Category Archives: opinion

Guest post: Fan fiction is more than smut

The internet is for porn.

We all know the song (from the Broadway musical Avenue Q), and it’s funny because, in a way, it is true.  And hose of us who have been around the internet for a while are familiar with the infamous Rule 34: if it exists, there’s porn of it.  It’s nothing incredibly shocking but, if you listen to the media hubbub surrounding the bestselling novel 50 Shades of Grey, you would think otherwise.

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Denning, “chick” books, and looking past Fate of the Jedi

Over at Galactic Drift, Racheal recaps Troy Denning’s book tour stop in Carmel, Indiana, complete with the above video. Denning talking about the “Jacen Solo era” that Apocalypse is closing out, the push for war stories, tying into the Legacy comics and more.

As for news, Denning said he’s not involved – and isn’t sure if he will be – with whatever is happening next in the EU.

One thing that rubs me (and others) the wrong way is his reference to Tatooine Ghost as a “chick book.” It’s not one of my favorites – I don’t even own a copy – but it is exactly the kind of story I think the Expanded Universe needs more of now that the glut of long series are over: Character-focused adventures that don’t have the fate of the entire galaxy in the balance. (Another example: Zahn’s Survivor’s Quest.) I can take or leave any romance aspects; I just want stories that give some consideration to the characters, not just their lightsabers and blasters.

I’m not saying we need to totally get rid of the galaxy-in-peril plots – as Denning points out, there’s a demand, and they are part of the formula. It’s not Star Peace, after all. But the one thing that the EU has been missing lately – at least if you’re not in it for brand-new characters – has been the balance of ‘galaxy’ books and ‘character’ books. Successful Star Wars stories that manage to do both – Matt Stover’s Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, for instance – have been few and far between lately. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I’d rather have one Mindor a year than any of these drawn-out cast-of-thousands deals we’ve been getting. Or at least in addition to whatever cast-of-thousands thing is going on.

And really, does focusing on character over endless battle scenes really make something ‘for chicks?’ Really? Yes, this is Star Wars, and by the very nature of the franchise there’s always going to be a lot of pandering to the lowest common denominator… But throw the rest of us a bone every once and a while. Please.

The Machete Order and watching the entire saga: Does The Phantom Menace matter?

Last week, three different sources pointed me to Rod Hilton’s blog post from last fall on the Machete order for watching the films of the Star Wars saga (especially for newcomers). While his overall proposed order (start with IV – A New Hope and V – The Empire Strikes Back, then go with the prequels, then show VI – Return of the Jedi isn’t new — Last year, we covered Drew McWeendy’s Film Nerd 2.0 showings to his two sons), Machete goes a step further by cutting out The Phantom Menace. Not because Hilton feels it is a bad movie, but because he points out that it is mostly irrelevant to the saga. Either a point gets brought up again in the other prequels or it isn’t needed at all in the larger scheme of things (Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn, Valorum, podracing). He points out how he thinks it makes the saga stronger, by preserving some of the big reveals, and relating whiny Anakin to whiny Luke as showing Luke on the same path to the dark side in Return of the Jedi as Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. He also points out some of the weaknesses of his ordering of the films, most notably about the Prophecy of the Chosen One, and Anakin’s return to rescue Shmi and pick up Threepio in Attack of the Clones. The Machete Order got me thinking, and also prompted a discussion among some Club Jaders, who looked at the notion of order and TPM‘s relevance from several angles.

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Dear Darth Plagueis: It’s not you, it’s me

I don’t know why I was surprised when James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis failed to blow my mind.

I bought the book on the release date, but didn’t start it until last Monday – mainly because I knew I’d have to recap the Luceno Facebook chat on Wednesday and I didn’t want to be spoiled for what folks on Twitter were labeling AMAZING REVELATIONS. So I forced myself through it in two days.

And I was not blown away. The revelations? Not that amazing. To me, anyway.

There are no overt spoilers for Darth Plagueis after the jump, though there are some references to the content which may be obvious to anyone well-versed in fandom. Continue reading

What I want to see in The Clone Wars, Season Four

Less than twenty-four hours to go before Friday’s premiere episodes of Season Four of The Clone Wars! As we count down for two-parter, ‘Water War’ and ‘Gungan Attack’, here’s a look at Newsarama’s coverage of the star-studded premiere event , held at the Long Beach Aquarium. Meanwhile, Big Shiny Robot scored an video interview with Dee Bradley Baker at the opening, as well as brings out some interviews taken at Comic-Con, with director Dave Filoni, and CG Supervisor Joel Aron.

So, knowing what we saw in promo clips online and at Comic-Con and from all these interviews, here’s what I am looking forward to seeing this season on The Clone Wars:
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Analysis: The ‘Noooooo’ heard around the world is still a win for Lucasfilm

Nooo!

So last week, it was leaked, and then substantiated that the Blu-ray edition of Return of the Jedi would contain a change that set the fan world into a buzz: As Palpatine zaps Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader would now say “Nooooooooooooo!” as he decides to shaft the Emperor.

Many fans were taken aback by this change by George Lucas – not only does it feed into one of the most laughed-at lines from Revenge of the Sith, it changes the tone of the scene, from Vader as the silent man of action, to him giving voice to his emotional turmoil. Some fans bemoaned the general state of constant changes with each re-release of the movies, while others felt that it is fine for the creator to update his work to help tie the saga all together. Celebrity fan Simon Pegg called it a “clueless revision” – but was it really clueless? Continue reading

You take the good, you take the bad: Not-so-proud moments of the Expanded Universe

The other day i09 published a list of weirdest stories from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Several of us – who’ve actually read the books and comics, not just looked them up on Wookieepedia – found their choices to be a tad uninspired.

As it so happened, I did a few posts on the topic myself a few years back. Now yes, we do love the EU here, but let’s face it: There’s a lot of awfulness in them thar hills, and we here at Club Jade have always been fans of facing them head-on. With sarcasm!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Continue reading

The Crystal Star is bad… But not that bad

I am not here to deny that Vonda McIntyre’s much-maligned 1994 Star Wars novel The Crystal Star is not a good book. It is perhaps one of the few Star Wars books that could be considered significant (Sorry, Ruins of Dantooine) that I cannot recall ever once being praised by anyone. (Except perhaps Abel G. Pena, and only then mildly.) Even my own personal Jar Jar, the works of one Kevin J. Anderson, have fans.

My own experience with Crystal Star is one of mixed reviews. Coming as it did on the heels of Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy, I found it kind of a relief. No, it wasn’t a great book, and it was kind of weird, but at least it was better than Anderson. (Granted, I rank the Jedi Academy trilogy among the worst things I have ever read, period.)

But that aside, there is one reason above all else why I give Crystal Star a pass: It is a completely self-contained book. There is absolutely no reason that anyone needs to read it – unless you’re undertaking some personal urge to read every single Star Wars book ever published, or have a deep interest in the childhoods of the Solo kids.

What is the lasting legacy of The Crystal Star in the Expanded Universe, really? Waru? He’s a punchline. Prozac Luke? McIntyre is far from the only culprit there: Luke is a mopey dope throughout the entire era spanning Dark Empire and the Hand of Thrawn duology.

There are a lot of bad books in the Star Wars stable, in every era. Your mileage may vary, but I find it hard to hate a novel that had no real lasting effect on the Expanded Universe as a whole. There’s something to be said for standalones: Whatever your opinion, they are generally easy to skip over.

Thankfully fannish attitudes towards the book seem to have (mostly) evolved from outright hatred to loving snark, and The Crystal Star is treated exactly as it deserves: As the Expanded Universe equivalent of the Holiday Special.

“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.” Canon, continuity, and the Expanded Universe

There’s been a lot of talk about continuity and canon in fandom lately. Well, there always is, but this latest round was prompted by the tail end of The Clone Wars S3 and the Petition of the 2000.

I mentioned the petition – and the reaction to it – in my last opinion piece on civility in fandom, but I didn’t really address the actual issues that prompted it. Mostly because, quite honestly? The whole thing bores the hell out of me, but the lack of casual/moderate voices bugs me even more. Go figure.

I’ve been reading Star Wars books and comics for nearly 20 years now: They have never been been perfect, and expecting them to be at this point strikes me as just plain naïve. The Expanded Universe is kind of like Millennium Falcon: It more than does the job, and many of us are awfully fond of it, but it’s not without flaws. Big, honking, flaws. And sometimes? It just flat-out sucks. Continue reading

The greatest people you will ever meet, and the worst: A call for civility in Star Wars fandom

A few weeks ago, a few concerned EU fans started the Petition of the 2000, a request that asks George Lucas and The Clone Wars crew to take note of what’s been established in books and comics. They are not attacking George or the show. They are not demanding. They are simply asking that the show take more consideration of the existing Expanded Universe.

Think what you will of the petition – I think it’s a little silly, honestly – but I’m far more concerned with the reaction to it. From some of it, you’d think they were demanding that Del Rey firebomb Skywalker Ranch.

This is symptomatic of an attitude that seems more and more entrenched in fandom these days. See, this isn’t really about a petition: It’s just the most recent example. It’s about the ‘true fan’ mentality.

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