Lit Writing Quality in EU

Discussion in 'Literature' started by windu4, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Sniper_Wolf Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2002
    star 4
    Judging EU novels on their merits alone has always been vexing given most of the fanbase's very ingrained preconceptions on what they like and do not. Example, Chewbacca is killed instead of how Salvatore constructed the scene or the logic of Chewie dying in the series.

    Another irritable variable specific to Lit here is the near dogmatic reading of continuity versus narrative flow. Sorry small group of the fanbase, most of the readership had not read Young Jedi Knights when Vector Prime was released. All sprawling continuities have adjustments periodically, and a revision of a small aspect of the timeline is not worth anger. Salvatore's incessant usage of the exclamation point, however, is an agreeable nail for authorial crucifixtion. A general critique of the major EU novelists?

    Stackpole is someone who creates interesting characters and plots to overcome the fact he is at best a mediocre writer. His terrible dialogue has been described numerous times, and two of his three main antagonists- Ysanne Isard and Sheado Shai- are forgettable shrill screamers who act far less intelligently than the story proposes. His numerous red shirt deaths in X-Wing is another well known weakness alongside his occasional Corran indulgent. Post-Rogue Squadron his protagonists like each other too much for any significant tension in the squadron. For positives, supporting antagonists such as Loor, his introduction of first person into the EU, and his nomially interesting lead characters are a significant counterbalance.

    Thrawn Trilogy is an excellent trilogy almost killed by C'Baoth's ridiculous behavior. Zahn's post-Thrawn Trilogy work has been mixed. Outbound Flight is a microcosm of Zahn's strengths, the Car'das sections, and Zahn's terrible self-indulgence, the C'Baoth/Outbound Flight portions. Hopefully Scoundrels will show Zahn finally pull his head out of his *** so he can return to worthwhile writing.

    I've written entire essays on how terrible Allston's writing is from a technical level, which I can e-mail to anyone who is interested. His timid construction of scenes, the inability to deeply inhabit the characters, the lack of emotional impact in his later novels, his tendency to end battles in a simple paragraph, and so forth. How this schlock is published let alone appreciated by large sections of the fanbase is baffling.

    KJA is possibly an even worse scene constructer. The scene proceding the execution of the warlords in Darksaber is a great personification of his prose work on a whole. The warlords scream at each other, even physically hit each other, and Daala hits a button wiping all of them out. What great potential wasted on a lackluster writer. His ability to meet his deadlines is probably the main reason for his career.

    On the whole, the Bantam editors did pay a lot closer to copy editing of the novels, but when someone bad reached publication the terrible is quite shocking. Observe several of the ridiculous similes Tyers employed in The Truce at Bakura. I wish my library still had a copy so I can type out the Calamari one. Bleh.

    For Del Rey, several of their writers are arguably the best prose and narrative constructors though questionable editing can bring their efforts down.

    Luceno is the largest example of Literature's love of continuity overruling any semblence of coherence. Weird sentences, awkward positioning of scenes, and forgettable characters makes most of his bibliography forgettable save for Luceno's ability to land the important event novels as the Revenge of the Sith lead-in or The New Jedi Order's conclusion. Undercurrent, Luceno is the Star Wars equivlant of Knightfall for Batman.

    Golden can intuit emotion from her scenes despite her subpar writing. Compare Omen to Outcast. When Ben and Luke learn the Jacen Force ability of the novel Ben is able to Force walk back in time to see a younger, less baby murdering Jacen. Notice how Ben is sixteen, the same age Jacen was in Vector Prime. This is an excellent compare contrast of Darth Vader's grandsons. Too bad Golden did not have another draft to fix the prose holes.

    Stover utilizes techniques to bring his scenes too life. Present tense, a slight self-awareness of the Sam Jackson persona, rewriting Lucas' terrible dialogue, and the introduction of novel-in-the-novel are small examples of the tricks he uses to make his writing stands out. Most of his praise is deserved.

    Denning is excellent at scene construction. He also can use minor details as running motifs in his novels. Han's dislike of bugs is used to inform his characterization in Dark Nest instead of simply standing as a one-shot metafictional joke. Invincible is still a strong conclusion filled with nuggets of greatness too many people overlook. Denning's biggest weakness is that his subtleties probably goes over the head of most of the EU readership.

    Traviss is another very strong writer who has voice issues, and her novels are unfairly assailed by continuity fundamentalism. The point of "Odds" is not another argument over numbers. Finally, someone is recognizing the Clone Wars is not making sense. Triple Zero, Bloodlines, and Revelation are great tie-in novels with strong emotional cores. (For self-deprication purposes, I'll admit my bias towards a fellow journalist :p)

    Gag, my brain hurts, and I have a job interview tomorrow. This hack needs sleep.
    Zane the Reaper likes this.
  2. CT-867-5309 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 5, 2011
    star 5
    It's the Jedi Academy Trilogy, of course I like it, regardless of how terrible KJA is.

    Daala is a strange subject for me, just going by her background from the JAT she had a lot of potential that was terribly wasted.

    I mean, she's apparently a Imperial Naval Academy prodigy who can't get anywhere because she's a woman, she was literally put in the kitchen, and then her record breaking simulator performances are noticed by Tarkin and she sexes her way up to Admiral. There's so much that can be done with that, but instead she is put in a corner for over a decade and her big comeback is just a terribly stupid disaster.
    HipsterChewie likes this.
  3. FatSmel Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 2012
    star 3
    its canon

    IG-88 was in control of the death star. Deal with it.

    seriously though, i agree that it didn't happen. It's one of my favourite self-contained short-stories, but works better when you assume it isn't canon and doesn't crap all over the defining moment in Star Wars.
  4. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    Allston's unable to deeply inhabit his characters? Are we talking about the same Aaron Allston? His later novels have a lack of emotional impact? I'm assuming you have not read Mercy Kill.
  5. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Yeah, and "subtle" is decidedly not a term I would use to describe Denning's writing.
    Havac, Kyris Cavisek and JackG like this.
  6. fett 4 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    I will forever dislike Stackpole for 2 things and not just the crappy dialogue and telegraphed and ridiculous story-lines.
    1) Pretty much ruining the TIE fighter. When you have a few X-wings laying waste to them by the hundred's (with Corran it's the thousands) he wipes out any tension or interest whatsoever except for the mystery of how the Empire ever managed to achieve anything with such stupid death traps and ignores ANH (and any military logic for any army in history) where if Han hadn't come back the Rebels would have lost.
    Oh yeah he even has his other OC Baron Fel seen as a greater pilot than Vader WTF!!!!

    2) Turning a throwaway line from ESB into a whole planet wide saying again WTF!!!

    I would be interested in your Allston reasons as I always enjoyed Star-fighters of Andumar and thought he was far superior to Stackpole for basically the same type of book.

    Yeah Luceno does a lot of referencing when he does not need to but I give him a pass for Cloak of Deception, which is a perfect example of what TPM was trying and failed to be. The guy writes a brilliant Palpatine lets be honest.

    Stover will always get points for his Revenge of the Sith book which was the EU equivalent of turning lead into gold. Plus Shatterpoint is great too.

    Good luck with your interview :)
  7. _Catherine_ Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2007
    star 4
    Yeah maybe or maybe he's just awful. Either way.
  8. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2012
    star 4
    The EU for me is constantly deteriorating in terms of quality. These are my complaints:
    First: Make the Big 3 talk like the Big 3 (For too long, people have forgotten how Han talks)
    Second: Stop name dropping brand new Jedi and giving them no backstory... I will like any answer that gives a quality answer. I expect more than Species and Gender. If you know lightsaber color, known master, distinguishing features, home planet, friendships within the order, something beyond the basic name drop...
    Now tell me about Barrak'tl, Tiu Zax, Kunor Bann, Turi Altamik, Seff Hellin, Radd Minker, Derek, Jayk, Rivai, Avinoam Arelis, Vaala Razelle, Yaqeel Saav'etu, or Sanola Ti.
  9. _Catherine_ Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2007
    star 4
    Lol I have no idea if these are real characters or if you made them up.
    V-2, JackG, windu4 and 1 other person like this.
  10. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Well, every author needs their crew of redshirts to meet their body count quota...
  11. jedimaster203 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 19, 1999
    star 4
    The writing quality in EU occelates wildy. Stover is amazing. He could probably eat alphabet soup and defecate better prose than KJA.

    I'm also not really much of a fan of Stackpole and Zahn. They did a lot for Star Wars, I just always found their writing Bland. I also *gasp* have trouble getting into Luceno.

    I think the best regular author of the EU is Aaron Allston. However, I think some of his work suffers from him being one of the go to guys for everything and having to work within arcs. I really would like to see more Stover, Stewart, ect...because they really boost the quality of the EU. Their books make you feel like you're reading literature, not just a crappy fiction novel.
  12. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2012
    star 4
    They do, but these people are still alive. The worst part is the fact that the most well developed character introduced within FotJ was Bazel Warv, who bites it early on. Plus Yaqeel and Kolir are both female bothans... what makes them any different. Kunor Bann, another human male. I pretend he is Korun to give a little Mace Windu diversity. Derek is Kyle Katarn's son in my mind. I wanted to explode when Denning just added 30 more Jedi Knights but only introduced 3 of them. If you are only going to mention Rivia and Jayk, then have Han and Leia bring 2 Jedi with them not 28 more that we have never met before.

    The only other semi developed characters within FotJ were Vestara, Seha Dorvald, and Bandy Geffer.
  13. Zane the Reaper Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2012
    star 1
    Yes! I remember loving that one (and also the IG-88 story that somebody mentioned). I'll have to go back and re-read to see if it holds up. I remember loving the end of that story - Han and Jaster Mereel/Boba Fett in a standoff, each ready to kill the other, THE END. Love it. Jaster's emotionality might not jive with his portrayal in the OT, but I'll take him over the cloned baby-Fett any day of the week.

    I was an obsessive reader/collector of Star Wars fiction from the time Heir to the Empire was released through the second or third NJO books. By that time I had become a student of literature, and had come to realize that most of the novels were poorly written. Even the ones I still like (and have not given away), such as Zahn's books, are very light on characterization and heavy on exposition.

    It's tough, though - I think a lot of the writers might have done a better job if they hadn't been subject to the restrictions of Lucasfilm licensing. That's how it goes when you write in somebody else's pre-existing universe. So it goes.
    Last edited by Zane the Reaper, Jan 17, 2013
  14. JackG Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2011
    star 4
    Same here. And that's a huge failure of the EU atm.
    V-2 likes this.
  15. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2012
    star 4
    Barrak'tl: Yuzzem Jedi Council Member
    Tiu Zax: Omwati Female, Jedi Knight Infiltrator last seen Betrayal
    Kunor Bann: Human Male, Jedi Knight... Went crazy
    Turi Altimik: Human Female, Jedi Knight... Went Crazy
    Seff Hellin: Human Male, Jedi Knight... First to go crazy in MF...
    Vaala Razelle: Arcona Female Jedi Knight...
    Yaqeel Saav'etu: Bothan Female Jedi Knight... Part of "the Unit" with the Horns and Bazel Warv
    Sanola Ti: Human Female Jedi niece of Kiranna Ti
    Radd Minker: Brubb Jedi Male...
    Derek, literally had one mention as in a gunner turret on the falcon in the last book of LotF as Derek: senior apprentice
    Jayk and Rivai were 2 of the 30 Jedi knighted during Apocolypse with no background or need
    Avinoam Arelis, Human Jedi Male, Curly Blonde Hair...

    Then you have Bandy Geffer, Seha Dorvald, Kolir Hu'lya... ect...
  16. Danzo Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 2012
    star 1
    I keep wondering what happened to her when I read the names of random Jedi. She seemed like an interesting character in her first appearance and I was looking forward to seeing more of her.
  17. Kyris Cavisek Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2012
    star 4
    Tiu Zax... I imagine her as become the master infiltrator, the reason you don't see her is she doesn't want to be seen. She is the new "Mara" when it comes to sneaking...
  18. Sniper_Wolf Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2002
    star 4
    Je te donne une gin.

    [IMG]


    I perused Mercy Kill at the Emporia Kansas Public Library due to my massive late fines from a failure to return Iron Man, House of Leaves, and a World War One documentary on time.

    Allston consistently informs the reader of this character's fault instead of showing. Take Fury. "I am Darth Caedus, and I now find Anakin Solo to be an annoying brat. [face_devil]" A key centerpoint of Jacen's descent into darkness is the prostitution of his martyred brother's legacy. In Traitor, Jacen shows great sadness over Anakin's death. By Tempest, Jacen names his personal goon squad Star Destroyer after the dead brother. Next, Inferno has Jacen manipulating the memories of Anakin's squeeze- on the day Anakin died, a great little point- to gain his Sith sidekick. Why is Allston delegating an important part of the transfiguration of Jacen's soul to a throw away line? Jacen ends up dying in the trash hold of Anakin Solo. Yes, Jacen dies in the poop deck created by his spin driven interpretation and appropriation of his dead brother. Why Allston's halfbaked drafts are not thrown back to the writing group is perplexing.

    @ Fett 4. Merci. I'll e-mail them to you tomorrow.
  19. The-Eternal-Hero Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2012
    star 4
    It's a mixed bag but there's some seriously good pulp in there.

    Zahn, Stover and Luceno are rock solid genre authors.

    But it gets the job done.
  20. DARTH_MU Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2005
    star 4
    Honestly, I just don't think it's a matter of quality, but whether different fans liked to see the direction of the books are/were taking SW. That and whether their favorite characters made it
    and are developing along their hopes.

    Everything is swell in term of genuine story quality.

    The sole exception is Darksaber by Kevin J Anderson. It read like a bad fanfic. Honestly it's one of the reasons that I started writing fanfiction.
    Last edited by DARTH_MU, Jan 27, 2013
  21. Zane the Reaper Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2012
    star 1
    For anyone who liked the abovementioned Boba Fett story from the Tales books:
    [IMG]
    Darth_Zandalor and TrakNar like this.
  22. JediLaw Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2001
    star 3
    One of my biggest pet peeves is when it is obvious that an author is writing off of their outline. Now almost all author's use an outline, but some don't seem to be able to convert it to prose well. For example an author will have a character make a statement. Then the character will back up their statement with a list. Many times they will actually say, "First, blah blah blah. Second, blah blah blah, Third, Blah blah blah", etc. Michael Stackpole, as much as I love his books, does this all the time. So does Alston and Denning. Just kind of annoying.
  23. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    I love Trevas's artwork, and I like this pic, but the obvious usage of photomanipulation really bugs me.
  24. Danz Borin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2012
    star 1
    Aren't your copy and paste buttons worn out by now?
  25. Danz Borin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2012
    star 1
    Do you really need to de-rail every thread with this same listing all the time?