Monday, January 31, 2011

Official Cover Art: Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition by Timothy Zahn

20th Anniversary Cover Art

 Del Ray and Lucas Books are taking a very interesting choice on the new cover of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the groundbreaking Star Wars novel, Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.  HttE really launched the modern Expanded Universe, and to celebrate its 20th anniversary we are getting a special re-release with annotations by Zahn and others, a new short story by Zahn and a special cover. 

Original Cover Art

To get an idea of what the cover will look like, look at the hardcover release of Death Troopers.  Where there is the dust jacket, and underneath instead of the normal plane hardcover with the binding, there is a glossy hardcover with the cover printed on it.  For HttE we will be getting a special new cover on the dust jacket and a re-printing of the original cover art on the hardcover of the book itself. 


Death Troopers: Dust Jacket w/poster on inside and printed cover on book.


















From the StarWars.com Story: 

As previously announced, this year sees the 20th anniversary of one of the most important novels of the Star Wars Expanded Universe: Heir to the Empire, the 1991 work by author Timothy Zahn that launched the modern EU which continues to expand today. In celebration of this milestone, Del Rey Books is publishing a commemorative edition hardcover of Heir to the Empire, with commentary-style annotations by Zahn and other behind-the-scenes people responsible for making the book a reality.
          Zahn will also pen an introduction to the book.  The book features a reflective jacket (fitting for the book's platinum anniversary) and also has a specially printed version of the original cover underneath. It will include a new Zahn novella, Crisis of Faith, featuring Grand Admiral Thrawn. Heir to the Empire: The 20th Anniversary Edition is due out from Del Rey on June 21, 2011.

Clone Wars Television Schedule Confusion



Conflicting reports exist regarding the future air dates of the second and third parts of the "Mortis" story arc.

For now I think its safest to go with the Cartoon Networks' schedule:

February 04, 8:30p Altar of Mortis (First Airing)
February 05, 8:00a Altar of Mortis (Repeat)
February 06, 8:30p Altar of Mortis (Repeat)
February 11, 8:30p Ghosts of Mortis (First Airing)
February 12, 8:00a Ghosts of Mortis (Repeat) 
February 13, 8:30p Ghosts of Mortis (Repeat)

Source: Knights Archive

Review: Star Wars: Crosscurrent by Paul S. Kemp

"There be dragons."


I. Setting

Crosscurrent is a bifurcated novel, part of the story takes place in 5,000 BBY and part of the story takes place in 41.5 ABY.

The part of the story in 5,000 BBY is set during the reign of Dark Lord of the Sith Naga Sadow and The Great Hyperspace War.  The events in this part of the timeline tie into the Lost Tribe of the Sith e-books as well as the Fate of the Jedi regarding the Lost Tribe of the Sith.

The part of the story that takes place in 41.5 ABY is set following the travels of disillusioned Jedi Knight Jaden Korr and the salvaging crew of the Junker. The events in this timeline also involve Darth Kryat's One Sith that appear in Legacy of the Force novel series and the Legacy comic series by Dark Horse Comics.

II. Dramatis Personae

Drev Hassin; Jedi Padawan (Askajian male)
Jaden Korr; Jedi Knight (human male)
Kell Douro; assassin/spy (Anzat male)
Khedryn Faal; captain, Junker (human male)
Marr Idi-Shael; first mate, Junker (Cerean male)
Relin Druur; Jedi Master (human male)
Saes Rrogon; Sith Lord; captain, Harbinger (Kaleesh male)

III. Story (Caution: Spoilers)

One of my pet peeves with some Star Wars novels is that it seems like every other character is human.  In a galaxy that is set up as so diverse and rich, its disappointing that we get so few interesting characters of other species.  I loved Kemp's interesting cast of characters, of the 7 main characters we get only 3 humans and 4 aliens.  Of these aliens we got some really interesting choices.  A male Askijian, do you remember Jabba's oh so attractive dancing girl Yarna?  I cannot recall ever reading about a male of the species before Drev Hassin and his very large appetite for humor and life make a brief but memorable appearance in this novel.

Marr Idi-Shael, the Cerean navigator of the salvage vessel Junker, is a force-sensitive math wiz.  Not only is his numerical skills cool, but the idea to use it has his way of visualizing and interfacing with the Force is a very interesting touch. 

Saes Rrogon gives us an idea of what General Grievous may have been like before his cybernetic transformation.  As a Sith wearing a bone mask he presents a dramatic visage and with his bone hunting masks gives us an interesting flavor of Kaleesh culture. 

By far my favorite of these alien characters is Kell Douro.  Douro is an Anzat assassin and spy working in the employ of the One Sith.  It also appears that he is force sensitive to some extent because he is able to use mind control of victims.   Douro uses feeder appendages that are stored in his cheeks that extend and travel up a victims nostrils into the brain cavity.  He uses these to consume his victims' brains which he calls "Soup."

After reading Kemp's short story collection Ephemera, its clear how strong an influence the horror drama has had upon him, and his use of Kell Douro and the clones (which we will get to later) are the best use of horror elements in a Star Wars novel.  While I enjoyed both Death Troopers and Red Harvest, neither novel felt truly like Star Wars, both felt a bit like they could have been written with other/non-Star Wars characters and been just as good of books.  Crosscurrent succeeds as a main stream EU novel that has tremendously creepy horror elements, these elements do not take you out of the story but fit organically with the larger narrative.

The driving force behind the novel is the struggle within of Jaden Korr, trying to come to terms with killing Corellians during the assault on Centerpoint Station during the Legacy of the Force series, Korr is left with doubts about just about everything.

For those unfamiliar Korr was trained by Jedi Master Kyle Katarn, and his master introduced a rather peculiar view of the Force to Korr.
The Force is a tool, Jaden.  Sometimes a weapon, sometimes a salve.  Dark side, light side, these are distinctions of insignificant difference.  Do not fall into the trap of classificatin.  Sentience curses us with a desire to categorize and draw lines, to fear that after this be dragons.  But that is illusion.  After this is not dragons but more knowledge, deeper understanding.  Be at peace with that.
The novel follows the tale of Jaden and Jedi Master Relin Druur, as they team up with the crew of the Junker, as they attempt to investigate a mysterious distress signal and destroy a 5,000 year old Sith ship full of the Dark side enhancing Lignan crystals.

Without giving too much of the story away the story also introduces a group of 10 clones that escape into space at the end of the novel.  These clones may include clones of Lumiya, Lassin, Mara Jade-Skywalker, others and possibly children of these clones.  What is weird is that either the Emperor or Grand Admiral Thrawn began this cloning project by combining DNA samples of Jedi and Dark Jedi/Sith to create these clones.  It sets up some interesting potential interactions potentially if there is a living Mara Jade-Skywalker clone and she were to come into contact with Ben or Luke.

The story of these clones and the adventures of Korr and the crew of the Junker will be featured in Paul S. Kemp's sequel Riptide,  due to be released 9/27/11.


IV. Conclusions


Crosscurrent gets 9 out of 10 lightsabers, is a creepy fun ride, that delves into force philosophy and makes you re-examine right and wrong, dark side and light side. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Battle Meditation on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Overlords (Episode 3.15 Review)

Episode Title & Number:  "Overlords" Season 3 Episode 15 (3.15)

Original Air Date:  January 28, 2011

Review Blurb:  Sometimes being the Chosen One sucks, on a planet that is the Force, how does Anakin choose between his Master and his Apprentice, between the light and the dark?

Jedi Fortune Cookie:  "Balance is found in the one who faces his guilt."

Episode Dramatis Personae:

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master
Ahsoka Tano, Jedi Padawan
Father, Force-Wielder
Daughter, Force-Wielder Light Side personified
Son, Force-Wielder Dark Side personified
Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master (Deceased)
Shmi Skywalker, Anakin's Mother (Deceased)
Rex, Clone Trooper Captain

Episode Summary:

The Republic gets a bizarre transmission using a 2,000 year old Jedi code, the Jedi Council sends their tag team champions Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka to investigate.  Our three Jedi are suppose to meet up with Captain Rex, Admiral Tenant and a Republic Battle group to investigate.   The Jedi are able to communicate with Rex but seem to be at the same coordinates but are not in the same place.  The the Jedi are sucked aboard a giant Borg cube set on its corner and abducted Lost style landing on an "organic mass" that appears larger then an asteroid but smaller then a typical planet. 

Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka are greeted by Daughter and taken on a trek across Pantora, err. Mortis.  When the group is separated Obi-Wan and Ahsoka, while Anakin goes following daughter home.  When night falls, Ahsoka and Obi-Wan are greeted by Brother who tells them that night can be deadly and they seek shelter in a cave full of glowing crystals.  Obi-Wan has a vision of Qui-Gon and Ahsoka has a vision of her older self.  Meanwhile Anakin finds his way to Father's monastery were he meets the old man and is invited to stay the night and take a Chosen One test in the morning.  In the night Anakin is visited by a vision of his mother Shmi, that appears to be Brother in disguise.  

When it comes time for the test in fly Brother and Sister in beast mode with Ahsoka and Obi-Wan in their clutches.  Father informs Anakin that he has instructed his children to kill the two Jedi and that Anakin must choose which one to save.  Anakin says screw that, and with Obi-Wan's encouragement draws on the power of the Force and Mortis gets a super duper voice change and brings Daughter and Son to their knees.  Upon seeing this Father pronounces that Anakin is the chosen one and must stay on Mortis and take over Father's job of watching over Daughter and Son.  Anakin ain't having any of that and turns down Father, hops in the shuttle with Obi-Wan and Ahsoka, and presumably heads home. 

Review:

I)Story/Writing

There was a ton of exposition and mythological downloading in this episode of The Clone Wars.   Overlords was written by Christian Taylor and Directed by Steward Lee.  Taylor has the unenviable task of crafting a story out of George Lucas' ideas for this episode that fans will end up really liking or hating.  I have a feeling that after the Mortis arc is over we will have some very intense debates within the fan community and we will see some backlash like after Episode I with the introduction of Midi-chlorians. Given the character introduction and the mythology involving the Force and the Chosen One Prophecy, there wasn't a ton of time for action, but with three interesting vision scenes for our main characters, this was a well conceived and well produced story. 

What Overlords does above all else is raise a ton of questions, read below for a few of mine...

1. Where exactly are the Jedi and Captain Rex?  Do these Force Wielders have powers to move through hyperspace like the Aing-Tii monks?

The whole LOST fade to white light and wakeup on the Mortis thing was a bit weird.  Were they transported to Mortis within the giant diamond ship?  Is Mortis actually within the diamond ship?  Or did the diamond ship travel to Mortis and drop the Jedi off on the planet?

2.  Are Brother and Sister Bogan/Boga(Dark Side) and Ashla(Light Side) in physical form?

Sam Witwer on his role as Son:


I'm playing the dark side of the Force. Personified, the dark side. That's what he is. That's unbelievable. Who would have thought we were going to go in this direction?
The character of the Son has very similar motivations [to the Emperor]. You have the Son, who's the dark side of the Force, you have the Daughter, who's the good side of the Force, and then you have the unifying father, who's the balance between the two. The Son believes that the balance is skewed and that he should have more influence -- and if he could have more influence, the galaxy could be a better place. For that reason it is chiefly important for him to get his hands on Anakin and influence him as fast as he can.

My character has a lack of patience. You can feel that. He has sort of a youthful arrogance and a lack of patience and you see that with how he behaves toward his sister. The dark side isn't necessarily just this malicious Force, it is the jagged destructive impulses that you sometimes need. But if you take them too far, they could destroy everything in your life. You can't eliminate it, though, because if you remove it, the universe becomes a very stagnant place. You need that destructive impulse having some form of influence. But if you lose the balance between the two, well then the Empire happens and the universe goes to hell. The dark side, while it is the destructive impulse, also creates a lot of action.


3. Is Father really dying and what happens to his children when he dies? 

I get the feeling that Father isn't really telling the truth a lot of the time. Did he actually tell his children to kill Ahsoka and Obi-Wan, or was telling Anakin that just part of the Chosen One test?  Is he really dying?  If he dies do his kids get to leave Mortis?  If Mortis makes Anakin more powerful, why wouldn't it make the Son and Daughter more powerful as well?  If Father dies do his kids perish as well and return into the Force?

4.  What exactly is the prophecy of the Chosen One? 

We know the Chosen One is suppost to bring balance to the Force, but what exactly is the prophecy and where is it recorded?  How did these hermits on Mortis hear about it or Anakin? 

Does the Chosen One need to have both Light and Dark within him in order to balance the two?

6. Names, give me names

Father, Daughter, and Son.  Really is that the best we could come up with. It is a relatively minor quibble but, this kind of naming annoys me.  I am sure its intended to give them a mysterious air, but I am not a fan. 

7. Is Mortis real? 

Is Mortis real or are the events  some kind of weird Force vision/hallucination of Anakins?

From the Episode Guide: 
This trilogy of episodes dives into concepts of the Force and ancient Jedi prophecy like never before, and represent an unusually deep exploration direct from George Lucas of some of the saga's biggest concepts. While there will undoubtedly be questions about how much that is experienced in the Mortis realm can be defined as "real," the answers will surely depend on your own point of view.

Some other interesting tidbits from the Episode Guide: 

8. Scale of Mortis 
The Mortis monolith seen at the start of the episode is over five kilometers tall, wide and deep.
Although the Force-wielders are intentionally depicted as vague and mysterious, their animation models nonetheless have the following definitions: The Father is 2.48 meters tall, the Daughter is 2.13 meters tall, and the Son is 2.2 meters. The Daughter's griffin form stands 2.58 meters tall, while the Son's gargoyle form is 4.79 meters tall. They both have wingspans over 11 meters.
9. Anchorites
The Father describes his family as anchorites. Lest anyone think this is a proper term for a species or culture, it isn't. This uncommon word, never before spoken in Star Wars, an anchorite is someone who has withdrawn from society to become somewhat of a religious hermit. The only term that so far describes the Mortis beings are "Force-wielders".
 10. Symbols
As the keeper of the balance, the Father quite literally sits at the center of a scale-like statue, with gong-like discs emblazoned with icons representing the daughter (to his right) and the son (to his left). Flanking this are statues of their beast forms: the griffin and the gargoyle.
II)Acting

We have some rather interesting performances in this weeks episode, Father (Lloyd Sherr), Son (Sam Witwer) and Daughter (Adrienne Wilkinson) all have artificially enhanced voices to give them a more resonant and spooky quality.  While we have actors returning to roles they haven played in years in Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August).  I think Neeson and August did a pretty good job in their brief appearances.  Its a small thing, but having the actors from the movies is another thread that helps tie this series into the larger Star Wars universe and helps it "feel" like Star Wars. 

By far though my favorite voice acting was by Matt Lanter (Anakin) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka). Lanter played humorous and cocky Anakin early in the episode, but the scene with Shmi was very well done, showing both the vulnerability of Anakin and the fear that drives him.  I really enjoyed the scene of Ashley acting with herself as Ahsoka and adult Ahsoka in the vision.  Deepening her voice and adding weariness and wisdom to a character that is usually much higher pitched.  The voice fit the rather world weary look in the face of the adult Ahsoka. 

III)Animation

This episode had some interesting animation.  On one hand, I was impressed with Mortis, on the other hand in many scenes it looked like the background was less real, it looked like actors working in front of a painted background.  I am sure this is probably a result of having to create a whole new planet and the new character models etc.  But I was a little underwhelmed with the look of the background in some of the scenes.

Inside of Father's monastery is another matter entirely, I love, love, love the look of inside the monastery.  I am very intrigued by the writing/glyphs that are everywhere, the colors look amazing and I really liked the icons of Son and Daughter on the massive scale as well as stained glass. 

The following are some interesting shots from the episode with my rambling thoughts:

Lighting Trees
Huge Mortis Space Black Diamond

 Check out the stained glass window behind Anakin, the symbol is a combination of the Sith looking X burst symbol of the Son and the round cross symbol of the Daughter.  Is this the symbol of the Father?  Of balance? or of the Force itself?

Weird floating Crystal thing.  Huh?

 Does this construction look like the emitter nozzle of a lightsaber or am I crazy?

Gorgeous Concept Art of Mortis

More Mortis Space Black Diamond


Night turns to Day on Mortis

IV)New Characters/Planets/Vehicles

Sister/Light Side
Adult Ahsoka in Ahsoka's Vision
Qui-Gon Jinn

Father
Admiral Tenant
Daughter in Beast Mode


Son/Dark Side
Son in Beast Mode
Brother appearing as Shmi

V)Continuity Clashes:  "How I learned to stop worrying and love the ret-cons."

I am withholding some of my concerns with how this episode will effect continuity, particularly with the Force and how it is explained, understood and interacted with until we have all three parts of the story arc. 

This episode does bring up a continuity issue regarding Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,  at the conclusion of the movie Yoda and Obi-Wan are formulating their plans and Yoda informs Obi-Wan that he has communicated with Qui-Gon and that Qui-Gon has found a way to retain his essence in the Force, surprising Obi-Wan.  This episode shows Obi-Wan communicating with what appears to be a Force Ghost of Obi-Wan.  I would note that as opposed to the visions that Anakin and Ahsoka have in the episode which look like fully solid characters, Qui-Gon looks like a Force Ghost.  The easiest explanation is that Obi-Wan attributes this encounter on reflection to a vision given to him by the Force and does not comprehend that it is actually a Force Ghost.  Another explanation is that it is Sister or Father appearing to Obi-Wan in the form of Qui-Gon.  I tend to think that this is actually a Force Ghost encounter that Obi-Wan doesn't fully understand until his conversation with Yoda in Episode III, some of Obi-Wan's reaction in that film could be attributed to surprise and reinterpretation of his experiences on Mortis in a new light. 

VI) Rating This Episode

Overlords has me both extremely excited and extremely nervous, this could be a really cool way to look at the Force, but if this ends up being the ultimate explanation of the Force, I think it will fall flat.  Hopefully this ends up with these three characters (Father, Son, and Daughter) being either extremely unbalanced individuals who are extremely strong in the Force, instead of the Force itself.

This episode had a lot of cool visuals, but created so many questions that its clear its basically a setting the stage episode to introduce characters and ideas to the audience without providing much in the way of answers. 

Overlords gets an 8.5.  George, Dave and the crew have some serious Huevos with this storyline.  Kudos to LucasFilm's Director of Communications Lynne Hale for managing to get Liam Neeson and Pernilla August to reprise their film roles for this episode. 

VII) Next on The Clone Wars:

The next episode of TCW will be 3.16 Altar of Mortis, episode two of the three part Mortis arc. 


Synopsis from Star Wars Insider:
As the Jedi attempt to escape Mortis, Ahsoka is taken captive as a lure to seduce Anakin Skywalker to join the dark side.  As Anakin battles against dark forces, the Father attempts to stop a confrontation between his children, which threatens to unbalance the Force completely.
StarWars.com Preview Episode Guide for 3.16 Altar of Mortis has not yet been released.

Video Clips: 





Friday, January 28, 2011

Clone Wars: Air Date Update for Altar of Mortis (Ep. 3.16)



According to Cartoon Network's preview for Altar of Mortis (Episode 3.16) it will air next week.  This comes in the wake of conflicting reports, the latest issue of Star Wars Insider magazine listed the air date as 2/11/11 while other sources like TV Guide, TV.com, and IMDB reported that it would air 2/4/11.

It looks like we will see Altar of Mortis next Friday, and may be getting the week off the following week 2/11/11 with Episode 3.17 Ghosts of Mortis returning 2/18/11.

Stay tuned to Lightsaber Rattling as the schedule for the remaining episodes of The Clone Wars Season 3 becomes clear.

Author's Note:  It looks like our friends over at Knights Archive were correct in their feeling that Insider was wrong.  Strong in the Force is Knights Archive.  

For a preview clip of Altar of Mortis, head on over to Cartoon Network.

Coming Soon: Review of Clone Wars Episode 3.15 Overlords & Review of Paul S. Kemp's Crosscurrent


Just a heads up for our loyal readers.  This is my plan for this weekend on Lightsaber Rattling.

1) Posting Saturday night: Review of The Clone Wars "Overlords" Episode 3.15.   Saturday night will typically be when reviews appear on this site.  


2)  Posting Sunday:  Review of Paul S. Kemp's Crosscurrent.  I have about 80 pages to go in my re-read of this fun EU novel.  I have the sudden urge for some Soup.  

3) Sunday Night assuming all goes well with Skype, I will be taking part in my first podcast.  Which one?  Stay tuned for the announcement.  

4) Given my schedule this week, my review of John Jackson Miller's novel Knight Errant will not post until next week, Thursday most likely.  

Always in Motion is the Future: Mega Star Wars Publishing Calendar Update.


Sue Rostoni, Executive Editor, Fiction & Comic Editor at Lucas Licensing and frequent contributor to the StarWars.com Message Boards' VIP Thread had extensive interactions on the board today, giving an updated publishing calendar and fielding some publishing calendar related questions.

Sue's Up To Date Publishing Calendar:  
Here's the 2011 calendar as it now stands, beginning with KNIGHT ERRANT that just came out.

January 15 - KNIGHT ERRANT (John Jackson Miller)

February 22 - BACKLASH reprint (Aaron Allston)
March 22 - DECEIVED (Paul Kemp)
March 29 - SW Craft book (Bonnie Burton)
April 26 - ALLIES reprint (Christie Golden)
May 24 - CONVICTION (Aaron Allston)
May 24 FATAL ALLIANCE reprint (Sean Williams)
June 21 - HEIR TO THE EMPIRE ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Timothy Zahn)
July 19 - CHOICES OF ONE (Timothy Zahn)
August 16 ASCENSION (Christie Golden)
August 30 - THE FORCE UNLEASHED II reprint (Sean Williams)
September 27 - RIPTIDE (Paul Kemp)
October 18 - Something that hasn't been announced yet, I don't think.
October 18 - THE COMPLETE VADER (Ryder Windham and Pete Vilmur)
November 29 - SHADOW GAMES (Michael Reaves and Maya Bohnhoff)

For 2012, I have titles in months, without actual on sale dates... and I'll list only the new fiction releases that are somewhat set for the moment, but only for the moment...


January - DARTH PLAGUEIS (working title) (James Luceno)

April - APOCALYPSE (Troy Denning)
May - Untitled (Jeff Grubb)
July - Untitled Wraith Squadron (Aaron Allston)
August - Lost Tribe of the Sith anthology (John Jackson Miller)
September - Untitled Nomi Sunrider (Alex Irvine)
November - Book 1 of a duology.

I hope I got the dates right.....
Okay -- here are the reprint dates for 2012 -- keep in mind that these are the easiest to move...

Red Harvest - 2/28/12
Vortex - 3/17/12
Deceived - 5/29/12
Choices of One - 6/26/12
Conviction - 8/28/12
TOR 3 - 10/31/12
Ascension - 11/27/12

And I see the the Essential Guide to Warfare (Jason Fry) is on for 3/20/12 (not one of mine, though).

Sue's Interaction and Answers to Follow up Questions: 

Q:  I wonder if the novel in October is Drew Karpyshyn's The Old Republic novel that was announced during Celebration V...

A:  Yes, that's the one. I don't edit the Video game related books, so wasn't on top of what's been announced and what hasn't.

Q:  I was wondering about the Jedi Dawn novel that was slated for November 2012...

A:  Right now, that one is in August 2013.

Q:  Is the Complete Vader that's mentioned a reprint of the one that was published in 2009

A:  Yes, it's the same one. There was a problem with pages sticking together in the first edition, so Random House pulled a bunch back and have done another printing.

Q:  Sue, can you give any reason why Apocalypse keep getting pushed back?

A:  Editorially, it's been too stressful to have them any closer together. The time crunches to make production deadlines have been unwieldy. It's better for us to have a little more room between them.

Q: Just out of curiosity Sue, is this US reprint(Complete Vader) technically a second edition ?

A:  I honestly don't know. It's not my project, and I doubt that the new front matter/copyright information is in yet.

Q:  Will the anniversary edition of Heir to the Empire be released in paperback, or is the hardback the only way to get the new material?

A:  Hardcover only.
Q:  Is there a reason the Nomi Sunrider novel keeps getting pushed back?

A:  Only because the schedule often needs shuffling -- no inside reasoning....

Q:  Also, is the first of the duology one of the duo by Paul S. Kemp?

A:  Yes -- again, I didn't have time to check to see if it had already been announced.

Q:  Also, any chance you could say when the Wraith Squadron novel, Jeff Grubb novel, or Paul Kemp's duology is set? Any chance any of them are after Fate of the Jedi?

A:  I don't know the exact setting yet, but I believe they're all before the Fate of the Jedi series. We don't have anything planned right now (as of this minute) that will be set after the end of the FotJ series.

Q:  Have the paperback reprint dates of Vortex (11.29.11) and Red Harvest (12.27.11) also been adjusted?

A:  RED HARVEST reprint - February 28, 2012, VORTEX reprint - March 27, 2012

Q:  I assume "TOR 3" reprint is the Old Republic novel by Drew Karpyshyn? If so, that implies the further assumption that the initial release will be hardcover...

A:  Yes, that's my understanding.  
Sue can be followed on her SW.com Blog or on the VIP Thread

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Riptide Release Date Change (Via EuCantina.net)

Author Paul S. Kemp's sequel to last years Jaden Korr novel Crosscurrent, has had its release date pushed back from July 26th to September 27th. 

On January 14th, Kemp tweeted, "Received the copyedited manuscript of RIPTIDE yesterday. A few tweaks and the book is done."  So this delay doesn't seem to be related to any issues with the writing of the book.  As EUCantina speculates the push back was likely related to the fact that Timothy Zahn's new novel featuring Mara Jade and the Hand of Judgement will be released July 19th and would probably hurt the sales of Riptide. 

EUCantina also speculates that the novel Shadow Games by Michael Reaves and Maya Bohnhoff will now be pushed back because this paperback is also now scheduled to be released on September 27th. 

My speculation is that Shadow Games will have its release date pushed to October or early November. The only scheduled October release is The Complete Vader by Ryder Windham and Pete Vilmur. The Complete Vader will be a high end book, which if you can afford, you can also probably afford a paperback novel.  So the placement of a paperback in the same month makes the most sense given the rest of the publishing calendar. 

Sources:  EUCantina.net and Random House

Clone Wars: Overlords Preview (Ep. 3.15) w/ Guest Star News


Jedi Fortune Cookie: "Balance is found in the one who faces his guilt."

Official Synopsis:  A mysterious force draws Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka to a distant planet, and its inhabitants -- a family of exceptionally powerful Force-wielders -- in an attempt to determine whether Anakin is truly the Chosen One.

Star Wars Insider Synopsis: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano are drawn to the mysterious planet of Mortis.  As Anakin learns about his destiny from a family of powerful Force users--the Father, Son and Daughter--he faces his most difficult challenge yet.  Can he bring balance to the Force?

Excerpts from Official Site's Preview Story:

Convinced that Anakin will bring balance to the Force, the family's patriarch urges the young Jedi to stay and maintain the equilibrium between the light side and the dark side. 

Featuring momentous revelations that could affect the fate of the galaxy and the balance of the Force itself, "Overlords" marks the beginning of a massive Clone Wars arc. There will be revelations and betrayals, as well as all-new perspectives on the very fabric of the Star Wars mythology.

"This is a very important chapter in Anakin's development," says Dave Filoni, supervising director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. "The prophecy of the Chosen One was touched on in the films, but never like this. We're going to look at what it means for Anakin and the galaxy. We wanted to give it the proper connection to the larger saga. I am very grateful to have Liam Neeson and Pernilla August reprising their roles from the live-action films. They are each so important to Anakin's journey, and to have them on our series has been incredible."

What will we see in the Episode?  My Baseless Speculation..

Lets start with the big news, this week will we see the return to Star Wars of two deceased characters in the persons of Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).  Not only are the characters returning, but the film actors who played them are returning to do the voice acting for the characters.

We have already seen that Qui-Gon appears to Obi-Wan in a vision on the planet Mortis, we don't know at this point whether this is Qui-Gon appearing as a Force Ghost, a vision/halicination by Obi-Wan, a projection from the Force itself, or some trick by Father/Brother/Sister.  There are a lot of possibilities and given the surprise at the conclusion of Episode III when Yoda tells Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon found a way to retain his essence in the Force, it seems like this will either be actually or simply interpreted after the fact by Obi-Wan as a vision and not as a Force Ghost.

It does beg the question, whether or not Qui-Gon appears to Anakin in this or the next episode.

Its also interesting to see that Shmi is going to be in the show, as a non-Jedi, the Force Ghost thing seems to be out the window, so it seems like she will be a vision of some sort or a memory.  What role will she play?


I think the key to this story arc and episode in particular can be found in the Jedi fortune cookie, "Balance is found in the one who faces his guilt." Anakin has a very dark act to atone for and to face up to.  After Shmi's death at the hands of the Sand People, Anakin proceeded to slaughter an entire village.

I think that in order to find balance within the light and dark within himself, Anakin must come to grips with this dark act of his and how his failure to control his emotions started him down a dark path.  I can see Shmi appearing to Anakin, in a vision as a voice of wisdom or conscience, offering absolution or forgiveness.

Interestingly from the preview article it says that 'Father' asks Anakin to stay on Mortis to 'maintain the equilibrium' between the light side and dark side.  Did 'Father' have a vision of the future that revealed Anakin going to the dark side, or does 'Father' see the chosen one as so powerful as to tip the balance either in favor of the light side or dark side.  Its possible that this 'Father' wants/needs an equilibrium to exist between the light and dark sides of the Force, and his urge for Anakin to basically self-impose an exile comes from a desire to sideline the Chosen One and prevent this imbalance in the Force from occurring.

Given Anakin's attachment issues, I don't see how 'Father' can hope to succeed in getting Anakin to sit out the war and stay on Mortis, Anakin is too attached to Padme, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Palpatine, etc., to sit back and let the galactic events play out without his intervention.

From the official site synopsis, it appears that the Mortis Family will be attempting to put Anakin through some sort of tests to determine if he is truly the Chosen One.  The scenes we have scene in preview clips with Anakin between Brother and Sister in beast mode, Brother and Sister holding Ahsoka and Obi-Wan in their claws appears to certainly be part of this Chosen One test.

This three episode arc promises to be rather mind blowing and hopefully lives up to the advance billing as changing the way we view the Force.

Tune in to Cartoon Network Friday at 8:30 PM, iTunes on Saturday and StarWars.com on Monday to view Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 3.15 "Overlords."

New Dark Horse Comics Star Wars Series: Jedi: The Dark Side starring Qui-Gon Jinn

MTV has the official announcement for the new Dark Horse Comic series that was hinted at earlier this week.  Star Wars: Jedi: The Dark Side.

Interestingly in a week full of Qui-Gon Jinn news, Qui-Gon will be the star of this new mini-series that will feature a story involving Qui-Gon and his padawan Xanatos.

STAR WARS: JEDI—THE DARK SIDE #1 (of 5)
Scott Allie (W), Mahmud Asrar (A/Cover), St├ęphane Roux (Variant Cover)
On sale May 18
FC, 40 pages, $2.99, Miniseries
Twenty-one years before the events in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is dispatched to prevent the outbreak of a civil war on the homeworld of his Padawan Xanatos—whose father is king. It is a mission that will lead Qui-Gon into close contact with the dark side and start him on a quest that will have a major impact on the future of the Jedi Order!
• Here is an opportunity for readers to get onboard a new series, set in a wild and wide-open era of the Star Wars mythos!
• The story of Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn’s Padawan, before Obi-Wan Kenobi!
© 2011 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Text and illustrations for Jedi—The Dark Side are © 2011 Lucasfilm Ltd.
MTV also has a brief interview with story writer Scott Allie:


MTV: How did you settle on Qui-Gon Jinn for the main character?
ALLIE: We were looking for a Clint Eastwood-type of character. It's always better if you can have it tie into the Star Wars films, to connect with readers, but Luke's story and so many other characters' are bound up in continuity. After discussing it for a while, Randy Stradley - our Star Wars editor here - said there's a character whose story is tied into Darth Vader's back story, which is really the backbone of the whole Star Wars mythology, that might be a good fit: Qui-Gon.
MTV: Given what we know of Qui-Gon's history already, where will this story fit in with his overall character arc?
ALLIE: Well, Qui-Gon makes sense because it's easy to look at Episode I and wonder what he was doing 10 or 15 years earlier. We're going back to an early part of his story and telling a pretty important part of the shaping of Qui-Gon as a Jedi Master.

SOURCE: MTV

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Impressions: Star Wars: Knight Errant (Spoiler Free)

Just picked up my copy of John Jackson Miller's new novel Knight Errant at my local bookseller, Mysterious Galaxy, a cool little bookstore here in San Diego where I attended a Karen Traviss book signing a few years ago. 

Knight Errant weighs in at 372 pages, a solid paperback novel, featuring a full color 16 page insert from the Knight Errant comic book series Knight Errant #1.  The comic insert is very well colored, but the panels are shrunk down pretty small.  Its the same size as a typical paperback page with a fairly large white border around the comic book panels.

The comic book excerpt looks to be well bound in with the rest of the novel pages, only time will tell to see whether it will fall out or not, but it looks to be a pretty solid job.

The cover of the novel itself features one of my favorite Star Wars cover arts ever by artist John Van Fleet.
(Author's note:  If this cover art is made available as a fine art print, I am all over it.)

On the cover, Kerra Holt is illuminated in green from the light of her lightsaber on a snow covered world with snow flakes blowing around her.  Star Wars is also embossed on the cover, I love embossing on covers.

It also includes an excerpt from Paul S. Kemp's forthcoming The Old Republic Novel, Deceived.  This excerpt is the first part of chapter 1 of Deceived and has been previously been released with the rest of Chapter 1 on-line. 

The book also includes an updated novel timeline, however there is nothing new here that we haven't seen.  No new novels are listed on it that haven't appeared in a recent timeline update.

One of the interesting omissions is that there is no Dramatis Personae (DP).  The DP is a staple of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU), it provides the reader with a list of characters to appear in the novel.  The DP in a Star Wars novel also typically lists, species, gender and affiliation or profession.  This is a curious choice for a stand alone (though not a typical stand alone, given the concurrent comic series) with new and unfamiliar characters.  If a reader becomes a little confused its a nice tool to be able to turn back to, too remember who is who in a book particularly if you are reading it in multiple sittings with gaps of time in between.

Edit: I received the following comments from author John Jackson Miller via Twitter

John Jackson Miller
@ Decision to omit Dramatis Personae was mine; many characters' names and descriptions are necessarily secret at the beginning.
John Jackson Miller
@ ...wanted to preserve the surprises. Shouldn't be any trouble keeping the cast straight, everyone's very distinct! :-)
@ Thanks for the info on the Dramatis personae. I will be updating my story with it tomorrow.
@ No problem at all. You were the first person to notice it was missing!

The cover price is $7.99 which is typical for a Star Wars paperback at this point.

Knight Errant looks like a solidly put together book, and I can't wait to dive into the story.

Clone Wars: Mysteries of Mortis: "Father" Trailer

Star Wars.com has released a new teaser trailer for this weeks episode of The Clone Wars, Episode 3.15 entitled "Overlords" featuring the characters of Anakin Skywalker and the person only known as "Father" at this point. 

A couple observations from the trailer:
  • We have our second really weird voice effect, after the weird effect on Mother Talzin in the previous story arc, "Father" also gets a heavy bass echo to his voice, almost as if two people are talking through this one being.
  • Father is pretty powerful able to grab and possible deaactive Anakin's lightsaber with his hands.  
  • Father does not have "Sith" eyes. 

"Some call us Force Wielders."



For the High Quality version, go to StarWars.com

Clone Wars News: Clone Wars & Cartoon Network Ratings



It looks like Savage Opress is having a positive impact on viewership for The Clone Wars as TV By the Numbers has some new data from Turner Broadcasting.   The Clone Wars and the rest of the Friday Night Cartoon Network line-up is crushing it over last year.

Last week, Cartoon Network achieved the #1 destination on  all television among Boys 9-14 on Friday night (7-9 p.m.), which charted  double-digit growth among kids and boys 9-14 versus the same time period last  year.  The animated action-adventure block earned 29% delivery  gains among kids 9-14 (468,000) and 27% ratings gains (1.9).   Across the block, boys 9-14 delivery (391,000) surged by 44% and  ratings (3.1) by 41%, while boys 6-11 delivery (464,000) grew by 4% and  ratings (3.7) by 6%.

Leading the Friday night line-up, YOUNG  JUSTICE (7 p.m.)  scored 22% growth among kids 9-14 (495,000)  and 18% growth among ratings (2.0).  Boys 9-14 delivery (382,000)  increased by 26% and ratings (3.1) by 29%.  Even more  impressive, BEN 10: ALIEN FORCE (7:30 p.m.) achieved 27% growth  among kids 9-14 delivery (387,000), 23% growth among ratings (1.6), and  56% growth among boys 9-14 delivery (345,000) and ratings (2.8).   And to crown the evening, STAR WARS: The Clone Wars (8:30 p.m.)  improved kids 9-14 delivery (603,000) and ratings (2.5) by 39%, and  boys 9-14 delivery (491,000) and ratings (3.9) by 44%.

Overall  across the fourth week of January 2011, Cartoon Network earned 2% early evening prime time (7-9 p.m.) delivery growth among kids 9-14  (377,000) while ratings remained unchanged, and 2% total day (6  a.m.-9 p.m.) delivery growth among kids 9-14 (258,000) and 10% growth  in ratings (1.1).
 Source: TV By The Numbers

Monday, January 24, 2011

Star Wars: Frames: A Very Expensive Collector's Item



 Do you have a spare $3,000 sitting around, because if you do, go ahead and buy this awesome looking collectors item for me.  Its like a coffee table book on steroids.

What exactly is Star Wars: Frames, why are so few made and why is it so darn expensive?

Frames is up for Pre-Order at Star Wars Shop, and is due to be released in February.  

Check out the 2008 First Look from Star Wars.com below to find out.

George Lucas personally selected each of the 1,416 shots in Star Wars: Frames, which will showcase these indelible cinematic moments in six hardcover, leather-bound volumes, each 11 inches by 22 inches and printed in exceptional large format preserving the widescreen aspect ratio and full resolution of the original film frames. Star Wars: Frames will be strictly limited to 1,138 copies (in tribute to Lucas's first feature-length film, THX 1138) and will be encased in a wood-inlaid box (24" long x 13" high x 15" wide) adorned by two embossed medallions (6.75" round) -- representing Jedi Master Yoda and Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader. The box will contain two chambers that correspond to the first and second Star Wars trilogies, which will house the six volumes. Each of these numbered limited editions will also contain a portfolio case with a bookplate signed by George Lucas.
More than 230 film frames correspond to each epic Star Wars film: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, totaling 1,416 images. Lucas selected each image from over a million possible frames.


Concept Art from 2008 Article
"This deeply personal project sets itself apart from any other publication on George Lucas's work in that it contains his frames: shots he conceptualized and crafted, unadulterated and rendered as individual works of art," said Raoul Goff, publisher & CEO of Palace Publishing Group. "Each page, or frame, presents a stunning work of beauty that speaks to the creative spirit, vision, and peerless imagination of a cinematic master."
StarWars.com First Look: Frames (July 3, 2008) 

Star Wars: Frames ($3,000) is a high-end celebration of 1,416 moments like these, hand-picked by George Lucas from over one million frames of film, and reproduced across six hardcover, leather-bound volumes -- one for each film -- measuring 11" x 22" each. 

Limited to just 1,138 copies, each set arrives in a handsome wood-inlaid box, with embossed medallions of Yoda and Vader on either side, and comes with a portfolio case with a bookplate signed by George Lucas himself.
 FoxNews Article 

To Order Star Wars: Frames go to Star Wars Shop


New Release Alert: Knight Errant novel by John Jackson Miller

Jedi Knight Kerra Holt





The newest novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (SWEU), John Jackson Miller's debut novel Star Wars: Knight Errant is being released tomorrow, Tuesday January 25th.

This much anticipated novel is an interesting experiment in concurrent story telling between Star Wars novels and Star Wars comics as there is also a Knight Errant comic series by Dark Horse comics.  While this novel is intended to stand alone, no doubt readers who become interested in the character of Kerra Holt will want to continue learning about Kerra's story and pick up the comic series as well.

I had the recent pleasure to interview author John Jackson Miller for this site, and below is an excerpt regarding the new book:


Lightsaber Rattling:

Wow, great answers. In closing, for fans who haven't yet read the Knight Errant comics, and without giving too much away, who is Jedi Knight Kerra Holt and what do fans have to look forward to when the Knight Errant novel is released on Jan. 25th?


John Jackson Miller: 

As the sole Jedi working a wide area of space controlled by the Sith, Kerra’s been forced to make decisions about what things she can and can’t do to help the people. It’s clear she’s not going to be able to push back the warring Sith Lords all on her own, so she’s set to work pouring sand into the war machines, slowing down the pace of internecine destruction. Because while having the Sith Lords at war with each other may sound like a good thing for the Republic, it’s clearly not good for those caught between.

She’s always faced with decisions over what she should be doing, and often, those decisions are taken away from her. The result is a journey through Sith space, in which we encounter some other, very different regimes — and chances for Kerra to potentially get her mission back on track. It really is an odyssey, in which she finds out as much about herself as the would-be Sith Lords she’s fighting.

INTERVIEW LINK



Knight Errant is a paperback release and has a cover price of $7.99, it also includes a full color comic excerpt from the comic series.  Go out and pick up the book tomorrow and enjoy a fun ride behind Sith lines with Kerra Holt.

For more exciting Star Wars titles as well as other fiction please visit Del Ray Books' Suvudu
To Pre-Order the Knight Errant Novel visit Amazon.com
For the latest Lost Tribe of the Sith releases please visit Star Wars.com
For the latest on John Jackson Miller please visit Faraway Press
To Order or Pre-Order any of the Knight Errant Comic Series, please visit Things From Another World(TFAW)
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