The “How I Would Have Written The Force Awakens Author Panel” at Dragon Con 2015 was, as the title suggests, about how several Star Wars authors – namely Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, Rebecca Moesta, and Kevin J. Anderson (with Paula Rosenberg moderating) – would have written Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To be clear, this wasn’t official in any way; it was simply a group of very experienced writers examining what they would have written, in an off-the-cuff (and sometimes intentionally silly and ridiculously funny) manner.
I was lucky enough to attend the panel and it was, in my opinion, absolutely hilarious! My favorite aspect of this panel was how much fun the authors had with the discussion, how engaged they were, and how they weren’t afraid to be both outlandish and serious at times. It was actually difficult to keep up with their banter sometimes, especially when I was laughing too much to type accurately. (P.S. One of the reasons I love the Star Wars track at Dragon Con is because of how nice the authors are there, and how open and available they are with fans.) Here is the panel, recapped and somewhat abridged.
The authors began with describing how they would open the film.
Our friends over at Pangea Brands sent us their Darth Vader toaster to check out! Riley and I, and Teresa’s (of our own Star Wars Bookworms) Ewoks, whom I’m babysitting, had way too much fun testing it and making Star Wars toast!
Firstly I have to say that Ewoks, while incredibly cute, can be kind of terrifying. You get the feeling that they eat the Stormtroopers they cross paths with (where else would that get all that bone jewelry!?), so you have to keep them entertained and well fed when babysitting them. If you do that, they make wonderful, adorable house-guests, and if not, well, let’s just say I don’t take chances. So Teresa’s Ewoks (I’m their unofficial Auntie Bethany) had to get in on the fun.
They made very short work of the sandwich.
As described on their site, this toaster will make a “striking addition to any kitchen counter.” Unsurprising, as Darth Vader is quite proficient at ‘striking’ terror into the hearts of friend and foe alike. It is made of heavy duty black plastic, with the inside being metal. It arrived quite well and safely packaged, and I opened it quite eagerly!
It came in it’s own box with instructions (which I was too excited to read at first), and I was able to start using the toaster immediately.
The toaster has a turning knob at the back allowing you to choose how dark or light you want the toast (or waffles, frozen pancakes, hamburger buns or English muffins) to turn out.
The toast turned out quite well, and more clearly than the picture above that I took shows (the picture is a little blurry, and I like my toast pretty lightly done). Here’s a picture from Pangea’s website:
The toaster itself weighs just over four pounds, and measures 12″ X 10.7″ X 8.4″. Some further details are listed below:
• Toasts: Bread, Waffles, English Muffins, or Toaster Pastry
• Compact Two-Slice Toaster with Cool-Touch Housing Reheat, Defrost, and Quick Stop Function
• Adjustable Thermostat
• Automatic Manual Switch-Off
• Removable Crumb Tray for Easy Cleaning
• Power Supply: 110-120V 60Hz 570-680W
• Officially Licensed
The toaster is very well detailed, and appears and is shaped very much like Darth Vader’s helmet, which surprised me a little because, well, toaster…. Toasters don’t seem very congruous to the shape of a helmet, but I was wrong!
“Care for some toast Oh Imperial Officer?”
Me enjoying a day of sunshine, a new haircut, Star Wars toast, and working on Star Wars Report stuff (followed by swimming in the pool in the background). All in all, this is a really fun kitchen addition for any Star Wars fan, worked quite well, and looks surprisingly well detailed! The Darth Vader toaster can be purchased here.
Star Wars: The Next Generation
Star Wars on TV
For those of my generation (what JimmyMac often calls, “The Star Wars Generation”), between the Star Wars films and after the original trilogy had finished, virtually the only way a fan could get his fix was to watch one of the specials or cartoon series on television. In a world decades away from the Information Age, children learned to schedule their time around these somewhat rare opportunities to revisit that galaxy far, far away. While their parents were sometimes confused by the intricacies of the developing technology of video cassette recorders, their children became adept at setting the timers on the family VCRs and programming them to record these shows so they could be watched over and over.
And watch them, we did. Repeatedly. I wore out my copies of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back as well as E.T. and Friends, the CBS special from 1982. Those that survived, however, offered me an opportunity to introduce these classic elements of Star Wars to my own children many years later.
Both of my children were born a couple weeks after the initial releases of the first prequel movies. By the time they could comprehend what was happening on the television screen, we already owned The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones on DVD, so the dearth of Star Wars content I had known as a child never affected them. But I had some of these treasures from my childhood available for them to watch whenever I wanted to introduce another aspect of Star Wars to them.
As they became enamored with the brief Clone Wars clips which aired on Cartoon Network before the release of Revenge of the Sith, I introduced them to the Droids and Ewoks cartoons that were released on DVD in 2004. They loved watching them. Their interest prompted me to pull out Dad’s old Betamax player and digitize some of the other episodes of the Nelvana cartoons so they could watch them, as well. As the excitement surrounding Star Wars: The Clone Wars grew, I made a DVD for them with more episodes of both shows. They became acquainted with Thall Joben, Jord Dusat, and Kea Moll. They laughed at the antics of the Ewoks. They were ready for more cartoon adventures in the Star Wars universe when August rolled out the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the subsequent start to the five-season series on Cartoon Network.
Just like the days of my own childhood, my children would plan their activities around watching The Clone Wars on Friday nights. They loved meeting new characters and wondering how they would fit into the larger story of Star Wars. Every season premier was a big event in our home, giving us reason to drink Ahsoka Cola and Yoda Soda while munching on Clone Cookies in front of the television for thirty minutes as a family. We travelled to Dallas to meet the voice actors behind their favorite characters. We collected toys, books, games, and artwork. While the movies were the foundation of my Star Wars fanaticism, this new animated series quickly became the bedrock of theirs.
Our conversations on car rides often revolve around unfinished stories and themes from these television shows. The tones of my daughter singing “The Fate of Ahsoka” (her favorite Star Wars character by far) by High Adventure can be heard throughout the house as she spontaneously erupts in song any given afternoon. My son continues to reenact battles between heroes and villains from this series alone or with his friends.
Don’t underestimate the power of television to instill fandom in the next generation.
I can remember a time when the Ewoks were a species that no on really liked in Star Wars fandom. However, these days it seems that to find someone who does not like the Ewoks is rather difficult. I have been pondering how this change occurred and it dawned on me thanks to my friend Aaron Goins that the kids who loved the Ewoks are now adults. When you are a kid you don’t have as loud of a voice as when you are and adult and that is an injustice in and of itself. These days though since we are all the kids who loved the Ewoks we use our blogs, podcast voices, social media voices to spread our love for Ewoks.