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Lit A question on Karen Traviss and her work(s)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Pyrotek, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Gorefiend

    Gorefiend Chosen One star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 23, 2004
    *hugs Doc*
    And I thought I was the only person left that actually loved the old Mandos and Boba way more than when someone tried to make them Klingons. :D
     
  2. imiller

    imiller Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Interestingly, I hated Boba Fett until I read Traviss's Legacy novels. I'm still not his biggest fan, but other than Revelation, I think her Boba is an interesting character.

    That being said, and despite my real love for the first two RC novels, I think that there are too many problems with her last few novels for Star Wars for me to really enjoy them. Quite apart from any editorial or continuity or any other external issues, I was growing tired of the kind of self-righteousness (fairly typical in my experience of heavily journalist-associated stories) that marred my fierce love of the fact that here, at last, was a hard scifi look at military cloning, with gizmos and action that was fun but also a look at the moral horror that is the cloning project. I don't really get the sense that anyone else writing in that era really hated the fact that the clones were slave cannon fodder that the Jedi did nothing to help legally. Yes, the animated series shows them as individuals (much better than the films), and there are some actually quite awesome episodes where they do poke at that hornet's nest (the traitor on Christophsis episode, and the deserter one) - but very few of the novels do anything other than have clones come in, get shot, and die.

    And that really bothered me. So when Traviss wrote about how there's more to the clones than that, was was outraged by it, I was (and am) so thrilled that someone else got the problems that I can deal with her perspective and non-reading and journalistic issues.

    For about two books.

    Then, sadly, I'm gone.

    This being gone-ness has nothing to do with her interaction with fandom, about which the less said probably the better, on all sides. :(
     
  3. Guinastasia

    Guinastasia Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 9, 2002
    I'm on Bloodlines right now, and I'm finding it a major chore. It's so freaking boring, and as someone said above, what does Boba Fett and his issues have to do with the story? Why drag him in? (Yes, I know, her Mando obsession is the obvious answer. But why did DR approve it?)

    Whoa. She reminds me of Anne Rice, that time she flipped out because she got bad reviews.



    Actually, I could see an interesting story exploring the ethics of how the Jedi felt about using a clone army. Instead of, you know, just going completely batcrap over the whole thing.
    Thing is, the Jedi are well, not all human, but they're people, and people aren't perfect. Perfect characters are boring. Black and White characters and plots (this person is Good, this person is Bad) is boring. People have flaws. I thought that was part of the Jedi's flaw -- that they were so stuck in their old ways, that they were unable to change, that they were unable to see what was happening right under their noses.


    She has a very black and white, very rigid way of looking at things.

    (And if people were making fake snuff films of me on youtube, I'd laugh. Well, I'd be concerned for my safety, but as far as insulting, I'd find it funny as hell. So, just so you know, anyone is free to make a fake snuff film about me)



    (I will however give her credit for bringing the first gay couple into SW. That's pretty cool.)
     
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  4. Zeta1127

    Zeta1127 Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    I like Boba Fett because of The Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy by K.W. Jeter and No Disintegrations, Please by Paul Danner, and I quite confident that I won't like Traviss' LotF Boba Fett because Boba Fett simply isn't a tragic hero.
     
  5. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 6, 2007
    I find that all of Karen's characters are written as being flawed, from Kal right on down.

    If we are going to talk about authors that don't write flawed characters we need to look no farther than someone like Timothy Zahn's Thrawn & Mara Jade or Stackpole's Corran Horn.

    The only mistake Thrawn ever made in life was trusting the Nohgri, other than that its one act of military brilliance after another. Mara Jade was an Imperial Assassin who killed people without using tapping into the darkside of the force because her loyalty to Palaptine was so pure and just. And don't even get me started on Corran Horn.:p

    Those characters don't have faults because their authors didn't give them any, yet they are three of the most popular characters in the history of the EU. Are they boring?

    To compare, Kal Skirata is a hopelessly flawed bigot, who ran out on his own biological family and turned his back on his own nation. His one good quality is that he wants to help the clones, some of which he adopted into his family.

    Wouldn't it be easier for the reader just to not agree with his actions and opinion? Do we need to be spoon fed characters who have such a clear view of what is right and what is wrong that it always agrees with our own views?

    I'm pretty sure the real world is filled with all manner of folks, both criminal and not, that think to themselves that they are good people even though I would find their actions and veiws objectionable.
     
  6. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Indeed.

    Concerning the "Clones are slaves, Republic are slave-owners, Jedi are slave-overseers" viewpoint- I can see where it's coming from.

    In that paradigm, Padawans, as Commanders in the Grand Army, don't get a pass on responsibility- though they are less responsible.

    A Padawan can be anything from 12-25 or so- they're not exactly younglings.
     
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  7. Gorefiend

    Gorefiend Chosen One star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 23, 2004
    Oh they have flaws, but more along the lines of "What the f... is wrong with you?“ than flaws in personality per se.

    He has 2 major very consisted character flaws – extreme arrogance and he is incredible melodramatic in pretty much anything he does – you know the things that get him killed, exiled and marginalized. ;)

    Oh she is skilled but far from perfect, displaying a general lack of patience, a very Imperialistic view of many things, especially when concerned with social interactions and Aliens, and she hates to have people help her, even if it would be more practical to bring people along.

    You could fill a whole book about what Corrans character flaws are, oh wait they did, it’s called I, Jedi :p and it’s a very fun read, since most of the book is just about Corran messing up because he doesn’t listen to others and is incredible fond of his deductive skills, even if he shoots 100% off target. Hell his R2 unit is usually more correct about things than he is.

    He is and that what makes it so strange that everyone listens to him and takes his side in the books.


    No that just further proves that he is a bigot, his real family ran out from him because he was a messed up fanatic, so he just brain washes children that he is entrusted
    with instead and claiming its better for them that way. He is worse than the Jedi and Republic Officers that lead the Clone Troopers, he moans about, those at least let them pick their own identities and encourages them to find their own personalities, he just molds them into what he wants them to be. Hell he seems to be the main antagonist of the series more than anyone else.



    It’s just does not make it an enjoyable read if the main plot driving character has no redeeming qualities and if there is no characters around that offer him a counter point when he is clearly messing up. It’s like watching one of those conspiracy nut documentaries and just every few seconds having to go “wrong!” and just switching the thing off after 2 minutes. A good story needs contrast characters, just so there is something to measure against.



    I am fine with 2 views going at each other, you know like having likeable villains and flawed heros, Traviss got as unlikeable pseudo villains trying to be likeable heros.o_O Well outside of HC which was a fun read, maybe because there was a kind of likeable villain and actually action going on.

    Yes because you are offered something to measure them against, as Havac points out we got "the self-obsessed tunnel-vision viewpoint of the repulsively self-righteous main characters." whichs is usally something I get when I read one sided history text books or outright propaganda.
     
  8. _Catherine_

    _Catherine_ Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Yeah, Jango does. All the rank-and-file Mandos get slaughtered.
     
  9. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 6, 2007
    According to Count Dooku eleven Jedi were slain at Galidraan. By my count Fett killed five. Who killed the other Jedi I wonder?

    Its clear that they have things wrong with them. Their flaws are not superficial ones like "impatience".

    But thats exactly what those stories are, they are from the POV's of Mandalorians that are by and large negative of the establishment around them. Contrary to popular opinion there are characters(granted they are in the minority) who call the Skirata Clan on their hypocrisy. Obviously not enough of them for some people, but they are there. Its right in the text.

    I mean if you were reading a book about the POV of a member of the KKK would you really expect them, their family and their followers to sit around thinking about how wrong they are? Even if there wasn't a character around to point out to them that they are wrong does that make their opinions right?

    One of the things that I really like about Karen Traviss is that she characters are not apologetic about their views. Could she have presented a more balanced view? Sure. Would it have made the books better? Not for me.

    To compare I'm going to point toward another novel that I really enjoy called Shadow Hunter. While this novel offers a much more balanced approach in its pro Jedi vs Anti Jedi veiws the book still bascially ends with the anti-Jedi character coming around to have a respect for the Jedi. Does it work? Yes it does, but it still comes across that the character with the anti Jedi POV is discovering the error of his ways as a part of his journey.
     
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  10. _Catherine_

    _Catherine_ Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Probably not one guy.
     
  11. Zeta1127

    Zeta1127 Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Thanks to Robimus, now I think I can safely say I know why some people can't stand some parts of the Republic Commando series, unapologetic bias from the characters that only presents one viewpoint. I can deal with it, because I don't let it get under my skin.
     
  12. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oh, it deos go a bit far at times for even me, that I won't argue. But I still found the books very enjoyable in general.

    It was post Traviss of course but the Mandalorians in TCW are also shown having some success against Obi-Wan Kenobi, so I don't think the idea that a Mandalorian could be troublesome for a Jedi is far fetched.

    That said I really disliked the Caedus scene in Revelation. Allowing the main villian to be made to look bad by two minor characters was not a good move which pretty much highlights of issues many have with Karen's books. If Caedus had owned those two and then been shot by Fett or something, that I could see making sense as a part of the story.
     
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  13. Zeta1127

    Zeta1127 Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    I think I don't notice Traviss' journalistic style bias as much, because I gravitated to the characters and setting, before her journalistic style bias invaded the story, and simply stuck with the characters and setting no matter what.
     
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  14. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 1999
    Huh, she'd likely claim she doesn't have any such bias!

    I generally dislike people like Traviss because they tend to be "something must be done" and "hindsight advisers" - they'll rip apart any decision made with the benefit of hindsight, while before that decision is made they'll be staking out the moral high ground and demanding "something must be done", then when "something is done", they complain incessantly about it, that it isn't good enough etc. If you're looking for a definition of a fool idealist, this is a good one.

    If the Jedi had refused to use the clones? We'd probably have books going on about the devastation caused by Jedi wanting to keep their hands clean and not use a perfectly good army to actually defend the people they claim to!
     
  15. beccatoria

    beccatoria Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2006
    I probably wouldn't expect the entire novel to be devoid of such perspectives and characters either. I certainly wouldn't expect civil rights activists to sit around thinking about how, really, there was a sort of nobility to these embattled racists and their pointy hats.

    Honestly I think the analogy is overblown and probably veers close to Godwin territory, so I'll let it rest there. But it's ultimately futile to have this argument - it's what Traviss arguments always boil down to. Does the text encourage the reader to be critical of its protagonists' voices, or does it promote them as admirable and rational? Where does the text encourage criticism, because if the answer is nowhere, why should we assume it's implied?

    Just because it's possible to read against the text for an entire novel doesn't mean the burden should be on the reader to do so and assume she is meant to. I could read Atlas Shrugged as an ironic deconstruction of capitalism, approached from the postmodernist style of an unironic, immersive experience where the author attempts to show us what it is like to believe these things. But that doesn't mean I should, or that such an argument should insulate the novel against someone pointing out its obvious political message.
     
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  16. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    I suspect that an overarching liking of mercenaries in general might be behind the portrayal of Mandalorians. I recall reading other, non-SW Traviss novels, with similar focus on mercenaries as heroes.

    Thus, with them as the closest equivalent- she tried to paint them in as good a light as she could manage.
     
  17. QuentinGeorge

    QuentinGeorge Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 12, 2003
    I certainly wouldn't expect civil rights activists to sit around thinking about how, really, there was a sort of nobility to these embattled racists and their pointy hats.

    Or blacks and Catholics to think, "You know? This Grand Cyclops make a good point. We are terrible people!"
     
  18. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 6, 2007
    But I'd still argue against the zero balance arguement. For instance in Triple Zero Zey mentions how the Republic army was trained by "Bounty Hunters and Assassins". True Colors has Arligan Zey telling Jusik "Skirata is not your role model. He's a Mandalorian", so on. IC has more of the same from Zey.

    Those are both pretty far removed from having Zey sitting around thinking about how noble the Mandalorians are.

    Now Zey as a voice for balance perhaps isn't vocal enough but he never backs away from the Jedi Order either, he never looks at Skirata and says "Your right Kal, we are terrible people". He argues wtih Skirata and he calls Skirata on his hipocrisy at times, he also accepts some responsibility for the failure of the Jedi Order. But its also pretty tough for any Jedi who remained alive after Order 66 to look at the events surrounding the fall of the Jedi Order and the rise of the Empire and not feel some responsibility for how things played out.

    Bec, how many of Karen Traviss's books have you read? I guess I would ask the same question of Ben?
     
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  19. Gorefiend

    Gorefiend Chosen One star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 23, 2004
    Funny enough normal people did most of the fighting and suffering in the Clone Wars anyway, but outside of a few sources those just get marginalized heavily.
     
  20. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 6, 2007
    To the contrary we have a link to her "Why I Hate the Jedi" views as a part of this very discussion. She has always been very open with her feelings towards the Star Wars universe - its a reason that numerous fan point to as a negative quality of hers.

    In short she has admitted that she does have a bias and has the quotes available for all to see.
     
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  21. Master_Keralys

    Master_Keralys VIP star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2003
    I read the first half the RC series and all her entries in LotF. It was the LotF Jedi thinking those kinds of things about themselves that pushed me over the edge. I don't know what anyone thinks/says in the last couple entries of RC, because I was already done with her stuff by then; it just stopped making sense to me and therefore interesting me.

    *shrug*

    As for the Jedi, sure, I think they all end up feeling, "Man, we sure got played like a bunch of fiddles", but of course, that's much different from thinking, "Man, if only we'd been more like those awesome Mandos!" YMMV.
     
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  22. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 1999
    Hard Contact and the absolute stinker that was Triple Zero, after that, with TZ very nearly getting the dubious honour of being the first unfinished SW EU book ever, she was off the list of authors I was interested in. Similarly Denning got himself off the list with the crap that was DN.

    Yet, there's also stuff like this:

    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/karen-traviss-gears-of-war-100820.html

    Now, sure, you can say people hold contradictory opinions all the time, but this is a hell of a schism in thought - especially when that whole anti-Jedi outlook is factored in. (Which comes off as embodying all the worst traits of the outlook she claims to be opposed to!)
     
  23. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 1999
    To me it's less negative and more baffling, SW EU is franchise fiction, people wish to write in it because they're fans of it but Traviss? It's like a new writer being announced on Batman and they give an interview where their opening line is:

    "Batman? Oh I hate him! He's a fascistic vigilante that's utterly contemptous of law and order!"

    At which point the immediate counter is: Why on earth write it then?
     
  24. beccatoria

    beccatoria Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Actually, she makes sure to state that she doesn't hate Jedi, who don't exist, she hates real world people who are bigoted and then goes on to...attack the hypothetical reader asking the question by making all sorts of assumptions about their ethics. It's a bit weird.

    But to answer your question, cover-to-cover, I've read three. The LOTF ones. I tried one of the RepCom ones but couldn't get through it. Probably should have started with Hard Contact which is the one everyone recommends, but that's not the one that was kicking around the charity shop, so. My opinion is formed around her treatment of the Mandalorian storyline throughout LOTF, and then compounded by the fact that when I briefly tried to take a look at her other stuff, it conformed to my expectations based on my LOTF experience, and based on what I'd heard from others here whose opinions and tastes I tend to share. My opinions are also coloured by her realworld persona and attitudes, and I think that's fair. If someone's going to walk around saying, "I really don't like the Jedi. I think the Mandalorians are a great way to expose their hypocrisy," then that's fine, but I'm going to be more likely to assume that the messages to that effect I see in the text are intentional. There's nothing wrong with "the author is dead" school of criticism, indeed, I skew more towards formalism when left to my own devices, but when the author's actually wandering around offering their own Cliffs' Notes guide, I see no reason to ignore it on abstract principle, either.

    Bottom line, though, I don't think there needs to be a minimum amount of her novels that should be read before one can render an opinion on their experience of her writing. I think that skews towards shutting down conversation with a slightly fancier version of "you just don't get it". Just bring up counterexamples and if they're in stories I'm unfamiliar with, that's fair enough. Either you'll have raised something of which I was unaware, something I've got an opinion on anyway and we can discuss whether or not it's an informed one, or something which is irrelevant to my point. In this case, I'm not familiar enough with the RepCom novels to really have an informed opinion on the counterpoint Zey provides, but I will say that it's irrelevant to my experience of the Mandalorian storyline within the LOTF series. Or that if I need to read four novels based around a computer game I wasn't interested in, set sixty years earlier, in order to understand the tone of an entire storyarc in LOTF, that's still a huge failure.
     
  25. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 1999
    What she does in that linked article is assume people's outlook on the Jedi, a fictional creation, is representative of their entire outlook and then claims said outlook is akin to the Nazis! Her default position seems to boil down to: War is bad and ranking lives and assigning different value to them is wrong. Well, yeah, both things are not great, but there are times when they are not the epitome of evil. How exactly should the Nazis have been fought? How should targets have been prioritised? Oh wait, the generals are assigning different worth to thousands of people - therefore they must be evil! It just about works as a crazy anti-war position but even there it's a stretch.

    It's a very crude and vicious reductionist viewpoint to the point of absurdity. Are my views on SW EU distincty from my real-world politics? Hell yeah! Why? Easy - one is fiction, the other is not!