Category Archives: opinion

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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Back off, guys: It’s our turn

The Her Universe booth at Celebration V. Photo by popculturegeek @ Flickr.

Attention male Star Wars fans around the world! I say this from the bottom of my heart because us nerd girls, we love you (I should know, I have my own nerd boy). We know that you mean well and sometimes what comes out of your mouths or through the keyboard is not necessarily what you mean to say, but rather can become a bit of a mess in translation and that’s okay. Lately, it’s not. Let me tell you why. Continue reading

Star Wars, yes. Movies? Not necessarily.

I’ve never been big on the idea of Star Wars fiction having to be like movies: Novels are an entirely different format that requires different things. I don’t read Star Wars novels to experience the movies; I read them because they are different kind of stories. I’ve always been a reader above all else, and I don’t have any problem admitting that while it was the movies that turned me to fandom, it was the novels (and to some extent their illegitimate step-sisters, fanfic) that kept me here.

So if you really want to make me wince, you come out with a lazy, ill-thought-out list like Totalfilm’s 40 Star Wars stories that should be movies. Particularly when the list is inhabited by some of the worst stories the EU has to offer (Splinter of the Mind’s Eye) and things that are really only of interest to seriously hardcore fans (Luceno’s Millennium Falcon.) Hitting the random article button on Wookiepedia is no way to write a list.

Not all the stories on the list are from the EU, though that doesn’t mean they make any more sense as choices. Red 5 is a perfectly good web series, but I can see the concept getting old fast if you took it to two hours. Ryan vs. Dorkman doesn’t even have a plot.

I’m not completely against adapting the EU to other formats, mind. Splinter, Millennium Falcon or Rogue Squadron might might make good episodes of a Clone Wars-esque take on the OT period. (Let’s forget such a series would send the continuity-savants screaming into the night.) Knights of the Old Republic could function as an animated series or even a live-action mini-series. The concept of any Thrawn trilogy adaption makes me want to run screaming into the night (particularly if people start talking about live-action casting) but I could see it possibly working as serial animation as well. And I really hope that someone sent Seth Green some Star Wars Tales anthologies to mine for his upcoming humor series.

But as movies? A Star Wars movie should be epic, and the EU? Not so much. It’s there to continue the stories, let us know different characters and eras and cultures that we only get glimpses of (if that) in the films. It exists to build on the movies, not become them.

Please don’t call me a ‘fangirl’

I don’t hate the word – certainly there are worse things to be called – but I don’t like the term ‘fangirl.’

Mainly because of the associations it brings up for me: Screeching, squeeing, inappropriate, out of control and usually prepubescent. The prototypical example:

I know, that’s well before even I was born, and it might as well be the dark ages for most of you. Nowadays, we call them Twilight fans.

(I kid. Sort of.)

So, please: Don’t call me a fangirl. I am female. I am a fan. But I don’t screech, I don’t approach actors with fandom crap that they’d probably prefer not to know about, and it takes something near to an act of god to make me squee.

And I’d rather not be called a Sister of the Force, either. This is not a silly homebrew internet roleplay. We are not all 12, and we certainly don’t need any more reason to be treated like mythological beasts. And hell, Star Wars fandom on the whole has done pretty well without a label. I say we keep that tradition.

Gate Geek – Scandal Rocks the Franchise

Whether or not you watch Stargate, you’ve probably heard that Stargate Universe is a very different entry for the franchise.  This has been met with both extensive praise and much gnashing of teeth

WB didn’t do terribly much to help their cause when they insulted the existing fans with their press release announcing a new demographic was being targeted.  Oh.  And did we mention this came out the day after they cancelled Stargate Atlantis?  This started a wave of angst at levels not previously seen in the franchise.  (And fans are capable of some great levels of angst.)  One can assume (or at least hope) this was not intended as an insult, but that’s how it was received.

The cast and crew have done quite a bit to reach out to the fans with a whole-sale assault on Twitter and Facebook.  But unfortunately, the segment of fandom who can’t seem to phrase an opinion without a personal attack have gone after these folks in a major way; forcing one of the main actors (Brian J. Smith) to decide he’s stepping away from an online presence.  (Definitely for the hiatus.  Possibly longer.)

Producer Joe Mallozzi, who has long allowed people to express a certain level of these opinions on his blog, has spoken out about this.  He stands up for his cast and crew (and their families) and reminds people that you don’t have to like a show, but you don’t personally attack the Stargate family.

To that I say “Bravo.”  Enjoying the anonymity of being online is no excuse for not behaving with civility.

A brief word on not being those crazy fans

I don’t know if I’ve made this clear or not, but I find people who take their fandom too seriously to be absolutely hilarious. As a Star Wars fan, I find it perplexing when other fans take up arms at any hint of irreverent criticism concerning the franchise. Are we not fans of the same fun, cheesy, flawed films? Because I don’t really have a problem admitting that the Star Wars movies (all six of them) are far from perfect. (And yes, the same goes – perhaps even more so – for the Expanded Universe. Embrace the pain! And chill out.)

So, naturally, I take great joy in Jezebel’s takedown of over-serious Twilight fans. Please, don’t let this happen to you. Do you see how ridiculous it looks? And while I’m not saying you have to lay down and take everything, it doesn’t hurt to laugh a little at the expense of what you love. Because, let’s face it – sometimes it just deserves it.

On Jossing, canon, and The Clone Wars

Can’t say I’m particularly broken up about the departure of Karen Traviss from Star Wars, as I wasn’t planning to read any of her forthcoming novels anyway. However, I’ve been following the threads on the fan boards and in-between the mourning/celebration some interesting points have been raised: How far is The Clone Wars going in railroading over existing canon, if it’s driven away an author who infamously loved to retcon? Continue reading