Monday, November 10, 2014

Star Wars and Griping - But Not Griping About Star Wars

I’m sitting here at the computer knowing that I need a post for Monday (it’s Saturday right now). I don’t want to put up a toy review, but there’s not a holiday or event in the near future that I can write about. I made it through the incredibly busy month of October, only derailed by a bout with Strep and a fairly significant mental breakdown at the end of the month. The source of the former is undoubtedly my job where I work in close proximity with a large number of people with varying degrees of hygienic integrity. The source of the latter is the same.

I’m working on Christmas Day this year and that is tremendously upsetting to me. It’s a twelve hour shift from 5 AM to 5 PM, so that obviously creates significant problems in the Santa department. We’re trying to figure it out and I’m sure it will be fine for my son, but there are precious few years to enjoy the full magic of Christmas. Probably fewer now than when I was a kid. So it upsets me that I’m missing one of them.

More upsetting is the fact that I am also scheduled to work next year on Christmas Day.
Those were pretty strong factors in my post-October mental event. I’m never happy with my job, but the longer I am here the more opportunity I have to consider just how much of my life I am losing to it. More importantly, how much of my family’s life I am missing.

But this is the path I chose and in the end I have to recognize that with the choices I have made in life I am very fortunate to have a job that pays as well as this one does and that I can support my family and hobbies. I don’t often like to use the word “fortunate” because I am a big proponent of personal responsibility and ownership of life decisions, but I can’t deny that somebody with my (lack of) education and (lack of) marketable skills is lucky to be making what I do. It’s just a shame that it has such a detrimental emotional effect on me. But I look at it as that’s part of what I’m getting paid for.

Sorry, guys – I have to crank out a bitchy post like this from time to time. Now let’s talk about nerd stuff!

I don’t understand how The Force Awakens is bad. I mean, I know this is the internet and people are going to complain about everything, but that’s just not a bad title. The first major positive is that it describes an action like The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Notice anything missing? The Phantom Menace is the only movie title that describes a thing rather than an action. It’s always felt off, even disregarding the movie itself. I hadn’t even put my finger on it until the other day when I was talking to Ryan and Belligerent Monkey about it. Then it just hit me.

So I don’t think The Force Awakens is bad at all. It’s a little more vague than the other titles, but I think that’s appropriate since we have no clue what the movie is actually about. I’m sure there are some out there that have a better idea than I do, but I’m doing my darnedest to avoid information about it. 
 
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve gotten into the habit of trying to avoid any kind of news about movies and TV shows I care about. I don’t follow them on Facebook and I avoid clicking on any news links. I like being surprised. I loved the “holy shit!” feeling when I realized that Wentworth Miller’s character on The Flash was Captain Cold. I hate how the media spoils everything now. I want narratives to play out in the way that they are meant to. I don’t want to know any more than what is the bare minimum necessary to get me interested in something in the first place. Typically that would be the names of the director, writer, and/or actors. 
 
I suppose the problem is that so many people have so many different criteria of what will motivate them to participate in entertainment. Time and money are precious commodities, so Hollywood feels the need to over-reassure people that their product is the one that we should invest in. If that means giving the entire narrative of a movie away in one trailer, then so be it. 
 


Speaking of entire narratives, I thought that I was finishing the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels this weekend. Now collectively known as Star Wars: Legends, the former Expanded Universe comprised all of the novels, comic books, video games, role-playing games, and any other kind of star Wars media that was not the six movies themselves. It was never entirely clear what was canon and what wasn’t, though there was an entity that oversaw it all to try and make sure there wasn’t too much that was contradictory.

I wrote a whole other post about that here.

I adore the Star Wars novels and Disney’s decision that they were not canon didn’t affect that love one bit. I still love the stories and to me they will always be part of the mythology. I’ve read most of the post-Jedi books several times and no matter how good The Force Awakens might be, I experienced the book world first. It will always be ingrained in my consciousness.

Also – in case you didn’t click the above link – I totally agree with Disney’s decision to separate the Expanded Universe. Go click that link if you want more thoughts about that topic.

Today’s topic – from a few paragraphs ago – is my completion of the existing Expanded Universe novels. There are a few EU books I haven’t read yet. Mostly pre-Clone Wars stuff and most notably Timothy Zahn’s Scoundrels. But as far as the primary narrative that started immediately after the conclusion of Return of the Jedi and has detailed the lives of the Solos and Skywalkers for the ensuing 35 years I have read ‘em all. I thought I was coming to the conclusion of that massive narrative this weekend with Troy Dennings’ conclusion to the Fate of the Jedi series, Apocalypse
 
Fate of the Jedi is a nine book series detailing Luke Skywalker’s struggles with leading the new Jedi Order and dealing with the politics of the Galactic Alliance in the midst of the resurgence of the Sith in the galaxy. That’s about all I want to say, as I couldn’t even manage a synopsis of the wide range of events covered without devoting a whole post to it. That’s not what I’m here for today.

Due to my usual lack of intensive research in the interest of spoiler avoidance, the only thing I knew was that Apocalypse was the final book of the series and that it came out in 2012, just a few months before the news that Disney had bought Star Wars. It just seemed logical to me that it would be the final book of the EU. After all, “apocalypse” is a fairly good indicator of finality.

The events of the book also suggesting a close to the EU narrative. Numerous seemingly unrelated and never-explained elements of the EU – going all the way back to the pre-Phantom Menace books – were brought together to create an epic and potentially satisfying sendoff to a story that’s jumped all over the Star Wars timeline for the past two decades. I have mixed feelings about the result, but as I made my way through the book it became clear that this would not be the final chapter I had been expecting. While many loose threads would be tied up, it appeared that groundwork was being laid for future stories. I had been reading under the assumption that at the very least the creators behind the books had had time to alter a few key points of Apocalypse to provide some closure, but as the end of the book neared it looked like that might not be the case.


Sure enough, the past two decades were wrapped up, but in the last chapter it was clear that the intent was to lead into a new arc with the new generation of Jedi at the forefront. So I went and looked at the massive EU timeline in the front of the book and saw that there was one last title – Crucible, also written by Troy Dennings. So it looks like I have just a bit more reading to do before I can write my big farewell to the EU. I don’t know if Crucible will actually wrap everything up – I doubt it – but it would be nice.

Oh, and while I was poking around trying to figure out just how many more books there were, I found this epilogue to Fate of the Jedi by Timothy Zahn:

4 comments:

  1. I went back and read your post on Star Wars EU, so this is mostly a response to that. I'll tell you, I love to read, I keep a stack of books going at all times (I can't read a book straight through, I have to have a few going, it's like switching channels on the TV), but have never had an easy time reading Fantasy or Science Fiction. I have a hard time reading fiction in general, but science fiction or fantasy novels offer a particular struggle for me, as I just can not get into them.

    However, after reading your on the EU post I am very tempted to run to the library to grab some of those books and give them a shot (post ROTJ, I don't give a crap about prequel stuff, or Old Republic). I loved Star Wars growing up, but have cared for it less and less as it became apparent that George Lucas cared for it less and less. I do appreciate you pointing out how Disney doing away with the EU doesn't really cheapen them. It doesn't take anything away, all Disney is going to do is now add to this universe. If you don't like what they end up doing with it, then you've still got years and years of EU novels, games, and comics to go through and enjoy.

    That is similar to the discussions I have had over the Michael Bay Transformers movies. I love Transformers (not as much as you love Star Wars, but I'm pretty sure I don't like anything as much as you like SW) and I hate the Michael Bay movies. I don't hate them because they're ruining my childhood, like many people claim, because they're not. I hate them because they're bad movies, and as long as they're being made a better version won't come along. However, the fact that Michael Bay is making shit Transformers doesn't mean that I can't watch any of the better cartoon series, or read the comics, or enjoy the crazy amount of Transformers toys that I have. I also kind of hate the Star Wars prequels, so you know what I do? I don't watch them, I watch the original trilogy and still love them. Now I feel like I'm rambling, I'm going to stop typing now.

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    1. I hope the EU brings you some Star Wars joy. Some stories are better than others, but I never read a book or comic that was outright bad. No matter how good the new stuff is, the old EU will always be my Star Wars home.

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  2. I'm surprised they have your schedule worked out a year in advance!

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    1. The nature of the job demands it. It does change occasionally, but for the most part they have to nail it down.

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