Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group: Champions of the Force!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I'd say that they're about the same. Jedi Academy trilogy has some neat ideas and some dumb ones. Darksaber is mostly dumb ones. Exar Kun has the veneer of competence as a villain, with perhaps his only limitation being the handicap of being dead. And maybe he's insane from several thousand years of isolation and that can explain any absurdity in motive or logic on his part. Daala is incompetent. Durga is incompetent.
  2. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I haven't read Darksaber in ages - actually, I've only read it once, come to think about it - but what I take away from it is that it was almost a parody. The incompetence of the villain being like "a nice break" from serious villains building serious superweapons. I remember feeling pretty bad about a film extra dying, and I think that could be because the threat/consequence ratio was so skewed. Normally, SW books had no lasting consequence back then; Dev Sibwarra's fate in TaB was nicely done, in my opinion.

    I like how you dig up the parallel that both Daala and Durga are incompetent. Kun is, given the circumstances and the author, pretty competent. But the others... You know, I dislike it when a villain is made extra-smart or extra-lucky or whatever by knocking down the heroes too much. And I can't really get into Thrawn almost always drawing the right conclusions from the most circumstantial evidence anymore. But making the villains incompetent so that the heroes can win - I think that's pretty unique, isn't it.
  3. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    It makes the villains non-threatening. The same was true about Darth Caedus. He's billed promotionally as being the next Darth Vader -- which happens to show how shamelessly they're rehashing the prequel trilogy right after it concluded the year before -- but in the stories themselves they make him look incompetent at every turn, getting scolded by Lumiya, making stupid mistakes, and succeeding due to even greater stupidity on the part of the protagonists. It's a mixture of both Zahn and KJA: the heroes and villains are both diminished.

    It doesn't make the story interesting, it makes it frustrating. In the case of Durga or Daala, I think Kevin J. Anderson just figured that the people buying Star Wars books would be kids and the novels are written like young adult fiction. Daala or Durga are Saturday morning cartoon villains. I don't think it works to mitigate the problem with Thrawn, because it doesn't make Luke anymore competent in comparison. I think his characterization is mostly a cardboard cutout of Luke created from a promotional photo from Return of the Jedi, telling Exar Kun his overconfidence is his weakness. LUKE WAS VINDICATED BEFORE! You don't have a chance Kun!

    I dunno, repeating movie lines isn't really a substitute for characterization.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 23, 2013
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  4. Revanfan1 Force Ghost

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    I admit Darksaber had silly ideas, but it was more fun than COTJ, at least.
  5. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Everyone is certainly welcome to do their own thing, but more and more I find that thinking to be problematic for both authors and fans alike.

    We have seen numerous authors make errors when using the 'holocron' without actually reading the source material the holocron is referencing. We have seen tons of fans give faulty critiques of novels, miss the actual facts presented in novels, because they have taken to deciding that reading a plot summary and a few reviews equals reading the book for one's self.

    To me, if your going to formulate an opinion on a book and critique it in either a positive or negative way, actually reading that said book should be a requirement.

    It was kinda like one step forward, two steps back. I admit I thought it was pretty bad ass that Jacen Solo killed Kyle Katarn(and several other Jedi) when outnumbered in battle - I though it cool that he ordered the deaths of Kam & Tionne Solusar. Those were all key events in what would have been Caedus's growth as a villain.

    But then the next book hit the reset button and it turned out he killed no one of any importance. They sued the old 'just because Maul got cut in half doesn't mean he died' ploy before TCW made it popular :p
    Last edited by Robimus, Oct 24, 2013
  6. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    Sorry, but when everything I hear about something sets off alarm bells in my head and puts me in a state of disbelief, I am immediately going to form an opinion and not read or watch it.
  7. Gamiel Force Ghost

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  8. Robimus Force Ghost

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    How did you ever end up reading a Karen Traviss novel then?
  9. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    I liked the game Republic Commando and ended up getting attached to her characters, not because I agree with her anti-Jedi bias, her changes to Mando'ade history, or anything like that. I have stayed well away from her TCW tie-ins and LotF novels for a very good reason, and I am mad that 343i picked her of all people to do the post-Human Covenant War Kilo-Five Trilogy in the Halo universe, where from what I have heard, she did her usual "moral ambiguity is evil unless is her character doing it" nonsense, among other things.
    Last edited by Zeta1127, Oct 24, 2013
  10. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    When ones comes to Star Wars, the status of the EU at that time is the baseline, and only future contradictions count. The previously existing ones were already fixed and are kosher!
  11. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    That's not entirely accurate, by the time I read the NJO, the post-NJO was already under way, so it was more like I suddenly found out the universe I had become invested in was becoming something completely different. Because the way I see it, there is a massive difference between what say the PT did verse what TCW and TFU did.
  12. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Is there? I miss Jaster Mereel.
  13. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    The thing is they saved Jaster Mereel, but they can't save the likes of the Clone Wars multimedia project and the founding of the Alliance to Restore the Republic because George Lucas made it so definitive and completely irreconcilable that no amount of, as Jason Fry puts it "handwaving," will make the old fit with the new as was done with Jaster Mereel.
  14. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    What they did with Jaster Mereel is no different than the founding of the Rebel Alliance. You're just saying they saved it because it doesn't bother you. Jaster Mereel was changed more than the founding of the Rebels.
  15. Robimus Force Ghost

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    My point is that you made a choice to experience it for yourself, not that you agreed or don't agree with what was in the books. That firsthand knowledge gives you a solid starting point when discussing those books.
  16. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    The problem with that is, I didn't hear anything bad about Karen Traviss until long after I had read Hard Contact and Triple Zero, so there wasn't really a choice involved.
  17. Robimus Force Ghost

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    So you regret having read them now because some vocal fans don't like them?
  18. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    No, but I might have reacted differently if I had known about all of this disdain for Karen Traviss.
  19. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    While ideally one should always read a book before giving an opinion of it, the reality is that there are only so many hours in the day, and it makes little sense to spend those hours reading something that you're almost certain to dislike. For me, it's fine to have some kind of opinion on something you're not familiar with, as long as you recognize that your opinion on it is inherently less valid than someone who is more familiar. I have an opinion on Shakespeare, as someone that's read a few of his plays, but I recognize that my opinion is not as valid as a Shakespearean scholar who has spent his life studying them.

    As for the other topic, using the popularity of a work to dictate your opinion of it has always been a pet peeve of mine. I run into this most when it comes to music. So often, you get people who are more interested in judging an artists fanbase over the merit of the work itself (I believe "hipsters" is the current popular word for these kind of people, but they're always getting a new label). While the only possible way to judge an album/book/whatever in a total vacuum is to hear absolutely nothing about it, I still think it's a bad idea to let the opinion of others ever dictate your own. Obviously there's a fine line there- if everyone is telling you how terrible amazing Birdemic is, there might just be something to it- but I think once you actually decide to pick the book up, all opinions that are not your own should be set aside.

    Still, I don't think anyone can be blamed for having a strong opinion on LOTF without reading it. If one despises the very premise of a series, there's not much of a chance of said series winning you over.
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  20. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Let's go back to the question of recommending I, Jedi and the JAT. It's safe to say that the JAT generally gets a lot of criticism. There are of course fans, and we all seem to agree that conceptually, KJA invented a lot of stuff that shaped the EU for years to come. I, Jedi, on the other hand, while still having gotten a lot of flak when we spoke about it in April, seems to be generally well-received. Both opinions are out there, but I think the positive view is the default, "the winner's side" writing history - correct me if your impressions are different.

    Now, if we only take two dimensions - recommending good novels vs. recommending novels that make you understand how the EU came to be - which would you rather do when recommending books? And as much as we all love books about non-movie characters or side characters in the spotlight, does the JAT have an "advantage" by using the main characters?
    I know why Kyle isn't there... but I also think it's funny that he apparently skipped Tionne's Acoustic Prog Folk Hour.
  21. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Does JAT still have relevance? The prequelization of the post-NJO has eliminated relevance, I'd argue, of all the Bantam work. If a reader is jumping in and wants to read more current work, there's no reason to go back to before The Joiner King. Luke and Jacen watching ROTS on DVD marked the start of prequelization and the robbing of relevance of the preceding EU.
  22. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    It's too late to edit but I wish to elaborate a bit on my point and perhaps gear it more toward JAT:

    Prior to 2005, and to a lesser extent 1999, what a Jedi was defined as, and what the Jedi order is, was solely in the province of the Expanded Universe, apart from the very core idea that we saw in the OT. We got some looks at it in the Thrawn trilogy and Dark Empire, and Luke founded his new Jedi order in earnest in Jedi Search. He created his praxeum on Yavin 4 and started training Jedi, and the praxeum became his base of operations and it was assumed that in-between novels he was there training Jedi. In 1999, The Phantom Menace was released in theaters, and we saw the old Jedi order, which was substantially different than Luke's Jedi in the sense that it was much more structured and established. It was also much more restrictive, with its proscribed age to begin training and its apparent prohibition against marriage. At the same time, Del Rey began its massive series the New Jedi Order, which took some of the ideas presented about the Force from Episode I and ran with them, but otherwise kept Luke's Jedi order as its own entity which did not seek to emulate the newly revealed information about Yoda's order.

    Through the series, Luke's Jedi evolved, but it did not evolve toward becoming the prequel Jedi. It learned the philosophical tenets concerning the Force that the prequel Jedi knew and which also saw usage in the prequel era novels, but Luke reaffirmed the notion that his Jedi were not going to be an elitist organization which sat tight in an ivory tower and only followed through on mandates from the chief of state. Some Jedi could choose to take this path, but following the will of the Force would lead different Jedi to take on different roles. The Jedi would continue to play roles in addition to Jedi, as they were prior to the prequels and the NJO: Corran Horn, a fighter pilot. Leia Organa-Solo, a diplomat. Jaina Solo, a fighter pilot. Jacen Solo, a student and a teacher. Luke Skywalker, a student and a teacher.

    Then in 2005, Dark Nest happened. Luke's proclamation meant that, instead of each Jedi following his or her own path, that each Jedi tried to force his or her own path onto the Jedi order and that the Jedi order was only capable of following one. Luke decided that the order's path would be his path, declared himself grandmaster, and expelled anyone that couldn't or wouldn't be the same type of Jedi as him. This sudden shift is as much a non sequitur as Jacen's charactization. The new Jedi order became the prequel Jedi order overnight, taking up residence on the not-destroyed Coruscant in its not-destroyed Jedi temple, with Luke becoming Cal Omas' tennis partner. There's no organic growth to reach this point -- it was reached because the author was consciously seeking to emulate the prequel films. Whereas upon reading The Unifying Force, one could say that the point where the Jedi are at on Zonama Sekot was something that organically developed out of the starting point of Luke Skywalker creating a Jedi praxeum on Yavin 4; that the latter developed into the former. That is the type of continuity I want to see in stories. Continuity in practice, not in policy. Having a policy of continuity means nothing if an author is going to keep retconning his or her own work as well as the work of other people.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
  23. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    A good analysis, and I'm with you on the topic. One short note, though - Dark Nest does at least pull the knife-in-the-back move correctly by showing that TUF's finale led to an amoral Jedi Order, and that the change had to happen because of that. So at least there was an explanation for the move to a prequel-influenced order, even if it was a... not really well-informed one.

    By the way, is it even possible to build a continuity of Luke's growing knowledge about the Jedi? He obviously only finds the ROTS DVD and gets confirmation that this Padamamay or Panda Bear or whatever she was called was his mom at the point of the timeline that coincides with the real-life release of ROTS. But a lot of his knowledge from AOTC - which would, timeline-wise, only become available around the time of Enemy Lines, or rather Destiny's Way if he's waiting for home video again - is implied in Tatooine Ghost, retconning it back way before. Mindor also goes back in time with allusions to the prequels, and I wouldn't know how source books have tried to tie it all together. Seeing how the JAT falls into a time where knowledge of the Force is a grab bag of whatever the authors made up at that point - Tionne's musical revue of TOTJ, an old training ship at Dathomir, the Witches, the Ossus stuff from Dark Empire 2, old people like Brand, Kam's knowledge of his old father, family secrets found by Kyle and Corran, the Jensaarai, then Callista... But can we actually trace back what exact knowledge of the prequel Order entered Luke's knowledge at what time?

    And finally, while you're right that the Bantam era isn't relevant for continuity anymore on some level.... I think this makes it all the more relevant. Which might be a childish thought, but I think you still get more investment out of the EU if you actually know why all the stuff is there, or what the stuff is, and if you don't just have a few hollow names orbiting the big SkySolo family, plus the newest addition of a character that might or might not survive.

    And one step after "and finally" - to be fair, Luke's order has also skewed the perception of the prequel order in the EU, hasn't it? EU has built up the prequel order around TPM much less rigid than might have been good for it (Ki-Adi's wives, I'm looking at all of you, and Aayla: get dressed for revan's sake).
  24. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    How were the old order an elitist organization :confused: or have I missunderstod what elitist means
  25. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    It's another non sequitur, just like Jacen's characterization and Luke's 180 reversal on how the Jedi order should be, which I'll add is also notable in the sense that Luke wanted the Jedi order to be a de-centralized entity as it was in the early Tales of the Jedi stories. He'd surrendered guardianship at Ithor and reaffirmed that decision at Zonama Sekot, and essentially said they were on the right path, and each Jedi would find his or her own way to serve. The Jedi order in Dark Nest was already centralized, and this inherent incompatibility is seen when each Jedi not only has their own idea of how things should be but try to force that on everyone else. That Luke and Mara acted like terrible people because they were evidently given permission to makes Luke and Mara look a lot worse than Denning probably intended.

    I think it's rather interesting that the objection to the NJO and maybe more specifically Traitor, and the subsequent response to it, seems to come out of an idea that morality and ethics comes from a higher source, rather than within. From my perspective, Luke should know when something is wrong -- basically the same thing which he tells Mara in The Joiner King which is what Vergere said all along. But Denning seems to have come away from the NJO with the belief that any sort of commandments of behavior sent down to Space Moses from the Force were shattered by Vergere, and this gives Luke permission to act however he wants to act, and he chooses to be ruthless, and that this is Vergere's fault that Luke chooses to act this way. But the whole point is that Luke and Jacen are innately good people that don't need rules to tell them to act like good people. Evidently, Denning thinks that they do.

    I discussed this before in an earlier thread. There's really no consistency to it and based on what Luke knows and when he knows it, the way that the Jedi order evolves between Dark Empire and The Unifying Force has to be through Luke actively rejecting certain elements of the earlier order, rather than out of ignorance of them. He's got the Chu'unthor records, which are only a few hundred years old and would reflect the sensibilities of the prequel Jedi. He found the library on Ossus which would be substantially older. He found the Jedi Path textbook either right before or right after he opened the Praxeum, and that book lays out everything about the prequel Jedi. So when he opened the praxeum, or right afterward, he knew all about the master-padawan system, the training age restrictions, the proscription against attachments, et al., but chose to not incorporate them into what he was doing.

    I'd honestly say it's more a strike against viewing Star Wars through the lens of continuity in terms of valuation of stories than against the Bantam novels. I'm a fan of the way continuity was handled in the past, but I feel that prequelization has resulted in the Expanded Universe becoming a homogenized setting in which everything emulates a certain status quo. I don't think this happened as much after the OT because the OT paradigm was self-destroying: the EU couldn't be perpetually about the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, and even from the start the Rebel Alliance was necessarily turned into the New Republic, and the stories evolved into new ones because the "protagonists vs Galactic Empire" paradigm was self-limiting. The prequel films introduce the Galactic Republic and Jedi order paradigm which was ostensibly the status quo for 25,000 years (though we see in earlier EU this is not necessarily the case), and now as a consequence the Expanded Universe has sought to emulate this galactic status quo throughout the timeline. And the Sith as villains are much more easily producible than the Galactic Empire. Unfortunately, it has become really boring, and in seeking to stick close to the source material, the Expanded Universe is given a bigger impression of being secondary to it, rather than being a legitimate continuation of it.

    Tom Veitch probably influenced the early Expanded Universe depiction of the prequel Jedi order such as with Ki-Adi-Mundi being married being something which was likely viewed as permissible due to Ranik Solusar being a Jedi that fathered Kam Solusar and Andur Sunrider being married to Nomi Sunrider in the past, though Stackpole did have Neja Halcyon.

    I think the depiction of the Jedi order throughout the history of Star Wars, such as early intent, subsequent "flanderization," misunderstandings, and so forth is an interesting topic of discussion.
    The old Jedi order forgot their mandate of safeguarding peace and justice and became complacent and content to sit in their literal ivory tower and only act when given a mandate by the Supreme Chancellor. I'd say that Luke's Jedi in the post-NJO stories is a much more elitist group than the prequel Jedi ever were, though. They overthrow a government because they don't want to follow the rules it's setting for them.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 26, 2013