Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group: I, Jedi! Again! (5th Anniversary Special)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    So, before inviting you into two more detailled questions, I'd like to sum up the controversy that's apparent in how we all deal with this book:

    - There's disagreement on whether this is one of the better or one of the worse SW books.

    - Mostly, those who disliked the book dislike the idea of Stackpole inserting Corran into the Jedi Academy Trilogy the way he does it. There has been very little disagreement with the idea of generally getting a new perspective on the JAT. Main points that are contested are Corran criticizing Luke's concept of teaching and decisions and getting away with it because Corran is appearing smarter than all other characters (except Mara).

    - There has been agreement on the fact that Corran is full of himself - even Corran himself acknowledges this in the book from time to time. There is, however, disagreement on whether this makes for an interesting or a displeasent read.

    - I can't really say whether we have formed opinions about the decision of writing this in first person. While it generally is seen as an interesting experiment for SW literature, we haven't really gotten past the question of Corran's egocentrism as the center of the book. We have talked a bit about the fact that in a franchise like SW, where EU is constantly fighting for continuity, canonicity, and definitive images of stuff like Cal Omas, an unreliable text should be marked clearly as unreliable, and that maybe this is a problem of this book.

    - Regarding the rest of the story - I think we haven't really gotten past the JAT part, save for a few comments that's a generally good story on par with other Stackpole X-Wing books. Maybe we should go for another round, ignoring the Academy part and instead discussing only the story of Corran being on the mission to free Mirax and stop Tavira?
  2. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    And now I'll commit the sin of the triple post, but only so that I can offer you more structure between the summary and my new questions... But as we see above, now we have three of those:

    - Try seeing this novel without most of the Praxeum stuff, and especially without the Kun episode. Maybe we can substitute Luke's training completely with what Corran finds in his grandfather's garden, not unlike the game version of Jedi Knight having Kyle learn the ways of the Jedi based on finding a lightsaber and a message of his father, plus some exposition texts on the Dark Jedi by Rahn. Would you say that you like the book better without the "invasion" of KJA's territory? Is it more like a regular X-Wing/Corran book now?

    - The idea of Corellian Jedi being different to other Jedi is, of course, still canon, but we all know that it doesn't really fit with the prequel portrayal of a Jedi order where Jedi see the order as their home. It's the same with the idea of a Halcyon line of Jedi. Back when this book was written, Tales Of The Jedi had established a system of Jedi heritage and system affiliation, though. And ever since then, writers kept defining Jedi through their roots - Ki-Adi-Mundi famously having to have lots of wives for the sake of his home planet, Mace Windu having some kind of connection to his homeworld, Dooku, Xanatos, and Whie all still strongly tied to their families. Why do you think do authors make these connections? Was it different back before the prequels, and why do you think did Stackpole use the idea of Corellian Jedi? Finally, what do you think about the irony of Stackpole highlighting Corellian jokes, but boxing Corellian Jedi into one distinct cliché at the same time?

    - Another idea from the above post: Why doesn't Corran fit into the "Praxeum Squadron"? Mara is his wingman, Luke his squadron leader, and there's basically twelve of them. I'm not sure if Stackpole was aware of how genius this really is: Corran has two pretty similar situations in Rogue Squadron and Praxeum Squadron. But in Rogue, he somehow acknowledges the fact that he isn't number one (even though he can keep his "cool car trope" green X-Wing and flight suit, with the squadron even turning to green uniforms because of him IIRC), while in his accounts of the Praxeum days, he seems to struggle with being a team player, instead being a lone wolf with only select ties to the others. He obviously has to turn from fighter pilot to Jedi - but then again, he had to turn fighter pilot as well, from cop/detective. Where are similiarities to his early Rogue Squadron days (e.g. rivalry with the number one competitor), and where do the huge differences come from?
    Last edited by Grey1, Apr 13, 2013
  3. fett 4 Chosen One

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    Hmm regardless of JAT I think the book is still pretty forgettable

    On those three points:

    - I think it hurts the book since Corran is not only thinking he is the best then he proceds to prove it too (Mara the exception) l beats everyone at well everything, he so proves it as well.Then there is the questions of Stackpoles writing which is awful anyway doesn't help either. That scene near the start where monologues a scene of exposition before winking at a child is teeth grindingly awful.

    - The one good scene is where he goes up and beats Tycho, a sort of Starwars Chuck Norris takes on Steven Segal fight which was fun in a strange way. The rest of the book is pretty forgettable, Corran saves the day/beat the bad guy's while nobly rejecting temptation from Tavira's Delilah before deciding that he can help more people by staying a fighter pilot o_O

    To use another comparison have you ever read Flashman by George Mcdonald Fraser. That is also written in the first person and the view point of a liar/thief/murderer but the character and story is a joy to read. To be honest it's also a parody of characters like Corran.
  4. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Something that the new C'Boath thread triggered:

    Corran effectively wonders why Luke isn't being more authoritarian in how he runs the Academy. One answer to that is Luke's making it up as he goes. But another answer is that he may well be haunted by two very authoritarian figures in the form of Sidious and C'Boath, with the latter probably featuring more as he claimed to be a Jedi Master. Luke's had his brush with disaster in DE, sure it worked out, but he may well be looking at C'Boath as an object lesson. Thus he veers more in the other direction, as he fears the effect of micro-managing his students' tuition on both himself and them.
  5. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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  6. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    That's an interesting read in the C'baoth connection. I'd never really connected Luke's negative experience with C'baoth to the way he chose to run the Academy, but it's so blindingly obvious once you point it out, @Jedi Ben, that now I'm wondering how I missed it. Good catch.

    As to a couple of the larger questions now raised (that move us beyond the controversial JAT stuff), I'd say that the idea of writing a SW book in first person isn't a bad idea in and of itself. I tend not to like stuff in the first person; it has to be done really, really well, which is why I feel this book fails. It simply isn't well done here, in my opinion. But there's certainly nothing wrong with any particular form; it just comes down to if it's done well or not. It's as good a form as any other. But I'm in a unique situation. I've talked elsewhere about my read of the entire EU as being of dubious historical value, the the texts are all to be considered as historical documents of varying reliability. So I find this book no more or less reliable than, for instance, the original JAT just because it's in first person. I view all the books as possibly unreliable, based on my personal opinion about how much I like or dislike the book. So the "unreliable narrator" doesn't really come into play for me.

    As to the rest of the plot of the book, once Corran gets outside the JAT plot, the reason I personally haven't said a lot about it is because I quite simply don't remember much about it. I've said it was not memorable and I meant it literally. I've retained very little of it. I remember being kind of disappointed at the time. I remember feeling like the rescue of Mirax, that actual sequence, left a lot to be desired. I remember the flashback that Elegos shares with Corran and finding Elegos in general to be a very good character. Stackpole has flaws, but he's very good at creating original characters. Tycho, Gavin and Iella are three of my favorite original characters. Also, Jag Fel is probably in my top two or three original characters (and he's the only Fel that I can reallly stand to read about, frankly) and, while I think others besides Stackpole have done the best job writing him, I seem to recall that Jag was introduced in the Dark Tide books, which makes him a Stackpole original as well, I guess. And think abouot the other originals he's created: Booster, Isard, Kirtan Loor (a genuinely unique and compelling villain; I wish we'd get more like him). Elegos isn't maybe as good as any of those, but he's a very well-sketched and interesting and unique character. And, as said before, I love the section where Corran has to fly against Tycho and, even with the Force on his side, he almost gets smoked. That's a view I really like on the non-Force using characters; that they can be skilled enough to basically equal a Force user. It's why I love Jango kicking Obi-Wan's ass in AotC. Other than those three things, I don't remember any details about the non-JAT stuff and I barely remember even the broad strokes of the plot really.

    I should say that I love Stackpole generally. I enjoy all the other books he's written a lot, being a huge Wedge fan. He's good at creating original characters. He has flaws in his writing, but this is really the only book where they become at all problematic for me. The plotting isn't good here; he can't do the style right; he doesn't modulate Corran's character enough; he's way too on the nose with his commentary on other EU works; the story isn't memorable. It's like a strange collision of all his worst tendencies into one massive disaster. I do think it's not a good book at all, but I don't intend to bash Stackpole; this book is, frankly, an anomaly for him, one blemish, albeit a really big one, on a solid Star Wars bibliography.
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  7. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

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    The validity of the narration isn't a big deal to me either, because I've never taken any narration, whether it be a character's subjective narration or a omniscient third person narration, as infallible. I always decide for myself what is true and what is not, and I certainly did as much with I, Jedi.

    I don't think Corran's grandfather's treasure trove is enough. It was fine for a video game, but for a novel it just wouldn't be enough to explain Corran having the ability to pull off the stuff he does. I'm really not sure what the solution is to this problem. I've tossed some ideas around in my head, but they don't sound very practical. Maybe the solution was just for Stackpole to actually take Corran to Yavin for training, instead of taking Corran to Yavin to bash everything.

    I know I already said it, but the period in between Corran joining the pirates and setting off to rescue Mirax is very good, imo. The dogfights, the interactions with his fellow pilots both friend and foe, and Corran turning himself into a legendary Jedi in less than a month was a great read. It's all very classic X-Wing, classic Stackpole and it's up there with his best work, imo.

    Great observation of the Praxeum Squadron, Grey. That should have been obvious but I never really made that connection. It's really mind-blowing when I think of what could have been.

    What completely destroys this from working is Stackpole/Corran's attitude to approaching the whole thing (which may have been intentional), it's really the opposite of Corran's time with Rogue Squadron. In Rogue Squadron, Corran is in the military, which has a clear chain of command he has deep respect for going back to his CorSec days, impressed upon him by his father and his grandfather. The Jedi Academy doesn't have this at all, even Luke doesn't really command, he acts more as a guide. The contrast between Luke and Wedge is obvious. This is a part of the secular mindset Corran has heading into JAT.

    Corran was in CorSec and Rogue Squadron to serve something greater than himself. He has a know-it-all approach at the start of X-Wing: Rogue Squadron, but Wedge clowns him early and Corran's attitude changes, he's more humble and hungry to learn. Corran heads to Yavin to serve himself, he's not at all interested in becoming an actual Jedi Knight in service to the Force and the galaxy. He goes into Yavin with his own idea of what Jedi training should be (running, combat drills, etc), and for some reason Luke never corrects him, much less give him the smack he needs. Corran is focused on physical matters when he should be focused entirely on the spiritual. When Luke doesn't force Corran to respect him, Corran's arrogance runs wild. He's not really open to learning, because he already knows more than these fools, they don't even go on runs! Kam gets respect because he's militant like Corran, and Mara gets respect because she squares off with Corran immediately. Tionne falls into a subordinate role. It seems that if one disagrees with Corran, they have to confront Corran directly and quite severely to earn his respect, otherwise he's not listening. For some reason, Stackpole pretty much ignores most of the rest (Gantoris and Kyp are violent rivals, but only briefly because of events in JAT) and any sense of a squadron dissipates. Usually Stackpole gives every member of the squadron due attention. This is maybe where 1st person hurts, or at least Stackpole's use of it.

    A hilarious example of Corran's arrogance on page 246. Han is going after Kyp in the Falcon, and Corran says he can't allow Han to go alone. Han's face clouds over and he responds, "Can't allow? My ship, my rules, and don't try to pull any rank on me. I was a general with the Rebellion before you ever left Corellia." Corran tries to give commands to Han ******* Solo!

    Corran's problem with authority on Yavin is really prevalent.

    Another amusing conflict of authority on page 238, first page of chapter 22, after Luke goes down. Like in the JAT, Ambassador Cilghal has been the one communicating with Leia and the New Republic.

    Cilghal is the de facto leader, from the New Republic's point of view, but not really! She's the newest student, Corran should be running things!

    Continuing.

    Kam wasn't expanding, just perfecting. Just perfecting, what a waste of time. Corran flat refuses to follow Kam's request! He doesn't respect Kam's authoritah! Even though it was about keeping everyone together and safe from whatever took out Luke. Corran won't give up his precious runs, they're such an important part of his training.

    Continuing.

    Dammit, Corran should have been in charge, not Cilghal and Kam. Some lieutenant on a survey team dared to ignore the great Corran Horn! DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? Being a Jedi is worthless, Corran needs to get back in the military.

    Of course Corran criticizes Cilghal's leadership (because criticizing the JAT is what he's there for), and ignores her and the rest of the students anyway and does his own thing. Praxeum Squadron? Corran never saw it that way.

    Uh, sorry for the massive tangent there, it seems like I keep coming back to this stuff. I could probably do it all day, but I'll just stop for now.
    Last edited by CT-867-5309, Apr 13, 2013
  8. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

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    lol oops, the quotes are supposed to be of I, Corran, but adding the comma screws it up.
    Last edited by CT-867-5309, Apr 13, 2013
  9. fett 4 Chosen One

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    Am curious you have mentioned the JAT but what did you think of the ending where he decides to stay with the military rather than become a Jedi ?
  10. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I think having it just as 'I' was even funnier, so...

    Well, since this is a point that has been brought up several times, I think we should concentrate on it again. And I think this decision is much more humble than some of you make it sound like.

    It's important to realize that the pre-prequel-Order was pretty loose when it came to what a Jedi really did. Luke's training is fairly short when you take the movies at face value - being a Jedi is more of a mindset, you will pick up the abilities along the way. Jedi: First Class also have a rather short amount of training - less than a year, I think it may come down to a month of real training - before they are declared "champions of the Force" based on their achievement against Exar Kun. Again, it's the mindset of fighting the odds for good, with good intentions. Things only change once there's children to be trained. And later on, when DR knew how the prequel Order looked like, things got much more reglemented, culminating in Dark Nest's Jedi-or-Not decision that resulted in Not for Tenel Ka.

    In that regard, in the Bantam years we have Mara as a sort of on-and-off Jedi, meaning a hero with the ability to use the Force and a lightsaber. We have Leia as a sort of on-and-off Jedi who has several lightsabers, has several attempts at training and identification with the Jedi, culminating in her being declared, more or less, a "Jedi Politician" (and again, DR and Dark Nest made this compatible to the prequels by giving her "proper" training, proper robes, proper identification with her role, if only for a few years). The Young Jedi Knights use their abilities to win starship races. Also, while Luke nominally leaves the military, he's of course working so closely with them that he might still have a rank anyway. The Jedi are outfitted with X-Wings, making them a "Rebel Alliance Special Squadron", and come Del Rey, Jaina can be a Rogue Squadron pilot without jeopardizing her role as a Jedi. Jacen got more flak for daring to go think about Jedi philosophy.

    Now, I, Jedi is all about a Jedi having to find his own way. Any person having to find their own way, actually. That is not all that different from what KJA sets up with someone like Tionne, who obviously will never be a great Jedi warrior or even a Swiss Army Knife Jedi. But she has the mindset, the resolve, and a purpose: Jedi Historian. Now, the Jedi should still stay at school in KJA's version, and if you look at it from a school perspective, that's okay. But other than that, you realize pretty quickly that stories get more interesting if the Jedi find their own ways. The idea that Luke treats the apprentices like children is over the top, but stems from the basic fact that for us readers, they are children compared to Luke who has already matured. KJA actually gives them a very special chance of following Luke's example by creating the school situation. All the Jedi from that era who have become more prominent have one thing in common: They leave school, have a regular life with regular Starwarsey adventures, and finally return to the fold to be boring robe-wearing wallpaper in LOTF. I'm talking about Corran, Mara, and Kyle. And to a degree Kyp, since he already had his prodigal son routine over with in the JAT. Kam is just there because he came ready-to-use, and Tionne and Streen aren't cool enough to pull a stunt like that.

    OK, with "not cool" I actually mean balanced, and this is why "interesting characters" have to find their own way to become a Jedi: They have baggage. They have a proverbial mother enslaved on Tatooine. They have a beloved smuggler vessel that they need to ram into some building. They need to overcome their daddy issues, and their trust issues.

    Having Corran as a sort-of-Jedi on good terms with Luke, probably coming back for some training now and then, isn't different from Leia still having to finish that politics thing before she can become one with the universe and live as a Jedi. Corran is still rooted too firmly in his old life - he has to learn to let go of his duties in Rogue Squadron. In that regard, Stackpole has to learn to let go of Corran's duties in Rogue Squadron. Corran doesn't think that being a pilot is better than being a Jedi, he's simply realizing that he'll be "pulled in all directions" if he doesn't finish what he started first. He won't be able to get his head free now, maybe he never properly will (but as we all know, he eventually will, and his kids will train with Luke on Yavin). But this ending is actually better than the one we got in The Krytos Trap, where he simply shoots down Luke's suggestion but keeps the lightsaber. OK, he had to save all those prisoners first - but in I, Jedi, he had time to go train before saving his wife and stopping the Invids in a process that took several months, so this sense of duty can hardly be a reason. Back then, the one-in-a-trillion chance of getting your own cool lightsaber and becoming the next Luke Skywalker wasn't good enough; now, he's at least affiliated himself with the system, and we know he'll return. And all ego trips aside, he'll help the Jedi Order grow by bringing in a lot of new experiences.

    For all my critical ranting about the book, I'm aware that there is a learning curve for Corran in it. And I'm starting to believe that the reason why the book turned out like it did was that Stackpole really wrote it in just one month, instead of thinking about the setup for a month and then take his time to write it down.
    Last edited by Grey1, Apr 14, 2013
  11. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

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    The ending features more Corran stroking, which never lets up, but I was fine with Corran's decision. Being a pilot is what he wants to do, and he thinks he can do more good as a pilot simply because he's a far better pilot than Jedi at this point and Rogue Squadron will be on the front lines. His experience in the book justifies this, because he thinks the Jedi training was useless and came to the conclusion that he needed to get back to his roots to save Mirax, which he did, and it worked. He doesn't need to be a Jedi full time, he learned their little tricks and that's all a Jedi is to him.

    Luke's decision, however, was absolutely absurd and just nauseating. Luke actually agrees that Corran doesn't need more training, it "won't give him anything", because he's awesome and has mad skillz. How about a firm foundation for the Jedi way and resisting the dark side? Earlier in the book Luke warns Corran that he doesn't really know about the dark side, but I guess he bought the browbeating Corran gave him, even though it's a whole new ball game once you can feel the Force, and Luke knows it.

    Luke actually says that Corran's training directed him toward a goal that Luke is trying to train his recruits for. Apparently, what you really need to become a good Jedi is some kind of training other than actual Jedi training. Apparently you just need other skills plus like a month of Jedi training and you're set. It's just so absurdly out of character. While Luke was an awesome pilot and was with Rogue Squadron himself, you'd think he'd remember the consequences of bailing on his training in ESB. In ROTJ what saves Luke is not piloting skills or a quick draw, it's sticking to the Jedi way, sticking to the good, the light and refusing to turn to the dark side, refusing to play this game of violence the Emperor had set up to trap him. You'd think Luke would strongly suggest that everyone completes their training fully so that the Jedi way sets in and becomes who they are, not just what they do, not just the Force tricks that Corran has learned.

    I'm all about Jedi doing other things, I think it's more fun to mix it up like that. I want Jedi pilots, military Jedi, Jedi spies, Jedi healers, Jedi scientists, Jedi artisans, Jedi politicians, Jedi police officers, etc. I want them doing what they're good at. Other skills certainly have their utility, but they have to master the fundamentals of the Jedi way and the Force, they have to have that foundation, they can't just play at being a Jedi, it's not something you can do half ass or part time, it's dangerous. "A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind."

    On the whole, the ending is hardly noticeable in comparison to the obnoxiousness of the JAT rehash.
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  12. fett 4 Chosen One

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    You see I have no problem Corran deciding he is happiest in Rogue Squadron and that's where he want's to be, which is normaly a good character resolution in terms of a character finding himself. My issue is more Stackpole sugar coating it with Horn doing because he can do the most good etc. He is a fighter pilot in the military !
    And I also get the old phrase "to cool for school" pop in my head the way Stackpole had this writen.

    Side but unrelated note I thought the witty one liner scene with Mirax and Tavira was fairly laughable and not in the way intended by the author and seemed almost a copy of the Mara, Exar Kun repartee.
  13. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Ahahaha that's hilarious. Tell me one damn thing about Andoorni Hui? Or anything about Riv Shiel besides his death mark? Wasn't there a Khe-Jeen Slee at one point? And I do believe there was a Bothan in the very first Rogue roster, but damned if I can even remember his name. Allston, on the other hand, managed to characterize every single squad member very well; Stackpole basically set some characters aside to not be developed and then killed off at the first opportunity.

    The rest of that post is frigging great. That's the kind of stuff from Corran that bugged me.

    As to Corran's decision to stay in Rogue Squadron, I actually really liked that. It was different; most people seem to see being a Jedi as the highest calling of all. I liked the idea of someone having the option to be a Jedi and choosing to stay in their old life and fulfill their duties in that way.
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  14. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Allston was definitely the one who focused more on the "team" aspect of the squadron; definitely chose to center the viewpoint to Corran, Wedge, and occasionally Gavin. The other guys were just there as friends or as redshirts. Not that focusing more heavily on a smaller cast of characters is a bad thing. I actually believed it allowed for a higher degree of characterization, though looking back on the series, I find I preferred Allston's approach. Felt almost like a television series.

    I like Ben's observation on Luke's teaching style being directly effected by his recent "teachers" and experiences. One thing that really can't be put into perspective enough is that Luke is barely 30, and attempting to single handedly resurrect the Jedi, an ancient organization with an almost mythic reputation, with almost no knowledge on how it's done. And of course, Luke himself is not a particularly aggressive person. He's a guy who walked into the Death Star in an attempt to redeem a mass murderer. He's a guy who, even at the very end, kept trying to redeem His Royal Craziness C'Baoth. Corran, on the other hand, is a former police officer. He's all about punishments, about consequences. It's not surprising there's a conflict of interest there.

    I have not yet read Vision of the Future, but doesn't Zahn establish that Luke had been "tainted" somehow after Dark Empire? That he had been drawing too much on the Force, or something like that? I suppose you could use that to explain why Luke comes off as so distracted, to the point where he loses a fight with Corran; he's afraid to really let loose, after what nearly happened to him on Byss. Or maybe Corran just has mad skills, I don't know. I'll admit the former explanation is quite contrived, but at this point Luke has had more crap thrown at him than any person should be able to take and remain sane. He's had at least two crazy super powerful Force users tampering with his mind. Considering Luke's in many ways the equivalent of a walking bomb, it's not that surprising that he might attempt to be more reserved.
    Last edited by instantdeath, Apr 15, 2013
  15. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    We'll get to Vison of the Future in June. Well, for those who can't get around Corran's final decision to not complete his training and Luke's acceptance of it (good call comparing it to Yoda's warning), just imagine that this is another case of tainted Luke making a bad decision (not hammering sense into Corran).

    Comparing it to the Yoda warning definitely is a good call, but I'll keep defending the book here. It's not just like Rogue says - someone declining the Jedi path being an interesting story in itself - but also that I can't see Corran feeling better than the Jedi here. He's actually admitting that he's not cut out to be a Jedi, and when we see him again in HoT, eight years later, he's still a Rogue pilot (even if there's some stuff suggesting he's done proper Jedi stuff over the course of all those years, but you wouldn't get that from the books). Which, in spite of everything that can be said about living down the odds in a high risk job, strikes me as kind of a sad dead end. Even Wedge found something bigger to do with his life, had character development. It's a bit like the mythological "refusal of the call", and I can't read that scene in any other way than "I know I'm not good enough for this".

    Which, I'll admit, is strictly conjecture. Yeah, I know it's meant to be cool stuff, because back in the nineties, all we wanted our SW heroes to be was pilots, smugglers, and Jedi, with soldiers somewhere along in the mix, even if nobody did mercenaty as good as Kyle Katarn. Jedi Rogue Squadron pilot? Cool.

    I think I'll take a closer look at the old thread from five years ago if the club was as jaded as it is today. I feel like most of us can't enjoy the "awesomeness" of the wish fulfillment Stackpole is sending his character through, and I wonder if we can't anymore. But since I was a bit disappointed with the book 12 or 13 years ago already, I'm not sure if wish fulfillment appreciation is a problem here. I'm pretty happy for Stover's first person characters when they get something right.
  16. Sniper_Wolf Force Ghost

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    Amusing topical anecdote; I received an e-mail today from livejournal stating a group I started, a Stackpole fandom one, was slated for deletion because of inactivity. Nice portent for this thread. Stackpole is someone I loved when I was younger, and I find him increasingly irritating when I reread his work, or how I fell asleep during his first Crown Colony novel. Perhaps looking back ten years since I first read the novel illustrates a paradigm change on my part when I am judging novels. A minor aside, I afirm the utter putridity that is Jedi Academy Trilogy. I have yet to finish Champions of the Force, and how I went through the first novels sober is a testament to my inability to descern good and bad during high school.

    As several posters have pointed out, Stackpole is a very weak craftsman. If Stackpole did indeed write a five hundred page novel in a month then the swift composition time is very obvious. Great novels written in a short time exist when the authors has inspiration drilling into their skull, but Stackpole is not Bukowski or Hemingway. Stackpole enjoys making references to Corran's alleged status as a penis stallion. Yes, the fur sex description in Wedge's Gamble is an amusing side note, yet I am not understanding why Corran is making Tavira's pants wet. Corran's short and arrogant. Yes, a few references to Rogue Squadron makes Tavira ride the Corran train. Pfft. I-)

    The utilization of first person is dependent on if the protagonist is sufficiently interesting or not, of which Corran fails the litmus test. I spent sufficient time lamenting Allston's inability to guide the characterization beyond simply stating the character's flaws, and Stackpole is the same. I am shocked a gin fueled multiplayer game of Jedi Outcast at one of my friend's house is a deeper examination of how handicaped a Jedi can be sans telekinesis than the five hundred pages Stackpole produced. Corran cannot recall his lightsaber after throwing it, cannot rip guns out people's hands, cannot throw people over the side of cliffs, cannot jump the superhuman distances, cannot lighten the impact of his falls, and cannot strangle people when he is on a bad day. Corran's Force inabilities is a great inversion of the Jedi archetype in theory, but Stackpole apparently cannot fulfill the expectations of such a character flaw. This is a case study of the lackluster foundation present in I,Jedi.

    First-person perspective is dependant on exploring the depth behind the character's face. There must be a sufficient reason for picking first-person over third-person. Stackpole's presentation is a dullard who thinks he is the best, someone who is nowhere near as interesting as he is presented to be. Therefore, Stackpole nullifies the entire rationale behind the narrative framework. The other flaws in the novel are indicative of the unfullfilled promise Stackpole made.

    Boredom when Corran is the vigilante at the end of the novel, more silly buildup of the boring members of Rogue Squadron, Corran "taking command" after Luke's incapacitation, and so on? Superficial failings. I,Jedi lacks the strong enough spine to stand up.
    fett 4 likes this.
  17. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    Great observation! I buy that!

    I like these ideas too!

    But bringing up Vision of the Future, reminds me of another details that adds to my disliking of I, Jedi: after presenting her view of how Luke's been at fault the past ten years (= what happens in other author's books), Mara gives her approval of Corran: "he seemed to have his head bolted on straight." So, how much distance should we put to Corran's "awesomness" in-universe?
    fett 4 and dewback_rancher like this.
  18. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2000
    star 4
    It won't be long until we get fully into this, but what is clear is that Stackpole and Zahn are best buddies and wrote these books as best buddies, helping each other out with favourite characters. Mara is pretty cool in here, Corran enters the main character storyline with Zahn. Again, this isn't yet the place to discuss this, but I think we'll have to talk about how the cast was opened up by Stackpole's success in crossing over the X-Wing side characters into the main character stories, and probably how the NJO did, after all, especially with Stackpole entering the game so early, help in establishing EU names beyond the work of their respective authors. I love how Dark Tide basically writes Corran out of the universe but leaves a door open for his return, and then Keyes kicks the door in just one year later. And then the Denningverse ate up the Horn kids.

    So all I can say is that while we might have different sensibilities today, we wish the books to have more importance, to do everything right. Promoting the character of your buddy probably was just a fun thing to do back then, and I think audiences were a bit less jaded when it came to accepting advertisements for other characters/other authors. And today most authors still get too comfortable when writing their niche. They start off with nice interconnectivity, and all of a sudden you have these everyday side characters who were in more important events than, say, Lando. Zahn and Stackpole did it, Anderson did it even though it must be said that YJK actually sampled a lot of old stuff, Reeves and Perry do it. Even Stover did it with Nick and Vastor. In that regard, Corran is operating on the same level as Kyp here - the new kid in the show that's introduced as superawesome so we can accept him next to all the old heroes. The difference is that Kyp is introduced that way because KJA says, "what, we all know this is how this works", while Stackpole takes the detour of smuggling a declared side character through customs and have him talk to the big guys when it's too late to kick him out again.

    At its worst, the 181st discussion group is a deconstruction of what you used to hold dear. Pretty early in the discussion, when we had a better ratio of Corran bashing and I, Jedi love, there was this cute exchange that basically said "this book isn't good" - "but it's one of the better ones". Going back to a lot of old stuff, I can see that I might have become more critical of the quality of what I read. But back then, at least the magic was still there when I read SW. That's what I mean when I say the audience is probably more jaded today. Back then, everything was expanding. If someone produced a dud, you could still hope for the next book. When Zahn declared that ten IU years worth of Luke's actions were substandard, I didn't even notice the true meaning of that, the scope of what this said about this fictional fun stuff called SW EU. I simply cared about reading new stuff from the galaxy far, far away, feeling very much at home with Han, Luke, and Leia, and later on Jacen and Jaina, and also Wedge and Corran and Face. And I cared.

    Today, as much as I wish I would, I'm not sure I can say that I care as much. I still like the books - would I be discussion host for all the stuff if I didn't? But when I got the impression that the production side of books didn't care anymore, and probably never had, a bit of the magic was gone. And today, a book like I, Jedi which functions as author roleplaying wish fulfillment from a time when everyone wanted to be a Jedi and a pilot and maybe a smuggler, too, is vulnerable. Much more vulnerable than 10 or 15 years ago. Because today, everything is written down and kept as gospel.

    BTW, a Stackpole fan group being closed for lack of participation really makes me think of all the big 90s internet participation genre fiction stuff that nobody really talks about anymore. Especially B5. I always forget that B5 was kind of big at some point in time. But also The X-Files, which at least gets a comic book nobody reads from time to time, waiting for the eventual reboot. And checking for today's coverage of genre media, I think Lost dropped out of our awareness pretty fast, as did Galactica which apparently only produces failing spin offs and online segments these days. Funnily enough, the old show I keep hearing about the most is Firefly, because they didn't really finish their run. With authors like Stackpole, you may have the idea that they had a good run already. And with Zahn, there's a chunk of readers who think that he finished writing what he had to say, not seeing him as the Maestro who will still have a glorious comeback, with the next book for sure.
    kataja likes this.
  19. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Nov 21, 2000
    star 4
    I'm not even sure if I really got to the point that I had in mind when I started writing that. But anyway.

    Last round - what's your take on the flashback? Desert Wind with the blue lightsaber? Based on the text, most probably meant to be Obi-Wan Kenobi back then, but a much better fit as Anakin Skywalker today, especially after Jedi Trial? Was a scene like that being vague more fun back then? What was the fascination with flirting with the Clone Wars era even though Lucas had already slapped Zahn's hand on TTT?
    Last edited by Grey1, Apr 28, 2013
  20. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Skywalker definitely makes more sense, in light of Jedi Trial. As for why authors flirted with the Clone Wars era, I suspect that authors felt that the wars were vague and expansive enough that they could slip stuff in and it wouldn't screw with whatever Lucas was planning at the time. At the time, it was this wonderfully blank slate. Although it later led to some hilarious retcons (I can't ever *not* bring up the Marvel 70 retcon by Abel, it was hilarious and genius), age inconsistencies, and other fun goofiness (Republic trying to preserve Zahn having Pellaeon fight rogue cloners, in this case on Saleucami).
  21. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    It was meant to be Obi-wan and when Corran lectures talks to Luke he talks about how Luke was hidden on Obi-wans home planet, though how Corran would have been aware of that I am not sure.

    The fascinating thing about the Clone wars back then was from ANH and Luke on an out of the way desert planet talking about a War decades old. It seemed to be the World War 1 of Starwars which seemed very exciting.

    Of course now we know that it was really a bunch stupid and dislikeable Jedi leading there genetically modified slave army of cloned Boba Fetts fighting droids led by Chris Lee all manipulated by Palpatine so he could recruit a creepy whiner to be his new apprentice in the space of 3 years :p
  22. Iron_lord Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    In the novelization of RoTJ, Owen is described as Obi-Wan's brother. It's possible that Stackpole extrapolated from that to "Obi-Wan's home planet is Tatooine" as well as to having that widely known.
  23. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 4
    I think those were actually two different storylines.

    I know there are a lot of fans who think having Pellaeon fight the Morgukai (or the Kamino uprising from Battlefront) solves that continuity problem. And that's not a bad way to do it. But as much as I usually like to keep things consistent, I think this is one example where no one would be hurt by just saying "Zahn didn't know what Lucas had planned for the Clone Wars then [and possibly Lucas didn't either] and so let's all just ignore that line from Heir..."
  24. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    I think the problem was, not that they were promoting each others characters, but denigrating other authors works at the same time. Stackpole went after KJA and Zahn took it to the next level by pretty much going after every other author in the bantam run as well.

    I also disagree with you about quality and being more critical over time. Both ANH and ESB are considered classics that hold up even to this day as films and there release dates were 77 and 80!

    Sad fact is some stuff just doesn't hold up over time, The Xfiles being a classic example of a show whose world wide popularity at one time rivalled Starwars. But being dragged out and dragged out (the writing quality after s6 was just awful) and milked to death for every penny turned people off and is the reason why it lost it's appeal.

    For this discussion I had a re-read of IJedi and it felt like torture. The scene where Corran winks at a child after monologuing some pointless exposition was almost like a 101 in bad writing. Now I had recently re-read Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy and despite people saying Point while cocking eyebrows a lot, the story still holds up well and feels like a sequel to RTJ and is a great fun read. I didn't get that with IJedi which feels like the author acting out a Chuck Norris fantasy in Starwars, though I am sure others will disagree with me here.
    kataja likes this.
  25. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    How would that be widely known. His relevance would be to Luke and possibly Leia at a stretch, how would Corran know about it all those years later and how would he know Kenobi was from Tatoonie, it's a hell of a reach to say that is his home planet.