Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fan Expo Canada 2011: The Clone Wars Season 4 World Premiere Recap


When I first heard that Star Wars: The Clone Wars was premiering at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto I KNEW I had to go…and not just for the bragging rights. The United States gets all the cool Star Wars events, celebrations, and early screenings and for once Canada got something they didn't have! Other than that Yak Face action figure from 1985.

This was my first convention and my friends and I had such a blast visiting the booths, checking out the panels, and admiring all the amazing costumes. Yet the 501st Canadian Legion events and The Clone Wars premiere were by far the highlights of the entire weekend for me.

When Saturday afternoon came along and it was time for the premiere, I actually didn't wait in line very long in comparison to some people who were there for hours. I cheated and had my friends wait in line for me. What's great is that one of them doesn't even know who Darth Maul is and I forced him to wait in line for a Star Wars event! He got me back by dragging me to the Lolita fashion show the next day... 

Now the reason I wasn't in line? I was busy stalking members of the 501st and Rebel Legions to the Lucasfilm booth to get pictures of their spectacular costumes. 

It took what little ounce of willpower I had to keep myself from yelping and dancing in excitement as Clones, Stormtroopers, Vaders, and other costumed Star Wars heroes marched throughout the convention centre. Some of the wicked Star Wars costumes included a detailed Clone Paratrooper, an incredibly sexy Asajj Ventress in her ninja costume from the Nightsister Trilogy of Season 3, an imposing Savage Opress, and a gorgeous Aayla Secura among a dozen others. 

After fighting the surging crowds to get pictures of the costumes at the Star Wars booth, I finally dragged myself away to go and stand in line for the world premiere of The Clone Wars! The line into room 718 where the screening took place snaked across level 700 of the Metro Toronto Convention Center and it was such great fun to join the line such equally excited Star Wars fans and even a Mandalorian!

When it was finally time to slowly get escorted in to the screening room, we had to give up our cell phones and cameras so we wouldn't take any videos from inside the screening and Emperor Palpatine made sure we complied…after greeting us with a donation box for Make-A-Wish-Foundation asking us to donate to help build a new Death Star. A good cause if I ever heard one…

We got fairly decent seats near the Mandalorian, a young lad in a homemade Rex costume, and a fellow Star Wars graphic novel fanatic who was also at the Star Wars Comics: Expanding the Universe panel with Star Wars: The Old Republic artist David Ross and LEGO storyboard artist Greg Hyland the day before. While waiting for the show to start we discussed various topics such as Star Wars pronunciations (Twee'lek vs. Twy'lek and Savage vs. Savaage), random obscure Star Wars trivia, and even Clone Wars continuity issues (my favourite topic). When us fanboys began spewing Star Wars jargon like Alpha-17, DC-15, and Coruscant, my friends I went with completely zoned out.

We were soon surprised with a visit from the 501st who marched onto the stage and the audience cheered…then groaned. We had all left our cameras at the front entrance! Jango Fett, Commander Bly, Aurra Sing, Obi-Wan Kenobi, RC-1140, and many others marched in and it was certainly a sight to behold.

Fred Kennedy, host of Teletoon at Night, took to the podium to give away three Hasbro prize packs that included a FX lightsaber, Clone Trooper blaster and more as well as several copies of Season 1 and 2 of The Clone Wars on DVD. We each had a raffle ticket and Captain Rex was the one drawing the winners, but if your raffle ticket was drawn you had to answer a simple trivia question such as "Captain Rex, Commander Cody, and Sergeant Palpatine were all leaders of the Republic. True or false." Oh and for the record, the person who answered that question said true…

Once the prize packs were given away and the rest of the audience was feeling disappointed from not winning the fancy FX lightsaber, Savage Opress began throwing shirts with his face on it into the audience while screaming "TAKE IT! TAKE IT! TAKE IT!!!" 

The 501st then took their seats, the lights dimmed, Dave Filoni in his signature Cowboy hat appeared on screen saying we were in for a treat, and then Kevin Kiner's Clone Wars theme exploded out of the speakers and the Clone Wars logo filled the screen! The audience in the packed screening room cheered and roared as the world premiere of The Clone Wars Season 4 began!

Teletoon Presents: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 1: Water War - World Premiere occurred on Saturday August 27th, 2011 at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

-Andy (@StarWarsCanada)

Editor's Note:

Thanks to Andy for providing us with this special report from Hoth Base (aka Canada).  You can follow Andy on Twitter (@StarWarsCanada), on Facebook at Star Wars Canada, and on his new site, StarWarsCanada.com


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vader "Nos" Best: Rumored Change to Return of the Jedi Blu-ray


Floating around the Internet is that new dialogue is being inserted into Return of the Jedi for the Blu-ray release.  We haven't seen any official confirmation or denial up to this point, but a fan has taken the supposed leaked MP3 audio file and synced it up with the movie and put it up on Youtube.







Frequent listener's to The Forcecast will have heard Kyle Newman and the guys discussing, George Lucas' penchant for repeating themes, dialogue, concepts etc. in his film making.  If "No" is inserted in RotJ, it would provide a symmetry with Episode III.  When Emperor Palpatine informs Vader that he "killed" Padme in his anger, Vader goes on a droid crushing spree and utters "Noooooo."   That show of emotion and remorse is probably the last true glimpse of the Anakin dominant within Vader that George imagines until the climactic scene in Return of the Jedi.



Of course it is also possible that this is much ado about nothing, and that we Star Wars fans irrationally jump to conclusions based on the smallest scrap of a rumor.

We shall see...


SOURCE: i09

Podcast Profile: Nerdist Writer's Panel


Writing this blog has gotten me more interested in the topic of writing and the craft involved in different styles of writing.  In that vein I stumbled upon a very interesting series of Podcasts by Nerdist.com.   There are a number of podcasts from Nerdist, but I haven't gotten past the Nerdist Writer's Panel podcast yet.

The Nerdist Writer's Panel has released four podcasts as of today.  Each podcast contains a different cast of writers, all are entertaining but the language is definitely not kid friendly (Explicit Tag).   Each episode is basically a round table discussion about how each person got involved in TV writing, advice for aspiring writers, and the good, bad, and damn hilarious experiences that occur in the writer's room.   

Episode 1: 

Episode one features: Damon Lindelof (Lost); Jane Espenson (Buffy; Battlestar Galactica; Torchwood); Erin Levy (Mad Men); Drew Z. Greenberg (Buffy; Warehouse 13). Recorded March 27, 2011.

Episode 2: 

David Fury (Buffy; Angel; Lost; 24); Jeff Greenstein (Friends; Will & Grace; Desperate Housewives); Emily Cutler (Community); Cathryn Humphries (Mad Men; V). Recorded March 13, 2011.

Episode 3: 

Dan Harmon (Community); Javier Grillo Marxuach (The Middle Man; Lost); Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre (The Good Guys; Finder). Recorded April 27, 2011.

Episode 4:

Veena Sud (The Killing); Gary Lennon (Justified); Sarah Watson (Parenthood); Bob Kushell (3rd Rock from the Sun). Recorded May 15, 2011.
If you have a few minutes to kill and are a fan of television or writing, then give this podcast a listen. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire 20th Anniversary Edition Review





20 Years ago, in a book store far, far away….

Twenty years ago, Bantam Spectra, Lucasfilm, and Timothy Zahn brought the thrill and excitement of Star Wars to the printed page.  While Mr. Zahn did not create the Expanded Universe, if his first book had failed, we would have a radically different world of Star Wars publishing and likely a much more limited one.  The adult Star Wars novels are one of the central pillars of the Expanded Universe and it was Heir to the Empire that really re-launched Star Wars publishing.

How does the 20th Anniversary Edition of Heir to the Empire stack up against the original release?  The Anniversary Edition weighs in at 411 pages to the original editions 361, this is due to the annotations, the annotations are set on the outside margins of each page, the main body of text is narrower then in a traditional hardcover release meaning we get less text per page resulting in the 50 extra pages. 
The Anniverary Edtion also includes a Foreword by Howard Roffman, President, Lucas Licensing, an introduction by Timothy Zahn, an afterword by HttE’s original editor Betsy Mitchell, and a brand new novella by Timothy Zahn entitled Crisis of Faith

The presentation of the book is terrific.  The dust jacket features a metallic silver cover with darkened striations across it.  There is an embossed Imperial Cog logo in the center, the embossed text is a mixture of blacks and reds, particularly impressive is the subtitle “Heir to the Empire,” where the top of the letters are black and the bottoms are red.  The interior of the dust flaps is black with silver text. 
Underneath the dust jacked the cover of the book has a black and white copy of the original cover art printed directly on the cardboard, minus the front and back cover text.  There is still text on the spine and the overall finish looks like one of the shiny school text books.

The annotations are numbered within each chapter, but not cumulatively through the book.  As such each chapter begins with #1 and continues up depending on how many notes are in that particular chapter. 
The only thing really missing is a glossary for the annotations.  It would be cool to go to the back of the book and find the exact page for an annotation regarding a particular character or event. 
The overall effect is a slightly different reading experience because there is a lot more white space on the page then the reader is used to traditionally.  I did find that while I was reading it was easy to miss the superscript number indicating where a footnote fits into the story.  This is both good and bad in that it is unobtrusive in the reading experience, but may take the annotation out of context if you read it after finishing the main body of text before turning to the next page.  I also noticed at least one occasion where multiple annotations where printed on the page after the annotation superscript appears because a previous annotation was so large it consumed all of the margin. 

Crisis of Faith is a meaty 52 page novella, the rather alien beginning of which made me re-read the first page a few times before I got into the story.  It features some new characters as well as a character that made his debut in Zahn’s latest novel Choices of One.  There are some scenes that remind me of  A New Hope aboard the Death Star with Grand Moff Tarkin meeting with Imperial military commanders   There is also a good bit of action, some familiar minor characters getting a chance at the spotlight, and of course a healthy dose of Thrawn’s brilliance in a military engagement.  It is an interesting book because of where it is set in the timeline, but we get a cast that is to the best of my reckoning entirely made up of EU characters.

There are two very interesting new aliens in this book that have an interesting decision to make as to whether they should obey and conform to their superiors wishes, or whether they should do what they think maybe right.   I would be interesting in hearing about what happens to them in the future.  In the end Crisis of Faith is like much of Zahn’s recent work, it provides another layer of connects his various stories, and adds depth to some characters and concepts we have seen developed in a limited sense in books like the Hand of Thrawn Duology and Choices of One.  If you haven’t enjoyed Zahn’s work since the Thrawn Trilogy or Hand of Thrawn Duology, then you probably won’t get into this story.  But if you have enjoyed Zahn’s recent work, or if you simply are a Star Wars Expanded Universe completest, then it is worth a read. 

Should you buy Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition?  That’s a good question.  The book comes with a cover price of $30 dollars which to the best of my knowledge is the most expensive price charged for a Star Wars hardcover novel to date.   The book is absolutely gorgeous, the novel has a classic story, the chance to get a DVD commentary track like experience in a novel is well, a novel concept.  I think it is well worth a purchase especially considering that you should be able to find it for much cheaper then cover price.  For example Amazon currently has it for sale for $17.14 with free shipping on orders over $25.  One thing to also keep in mind is that the decision as to whether or not we will see the same anniversary treatment with annotations for Dark Force Rising and The Last Command, will depend on sales of the this book.  Mr. Zahn is said that he is interested in doing such editions for each of those books, but in the end it all depends on sales for the publisher.  

If audiobooks are more your speed, then you should be happy  to know that Random House is releasing the book in that format as well, both as a CD audiobook($45) and as a audiobook download($22.50).  You can listen to a preview of the audiobook version of the story at Random House's HttE page.  

If you are a casual Star Wars fan or know a casual Star Wars fan and are looking for a place to put your toe into the water of the Expanded Universe, Heir to the Empire is and has always been my recommended jumping off point. 

Editor's Note: A special thanks to the good folks at Del Rey for the advance copy of HttE that was used for this review.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Star Wars Author Paul S. Kemp Publishing Calendar


As readers of this site will note, Paul S. Kemp is rapidly becoming one of my favorite Star Wars authors. The Old Republic: Deceived was a terrific book and I thoroughly enjoyed Crosscurrent. 

I have also branched out and read some of Mr. Kemp's other work, in addition to his short story collection Ephemera which I read in January, I have recently read the first two books in the Erevis Cale Trilogy, Twilight Falling and Dawn of Night.  I will be reading the third book in the trilogy, Midnight's Mask as well as the next series, The Twilight War soon. 

They may revoke my geek card for this admission, but I am not a D&D player and until reading Twilight Falling I had never ventured into the Forgotten Realms world.  Twilight Falling and Dawn of Night are two very good stories with a very dark protagonist and some rather interesting traveling companions.  The one major complain that I had while reding Twilight Falling, is that at times there were scenes that felt very like an RPG and its turn by turn action and dialogue.   This flaw disappears in Dawn of Night and it doesn't ruin the overall quality of Twilight Falling's story. 

Mr. Kemp recently provided an update on his publishing calendar on his website:

Well, there are a lot of things happening with my other books between now and November 2012. Riptide, my next Star Wars novel, will release in October 2011 and continue the adventures of Jaden Korr, Khedryn Faal, and Marr Idi Shael. Deceived, my latest Star Wars novel, released in March 2011 in hardcover, will release in mass market paperback format in early 2012, an easy and inexpensive way to meet Darth Malgus. I’m very excited that my first Egil and Nix novel, The Hammer and the Blade, will release in late-summer 2012 (and you’re going to love it, I think).  And finally, the first book of my hardcover Star Wars duology is scheduled to release in late 2012.
SOURCE: PaulSKemp.com

Below are my reviews of three of Mr. Kemp's works:

Ephemera Review

Crosscurrent Review

Deceived Review

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4 Publicity Pictures via IGN

IGN.com has posted nine new publicity pictures from Season Four of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Battle Lines. 

The Riff Tamson image looks terrific, notice the dark blue on the top of his arms and the white underside of his arms.   I am also intrigued by the C-3PO and R2-D2 images, that appear to be an episode that is an homage to Gulliver's Travels. 

Anakin and Padme vs. a BX-series Commando Droid



Scuba Ahsoka?
Digging Ackbar, but the Clam Shell emblem on the helmet looks a bit weird.
Dave Filoni's BFFs
C-3PO & R2-D2 meet the Lilliputians, or whatever they are going to call these guys. 
Honey, I shrunk the space aliens.
The Heroes of the Battle of Endor
Meet Riff Tamson, the Karkarodon shark-man.  Calamari Sushi anyone?
Jedi Pool Party!  Wooo hoo!

SOURCE: Lucasfilm via IGN.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis Synopsis


James Luceno's off again on again Darth Plagueis novel has recently gotten a cover and now courtesy of the publisher Random House it has a synopsis. 

He was the most powerful Sith lord who ever lived.
But could he be the only one who never died?

“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
—Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
 
Darth Plagueis: one of the most brilliant Sith Lords who ever lived. Possessing power is all he desires. Losing it is the only thing he fears. As an apprentice, he embraces the ruthless ways of the Sith. And when the time is right, he destroys his Master—but vows never to suffer the same fate. For like no other disciple of the dark side, Darth Plagueis learns to command the ultimate power . . . over life and death.

Darth Sidious: Plagueis’s chosen apprentice. Under the guidance of his Master, he secretly studies the ways of the Sith, while publicly rising to power in the galactic government, first as Senator, then as Chancellor, and eventually as Emperor.

Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious, Master and acolyte, target the galaxy for domination—and the Jedi Order for annihilation. But can they defy the merciless Sith tradition? Or will the desire of one to rule supreme, and the dream of the other to live forever, sow the seeds of their destruction?
So um, yeah this books sounds totally boring.  Why would they publish this drek? ......

Heck, who am I kidding.  This book is going to be awesome.  At 400 pages and due out December 27th this is the best way to spend all that Christmas money. 

Not only am I excited to see Plagueis, to see Sidious' training, but also to learn who Plagueis' Master was.  I have a suspicion it will be Darth Tenebrous based on the short story that Matthew Stover is writing for Star Wars Insider magazine to tie into the book. 

This long term behind the scenes power grab that the Sith pull off in the Prequel films has its origins with Darth Bane and the groundwork laid down by Drew Karpyshyn in the Darth Bane Trilogy.  The last Darth Bane book is set in 980 BBY and The Phantom Menace is set in 32 BBY, that is over 900 years of Sith mischief that has yet to be truly explored.  I can't wait to see if we get any references back o Darth Bane, Zannah or Cognus.  


Big tip of the hat to Knights Archive for posting the synopsis earlier today. 

SOURCES: Random House and Knights Archive

The Special Edition Treatment Strikes Back: Star Wars Blu-ray Changes


If I have learned anything in my many years of Star Wars fandom, it is that George Lucas is a perpetual tinkerer.  In many ways he is like Han Solo, constantly working on the Falcon, some times the changes are for the better, and sometimes the changes blow up in his face and end up with a Wookiee or Fanboy shouting at him. 

StarWars.com  has a nice article about some of the fixes that have been made  to the films and the process by which was used to pour over the films in preparation for the Blu-ray release.

The older films of Episode IV, V and VI required special care and attention. Already, for the 2004 release, the movies underwent significant digital restoration to have them align with George Lucas' vision of the six Star Wars movies being a single, seamless presentation. However, that is not to say that that work done for the 2004 release was simply ported over to Blu-ray.

"It went through three phases of QC (quality control) processes," describes Diane Caliva, Production Manager for Media Operations at ILM. "In addition to Lucasfilm reviewing, there were outside companies hired as well. The first was Blu-focus/THX QCing our masters. Then it went through Deluxe and their QC process. And at last was the emulation phase, by the Deluxe team . We would get 'kickback notes', and then Dorne and our team we would assess the shots, and go in and clean up the files."

In addition to some general cosmetic fixes such as correcting colors, fixing digital animation errors, etc.  George Lucas will be making a change on the scale of digitally erasing Sebastian Shaw and inserting Hayden Christensen into Return of the Jedi.

As has been long speculated we will be getting a digital Yoda to replace the less then ideal puppet Yoda in Episode I. 

MildConcernTV has a nice side by side video comparison of the dueling Yodas.



I generally appreciate the visual and auditory clean ups that have been done to the films, but one thing is for sure....Han Shot First!

SOURCE: Starwars.com and Film School Rejects

2 New Star Wars Website Promoting Blu-ray Release

StarWars.com has launched two new websites to promote the Complete Saga Blu-ray release September 16th.

The first site, is Star Wars: Moments Visualizer.  It gives you a chance to rank scenes from the six films as well as see how other fans have ranked those moments.  Moments has a very visual interface, which allows you to see an image and description of each scene.  From here  you can drag the films into your favorite section or you can go to the Duel tab and choose between two scenes.


The second site, Ask Vader has video clips of the Dark Lord and allows you to type in questions.  It looks like there are 92 different video clips of Vader including movement shots as well as responses.  My favorite so far is #89:  "I find your lack of articulation disturbing."

SOURCE: Star Wars Moments and Ask Vader

Pablo Hidalgo's The Essential Reader's Companion Update

Del Rey provided a brief update on Pablo Hidalgo's essential guide book, Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion.

The book is due out August 2012 and will provide summaries, background information regarding novels, novellas, and young adult books, as well as original artwork.

It sounds like the book is coming together.

I'm working on editing some chapters of Pablo Hidalgo's new book, STAR WARS: THE ESSENTIAL READER'S COMPANION (available next August) and looking forward to seeing initial design layouts for the book in the next few days. Hope to be able to share some of this with you soon. (ES)
 SOURCE: Star Wars Books on Facebook

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Matthew Stover Star Wars Insider Short Story: The Tenebrous Way


I am glad I finally got my subscription to Star Wars Insider magazine, because there are some really interesting sounding short fiction coming to Insider.

Today it was announced that Matthew Stover will be writing a short story that will appear in Insider #130 (12/13/11) and will tie into James Luceno's Darth Plagueis novel (12/27/11).

The title is curious and has me wondering if we will be seeing Darth Plagueis's Master or perhaps a failed apprentice before Palpatine.

Tenebrous is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
1
: shut off from the light : dark, murky <tenebrous depths>
2
: hard to understand : obscure <a tenebrous affair>
3
: causing gloom 
Tenebrous also appears in the Star Wars Expanded Universe in a blog entry by Keeper of the Holocron, Leland Chee from October 6, 2006. "From the Expanded Universe... Darth Tenebrous (tenebrous)."
Tenebrous has a Wookieepedia entry, and according to the Wook, Mr. Chee's blog entry is the first and only appearance by a character of this name.  
I am really curious as to how this will fit into the lineage of the Sith. 

Del Rey Editor David Pomerico also provided a brief run down of other short fiction soon to be seen in Star Wars Insider.

"A Fair Trade" by Paul Kemp will be in #129 (Oct 25). "Vader Adrift" by Ryder Windham will be in the Bind Up Saga Special (Nov 15), and "The Tenebrous Way" by Matthew Stover will be in #130 (Dec 13). (DP)

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