Discussion in 'Literature' started by Alpha268, Oct 13, 2012.
Tofen Vane, the original Space Nazi!!!!!!
because most of us simply can't relate to the empire, and most of us love the feel good story of a few overcoming the tyranny of many.
I think it's because, for all the loud fans who attempt to see the Empire as something other than an Evil with a captial E entity (myself included sometimes), we do like to see Good win in battles of Good verses Evil.
Same reason that every multiple choice game is always lightside as canon. Can't have a dark side ending even if it works better (FU2)
Yeah but here are plenty of tales and stories about the youngest prince saving the pretty girl. Battletech is a huge universe featuring heroes that are royalty and it works.
Lucas himself does not like democracy and wants a philospher king.
He made the main villain of his movies a philosopher King of Kings
If we only read what we related to, literature would be pretty boring.
Some Empires are easier to relate to than others, IMHO!
Agreed. Karen Traviss stresses that we naturally only seek out literature that reinforces our own life values, and those who don't are masochists... personally, I kind of enjoy reading something I disagree with.
Yeah but look at Tie Fighter. You have missions dealing with pirates and ending civil wars, plus another rogue Imperial going against the Empire. Would it be that hard to write a book about the Empire doing some peace keeping somewhere or dealing with extremist rebels (like the ones that kidnapped Face)? Look at the X-Wing comic featuring Baron Fel or the Empire ones with Sunber - the protagonist was an Imperial and yet still someone you'd cheer on because they were decent people. Saying everyone serving in the Imperial military is evil is a horrible oversimplification.
Yet, such individuals tended to be exceptions and does Sunber really think the casual attitude he beheld to raping prisoners is simply going to vanish? That's what seperates him from Fel, who ultimately managed to convince himself that the Empire was, on the whole, more positive than negative for quite some time, and then, even his perception broke. If you're looking for a good Imperial portrait then, presently, Agent for the Empire is it.
However, the Empire we see in the films, is a totalitarian system and those cannot, by definition, be fun to portray or read of. They can certainly be horribly fascinating - Tom Rob Smith's books set in the USSR are an excellent portrait of how such systems work and people living in them. It is possible to have an Empire that is authoritarian, which has positive elements, I'd argue that's what Pellaeon and his smarter successors moved the Empire to and kept it as. Outside of this, the only way I see to render the Empire as the good side is to have a bad guy that's worse, which Zahn does with Nuso Esva.
I don't buy that, though. Were the Vong POVs in NJO unreadable? Were the Imperial POVs in Rebel-centric ones unreadable?
I mean, is the issue more that people don't want to root for them? You can have a protagonist in a story that you dislike and don't root for, after all. I just don't get the myopic view. If I thought as you lot did, I'd be unable to read any EU ever.
I mean seriously have you ever considered what it's like for me to read all this constant emo Rebel nonsense in every book?
Yup. It's like Gollum eating lembas!
We've seen a lot of more traditional Imperial POV's over the years, just never in their own stand alones. Several of the Imperials in the X-Wing novels had significant story telling dedicated to them, Kirtan Loor for instance. Ysanne Isard and Admiral Krennel as well
The issue with Imperial-oriented novels is not simply the ethical alignment of the Empire, though that certainly matters, it's also to do with the resources and outcomes alignments.
First, Star Wars tells heroic space fantasy, mostly in the epic mode. It's about the plucky underdogs using their wits, skill, self-sacrifice, and whichever other virtues you choose to apply to triumph over the larger, vastly more powerful (or at the very least equally powerful) enemy. In most Imperial situations, this doesn't work, because the Empire utterly outguns its opponent. To get around this you have to either move outside the existing setting framework, meaning going into the Unknown Regions (which the novella Fool's Bargain, which does have a totally Imperial, Empire of the Hand viewpoint does), invent some new threat with vast local resources the local Imperials are not equipped to overcome (as in Choices of One), or have the Imperials fight each other and have the bad imperials outgun the good imperials (an approach I took in fanfic, but that also features in things like Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison). Though these methods are possible, they are somewhat limiting.
Second, the Empire loses. The rebels beat it, and it doesn't rise again until legacy (which had several Imperial arcs). They lose in spite of advantages, on paper at least, in just about every relevant military category. As a result the general storyline of the Empire emphasizes all the negatives, whether it's corruption, in-fighting, anti-female or alien sentiment, ethical lapses, or whathaveyou. Those factors have to dominate, and the good, smart, cool Imperials have to eventually get crushed under their masters in order to conform to the extant line of outcomes. That makes it very difficult to have a major Imperial story with a 'happy' ending. The market for a novel where the Imperial hero/heroine is court-martialled and summarily excuted at the end is shall we say, limited.
Third, there's a question of plot elements. Star Wars stories like certain elements, and Imperial are missing a big group of them. Jedi are the most obvious. You just can't pair Jedi with the Empire without some dicey forcings involved (Choices of One again). Legacy got around that by creating Imperial Knights, but otherwise cutting the Force out of the story is tricky. The same thing happens with fighter technology. Durable, shielded, hyperspace capable rebel fighters make for great pilot dramas, cheap and disposable TIE fighters not so much (and a novel about, say a TIE defender squadron would be plagued by uber-elite syndrome). Even on a capital ship level this is a problem, because all the cool Imperial ships are hulking monsters that are partically their own fleet.
The general thrust here is that doing Imperial stories is tricky compared to other Star Wars styles. Those stories are out there, but they just aren't likely to be as common, especially with the current fantasy-heavy thrust of the medium that focuses on elite ground combat (heck even Mercy Kill was way more about commando ops than starfighters) where there's a lack of Imperial characters from the films to pick up the slack. The Rebels have the Big Three, plus Lando, plus Wedge, and plus established EU characters like Mara and Katarn. The Imperial have Darth Vader, and Darth Vader. He's awesome, but all the other major Imperial characters are ship captains like Thrawn or Pellaeon who are harder to anchor the action around. Think about it like this: Kir Kanos managed to pull three comic series as the lead, the Imperial side is running with a huge character handicap.
Because you have to deal with either genocidal monsters or with cowards that would sell their people for a false sense of safety.
I still say it could be done. And yes Fool's Bargain is such a story, I like it very much. Haven't read Choices of One so I can't comment (is it any good?). Hell, I'd be happy to read a book featuring Fel loyalist Imperials vs Krayt's Imperials.
Also it strikes me as silly that we can't have a Tie Fighter novel or a Stormie novel but we have the Bane trilogy and the Plagueis novel - so Sith protagonists is just fine apparently.And one of the things I liked about the X-Wings books was the reduced amount of Force users. I mean you had Corran and Tyria - and they didn't do much with the Force in those books because they weren't trained. We already have an abundance of Force user stories, I like seeing the non-Force users get the spotlight.
While not Star Wars, I can give an example of this being done on a constant basis - the Imperium of Man from 40k. Yes that's a setting where there is no good faction but it's been done and it's fun as hell. While it uses the 'something much worse' approach even that something has been given it's own books. Aaron Dembski Bowden wrote the Night Lords trilogy which has as protagonists a bunch of genetically engineered super soldiers who were recruited from murderers, rapists, serial killer, psychos and so on. The Night Lords are so evil and scary, whole planets have surrendered when they showed up (not that it helped any) and yet ADB made them interesting characters because being evil is not what defines them - their moral code (or severe lack of it) is just a part of who they are as characters. That's how you do good villains and villain stories, make them interesting. And then set them loose. See here: http://www.blacklibrary.com/Downloads/Product/PDF/v/void-stalker.pdf and here http://www.blacklibrary.com/Downloads/Product/PDF/b/bloodreaver.pdf
I don't see that as a problem. Downer endings can be very good when done right - All Quiet on the Western Front doesn't exactly end on a high note. Heck I've personally read enough books that end with the protagonist and his allies dead at the end and with the evil guys (well, the more evil guys what with 40k being insane) winning.
Why would the TIEs not work? It's actually more worrisome when the hero is in that thing then when in an X-Wing - we know which fighter has a better chance of survival. Plus the Wraiths used TIEs and it made for some great drama and action scenes.
But why would you need these characters anyway? You can use them for a support role but I wouldn't have them as the protagonists. Come up with some new characters, it can't hurt. The Big Three should have taken a step back after the NJO but Del Rey (for some idiotic reason) kept them in the spotlight. Just banking on the Big Three to sell a book is plain lazy.
It's not something that would be easy to do but the result could be interesting. I mean we all love the underdog but there comes a moment when you need a new angle, viewpoint, something because by this point we see the underdog and know exactly how it will end. And it can only help the Empire. Make them look like an actual Galactic Empire/threat/force of oppression rather than a collection of mooks who lose in every single story. I mean really, it's silly to keep hearing about their victories instead of seeing them.
IMO, CoO is a good book, providing that the date (just before ESB) is remembered. The Hand of Judgement are in it, as is Mara and the Big 3.
Tau and yes Choices of One is a rather fun read.
What if . . . America is the empire, and The middle East is the rebel alliance . . .
Mind = blown
It's actually only about 9 months after ANH (3 months after Allegiance, Allegiance is 6 months after ANH)- whereas ESB is 3 years after ANH.
In general I don't think this has a lot of relevence. One doesn't really need to relate to characters to like a story. Look at Pulp Fiction or The Usual Suspects - in other words very successful stories filled with protaganists that most people can't relate to.
The quality of the work will make or break the story to a broad audience.
You are so mean.
Do you mean "relate" or "sympathize with"? Because I don't necessarily relate to Wedge, but I do sympathize and admire him. Similarly, though many (if not all) the characters in those movies are reprehensible, their charm or wit or character arc or some other factor does make them sympathetic, to some extent.
Of course, I freely admit that I hate the Darth Bane novels because I find nothing to sympathize with, so we might just be two completely different kinds of readers.
Easy answer, you're a masochist!
More seriously, I'd say Zahn-Stackpole did the most to give the Empire a more human side but the likes of Isard, Delvardus and Loor pretty much defy any such humanising. But as a whole? I don't the Empire anywhere near as interesting as everybody else seems to. There's a weary banality to it all.
Isn't that kind of story simply better suited to Warhammer 40K though? In principle, I've no objection to SW borrowing ideas and concepts, but if it's going to do that, it needs to adjust those ideas into versions that work for SW. That's a large part of my problem with the big arcs of the EU, they seemed to be chasing and emulating other successful stories without considering how those stories were successful and whether or not what they did could really work for SW.