Tag Archives: star wars

Review: The Princess Diarist

The Princess DiaristThe Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s hard to know what to write, with Carrie Fisher’s death still so recent in my memory. I didn’t like “Wishful Drinking,” one of her earlier books, though know my scathing feelings towards the book feel sour and wrong somehow, and I have to resist the urge to go back and revise that old opinion. And I know that instinct is wrong, because it goes against my core belief that all books should exist independently of their authors and that, even for a memoir, it’s nothing personal. It’s just the book.

Fortunately, I’m happy to say that I enjoyed “Princess Diarist” much more. It’s a trim little volume at just over 200 pages (and several of those pages are diary excerpts, so it’s even shorter than you might think), but it broaches on a subject that I’ve been eager to read about and was, in my opinion, conspicuously absent in “Wishful Drinking,” which is how Fisher felt/feels about Star Wars. This is a book largely dedicated to that question.

It also has the benefit of having been written post-Episode VII, which saw a return of Leia as a character . . . one that I think Fisher, had she lived, would have been even more proud of. General Organa is an evolution of Princess Leia, an older, wiser, grizzled veteran who’s been fighting wars her entire life, who matured away from the metal bikini sex symbol eye candy role into a tough, capable leader. It’s a good evolution of the character and it’s a profound loss that we’ll never get a follow-up book to hear about that evolution in Fisher’s own writing voice.

So, if you’re wondering, should you read this book? Yes, you should. It’ll give you a lot to think about with Star Wars, character, and fandom, and it was already a great book even before Fisher’s death. Now, it’s a chance to hear her voice one more time and appreciate the insight she’s gleaned over her life and the perspective that she had.

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Review: Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt

Aftermath - Life DebtAftermath – Life Debt by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Looking over other reviews of this book, it seems folks are very hot or cold on “Life Debt.” As the second book in the new Aftermath trilogy, “Life Debt” has a lot to prove. We’re past the point of being able to say “well, this is an introduction to a brand new expanded universe, so give it some time.” At this point, we need to start seeing some payoff. The question is; do we?

Yes. And no. Man, this book is all over the place.

First, I have to say; I really can’t stand reading fiction in the present tense. I’m sure this isn’t the first book I’ve read in the present (pretty sure Aftermath was like that too, though I listened to that one on audio, so it wasn’t as distracting), but man, it was a problem here. My attention kept sliding off the text; I likened it to the feeling of stepping on a slick rock in a stream. I just could not stay on the page. Present tense. Not a fan. Let’s move on.

There are some amazingly good things here, even so. Let’s talk about Han Solo. I’m not sure whether author Chuck Wendig (who seems like a really cool guy, I follow him on Twitter and usually like his content there) watched Harrison Ford’s entire body of work on DVD repeatedly or if Disney let him follow Ford around for a month with a tape recorder or what; but when it comes to Han Solo’s dialogue, Wending FUCKING NAILS IT. And he nails it so well that it’s made me realize just how much previous authors struggled with Han’s voice. Wendig’s Han sounds like movie Han. It’s incredible. It makes me wish I’d listened to this on audio. I still might anyway.

Wendig’s original characters are back and I like them, especially Sinjir, who adds a good amount of snark every time he shows up. But here’s where “Life Debt” runs into a rather strange problem and I’m not sure it’s one anybody could have predicted or could do anything to fix.

I read my first Star Wars novel in 1994 (I think). It was only a few years into this idea of there being such as thing as an “Expanded Universe.” The prequels had yet to be announced, ditto the “Special Edition” of the original trilogy and the feeling at the time was that the novels were going to be Star Wars going forward. And I read them all and devoured them, and I promise you, this is not going in the direction that you most likely think it is.

This is not nostalgia for the old EU. I still have all my old Star Wars books. I’ve gone back and paged through them as an adult. You know what? A lot of them are fucking terrible. Absolutely awful. There are gems there, but they are few and far between (no surprise, Timothy Zahn’s work stands out as a solid gem). So it’s not as though I’m nostalgic for the old EU.

But there’s this weird feeling that results; the fact that the old EU is there and that it formed at a more impressionable age for me, and the fact that there’s just so damn much of it, all that contributes to a feeling that it’s “what’s real.” And that makes a lot of Aftermath feel like, well, fan fiction, for lack of a better term. I keep having this feeling that “Rae Sloane” can’t be the person who tries to pull the Empire together, because that role was supposed to go to Thrawn or Daala (even though I hated Daala). I know that Disney owns Star Wars now, I know that “canon” (which is a term I don’t like anyway) is whatever the creative director of the IP says that it is, I know that all of this will tie into the new movies eventually, I know, I know, I know. And yet. I feel like I’m reading fan fiction. Fan fiction written by a professional, mind you, and even with the annoying present tense, Wendig on his worst day is better than the atrocity that was the last original EU novel “Crucible.” Even so, the feeling persists.

We’re talking about fictional universes and yet, my mind wants to draw a distinction between the “real fiction” and the “pretend fiction.” Even being aware of it isn’t enough to stop the feeling. It’s very odd.

It might be that the new stuff will continue to accrue and eventually supplant the old EU. Maybe it’s just a question of time and the amount of content. I’ll be interested in seeing where it all goes.

So, should you read “Life Debt?” I’d say yes. It’s a good book, with great moments, and a few problems. But this is Star Wars now and there’s a lot more to come. I think it’s worth sticking around to see how it goes.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens and My Thoughts Which Might Be Spoilers If You Haven’t Seen It Yet

I saw The Force Awakens for my birthday (December 24) and now that I’ve had a few days to digest and think about it, I’m ready to render a poorly organized list containing my thoughts in no particular order. I’m not planning on revealing any major details or plot twists, but the rest of the post will be hidden by a jump, just in case, as I will be talking about the characters and their personalities.

If you haven’t seen it yet, probably best to move along and come back when you have.

Spoiler warning.

With that said . . .

Continue reading Star Wars: The Force Awakens and My Thoughts Which Might Be Spoilers If You Haven’t Seen It Yet

Welcome To December

Another NaNoWriMo has come and gone. My winning streak is safe for another year. This year it seemed particularly difficult to keep my momentum going on the story, even though I ended up finishing two days early due to a nice sprint on the 28th. It’s possible that I say this every year; I haven’t looked back at any of my previous blog posts or Twitter updates to see how 2014 compared to 2013 or 2012. Regardless, the month is over and I have another 50,000 words of novel that I’ll now need to do something with. I have the next 11 months to sort it all out. Perhaps I’ll write another follow-up post about the experience, but right now, the idea of writing much of anything is just tiring. It’s time for a break.

It seems that quite a bit happened in November and perhaps you’ve been stopping by expecting my commentary. I apologize for letting you down. There’s certainly a lot of negative things in the world deserving of scorn and well-honed verbal barrages, but you know, I spent a lot of time thinking this past month, when I wasn’t writing and I’ve felt the urge to shy away from posting about the shitty stuff in the world. This blog started out as a way for me to vent my anger, which is really obvious if you look back at the first few months of posts. Well, actually, if I’m being honest, first this blog was just my squatting on my domain name, then I decided to write a blog to vent my anger.

It’s easier to be angry and pissed off and writing about it doesn’t it any better, at least for me. I stopped seeking out things that intentionally pissed me off just so I have fuel to write about. It probably doesn’t make the world any better but I also can’t imagine that it doesn’t make it any worse. And it certainly makes me feel better to not be as angry. So there’s that.

Movie trailers! The Jurassic World trailer and the Star Wars: Episode VII trailer were both released in the same month! 2015 looks like it will be a very good year for movies for my personal demographic (that demographic being “people who are me.” It’s an admittedly small niche) in a way that 2014 was very much a lackluster year. Did I actually go to the movies this year? I can’t recall. But 2015 has me excited. I don’t care what anyone else in the world says; a scene involving motorcycles and velociraptors fulfills one of my dreams. And yes, I do often daydream about riding my motorcycle alongside a pack of velociraptors, usually on my way to work. It’s just a thing that I want to do, because it’s awesome. The Episode VII trailer has me excited for Star Wars once again, although it’s still a cautious excitement; I remember how exciting the trailer was for Episode I. Trailers cannot always be trusted.

I’ve been learning to cook over the past few months and I’m getting pretty good at it. One of those little things about being a vegetarian means that most of your cooking efforts also involve chopping. And slicing. And dicing. And cutting. And whatever other words exist for cutting things in the culinary world. I bought a new knife a few months ago to begin this new journey into adulthood and it was getting really, really dull, so dull that I had trouble with a tomato. I’d learned how to sharpen knives on a whetstone when I was a kid and I was curious to see if I’d still remember how to do it, so I went out today and bought a whetstone and used my dull kitchen knife for practice.

There is nothing more pleasing than taking a practice cut with a newly sharpened knife. It’s liking taking a lightsaber to your vegetables. I promptly went crazy and sharpened all of our knives. I can’t wait to use them back into dullness so I can sharpen them again. I don’t know what this new feeling is; it’s either self-reliance, adulthood, or some combination thereof. I don’t have a word for it, but I think I like it.

How To Make The Phantom Menace Not Suck

The Observation Deck blog on IO9 is asking a thought provoking question: what would it take to make Star Wars: Episode I not suck? I have a few thoughts on how one of the most anticipated movies in cinematic history could have ended up being one of the most beloved.

First, if you have the time and you don’t mind the NSFW language, the Mr. Plinkett review for The Phantom Menace actually delivers some really good commentary on why the film does not succeed from the perspective of a filmmaker. The video is worth watching, but the points are boiled down thus:

  • Too much exposition/not enough explanation: A lot of exposition comes from dialogue and characters talking about important things rather than showing them, such as was done in the original trilogy. Even with this over reliance on talking heads, core concepts like what the Trade Federation is are never explained. The blockade of Naboo is over vague “trade disputes.” Darth Maul has zero depth as an antagonist. We don’t really know why any of the events are happening.
  • No Every-Man Character: it’s important for the audience to have a character that is a surrogate for the audience’s own lack of knowledge and can ask questions like “what are the Jedi” and “what is the Force?”
  • No central protagonist: who’s the main character of Episode I? It’s not Anakin, considering how late he appears in the movie and his inability to control events around him. Things just happen to him.
  • Too much reliance on special effects.
  • Dissolution of tension: scenes that should be exciting aren’t, because the audience doesn’t know what’s going on or they don’t care. Compare the lightsaber duel with Darth Maul to the ones in Episodes 5 and 6 against Darth Vader.

It’s too late now, of course, but how could it have been done differently? Let’s assume that we need to keep the core movie the same, so we can’t just throw out the entire script and start fresh. Is the Phantom Menace salvageable under those conditions?

I think so. I think we could fix Episode I (and the prequels in general) in just two steps.

Step 1: Make the main character likable (and figure out who the main character is).

If the prequels are supposed to be Anakin’s story, it’s sort of problematic that he’s a nine year old kid in this one. It really limits his ability to have any sort of agency. If the idea is supposed to establish his callow youth and relative innocence to contrast his dark fall later, that can be done with an older Anakin. You’ll notice that Luke Skywalker is a naive, somewhat whiny wet-behind-the-ears kid in Episode 4, but still has the age and agency to be the protagonist.

Since that deviates too much from the established script, I think the protagonist lens needs to shift to Obi-Wan.  We’ll keep Kid Anakin, but focus on Obi-Wan. He’s the protagonist for this movie. What does that mean?

Qui-Gon Jinn needs to go. Let’s set aside the fact that I liked Liam Neeson as a Jedi Master. Dropping Qui-Gon removes a lot of the problems with Obi-Wan’s narrative arc in this movie. It eliminates the inconsistency from the original trilogy, in that Obi-Wan was supposed to be trained by Yoda and failed to mention the man that actually taught him how to be a Jedi.

For the purposes of the prequel, we don’t need to see Obi-Wan as a padawan, let’s just say he’s already a Jedi Knight. If we need a supporting character for him to play off, we can give him an apprentice of his own. That would do a lot for Obi-Wan’s narrative. It would fill the need for a supporting character.

We wouldn’t worry about why Obi-Wan might not have mentioned to Luke that Anakin wasn’t his only apprentice since that apprentice will end up getting killed by Darth Maul. We already know that Obi-Wan is a big fan of the “certain point of view” style of neglecting to mention relevant details when it comes to his own failures. It doesn’t make sense that he’d neglect to ever mention to Luke the name of the man who “really” trained him, but would would he cover up an apprentice that he failed to protect from the Sith? Yeah, I think so.

We need to do this for Obi-Wan because in the current version, it’s Qui-Gon who ultimately ends up getting all of the character development that would have made Obi-Wan more likable. It’s Qui-Gon who believes in the young Skywalker, it’s Qui-Gon who effectively tells the council to “eff off” when it comes to training the boy, and it’s Qui-Gon who takes action and gets things done throughout the movie.

Obi-Wan, in contrast, is the by-the-book guy who does what the council says and stays with the ship.

Hmm, imagine this; the maverick Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi trains an apprentice against the wishes of the council and that apprentice grows up to be reckless, headstrong, and ultimately falls, because although Skywalker makes his own choices down the road, the man who trained him had many of those same flaws.

We also need Obi-Wan to actually like Anakin so that when they duel to the death two movies from now, it’s heartbreaking rather than unsurprising. We need the Obi-Wan that doesn’t scoff at Anakin Skywalker and quip that they’ve picked up “another pathetic life form.” Imagine an Obi-Wan who believes in Anakin so strongly he’ll do anything to make the boy a Jedi. It’s an Obi-Wan who is a surrogate father figure to the boy who never had a father of his own. It’s an Obi-Wan who actually loves Anakin like a son, rather than just some unfortunate burden that he’s stuck with and has to train, ’cause my dead Master was gonna, so why not.

Qui-Gon ultimately serves to muddle the narrative arc for Obi-Wan’s own character. He gets the best developmental moments (such as they are) which are then wastefully spent upon his demise because he never matters to the narrative again.

What if it was Obi-Wan the Jedi Master who watched his first apprentice die to Darth Maul? Couldn’t you imagine how that would drive him to not fail with Anakin? Wouldn’t that create exactly the kind of passion and fear that leads to the dark side?

Remember, when we see Obi-Wan later in Episode 4, he might be the wise old mentor figure, but he’s also having to deal with the fact that he failed Luke’s father and created the monster that is Darth Vader. He done fucked up. 

It would fit his arc to show that Anakin wasn’t his first failure and it would make him that much more tragic as a result, but also that much more vindicated when Luke (his final apprentice) turns out okay.

Step 2: Create a compelling villain

Boba Fett might get away with being a fan favorite despite having only four lines of dialogue, but he’s not the main antagonist of his films. Your antagonist has to have a presence that fills the movie in a classic “good vs. evil” struggle like Star Wars. Episode 1’s dependency on the “ominous figure lurking in the background” means that we have no real idea who he is or why he’s scary. He’s never developed. Thus, he’s boring from a narrative perspective, even if he looks cool.

Vader goes through several stages of development. In the first boarding scene, he picks up a Rebel by the neck and chokes him, thus establishing his raw physical power. Later on, when he demonstrates the Force, we see that he’s also some kind of sorcerer and more than just a big brute. And so it goes. Scene by scene, Vader is constructed as a character. We see that he’s physically dominating and he also has magic. He takes care of matters personally. He kills people on his own side. And so on.

The entire prequel trilogy seems to be searching for its antagonist by creating one character and then disposing of him before he can really do anything meaningful. We go from Darth Maul to Count Dooku to General Grievous, with each character getting introduced and dispatched before they can develop into a meaningful threat.

The argument could be that it’s Darth Sidious who is the real antagonist all along, but he’s in the background for too long to fill that role. He’s the man behind the man, not the primary antagonist in terms of narrative structure. Which, you’ll notice, is exactly what he did in the original trilogy. He was the man holding Darth Vader’s leash. He’s the Emperor, but we don’t see him (aside from one brief discussion) until the last movie. But rather than search vaguely for a threat to fill the void created by the Emperor’s absence from the action, we have Darth Vader stomping around, choking dudes and scary-breathing and just generally being badass and terrifying.

Our antagonist has to be a Sith Lord, of course, so let’s go back to Darth Maul. Let’s rebuild the character like we did for Obi-Wan. We’ll keep his insane lightsaber skills and lethal agility as well as the scary appearance. Those things are good; they make him a physical and visual threat.

Let’s remove the borderline-mute characteristic. Sure, it worked for making Boba Fett cool, but it won’t work here for our antagonist. Instead, let’s give Darth Maul the charismatic presence that Count Dooku was supposed to project. What? You can’t imagine a guy with yellow teeth and scary face tattoos being charismatic? This is Star Wars! There are weird looking aliens all over the place. I’m willing to believe that in a universe filled with so many strange aliens that obese, immobile slugs can rule criminal empires, no one would look askance at a guy with tattoos and horns.

In fact, let’s not even worry about the physical appearance, because we already know it doesn’t contribute to a character’s charisma on the screen. We know this because Darth Vader wears a mask for almost the entire trilogy and his presence still dominates every scene he’s in.

I should note that I’m using charisma to define one’s force of personality, rather than just how likable the character is. Vader isn’t kind, he isn’t charming, and he isn’t likable, but he has a presence on the screen. He fills a scene both visually and vocally. Maul . . . doesn’t.

Hell, if Ray Park can’t deliver the lines with a forceful presence, just overdub him with someone who can. Let Park be Maul’s physical presence and a skilled voice actor be his vocal one. Once again, it worked for Vader.

Let’s give Maul all the scenes where he’s the one working the angles, driving the Trade Federation into conflict, terrorizing the Viceroy with what will happen if they fail. We will show Maul to be the driving force rather than the silent enforcer. Let him demonstrate his own power as a Sith Lord somewhere along the lines.

We won’t establish that he’s working for someone else yet. Let us speculate that he’s the true Sith Lord. We know that Palpatine is eventually going to be the Emperor, but let us wonder about how that will happen. We won’t reveal a “Darth Sidious” who just happens to wear a creepy hood just like the Emperor does/will. We’ll  make it a mystery. We know it’s eventually Palplatine who will become the Emperor and command the dark side, not Darth Maul, but how? How does Palpatine fit into this? Does he learn from Maul?

Let’s imagine the lightsaber duel with our rewritten characters Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Sith Lord Darth Maul. They have their first duel and Qui-Gon (the young apprentice version, not the older Jedi Master version) is killed. Obi-Wan is heartbroken that he failed his first apprentice.  Obi-Wan wins the duel, but Maul escapes.

The Jedi are spooked by the emergence of a new Sith Lord. Where did he come from? Clearly, he has to be hunted, setting up the next movie.

Obi-Wan vows to train Anakin in defiance of the council, partly motivated by his own failure to prepare his first apprentice for the fight against Maul. His own need to absolve himself as well as bring Maul down gives him a drive that causes him to overlook the flaws in Anakin’s training later on. From Obi-Wan, Anakin will eventually learn to pursue the greater good at all costs.

This creates a narrative structure that will pay off dividends across the next two films. Eventually, when Darth Maul is killed in Episode III, we learn the horrifying truth: that he wasn’t the Sith Lord at all, but the Sith Apprentice. Oh shit.

Episode I tried to dangle this tantalizing thought at us during the funeral scene when the Jedi speculate whether it was the master or the apprentice that was destroyed. The mystery is wasted, though because the audience already knows that Maul was just the apprentice, just like we know that Sidious is the Emperor.

But what if we thought Maul was the true Sith Lord? It would fulfill the premise of there being a “phantom menace” since everybody would be focused on Maul even though he’s really still working for Sidious. It would fix the problem of escalation that occurs in the prequels, when you try to go from Maul to Dooku to Grievous. After the double-bladed lightsaber and the scary face, Dooku is almost disappointing as a visual threat, even with the dark side lightning. And then you have Grievous and his four lightsabers and you can just see they’re trying to top themselves from what Maul did, and not really succeeding at it.

The prequels need an antagonist with as much power and lethality as Vader, but isn’t a carbon-copy of Vader. Maul could have been that. He was agile rather than hulking. Vader might have been able to strangle dudes with both his hands and his Force power, but Maul is practically a ninja with his movements. Vader was strength; Maul is speed. In this way, we create a character that establishes himself while still playing to the archetype created by his predecessor.

Maul already has a lot going for him. He has a unique visual appearance. His double-bladed lightsaber is exciting. All he needs is a voice and an actual presence within the narrative the way Vader has and you have a solid character.

Would this fix everything? Of course not. But it’s important to remember that there are a lot of flaws with the original trilogy as well. From silly lines like “scruffy nerfherder” to Luke and Leia kissing, not everything about the original trilogy is perfect. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t need to be perfect, so long as the characters are fun and interesting to watch. That’s how I’d go about fixing Episode I.

Open Source Universes

Will Harry Potter ever eclipse Luke Skywalker as a cultural icon? That’s the question being asked over at a post on IO9 and it sparked my interest enough that I wanted to weigh in with my own thoughts.

It’s trendy in nerd circles to hate on George Lucas. You decry the plastic acting, overly video game-y appearance of the prequels while pointing out the purity of the original trilogy and sign off with a flourish by declaring solemnly that your favorite film of the original trilogy was Empire. This statement earns you massive nerd cred, as your fellow nerds nod approvingly and also voice their support for Empire‘s obvious superiority. This is all a testament to the sadly fallen state of the once-beloved creator who lost his artistic drive and his vision as success blinded him.

It’s like Harvey said: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

It’s also like Bane said: “Peace has cost you your strength! Victory has defeated you!”

It’s amazing to me how many times I can quote Batman characters to make a point.

Here’s the thing about George Lucas, though, and something that almost nobody gives him respect for: he was one of the very, very, very few creators who not only allowed people to play in his universe, he encouraged it. Do you think it’s a coincidence that there’s a huge body of “Expanded Universe” material for Star Wars? Or that it just so happens that some Expanded Universe material ends up finding its way back into the movies, like blue hottie Jedi Knight Aayla Secura?

George let people write novels in his universe. He let a whole slew of other authors take his playground and define it in new ways. Things that we take for granted as Star Wars fans, like “Coruscant” were created and imported into the canon. There aren’t many creators with the courage to do this. I’m a creative-type myself and the idea of letting control of my story slip out of my hands is something that fills me with terror. And I’m just talking about some little novel I’ve been plugging away at, not a multi-million dollar franchise.

There are a lot of creators that don’t allow this level of freedom. Ann McAffrey didn’t. J.K. Rowling doesn’t. You’re either not allowed to play in the universe at all (seriously, McAffrey hated fan fiction) or you are allowed to play, but only under strict supervision (which is the current state of things for Harry Potter fan fiction).

My point is not to be an apologist for George Lucas, although I think he gets a very unfair rap these days from overly vehement fans (seriously, some of the dialogue in Empire is pretty terrible, you guys). The comparison between Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter shows the importance of allowing fans to play with your work. Rather than dilute or diminish your copyright (the usual argument against this sort of thing), unimpeded fan-love is what takes your intellectual property and turns it from a franchise into a cultural touchstone, a part of our modern mythology.

Is Harry Potter big? Absolutely; I’m sure, all things added up, it’s made more money than Star Wars. Harry Potter is a phenomenon. Or at least it was. With no inkling of new books on the horizon, how long will the fan base sustain its love? How many times can you revisit the universe you love without injections of new life from the creator?

Star Wars fans know what this is like: it was roughly fifteen years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menanace. What kept the torch burning for all those fans when it looked like the movies were done? It was the Expanded Universe. It was the novels. It was the culture that was allowed and even encouraged to grow around the love of this thing.

I’m not saying creators don’t have a right to control their work. They absolutely do. But I think any creative person should look very closely at George Lucas and Star Wars and keep in mind what happens when you allow the fans free access. They won’t fuck you over. Fans will protect you. They will take your baby and love it and cherish it and help it grow into something so far beyond your wildest dreams. That’s the lesson to be learned from Star Wars.

Star Wars first appeared in 1977. It’s 36 years old as I write this. Harry Potter is roughly half its age, having debuted in 1997. Will Harry be as iconic as Luke Skywalker in another fifteen years?

I’m not so sure. I’d like to think so, but if nobody is ever allowed to return to Harry’s world and tell stories around Harry and beyond Harry, if Rowling never allows another scribe to dip his or her pen in the Hogwarts ink . . . I don’t see how it will be allowed to grow. Certainly, we’ll still remember it, just like we remember the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia and all those many other beloved stories. But will they grow with us? Will they persist through the generations? I’m not so sure.

For all his other mistakes he might have made as a creator, I think George Lucas knocked this one out of the park and in the end, this might just be the only decision that ever really mattered.

May the Fourth – Recap

Last night did not end up with my ascension to notoriety as “geeky Star Wars arbiter.” Due to some miscommunication, the trivia contest was not in the “8-10pm” window as I had been led to believe, but actually happened during the day, around 2pm. Which, you know, was when I was working at my job, so that was a pretty good reason to miss out, I think.

No matter; I was told that the trivia questions were well received and the highest score was 21 out of 30. I feel pretty good about that! The tricky part about doing a trivia contest is you really want to find the right balance. If every single question is a brain-buster, you’ll discourage even the most hardcore fan. If every question is a softball, though, things will be boring.

Since the contest is over now, I decided to post the questions here. Feel free to give them a try and let me know how you scored. I’ll include the answers in a comment attached to this post, so I suppose you could cheat if you really wanted to, but what would be the point? I’d know, and you’d know, and more importantly, Yoda would know.

Anyway, here are the questions:

Jedi Padawan: (Basic Questions)

  1. Who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi?
  2. What are midichlorians?
  3. What is Queen Amidala’s first name?
  4. Which Sith took the name Darth Tyranus?
  5. What is the first thing Admiral Ackbar want to do as soon as the battle starts in Return of the Jedi?
  6. Why is it logically impossible that Han Solo claimed his ship made the Kessel Run in “under twelve parsecs?”
  7. Which planet is covered entirely by a single, sprawling city?
  8. What is a Wilhelm Scream?
  9. Which of the six films has the lowest on-screen body count?
  10. Who really shot first? If you get this question wrong, you have to leave.

Jedi Knight: (Intermediate Questions)

  1. Who was Anakin’s main rival during the Podrace?
  2. True or False: the word “Ewok” is never mentioned in Return of the Jedi.
  3. In the Expanded Universe, who is the first prominent Original Trilogy character to be killed off?
  4. What is the Millenium Falcon’s original model designation?
  5. What was the name of the Star Destroyer that captured Princess Leia in the opening scene of Episode IV?
  6. Who is the only human character to directly fight in and survive both Death Star space battles?
  7. In the first draft of the script, this Original Trilogy character was described as “a huge green-skinned monster with no nose and gills.”
  8. How was the effect for Darth Vader’s distinctive breathing made?
  9. Of the six films, which was the only movie to be nominated for a Best Picture academy award?
  10. What was Boba Fett’s first appearance as a character?

Jedi Master: (Advanced)

  1. What mundane item was used to create the prop for Luke’s lightsaber hilt in Episode IV?
  2. Who was Malakili?
  3. On which planet does Jedi General Aayla Secura meet her demise?
  4. What is Blue Harvest?
  5. What does TIE stand for in the term TIE Fighter?
  6. What product does Cloud City harvest from the planet Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back?
  7. Before being retconned by the Prequel Trilogy, according to the Expanded Universe, what was Boba Fett’s real name?
  8. Due to the uncomfortable fit of his boots, this otherwise imposing character wore a pair of fuzzy slippers in every scene that did not show his feet.
  9. What was the title of the first Star Wars novel ever published?
  10. What is the name of the written alphabet in the Star Wars universe?

So how did you do? Post your score in the comments below!

May The Fourth Be With You

Yes, it’s Star Wars Day. I’m particularly excited because yesterday afternoon I received an email from a co-worker about tonight’s Hotel Congress event. It seems that the person who was helping put together the questions for the Star Wars trivia event didn’t come through, so an alternate source was needed. It goes without saying that I leaped at the chance and came up with a list of questions. I’m not 100% certain that my list will be used as I think somebody else also procured a copy of Star Wars Trivia Pursuit. We’ll see how that goes.

The other exciting thing is that the same co-worker gave me a call and asked if I’d help “officiate” the trivia contest. Max Cannon is signed on to emcee the event but the word is he’s not as much of a Star Wars geek as yours truly. The contest organizers wanted a Star Wars geek on hand to act, I guess, as arbiter or sidekick or something. I’m not sure how big my role will be, but it’s a chance to wear my Darth Sidious-style cloak and act like a nerd in front of a crowd. How could I say no to that?

I could not. So I did not.

The 21+ event starts at 8pm at Hotel Congress.