Book Review: Choices of One

I like that I started 2015 off with a Star Wars novel.  I find that somehow fitting, seeing as this year is going to be a huge Star Wars year, what with the amping up of The Force Awakens.

Mei-Mei suggested Choices of One (by Timothy Zahn) to me almost 1 years ago in a random post, and Null definitely mentioned it as well…so thanks to you both – it somehow ended up on my reading list!  What makes it choices of oneso spectacular that it’s my first book of 2015 is that I have a reading list that ranges anywhere from 30-40 books on it at a time and I use random.org to pick the book I read next.  I had 34 books on my list, therefore giving me a 3% chance of actually getting this novel.  Anyway, I found that interesting because I’m looking for reasons that 2015 is going to be awesome and Star Wars filled.

I liked this novel SO much better than my last Legends book (still trying not to write EU), Dawn of the Jedi.  Which is funny, because if I think about what I’m looking for in a Star Wars novel it’s generally something that happens either way before the movies or way after the movies and therefore has no connection to the main characters.  Instead, Choices of One takes place between ANH and ESB and involves the three main heroes as well.

The first third of the book was boring for me.  I struggled with getting into it and found the character interactions between Han, Leia, and Luke to be halting and didn’t flow naturally.  On the flip side, I enjoyed the scenes with the commanders on the Star Destroyer and the scenes with Mara Jade…they kept me reading when I wanted to give up.  I forgot how much I missed reading about Mara.  Though loyal to the Empire and the Emperor at this point, there are still glimpses of the woman we will see her become through her relationship with Luke.

As the novel went on, I thought our three heroes began to find their groove and Zahn did a better job of reflecting what we saw from their characters in the movie onto his paper.  Particularly, I thought he did an amazing job with Luke.  At this point, Luke is not as serious or knowledgeable of the Force as he is by the end of the OT.  He brought to life a struggle Luke had with everyone thinking he is a competent Jedi just because he has a lightsaber and blew up the Death Star, contrasted with how he feels that he knows absolutely nothing except the small training from Ben Kenobi.  I loved reading it and found it weirdly relatable as it can happen to many of us, especially if we start a new job.

When the novel started to all come together toward the end and we find out that Mara, the Hand of Judgment (a group of stormtrooper deserters), and the Rebels are all going to be at the same planet at the same time, I got a little nervous.  I was afraid of Luke and Mara having an interaction pre-Heir to the Empire and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle that.  Thankfully, Zahn threw them in a situation together where they actually do not have a conversation and only briefly glimpse each other.  It’s hard to say too much without spoiling the novel for anyone that wants to read it, but suffice it to say that my fears were unwarranted.

Pros:

  • Overall, Zahn did a good job with keeping the three heroes true to form with personality quirks and attitudes.
  • I liked that there were a lot of larger issues and questions that were brought to life and made you think. For instance, Han’s moral struggles at the end of the novel when he is incognito as an Imperial Officer.  He faced a decisions where he did not have to help the Imperials in their emergency situation and they would all die, which is a benefit to the Rebel cause, or he could help them because in a sense they were a ship full of innocent people facing a common enemy.
  • Null would be happy about this: I actually really, really enjoyed all chapters that had to do with the back cover choices of oneHand of Judgment, a band of deserter stormtroopers who are this murky shade of grey. Are they good or bad?  I loved reading personalities!  In stormtroopers!  Mind blown.  But seriously, that was something I didn’t expect to like so much and I’m actually considering adding Allegiance to my book list because of how much I enjoyed them.
  • It was great revisiting Thrawn and Mara Jade again (though separately). I was afraid of overkill on Thrawn, but he was written in there just enough that there was no overload.
  • My favorite chapters/sections to read was actually Commander Pellaeon’s storyline on the Star Destroyer Chimaera. I loved how he wanted to take everything one step further on his job and showed that there was competency within the Empire.
  • I liked the setup it played between ANH and ESB. For instance, the relationship and conversations Han has with General Rieekan explains more of ESB.  Little moments like that were a nice touch.

Cons:

  • The first third of the book dragged. I couldn’t get into it and was frustrated whenever I had to read chapters with the three heroes.  I felt like it took a while for Zahn to get into the groove of depicting them well, but it could also have been my resistance to actually reading them.
  • It was easily guessable. Don’t go into this novel actually hoping for a surprise at the end.  This is mara jade choices of oneno Game of Thrones and I had figured everything out by the halfway point.  Still, there’s something to be said that I kept reading even if I pretty much knew what was going to happen.
  • Is it just me or was Mara a little less harsh in this book? This could very well just be me since I haven’t read the original Thrawn Trilogy in 10+ years, but I have a distinct memory of her being a little less reasonable.
  • The Luke/Mara scene where they almost-meet-but-not-quite seems a liiiiiitle far-fetched. I was obviously happy they didn’t meet but it still seemed slightly unbelievable.  I also thought it out of character for Mara to just brush aside the name “Skywalker” that she references Vader was obsessively hunting.  I feel like Mara would have done a more thorough investigation on who he is if the name linked to someone Vader was searching for.

Overall, I was much happier with this novel than with Dawn of the Jedi.  It showed that I can read Legends books with the main characters and not give up entirely.  I would rate this 3.5/5 stars.  I liked it more than average, but I couldn’t love it enough to give it 4 stars.

Rumor Has It and the EU

Oh my, oh my, aren’t the rumors just abounding?  Every time you log into the internet or Twitter or even just type in “Star Wars” into Google, you get more “news” then you can handle.

There are, of course, complaints out there from die hards saying that until they hear it from Disney/Lucasfilm/starwars.com, they’re not going to believe it, etc, etc.  Well, guess what?

I LIKE THE RUMORS.

I think they’re so much fun!  It sparks my imagination and I start thinking faster than lightspeed about how each little bit of news could tie together with the other news I heard.

Current rumors that have not yet been confirmed:

  1. All 3 Heroes are returning to the Star Wars franchise (Luke, Leia, and Han).
  2. John Williams will return to compose the score.
  3. Episode VII will focus on the offspring of our heroes.
  4. Various actors both in Star Wars and that have never been in Star Wars would now like to be in Episode VII.  Ok, not really a rumor, but still something that keeps popping up.

I think this superbly hilarious and great.  People can’t stop talking about it, myself included (even though my talking about it means I’m just writing on my blog and talking to myself).

As the movie gets closer and closer to a release date, we’re going to hear more and probably have a basic understanding of the plot for VII.  It really depends on how well Disney can keep a lid on spoilers that determines how much speculation will continue.  I just can’t imagine this being like the “old days” where you could call a movie Blue Harvest and try to get away with not leaking anything to the public.  The internet makes it all too easy for a crew member on the set to release a little bit of “anonymous” information and wham bam…we now know everything.

Keep in mind, I was young when TPM came out in theaters and I remember the internet was not the go-to place for information on future movies yet.  Through AOTC and ROTS, I kept up with rumors on the internet but I still don’t think the Internet really had a cohesive place to find news as I now do with Twitter.  This is more of a new and exciting experience for me: sifting through these nuggets and trying to make sense of it all.  I’m enjoying myself immensely as I ride the wave of waiting to hear what the next confirmed news will be.

As I was driving into work this morning and thinking about the rumors, I started thinking about the EU.  Naturally, this question has already popped up many times, but how do these new movies work with the EU?  Most fans are in accord in thinking the new trilogy will probably have to do with the offspring of the heroes.  If Luke also has offspring, that means he’s with a woman, and they will probably have him married to someone not named Mara Jade.

What happens to the thousands of EU novels?  I think common opinion is that now they will be shunted aside and that when they say VII will be an “original” story…they actually mean: forget about the EU because it will not take any place within these movies.

But my larger question actually doesn’t relate to that.  I’m more interested in jumping 40 years, or even 20 years ahead, and see how the current EU is holding up.  Up until October, I think one of the reasons the genre did so well is because people were hungry for more Star Wars in a world where we didn’t expect anything more from Lucas/movies.

I don’t think the EU will disappear, but what we have out right now and will possibly completely conflict with the movies, will those books still be selling in 20-40 years?  Or will they eventually become the dreaded “out of print”?  (Though we could argue with books going the way of the kindle and nook, books may never be out of print)

Will the current EU be forgotten?  With new fans and a new generation being brought into Star Wars with these new movies, will the majority of new fans laugh at the EU as we know it and feel like they are antiquated?  Will there be a division between those that remember Mara Jade and those that think it’s ridiculous that we’re hanging onto that hokey religion?

Standalone

(Hi-does anyone think this picture on top of the blog is too much?  I realize that most blogs have a big picture like this, but after having nothing up there for so long, it feels overwhelming!)

Has everyone heard that the standalone films are official now?  Right?  Yes?  Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Disney and LucasFilm will release standalone films that are separate from the trilogy.  He said in a statement:

“I can confirm to you today that in fact we are working on a few standalone films, Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are both working on films derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga.  We still plan to make Star Wars 7, 8, and 9 roughly over a six-year period of time, starting in 2015. But there are going to be a few other films released in that period, too.”

At first, all I could think about was how he said that the films are going to be “derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga.”  My imagination exploded because I took it the wrong way.  In my head – every character is part of the overall saga so I assumed that they would go in a completely different direction by making up new characters.  We could have spin-offs on characters 1,000 years before the Prequels, smuggler/underworld characters during the saga, even bring to life some of the Clone Wars or EU characters (think Asajj Ventress or Mara Jade).

Mara Jade

Mara Jade

Around 15 minutes later I realized that they wouldn’t do that – at least, not at first.  It doesn’t make sense.  If you want people to come to these Star Wars movies, then give them characters they know and want to know more about.  By also dropping in the name of Larry Kasdan (Lawrence Kasdan who was involved in ESB and ROTJ) , I think the first standalone movie will focus on a character from the Original Trilogy.

There are tons of rumors out there saying that the first movies will feature Boba Fett or Yoda.

“Finally!” fans on the interverse are saying, “We get to find out more about the most elusive characters like Boba and Yoda.”  Unfortunately, I agree.  I think the first standalone will feature a prominent character from the saga.

Who would I want to see get their own movie?  I tried to look at this in two ways: (1) Realistically and (2) Anything is possible.

Realistically

  1. Oola/Aayla Secura.  More twi’leks please!  I love these species and I think men will go as well to see some possible slippage.
  2. Lando Calrissian.  Scoundrel, handsome, dashing.  Tries to steal Princess Leia right under Han’s nose.  Used to own the Falcon.  That could be an awesome movie.
  3. Darth Maul.  Most terrifying looking bad guy, had only a few lines in TPM, awesome lightsaber skills, and dies too soon.  TCW has not done him justice.  Let’s get a REAL back story here.
  4. Boba Fett.  I’m not as fascinated as others are with him, but I do want to see some underworld/bounty hunter action.
  5. Bail Organa.  This way, you can bring in young Leia and her childhood without focusing purely on her.  Also could make some nice West Wing type movie with politics and finding out more about the Rebellion’s roots and foundation.
Oola

Oola

Anything is Possible

  1. First Sith/Jedi era.  I know this isn’t a person, but obviously they would make up someone to focus on.  This is the era referenced when Ki-Adi-Mundi says, “The Sith have been extinct for over a millennium!” So the era that was over 2000 years before TPM – I want to see that!
  2. Mara Jade.  Oh, please…give us fans a bone!  Let us see something from the Thrawn books!  Even if they don’t want to tread into the novels, at least give her a pre-Luke movie.
  3. Cad Bane and the underworld.  Yup, I still want to see some smuggler/bounty hunter action in the movies.  But Cad Bane should be in it.
  4. Darth Maul.  Yes, I also still want to see more of him regardless of which list he’s on.
Cad Bane

Cad Bane

Notice how Yoda was not on either list.  I don’t know; I just am not interested in seeing anymore of him.  I feel like he’s had a good run and I want to keep him as is: the best Jedi Master with a shroud of mystery.  It’s kind of like when I found out more about Dumbledore’s background – I was like Harry, sad to realize he was only human and that *gasp* other people actually didn’t like him.  But…but…he’s Dumbledore!  And that’s what would happen if Yoda got a movie.  I would be sad and disappointed that Yoda may have dark sides to his past or that not everything is as it seems.

But another thought arose when I was thinking about these standalone movies.

Is it too much?

I never, EVER thought I would say you can have too much of Star Wars.  In some ways, I still believe this.  But it’s almost an oversaturation as these movies will be released in between the trilogy movies.  This could play out really well if it’s done right (which everyone is hoping will be the case) or it could backfire and the hype for the trilogy may die down.  This has never been done before with the movies – we always had a Star Wars movie and knew a sequel was on its way.   I think it could succeed if they stick with simple standalones that really are just good movies on their own and not too tied into the Skywalker saga or what we know.  Don’t create a movie with the possibility of expansion or sequels with the character because then you have two ongoing series at the same time and I think that will cause confusion or just exhaustion from viewers.

Sometimes these standalone movies just reek of desperation/cash grabbing and it’s a little disappointing.  I’m trying to keep an open mind but it’s SO HARD when you’re inundated day after day with new Star Wars rumors and I can feel myself just getting tired.  Some of me just wants to say, “Hey, give me the real stuff Disney.  Just tell me what’s true before I have to sit through 3 days of tweets about rumor that may or may not be real.”

Am I being a spoiled fan?  After thinking we’ll never get Star Wars movies again and being petulant about that, now I have what I wished for and instead I’m whining about the possibility that the standalone movies will suck (great word, I know).

My Thoughts on Disney Acquiring Lucasfilm

Ok, so I’ve had a night to think about this, and it’s still huge news.  I can’t deny it.  I also want to encourage my readers to comment and let me know what you think!  I can see my stats and I know a lot of people read my blog, but only a few of you comment and let me know what you think…and this is a BIG  topic in our world and I want to know what’s going on in other people’s brains.

I have so many thoughts on this topic, but I’m going to keep it as few as possible because otherwise, you all would be reading a 10 page essay.

Notice the computer desktop in the background!

When I first heard the news and posted, I was a little sad.  This is George Lucas giving away his baby and George Lucas, is, well, the Jedi Master!  Is this a giant mistake?  How could he?  Then, upon thinking about it some more, I began to realize that maybe this is the breath of fresh air the Star Wars universe needs.  If Disney plays their cards right, this could be a very good thing.   As I followed twitter, articles, and blogs, I rounded up what my thoughts are.  I listened to the live ForceCast last night and actually took notes as the questions I had poured through my brain.  I never take notes!  I mean, most of the time, anything I want to blog about can be kept in my head – but there was just too much going on yesterday.

In a nutshell, Disney told us that we are going to have so much more Star Wars stuff.  Merchandising galore.  George has kept such a tight rein on the merchandising and if you’ve noticed over the years, there’s been a lot of potential for so much MORE.  I think Disney will take full advantage of that.  Keep in mind – this could lead to a STAR WARS THEME PARK.  Man, oh, man, that would be amazing.  Universal Studios did an excellent job with the Harry Potter Theme Park.  Can you imagine what Disney could do with a park devoted to Star Wars?  There have been complaints that Disney already has too much Star Wars events/rides going on in their park…so let’s take that out and give Star Wars it’s own park.  Sounds AWESOME, in my opinion.

Disney envisions a Star Wars presence on its channel.  How do I feel about that?  Ick.  The Disney Channel…with Star Wars on it?  But then again, we all know I was firmly against the Clone Wars for about 2 years and then warmed up to it.  My thoughts were, what does this mean for Seth Green’s Star Wars Detours?  They haven’t found a channel yet, will they move to Disney?  I don’t know if I can see Detours on Disney.  Not much has been said about the live action series too, but Disney has the money to pull it off, right?  But then again, it also brings back us back to the point that the live action series will probably be on the Disney Channel and I’m having a really hard time envisioning this.  Maybe I’m just balking at the change, maybe it will work out…I’m not sure.  However, Disney also owns ABC so shifting the shows to ABC  is more favorable in my eyes.  And what about the Clone Wars?  Will it eventually be shifted to the Disney Channel?

I also read that Disney is going to focus more on social and mobile platforms instead of console games.  I know a lot of people who are not going to be happy with that.  What does this mean for Star Wars 1313?  Apparently, not much, and word has it that the project is proceeding as planned.  However, there is still no release date and the platforms haven’t been announced which makes me a little nervous.

Now, finally, let’s talk about Episode VII.  I hate that people are writing it “Episode 7” because that is not Star Wars.  Let’s stick with roman numerals, folks.  First – it’s not going to be directed by George Lucas or even a Lucas-picked director.  This is kind of huge.  George is apparently staying on as a consultant for the new trilogy.  It’s a new look and feel to Star Wars, and it almost kind of makes me think that Star Wars may be going the way of Star Trek.  Secondly – what does this mean for the EU?  I’m sure tons of people are questioning that right now.  Will they include some EU storylines?  Will it be based on the Skywalker family?  How many years after ROTJ will it take place?  All we know is that a LucasFilm source says it’s an “original story.”  So no Thrawn, guys, and no Mara Jade either, sorry.  If they do have some Skywalker elements in it, even if it takes place way after ROTJ, will they throw in something like: “Jedi Master Luke and his wife Mara Jade who founded the New Jedi Order…”?  I LOVE THIS SPECULATION.  I haven’t felt like this since before TPM came out.  And what is awesome about this, is that I feel like there was so much expectation when TPM was being made.  People went in there feeling like they had a vision of how Anakin’s life was going to play out and were severely disappointed when George presented them with something else.  Now, with VII, the slate is blank again and I really hope fans don’t start thinking of how THEY want it to be, and instead keep their minds open.

As an FYI: I am not big into spoilers, so as we head toward 2015 and Episode VII, I ask that for the sake of everyone reading this blog and the author, that you keep spoilers few and rare.  I like going into a movie theater and not knowing what’s going to happen, as I’m sure others do as well.

Overall – I am excited.  I get to start a new countdown to a new trilogy and what could be better?  New possibilities are opened because of this.  It gave me goosebumps all last night when I thought about this news.  I just got a little thrill in my stomach when I added a category on the right hand side of my blog labeled “Episode VII”.

Just remember, no matter what your views on this news is: KEEP CALM AND LOVE STAR WARS.  Oh, and Happy Halloween!