156: A Disturbance in the Force

A Disturbance in the Force

"The marketing genius didn't stop there. Multimedia was the next frontier, the next section of the Outer Rim to conquer in the name of the Empire. Writers created new adventures spanning books, comics and videogames. The media invasion gave other talented artists and storytellers a chance to inhabit the universe and create their own piece of Star Wars fiction. That Lucas allowed fans to create new stories and mythologies is both the greatest triumph of the Star Wars saga - and its undoing."

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Interesting...I'd kinda spaced on the consistency of the books and films a while ago. I always preferred the fiction and games that didn't involve being a Jedi for some reason. The original Dark Forces was my favorite FPS in the series because Kyle is just a merc with a gun fetish. My favorite books was the Rogue Squadron series because it was just complex space battles and the crew's personal relationships.

Its been pointed out in forums and other disputes before...but the Force as a concept starts to get a lot more complex once you dig past the surface. Why is me shooting lightning at someone inherently evil? Why is regenerating a wound inherently good? Even the fall into darkness is something far more complex than Kyle's petulant "Should I stab this ridiculously evil person" decision in Dark Forces 2. No one wakes up evil, as Sweeney and the other Bioware authors seem intensely aware. Bane had an abusive father, Revan had to stop the Mandalorians, and your own character in the game faces complex issues that drives you to either side of the Force.

And once you enter that realm of moral complexity that the Force really needs, you start to go past lasers and space ship battles. You start to need to real caliber, real character development, to make that moment happen. Some writers can do it, some writers can do space ship battles. Finding one who could do both is where the consistency gets tough to find in Star Wars.

Must... resist... nerding... out!

I was introduced to the books through Rogue Squadron, and while I think Stackpole did them best, the later ones with Allston weren't half bad. I agree with Jeffries that one of their strengths was the lack of Jedi (though Horn's I, Jedi stint wasn't so bad).

I quit the whole thing with the switch of publishers, and the new scheme where they release one cornerstone book per year in hardcover, with a flurry of paperbacks that rely on events in the hardback, then drop the hardcover to softcover a year later. I quit the habit, cold turkey.

Kevin J. Anderson? The man should be put in jail for the way he abuses IP.

Meh. Personally, I rather enjoyed the prequels. I mean, yes the scripting was pretty dodgy in places, but the originals were hardly Shakespeare either.

In terms of expanded universe... some of what I've seen is fantastic, a lot is bloody awful. I recently read a comic called 'Vader's Quest'. It follows the story of Vader discovering that the pilot who destroyed the Death Star is is own son, and his quest to murder anyone with knowledge of this. It wasn't the best written comic by any means, but there were some absolutely fantastic moments in it, and it supplements and supports the original story.

Some of the other stuff I've read and heard about makes me feel quite ill to be honest. Palpatine coming back from the dead again and again using cloned bodies? A resurrected Darth Maul? The final duel in Return Of The Jedi was ruined for me when I discovered that Luke and Vader have actually faced each other dozens of times before in the Expanded Universe.

I'll wait and see on the Force Unleashed. The idea of Vader training a secret apprentice to kill Palpatine does have a cool ring to it. After all, Palpatine is the man who took everything from Vader. But most likely the devs will do something stupid that will have us Star Wars fans up in arms (I dunno... like the Apprentice is actually a clone of Vader or something). Wait and see we shall...

Well, I am not really a Star Wars fan even if I kinda like most of the fiction and movies so canon isn't really important to me. Force Unleashed to me seems like Devil May Cry with a Star Wars backdrop, it will hopefully do everything you really would want to do as a Jedi.

But on the other hand my rage at the Narnia movies is endless so I can sympathize with the Star Wars fanboys. THE ARE COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINT, THE ENTIRE BOOK IS A FRIGGING ANALOGY.

I agree 100% on the midi-clorians. To quote Vader in a Robot Chicken Episode: "...and the Force? Well that's just microscopic bacteria in you bloodstream called midi-clorians."

It completely ruined the concept of the Force. For me, anyway.

For me, every work of art or a consumer product must stand on its own. Overall, I really liked the original trilogy, although there was many things in it that I did not like. This does in no way predispose me to like anything related to Star Wars. If another product has some of the elements that I enjoyed in the original trilogy, I am certainly more likely to like it as well, but it will need a lot more than that. For example, Knights of the Old Republic was very much its own man.

I do not believe that the fans own a franchise, or have any say in what is done with it. Franchises are merely collections of PRODUCTS, that we are supposed to CONSUME, so that other people could have nice JOBS and make a lot of MONEY and feel important. Luckily, this works both ways, or at least it should. Fans should feel no need to like a product or buy it, just because it has a familiar name. Nor should people feel indignation or be conflicted over a bunch of consumer products.

Not a bad article, but it still never ceases to amaze me that people can swallow up the crap that is the Expanded Universe but not be willing to accept the prequel trilogy. For me, the Expanded Universe novels were far more of a departure from the Star Wars I knew and loved than the prequel trilogy was.

The Zahn books are often held up as the cream of the Expanded Universe crop, but the style of them was nothing like the movies. This is because of one critical oversight that a lot of Expanded Universe authors make: Star Wars isn't about the science fiction, it's a classic story that just happens to be set in space. With the central plot device revolving around clones, Zahn made it a science fiction story rather than a Star Wars one. Some of you at this point will be pointing out that the second prequel is called "Attack of the Clones"; this is true, but the difference I'm focusing on is that the Clones in the movies are not used as a plot device. Yes, an army of robots fighting an army of clones is pure science fiction, but the truth is that these armies need not be robots or clones for the Star Wars story to still work: they science fiction elements are not central plot devices. This, to me, is the main difference between the movies and the Expanded Universe, and in turn the main similarity between the original movies and the prequels.

Finally, I apologise for going off on a fanboy tangent, but... Midichlorians are often cited as the part that ruined the prequels for them, but nowhere is it stated that they are the Force. It's really just Qui-Gon's belief in the Living Force that leads him to believe they're prominent. Even then, they only "speak" to Jedis, telling them the will of the Force. They don't give the Jedi his power themselves. This is why Anakin's high midichlorian count is not reason enough for the Jedi Council to begin his training. It's a common misunderstanding that really frustrated me.

Mr. Taylor - think of it this way: Yoda only had a couple months to impart *all* 'Jedi secrets' to Luke, and he didn't even really complete that much. It was essentially a drawn out 80's training montage with more drama. So yea, his Force-fu was rather weak. The only reason he 'defeated' Vader was 'cuz the old man had a character flaw - he didn't *want* to fight Luke. Luke didn't want to believe this thing could be his father - hence the Malice with which he fought. It was a Morale thing, not a Force thing. Recall the Emperor wiping the floor with Luke, with what amounts (in the EU) as a 1st level force ability (call it an Elitist insult - one that no-one got until they realized just how powerful the Force really was).

Vader (Anakin Skywalker) had years and years of tutelage under the most powerful force users in galactic history, and he was right up there among them in power levels. So yea, if he found the right student, and found him early enough that he could be molded (you must .. *unlearn* that which you have learned!), of course he can bring down a Star Destroyer.

Luke was *nothing* until he as well, found *real* revelation.

Also, in a meta-sense - keep in mind that there was no way in hell George Lucas could have imagined the Force to all its corners in 1976, and even then, there was no way in hell he could bring the effects needed to the silver screen without looking *ridiculously* cheesy. He could not have done the prequels before the originals.

I could care less about midi-chlorians. Again, they weren't referenced in the original trilogies because they didn't need to be. The only force users left in the galaxy weren't Tech nerds who cared about the *how* of the Force, they were spiritualists. They concerned themselves with the *why* of the Force. Therefore, before the trilogy, the EU had no basis for even knowing about them - all the people who did were *dead*, their literature *destroyed*.

the prequels sucked because.. they sucked! The writing was childish, the dialogue pretty bad, and the acting .. *shudder*.. can't even call it that, really. The sequels were Pop Trash at its finest. Made to sell.

I agree on most part with all of you. I really just got overwhelmed with the expanded universe, even though I think most of it is pretty cool. It's hard to consistently come up with more content, and sometimes that content makes you shake your head...sort of like Rocky 5.

As for the prequels, I thought the stories were great. Most of it fell in line with the originals. I really thought all the computer animation really took away from the movie though. It just didn't look "real" and I think that was really a great part of the originals. And for those people complaining that Anakin was a chump in the prequels, he was supposed to be, so stop complaining (not directed at anyone here).

MAJOR SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED IN THIS LINK:

It (apparently) explains the Secret Apprentice's origin.

http://io9.com/5020966/secret-origins-of-vaders-apprentice-and-dr-horrible

IU also used to be a big fan of the expanded universe however after episode one I kind of stopped reading them in disgust, I could not believe that Mr George Lucas, a man who i had held in such high regard would ride rough shod over what was a large piece of my childhood, the next two films got better and i would even go so far as to say the third actually felt like a star wars film.

Spaced said it best though regarding Star Wars for the new generation "This is it for you, this jumped up firework display of a toy advert!"

Finnish(ed):

I do not believe that the fans own a franchise, or have any say in what is done with it. Franchises are merely collections of PRODUCTS, that we are supposed to CONSUME, so that other people could have nice JOBS and make a lot of MONEY and feel important. Luckily, this works both ways, or at least it should. Fans should feel no need to like a product or buy it, just because it has a familiar name. Nor should people feel indignation or be conflicted over a bunch of consumer products.

Thing is, Star Wars wouldn't be as big as it is if it was just another product. In intentionally tried to become a new mythology.

The real question is how mythology should be handled in this day and age where even mythology can be a product. Maybe Silicon Knights should be paying the governments of the Scandinavian countries a licensing fee for _Too Human_? And let's not even talk about people named Christopher...

Being a writer myself, I've always felt a little bit of sympathy for George Lucas and his changes to the dubious canon he established in The Original Trilogy. With Fans desperately latching onto a single line of dialogue and the EU authors attatching endless amounts of significance to every little thing in the original 3 films it must be very difficult to see where his original intention with the story still resides.

I'm not defending his terrible plot decisions (Midichlorians, Gungans and other stupidity) or his intense special effects wankery, I'm defending his right to his story. He created it, he has a right to change it, and we are not in any position to tell him other wise, the story does not belong to us, it belongs to him. I really don't think there is anything wrong with Lucas wanting to smooth over inconsistancies between The Original Trilogy and The Prequel Trilogy.

If anything, George Lucas's biggest problem is his inability to "kill his darlings" and his head has grown so big that he thinks craziness like Gungans and bacterial force power are a good idea. He doesn't acknowledge that he's written a horrid script, or that he's very bad at dialogue. He doesn't let actors do what they do best and he won't let anyone tell him that he's "doing it wrong".

I can't help but wonder if all these people telling Lucas that he can't tell his story the way he wants has made him more resentful and more unwilling to take legitimate criticism in some of the more technical aspects of his storytelling. People tell him "Why did you make Anakin a kid in Episode 1, isn't he supposed to be an adult" instead of "Your dialogue was terrible and you made some bad pacing decisions." I just don't see this as the best form of criticism and Episodes 1-3 have bigger problems than some of their minor slights to your precious "canon".

I am a mighty necromancer!

It's funny. Just recently I pondered why is it that I feel so much inclination to play SWTOR when it launches (along with replaying the two KOTORs as much as possible) whereas I find less and less inclination to try and give the CGI Clone Wars another chance (though lord knows I've given it plenty of chances before I quite simply gave up in boredom at all the cliches).

I wouldn't say that it's impossible to make the prequel era good. In fact, I felt myself immensely attracted to the over-the-top depictions of Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars which were animated and much more visceral. After all - if this is to be the new direction of the franchise, why not go full on out with it and make it as engaging as possible? But then the new CGI Clone Wars came out and pretty much shat all over that idea and now it seems every last fan of the CGI spits on the animated Clone Wars because 'they're too unrealistic.' Like we hadn't passed the point of unrealistic at the mention of midichlorians or frigging Jar-Jar Binks being named bombad General or later a damn ambassador or wait...at the point of lightsabers themselves. <.<

So I think there's a perfectly feasible way to make that time period work in an engaging and visceral way. But for now I'm not seeing it and what little good stuff that comes out from the whole era of Obi-Wan, Anakin and such will far more likely come from outsourced artists, such as Tartakovsky, at least that's how I feel it. The rest will just stay as drab and uninteresting to me as usual, the CGI style being pretty exemplary to me of this.

But ah well...at least I got the Old Republic era to look forward to. Here's to hoping all of the Tales of the Jedi, KOTOR 1 and 2 get sown together into a lovely history with SWTOR. :)

EDIT: The hell...1 year old? How did this one get displayed at the bottom of the frontpage and thus beg for me to reanimate it from the grave? :D

 

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