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Press Release for Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind

STAR WARS PSYCHOLOGY: Dark Side of the Mind (Sterling, October 27, 2015) sheds new light on the Star Wars saga for fans of the series and for fans of psychology!

Evil, tyrannical oppression rules this world and heroes must rise to battle the darkness. According to Psychiatrist Carl Jung and mythologist Joseph Campbell, people in every place and time tell tales of heroes who face darkness, win victories, and return transformed. This archetypal Hero’s Journey underlies the Star Wars story, and demonstrates the role of psychology in shaping this beloved saga.

In STAR WARS PSYCHOLOGY, a group of expert contributors, led by Travis Langley, explore the “Big Five” personality factors and the characters who embody each major trait.

Star-Wars-Psychology-Cover Continue reading

Star Wars: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! – A Beyond the Films Review

With recent events leading to a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soonStar Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler will be posting short, non-spoiler reviews for new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)


Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger (hardback, 2015)

Preface (Found on My Reviews for All Three of the New Novelizations)

Novelizations for Star Wars have been a mixed bag over the years, an oddity in Star Wars publishing. In 1976, 1980, and 1983, the novelizations of the Original Trilogy were released. They did not expand upon the films they adapted to any large degree, and they were plagued by being based on scripts with stories and characters yet unseen, leading to plenty of inconsistencies between the films and the novelizations.

The same inconsistencies could be found in the Prequel Trilogy novelizations in 1999, 2002, and 2005, but as time went on, writers became bolder in adding to the films they were adapting. Attack of the Clones provided a look into Shmi Skywalker’s activities and capture prior to the film, while inadvertently (or on the sly?) giving the Legends continuity a hint as to Anakin’s birthdate within his birth year. Later, Matthew Stover’s Revenge of the Sith novelization went so deeply into character motivations (especially those of Anakin Skywalker in relation to why not being a Jedi Master when on the Jedi Council was more than just an insult but a barrier to saving his wife) that it prompted me to eventually coin the “Stover Effect” – when an adaptation of a story provides so much more detail on that story that the overall qualiity of the story is raised. (For years, I have considered Revenge of the Sith one of my two favorite Star Wars films, less for what Lucas put on film and more for how the story is so much deeper with the background and intricate details that Stover added to its context.)

As the years (then decades) have gone by, there have been frequent calls to release new, updated novelizations of the films in order to make them more true to the films and help them adhere to new context provided by other works, such as The Clone Wars or simply the other films themselves. That has never taken place for the adult novelizations, but we have seen very young reader books from Scholastic that tried to be more accurate to the films than their adult counterparts.

Now, in 2015, shortly after Force Fiday, a new trio of Original Trilogy novelizations has joined the Story Group’s Canon, and they are offbeat to say the least.

The three new novelizations are The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (for A New Hope), So You Want to Be a Jedi? (for The Empire Strikes Back), and Beware the Power of the Dark Side! (for Return of the Jedi). Each is geared toward somewhat younger readers (big print and all), wrtitten by an established author for younger readers, and includes illustrations by Ian McCaig. These new novelizations each take an unusual approach in an attept to retell the stories of these films in a fresh way.

That being said, let’s take a look at the specific book in this series for this review . . .

Beware the Power of the Dark Side!

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy gave readers an odd take on A New Hope that split perspectives for three acts between Leia Organa, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker. So You Want to Be a Jedi? broke all the rules for an adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back and left readers thinking, “What the heck was that?” After those two novelizations, one could be forgiven for being rather wary of Tom Angleberger’s adaptation of Return of the Jedi, entitled Beware the Power of the Dark Side! (Again with the friggin’ punctuation marks at the end of titles! What is this, Marvel Comics, circa 1977?)

As it turns out, Angleberger’s version of ROTJ is the tamest of the three new adaptations and, for me at least, the most enjoyable. Beware the Power of the Dark Side! follows ROTJ in a third person, unlimited, present tense format. The narrator describes events “as they happen” with knowledge beyond that of the characters focused on at any given moment. Angleberger makes his way through the film in the most faithful recreation of scenes and dialogue (right down to Huttese and Ewokese) of the films that we have seen in quite a while.

The book is not without a few tweaks to dialogue, and it does make the odd choice of moving Vader’s arrival at the Death Star from the beginning to after the heroes leave Tatooine, while also managing to call the Executor the Eclipse. However, these flaws pale in comparison to the accuracy of the majority of the book.

Generally, though, an accurate novelization is a boring novelization. We already know the film’s story and can often recite its dialogue, so why bother reading a mostly-accurate adaptation?

Angleberger’s take on ROTJ does not offer many extra scenes to create a “Stover Effect” (my term for when an adaptation adds new depth to the source material through new scenes, facts, etc.). The only truly notable extra scene involves Leia and Mon Mothma discussing whether Leia, like Mon Mothma, should sit out the Battle of Endor in safety as a leader of the Rebellion. Otherwise, few new additions exist.

However, the narration manages to add more to the context of the film than its lack of new scenes would suggest. For instance, we learn that Jabba never intended to pay “Boussh” after agreeing to 25,000 as the bounty on Chewbacca. We get an extra couple lines of dialogue to allow Luke to ask the spirit of Obi-Wan about his mother. We learn that Asha (from the Ewoks cartoon series, which is not Canon under the Story Group at this point) is indeed a big part of the Battle of Endor from the Ewok perspective. Small additions like these are welcome touches.

(The narrator also uses frequent footnotes to add odd asides that are sometimes amusing but often superfluous.)

Perhaps the books best moments come in its portrayal of Luke’s last moments with his father and the sacrifice that Anakin made in relation to his role in the prophecy to bring balance to the Force. If nothing else, a curious reader should check out Chapter 70  to see those moments in a new light.

After hearing that this was the weakest of the three new adaptations, I found Beware the Power of the Dark Side! the most refreshing. It was a welcome surprise.

The Verdict

Beware the Power of the Dark Side! may not add a great deal to Return of the Jedi, but what it adds is interesting and provided in the most true-to-screen adaptation of this “oddball” novelization trilogy. It is a welcome addition to this fan’s library.

Recommended for: Those who prefer adaptations to be film-accurate, and fans who like little details to add to the films, rather than many new scenes.

Not recommended for: Those seeking many new scenes to “enhance” their Return of the Jedi viewing.

No review copy was provided for this publication. It was a standard retail purchase.

C-3PO Guides You through Traffic in the Star Wars Version of GPS App Waze

In this day and age, practically everyone uses a GPS app on their phone to navigate their way through life. Why not spice things up by turning it into a game, and have C-3PO himself, the best droid co-pilot in the galaxy guide you through traffic to your next destination as you earn points collecting road goodies like stormtroopers, TIE fighers, droids, and more along the way? The Force is with Waze this month, and from now through December 31st you can experience the Star Wars version of Waze road navigation! You can download Waze, the largest community based traffic and navigation app for free here:

Waze 2

I’ve had Waze since I first got a smart phone, and have loved the app. As they put it: “Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app with more than 50 million users and a social following of over 1.5 million people! At its core, Waze is all about contributing to the ‘common good’ out there on the road. By connecting drivers to one another, Waze helps people create local driving communities that work together to improve the quality of everyone’s daily driving. That might mean helping them avoid the frustration of sitting in traffic, cluing them in to unexpected road closures or shaving five minutes off of their regular commute by showing them new routes they never even knew about.”

I just downloaded and tried out the Star Wars version of the app, and I LOVE it! It feels exactly as is an overly worried C-3PO is guiding you through traffic, and I may or may not have directed some Han Solo-like sarcastic quips about fear of spaceship travels at my phone.

Screen shots

Screen shots from downloading the Star Wars Waze updates.

One of my favorites in Waze is how the app shows you upcoming obstacles, road-side hazards, and other potential difficulties on your route. I haven’t experienced this real time updating of everything that might impact your drive in any other app. I like how Waze rewards you with points in a system that basically gamefies your normally boring commute, making it fun to use.


In the Star Wars version of the app, you look for things like where R2-D2 and BB-8 are hiding in your town with a commute full of stormtroopers, TIE fighters, lightsabers, and more to make your commute full of Star Wars fun. The Waze app is available for download for iOS and Android here:


On Rebels, Chopper Becomes A Double Act

Just a reminder: this isn’t a full review of the episode. If you want that, that’s totally cool, but you may wish to look to one of our fellow fan-sites. Here we take a look at a few aspects of the show (be warned, in a fairly spoilery way).

As an avid Sabine fan, it takes a lot to draw my attention (not like that, you perv) away from our resident Mandalorian artist. Enter our guest star of Blood Sisters: bounty hunter and fellow street decorator, Ketsu Onyo, voiced by … Gina Torres? How did I not realise this before!

Did you not get the memo?


Ketsu Onyo represents a perfect microcosm: first, her design is utterly brilliant. (I realise it’s more than a little iffy to focus on a woman’s appearance, and foremost at that, and I do apologise. Unfortunately I’m not sure I can’t not say anything, it’s just too good). As we learn in this episode’s Rebels Recon, the design was lent/borrowed/yoinked (delete as appropriate) to/by Dave Filoni from the design team for The Force Awakens – which, if I’m not mistaken, marks the first time for the new movie, and the latest in a long and storied tradition* in Star Wars.

*Which by itself is downright bizarre. I can think of no other franchise that utilises its cast-offs, for that’s what it is, to such a degree. Time and again this has happened in a Star Wars product, from the earliest novels and comics, to Star Wars Rebels itself, and even the prequel trilogy. And what’s more, we’re totally okay with it (more or less); this is not so much a testament to the skill of the designers, though they are certainly talented, but it is more an acknowledgement that some designs don’t fit one character, yet fit perfectly for others.

Though to be honest, I think this looks good on anyone.

Though to be honest, I think this looks good on anyone.

And I loved, too, how Ketsu’s presence essentially put up a mirror to Sabine, to show us more of the character, yes, but showed us what she was, and could have been. And then that mirror, in the form of Ketsu, then proceeded to outshine Sabine. Please don’t mistake me: I loved Sabine in this episode, I merely thought that Ketsu was much more compelling.

But enough about that. I’m excited, too, about what she represents on the show: the underworld.

Even though this show is primarily about rebels, a small band of merry men and women, taking on the big bad of Bespin, the scourge of Serenno, the … naughty … Empire (I ran out, sorry). This series, and this episode in particular, leans heavily of the ‘scum and villainous’ underworld, that which is partly untouched by, and partly created by, the Empire – and I want more of that. Not simply because it’s an interesting moral area – though that, too: by providing morally ambiguous characters, our Spectres are given a much more varied pool of storytelling. That aforementioned pool can become a source of enemies and heroes (much like the Hondo episode), heartache and heart-warming, too, by showing the morally un-ambigious in the ambiguous cess-pit. What I mean by that is, not everyone in the underworld are going to be baddies doing bad things. There could be generally decent people who are either caught up in or pushed towards a life of crime, or good people who aren’t pushed but simply have no choice in the matter, if they wish to be able to afford their next meal (not to mention elevensies. Blimey, they may be crooks but they’re hardly barbarians). And then there’s the civilians who simply carry on living simple lives, somehow, surrounded by these villains – much like Tarkintown in the first series. The show provides the space these stories need to be told.

However, it’s not just a case of ‘these baddies aren’t all bad, after all’, no no. Certainly we can have non-Imperial baddies, I’d just prefer them used in a slightly different way, one that has been done before in the show, and one that ought to be played up more often. And if we look at our own history, our own dictatorship-toppling rebellions and revolutions, we see that such people very much have their own place in the story being told in the galaxy far, far way. They aid the rebellion.

If I may be honest, Star Wars is very much a binary, light and dark story. You have the good and the evil, and – scum and villainy aside – that’s pretty much it. I feel that’s to its detriment. From the French Revolution, to Bosnia, to, well, pretty much any civil war, really, the revolutionaries often had to deal with morally ambiguous* groups to survive, to procure weapons, armaments, food and medical supplies, and even just straight up hire mercenaries to fight their battles. It doesn’t make sense that our rebels wouldn’t do this, or at least that it wouldn’t be shown more often than it has.

*or morally un-ambigious gits.

But more than that, it serves a narrative purpose. While we can’t be too clear on the exact state of affairs, it is fairly reasonable to assume that the rebels on the show are in a precarious position. They’re not a legitimate government, but freedom fighters, and it’s entirely likely that the standard citizen of the Empire, even if said people are not fans of the Empire, would think that they’re little more than petty criminals with delusions of grandeur and/or a lust for power. While, certainly, we the viewers inherently understand this to be false, what better way to demonstrate this (both to us and the general galactic public) than by putting our rebels alongside the actual scum, so that we may see what sets them apart?

And, oh look, the show just happened to (re)introduce the nefarious crime syndicate, the Black Sun. Juuust thought I’d mention it.



I take back what I said earlier. Though Ketsu was brilliant, Sabine is still my favourite. HOW DARE YOU HURT HER, KETSU?

Communication – by that I mean, how the characters conveyed themselves to each other, not necessarily the vocal performances – between the various characters, throughout the episode, was all top-notch. (For the most part, I wasn’t a fan of Ezra’s gibbering. She’s not that into you, Ezra, move on, it’s creepy.)

Sabine and Ketsu truly felt like old friends; their dialogue and delivery conveyed an easy familiarity, even when they were facing off against each other, delivering angst- and backstory-heavy dialogue, their shared pain over the loss of their once tight bond*. And later, as they accepted each other’s current professions, that love and mutual respect was both endearing and heart-warming.

*I’m still not entirely certain about just what kind of bond theirs was. From the title, I had assumed that they were blood relatives, but from watching the show, it seems more like they were once strangers who became, I suppose, platonic soulmates. Still, I could be wrong, so apologies for any inacurracies.




Dear Chopper, I’m sorry, but I’m not that into you.

*Muffled* okie doke.

I can’t put my finger on it, exactly, but I think I feel so because his over-active acting seems rather forced and unnatural – and yes, I get the absurdity of that statement. It just doesn’t sit well with me.

And yet, somehow, that overacting actually worked in this episode. And all it took was a walking box.

You rang?

The communication, as it were, between the two was merely a collection of hooting, squaking, waving and shuddering* but it harkened back to the silent film, Laurel and Hardy-type shenanigans. Wait, no. That would be rather inaccurate: for, in one desperate scene, where Chopper, adrift in the vacuum of space, struggled to regain his place aboard the ship, he and Gonky managed to portray, quite successfully, the fear and the tension of the moment. All without a word being uttered by either. It was a great moment of silent acting, and the animators did a terrific job. It was the first time that his utterances and gesticulations felt appropriate.

I’ve never been so rooted to my seat as when Chopper – wasn’t.

*Which makes no sense to me. They’re droids, surely they’d be able to convey the entirety of their thoughts through simple beeps, dots and dits? Why the need to twirl their heads and wave their arms, or – adorably for the gonk – trample on the spot in a shy yet excited manner. While certainly I don’t rule out the usefulness in communicating with body gestures and hand movement (sign language, anyone?), I don’t understand why droids need this. Perhaps they’ve been living around biological beings for too long.

I don’t think I could really take a full Chopper-centric episode, but on this episode, this one brief instance, I became a Chopper fan.

Michael Dare