Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cramming: I’m Stuffed – SWBTF #14

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Welcome to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

This time on Star Wars Beyond the Films, your hosts Mark and Nathan discuss crowding of content in the Star Wars timeline, specifically in certain areas where there seem to be so many (albeit good) stories set in one, short span of time that you wonder how the characters could possibly get from one place to the next so quickly, and when they might have time to go to the restroom.

They also both had several, exciting announcements to make!

On Friday, March 23rd, Nathan and his girlfriend Jodi got engaged!

On March 18th, Mark become a father once again when Jaina, he and his wife’s little sword of the Jedi, was born!

A hearty congratulations to both of them!

Do we need more Han and Chewbacca stories, more Luke stories, and more stories of that kind (especially if they’re set right after Yavin or in other, heavily explored time periods), when there are already so many stories of the “Big Three”…. Will these stories need to be forcibly shoehorned in just to fit with the continuity and specific time-frames? And, will this be a problem, or something that fan’s enjoy and want?

Are certain parts of the timeline too packed? Does adding one more adventure hurt other stories integrity? Does it even matter?

Star Wars: Scoundrels was brought up in the discussion, but are the Big Three the only characters who could be susceptible to cramming? Will Scoundrels be more like Fast Five Star Wars style? Wait, Nathan’s actually excited about Scoundrels?!

Rebel Force was one of the latest additions to these timeframes, as was Death Troopers, and Shadow Games.
Are there Original Trilogy time frames that are lost to fandom? (Older works that have not been re-written or re-printed.)
Should there be more “Don’t go there” places in the timeline? Places where the EU should have to leave alone for now?
Do fans want more cramming of the OT timeline with more Big Three tales in-spite of that time being already a bit crowded with the main characters tales?

Did the old way of publishing cause more issues with stories being tread over?

In the Insider issue 132 there was an article, Star Wars: Expanding Empire, by Ryder Windham which garnered high praise from both hosts. This Insider article deals with many of these publishing issues.

Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell,  the Death Star plans, and a couple other story-lines that have been covered from multiple angles sometime create the potential for issues, yet when issues come up they are sometimes glossed over.
The Death Star Plans have been chronicled in: Interlude at Darkknell, Jedi Dawn, Dark Forces, Death Star, Shadow Games and possibly others.

On the other hand, Invasion was held back until after other stories had finished/were settled.
Should stories that are so interconnected be more well thought out vs, added to over the years with new info added with each new additions?
Another factor in this is: Does the format matter to you as a reader? Meaning, are games less important than the comics to you? Or do the comics mean less than the books? Do the books mean less than the movies? Do they all mean the same barring conflicts, and is it different for each individual?

Has continuity been a less important issue from the corporate perspective?
After much discussion the hosts feel that between 4 and 5 is the most crammed of all the Star Wars timeline. But they do see the merit in telling the back-story of the main characters. What about the other EU Characters though? Mara gets page time, but what about the Solo kids?

The Big Three are the touch stones of the EU in a lot of ways. They ARE the gateway to the EU for many first time readers.
And sometimes you’re not the reader the publisher was aiming at.

Mark rants about the New Jedi Order Era being shoehorned by it’s own “series” and the need of more Tales books, Tales of the New Jedi Order and so forth. Corran Horn’s leave of absence could be fun to explore. And new characters’ back-stories being explored could feel more like mining new information, instead of cramming.
Mark continued with his occasional feelings he gets from the marketing and publishing of the EU. Nathan draws attention to series that play into the other side of things, and balance was achieved.
Nathan brings up the Star Wars Adventure Journals and why they were so much fun, and how many of the Tales stories came from the Adventure Journals.

Nathan ponders on stories that could happen in the crammed timeframe that could work very well, and both hosts feel that crammed eras can have great stories. The stories just need to be done well, and not rushed. A Boba Fett’s past Flow chart may be needed.

Star Wars has proved time and again that it can make things work. You just have to roll with the punches. You can’t have a light side without a dark side, but you do need a Chosen One to bring balance to both sides of the Force!

Enjoy this episode of Star Wars Beyond the Films, and may the Force be with you!

Email:         beyondthefilms@starwarsfanworks.com

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Book Review: Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare

Book Review: Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare

If the hundreds of novels, comics, video games, movies, and TV episodes are the rice krispies, the Essential Guides are the melted marshmallow that holds it all together.  They fill in the spaces you wondered about and even some you never thought about.  If you are a fan of the Star Wars expanded universe then the Essential Guides are… well, essential.

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Today, the next great Essential Guide is released and it does not disappoint.  Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Warfare is a 246-page book written by Jason Fry filled with everything you could want to know about the history of military and warfare in the galaxy far, far away.  Filled with beautiful illustrations, this is a book that once you pick it up you will not want to put it down.

The Star Wars Essential Guides have really come a long way.  I have been reading them since the beginning with 1995’s Essential Guide to Characters.  The layout of the book was like an encyclopedia with individual entries for the different characters.  This same format continued with the next four guides covering things like vehicles, weapons, planets, and droids. Then in April of 2000 (Has it been 12 years?!) Star Wars: The Essential Chronology was released.  I loved this book.  This was the first one to switch up the format.  Instead of having individual entries, this one read more like an in-universe history book.  If there were a Star Wars history class at the time, this would have been the textbook.  A New Essential Chronology was released in 2005 with the same look and feel.

I think the Essential Guides work best in this format although I understand why some subjects work better in the encyclopedic format (Guide to Characters for example).  The last few guides have really embraced the textbook layout with the Essential Guide to the Force being almost all textbook and the Essential Atlas being a bit of a hybrid.  In some ways the Essential Guide to Warfare can be seen as the newest version of the Essential Chronology.  It covers the entire history of the galaxy from the Celestials and Rakata to Cade Skywalker and Darth Krayt, just with the focus being more on the military side of things.

I was much more interested in the historical side of things rather than details of weaponry and ships.  I found myself skimming over the “Armory and Sensory Profiles” where things like ship classification were covered.  I instead was engrossed in the character stories.  The book contains a number of “War Portraits” which tell war stories of specific characters.  If it was Rohlan of Khaal fighting off Sith pirates or Ahsoka Tano’s letter to her friend, I was eating it all up. Some other characters given war portraits are: Boonta the Hutt, Juno Eclipse, Wullf Yularen, Baron Fel, Admiral Trench, General Grievous, and many others.  The prologue featuring an account from the war prisoner Grand Admiral Osvald Teshik is not to be skipped.

The beauty of these guides is they can really get into the nitty gritty of the stories and tie everything together.  They are also the best vehicles for retcons.  For example the history of the Mandalorians is touched on and some of the discrepancies that exist have been “smoothed out”.  Of course a book with this much text can also create its own continuity errors.  There is one fact revealed that has me scratching my head and could possibly start some interesting discussions.

If for nothing else you should buy this book for the amazing illustrations.  Star Wars Books has already given many preview images but that just scratches the surface of what is in this book.  There are illustrations on at least every other page.  Some are simple illustrations of ships or weapons but many are full page paintings.  They have come a long way from the black and white illustrations in the original Essential Guides.  The very detailed galaxy maps that were used in the Essential Atlas can also be found in this book showing things like the placement of sector armies and the paths of specific war campaigns.

Luke vs Shimrra (from Star Wars Books Facebook page)

I cannot recommend this book enough.  If you are a die-hard Expanded Universe fan like me or just like to look at great artwork, you will enjoy this book.  If you have never picked up a Star Wars Essential Guide this would be a great one to start with.

Highlights and Random Thoughts

I’m not sure you can spoil a book like this but if you are worried about spoilers you may not want to read the random thoughts below.

Xim the Despot was no match for the Hutts. (page 6)
Arden Lynn (of Masters of Teras Kasi fame) and her lover Xendor get a cool story. (page 17)
Xendor met the Ones? Did he go to Mortis? (page 18)
Prince-Admiral Jonash e Solo. Relative of Han Solo? (page 24)
Contispex and the Pius Dea Crusades were interesting to read about. (page 25)
Valenthyne Farfalla was half Bothan?  What was the other half?  Why does he have hooves? (page 44)
We get a name for Lord Hoth, Rohlan of Kaal. (page 44)
First official image (I think) of the bounty hunter D’harhan who has a laser cannon for a head. (page 61)
The 14th Army during the Clone Wars was called Red Tails (page 101)
Letter from Ahsoka to her friend. She was kind of crushing on Anakin :/ (page 102)
A recap of Palpatine taking power and Order 66 from the perspective of Kol Skywalker (page 105)
Fighter pilot slang. (page 141)
Lumiya with her lightwhip. (page 187)
Image of Abeloth fighting Jedi and Sith. (page 234)
What? No image of Ben Skywalker? In the whole book?

Buy this book.

Aaron Goins

The Clone Wars Season 4 Episode 22 Review

Hello and welcome to our final review for season four of The Clone Wars! Season four has certainly been a wild ride, but did the last episode live up to its predecessors? In the season finale Maul has returned, angrier than ever, and looking for revenge against Obi-Wan Kenobi! Below are my thoughts on the finale and a look back on the season.

In the beginning of the episode, Savage has taken Maul back to Dathomir in order to be healed by Mother Talzin. After getting some awesome new legs, not unlike the legs we’ve seen in the Visionaries comic, Maul plans to exact his vengeance on the Jedi. I found it interesting how, even after Talzin healed Maul, he still struggles with the Force. For a character that we know will be reoccurring at least in the next season, I think it’s fantastic that a villain in the show will have his own problems with the Force, and will have to not only fight the Jedi, but rebuild to his former level of strength at the same time. I’m curious to see how Maul evolves throughout next season, and if his path crosses with Sidious, and what that outcome would look like. Will he join the Separatists? Will he form a rivalry with his replacement, Dooku? His mind is on one track, revenge, but judging by his patience at the end of the episode, he’ll take any route necessary if it means getting Kenobi.

Star Wars: Visionaries Maul vs The Clone Wars Maul

Another big topic of the episode was Ventress. Now, having been betrayed by the Separatists, the Sith, and being the only Nightsister left (besides Mother Talzin), Ventress’s new career as a bounty hunter has driven her into an alliance with Kenobi. This sets up a battle between Asajj and her former servant Opress, and Obi-Wan and his master’s killer. To put it simply, it was incredible! We’ve seen a lot of lightsaber duels in The Clone Wars, even some that might’ve been similar to this one. But the fact that it were four people, one of whom could be considered a giant, in a tiny cargo hold of a ship that’s filled with supplies made it even more intense. Plus the banter between Kenobi and Ventress, which I have severely missed over the past few seasons, really added to the episode. As someone who watched season one, I greatly appreciated the nod to their established character relationship, making their alliance a highlight of the episode.

Something I would like to discuss was when Maul could feel Obi-Wan’s rage. And it could’ve been something small that Maul just said to distract Obi-Wan, but what if this was something that could affect Obi-Wan later on? It would certainly be something to shake things up since Obi-Wan throughout all the films really never struggles with any issues similar to Anakin’s. So if Maul struggles with re-mastering his Force abilities and Obi-Wan starts to struggle with his rage against Maul, pitting the two disadvantaged characters against each other is a cool concept.

Revenge was a very good episode. And I think that this is the first finale where we get left on a cliffhanger ending. I loved how Maul was portrayed, and the alliance between Ventress and Kenobi that will continue into the next season. I really think that this episode was the strongest finale we’ve seen yet for The Clone Wars.

I would also like to say that season four of the series was the best it could possibly be, and easily the best season of The Clone Wars yet. It had a bit of a rocky start, nothing too bad, but nothing fantastic. We’ve seen episodes like the Mon Calamari ones before, and the Jar Jar episodes weren’t too bad either, but very predictable. I think when I reached the Krell arc I was amazed with season 4. The writing suddenly skyrocketed, the action intensified, and the stories became suspenseful and totally unpredictable. Since then, we’ve gotten stories about mandalorians, bounty hunters, Nightsisters, and slavers. This was not a boring season by any means, and there was a huge variety of stories packed into twenty two episodes, which are all beautifully animated. I was so impressed with how this season turned out compared to the last one that I can’t wait for season five, and to see what they can improve even more! Great work Clone Wars team!

And that wraps up my final review for the season! I would like to thank you all for reading these over the past months; I can’t wait to come back and start reviewing season five! Anyways, if you have any comments regarding this last episode, or the whole season, feel free to leave a comment below! See you in September and may the Force be with you… always!

-Ryan