Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SAVE ENDOR


The forest moon of Endor is soon to be a thing of the past.  Unfortunately the economic crisis facing the United States and the budget crisis facing the State of California, has led California to make some difficult budget choices.  Included in these budget choices is to cut funding to about 25% of the parks in the state park system.  This will lead to the closure of a number of state parks including the Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, known to Star Wars fans everywhere as Endor.

The Los Angeles Times business section has a very interesting article about the angst that is filling Hollywood over the potential for all these state park closures, as the film and television industry uses many state parks as filming locations.

From the LA Times Article:
“This is going to be very problematic for location managers," said Veronique Vowell, chairwoman of the government affairs committee for the Location Managers Guild of America. “The parks are hugely important to us. They are relatively low-cost, ready-made back lots that can represent all different places around the country. You’ve got deserts to alpine forests and beaches.”
Vowell said that once parks close, it is not clear whether filmmakers will still have access to the locations, how they would secure permits to shoot, and how well maintained the sites would be.
Parks remain hugely popular for filming. In 2009, nearly 500 permits were issued for nearly 1,000 days of shooting in state parks for such productions as “Iron Man 2” and “I Love You, Man.”

Return of the Jedi showcases one of the most lush and beautiful forests you will ever see, and the speeder bike chase is one of the most memorable scenes in the Star Wars saga.  Time is growing short, but perhaps some last ditch effort by the television and film industry to offer to help bridge the State's funding gap for the Parks system can keep these beautiful park open and preserve this tremendous asset to the television and film industry.  It seems to me that helping provide funding for the state park system would be a worthy investment for the television and film industry and much cheaper in the long run to ensure them with well maintained outdoors sets for their productions.

For more information on Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park visit the State Park Website.



SOURCE: LA TIMES STORY and STARWARSLOCATIONS.COM

Review: Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Conviction by Aaron Allson


SPOILER FREE SECTION

The seventh of nine books in the Fate of the Jedi series, Conviction by Aaron Allston brings the funny in what is a book jam packed with sub-plots and characters. 

Allston did yeoman's work in this book, not only did he tell a good story but he advanced  almost all of the plot lines that have been previously established in this series.  For those who may have missed a book or two in the series, here is my quick and dirty list of what I would say are the major sub-plots running through Fate of the Jedi.
  1. Luke and Ben's Quest
  2. CoS Daala
  3. Jedi Order on Coruscant
  4. Tahiri's Trial
  5. News Media
  6. Slave Uprisings
  7. Allana Solo
  8. Lecersen-Treen Conspiracy
  9. Crazy Jedi
  10. Abeloth
  11. Lost Tribe of the Sith
Now clearly many of these sub-plots overlap, but it speaks to Allston's skill as an author that he is able to keep all these moving parts together in the flow of a book without it feeling disjointed.  There is a particularly deft way that we see the news media storyline transitioned to a new reporter and the plot interacts with Luke and Ben instead of with the Slave Uprisings.  The best analogy I can think of in terms of this book is like a symphony, there are a lot of instruments playing in the symphony and if they play the right notes together it sounds wonderful, if they do not hit the right notes or play them in the right order it can sound dreadful. 

If you are a fan of Allston's previous work such as the X-Wing series then you should certainly like this book, the caveat being that it is a much more "grounded" book in that there isn't a lot of action taking place in space which is one of the things that Allston handles really well.  If you haven't started reading the FotJ series yet, do not start here, there is too much going on by this book to just jump in.  Start from the beginning its worth it. 

Keep reading below for my Spoiler-filled thoughts on the book.

THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW

Dramatis Personae

Luke Skywalker; Jedi Grand Master (human male)
Ben Skywalker; Jedi Knight (human male)
Vestara Khai; Sith apprentice (human female)
Leia Organa Solo; Jedi Knight (human female)
Han Solo; pilot (human male)
Allana Solo; child (human female)
Tahiri Veila; defendant (human female)
Natasi Daala; Chief of State, Galactic Alliance (human female)
Jaina Solo; Jedi Knight (human female)
Wynn Dorvan; government aide (human male)
Valin Horn; Jedi Knight (human male)
Jysella Horn; Jedi Knight (human female)
Corran Horn; Jedi Master (human male)
Drikl Lecersen; Moff (human male)
Haydnat Treen; Senator (human female)
Seha Dorvald; Jedi Knight (human female)

As discussed above, I see FotJ breaking down into a number of sub-plots, (1) Luke and Ben's Quest, (2)CoS Daala, (3) Jedi Order on Coruscant, (4) Tahiri's Trial, (5) News Media, (6) Slave Uprisings, (7) Allana Solo, (8) Lecersen-Treen Conspiracy, (9) Crazy Jedi, (10) Abeloth, (11) Lost Tribe of the Sith.  I am going to briefly touch upon each of these sub-plots as a way of discussing what I enjoyed and didn't enjoy in Conviction. 

(1) Luke and Ben's Quest:

Unabashedly my favorite thing in the entire FotJ series is the interaction between Luke and Ben.  There is a sense of closeness, humor, love and understanding in their relationship that really comes through in their interaction.  It is a stark contrast too were the two began in the Legacy of the Force series to this series, but it makes logical sense based on their shared tragedies and experiences. 

The quest that the two are on has certainly transformed from retracing Jacen Solo's sojourn to hunting Abeloth, but to me that is fine as long as I get to keep reading Luke-Ben interaction, they could be picking tomatoes for all I care. 

A couple things that I am not sure about is how the Dathomiri Blood Trail became Luke's go to Force move, we see him using it again in this book.   I also wonder about the portrayal of Luke in this book, the way he is plotting and planning when events unfold it seems like he is coming off as almost all knowing in this series. 

I will say I was not expecting a return to Nam Chorios in this series.  This was an incredible way to integrate previous EU material and provide excellent closure for the Luke/Callista relationship.  Force Storms, Theran Listeners, Taselda, Tsils, and drochs, what a fun ride this was.  

(2) CoS Daala:

So maybe many fans were right and Daala was a horrible choice as a character to use for CoS at the end of the Legacy series heading into this series.  I thoroughly dislike her and her characterization seems a little inconsistent.  I can't tell if I am suppose to believe she is a little unhinged evil or if she really believes she is doing good and is just using the ends to justify the means. 

The worst kept secret of all is that Daala was going to be removed from office, thought he way they handled it was interesting.  I wasn't expecting the conspiracy and Jedi Order to end up working together, unknowingly on the Jedi's hand. 

I really enjoyed the Daala in prison scenes, especially the verbal fencing that she did with Tahiri.

Of course one of the big developments in the book that people are talking about is Boba FettDaala's close relationship with Fett and her use of Mandalorians as a group that she could trust this made sense for who she would hire to help get her out.  I just hope that they don't make Fett and/or the Mandalorians into Daala's lapdogs. 

(3) Jedi Order on Coruscant

Between internal strife, crazy Jedi, sieges and a couple leadership transitions, the Jedi Order has seen better days.  Now one would think that Jedi Master's would be able to sense the deception and ulterior motives of Senator Treen and General Jaxton.  The cool thing is that the temporary GA ruling Triumvirate is making me feel like we are in ancient Rome. 

I like the fact that we are getting away from the dangerously close to the Dark side Corran Horn, but sadly it appears that Abeloth's spell wasn't broken over the Horn-pops (Horn kids frozen in Carbonite). It is also nice to see Master Sebatyne hissing less when she talks (I'm looking at you Troy Denning).

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Jedi Knight Seha Dorvald, or as I like to call her, Ben's potential love interest #1, with Vestara being BPLI #2.  Seha was a bit character introduced in LotF as a young Jedi spying for Jacen Solo/Caedus who helped Ben run away from the Temple to Ziost were he finds Ship.  Seha is only 4-5 years older then Ben and with the red hair, you have to wonder if her character is being kept active for possible future romantic entanglements.

(4) Tahiri's Trial

I suppose we could all see this one coming a mile away.  I enjoyed the prison scenes much more then the courtroom scenes with Tahiri.  She is one of my favorite characters, so I am certainly happy that she has lived to fight another day.  It has me wondering what her next move is going to be though.  

(5) News Media

Kandra Nilitz is the reporter featured in this book, the character isn't particularly memorable and is more of a plot device to get Valin and Jysella Horn off Coruscant and later aid Luke, Ben and Vestara.  She is no Madhi Vaandt.

(6) Slave Uprisings

I love Klatooine.  It's Scooby Doo in space, ok not really, but I still like alien Space-Dog-People.  This was one of the stronger sub-plots in the book because it revolved around Leia, Han and Allana and later brought in Tenel Ka.  The dramatic tension of whether or not Tenel, Allana, or even C-3P0 would die actually had me worried that someone was going to bite the dust in this one.  

(7) Allana Solo

So the whole Allana becomes Amelia and is a war orphan thing, has a bit of the Clark Kent/Superman how stupid is Metropolis feel to it.  At least the Lost Tribe figured this out pretty quickly.  We will see if this potential revelation and the search for the Jedi Queen  will play a larger role in the conclusion of this series or is merely carrying water for a future set of novels. 

What I appreciate most about Allston and some of the other authors in this series is that we are taking time to develop Allana as a character.  Slowly building her up and ingratiating her with the audience.  It will be interesting to see how big of a role Allana will play in the EU going forward as it seems like she will become one of the key figures when she is an adult.

(8) Lecersen-Treen Conspiracy

 If I had the time and money I would so be in the 501st Legion, so I love the fact that Allston is using Cosplay in his book.  It is a subtle yet awesome tip of the hat to fans in my opinion.  I am glad that the ground work for the conspiracy that was laid early in the series is seeing some payoff.  I was a bit worried because it was briefly touched upon and then ignored for so long. 

(9) Crazy Jedi

I am all set with crazy Jedi. Though I am really curious about how the Valin/Jysella story was wrapped up off stage in this book.  I am going to have to re-read it and try to digest this one again.  

(10) Abeloth

Tip to the Sith, supremely powerful, extremely tough to kill ancient evil creature wants to come over for dinner, do not let her in.  I don't like the Abeloth character in general, but I liked her better in this book.  Frankly I just want her to get killed off as I am more interested in the LTotS.  

(11) Lost Tribe of the Sith

The next book in the series Ascension should be fun as Abeloth is coming to Kesh and it looks like all heck is about to break loose. I am really enjoying the LTotS as its a fairly original take on the go to bad guy of the Star Wars universe.  Hopefully the Sith put up more of a fight then the Theran Listeners did.


CONCLUSION:


Fate of the Jedi: Conviction by Aaron Allston made me remember Planet of Twilight and Callista Ming very fondly in this book.  A great performance by a writer for a book that with so many moving parts could have been a real train wreck.  I give Conviction 8 out of 10. 


In closing, the quote of the book:


"Join me, Han, and we can rule the galaxy as wife and husband."~Leia Organa Solo

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cover Preview: Fate of the Jedi: Ascension



Starwars.com has posted the back cover for the next book of the Fate of the Jedi series, Ascension by Christie Golden.  Along with the back cover they have also posted a blurb for the book that contains SPOILERS so read at your own risk.


SPOILER FILLED BLURB:

How long can the Jedi remain in power?
How far will the Sith go to rule supreme?
What chance do both stand against Abeloth?

As Luke and Ben Skywalker pursue the formidable dark-side being Abeloth, the Lost Tribe of the Sith is about to be sundered by an even greater power -- which will thrust one Dark Lord into mortal conflict with his own flesh-and-blood.
On Coruscant, a political vacuum has left tensions at the boiling point, with factions racing to claim control of the Galactic Alliance. Suddenly surrounded by hidden agendas, treacherous conspiracies, and covert Sith agents, the Jedi Order must struggle to keep the GA government from collapsing into anarchy.
The Jedi are committed to maintaining peace and ensuring just rule, but even they are not prepared to take on the combined threats of Sith power, a deposed dictator bent on galaxywide vengeance, and an entity of pure cunning and profound evil hungry to become a god. 

My Thoughts:

Clearly the Jedi are going to have their hands full on Coruscant.  But the aspect of the blurb that fascinates me is; "As Luke and Ben Skywalker pursue the formidable dark-side being Abeloth, the Lost Tribe of the Sith is about to be sundered by an even greater power -- which will thrust one Dark Lord into mortal conflict with his own flesh-and-blood."

Clearly the Dark Lord in conflict with his flesh-and-blood will be Vestara in conflict with her father Gavar Khai.  The interesting this is what is the "greater power," the sentence structure implies that it was not Abeloth but some other force.  That make me immediately go to since we are dealing with Jedi/Sith, an extreme emotion, love, hate, greed.  The potential of love between Ben and Vestara is one option, but it would seem to be a rather quick romance.  The potential of hate or greed dividing the Lost Tribe amongst themselves seems possible, but how would this divide pit Gavar vs. Vestara?

In terms of the cover art, I am a sucker for Boba Fett and the Mandos so the back cover is playing to the choir at Lightsaber Rattling.  It also does make sense if Fett as an expanded role in fascilitating Daala's escape and move to warlord if he helps her set up or reconnect with her new power base.  I just hope they don't have Fett throw the support of the Mando's behind that nutter. 

The front cover which we have already seen is great color-wise and I like it overall, but I don't think the portrayal of Vestara has been consistent on the covers and that is my only real gripe.  She looks very different on the cover of Omen.  


SOURCE: STARWARS.COM

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Wish List: Clone Captain Climber and Ion Squad



One of our friends in the Fan community, Knights Archive posted a review of James Luceno's book, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader.  A very good novel set in the aftermath of Revenge of the Sith and the infamous Order 66.

This got me thinking about an interesting group of Clones that I would love to see in The Clone Wars television program. 

For his book Luceno created a new group of Clones for his story that  haven't appeared in any other Star Wars material as far as I can tell. 

Clones Climber, Ras, Trace, and unnamed munitions expert of Ion Team/Squad, of the 22nd Air Combat Wing, GAR.

Neither Climber his squad or the Air Combat Wing they were apart of appear in any other Star Wars material according to the Wookieepedia. 

What is compelling an interesting about these characters is that they are a bit of a bad batch in terms of Clones.  They fail to follow through on Order 66 as part of a conscious decision to disobey the order and protect the Raon Shryne from being captured/executed.

The issue of Clones not following the company line or being different then the template has been touched upon previously in the series in episode such as Cut Lawquane in The Deserter (2.10) and 99 in Clone Cadets (3.1).

It would be a cool link to make between the EU and TCW, but without throwing a bomb into continuity because there is so little back story with Climber and Ion squad.  I also would love to see a the personality differences explored that would lead Clones to make the choice to act independently and ignore Order 66.

LINK: Knights Archive Review of Dark Lord

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition Preview: Annotation #10: So Long Obi-Wan


Star Wars Books on Facebook has released the latest in a series of preview annotations for Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition. Annotation #10 centers around Luke Skywalker and his journey as the hero.

"One of the parameters I wanted to set for the trilogy was that Luke would be entirely on his own as a Jedi, with no one he could call on for help or advice. And though I didn't know it at the time, the line about 'the first of the new Jedi' nicely sets up Kevin J. Anderson's Jedi Academy trilogy, as well as many other future books." --TZ

Zahn's choice to have Obi-Wan appear to Luke in a vision in Heir to the Empire, hen to depart the stage and allow Luke to find his own way in many ways represents not only the proper role of a mentor but also the proper role as a parent.  Obi-Wan through his teachings and advice to Luke as well as his directing Luke for further teaching to Yoda gave Luke the tools he needed to make his own decisions and to control his own destiny.

It may seem unfair that Obi-Wan had so much knowledge that he did not impart, but the goal couldn't to be just to recreate the Old Republic's Jedi Order but for Luke to find a new way and form to resurrect the Jedi.  The old Jedi Order as well intentioned as it was failed, perhaps some structural flaws were at the root of this problem and Obi-Wan worried that if he attempted to rebuild the older Order through Luke that these flaws would return. 

There are both in-universe reasons and real world story telling reasons for Obi-Wan's Force Ghost to become one with the Force.  The only downside is that Obi-Wan was a great character so it was sad to see his story end.

SOURCE: Star Wars Books on Facebok

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan: Novel Blurb

Picture by Matthew Rex Downham, http://www.mrexd.com/portfolio/#revan

Credit NJOE.com and the number one detective of all things Random House, poster Max Jaybo for finding the first published blurb for the forthcoming TOR novel Revan by Drew Karpyshyn.

About this Book

There’s something out there:
a juggernaut of evil bearing down to crush the Republic—
unless one lone Jedi, shunned and reviled, can stop it.

Revan: hero, traitor, conqueror, villain, savior. A Jedi who left Coruscant to defeat Mandalorians—and returned a disciple of the dark side, bent on destroying the Republic. The Jedi Council gave Revan his life back, but the price of redemption was high. His memories have been erased. All that’s left are nightmares—and deep, abiding fear.

What exactly happened beyond the Outer Rim? Revan can’t quite remember, yet can’t entirely forget. Somehow he stumbled across a terrible secret that threatens the very existence of the Republic. With no idea what it is, or how to stop it, Revan may very well fail, for he’s never faced a more powerful and diabolic enemy. But only death can stop him from trying.

This sounds like fun...

SOURCES: NJOE and RandomHouse.ca

Star Wars Live-Action Series Update 5/25/11: "It sits on the shelf."

George Lucas appeared on G4TV's program Attack of the Show to promote the Disney Star Tours re-launch and The Phantom Menace 3-D release, but the host also asked him about the currently on hold Live-Action Series.

This is what George had to say:

"It sits on the shelf. We have 50 hours and we are just waiting to figure out a different way to make movies a different technology that we can use, so that it is economically feasible to shoot the show.  Right now it looks like the Star Wars features but we have to figure out a way to make it for about 1/10 of the cost because it's television. And we are working toward that and we are continuing to work toward that.  We will get there at some point. But it is just a very difficult process, and obviously when we do figure this problem out, it will dramatically effect alot of movies, because a lot of movies, features now that are costing $150-200 million dollars will suddenly be able to make them for $50-60 million dollars."





George Lucas' September 2010 Comments Regarding the Series:



SOURCE: G4TV's Attack of the Show

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tahiri Veila: What a long strange trip it's been..

This week's new Star Wars novel, Fate of the Jedi: Conviction, features a very special cover girl, Tahiri Veila.

Tahiri is one of my favorite characters in the Expanded Universe.  I must confess that I did not read the Junior Jedi Knights series that saw the debut of Tahiri and the beginning of her friendship with Anakin Solo at the Jedi Academy.

My introduction to Tahiri was in the New Jedi Order series, the capture and shaping of Tahiri at the hands of the Vong and her rescue at the hands of Anakin was one of the absolute highlights of the series.  Her relationship with Anakin added poignancy and drama to the sacrifice that Anakin made during the Jedi strike team mission to Myrkr.

The post-NJO Tahiri has gone through a bit of a roller coaster ride from living on Zonoma Sekot, to becoming a Killik joiner during the Dark Nest Crisis, to being banished by Grand Master Skywalker to Dagobah.

When next we see Tahiri in the Legacy of the Force series she is a deeply troubled young girl, still not over the death of her best friend and her true love Anakin Solo.  Only to see Anakin's brother Jacen use her love and pain and the Force technique of flow walking to hook Tahiri like a drug addict to flow walking and catching glimpses of her lost love.

Tahiri had a pretty crazy end of the Legacy of the Force series, killing Grand Admiral Pellaeon, a creepy seduction/corruption attempt of Ben Skywalker, to surrender and potential redemption at Ben's hands. 

The Fate of the Jedi series, see a more mature and more self confident Tahiri.  In spite of all she has done and experienced, she is coming into her own as a person.  Unfortunately she is now on trial for Pellaeon's murder and if the title of the next novel and the cover featuring her in a prison jumpsuit gives us a hint of how that trial is going to go, things aren't looking up for Tahiri. The highlight of the series was the prison visit of Han and Leia to Tahiri and the message that they had to pass along from Luke and Ben's interaction with Anakin while flow-walking.  This was a terrific scene.

Tahiri has the potential to be a very complex and compelling character going forward and I certainly hope she survives the Fate of the Jedi series.  What will Tahiri's fate be?  Pick up Fate of the Jedi: Conviction by Aaron Allston tomorrow (Tues. 5/24/11) and learn what happens next...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ackbar Speaks: New Clone Wars Season 4 Trailer

Star Wars Underworld linked to a new bootleg video posted on Youtube of a TCW S4 Trailer.


Some highlights included in the new clip


Battle for Mon Calamari (Dac):  Ackbar speaks: "This is your home! Do not let it fall."

New Villain:  Who could Count Dooku's new minion be?


Weird Droid/Aliens: On a mission with R2-D2 and C-3P0 flying solo with Clones, to what appears like some of the Decepticons from the recent Transformers movie series. 

Weird little Mouthy Aliens: Lots of little tiny teeth.

SOURCE: S.W. Underworld

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Wish List: Raith Sienar and Sienar Systems


This addition to my Clone Wars Wish List maybe fairly obscure, but I don't think it is as crazy as Kyle Newmans' Ben Quadrinaros obsession. 

Raith Sienar and the corporation that he ran Sienar Systems was a leader in starship design and manufacturing from the Republic through the Empire.  Though he is most famous for the Tie Fighter, Sienar also helped design the Death Star (according to at least one version of the Death Star's history), as well as designing the awesome Scimitar piloted by Darth Maul in Episode I. 

It would be an interesting story to see some of Palpatine's behind the scenes machinations, such as his secret dealings/commissioning of projects with Sienar.  One of the key things that I think The Clone Wars so far has ignored, is just how did Palpatine maneuver those he wanted into positions to help him transition from Republic to Empire.  If they are going to tell political stories, these are the kind of stories that I would find much more compelling then Mandalore's internal politics. 

Sienar would also be a nice way to tie the Original trilogy, Prequel trilogy, Expanded Universe and Clone Wars together.  He is a character that didn't appear in the movies, but the ships he is responsible for did.  He is an EU character that has some back story but that also has enough room for TCW character development.  There is also an interesting back story with his relationship to Tarkin, should TCW crew decide that Tarkin deserves to get more screen time in TCW.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Clone Wars News & Rumors: Season 3 Box Set Release Date?



Club Jade has posted a link to Amazon.ca, the Canadian website for Amazon.com.  There is a listing for Star Wars: The Clone Wars S3 Box Set with the release date of October 25, 2011.  Previously the Clone Wars box sets have had the same street date in Canada and the U.S., so it is a safe bet that the U.S. will be seeing the S3 Box Set the same day,

Season 1 was released on November 3, 2009 and Season 2 was released on October 26, 2010.

It is certainly nice that Lucasfilm is giving our wallets a couple weeks between the Saga Blu-ray release and The Clone Wars S3 release.

I will say, I still don't understand the logic of releasing the Blu-ray for Season 3 after Season 4 begins.  Season 1 began October 3, 2008, Season 2 began October 2, 2009, and Season 3 began September 17, 2010. 

Anyone want to bet that Season 4 will kick off September 23, 2011 a week after the Friday September 16, 2011 Blu-ray Saga release?

SOURCE: CLUB JADE

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chat Wrap: Del Rey Star Wars Editor Shelly Shapiro with My Commentary



Shelly Shapiro, is Editor at Large at Del Rey publishing and along with Sue Rostoni one of the guiding lights for the Star Wars Expanded Universe was kind enough to take part in a chat with fans on the social media website, Facebook.  Below is a transcript of what Shelly had to say along with my commentary to her answers.

CHAT WRAP

"Will our timeline ever meet up with the events of Dark Horse's Legacy series? I have no doubt that it will, eventually, as we continue to fill in the future history of the Skywalker/Solo clan. More Tales collections? We don't have plans for those right now, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. For the moment, though, the only collection we're planning is a Lost Tribe of the Sith collection."

It makes sense that the ends of the time line farthest away from George Lucas' vision of Star Wars are likely to see expansion in the future.  The Clone Wars television series as well as the currently on hold Live Action Series (set between Episodes III and IV) create a certain difficulty in terms of continuity that make them de facto off limits.  
Count me as extremely disappointed that there are currently no plans for more "Tales of" books, as these are extremely fun books.  It seems like a Tales of the New Jedi Order, Tales of the Smuggler's Alliance, Tales of the Empire of the Hand, and Tales of the Imperial Remnant could be interesting concepts to play with. 

"Smugglers: I like them, so yes, I think we'll consider smuggler-type adventures in the future. And don't miss The Old Republic: Deceived, as it has a great smuggler-type character! New Clone Wars novels: Possibly. A GL signature series: That could be very cool, but I don't see it happening any time in the near future. Blu-ray: We have marketing plans tied in to the blu-ray release."

Smugglers would be a nice focus and would be a nice lead in to test the waters for the Live-Action TV series which is suppose to focus on non-Force users, like smugglers and other background characters from the GFFA.  I doubt we ever see a GL signature series, but it would be interesting to see the occasional preface by Lucas to a book, perhaps if down the road they decide to kill of any of the Big Three, then he could write a preface or forward in the book.  

"Two more 20th anniversary novels: I'd love to do them, but I think we will likely let the market guide us on that decision. Possible future additional Rogue and Wraith Squadron novels? Absolutely possible. Next series after FotJ: No idea yet! We have a lot of ideas to hammer out first."

The translation here is that if you want Dark Force Rising and The Last Command annotated editions then you need to buy Heir to the Empire.  Sales will dictate whether it makes sense to give these books the same treatment.  More X-Wing books are always welcome by me and might be a nice way to get Mike Stackpole back into the SWEU.  

"More Kerra Holt or other JJM novels: Definitely possible. Nothing in the works at this moment, though. 3-novel vs. 9-novel multi-author series: We are backing off the multi-book, multi-author series for a little while, I think, if only to give us all some breathing room. We are talking about sticking to standalones, duologies, and trilogies for a bit in the near future. Video-game novelizations? If the right game presents itself."

I like the idea of backing off the mega-story arcs for a while.  It tends to chew up a lot of timeline and characters.  There is a finite amount of storytelling space on the timeline, switching to smaller stories that can be fit more easily into the timeline and perhaps focusing on characters that are off-screen in some of the earlier series should allow for more Star Wars publishing long term.  It is also nice to not have to wait multiple years for a story to be completed.  Instant gratification.  
 
" I have to say that right now we have a lot of ideas--a LOT of ideas, let me stress--and they're mostly in the early-seed stages. So all these questions about "any plans for..." are hard to answer definitively, and easy to answer with a "Possible.""

Well if they need anyone to help nurture those seeds of ideas, this guy volunteers to take a trip to Maine.  

"I can tell you that there are definitely plans for post-FotJ stories. Just not sure yet what form and exactly what the stories will be."

The adventures of Ben and Vestara?  Jaina in the Imperial Remnant...

"Character dying in FotJ: Actually, what I recall promising was that in this series, NO major character would die. Believe it or not, we don't kill major characters lightly, and we don't enjoy inflicting grief on our surviving characters."

Kenth Hamner's Force Ghost gives Shelly a dirty look, the Grand Master not a major character.  Seriously though, Luke, Han, and Leia are safe for a while.  

"Hardcover vs. trade paperback: Most new novels are being done in hardcover these days, because that seems to be what the market is asking for. Our one foray into trade paperback for novels wasn't terribly successful, so unless we see a major change in the marketplace, I suspect we'll be sticking to hardcovers, mass-market paperbacks, and now--yay!--e-books."
 Count me in the camp that hates trade paperback novels.  They feel cheap, both the cover and the paper.  They are easily damaged and they are just a awkward size.  I didn't have a problem with the experiment or the Clone Wars stories in that format, I just really dislike the format.  Oh and I second the "yay" on the e-books. 

"Darth Bane followups: We absolutely want Drew to explore the future with Zannah. Nothing definite yet, though. Boba Fett: We had to cancel that book because of changes to continuity and new material being planned on the tv end of things. . Alex Irvine: It's set in the distant past and stars Nomi and Vima Sunrider. I think it's really cool to explore some of these older legends and time periods that haven't been touched by novels yet. And Alex is a terrific writer, so I'm hoping for an epic legend!"

Alex is a terrific writer from what I have read, so the Nomi "can't call it Sunrider" novel should be a lot of fun.  A Darth Zannah book would be cool, but I worry they may be over saturating the Sith-focused books at some point.  
The Boba Fett comment is intriguing because the "tv end of things" could refer to the Clone Wars, but its cryptic and vague enough that it could also be referring to what is planned for the Live-Action Series.

"Wow, it's so great to see all this enthusiasm! The best thing (and sometimes the hardest!) about working in Star Wars fiction is the incredible wealth of ideas open to us to explore. It's like being the proverbial kid in a candy store. So yes, I hope to address Ben's future in the Jedi Order at some time--I like Ben, and I think he has amazing potential as a really cool adult characters. And then, of course, there's his cousin Allana, whom I can't wait to help develop further. Cade Skywalker is a really neat character--but right now I feel that things are so rich, we'd be limiting ourselves by simply novelizing Dark Horse's material. I'm much more excited by collaborating more closely with Dark Horse, the way we did with Knight Errant--where each of us develops part of a greater whole and we work together to make that greater whole something really rich and exciting."
 More Ben stories and more tie-ins with Dark Horse comics, I'm down with that. 

"E-book pricing: I wish I understood that stuff, but I don't. I do understand, however, that we live in a relatively free-market capitalist economy... Continuity: This is one of the biggest challenges for us. Thank goodness for Leland Chee at Lucasfilm, Keeper of the Holocron and grand master of retconning. Some things, though, just have to remain as they are. I prefer that to going back and revising already published novels to reflect recent changes. Look at Splinter of the Mind's Eye--never revised, it just lives as an entity of its own, and that's how it should be. Imho."

The E-book pricing issue is something that author Drew Karpyshyn discusses on his website in his most recent post.  E-books will be a major profit center for publishers because of the miniscule production cost versus traditional published books.  As long as authors are compensated fairly, this will be great for publishing and hopefully see more books published and more authors get publicity as publisher's shift budgets from production of books into marketing of books.  

The continuity comment and the opposition to revising previously published books tells a lot about what is going to happen to certain books like Coruscant Nights I.  The whole Evan Piell issue will either be ret-conned in CN4 or it will be ret-conned at some other time but I don't think we are going to get an edited re-release of CN1.

"Death of Luke Skywalker: To be honest, I don't even recall that brouhaha. Most so-called fanatics are wonderful in their love of the material, and getting excited--even negatively--is just a sign of that love. Choosing authors: I get approached by a lot of authors who want to write Star Wars. I read samples of their published work, and when I find someone I feel will be able to live up to our SW expectations, I pass those samples on to Lucasfilm for approval. Why don't editors do their jobs? Well, I suppose I should be a little insulted by that question. I know I do my job. But I can tell you that these books go through a lot of iterations, and are read and reread by numerous people, but that sometimes, even with all that, errors slip through the cracks. Rest assured that every error we do catch gets corrected, but if we catch it too late... We're also on a very tight production schedule, which can introduce errors, as well. We do our best to not let these things happen, and I, for one, hate when I find out that a major error has made it through into a finished book." 

Death of Luke Skywalker is like the Death of Superman, it will be a major event when it happens, but it has to be handled right and I am in no hurry to see it happen.
Fans are incredible, and not in a good way sometimes.  Lay off the editors.  No person or computer program is perfect, mistakes will be made in the editing process.  To get hung up on little mistakes and let them ruin your enjoyment of a book is silly.  Relax, take a deep breath and just have fun with Star Wars.

"Of course GL has the final say as to when and how Luke dies! No current plans to even touch that."

"Will the SW saga ever end? I hope not! We have millennia of past and future history yet to explore!"

Keep making Star Wars books and I will keep reading and buying them.  

"Deaths and future: Most SW characters don't live THAT much longer than contemporary humans. 120 would probably be pretty impressive. What has changed is that they age better, and remain vital much longer than most of us do on 21st-century Earth. As for an end point in the future, honestly, I don't see that happening. There can always be new events in a galaxy that large. Though when, and if, we eventually put an end to Luke, Han, and Leia's active careers, that'd probably feel like a major ending point, at least to one part of the saga."

It would be interesting to see Luke, Han, and Leia transition into a Obi-Wan/Yoda role and mentor the next generations of heroes without being as actively involved, but I still enjoy seeing the AARP crowd in action.   

"who is your favourite character, author, novel, comic, movie ;) are you sith or jedi or mandalorian, etc.? and last but not least: what is the meaning/message of star wars for you? Hard questions! I confess to being very fond of Han; I like Jaina, Ben, and Allana a lot, too. And I loved Qui-Gon Jinn. I can't have a favorite novel, because it'd be too much like a parent choosing favorites among his or her children. My favorite movie is ESB. Meaning/message? Good question. I think it's that events--no matter how small or large in scale--revolve ultimately around human beings (including sapient aliens, of course!) and their feelings and their relationships with one anther. Also, that no matter how strong the lure of evil, which we are all susceptible to, there is always the possibility of redemption. Which probably makes me a Jedi. Though my colleagues at RH probably would say I'm naturally more of a Sith!" 

Well if Shelly is a Sith, may I humbly suggest Darth Pyro as in Sha-Piro.

"No current plans for a third Chronology book, but I can see the need for one in the future. As for MAKING OF BOOKS, J. W. Rinzler is currently writing the MAKING OF RETURN OF THE JEDI. And the REVAN cover should be revealed sometime mid-summer."

Ohhhh, Revan cover this will be interesting but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a close of the mask.  

"Aaron's Wraith Squadron novel takes place around the end of the FotJ. I can't wait to read it! The cover for Revan will be revealed when it is finished--right now we're just at the sketch stage. But I know it's going to be awesome. I love our Old Republic covers! (Also can't wait to try the game!!!)"
Interesting placement of the Wraith Squadron novel, do we see a cameo of some of the Wraith characters in the end of the FotJ series?  I am really intrigued by where this book is going.  Also she is right about the Old Republic covers, they are very well done so far. 

"Palpatine: I think once you've read Darth Plagueis, every one of Palpatine's later decisions will be very clear. It will make watching the prequels much more interesting, I think."

This is probably the novel that I am most looking forward to.  This could be epic.  Fingers crossed. 
 
"Diversity: I feel we've had quite a bit of diversity, especially when you take into consideration the growing number of prominent characters that aren't human. Saba Sebatyne, for example: An awesome female Jedi who is barely even humanoid. (I like her a lot!) Single book story arcs: Yes, of course! Alex Irvine's novel will stand alone, as will Jeff Grubb's. We will be planning others, as well."

I don't particularly care what a character looks like if the character is interesting, but I am not sure this is really that big of an issue.  

"I can't tell you when the contract is up, but I can tell you that we have books planned through 2014 at the moment. :-)"

Now that is a non-answer, answer.  Fingers crossed on a new contract extension. 

"Shelly, could you discuss how the role of editor is different in the Star Wars publishing shared universe, versus if you were editing an author's own individual work in their own universe? Could you also describe how your role is either similar or different from Sue Rostoni at Lucasfilm? My role as editor is much more complicated in the Star Wars universe. When I work with an author on a non-tie-in novel, the entire job is between the author and me, and the author has a lot more leeway in terms of what happens on the pages. Those novels don't have to have approved outlines, for example: I'll just make suggestions to the author as to how I feel he or she can improve the story and/or characters. With Star Wars, every aspect has to be approved by the licensor--LFL. So part of my job is to help the author make the work the best novel they can write, and part is as liaison between the author and LFL. Sue and I do very similar work, though it's more her job to make sure the story and characters conform to SW continuity and LFL expectations, while it's more mine to make sure the writing flows well, the story evolves smoothly, etc. I hope that answers the question--it's a small space and time in which to answer something not that simple!"

This was my question, so a big personal thanks to Shelly for taking the time to answer it.  It is a pretty impressive balancing act that Shelly, Sue and the various authors have to do to keep this giant Star Wars universe fitting together.  

"Thanks, O Great Holocron Keeper! And thanks to everyone for coming here with all these great questions, for putting up with any awkwardness on my part in terms of keeping up with this chat format, and especially for your ongoing enthusiasm and support for our books!"

Thanks to Shelly and the rest of the Star Wars Books staff for putting the chat together and to fans for submitting many great questions.  



Star Wars Sundries: Thursday News and Notes



There are a few things floating around that peaked my interest in the GFFA today.

Star Wars Books on Facebook, the social media page for Del Rey's Star Wars publishing line is hosting a chat with the Big Kahuna of Star Wars Editors at Del Rey Shelly Shapiro today.  The chat event will be on Facebook from 3pm-4pm EST.  Here is the Facebook event LINK.

Examiner.com has published an interview by Mark Picirilli with actor Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).  It is worth a read.  LINK

And on the fandom side of things @Lazypadawan has posted a humorous take on how to get rich in the Star Wars universe.  LINK

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dual-phase Lightsaber: Reason # 1,459 why Corran Horn is Awesome



As regular readers will know and casual readers could probably guess, one of my favorite aspects of the Star Wars universe is it's iconic weapon, the lightsaber. 

I have always been intrigued by unique or different takes on George Lucas' concept of a laser sword.  I have previously discussed Shoto lightsabers and Dual-bladed lightsabers, but this column will focus on a rather novel lightsaber variant, the Dual-phase lightsaber. 

To the naked eye, the Dual-phase lightsaber will appear to be the same as a typical Jedi blade, however an extra switch can be thrown which alters both the length and width of the blade.

Corran's lightsaber featured a normal blade length of 133 centimeters when using the emerald phase crystal, when he extends the blade, turning the emerald crystal out of the way and using the diamond to focus the blade, the length of the blade extended to 300 centimeters. 

How does one construct a lightsaber?

"Urgency without panic, action without thoughtlessness."

One of the biggest treats for a Star Wars Expanded Universe fans is that Michael Stackpole provided probably the most detailed commentary ever on lightsaber construction.  In Chapter 42 of I, Jedi, we get not only a shopping list of parts needed, the details that there are two different rituals for lightsaber construction, one the traditional one that would take approximately a month to complete and one a quick emergency lightsaber build developed during the Clone Wars that could be accomplished in two days. 

Circumstances dictated that Horn use the quick construction technique for his lightsaber during his undercover operations on Courkrus in his attempts to rescue Mirax. 


The process by which a Jedi constructed a lightsaber was heavily ritualized, Corran Horn used self purification and meditation to prepare for his lightsaber construction.  Meditating surrounded by the components before they are assembled to get a total feel and understanding for all of the pieces that will go into his saber.  Then once assembled a deep meditation is used to fuse the components together on almost a molecular level for optimal performance.  For Horn this meditation took two and a half days.

What components went into Corran Horn's Dual-phase lightsaber?

Hilt:  Speeder bike throttle assembly and handlebar tube.
Activation Loop/Dimetris Circuitry:  old capital-ship-grade ion cannon fire initiation controller.
Recharger Port/Wiring: Comlink
Parabolic High Energy Flux Aperture:  Tri-fighter laser flashback suppressor
Power Cell to Blade Superconductor: dynoric laser feed line from broken laser cannon
Buttons and Switches: Assorted sources, readily available.
Crystals: gifts from Admiral Tavira. durindfire, diamond and emerald.
Power Cell: generic modern power cell.


"At the center, to work as my continuous energy lens, I used the Durindfire.  That same stone gave my grandfather's blade its distinctive silver sheen.  I used a diamond and an emerald in the other two slots.  I wasn't certain what I would get in the way of color tints from the emerald, and with the diamond I hoped for a coruscation effect."

Unfortunately for Corran when he originally constructed his lightsaber, what he thought was a diamond gem stone was in fact a kubaz xurkonia.  Resulting in his failing and the fake diamond melting. Alas, the hazards of making a lightsaber quickly.  I did really enjoy the irony of Horn using Admiral Tavira's gifts of attempted seduction to contruct the instrument by which he used to defeat her and rescue his beloved Mirax.

How practical is such a weapon?

"The longer length is useful for surprising an enemy, but not that practical in a fight.  A simple block and a good swordsman would be inside my range and carving me up.  Blade that long will also cause a lot of collateral damage, which would be fine if I was needing to do a lot of property destruction, but other than that it's really just an impractical novelty item.  Sithspawn, I don't even know of any fighting styles to use with a blade that long."

While the dual-phase lightsaber is an especially novel variation with little utility, it makes sense that as accomplished a lightsaber dualist as Horn became later in the EU, that he could integrate this novelty more comfortably into combat.  I hope we get to see Horn in some action against the Lost Tribe of the Sith in the later books of the Fate of the Jedi series. 

For more information on Dual-phase lightsabers or Corran Horn see the Wookieepedia.

For a tremendous Star Wars novel starring Corran Horn please read Michael Stackpole's I, Jedi.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition Preview: Annotation #9: Wild Karrde


Star Wars Books on Facebook has released the latest in a series of preview annotations for Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition.   Annotation #9  makes me think both of Han Solo and of American Graffiti. 

ANNOTATION #9: 


"Someone asked me once what kind of modern-day car Karrde would drive. I told him that it would probably be a nice, simple, family-style sedan or minivan. A Toyota or Ford maybe ... with a Lamborghini V-12 engine tucked away under the hood." --TZ
To quote Han Solo,    "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself."

SOURCE: STAR WARS BOOKS ON FACEBOOK

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Star Wars Books Facebook Chat with Editor Shelly Shapiro: May 19th


Attention Star Wars fans, if you are on Facebook you have the opportunity to interact and ask questions of Del Rey Editor Shelly Shapiro on Thursday May 19th at 3PM EST on Del Rey's Star Wars Books Facebook Page. 

Our next Facebook chat is Thursday, May 19, at 3:00pm (Eastern time) and will feature our own editor at large, Shelly Shapiro. Shelly is responsible for the Del Rey line of Star Wars novels. A perfect chance for you to ask about current, older, and upcoming Star Wars books. (ES)

Del Rey does a terrific job interacting with fans on Facebook, including hosting chats with authors, holding giveaway contests and sneak peaks at future books.  I hope to see you all on Facebook a week from Thursday. 

For your reading pleasure a fun little post by Ms. Shapiro on Suvudu.  The Cubicle at the End of the Universe. 

SOURCE: STAR WARS BOOKS ON FACEBOOK

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Star Wars Publishing Goes Digital: SWEU Catalog E-Books Release Date Announced


As first reported by the USA Today, the long rumored and much anticipated digitization of the Star Wars Expanded Universe catalog of novels is finally becoming a reality.  On June 28th all 106 Star Wars novel titles will be available in e-book format.

We had hints that this was coming, for a while we have gotten official responses to questions about e-books by those like Sue Rostoni on the Starwars.com Message Boards in the VIP thread, basically stating that contractual issues needed to be worked out before the Star Wars library could be brought to the digital format. 

Then in March listings for Star Wars e-books started appearing on Random House's Smart Archive website, with the place holder date of August 17, 2011.  This news elicited the official response from  Del Rey Editor Erich Shoeneweiss:
As we've been saying for some time, we're working hard with Lucasfilm to make ebooks available as soon as possible for all the novels. It's a complicated process and not one that happens quickly. While the information that is being posted and talked about on other sites sprang from info on a Random House website it's common practice for Random House to use temporary data as placeholders until plans for books are finalized. When the time is right Random House and Lucasfilm will release an official statement regarding when we will expand our ebook program. Until then we ask for your patience. Thank you. (ES)
Below is Lucasfilm and Random House's official announcement regarding the E-book releases:

Expanding a relationship that began more than 30 years ago, Lucasfilm and Random House Inc. announced today that the entire library of Star Wars fiction titles under the Del Rey and Bantam Spectra imprints will be available in eBook format as of June 28, 2011. Over one hundred backlist titles will be converted into digital editions, along with any future Star Wars novels presently in production. These titles will join the thirty Del Rey Star Wars novels currently available as eBooks. All Star Wars eBooks from Del Rey and Bantam Spectra will include additional content at the back of the book. The extra content will include the following:

  • An updated Star Wars novels timeline
  • An introduction to the six major Star Wars eras: The Old Republic, Rise of the Empire, Rebellion, The New Republic, New Jedi Order, and Legacy
  • Over half a dozen additional excerpts from some of the most popular Star Wars books of the last thirty years
"Readers and fans have been asking for the Star Wars novels to be made available digitally, and we're excited that we can finally make this happen," said Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing. "We're committed to providing fans with great Star Wars stories that can be enjoyed on any reading platform. We're thrilled to see the extensive backlist of Del Rey and Bantam titles made available electronically."
"Over 30 years ago, Del Rey Books published the novelization of the very first Star Wars film," said Gina Centrello, President of the Random House Publishing Group. "Since that time, the Star Wars Saga has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon. We're exceptionally proud to have been at the helm of such a rich and vast literary universe, and thrilled to be working with our partners at Lucasfilm as we move into the future with eBooks."
 I am very excited by this news.  I am a Kindle owner and already have a few of the limited Star Wars titles that are available in e-book format.  The fact of the matter is that Star Wars books take up and entire wall/bookshelf in my house, and the option to stuff all those books into one small device is incredibly appealing. 

Having Star Wars books at my fingertips either on my phone or on the Kindle makes it much easier to sneak in a few minutes of reading here and there. 

I am a book collector, I like have a hard copy of all the books, so in many ways I am the ideal consumer for Random House and Lucasfilm, because I will be buying most books in both formats.  That does raise the issue of pricing however, as the realities of a budget have to factor in to fandom at some point.  The official announcement from Lucasfilm does not give any details for pricing of the books.  The place holder data on the Smart Archive website listed most of the titles at $7.99 (you can see the full chart w/placeholder data here), the same as you will pay for a new Star Wars TPB release such as John Jackson Miller's Knight Errant novel.  If I was betting money, I would say that this is the most likely price point for the majority of the older titles in the catalog.  I think we will see new books priced as they have been recently with new hardcover books being in the $13.99 range as e-books, while either new TPB releases or once a hardcover book gets a TPB release, I think the e-book price will be in the $7.99 range. 

One thing I would like to see the publishing industry do is something that the film industry has done, that is include either a free digital copy or perhaps a discounted digital copy with the purchase of a physical edition of a title.  For example, purchase a hard cover Star Wars novel and get a free e-book download of the same book, or a 50% of coupon for the e-book of the same book. 

It strikes me that e-books are a boon for the publishing industry in that, it makes reading more accessible and makes people more likely to purchase books.  At the same time it should lower production costs significantly while not impairing profits significantly.  I would assume if the piracy issue can be managed, that publishers would prefer e-books over traditional publishing. 

SOURCES: Starwars.com and USA TODAY
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