Tag Archives: Star Wars Beyond the Films

Star Wars: Before the Awakening – A Beyond the Films Review

With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soonStar Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often 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.)


beforetheawakening

Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka (hardbcak, 2015)

On Force Friday, Star Wars fans were introduced to Greg Rucka, author of Smuggler’s Run (which I recently reviewed). Just a few days later, Rucka’s Shattered Empire began with its first issue from Marvel Comics. He is quickly becoming a mainstay of publishing surrounding The Force Awakens. On the same day as the film’s release, a third Rucka release (if you’ll pardon the alliteration) hit the shelves: Before the Awakening.

Before the Awakening is precisely what its name suggests: a set of stories taking place prior to The Force Awakens, featuring the three major film characters on its cover. The book features the stories of FN-2187 (“Finn”), Rey, and Poe Dameron in the days and months leading up to the film. It does so with varying degrees of success, though none failing to fit the bill.

Finn’s story follows the stormtrooper through the latter parts of his training, giving us a glimpse into his struggles with empathy vs. duty. While the attack on Jakku in the opening of The Force Awakens is indeed his first mission as a true, full-fledged stormtrooper, this was not (as reviews of the film often blast) an “out of nowhere” change for the character. His struggles began earlier, and the strike at the village of Tuanul in the film is simply the last (and most egregious) straw for the character. The insight into the character here should be enough to silence many of the naysayers about the speed of the character’s change of heart in the film.

Rey’s story spans a matter of months, as the scavenger on Jakku makes an impressive find and works with two marginally-trustworthy “friends” to make the most of that find. Unlike Finn’s story (and Poe’s, discussed in a moment), this story does not feel like it is leading directly into the film. Instead, it feels like a throwaway story sometime in the year prior to the film that serves as a means of providing us with more details about Rey, including where she developed some of her piloting skills (something else negative reviews of TFA tend to target). It is mildly enlightening, but not nearly as much so as Finn’s adventure, which clocks in at about twenty pages shorter than Rey’s.

By far the longest of the three stories in Before the Awakening (clocking in at about double the length of Finn’s tale) is the backstory of Poe Dameron. Spanning months like Rey’s outing, Poe’s adventure follows him in Rapier Squadron on missions for the New Republic and provides the “origin story” for how he becomes a pilot for Leia Organa’s Resistance. Moreover, it leads directly into Poe’s mission in the opening minutes of The Force Awakens. It is by far the most interesting of the three stories in the anthology, and we learn enough about Poe and the relationship between the Republic and the Resistance to, again, help silence some of those arguing that the relationship is unclear.

Ironically, this book does not carry the The Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens product line label, but it is the book that exemplifies that concept leaps and bounds more than any of the products that actuallly do bear that moniker. This is what people reading the “journey to” line actually expected to read.

The Verdict

Before the Awakening is a must-read for fans of The Force Awakens. You could almost skip Rey’s story and feel as though you missed very little, but the Finn and Poe tales provide enough detail and backstory to making this a “young adult” book that adult fans should definitely check out.

Recommended for: Those interested in the backstories of Finn and Poe from The Force Awakens. (Oh, and Rey a little too.)

Not recommended for: Those expecting huge revelations about Rey. Those are almost certainly being held back for future films.

I purchased a copy of this book at release, though Disney Lucasfilm Press later provided a copy for review.

The Aftermath of Aftermath – SWBTF #190

The aftermath of Star Wars: Aftermath, did your hosts love or hate it?, all this and so much more! All on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films. YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR Podcast of Legends! YOUR ticket to that Galaxy far, far away! Beyond the Films lies your Fandom!


This week true believers, Beyonders, Fanboys, Fangirls, respected aliens around the galaxy, The Champion of the Multiverse; Mark Hurliman, and your Count of Continuities; Nathan P. Butler are joined by Cloud City Casino’s new Baron Administrator, Michael Morris, as they sit down to discuss Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath! So strap in and tighten your crash webbing Fandom, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on another rapid-fire trip into the galaxy far, far away!

Aftermath

This episode your hosts discuss: Continue reading

Star Wars: High Noon on Jakku – A Beyond the Films Review

With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soonStar Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often 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.)


highnoon

High Noon on Jakku by Landry Q. Walker (ebook, 2015)

In April 2016, a new anthology – something Star Wars fans have long been hoping for – will be released. The book, Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens will include six stories, four of which were recently released as separate ebooks, months before seeing physical print. Unlike in previous anthologies, all of the stories in this new tome will be written by a single author, Landry Q. Walker. Each story will feature alien characters from The Force Awakens. This review focuses on one of the four stories released in December 2015.

High Noon on Jakku

Taking place at Niima Outpost on the planet Jakku, High Noon on Jakku focuses on Constable Zuvio, the Kyuzo (i.e. Embo’s species) law enforcement officer seen in The Force Awakens. The tale begins with Zuvio facing his “trusted” droid, CZ-1G5, in a sort of “high noon” style pistol duel. The action then flashes back to shortly before the incident, wherein an apparent heist of digital funds from a computer aboard a banking vessel begins a hunt for the perpetrators. The tale proceeds until we “catch up” to the “duel” and see the situation resolved.

While it is nice to get some new background on Zuvio and his deputies, Streehn and Drego, the story adds little to them beyond simply giving us a story featuring them for the first time. Broadly speaking, the story plays out exactly as one would expect, right down to the “twist” of who the thief turns out to be. It is so straightforward and true-to-form that it feels like a written equivalent of a paint-by-numbers piece.

That said, as if compensating for the run-of-the-mill nature of the story, Walker’s decision to begin near the end of the story and then flash backward changes the nature of the tale from being entirely about the rather obvious heist case and instead puts the focus on why Zuvio would be facing off with CG-1G5 at all. Again, the answer is relatively obvious, but that shift in timing helps create more of a driving question for the story than the identity of the story’s criminal (which is so painfully obvious that the culprit might as well be named similarly to The Clone Wars Jedi Master Ima-Gun-Di).

This isn’t a bad story, but it does not offer much.

Does the Label Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Actually Fit the Story?

Given that we will be meeting Zuvio later this week in The Force Awakens, one could argue that anything that introduces new characters from the film counts as part of that “journey,” but unless there is somehow a story connection (beyond characters and location) between this heist and The Force Awakens, the “journey to” label’s validity here is tenuous at best.

The Verdict

High Noon on Jakku isn’t a bad story, nor is it particularly good. It is a straightforward, run-of-the-mill tale that serves to introduce us to Zuvio and his companions and little else. You will not regret reading it, but you will not gain much from the experience either.

Recommended for: Those interested in learning about Zuvio outside of The Force Awakens.

Not recommended for: Those looking for something particularly new, innovative, or unpredictable.

A retail purchase ebook (on Nook) was used for this review.

POST-TFA EDITORIAL ADDITION

Well, so much for Zuvio being a featured character in The Force Awakens. The question of “Where is Zuvio?” could rival the pre-release “Where is Luke?” question.

What. Is, up, with: Chuck!? (Part 1 of 2) – SWBTF #189

The aftermath of Star Wars: Aftermath. The hype, the grammar, the character lifestyle choices, and the fans that loved or hated it all, all this and so much more! All on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films. YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR Podcast of Legends! YOUR ticket to that Galaxy far, far away! Beyond the Films lies your Fandom!


This week true believers, Beyonders, Fanboys, Fangirls, respected aliens around the galaxy, The Champion of the Multiverse; Mark Hurliman, and your Count of Continuities; Nathan P. Butler sit down to discuss the many reactions to Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath, and their Spoiler-Free look at the book! So strap in and tighten your crash webbing Fandom, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on another rapid-fire trip into the galaxy far, far away!

Aftermath

This episode your hosts discuss: Continue reading

Star Wars: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation (Art Therapy) – 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.)


arttherapy

Star Wars: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation (hardback, 2015)

In November 2015, Disney Editions released Star Wars: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation, a hardback Art Therapy coloring book for all ages, though geared in its complexity a bit more toward adults.

I do not profess to be an expert on Art Therapy. (Johnathan is the psychologist of our little Rebels Roundtable troupe, and he has not spent much time with the concept either.) The concept has existed for about 70 years and is based around the idea that creative expression, including something as “basic” as coloring, can have a psychologically therapeutic affect for a variety of conditions, from diagnosed psychological conditions to something as simple as stress. (My own wife used coloring as a means of stress relief when battling cancer a few years ago. I have seen the value of such practice first-hand.)

This book strives to provide that kind of creative outlet via Art Therapy through a series of one hundred Star Wars images that are presented in black and white line art so that the reader (or patient) can color those images through the Art Therapy process.

Many readers, though, will simply view this as an adult coloring book, which is, in essence, what it is, though its purpose goes deeper due to its therapeutic value.

In keeping with its stress-reducing, therapeutic theme, the artwork tends toward character portraits (often surrounded by floral designs), full-page patterns, and mandalas that often feel fit for tattoo art. The art is calm, yet because of its style, one could argue that the art in the book, especially after being colored, could be suitable for framing. It is not action-packed but feels mature and respectful (even when the art in question might involve Jar Jar Binks).

The biggest drawback of the book is its format. It is presented in hardback form (unlike a similar book coming in February 2016 that will be paperback) with heavy cardboard covers and spine, fit for pages to be torn out and colored with the cover itself as a hard coloring surface. The downside is that while that makes it feel more substantial than a simple “coloring book,” it also makes the book surprisingly easy to damage. Edges and the spine are very easily “dinged,” leaving raw spots of cardboard, and the way the front and back covers attach to the spine make it very easy for the covers to start tearing off of the book. The product is an inspired idea with a flawed physical execution. (Then again, if you intend to remove the pages, then you won’t be worried about the condition of the cover anyway.)

The Verdict

Star Wars: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation is not a product that everyone will find interesting, but one could argue that anyone could find the actual use of the book for its intended purpose (coloring as Art Therapy) helpful and soothing. Those looking for something “different” or seeking actual Art Therapy through a psychologist will get the most mileage out of this product.

Recommended for: Those looking for an adult coloring book or a book to use with actual Art Therapy, those with artistic desire but few artistic skills, or those seeking art suitable for framing or tattoo inspiration.

Not recommended for: Those looking for a product to keep pristine in a collection, or those looking for a book with, uhm, words.

Disney Lucasfilm Press provided a copy for review.