Monday, May 27, 2013

Star Wars Rebels: Rebel Report #0.1 (Video)


In an effort to stretch my creative wings, I am going to be experimenting with some expanded audio/visual coverage on the blog.  First up is a quick video with my thoughts on the news of the Star Wars Rebels announcement and the news that Season One is in the hands of the writers.


Pringles & Star Wars: The Force For Fun Finalist: The Delectable Weapon


Our review of the Pringles The Force For Fun contest finalists continues this week with a video that may represent some unresolved father-son issues.  Of course that is nothing new to Star Wars, after all Luke must have had a lot to talk to his therapist about.



The Delectable Weapon was created by Ryan O’Rourke & John Griese.

This week's giveaway courtesy of Pringles is a set of Star Wars earbuds and some Pringles.  As always due to the contest rules only U.S. residents are eligible to win.  Enter below, enter early and enter often.




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Visit Youtube.com/Pringles for more awesome The Force For Fun videos and coverage.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Star Wars Rebels Season One Stories Broken, Let The Writing Begin


Star Wars Rebels Co-Executive Producer Greg Weisman pulled back the curtain on where the show is in terms of development via Twitter.  Weisman tweeted:


Without George Lucas running the writers room during the story conference it may operate in a different manner than The Clone Wars writing process, but it sounds like it is similar.  We can infer that the writers met with the three co-executive producers and each other for a week at one of Lucasfilm's properties.  Jointly they developed story/plots for the entire first season of the show and then individual episode assignments were given out to the as yet not fully known stable of writers.

This means we are still very, very early in the development process of the show.  We have plots, probably concept art and some character design.  Most likely the animation team is working first on environments and vehicles that are most likely to be utilized in the show.

Let the speculation and rumor mongering begin.

SOURCE: TWITTER


Monday, May 20, 2013

Star Wars Rebels Announced: A New Animated Series Coming to Disney XD Fall 2014


The Clone Wars may be dead but Star Wars animation produced for television certainly isn't.

Today it was announced that the rumored new series in development will be called Star Wars Rebels and will be set between Episodes III and IV.

Clone Wars Supervising Director and Star Wars Rebels Executive Producer Dave Filoni sat down with Lucasfilm everyman Pablo Hidalgo.



According to the Press Release:

Production has begun on Star Wars Rebels, an exciting, all-new animated television series based on one of the greatest entertainment franchises of all time. Scheduled to premiere in fall 2014 as a one-hour special telecast on Disney Channel, it will be followed by a series on Disney XD channels around the world.
Leading the development of the series is a creative team of exceptional talent. Screenwriter/producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) is an executive producer on Star Wars Rebels and will write the premiere episode. He is joined by Dave Filoni as executive producer, who served as supervising director of the Emmy nominated Star Wars: The Clone Wars since 2008. Executive producer Greg Weisman brings with him a wealth of animation experience with credits such as Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Gargoyles.
Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide, said, "The entire team at Lucasfilm has provided extraordinary creativity and innovation for over three decades, and we're thrilled to be bringing the expansive and imaginative world of Star Wars to Disney XD's viewers."
"I couldn't be more excited to explore new corners of the Star Wars universe," said Kathleen Kennedy, president, Lucasfilm. "I think Star Wars Rebels will capture the look, feel and fun that both kids and their parents love about Star Wars."
The action-filled series is set between the events of Episode III and IV -- an era spanning almost two decades never-before explored on-screen. Star Wars Rebels takes place in a time where the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking shape. Details about the show are a closely guarded secret at this point.
Star Wars Rebels will be produced by Lucasfilm Animation, featuring many of the key talents that made Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Fans attending Star Wars Celebration Europe will be the first to get an exclusive look at the new series. Casting will be announced at a later date. More information about this developing project will be found on StarWars.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/starwarsrebels.

What We Know:

  • The series has 3 Executive Producers: Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Greg Weisman
  • The series will air on Disney XD starting in the Fall 2014 season.
  • The series will take place between the events of Episode III and IV.
  • The series will premier on Disney Channel in 2014 with a one-hour special episode.
  • The series premier will be written by Simon Kinberg, who is also writing a Star Wars spin-off film and is consulting on Star Wars: Episode VII.
  • Star Wars Celebration Europe will host the first look at the new series.
  • Kilian Plunkett will be aboard as Art Director
  • Joel Aron will be abourd as CG Supervisor

Unanswered Questions:

  • Who will be the main characters of Rebels?
  • Will Vader feature prominently as a recurring villain in the show?
  • Will we see The Clone Wars characters without resolved cinematic fates appear in the series?
  • Will the show maintain a similar CG style to The Clone Wars?
  • Will voice actors, writers and episodic directors from The Clone Wars be part of the series?
  • Will Rebels cannibalize stories from the in limbo Live Action Series? 
  • Will Rebels absorb the story from Star Wars 1313?
  • Will the show have a supervising director or show runner, or will the triumvirate of executive producers run the show?


Stay tuned to Lightsaber Rattling as we shift our Clone Wars coverage towards Star Wars Rebels.

SOURCE: Starwars.com

Pringles & Star Wars: The Force for Fun Finalist: The Roommate


May I present the second of our weekly highlighted videos in Pringles' The Force for Fun Contest.

The Roommate by David Brashear:



And you thought you had roommate problems.  I can't wait for the follow up video, "you have used the last of the hot water for the last time..."


Enter This Weeks The Force For Fun Giveaway:  An Ewok Plush Doll and 2 Cans of Pringles

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Face it dude, Hurley was wrong, Ewoks don't suck.  Yub Yub.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Episode VII Rumor: Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Negotiations to star in Star Wars: Episode VII


Latino Review's Kellvin Chavez and El Mayimbe are reporting that Tudor's star Jonathan Rhys Meyers is in negotiations for an as yet unknown starring role in Episode VII.

It appears that Latino Review's report is based of of a single source so take it with a grain of salt.

Meyers is most famous for his 2007-2010 run as King Henry VIII on The Tudors.

This fall viewers will be able to see Meyers starring in NBC's new limited series Dracula, which will have Danieel Knauf as head writer and showrunner.

Meyers also has two films currently in post-production, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Panda Eyes.

After that IMDB doesn't have any cinematic commitments listed for him, so depending on whether Dracula is renewed for a season two or three and the filming schedule it certainly seems possible that he may be able to take part in filming for Episode VII.

The Irish born actor is 35 years old. For reference sake, Mark Hamill was 26 when Star Wars was released in 1977, Carrie Fisher was 20, and Harrison Ford was 35.  The target release date for Episode VII is 2015, when Hamill will be 64, Fisher 59, and Ford 73.

If Meyers is to be the starring character of Episode VII he would be much older than either Hamill or Hayden Christensen when they took the spotlight.  It is entirely possible that Meyers could be playing Luke Skywalker's son.  Both Meyers and Hamill are of similar heights (5'9'') with light eyes and while Meyers hair is darker, there is enough resemblance their to make it believable on screen that the two could be father and son.

This is really the first big casting rumor we have gotten outside of the predictable will they or won't they rumors about the big three actors returning to reprise their roles.

It is also possible that Meyers could be tapped to play a starring role as a villain in the film, I can certainly see him as a young and cunning Imperial Navy officer who could make life difficult for the reformed Republic.

SOURCE: Latino Review

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Six Bonus Content: Yoda Arc




Our little green friend is back and it appears that we will be getting some Yoda focused bonus content as part of The Clone Wars bonus content package (episodes previously produced but not aired before the series' cancellation).

In a clip aired at Disney's Star Wars Weekends, we see Yoda in the hospital wing of the Jedi Temple under the care of a Jedi healer and under guard by a pair a Jedi Temple Guards.  Anakin comes in and Yoda used Anakin to leave the hospital wing and make his way to the hanger where R2-D2 helps him get in his special starship and depart Coruscant.

Why is Yoda under armed guard?  Is it simply to force the Jedi Master to take a break to rest and heal or is there more going on here?

Let's take a look at some screen shots from the trailer, resolution is poor on these.
















Tom Kane may have shed some light on what may be going on in an interview with the Bombad Radio Podcast episode #76, where he mentions that their is a story arc featuring Yoda, where George Lucas allowed them to pull back the curtain a bit and reveal some of what is going on inside Yoda's head and his background. Tom reveals that last he heard they were going to try to finish that arc off. This seems likely that the clip we are seeing is what he was referring to.


SOURCE: Youtube

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Force For Fun Interview with Jim vs. Vader Filmmakers Erik Beck and Justin Johnson



You have scene the video above, now lets get to know filmmakers Erik Beck and Justin Johnson, the duo behind Jim vs. Vader.  

Erik and Justin met in 2005 and began working together in 2007, the dynamic duo moved to Los Angeles in 2011.  In addition to creating their own Youtube videos they have produced music videos for Sony/RCA and cable network promos for The Hub and Epix.  

What brings a kid from Yuba City, CA together with a kid from Eau Claire, WI?  Why Star Wars of course.  

Erik and Justin were kind enough to take the time to talk a little Pringles, a little film making and a lot about Star Wars.  
Lightsaber Rattling (LR): I understand you both are fans of the AT-ATs and the Battle of Hoth, which makes me think you are big fans of The Empire Strikes Back.  Do you think Empire is the best of the Star Wars films and why or why not?
HA! Funny you should ask because we actually made a silly video where Justin and I explore that very questions (while battling in giant robots made of cardboard of course). In the video Justin argues that Empire is the best, while I think Return of the Jedi is the better. In reality though I think we both agree Empire is indeed best! It's the darkest of the original trilogy and the character growth that Luke goes through is so great. At the end of the day its hard to compete with that first battle between Luke and Vader. It's so moody and well shot and of course has the epic reveal at the end!

LR:  Answer honestly. When eating Pringles do you make the "duck face" at least once?
That seems like something Justin would do for sure. I've of course done it, you really have to at least once, but in general I like to get right to business when it comes to enjoying Pringles. No time to goof around when delicious snacks are involved! ;)

LR: I was impressed with the visual effects in Jim vs. Vader, can you talk a little about how you were able to accomplish this?
Star Wars is such a seminal film in the world of special effects that we really wanted that aspect to shine in our spot.  If you watch the full 60 second version it's sort of crazy how many gags we cram in there. For the lightsaber battle we got lucky in that our friend Jim (namesake for our main character) is a trained stuntman with stage combat experience. He taught our actors all their sweet moves and was the stunt double who did the flip off the table. For everything else we tried to keep a solid balance between simple "practical effects" and computer generated effects. For example the saber "blades" were thin metal rods painted white that we painstakingly covered up in After Effects. Our friend Devin (also a stuntman) threw himself backward onto a hidden pad for the part when Vader tries to force push Jim.  Our favorite effect though is when the mug gets chopped in half. The key to that one was a trick mug that is already cut in half and has a small dam built in the side to hold a small amount of coffee. There's some great behind the scenes videos on the Pringles YouTube channel (YouTube.com/Pringles) where we talk more about all of this, but suffice it to say we really love creating special effect!

LR: As filmmakers what was your reaction to the news that we would be getting new Star Wars films and is there anything in particular you want to see in those films?
We are very excited that there will be new Star Wars films coming soon! J.J Abrams is one of my favorite contemporary directors and we have full faith Disney will do the new movies right. Lucas & Disney have been making awesome stuff together for years. Just look at Star Tours! I would also look to the great job they did with the Muppets, another beloved and well respected franchise, and get excited for future of Star Wars movies!

Visit YouTube.com/Pringles to see Jim vs. Vader as well as the other finalists in The Force For Fun contest presented by Pringles and Star Wars. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

J.J. Abrams The Daily Show Interview Clips


J.J. Abrams sits down with Jon Stewart promoting Star Trek: Into Darkness and well the topic of Star Wars came up.

CLIP #1: Talking Trek and contrasting Trek and Star Wars



CLIP #2: Jon Stewart lobbies to be a Jedi in Episode VII



SOURCE: The Daily Show

Behind the Scenes of "The Force For Fun" Finalist: Jim vs. Vader



You have seen the Jim vs. Vader video, now take a look at the behind the scenes footage.  See how Erik, Justin and their crew brought a lightsaber duel to life in the office.



SOURCE: Youtube.com/Pringles

And don't forget there is still time to enter the Pringles The Force For Fun Week 1 Giveaway contest below for a chance to win a Star Wars Mimobot Flash Drive and Pringles.


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Interview with Tim Lebbon, Author of Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void

Photo © Tracey Lebbon


Lightsaber Rattling (LR): Into the Void introduces us Lanoree Brock who is certainly the protagonist of the story, but throughout the novel we see her at least face challenges and ponder choices that at times are far from heroic.  What do you think defines a hero and does she qualify?

Tim Lebbon (TL): I think someone who faces these challenges, makes the correct decisions––however hard they might be––and emerges triumphant is a hero.  She faces some very dark times, true.  But yes, I think she's heroic, if also a little tragic.


LR: In the story we are also introduced to the Je'daii.  This group is the ancient progenitor of the Jedi we are more familiar with from the films and the Expanded Universe, yet they are in many ways very different.  How did you approach fleshing out the Je'daii? And what do you think makes them similar and distinct from the future Jedi Order?

TL: The similarity is that they are generally good people seeking peace and calm.  But what sets them aside quite dramatically  is their perception and use of the Force.  The Je'daii seek balance in the Force.  The light, which they call Ashla; and the dark, which they call Bogan.  They believe that a balance between light and dark forms the perfect relationship with the Force, as opposed to the future Jedi Order who seek only knowledge of the light side and actively avoid the dark (most of them, at least...). 

For me as a writer this was a much more fascinating concept to explore than pure light or pure dark.  Every real person exists with shades of grey, and that's no more obvious than in Lanoree Brock. 


LR: Into the Void focuses largely on the broken relationship between the main character Lanoree Brock and her brother Dalien, as well as Dalien's broken relationship with the Force.  I have to ask, is Dalien a  squib? Or do you think  his relationship to the Force is more of a self-imposed condition?

TL: (Note: first I had to find out what you mean by squib ... but I think I get the gist): I think Dalien is one of those people who is not naturally in tune with the Force.  Back in this era there are many, and it's these who moved away from Tython––it's a Force-rich planet, confusing and troubling to those not rich with the Force––and settled on other planets and moons in the system.  Dalien is one of those ... but instead of being allowed to exist as his own person, he'd continually nudged and pushed towards the Force by his family (his parents are both Je'daii Masters).  The more this happens, the more he resents it.  And then he rebels.  It's quite a tragic story.  

LR: The novel feels a bit like the Mos Eisley Cantina with the wide variety of alien species present, including some like the Cathar and the Noghri that we haven't seen too often lately. How did you go about picking your aliens?

TL: The deeper history of this era tells how a variety of species and races were brought from all across the galaxy to the Tython system by the Tho Yor.  So I wanted the novel to be populated by an array or alien species, most of which I chose from the comics by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema.   


LR: Finally, you have been very prolific in writing novellas and short stories, in the past there have been a number of Star Wars short story collections (Tales from...) and more recently there was John Jackson Miller's Lost Tribe of the Sith eBook novella series.  If asked would you be interested in doing more Star Wars work particularly of the short story or novella variety?

TL: Yep, I'd love to.  I'm also keen to continue Lanoree's story ... there's a lot happening in the Tython system, and I'm sure she'd be in the thick of it!  

A special thanks for Tim Lebbon to take the time to chat with us and to Random House Publishing for arrainging the interview. 

Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void is on sale now in hardcover, eBook and audiobook formats. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pringles & Star Wars: The Force for Fun Finalist: Jim vs. Vader


The Force For Fun kicks off at Lightsaber Rattling with this week's video, Jim vs. Vader and a very cool giveaway courtesy of Pringles.  This week readers have the chance to win a Star Wars Mimobot Flash Drive and 2 cans of Pringles.

Check out the video below and enter to win the contest.  The Force may be with you...


Enter the Mimobot Flash Drive Contest Below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Look for more coverage of Jim vs. Vader this week on LightsaberRattling.com and head over to Youtube.com/Pringles for more awesome Star Wars videos.

Complete contest rules can be found here.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pringles The Force For Fun Contest: 7 Filmmakers vie for a chance to win $25,000


Pringles and Lucasfilm have partnered with Tongal to hold a contest for fans to create video art that combines the wonder and fun of Star Wars and the tasty awesomeness that is Pringles.

Battling through Jedi, Sith, Stormtroopers, Ewoks, and even a few Gungans, seven finalists have emerged with videos that will be judged by representatives of Lucasfilm and Pringles to determine who gets to take home the $25,000 in Republic Credits (err...U.S. dollars) and the chance to be featured on Kellogg's/Pringles websites as well as national television.

The seven finalists are:

Don't Hold Your Breath by The Norman Invasion (Colin Duffy and Matt Sklar)

Jim vs. Vader by The Indie Machines (Erik Beck and Justin Johnson)

Roommate by David Brashear

The Delectable Weapon by Ryan O'Rourke and John Griese

Darth Visits by Steven Houser

Sounds Like A Party by Team Spaceman (Jared Hedges and Dave Cain)

Wookiee Mistake by Side of Fries (Jordan Allen, Brooke Dooley, Luke Rocheleau)

For more on the videos and to watch behind the scenes clips, please visit Youtube.com/Pringles

Look for more coverage of these videos in the coming weeks on LightsaberRattling.com as well as some cool giveaways courtesy of Pringles.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Star Wars: Kenobi Cover Art, Full Description and Speculation


Well known comic book writer and author John Jackson Miller has certainly proven himself in the realm of Star Wars prose with his Lost Tribe of the Sith novella series and his novel Knight Errant.  He gets the privilege of having what is arguably the most highly anticipated Expanded Universe novel this year, KENOBI.  

Let's face it, who doesn't love Obi-Wan?

Well io9 got to break the cover art for the new novel which is due to be released on August 27th.

Included in the article was the books description.


STAR WARS: KENOBI by John Jackson Miller
Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.

Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.

Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice.

The thing that gives me pause are the lines bolded above.  Obi-Wan fighting a Sand People war chief sounds awfully familiar.  Which makes me wonder are we seeing more Del Rey and Dark Horse Comics synergy at work here.  Is it possible that Obi-Wan had to lay the smack down on multiple Sand People war chiefs while  on his self imposed babysitting detail?  Because we already have a story where former Jedi and future Sith Lord A'Sharad Hett returns to the Sand People and becomes a war chief and ends up dueling and being defeated by Obi-Wan.  Could A'Sharad Hett be this novel's villain?




SOURCE: io9 and Wookieepedia

Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Razor's Edge Release Date Pushed Up to October 1st


The Princess was never the most patient of people and it looks like she just couldn't wait for her previously scheduled October 15th release date for starring role in a novel set between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Look for Razor's Edge written by Star Wars newcomer Martha Wells in hardcover, eBook and audiobook formats on October 1, 2013 from Del Rey / Random House.

SOURCE: Star Wars Books on Facebook and RandomHouse.com

Star Wars: Episode VII Production To Take Place In The United Kingdom


Kathleen Kennedy hasn't revealed what Episode VII will be about, but at least now we know where part of the film will be produced.  Star Wars is coming back to the United Kingdom.
"We've devoted serious time and attention to revisiting the origins of Star Wars as inspiration for our process on the new movie, and I'm thrilled that returning to the UK for production and utilizing the incredible talent there can be a part of that," said Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm. "Speaking from my own longstanding connection to the UK with films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun and recently War Horse, it's very exciting to be heading back."

Does this mean we will be getting a healthy dose of Imperial (British) accents in the Sequel Trilogy?


SOURCES: BBC and StarWars.com

Friday, May 3, 2013

Star Wars: Allegiance Coming to Audiobook Format June 11, 2013




BRAND NEW STAR WARS® RELEASES FROM RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO
 
(May 3, 2013) NEW YORK – Presented with the opportunity to choose which previously unrecorded Star Wars® title they would like to hear as an audiobook, fans at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, Florida overwhelmingly voted for Allegiance by New York Times bestselling author, Timothy Zahn. Originally published as a hardcover in December 2007 by LucasBooks, Random House Audio will be releasing Allegiance on June 11th as the result of this fan vote.  This will be the first time Allegiance will be in published in audio format, and it will be available as a digital download narrated by fan-favorite narrator Marc Thompson.
 
Set between A New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back, Allegiance features the newly minted heroes of the Rebellion: fledgling Jedi Luke Skywalker, smuggler turned reluctant freedom-fighter Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa, a bold leader with a world to avenge. The three must face the harsh realities of the cataclysmic conflict into which they have so bravely plunged.
 
Additionally, Random House Audio is re-releasing two other titles authored by Timothy Zahn from the Hand of Thrawn series, Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future as unabridged audio downloads in September and October of 2013. Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future were published as hardcovers in the late nineties by Spectra, a division of Random House, Inc, and released as abridged downloads in 2007. Now available unabridged for the first time, fans will get to hear these titles in their entirety narrated by Marc Thompson.
 
Timothy Zahn is one of science fiction's most popular voices, known for pitting realistic human characters against a well-researched background of future science and technology. He won the Hugo Award for his novella Cascade Point and is the author of eighteen science fiction novels, including two Star Wars® series: the bestselling trilogy Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command and the Hand of Thrawn series. He is also the author of the novels Conquerors’ Pride, Conquerors’ Heritage and Conquerors’ Legacy, and three collections of short fiction. He lives in Oregon.
 
 
Star Wars: Allegiance
By Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson
Random House Audio
DN ISBN: 9780804148191 / On Sale: June 11, 2013
 
Star Wars: Specter of the Past (Hand of Thrawn)
By Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson
Random House Audio
DN ISBN: 9780804128483 / On Sale: September 17, 2013
 
Star Wars: Vision of the Future (Hand of Thrawn)
By Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson
Random House Audio
DN ISBN: 9780804128506 / On Sale: October 8, 2013

SOURCE: Random House

Kindle Daily Post: The Adventures of Lanoree Brock, Je'daii Ranger by Tim Lebbon


Author Tim Lebbon wrote up a short diary entry from the perspective of his main character Lanoree Brock. Lanoree stars in the soon to be released, Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void.

The diary entry can be read in full on Amazon's Kindle Daily Post blog, here is just a taste:

They say a Je'daii's training is what makes them the person they are, and in some respects that's true. My journey across Tython shaped me. I found my true calling at Anil Kesh, the Je'daii Temple of Science. There I learned to temper my doubts and channel my talents. There I first discovered the alchemy of flesh. 
But it was I who made that long, ultimately tragic journey that really formed the person I am now.


SOURCE: Kindle Daily Post

Thursday, May 2, 2013

John Jackson Miller's Kenobi Novel Blurb


Trouble just seems to follow Obi-Wan where ever he goes.

Random House has released an official synopsis for the Star Wars novel Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, due for release on August 27, 2013  in hardcover, ebook and audiobook formats.


The Republic has fallen.Sith Lords rule the galaxy.Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has lost everything . . . Everything but hope.
Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.

Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.

Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice.

I haven't been this excited for an Expanded Universe novel since Darth Plaguies, who doesn't love Obi-Wan Kenobi?

SOURCE: Random House.com

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Clone Wars Bonus Content: Plo Koon / Syfo-Dyas Arc



Well now this is an interesting little bit of bonus content that USA Today revealed is coming down the pike.  Looks like Star Wars: The Clone Wars isn't done delving into the deeper mysteries of the films.  Who was Jedi Master Syfo-Dyas and how could his brief mention in Episode II: Attack of the Clones warrant it's own story arc?




For the uninitiated, Jedi Master Syfo-Dyas was name dropped by the Kaminoans when Obi-Wan paid a visit to the Star Wars equivalent of Seattle.  Obi-Wan traced the saberdart used by Jango Fett's pal in the assassination attempt against Padme.  This lead him to the cloners and the revelation that Jedi Master Syfo-Dyas supposedly paid for and ordered a Clone Army to be bread for the Republic.

Now when I first watched Attack of the Clone, I assumed that Syfo-Dyas was simply an alias that Darth Sidious based on a deceased Jedi.  The Expanded Universe fleshes out Syfo-Dyas a bit, in particular in the recent novel Darth Plagueis by James Luceno.

What was Syfo-Dyas' roll in the lead up to the Clone Wars and what was the fate of the Jedi Master?  From the clips it certainly looks like a T-6 Shuttle (serial number 77519) crash may have played a role in the ultimate demise of Syfo-Dyas, assuming of course that the long abandoned lightsaber was his. Perhaps we will get some answers somewhere this fall.

SOURCE: USA TODAY

Star Wars: Dawn to the Jedi: Into the Void Review


Acclaimed author Tim Lebbon makes his first foray into the Expanded Universe in Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void. This hardcover novel features an interesting mix of world building juxtaposed with an intimate character study centered on Lanoree Brock and those who flow in and out of her life.

Publisher's Summary:

On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force—and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.

Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key—risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved—and whose life she must now fear. 
Includes a special, full-color excerpt from the Dark Horse comic Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi and an original Dawn of the Jedi short story by John Ostrander!

Lebbon gets the privilege in playing in a relatively open field of storytelling. While there is the Dawn of the Jedi comic series produced by Dark Horse Comics, there is not a lot of continuity or established stories and characters to limit storytelling.

In terms of the physical book itself, this hardcover is not the first time that Del Rey had included a comic book excerpt within a novel, however the inclusion of the comic panels in a hardcover works much better and is much more enjoyable than in a paperback or trade sized novel.  Into the Void also contains the prequel short story Dawn of the Jedi: Eruption by John Ostrander and an excerpt from Troy Denning's forthcoming Star Wars: Crucible.

While the Je'daii focus on the Force and on balance, it is the ability to dabble in both the light and the dark that make the Je'daii distinct from the latter-day Jedi. The Je'daii society we meet in Into the Void in some ways seems very similar to the Jedi we are familiar with, on the other hand they seem poised on a knife edge, at anymoment you get the feeling that they could slip into a cold brutality that is very un-Jedi like. The Je'daii journey and Temple system is a very cool way to test and instruct potential Je'daii.

One major difference that Star Wars fans will notice is that there are no lightsabers.  The Je'daii used forged blades.  Lanoree does some serious damage with her sword.  At times Lebbon describes the action scenes in detail that may be a tad graphic for younger readers, but there isn't anything disturbing enough to be hesitant giving this book to kids.

The nature of Tython and who the population was assembled there leads to a diverse and interesting mix of species in the novel.  I can honestly say I really wasn't expecting Noghri to appear in this novel, particularly given it's setting in the ancient past of the Star Wars universe.

Into the Void also introduces some new and different uses of the Force, particularly Lanoree's particular talent of alchamey of the flesh, which feels very similar to what the later Sith would do.

This duality among the Je'daii is reflected in the novel's main character, Lanoree Brock. Lanoree is a fascinating character in that you become comfortable with her internal conflict and her emotions which for most of the novel are tied up in duty and family. Her focus is largely on her brother. But to Tre Sana and others it seems like the emotion that she has for her family is largely absent, the casualness with which she dispatches or contemplates dispatching others in the novel is jarring at times.

The plot of the novel is fairly simple, Lanoree is recalled to Tython to be given a special mission by the Je'daii  Masters.  She has been chosen to track down and stop a cult that is dabbling in dangerous ancient technology that could either lead to reconnecting with the larger galaxy outside the deep core or lead to the destruction of everyone on Tython and the surround system.  Lanoree is chosen because the leader of this group is none other than her brother who was assumed to be dead.  The sister hunting brother story may feel a little familiar to those who have read the Legacy of the Force series which featured towards the end Jaina training to then hunting down her brother Jacen.

The story leaves some interesting plot threads open for future storytelling whether it be in prose or in the comic series.  I am fascinated to learn more about the Je'daii who often seem amoral.  Lanoree is a character that even after reading the entire novel I am not sure if I fully understand her.  This uncomfortableness with the character is good in that it prevents predictability from setting in.

Lebbon uses the literary techniques of epigraphs and flashbacks liberally throughout the novel. The epigraphs focus on quotes from Je'daii which provide some background on the Je'daii philosophy.  The first time I really paid attention to this particular literary device was when reading Karen Traviss' novels.  I really like them because they allow the author to set up or frame the content that is to follow.  It allows you to give the reader information that it could be clumsy to include in the body of a chapter or in dialogue.  The other feature is that as a historian this allows you to introduce primary sources or documents in the Expanded Universe by referencing passages from these works. The creation of Expanded Universe primary sources is another level of geekiness that I particularly enjoy.

The flashbacks focus on Lanoree and Dalien in their youth as they begin and end their Je'daii journey, traveling across Tython to the various Je'daii temple. Dalien is a flawed character, but how much of his faults are evil and how much are the rebelliousness of youth?  Dalien's relationship to the Force is one of the more interesting questions throughout the novel.

When you are introducing new characters and a new setting such as with the Dawn of the Jedi it makes sense to use a limited cast of characters, this allows the reader to adjust to the setting without getting to confused with keeping track of who is who and how they relate. Tre Sana and Kara are probably the most memorable of the relatively small cast of supporting characters. Tre is interesting because of what was done to him and what little we learn of his past.  While Kara is interesting because of the imagery that the description of her character provides and her equally shrouded past.

In the end author Tim Lebbon delivered a novel that is all about the relationship between a brother and a sister, all good stories focus on relationships and this one is no different.  Oh and did I mention the beheadings?  It's got that too.

Editor's Note:  A review copy of the novel was provided by the publisher. 

A Discourse in Steel (A Tale of Egil and Nix) Excerpt


In what promises to be a dark, irreverent and fun follow up to his 2012 sword and sorcery novel The Hammer and the Blade, author Paul S. Kemp will soon be releasing A Discourse in Steel.  This novel will continue the adventures of Egil and Nix set in Kemp's own fantasy world.

Here is a taste of the excerpt that Kemp released for May as a teaser.  The first taste is free, after that you gotta buy the book.

Nix took a length of thin, strong rope from his satchel of needful things – he always carried several lengths of the best line he could buy – and bound the man’s hands and ankles. Then he went back up to the bar, half-filled a tankard with ale, returned to the cellar and threw it in the man’s face. The man sputtered and blinked awake. He had small eyes, too close together, a large nose and a narrow chin specked with a day’s growth of whiskers.
He eyed Nix, Egil, the cellar, swallowed hard. Nix could see thoughts moving behind his eyes.
“Yeah, you’re in a bit of it,” Nix said. “I’ve been there.”
“It was just a burn job,” the man said, his voice nasally. “I do it, I get paid, and I don’t know nothing more than that.”
Egil harrumphed and Nix tsked.
“Burn jobs don’t call for barring doors, now do they?”
The man colored but his expression remained defiant.
A symbol hung from a leather lanyard around the man’s neck. Nix grabbed it, yanked it off, and eyed the charm: a stiletto with a coin balanced on the tip. Aster’s symbol. Nix shared a knowing look with Egil.
“This here’s a guild boy, Egil.”
“Fakkin’ sneak priests and fools,” Egil said.
“I don’t know nothing about a guild,” the man said.
Nix tossed the charm at the man and hit him in his overlarge nose. “Not too smart, are you?”

To read the rest of the excerpt visit Paulskemp.com 
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