A Thought on Alderaan

I want to take a moment and share a couple thoughts I’ve been having about the fateful planet of Alderaan.

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When we are first introduced to Alderaan (in Episode IV: A New Hope) it is the home world of the one and only Princess Leia. Which in and of itself is enough of a reason for us to care  about it’s fate, but beyond that we know nothing. We don’t know what it looks like, whether it’s a rocky planet or a lush planet, whether the people get along on Alderaan. Do some people side with the Empire and others with the Rebellion? The fact is, in those early moments of A New Hope, we know so little about Alderaan. Therefore, the fact that an entire planet is destroyed is tragic, yes. But we are not deeply invested in Alderaan itself.

Jump ahead to the prequels and the Clone Wars and Rebels and the comic books and the many novelizations both canon and legend that are out there. Some are chalk full of information about the mysterious planet of Alderaan. And just like that, years later…posthumously, we come to care for it quite a lot.

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We see what it looks like in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. We know more about Bail Organa and the upstanding man he is. The kind of man who would take an orphaned Leia and raise her has his own. The kind of man that believed in the Jedi to the bitter end. The kind of man that died on the planet of Alderaan that sad day when Governor Tarkin chose to use it as an example to keep the galaxy in line.

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It’s no longer a mysterious planet, it’s a tragic, ill-fated planet. Obi-Wan sensing that not only an entire planet full of people had been killed, but an old friend as well means that much more when we start to see the whole picture.

In some story telling, we may be treated to the whole picture from the get go. Like say…starting at the beginning and working through to the end, but not with Star Wars. No, we start in the middle of the story. Not knowing about Darth Vader and his past as Anakin Skywalker, hero of the Clone Wars. Not knowing about Alderaan, the peaceful planet with the beloved Bail Organa on it.

The more the picture broadens, the deeper we understand. The more we care. It’s what I love so much about Star Wars. It’s what keeps the expanded universe going. It’s what makes it so interesting.

Catalyst STar Wars book club December 2016

I’m currently reading Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel with my Goodreads book club, in preparation for Rogue One’s release on Thursday night. It deals directly with the creation of the dreaded Death Star and we learn that there are other planets that were sacrificed in order to create that monstrous weapon. Another poignant reason to remember poor Alderaan. I went back and watched A New Hope with this brand new information on my mind and it made the destruction of Alderaan so much more tragic and unbearable.

Alderaan…you went too soon. And we didn’t understand at the time or care as deeply as we do now…in the aftermath. But yes…now we know!

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Nerd in the City Book Club is on Goodreads

Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in theaters, I attempted to make my way through the old canon of Expanded Universe materials. But since I only started in January of last year, I didn’t get very far. There is just so much to get through and I am a slow reader. I like to take my time with books and really live in them for a little while.

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So…my mission failed.

But I will not be discouraged by my lack of accomplishment. Instead I will embark on a new endeavor and I want you to come along for the ride. Over on Goodreads, I’ve started a Nerd in the City book club. 1 book a month…totally doable. And we are starting with The Phantom Menace novelization, which is the first canon book according to the Disney Reading Group.

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I know…it’s not original canon. And I know that some of you are still stinging from the pain of the disbanding of it. My very own cousin, Wesley, refuses to read any of the new stuff in solidarity with George Lucas’ vision for the Star Wars Universe.

But, reader…the past is the past. It’s time to move forward. The old canon isn’t going anywhere and if you happen to have about 15 years on your hands in the future, then you should definitely dive right in. I intend to finish that mission one day, when I’m old and gray and have nothing but time.

As for right now, I want to prepare myself for Star Wars: Episode VIII which will be released in December of 2017. If my calculations are correct and barring any unforeseen book releases, if we start reading The Phantom Menace in February, we should be reading The Force Awakens novelization by November 2017 which is complete perfection. What a great way to immerse in the SWU while we suffer the pain of waiting for the next movie. (Pain may be a bit strong.)

Anyways…the invitation is open. The virtual cookies have been baked and my virtual living room is very comfortable. So I hope you bring a friend!

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The Redemption of Kylo Ren

The question on everyone’s mind lately… “Is Kylo Ren Redeemable?” or as my guest blogger Michael Burgett queried yesterday: “Will Kylo Ren Be Redeemed?” If that question is not on your mind, then you just haven’t seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens enough! Go watch it again and then we can talk!

Reader, you know me by now. I’ve shared many an embarrassing story with you. I’ve told you about my dates and about my family and about my hopes and my dreams. I believe that you truly know me, in all my pie-in-the-sky optimism. So, of course, my answer to both the aforementioned questions would be yes. Yes, Kylo is redeemable and yes, he will be redeemed. In fact, I’d go further and say it is merely a matter of time till he is redeemed. And it is one scene in particular that gives me this hope for the son of Han Solo to find his way back to the Light.

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Han is leaving the Rebel base to go destroy Starkiller and confront his son who has turned so far from the path that Han, Leia and Luke had wanted for him. Leia and Han share a tender moment of goodbye, not knowing that it would be their last moment together. Leia says to Han “there is Light in him.” And as we know, this is a strong theme in the Star Wars universe. The presence of Light is more than just a touch of the good side…it is hope. Padme felt the Light in Anakin. Luke felt the Light in Darth Vader. That pull to the Light is a powerful feeling.

Often it is the Dark side that is given all the strength of power. And in the past we have witnessed the pull from the Light to the Dark in Anakin’s journey. Kylo’s journey, for us, starts out in the Dark with that sliver of Light still shining inside him. Light that he is desperate to eradicate and turn from.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. All that Light talk happened before Kylo kills his own father, our beloved Han Solo. Tell me something…does one deplorable act completely erase your humanity? Some might say yes, but I say no. (It’s a different story when it comes to the Emperor. Ask me about it sometime!) Kylo is still Leia’s son. And in the end if when Kylo comes back to the Light side, he will have to fully feel his actions on Starkiller base. The Dark side allows you to cloud your true feelings and boil them down into pure anger. But as any person who has experienced anger knows, there’s usually something else going on underneath it. And Supreme Commander Snoke knows this. He is pulling Kylo’s strings the way Emperor Palpatine pulled Anakin’s. The Dark side is manipulation and lies.

Now, I really like the point that Michael in his article yesterday. If this were just a villain, like Darth Vader was back in 1977, then we wouldn’t be having this argument. We don’t argue whether Hannibal Lecter will be redeemed or if Lord Voldemort will come back to the side of good wizardry in the end. But in 1983, when Return of the Jedi was released, George Lucas taught us that even a bad guy as bad as Darth Vader himself could find redemption and bring balance to the Force. Let’s not forget that lesson just because Kylo Ren has no prophecy to bring about his redemption.

We, the viewer, had no idea what history lay underneath Vader’s mask till the prequels came out in 1999. With Kylo, we know a little of his history, but none of his motivation. Why did he turn? What drew him to the Darkness? What lies about Darth Vader’s legacy has he been told? And if he finds out the truth about The Chosen One, will that make a difference?

All will be revealed in due time, reader. We may have to wait a few more months than we want to with Episode VIII being pushed from May 2017 to December 2017. But think of how happy your Star Wars friends will be to have another onslaught of delicious merchandise to acquire that Christmas. It’ll be so easy to shop! So in the end, the wait is worth it. And we can continue our speculation up until the very day when the truth is shared with us.

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In the meantime, I invite you to come join my Nerd in the City book club on Goodreads. So much delicious Star Wars Expanded Universe reading material to dive into and dissect!! Do not miss out!

Now What Do You Do?

If you haven’t yet seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, then I’d venture to say it’s only a matter of time till you do.

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The biggest pop culture event of all time…even the Muggles want to be a part of this. There’s a lot of new people discovering the wonderful world of Star Wars. Maybe they just never devoted the time to watch all 6 movies before (or 3 if you’re a purist.) Maybe they thought it was kid’s stuff, but now are discovering the truth.

Inevitably they’re gonna reach a point where they’re going to wonder…”Now what?” It always happens after the excitement and fervor of a new movie dies down. It happens to me after binge-watching a show or reading a great book series or watching a new Star Wars movie. It’s hard because all you (I) want to do is immerse in the fictional world you’ve (I’ve) just been a part of. It recently happened to me after watching 4 straight seasons of Scandal. It happened after reading Harry Potter, but nowhere has it hit as hard as with the Star Wars Universe.

So…you’ve seen Star Wars. You’re in what Amazon likes to call a #Showhole. But there’s good news. This is where the fun begins. This is when you can start to discover what we die hard fans have been doing to stay in touch with that galaxy far, far away for years.

It’s called the Expanded Universe and it’s marvelous!

Here’s what you’re gonna do…If you’ve been living in a cave and have just emerged after 12 long years and haven’t had time to take a shower and get yourself to the movie theater quite yet…then Step 1 is pretty clear.

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And if you haven’t gone back and watched the 6 movies that came before then…actually scratch that other Step 1… this is Step 1.

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Next up is the television universe created by Cartoon Network and Disney XD in the form of Clone Wars (seasons 1-6 available on Netflix) and Rebels (season 1 available on Netflix, season 2 currently airing on Disney XD.)

New Expanded Universe Novels by Disney Story Group

After watching all that, go to your local book store and pick up the newest novels in the Expanded Universe: Dark Disciple, Lords of the Sith, Tarkin, A New Dawn, Heir to the Jedi, Aftermath, Lost Stars, etc. These novels start to build the world around what you know and have seen on screen. They fill in the blanks and flesh out the questions. They also allow supporting characters to have rich story lines.

Star Wars Comic Books by Marvel

After you’ve read all that, head to your local comic book store and dive into the Expanded Universe created by Marvel Comics. The comic runs for Star Wars, Lando, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Kanan… The best thing about all this material is that is fits together like one giant puzzle. Each component working with the rest. It’s very impressive!

If you’ve done all that and are still thirsty for more. Go see Episode VII 2 or 3 or 12 more times so you know the dialogue by heart and then…

Go deep or go home.

Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe Timothy Zahn

The Star Wars Universe goes beyond Disney cannon. But I warn you, this step is not for the faint of heart. It involves heart break, misery and long hours reading amazing stories that are now considered mere Legend in the Star Wars Universe.

You wanted more and here it is! Silver platter not included!

5 Fandom Friday

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Fandoms I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. A time to take stock. A time to examine life. A time to count your blessings. A time to be thankful…for FANDOMS!! These are the ones I’m thankful for:

#1: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. I grew up with Star Wars. It’s the first fandom I remember being crazy about. It makes me think of family. It makes me think of powerful female figures. It makes me think Hubba Hubba Han Solo. It’s the ultimate fandom for this nerdy girl!

#2: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. Ever since the announcement that Disney purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas, I have been counting down the days till the big day. Sure, every Star Wars fan knows that May is the pivotal month for the galaxy far, far away, but I kinda love that we are getting Star Wars for Christmas this year. What can I say, I’m thankful!

#3: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. The Star Wars Universe is a vast and beautiful place. I have been reading books from the expanded universe for many years. So yes, I was initially disappointed that the canon was disbanded. (RIP Mara Jade. You will always be in our hearts!) But I’ve had plenty of time to accept the new Star Wars future. Which now includes brand new expanded universe books. And the beauty is that the old canon books are still highly enjoyable works. Bring on the

#4: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. Star Wars brings people together. Don’t believe me? Attend Star Wars Celebration sometime. Read up on the 501st and the charity works that they are involved in. Read the story of Daniel and the petition to allow him an early viewing of The Force Awakens before his death on. When Star Wars fans gather, great things happen, internets are broken and so are records. If you still doubt the power of the Star Wars fan base, just keep an eye on the box office the weekend of December 18th. You’ll feel the Force then, I can promise you that!

#5: Marvel, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, LOST, Star Trek, Flash/ Arrow, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Supergirl, Once Upon A Time, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead…
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Ok…ok! I like a couple other fandoms besides Star Wars and I’m just as grateful for them. When the prospect of Star Wars looms…everything else just pales in comparison. But each of these fandoms (and many more) all have their places in my heart!!

Come countdown to The Force Awakens with me on Instagram. Tag me: @nerdinthesand and use the hashtag: #StarWarsChallenge

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44 Reasons Why It Is Good To Be a Nerd

It is so darn good to be a nerd right now. And if you don’t consider yourself a nerd, let me go ahead and give you your very own, personal invitation. It is never too late to join our tribe.
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We may come off a little strong at first, but we love when people come to the Dark Side (or the Light, if you’re into that sort of thing.) Don’t mistake our passion and zeal for anything other than just that.

Sure…there are trolls. But trust me when I say, we take care of our own! Here are 44 reasons why right now is the time to join us…and together we can rule the fandom!!!
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1. STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS (tickets have been purchased!! Internets have been broken. This is the big leagues.)
2. Star Wars Episode VIII (ok we don’t know what it’s called yet, but the script is written and the funds are already designated!)
3. Star Wars Episode IX (we don’t even know who’s directing this one, but trust us…we’ll be there!)
4. Star Wars: Rogue One
5. Rumors of a young Han Solo film (rumors are our bread and butter. Get used to it.)
6.Star Wars Rebels (It’s only on season 2, plenty of time to catch up!)
7. Anything else Star Wars that is in the Disney pipeline. (If you aren’t sensing a trend then there may not be hope for your induction into our society.)
8. Ok…we do like some other things too…try Star Trek (anything with Star in it makes the short list!)
9.New Star Trek TV show in the works
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10. Any and all things Marvel (ie: the next 14 items on the list)
11. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (this one premiers in 7 days so you better catch up and watch all of Daredevil on Netflix stat!)
12. Marvel’s Captain America Civil War (trailer will be dropping very soon.)
13. Marvel’s Doctor Strange
14. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2
15. Marvel’s Spider-Man
16. Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok
17. Marvel’s Black Panther
18. Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Part 1
19. Marvel’s Ant Man and the Wasp
20. Marvel’s Captain Marvel
21. Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Part 2
22. Marvel’s Agents of Shield (currently in season 3 on ABC)
23. Marvel’s Agent Carter (season 2 starts in January)
24. Marvel’s Luke Cage and Iron Fist (both coming to Netflix along with season 2 of Daredevil.)
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25. DC has a lot of exciting things coming to our eyeballs soon as well (they just haven’t all earned their own number slot in this nerd’s estimation, but some are worthy like…)
26. DC’s Suicide Squad
27. DC’s Justice League
28. DC’s Arrow (currently in season 3 on The CW)
29. DC’s The Flash (currently in season 2 also on The CW)
30. DC’s Supergirl (kicking major butt in it’s first season on CBS)
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31. The Walking Dead
32. Once Upon a Time
33. Doctor Who
34. Game of Thrones
35. More Jurassic Park
36. Word of more Indiana Jones is in the ether.
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37. A little thing called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (translation: more Harry Potter)
38. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (translation: even more Harry Potter)
39. Netflix and Hulu are making it easier than ever to catch up on your nerd. In my day you had to wait for DVD sets to be released and either rent from Blockbuster (yeah that was a thing) or just spend the $29.99 to own it. You’ve got no excuses anymore! LOST, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Heroes, Supernatural, X-Files they can all be yours!)
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40. Speaking of The X-Files, you better get started cause new X-Files is coming our way in January. Jump on it and believe!
41. Star Wars Battlefront (if you aren’t a gamer yet, why not let Battlefront pull you in!)
42. Any and all things Disney (they make things other than Star Wars and Marvel movies as well. I know…crazy!)
43. Oh, speaking of Star Wars…there is so much amazing expanded universe literature coming out. (Start reading! Reading is cool! There’s a lot to catch up on!)
44. There are plenty of other awesomely nerdy things coming out before and after and in between all that’s listed above. But I’m trying to think past December 17th, 2015 and I’m finding it very hard to do.

Well…you have a lot of homework to do so you better get started now. See you on the other side where I’ll be waiting with your Nerd membership card*. We will engage in an obligatory lightsaber battle and a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. It’s what we do!

*Membership card not guaranteed.

NITC Book Club: Star Wars Edition

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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.

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May the Force be with you…always!

NITC Book Club: Star Wars Edition

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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.

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

NITC Book Club: Star Wars Edition

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I am embarking on a rather large undertaking. For those super fans out there, you know what I mean when I say Expanded Universe. And you also know that the entire library of books that you previously believed to be canon has been relegated to Star Wars Legends. Meaning, they no longer exist in the regular Star Wars Universe. To some most, this is a big, fat disappointment because that’s all we’ve known. Mara Jade, Jaina and Jacen, Ben, little Anakin, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the death of Chewie. These are all stories that we are aware of and believe to be apart of a grander universe that we know and love.

But fans, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I like to believe that the novels are some sort of alternate universe. Like they could still all be true somehow. Making them Legends doesn’t diminish the excellent quality of writing and story telling. It just allows for a whole new onslaught of tales to delve into.

So here’s my mission. Between now and December I am going to plow through as much of the Expanded Universe: Legends as I can, starting with Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy and hopefully making it all the way to the end which would be Crucible by Troy Denning. That’s 69 books in all. I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me. (Especially since I’m not the fastest reader.)

After December, I will be devouring every single new canon book, comic, etc as it becomes available. I invite you to join me with the hashtag #NITCBookClubSW Let me know what you’re reading, if you like it and how you feel about Legends vs new canon. We’re all in this together, Star Wars nerds.

Heir to the Empire

by Timothy Zahn

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I read this book years and years ago. And I don’t know how this happened, but I forgot how amazing it is. Timothy Zahn was already an amazing sci-fi writer before he was unleashed on the Star Wars Universe. And he is made all the better by writing for these beloved characters in a galaxy far, far away!

All the characters that we love are back in this action packed story set in the time of the New Republic. Obviously Vader is the biggest and bestest of the bad, but if there is someone who is a decent predecessor to his pre-redemption evil intentions, it would be Grand Admiral Thrawn. The last of the Grand Admirals. Who takes it upon himself to rebuild the Empire and fight the New Republic that has been trying to rebuild since the Return of the Jedi.

Leia Organa Solo is pregnant with twins and still managing to go on diplomatic missions to expand the reach of the New Republic. Luke is being tracked by a mysterious woman who is hell bent on seeking revenge. Lando is back. Han is back. Chewie is back!! It’s everything you love about Star Wars. And Zahn’s voice fits in so perfectly with my predetermined ideas of the SWU.

A seriously great addition to the Star Wars Universe and an excellent place to start if you are thinking of joining my Nerd in the City Book Club Challenge. 69 books between now and December. Join me and together we can…. read a lot of books!

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 May the Force be with you… always!