Lit Timothy Zahn making Darth Vader look a fool ! (spoilers for both books)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by fett 4, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    Two words: proximate cause.
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  2. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    Fixed ;)
  3. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    KJA only edited the 3 Tales books, not the line F4.

    If you want a reason for why Bantam EU 1991-1996 lacked a sense of direction, the answer is they were experimenting! No one expected either DE or TTT to be smash hits! They were. But their success gave no indicators as to what to do next, to what the audience actually wanted - and to be fair to the audience, they probably didn't know either! So yeah, they tried stuff out.

    Then from 1996-1999, they had a clearer idea of what to do, drew the books into a stronger, more cohesive shape, did X-Wing and HoT and that effectively tied off Bantam quite well.

    As for IJ, the Academy section is Corran's Jedi training and it takes place at the same time as JAT, no way to avoid talking about it really short of setting the story a year or so later. And yeah, Stackpole is guilty of what Zahn did where JAT is concerned. Not that it's stopped - Denning went and did over Luceno's work in TUF big time with TJK.
    Last edited by Jedi Ben, Dec 8, 2012
  4. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    Unprofessional? Yeah maybe. Necessary? Oh was it ever.

    Look, because of the way the Star Wars continuity is set up, with everything than anyone has ever written down being canon, meaning that it all actually happened and only movies/tv can say it didn't, the only way to mitigate the damage of poor choices by one creative entity is to have another creative entity who is writing later (in out-of-universe time) say that those choices were somehow 'mistaken' or 'foolish.' That is what Zahn does in HoT, and he's not just targeting KJA, but also Kristine Kathyrn Rusch, Vonda McIntyre, Roger MacBride Allen, and to a lesser degree Michael Kube-Mcdowell and Barbara Hambly (ie. everyone writing for Bantam other than Stackpole). Zahn was wrapping up the entire Bantam era and there was a lot of 'here's what all this really meant' during the course of the two novels.

    Mistakes were made during the Bantam era - understanding of what Star Wars meant was far more limited than it is now, authors were given a great deal of freedom to do whatever they thought would work, and the books were writing in a truncated timeframe so that everyone was composing more or less at once. Zahn went and rectified those mistakes, someone had too.

    This approach will ultimately, also be necessary with the Clone Wars era when TCW and its related projects conclude and what exactly went down, and why it went down that way gets sorted out. It hasn't been necessary for the NJO and post Del Rey productions because they designed their methodology to avoid this sort of issues, but that led to its own problems, like three authors with very different visions tripping over each other and weaking their series as a result. Even then there have still been several similar moves: notably Vergere, and most of her philosophical approach, re-classified into the 'evil' box post-NJO.

    This is something that we, as fans of the EU, ultimately hve to accept. The alternative is giving someone like Leeland Chee fiat powers of determination to go through and slap retroactive 'Infinities' labels on everything he thinks shouldn't have happened. Pretty sure that's a worse idea, and even if it's not, it's too late anyway.
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  5. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    I disagree that wrapping up Bantam's run necessitated Zahn deciding to crap all over a number of works. Were those snide statements actually required for the Hand of Thrawn story to work? No, they could be removed and there'd be no practical or visible impact whatsoever.

    What I particularly loathe about it is it set the precedent from which others have gone with, thus Jacen's epiphanic Force experience at the end of TUF gets transformed into a drug high by Denning. The handling of Vergere is another one, though arguably Vergere was only needed to a problem NJO engineered in the first place.

    Why is it so much to ask that DHC and DR work together more? Why can't SW creators actually work more collaboratively? Because of the crap pulled by people like Zahn and Denning that's why. It hasn't just been divisive at the point when certain books by them came out, it's poisoned the entire well! And quite, quite needlessly.
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  6. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    Must have missed the outright bashing in HoT, he does make some references, usually just acknowledge that things have had happened, like Luke remembering Exar Kun and his dark powers, a star Destroy captain things that Daala was around, kind of insane and messing up badly (which even Anderson acknowledged). Maras Emperor clone comment also is the easiest fix for explain why she did not go back to serving him. Luke using his powers less than when he rebuild whole palaces with the force is also something that makes sense from story point telling perspective as otherwise he would just “brute force” solutions. Plus Zahn loves to have his characters tell the truth the way they see it, not necessarily the way things actually are.
  7. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    After what she experiences in The Last Command, why would she ever return to serving him at all? She knows he played her for a fool.
  8. AdmiralWesJanson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 5
    Well, she did have a mental compulsion from him burned into her brain when he died that lasted five years, and could hear his voice when he was alive and sponsoring her. We also saw C'Baoth overwriting parts of peoples brains, so it would have been perfectly feasible that if it was really the Emperor and he wanted her back, he could have forced the issue (pardon the pun)
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  9. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    But we also know Sidious isn't exactly forgiving failure and he's worse on betrayal - he'd likely see Mara's rejection of his command as both!

    Still, interesting notion - that he could have coerced her back to him, had he wished to.
    kataja likes this.
  10. AdmiralWesJanson Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 5
    The idea of her finally gaining her own free will, defying Palpatine would maybe irk him, but I could also see him delighting in crushing her spirit back into servitude. Look at how he treated Vader after all.
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  11. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Yeah, but it's likely with Vader he was 100% certain there'd never be the kind of outright rebellion that Jade did, which kind of explains why he was so cocky on DS2.

    Not that he didn't have the ability to flat out coerce Mara, he did that to Luke in DE after all, but then he really wanted to wreck and probably possess Luke.
  12. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    With out being too harsh or anything but a lot of those works that were supposedly crapped on were not very good anyway. I remember reading Cyrstal Star when it came out, thinking; what?!!! So I cannot blame Zahn for dismissing them in the HoT, The only problems were having Shada (Mara mk2) pretty much go through the exact charachter storyline he had with Mara and too many Thrawns, which I mentioned, otherwise it was a good way to end the Bantam run and marrying Luke and Mara was a nice touch and worked well. Out of all EU charachters I hope she finds her way in episode 7.
  13. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    You're missing the point - once you give an author the clearance to crap over other authors works, works that LFL signed off on so obviously didn't think were so bad as to warrant axing which has happened to a number of proposed books, where does it stop?

    The answer's known: It doesn't stop, you only have to look at fiasco with Vergere and her supposed philosophy and it's adoption by the Jedi, which goes severely off the rails in DN which sets up LOTF. But then FOTJ does over LOTF in turn.
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  14. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    What Ben says - plus the problem is that what Zahn has Mara state (and Luke repeat) in VOTF isn't even correct when it comes to what's been written. Rewriting is one thing - rewriting what was never ever written is...I dunno what it is. o_O

    Yeah. Never got the point of that... In general, I find versions 2.0 tiring, unless you add something completely new. But why repeat Mara so quickly - we were hardly ready with her hardships?

    It could have been an awesome storyline! My main complaint about DE is the expressionless character drawings - but I have to say that if they had worked in the TTT development inot the plot and added f.ex. Mara - the story would have been even better! :D
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  15. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    But your Vergere example shows that the reverse is also true. If one author cannot contradict the decisions of others then all future authors are beholden to the decisions of those made in the past.

    The universal continuity of all EU works cannot function if there is not some malleability to interpretation, at the very least the ability to fix outright errors (for example: Luke's X-wing fires turbolasers all through the Corellian trilogy). Further, Lucas had always, up until the sale to Disney which passes the power to a rather more shadowy authority, preserved the power to directly override and retconn decisions post facto, so the idea that other authors could, and would do so when disagreeing on interpretation is inevitable. Indeed much of the decision to alter Vergere's status was based on the authorial interpretation of further movie-discussion regarding the nature of the Force presented in the Prequels (I am aware that the decision to retconn Vergere's status was unpopular at least on this board, while most of Zahn's moves were much more popular, but the principle is the same).

    And @Jedi Ben, ultimately, authors are going to disagree on interpretation and they are going to place sniping remarks into the mouths of various characters in the fashion that took place in HoT. It happens in every shared universe, and it is especially common when an author who has some fan cachet as 'founder' or 'owner' makes that kind of move. Weis and Hickman did the same thing as Zahn repeatedly in the Dragonlance universe. Ed Greenwood has done so in the Forgotten Realms. Jsut like fan opinions differ, creator opinions differ. It happens, and thinking that Zahn's words in HoT were the first such move in Star Wars, or that if he hadn't done so other subsequent moves wouldn't have been made is, frankly, naive.
  16. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Ri-ight, so in load of other lines people were gits therefore it's perfectly all-right for it to happen in SW - yep, think I'm done here.
  17. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Going back to the issue of "making Vader look like a fool"- Mara actually calls Vader "a fool, and skirting on the edge of treason with it" as early as Heir to the Empire.

    So if Zahn sees a character's behaviour as foolish- why is it "petty" for him to write characters in universe as saying so?
  18. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    I agree in your point that some form of correction of mistakes has to be possible. Naturally. Nothing will work otherwise and this is particlularly obvious when you consider the Bantam era when so much was made up as you went - and so much was overruled by the PT. But I think it's still a long step to conculde from this, that it's perfectly allright to rewrite what others have done and casually correct what you consider mistakes in other people's novels. If the first leads to stagnation - the second definitely leads to chaos - plus a darned unpleasant climate! The somehwere-in-the-middle-way must surely be, to be very careful in the corrections you have to make - starting by paying close attention to what was actually done - then considering what direction you want things to take from now-on. For both, we nowadays have Leland Chee, though he's sometimes less powerful than one could wish. Anyway, he wasn't around in 1997-98 - so all we can do is to look at what Zahn did in VOTF. And I can't say I agree with him that Luke overused his powers in the 1994-1997 novels (+DE). There's a lot of questionable things happening in them - but absolutely nothing is explained better by Zahn's explanation that Luke was on the verge to th DS all that time. And absolutely nothing is looking better. On the contrary, about every realization Luke as character might have come to, is severely diminished. Moreover, from the examples we're given adn the factual mistakes in them, I get the distinct impression Zahn hasn't actually read these novels he's correcting, only had a recap of them. And this, IMO, isn't how it should be done. I can approve of Zahn's idea to power down Luke in order to distance him from the Deus-ex-machina- that seems to be such a problem. I might not agree it should be a problem - but I accept it and approve of his effort. I definitely approve of Luke and Mara clashing - as this was necessary for their storyarch. I can also approve of Mara claiming things that aren't 'right' - because she's 'only a character'. But as her false points stand uncorrected and even unquestionned - and since Luke accepts them as true inside the story - here is where my hackles rise!


    It's not first time he does it. Nor second, nor third. But when it becomes a manner that his characters use often, then it's bad style. He's a professional writer - he can do better. First reason is that this is like swearing - do it when you mean it; not out of sloppiness in every second sentence. Second reason (and here I agree with @JediBen); because questionnable behaviour spreads.


    In the initial post on this thread @fett 4 asks: "is it necessary". My personal answer to that question is very clearly NO IT IS NOT! Maybe it was necessary, or even ok, in that scene. Maybe in ten others. But Zahn does it too often. And it's unnecessary, because he's a brilliant writer - he could easily write books where his characters could shine without others looking bad.
    Last edited by kataja, Dec 10, 2012
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  19. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    I have to challenge the idea that nothing is explained by Luke being on the edge of the dark side fairly often during the period of 10-19 ABY. Plenty is explained. A few examples:
    1. His failure to become alarmed at the obvious dark side influence on Yavin IV when Gantoris died.
    2. His choice to shield Kyp Durron from civilian justice for crimes he committed while under the influence of Exar Kun - which happens to be the single gravest mistake in the entirety of the EU and tarnished the New Jedi Order forever.
    3. The ease at which he was decieved by Akanah into following her around the galaxy for months chasing a fairytale story about his mother.
    4. His failure to take any proactive measures whatsoever to monitor, provided counseling, or even alert the government to the existence of failed apprentices, leading to the terrorist actions of Brakiss, Desann, and Dolph.

    I could probably dig up many more pretty easily, but the point is clear. In the novels begining with the Jedi Academy Trilogy and going through the Corellian Trilogy Luke made a series of terrible ethical choices that were blindling obvious and easy to prevent. Looking at the narrative objectively, you can draw two conclusions: Luke Skywalker is utterly incompetent at leading a revived Jedi Order and needs to be removed from a position of authority immediately, or: Luke Skywalker was under a shroud of dark side influence and if he can cast it off he can move forward. Since the first choice isn't possible given the marketing reality of the Star Wars EU, Zahn chose the second.

    The bottom line is that Luke, and his immediate confidants too, Kyle Katarn, Leia, the Solusars, really, really screwed up the first few years founding a New Jedi Order, something that, by the way, Del Rey later ran with both during the NJO series, and later on - in Outcast Daala explicitly references Kyp Durron's destruction of Carida and Luke has no appropriate answer - because there isn't one, KJA stabbed the Jedi in the heart with his word processor there and they're still bleeding. Zahn's choice: to place Luke under a dark side influence due to a failure of judgment that wasn't exactly his fault - his training was never properly completed and he have anyway to anticipate this consequence - was actually a very elegant solution to excuse all of his failures without having to stand up and call him a moron. It had the secondary effect of allowing Mara to fall for him, because without that acknowledgement of his mistakes she never would have been able to fully respect Luke.
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  20. FatSmel Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 2012
    star 3
    those examples don't indicate at all that he was influenced or skirting the Dark Side. They are just examples of Luke's carelessness, gulliblity and stupidity.
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  21. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    There's an element of mistreating others in the Black Fleet Crisis series. For example, the overuse of mind-intrusive illusions (basically, reaching into people's minds and forcing them to see what you want them to see) which Akanah points out is different from the way the Fallanassi do things)

    in Tyrant's Test, Luke, after using the Mind Trick to get a tactical briefing memo from the New Republic Defence Fleet listening post, deletes the memories of this visit from the minds of the staff.
  22. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    But that's the whole point. Luke Skywalker cannot be careless, gullible, and stupid! The rules of Star Wars do not allow it. He must be enlightened, heroic, and wise. He is the Grand Master who saved the galaxy, rebuilt the Jedi order, and provided a shining example to all the young boys and girls.

    By the time it came around to write the Hand of Thrawn and bring the Bantam Era to a close, a succession of mistakes and flat out bad writing (I'm looking at you New Rebellion) that had placed the flagship character of the franchise (way more so than now too, this was pre-prequels) in an untenable position. Zahn recognized that he had to square the circle somehow, and he did it by putting up a warning label that basically said 'caution: influence of dark side detected, this events are not to be taken as an example of this person's true character' over all the 10-19 ABY stuff.

    It can even be argued that Zahn, and subsequent authors, didn't go far enough when it came to corrective maneuvering - Kyp Durron is still walking around the galaxy, having never ever so much as been charged for the willful murder of everyone on the planet Carid, nor having the good grace to die heroically so we could all forget about him.
  23. Iron_lord Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Corran in I, Jedi (while complaining loudly at first, and even leaving the Academy) eventually manages, to a degree, to rationalize Kyp's treatment toward the end:

    Luke: "It could be suggested, though, that the deal we offered Jacob Nive and his Survivors is really a lot like the chance Kyp was given. In dedicating his life to being a Jedi you know Kyp is really under something of a life sentence."
    Corran: "I know, and it'll be hard labor, too. Killing him wouldn't make the galaxy any better, so this is likely the best solution. Doesn't mean I like it and doesn't mean my inability to come up with a better plan isn't frustrating."
  24. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Completely wrong. KJA stabbed the Jedi in the heart with his tape recorder and they're still bleeding.

    KJA didn't type; he dictated. I cannot emphasize this enough, because it is hilarious. Also, once you get over the fact that KJA said that **** out loud, to himself, and still had it put in books, it actually makes some degree of sense. The fact that he was spinning this stuff out verbally probably explains just how terrible his prose is.
  25. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 5, 2011
    star 5
    What?

    You seem to have access to some rules of Star Wars the rest of us don't. Even if these rules exist, they're incredibly stupid. What you're saying is that Luke must be perfect, completely above flaws or mistakes. That makes for a crappy character involved in crappy stories.

    Please tell me you jest.
    Esg likes this.