Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Recent Star Wars Events

It's a little late for the initial furor, but I'm going to talk about a recent announcement that got a bit of a reaction out of people. That's right, I'm going to talk about Billy's recent choice of Halloween costume.

Okay, no, I'm going to comment a little on the whole "Star Wars belongs to Disney thing."

(An additional bit of proof that I will watch Darth Vader doing anything.)

Now, I could talk about how raging at Disney over this is pointless, and how putting Star Wars in the hands of a company currently helmed by John "Makes Anything He Touches Better" Lasseter is probably the best choice that George Lucas could have made regarding making Star Wars into a legacy project. Unfortunately, creators giving control of their works to their children very rarely works out, and so choosing a company that's been doing very well in terms of getting things right lately is a pretty good choice.

But I'm not really going to talk about that.

No, I'm going to talk about where I think the scheduled Star Wars films ought to go.

There are several categories of Star Wars expanded universe fiction: That created by Timothy Zahn, the good stuff not created by Timothy Zahn, and everything else.

Timothy Zahn's work is very important in the Star Wars canon, even if it's somewhat contradicted here and there by aspects of the prequels, because for good or ill it was the root cause of George Lucas regaining interest in the franchise. Even with the contradictions, Zahn's work also provided the rather classic name that was acquired by the prequels (and all subsequent Star Wars fiction) as the name of the galaxy's capital planet, Coruscant.

While the actors from the original trilogy are now too old to do a live action adaptation of Zahn's novels, the things that were established in those novels are very important to the greater Star Wars canon, even if they don't perfectly mesh with everything that has been added since.

Regardless of what one thinks of the Zahn novels' quality (which is very good, in my humble little ol' opinion-Zahn, Brandon Sanderson, and fellow Star Wars EU novelist Aaron Allston are vying for my favorite living prose authors), they are a little too significant to be glossed over. Thus, any new Star Wars films set after Return of the Jedi should be written to acknowledge and accommodate elements from those novels.

Now, the other good stuff. Dark Empire was pretty good (primarily the first bit-Dark Empire II gets kind of silly), I was surprised revisiting it later how good The Courtship of Princess Leia really was, the Lando Calrissian Adventures were surprisingly good (okay, that might just be personal bias), and any alien species that I rate as a five out of five deserves a shot at appearing in a movie if it hasn't already (technically barring a joke rating or two, such as the five I gave the fuzzy dice aliens). There are individual elements from here and there and everywhere that have some degree of appeal, but those are the big ones.

Now, Dark Empire has a problem. It's essentially designed to be a comic book, and a lot of its appeal comes from its quirky, moody style, which would be hard to capture in live action. (It also suffers from the "actors got old" issue.) On the other hand, it introduces quite a few neat bits of technology and machinery.

The Courtship of Princess Leia has the same "AGO" issue, and also is a little too... erm, let's call it internal event topical. Its main contribution would have to be in its EU worldbuilding-while Dathomir has become surprisingly influential on the wider EU, I don't think Hapan, the matriarchal insular nation that sends their prince to woo Leia, has made much in the way of interacting with the wider EU, and it probably could stand to.

The Lando Calrissian Adventures just have a bunch of cool things in them, most of which I've not had the opportunity to talk about in my ol' massive list because of alphabetical order. (Heck, most of it will eventually be covered by my saying that high-rated stuff from my Guide ought to be considered for inclusion.)

High-rated stuff from the Guide is, I hope, self-explanatory.

Now, the rest.

I've professed hatred for the Yuuzhan Vong on a ridiculous number of occasions. I hate them so. I can't forgive them for what they did to the EU, though I will admit that the unified, planned storyline approach was refreshing at first after the rather haphazard novels that had preceded it. The Vong were entertaining at first, as well, but they just completely ran things into the ground by making them essentially an amalgamation of every remotely interesting EU alien that had come before them, with features from dozens of other stories mashed into a rather incoherent whole (They're from another galaxy [except they aren't really]! They're invisible to the Force! They're obsessed with death! They use organic technology! They want to kill everybody that doesn't yield! There's lots of them and they're very militarily powerful! They have a name with a Y and a V in it! [I haven't talked about the group that was the second-greatest influence on the Yuuzhan Vong after the Charon, the Yevetha, for obviously alphabetical reasons-in fact, I won't be getting to them until only a little before the Yuuzhan Vong themselves, possibly in the same article.] They're psycho warriors who hate weakness! They throw stuff! They can stop lightsabers with their own material weapons!) which showed both creative fertility and creative sterility at the same time-quite a feat.

Here's the crazy thing, and it comes from a suggestion from my sister-I think I might be interested in seeing somebody do something with the Yuuzhan Vong in some of the upcoming films. Why?

Because they might actually get them right this time. There's the germ of something very interesting in the Yuuzhan Vong, and you could fill two or three lengthy sourcebooks just with material on them alone. I would even be interested in a comic/novel/film about the Yuuzhan Vong during the period of their isolation from the Star Wars galaxy, so that we can see them wreak havoc on each other instead of on much more beloved characters and settings. (I'm pretty sure that they had quite a few civil wars in the extended period where they were isolated from the galaxy.) The Yuuzhan Vong may be the single most developed "alien" species (I'll note they're basically just "Star Trek human alien" in terms of how "alien" they are) in the entirety of the Star Wars canon. There is a lot to work with here, even if it kind of spoiled the rest of the fruit, if you know what I mean.

That aside... Well, the main thing I don't want to see are the Celestials/"Force wielders"/whatever the heck they're supposed to be called. I've had enough of those guys forever now, and I've never even seen or read any stories with them in it. You guys dislike the idea of midi-chlorians*? Those guys are much worse. (I suppose I should clarify: As mysterious, poorly understood entities who left stuff behind, they're pretty interesting; as beings that we've actually seen bits of face to face, I hate them kind of a lot.)

Given all of that, I of course wouldn't be much surprised if Disney decided to throw the whole EU out. Annoying, if true, but what ya gonna do?

...I really don't have anything else to add except "Wait and see, guys." I'm cautiously optimistic.

*I'll note that I think people misunderstand the idea of midi-chlorians. Qui-Gon Jinn's explanation smacked a bit of being a simplification you tell a young person and a bit of superstition. Regardless of that, just because a midi-chlorian count is an indicator of one's power in the Force doesn't necessarily indicate that they "create" the Force, only that a correlation between Force ability and midi-chlorian count exists. There are lots of things that are factual things in science that we don't really understand why they're facts, we just know from observation that they are, e.g. the exact reasons why electrons and protons have equivalent and opposite charges.

-Signing off.

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