A House Divided

Star Wars fans divided blog post nerds

No, I’m not talking about the current state of American politics. I’m talking about Star Wars.

I am an…avid lover of Star Wars, this you know. So is my cousin. But when it comes to The Force Awakens we have vastly differing opinions. Mine is one of love and effervescence, his of skepticism and tentative acceptance. My love of the Star Wars Universe is not more fervent or deep or borderline obsessive than his and yet, get us talking about The Force Awakens and Disney canon novels and we seem to be at odds.

He is not alone in his opinion and neither am I. And yet, he and I sat in the same living room when word came down the pipes that there were going to be more Star Wars in our near and extended future. The excitement, the childlike joy in both our eyes was the same. That nerdy, little twinkle lives in both of us. So what gives?

I recently came across a new Twitter friend who was as equally dismayed about The Force Awakens as my cousin, but unlike my cousin, who is very excited about the upcoming Rogue One, this friend was not at all excited about it.

han-solo-carbonite-image.jpg

His Star Wars lives in a glass box. It’s incased in carbonite, in perfect hibernation, not to be touched or tainted by the outside world. Many fan people experience this when their favorite things get rebooted (i.e., Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, JEM, and most recently Ghostbusters.) Just like the mint condition toys that remain in their boxes with no scratches or scruff, so too should the movies remain. In some instances I agree and yet when it comes to Star Wars, I absolutely do not.

Star Wars is not the pristine tale of a perfect world. It doesn’t live high up on a shelf never to be touched by human hands. The Force is messy. The Jedi are flawed. The Dark Side is tempting. The stories of Star Wars are as scratched up as the humans who enjoy them.

Some poor sad soul out there might tell you that even the original trilogy is imperfect. Most fans will openly admit that the prequels are far from perfect. And there are some that call the new age of Star Wars an abomination, nothing more than a ploy by the House of Mouse to sell toys and keep us all tethered to consumerism.

Shaun-White-sell-out.gif

One could argue that all art, once it becomes popular, wrestles with that very dilemma. Make money and “sell out” or retain “freedom” by appealing only to the cult collective. Star Wars manages to walk the line between mainstream and absolutely nerdvana. No small feat.

Perhaps some of the fanboys and fangirls who aren’t excited about new stories from the Star Wars Universe are afraid. They’re afraid that what they love will be tainted by Muggles who don’t have the deep abiding love of that galaxy far, far away and are only in it for the pop culture references.

To be honest, I do have to bite my tongue when some poor little Muggle girl, who knows nothing, starts misquoting my beloved Star Wars.

giphy.gif

But it also opens the door for me to maybe make a new friend and to be a part of her story, even if it’s just to say “So, you like Star Wars, huh?”

Star Wars is and has always been about bringing people together. It’s a story of family and heroes and darkness and light. It’s all the best things put on a screen. And I count all Star Wars as my top favorite movies because they’re all connected for me. Sure, I have favorites. But the connecting story and the greater world of the Star Wars Universe is what I love. And if I get to see any part of that world, I find myself to be incandescently happy!!

After all, I am, at times, as poorly written as the love scenes in Episode II. I am, at times, as annoying as Jar-Jar Binks in Episode I. I, at times, obtain moments of triumph and victory like in the Throne Room in Episode IV. And I even, at times, experience heart break like with Han’s death in Episode VII.

We are human. And it’s easy for us to pick things apart. It’s easy to read into everything and see the bad and miss the good. I’m saying…be messy with me. You don’t have to love all Star Wars equally. But keep an open mind for what the future of the Star Wars Universe might hold for us. Allow it to play in the mud.

Don’t you think there were fans out there who were not eager for a sequel to Star Wars? People who thought it would suck? People who thought George was just out to capitalize on his success and make more money? Who cares if he was, we got The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi out of the deal. What would have happened if Star Wars had stayed in it’s glass box, high up on a shelf? Perish that thought!

NITC Book Club: Star Wars Edition

wishing you a

This week I’m reading the first book in The Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson, Jedi Search.

Don’t forget (as if you could) none of these are official canon anymore. So the events in these books are mere Legends. Simply good stories that may or may not have happened. I like to think of them as an alternate universe.

In Jedi Search we see the New Republic desperately trying to create alliances across the galaxy and bring new planets into their governmental system. Han and Chewie are sent on a diplomatic mission to Kessel (yes that is the very same Kessel that Han references in A New Hope) where they run into an old smuggling associate, one who has a grudge against Solo. Their mission goes awry and they are forced to work down in the dark spice mines of Kessel.

 Luke is on a mission to seek out new Jedi to teach about the ways of the Force while also trying to advance Leia’s force training. Jaina and Jacen Solo have returned from their seclusion as sassy 2 year old children who barely know their parents and are finding out their own force sensitivity.

Meanwhile, a new threat emerges. One that could turn the tide in the fight against the remnants of the Empire. A threat set into motion 10 years before by the deceased Grand Moff Tarkin himself.

image

 

May the Force be with you…always!

NITC Book Club: Star Wars Edition

wishing you a

This week I’m finishing up the Thrawn Trilogy with Timothy Zahn’s The Last Command.

As you know, I’m not one to spoil so I’m not gonna give anything away for those who haven’t read this yet. So here’s what I will tell ya!

Timothy Zahn is a master of story telling and he keeps, so faithfully, to the spirit of the original trilogy that thinking about how this story is now just a “Legend” and not true canon, makes me a little sad. Mara Jade is a seminal character to any fan of the Expanded Universe. And if there’s one character that should make the transfer to the new stuff, it should 100% be her… you hear that Disney!!! Give us Mara Jade.

1433183088414

Still have a lot of reading left to do before the Journey to The Force Awakens officially begins in Sept.

8 Months Till Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Yes, the waiting is getting harder and harder. Especially with the new trailer out this week. Which, if you haven’t seen yet, must mean you are living in a cave on a desert planet far, far away. For those of us who aren’t a crazy, old man, take another look:

Yeah, so patience isn’t exactly my strong suit. But I’m trying really hard to bask in the pre-Force Awakens world of Star Wars. There are so many wonderful stories to read and watch in the waiting. So while I’m working on my patience, I will be doing these things.

Star Wars Digital

The_Complete_Saga_RE_RENDERED_by_LifeJuiceSFF

Show of hands, who will be purchasing both Star Wars trilogies on a digital platform regardless of whether or not you own DVD versions of the films. Count me it. Not only is this the most everlasting version of Star Wars available to us, there are also brand new behind the seasons featurettes available. And if you are anything like me, you consume new Star Wars information like a ream of frozen Thin Mints.

Star Wars Expanded Universe: Legends

thrawn_trilogy

By now we all know that the entire Expanded Universe has been relegated to Star Wars Legends to make room for all the new stories as well as the story line of the new films, but that doesn’t diminish the amazing work of all the authors who penned the Legends. Like Timothy Zahn and James Luceno and Drew Karpyshyn and John Jackson Miller and many, many more. So in the ether of the waiting zone I will be diving head first into the Expanded Universe starting with Timothy Zahn’s epic Thrawn Trilogy! And hopefully getting through as many as I can. Because after December I will be focusing on…

New Star Wars Expanded Universe

20140426-021001

All of the new novels that are now considered canon. Not to say I won’t return to the Legends, because, as I said, they are amazing stories that deserve to be read. But I want to fully immerse in what Lucasfilm and the Disney overlords are considering part of the official Star Wars Universe. There are many new titles coming out not only this year, but in the works in order to start making use of the word Expanded. Right now the timeline is a little thin, especially given how long the previous Legends timeline is. But if I start soon, then I won’t be as behind as I am with Legends. So there’s no time like the present. The only current canon novel I’ve read so far is A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. Which leads me to…

Star Wars Rebels

star-wars-rebels

The explosive Disney XD cartoon that is not just for kids takes place in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It is a great way to stay connected to the Star Wars Universe in the space between big budget films and the story being told is very strong! If you don’t want to watch week to week, go ahead and start with…

Star Wars Clone Wars

Star-Wars-The-Clone-Wars

If you don’t like to wait for new episodes to come out, then Clone Wars is what you want. This is what I’m currently watching. And as sad as it is when a great show ends, I love being able to just power through and fully immerse in the experience of a show. And Clone Wars is truly a wonderful show. The Cartoon Network series takes place, obviously, during the Clone Wars in the space between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. It does an amazing job of bridging that gap, not only by giving us actual stories from the legendary Clone Wars, but also in Anakin’s decent and temptation towards the Dark Side of the Force. Something believed to be missing from Revenge of the Sith for avid Star Wars fans. Clone Wars boasts of strong villains like Asajj Ventress and Savage Opress, new heroes like the young padawan Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex as well as all the characters we love from the prequels, Obi-Wan, Anakin, C3PO, R2D2, Padme.

Star Wars Comics

Marvel

Star Wars comics are returning home to Marvel Entertainment. From 1977-1987, Marvel held the property. Dark Horse got a hold of them after Marvel and they have been responsible for all the modern Star Wars comics that we know and love. But this is the year that Star Wars returns to Marvel, where it always belonged (not to belittle the amazing work Dark Horse did for the comic universe.) With Disney owning both Marvel and Star Wars, it makes sense to keep it all in the family. Now, all the comics coming out of this Mavel/ Star Wars partnership are considered current canon so this blurb could technically belong in the New Expanded Universe column. But comic books are an entity in and of themselves. I love comic books, but have a hard time keeping up with weekly serials. I tend to gravitate towards books or graphic novels. But if comics are your thing or you want to expand your knowledge of the SWEU, then you should start with Lando #1 which hits the racks in July.

There you go. Plenty of Star Warsian things to do while we eagerly (and patiently) wait for December to roll around.

What will you be doing while you’re waiting?

Star Wars Episode VII: 1 Year To Go

star-wars-birthday-party-logo-

Today marks one year until Star Wars Episode VII hits the theaters. And if you’re a Star Wars nerd like me, then you have been waiting with baited breath for each and every scrap of news that’s come out. But we have to beware, everyone. There’s a lot of false prophecy out there that you must ignore. So to clear things up, here’s what we know to be true.

THE DIRECTOR

5d045ddaa62227dcb0527d540db13b50

A little over 2 years ago when the news first broke that Disney had purchased the Star Wars Empire and that three new movies were slated to join the epic saga, the first thing on everyone’s mind was who’s going to direct it? With George Lucas stepping away, we knew that The Maker wasn’t going to be in charge. And to all of us who lovingly endured the more painful moments of the prequels (there are plenty of redeeming qualities) we all knew this could be a really good thing.

Once that was established, the hunt was officially on. And the amazing thing to think about is how most of today’s directors have been directly influenced by Star Wars. For a while, everyone from Joss Whedon (Avengers) to Jon Favreau (Iron Man) to JJ Abrams (Star Trek) was being considered to take the helm. As we all now know, in the end it would be JJ, who got hired to direct. JJ’s a big fan of the Star Wars movies.  So we know that the Universe we know and love is in the hands of someone who knows and loves it as well.

THE CAST

884f1329cacf0bc31abb79c2008adad2

After the director was hired, the next thought on people’s minds was “Who’s gonna be in it?” We all hoped and dreamed that the original trio would jump back into costume, but the years had passed and who knows if that was where the “powers that be” saw the story going. There’s was so much expanded universe (before the de-canonization) to work with. What direction would they go? But then came the news that they were back in the cockpit along with other classic favorites. And a list of new players that were seemingly perfect for this movie!! The cast list stands as follows according to IMDB:

-Mark Hamill

-Carrie Fisher

-Harrison Ford

-Domhnall Gleeson

-Andy Serkis

-Gwendoline Christie

-Adam Driver

-Oscar Isaac

-Lupita Nyong’o

-Warwick Davis

-Peter Mayhew

-Max von Sidow

-Kenny Baker

-Anthony Daniels

-John Boyega

-Maisie Richardson-Sellers

-Daisy Ridley

-Pip Andersen

-Dixie Arnold

-Crystal Clarke

This list looks especially good with so many female names upon it. There are officially 6 women cast in Episode VII which is a vast improvement on the 3 that were cast in the entire original trilogy!! And that’s including useless Aunt Beru… come on!! When the casting announcement first came out there were less women on the list and this sparked a national conversation about women in film as well as the online community known as the Legion of Leia helmed by Jenna Busch. Perhaps they were always going to cast more women, or perhaps they sensed that their offering just wouldn’t appease the countless female fans of the Star Wars universe. As it stands, there could always be more women in the Star Wars Universe, but this isn’t a discouraging list by any means. And who knows who may join in future additions to the saga. Methinks Disney knows the power of the female. And if they don’t they need only to head over to Legion of Leia to see how much we ladies truly love anything and everything SW!!!

THE TITLE

c6ab1715a66c57c7e4b4e20682382620

Next up.. what will it be called? There were mixed reactions to the names when it was released. But personally I think it’s a great title and can’t wait for The Force Awakens. And when you see it lined up with the existing film titles then it makes it sound even better!!! Take a look:

The Phantom Menace

Attack of the Clones

Revenge of the Sith

A New Hope

The Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi

The Force Awakens

I think it sounds pretty cool when mixed in with the other titles. What do you think?

THE PLOT

No_Spoilers

We actually don’t have much information beyond what we’ve seen in the trailer and mere speculation about what the plot of the film is. Right now the description on IMDB reads:

“A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi(1983).”

But false spoilers have been released almost weekly at this point with tid-bits of potential plot information. And while any hard core Star Wars fan knows the stories of Jaina, Jacen, Anakin and Ben, descendants of Han and Leia and Luke and Mara Jade, the council of Star Wars big wigs at Lucasfilm and Disney decided that the best course of action regarding the expanded universe would be to start fresh, thus giving themselves complete control over the stories released. And so everything that already existed in the EU would be relegated to Star Wars Legends and Disney would be able to keep the reins tight.

This was obviously disappointing news to avid Star Wars EU readers who greatly enjoyed the tales told by authors like Alan Dean Forester (who wrote the very first EU novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye), Timothy Zahn (Thrawn trilogy), L. Neil Smith (The Lando Calrissian Adventures), Michael A. Stackpole (X-Wing series) and many more. But at the end of the day, Disney has shown that it knows it’s properties well and if their handling of Marvel is any indication, they know exactly what to do with them. So this reader remains hopeful that whatever comes out of the Disney juggernaut will not only be faithful to the Star Wars we know and love, but it will also be exciting and action packed.

THE MUSIC

John Williams is doing the music!! And this isn’t so much news as it is confirmation of awesomeness. When a Star Wars movie gets made, it better have Williams on board or else it just wouldn’t be right. So when it was announced that he would be returning to create the score for the new film, Star Wars fans, the world over, drew a sign of anticipated relief.

THE TRAILER

If you still haven’t seen the trailer for the new movie then I can only assume that you have just crawled out from an underground bomb shelter built in the 50’s and have emerged into our culture with no knowledge of what’s going on in our world. That’s simply the only explanation I can think of that makes any sense. But if it’s true and you haven’t make sure to catch it now…

With an entire year to go until this movie comes out, it’s going to be a long, hard wait. But Nerd in the City will continue to bring you monthly updates with only confirmed news until we get a little closer to the big day.

If I had to choose one thing to be nerdy for in the entire world, it’d be Star Wars. It was the first thing I ever geeked out about. So you can rest assured, gentle reader, that if you love Star Wars as much as I do that you are in exactly the right place!!!

2014-09-13 18.17.06

Make sure to check back on the 18th of every month for monthly Star Wars news!! And to make sure you don’t miss a minute… don’t forget to subscribe to Nerd in the City.

Nerd in the City Book Club

A New Dawn

by John Jackson Miller

image

Once Disney and co. decanonized all of the existing Star Wars novels, relegating them to “Star Wars Legends” they made quick work of ordering all the new novels that would take their place in the new canon alongside the movies and Star Wars: Clone Wars and the brand new Star Wars: Rebels.

A New Dawn picks up about a year before the new Disney XD cartoon, that’s already been picked up for a second season. IT follows future crew mates, Kanan Jarrus an ex-Jedi just trying to survive in the aftermath of the Jedi purge and Hera Syndulla, an impressive Twi’lek pilot with secrets of her own.

Star Wars is always at it’s best when unlikely allies come together to take down a big bad that is doing unspeakable evil. This novel sits comfortably in a world we know and love, employing references to Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine and even Grand Moff Tarkin. Yet it has it’s own story to tell and creates a lovely lead in to the TV show that is just on the horizon (episode 1 has already aired and will be re-aired on ABC at the end of Oct. with a special scene featuring Vader himself, voiced…of course, by James Earl Jones. Don’t miss it!)

It’s great to see a strong female character, which Star Wars has never had a problem portraying. They’ve only ever had too few of them to portray. A problem I hope to see disappear in the new film as well as in Rebels.

A lovely gentleman at the Del Rey booth gave me a copy of this book, officially making him my favorite person at New York Comic Con this year!!

Get it here.