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Book Review – Star Wars: Dark Disciple

23277298I just finished the Jedi Academy trilogy and instantly stared reading Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie GoldenMy enjoyment of the latter helped me figure out my disappointment with the former.

Now, I don’t want this to upset any fans of Jedi Academy. The reason I wasn’t won over by the trilogy, or the Thrawn trilogy is a personal preference, subjective as it gets. Both have pointed out two things I dislike in Star Wars books so far, and that’s trilogies and post-Return of the Jedi stories.

First, on trilogies, they have to have a huge cast of characters. All those characters have to have stories and side missions and everything has to lead to the big final of the series. That tends to mean a lot of filler. Characters will have quests that happen apart from the main story just so they have something to do until the end. Some stories will be important to the series but will take three books to reach the end.

And I don’t like this. With so many important (or at least note-worthy) characters, the writers need to include them for face value, even if they aren’t necessary to the grand scheme of things. I want all the characters to feel important to the story. I don’t like extra fat, even in epics. Keep in mind, it’s not trilogies I dislike, it’s trilogies in the Star Wars books.

760110My dislike of stories taking place after Return of the Jedi is also one that won’t be shared by everyone. For me, the holy trinity of Luke, Leia and Han doesn’t really click. Their stories have already been told. Luke’s most important adventure ended when he defeated the Emperor. Stories following a now-stoic Skywalker don’t do it for me, nor do stories of a married and fathering Han Solo.

What I want in stories taking place after Return of the Jedi is new characters and new adventures. It’s part of the reason I loved Star Wars: Legacy so much and part of the reason I’m hesitant about the trinity showing up in Episode VII. The future of Star Wars belongs to a new set of heroes.

That’s part of the reason stories taking place before A New Hope work for me. The Skywalker twins are nowhere to be seen and there are large gaps of history that can filled. But those gaps aren’t so large as to need trilogies. Stand alone stories work just fine.

And I like stand alone Star Wars books. Instead of a large cast, they can focus on one or two. Instead of interconnecting threads and filler, they can have a specific plot and goal, digestible in a few hours of reading.

Those traits benefit Star Wars: Dark Disciple. The book itself isn’t the best in the world and it’s based on an unproduced script for the Clone Wars cartoon. But because it’s focused and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, it’s enjoyable.

Telling the story of an undercover Jedi and Asajj Ventress, villain of the Clone Wars, Dark Disciple is about an assassination plot against Count Dooku. Now, we know nothing will happen to Dooku, as his fate lies in the films, but Ventress has been question for a while. A popular character from the Expanded Universe, her story wasn’t given a full conclusion in the show or comics. Now we get to see where she goes after the Clone Wars.

22012290It’s an interesting tale, partly because we get up close and personal with Ventress and see how her mind works. The Jedi of the tale, Quinlan Vos, is also great to read about because he has to straddle the line between the light and dark to work with Ventress. Both characters have fates that are up in the air when this book begins and I was intrigued to see where it would all lead.

The book reads quick, helping when the third act starts to drag, but it’s a satisfying end. I’m finding Star Wars can read like a popular thriller, like Clive Cussler in space, and it’s not a bad way to do things. They’re adventure stories, they don’t always have to have the fate of the galaxy at hand, but they have to matter to the characters involved. Dark Disciple matters for Ventress and Quinlan and they matter to us.

It’s an encouraging read for the quality of the new Star Wars canon. I’ll be reviewing Lords of the Sith next, since I picked it up right after I finished Dark Disciple  and it benefits in the same way for being a one shot.

If you haven’t picked up Dark Disciple, give it a try.

Stop Complaining About the Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars fans are spoiled brats.

They’ve been given one the best movie trilogies of all time, tv shows, books, games, toys and comics based on those movies and all they ever do is complain.

They complain about editions, about title changes, about prequels, about casting and Disney and canon.

Look, at this point, a lot of the people who complain about the same old things are either aging or latching on to dead concerns. Take the video above for example. They make the joke (it’s not that funny of a video) that they’re refusing to call the first Star Wars movie A New Hope. Considering that the movie came out in 1977, I have a feeling that the people making Honest Trailer weren’t even around when it came out, or at least too young to care.

star_wars_old

You know what I’m gonna call this? A New Hope.

I’m on board with the special editions of the first three films having problems. Trying to watch A New Hope and having dated CGI get in the way of shots is annoying, because so much of that first film based in the grandeur of 70s film making. But there is plenty to like about them as well. Considering how much continuity matters to geek culture, the changes to make them consistent with each other seems like it should win people over. Lightsabers are the right color, voices are the right voices and actors are the same characters throughout. George Lucas ignored the Expanded Universe and fans found it annoying but if he made sure the films made sense with each other, they got angry.

And the prequels. They won’t shut up about the prequels.

I want to meet any child of 1999-2005 who had their life ruined by these films. I was thirteen when Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace hit theaters and I lived a pretty good life my teenage years, with Star Wars being an enjoyable part of them. When the Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones came out, I had a great time at the theaters and when it was over, I was more pumped for the franchise then ever before. I had seen the original trilogy and thought they were great, but they didn’t push me to be a huge fan of the series. When I saw Episode II, I just got excited about it. I started playing the games, reading the comics, watching the cartoons. I was hooked.

Ended my teen years and I was fine.

I understand the film is not great and as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized the last forty minutes are the best parts that don’t include Obiwan Kenobi, but it still got me (and plenty of people) jazzed for Star Wars. By the time Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was out, I was all in. I saw the film three times, even knowing what was wrong with the movie. The flaws are aggravating, especially when the good is so good, but it holds up. Maybe not to the hardcore Star Wars fan base who wants to relive their childhood over and over again, everyday of the year, but to someone who was a kid when the movie was happening, it was great.

So the Star Wars prequels didn’t ruin my childhood and they didn’t ruin the original trilogy for me either, and I have a hard time see how that would happen. They’re not great, and the first prequel is agreeably bad, but it’s not a scar I or any reasonable person carries around with them. My younger brother was ten when the last prequel came out, and he enjoyed the Lego Star Wars games based on the that trilogy, had a poster that has a lot of prequel characters on his wall and enjoyed the Clone Wars cartoon. Childhood saved.

Here’s the part that is driving me crazy lately. This hate for the prequels, and the changes of the original trilogy, is being transferred to a generation that could have been just fine. People who grew up when the prequels were out, who enjoyed them as kids and teens are now forced to say how much they hate the movies to not anger the real fans.

When I was in college, I had heard two people talking about the movies. One of them asked, “What’s a Midi-chlorian?” The other answered, “Something George Lucas made up to ruin Star Wars.” This kid was younger than me(!), probably didn’t see the films until the early 90s and was acting like he was there opening night of the first Star Wars and had to carry on the defense of changes and mistakes.

I tend to be a fan to the max degree. If I love something, I love it. But I try not to blind to the problems of what I love. I love the X-Men movies, but boy, do they have flaws. But my love for them lets me forgive those flaws, laugh about them, and enjoy the rest.

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Even if this is great, the fans will always complain about the prequels.

Star Wars fans haven’t been able to laugh since the 80s and it’s their fault. They can blame George Lucas, they can blame CGI and Hayden Christensen but they’re the one’s stopping them from enjoying the prequels and anything else that bothers them. If they could just roll their eyes and laugh when Anakin talks about sand instead of burning with hate, they could have a good time. Don’t they realize that hate leads to suffering?

You know what, I enjoy the prequels. They’re not amazing, not always well written or acted, but who cares. They’re still Star Wars, they have some great moments and characters, they gave us the Clone Wars and Ewan McGregor as Obiwan. The gave us John Willaim’s score for those films, each one with a standout piece (Duel of the Fates, Across the Stars and Battle of the Heroes). I don’t give into hating on them, because they didn’t ruin my (or anyone’s) childhood, they didn’t ruin the original trilogy and they won’t bother anybody as we move into the future.

As we prepare for J.J. Abrams entry into the series, the fans will come down on the prequels again, to hold Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens above them, even if that movie is just a greatest hits collections of A New Hope. But I’d prefer they just stop talking about, stop pushing your hate on the rest of us and grow up. Find something else to start talking about or just stop talking because ten years after Revenge of the Sith, you’re starting to need a new edition.

 

Stupid, stupid customers!!!

Customer service has become me. Working at my two jobs, the library and a clothing store I shall not name (but it’s not a new sea-based military), I’ve heard a lot of dumb questions and comments. I’m just going to share a few I’ve heard this week. I’ve also included some things I wish I could say in response.

Clothing store

What size is a large?
Large.

I didn’t see any signs, is this on sale?
Yes, it’s part of our super secret finder’s sale!

The lady up front said I can only buy five flip flops. Can I get six?
Those are different numbers, so why not?

The new Transformers movie wasn’t as good as the others.
As the others?!

Can you point me to the boy’s department?
I can point you to the 1950s where your gender seperation makes sense!

Library

Do you need my library card?
No, just allow us to hook you up to our new mindjacker system.

Where are you’re movies?
Behind you.

Can you take care of my late fees for me?
Yes…for a price!

I don’t remember the novel’s title or the name of the author. Can you help me find it?
Sure, let’s try looking under ‘books’.

Can you tell me which book comes next in the series?
I could if there were such a thing as the internet.

 

 

Real Life Update

Sometimes I forget that this is my blog and I can do more than write about other things like comics and movies. Even though, when writing about my own life, comics and movies come in to play.

10250956_10154030461855427_2018690464_nFirst off, the wife and I adopted a dog. His name is Scooter, he’s a Corgi/Terrier mix and five years old. We’ve had him for about a month and he’s great. Or at least, I think so. He doesn’t like when strangers charge at him, even if they want to share affection, but you know what? I don’t like when strangers do that to me, so I understand the pup. I’ve got him leash trained, thanks to the Dog Whisperer and he’s the reason I walk two hours a day. On an unrelated note, my foot feels broken.

We also bought a second guinea pig. Her name is Mango and she’s just a tiny ball of fluff compared to our first pig, Penelope. At first, it didn’t sound like the two were getting along, with Penelope hogging the pigloo and evil-cavy purring whenever Mango came near. But now, they’re fine and Mango seems to be coming out of her shell. I think I’ve learned a lot from these guinea pigs and its that owning guinea pigs is a lot of give and not a lot of take. Go figure.1907621_10152371636467139_5098657279207213475_n

We’re making our way through the best picture nominations three months too late. So far, I haven’t seen anything to beat 12 Years a Slave and I can’t figure out how American Hustle made the billing but not All is Lost. Good job, Oscars. actually, maybe I shouldn’t say that even in sarcasm because you might think I’m being serious. Because you’re dumb. Like, ‘don’t know the order of the planets’ dumb.

Speaking of awards, I signed up to vote for this year’s Hugo Awards. I’ll talk more about this in a separate post, but the short point is that I get the packet with all the nominated works (ALL THE WHEEL OF TIME) and get to play an active part in Science Fiction’s future. I’m excited.

10318586_10154110724810427_841227274_nNow, transitioning to books, I finished writing mine. This is also something that needs its own post. After MY ENTIRE LIFE of wanting to write a full book, I finished my first novel. The last story I ever wrote to completion was fifty-two notebook pages back in eighth grade. Today, the last thing I wrote is a seventy-plus thousand word novel. It may have taken me way too long, but I’ve done it and it feels pretty good.

Speaking of…well, I just want to talk about my new laptop. My old one, the machine I was given my first year of Houghton College, finally said, “No more”. Luckily, like a wild animal, I had feelings of it’s coming death and backed it all up. From there, I went out and got myself a new laptop. It’s an HP, touch screen and more powerful than the custom job I build in ’05. What I couldn’t wrap my head around was why the lesser machines were more expensive at the store. It turns out people will pay more for a thinner computer with less power and space than they will for a slightly bigger one. I got the bigger one and save big bucks on a laptop that can actually do things well.

I think that’s it, for now. I need to write up a summer movie preview and talk about the X-Men soon. I’ll try to do that tomorrow.

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs

Boring genre TV like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead, having to see my wife watching Lost on Netflix and a general lack of involvement on my part, has made me long for a reboot of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. Seriously, why can’t this cartoon be resurrected, either as a TV or movie? Not like Terra Nova, please, anything but that. But with the last Jurassic Park having come out twelve + years ago, there’s a distinct lack of dinosaurs in our media.

Our new Guinea Pig

Okay, it’s not a dog. Or a cat. Or a ferret.

But we got a guinea pig.

Why? Because Kendra wanted a guinea pig. She says it’s because they’re cute. I think we’re both tired of not having a pet. Now, we have a female guinea pig named Penelope. Did I know anything about guinea pigs? No. Should I have? Yes.

Penelope

The first thing I’ve learned is that, after the first week or two with Penelope, I’ll have to go out and adopt another girl pig. Guinea pigs are herd animals and social and get bored/depressed when the only pig in the house. So, once Penelope is used to us, we’ll go out, get another, let it acclimate to us, then introduce her to Penelope, and then have two. That’s what I’ve gotten myself into.

Another thing I learned is that I need to make a salad of specific veggies twice a day for Penelope. Green leafs, carrots, cucumbers and corn, among other meals. Plus, guinea pigs can’t produce their own Vitamin C, so I have to to give it an orange or apple twice a week. And guinea pigs can be picky and take a while to like a food, or maybe they will never like it! These things are finicky!

Now I’m all in. Buying toys, researching the best hay, chopping vegetables, letting her run around in the hall for exercise. My wife comes home from work and cuddles it. I’m basically Penelope’s chef. What the heck!

Florida: One Month In

Kendra and I are now a month into our new Florida lives. In that short time, a lot has happened.

Kendra found a job working as a music teacher for an elementary school. She’s only a summer out of college and already a full time worker in her career of choice. Color me jealous but proud.

I got a part-time job at a local library, which is great. It puts my foot in the door down here and isn’t the horror that is food service. I’m also interning at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies as their social media worker. We’ll see where that leads, but it should be fun.

ImageIt seems like forever ago, but we went to Disney World a few weeks ago. It was my first visit and we spent my birthday in Magic Kingdom. Now, I’m sure it’s a magical place to some, but I the Magic Kingdom was not my cup of tea. Epcot and Hollywood were much more enjoyable and less crowded. We spent a day in each park, ending with Animal Kingdom. It was tiring, but fun and I’m glad I got to finally experience it.

There’s been some time killing on my part. I’ve gotten back into League of Legends, which is a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve also been trying to knock out the AFI Top 100 Movies list. I also realized I need to watch more Martin Scorsese movies.We’re still looking for a church, having visited three already. A problem I have is that I don’t like churches that do multiple services; whether due to size or worship style. It makes me feel like there’s subdivisions in a community that should be growing as one. A church that has four different services isn’t the kind of family I’m looking for.

There’s been a lot of paper work to get through. Kendra officially changed her name but it’s been a hassle to do that while registering for the elementary school. I got my new license and signed on with the city as an employee. We got an account with a new bank, changed our address and signed up for insurance.

So, at the moment, the current goals are to find an apartment and get a dog. There’s a good amount of animal shelters down here, so finding the right dog shouldn’t be hard, but we haven’t decided when and and what to adopt. Apartments are plentiful, but we want one that lets us have a pet and isn’t too much money. Plus, most down here require a few pay stubs to prove you can pay them.

It’s been busy, but it’s warm and I love the climate. For the most part, I’ve learned my way around the roads here, and have checked out a few local stores. I auditioned for a community theater, which was an attempt to meet new people. What I really need is to find a gaming group. But all things in their own time, I suppose.