now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person; but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I've placed information vital to the survival of the rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope.

 Researchers publishing in the Journal Nature have created a working 3D holographic communications device, termed “holographic three-dimensional telepresence.”  This has the potential to make the I-phone look primitive.  Imagine, we are potentially only 7-10 years away from having a holocomm unit using a holonet to communicate.

More than 30 years after the famous Star Wars movie scene in which a hologram of Princess Leia appealed for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi, US researchers have unveiled holographic technology to transmit and view moving three-dimensional images.
 Whether it be placing a phone call to family or friends, making a presentation, or playing a game like holochess (dejarik) the potential applications for this are awesome.  Imagine 20 years from now, when you make a phone call an accurate 3D hologram of the person you are talking to appears.

Who wouldn't want to appear as a giant floating head ala the Emperor and impress your friends or scare your children.  This kind of advance in technology could change the already dying home phone market, as many users are using cell phones exclusively.  This is a potential long term replacement  for the telephone that makes the most sense as a home or office feature and would seem to be much farther away from a mobile application. 
The scientists at the University of Arizona say their prototype “holographic three-dimensional telepresence” is the world’s first practical 3D transmission system that works without requiring viewers to wear special glasses or other devices. The research is published in the journal Nature.“Holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world,” said Nasser Peyghambarian, project leader. Professor Peyghambarian said it would take at least seven to 10 years’ work before a consumer version of the system was ready to test in people’s homes.
[R2-D2 and Chewbacca are playing the holographic game aboard the Millennium Falcon]
Chewbacca: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh!
C-3PO: He made a fair move. Screaming about it can't help you.
Han Solo: Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookiee.
C-3PO: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid.
Han Solo: That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.
Chewbacca: Grrf.
C-3PO: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win
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