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

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

  1. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    She didn't read the books (though maybe read summaries). I was under the impression though that she did watch AOTC at least, before writing Hard Contact.
     
  2. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 1999
    Yeah, but 'shades of grey' is linguistic shorthand for 'complex case without clear cut easy answers;, conceptually, in descriptive terms, there is no grey concepts, things are described as a mix of positive and negative, pro and con but not as 'grey', because that has nothing in itself. I understand why the phrase gets used but I don't think it helps at all in discussing hard cases of ethics and morality.

    As to what Ender, WW and DJ have been arguing - it's quite a simple notion but one that Lit has a tendency to resist - that SW' identity is not infinitely stretchable over every type of genre and story style ever created.
     
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  3. Robimus

    Robimus Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Jul 6, 2007
    People claiming that The Ewok Adventure, Republic Commando, Death Troopers, Tag & Bink, Star Wars Lego or what ever are not Star Wars doesn't equal anything. They clearly were and are Star Wars. Maybe the Clone Wars series isn't your style of Star Wars because you don't like the clones getting presented the way they do, but it is still Star Wars.

    Like or dislike, canon or not canon, that doesn't change reality. One can certainly choose to interpret them personally however one wants, but if it gets approved and produced or published by LFL then it is Star Wars.

    This discussion seems to boil down to people not liking certain novels/films/TV shows claiming that those novels/films/TV shows aren't Star Wars. It is kinda pointless. It almost seems to me like a way to attempt to exclude certain fans, who may like certain stories, from being Star Wars fans. It is a really bizarre conversation.
     
  4. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Punching Nazis in Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Yeah, there's enough Star Wars written over several decades to differentiate between "Star Wars I like" and "Star Wars I hate."
     
  5. Wildwookiee

    Wildwookiee Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Why is it bizarre to analyze literature and film and form an opinion on it? First, there are levels of Canon, as recently exemplified by Disney moving the near entirety of the EU to 'Legends' to pave the way for stories within that real estate. So there is canon, and there is GLCanon; which as far as I'm aware are TCW and the Movies. If we acknowledge this fact, then it is very apropos to argue what within the non GLCanon represents the spirit of what is in the GLCanon. Your argument that because a licensing company puts the Star Wars stamp on a product and pushes it out validates the product as being canon is faulty, unless you want to also add the choose your own adventure ending of TFU or the trainwreck of TFUII as actual canon. What about the Glove of Darth Vader? What about Splinter of the Mind's Eye which needs some heavy retcon to make it make sense within the EU?

    as for the discussion about what I 'like' versus what I don't 'like,' I beg you to consider this: I am not speaking of aesthetics. What I am doing is comparing and contrasting the themes and motifs within the GLCanon with works created as a subset and making a judgement of their validity based on their consistency according to the GLCanon. The judgement is not off of what I 'like,' because if it was, I would like RC as a novel because Karen Traviss can write like a boss; the judgement is based off of an objective assessment between two defined works.
     
  6. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Chosen One star 10

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    Sep 2, 2012
    Not that much - it fitted fine into the much later The Rise & Fall of Darth Vader.

    Traviss's themes included "being a lightside Jedi doesn't necessarily make you a good person" - and "there is more to morality than just Light-Side vs Dark Side". Now those are unusual themes - but not unique to her writing.
     
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  7. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 1999
    Two words for you Robi: Brand. Dilation.

    Sure SW can try and do everything - and has done so - but is it really a good idea to do that? To what end? I'm not sure even LFL know that!
     
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  8. Wildwookiee

    Wildwookiee Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 14, 2001

    But the way she went about specifically to be contrarian is. She went out of her way to manipulate the meta-narrative so that she could position the Jedi into a morally ambiguous situation. Now we're back to what Star Wars is: The six movies are indisputably simple: Light-Side vs. Dark-Side. Again, we can through in Anakins fall and redemption out of and back into grace. What Traviss did was use her authority as an author to create a narrative that forced a conclusion contrary to the previously established ethos of the series, and did so not because she interpreted the previous works as to having these qualities, but because she depended on the cliffs notes version and wanted to. So what we have in RC is a non-Star Wars book using characters and situations created by George Lucas. Again, I'm not arguing about the value of her books or the quality of the writing...both are very professional; But I am saying that she has not only misinterpreted the intention of the story, but has actively sought to make that intention the enemy by drawing on themes that were never supposed to be in Star Wars to begin with.

    Personally, I'm glad that the EU has been sent to the "Legend's" catagory, and I hope that J.J Abrams remembers the overarching themes, and keeps it on point. Star Wars does not need to be Halo, it does not need to be Battlestar Galactica, it does not need to tackle the tough controversial questions...heck, it doesn't even need to get super philosophical. It needs to remain a space opera, a spaghetti western in space, a fairy tale. It needs to remain epic, optimistic, non-preachy, fun, and most of all, it needs to retain the clear lines between right and wrong, good and evil, light and dark.
     
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  9. Ender Sai

    Ender Sai Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Feb 18, 2001
    Yeah, I have to say, Wildwookie gets it. I'll be honest; I love those grim and complex stories in the right setting and since discovering George RR Martin some 10+ years ago, I've loved grimdark as a subgenre and Joe Abercrombie specifically. However, if you try to shoehorn those characters into epic fantasy it just feels flat, and soulless. Genre exist and have their conventions for specific reasons.

    Star Wars succeeded by having their characters overcome the odds, triumph against evil, and live happily ever after. The gritty day to day futility of a war built off the dubious moral ground of battery hen troops is great tale to tell, it's just not Star Wars. You can tell by the way the films don't touch on the weighty issues.

    I get that you guys enjoy your military stuff and you also enjoy Star Wars, and when I was a mod here I was heavily pushing for lengthy and unrepentant bans for the people who were rude to KT when she was a member here. So this isn't a personal dislike of her or her writing style. It is a suggestion that ["random genre" + "shoehorn" + "Jedi and blasters" = Star Wars] is in fact either a good idea, a true equation, or an indication of quality. It's none of those things.
     
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  10. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 12, 2013
    I liked Hard Contact and I read all of the other book in the RC/IC series, enjoying them in fits and spurts. But I have to agree with Ender Sai and Wildwookiee on this one; something about those books always felt fundamentally off to me, enough so to not make it feel entirely like Star Wars anymore. It had the Star Wars trappings, the Star Wars lingo and even some of the characters, but the increased amounts of grit and muddied morality, realistic or not, turned them away from what Star Wars' foundation has always been: fun and entertainment. Even the Prequels, in their attempt to do a more dramatic story with Anakin's fall and the destruction of the Jedi, fell into the same problems, and it bled into a lot of the surrounding EU.

    It's why Aaron Allston and Tim Zahn are still two of my favorite authors in the EU, because despite their failing and limitations as writers, they understood that the books needed to have a sense of fun and adventure to them, an old-fashioned good-vs-evil narrative. Even Stover, for all of the dramatic darkness of his book, still understands that there needs to be light to balance it.

    Arguments aside, the Space Opera genre is separate from Science Fiction for a reason: realism is put aside in favor of entertainment. Even Guardians of the Galaxy seems to understand this, playing with its own sense of ridiculousness and focused on making an energetic and entertaining movie rather than dramatic and realistic, even though they're dealing with some very heavy implications for the MCU at large.
     
  11. MistrX

    MistrX Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2006
    The six-movie saga is a space opera, yes. It's a simple story, though even the prequels introduced ideas and elements that added ambiguity, at least to the heroes. It's one of the reasons the "good" side ended up falling. The EU, though, has often made things muddier and morally relative. Traviss certainly didn't start it and it wasn't unique to her writings.

    I'd argue space opera is a subgenre of science fiction, at least the way it's used in the modern sense. For all the labeling of Star Wars as space fantasy, most would still think of it, and GotG, as science fiction.
     
  12. Wildwookiee

    Wildwookiee Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 14, 2001

    The good side did not end up failing; I-III are not the end of the story, merely setting up the preamble and conflict that IV-VI solve. You can't look at it as six separate or two separate sagas, look at it as a six act opera with an intermission. Again, the Characters never, ever, change or grow. They never learn their lesson because they are always who they are. Even Vader' redemption eludes to this: was he held liable for his actions under the emperor? His death says no. He was not filled with Dark Side energy as the Emperor, and he appeared with Obi-Wan and Yoda because he was who he always was. That is allowed in epic storytelling.

    As for the EU, I come back to this again. I'm not saying that Traviss is the only one. On the contrary I put a lot of blame in Shapiro's lap and some of the authors who wanted to get preachy inside the sandbox. But Traviss' cavalier attitude towards keeping the spirit of the Force, and more especially her comments made on her blog draw her to the forefront of my mind. The EU started to lose its way with Del Ray and the NJO in my opinion. It got mean, preachy, and it lacked hope.

    Also, again there are two canons: the GL Canon and everything else. ANYTHING outside of the GL canon can be debated upon, and things inside the GL Canon have to be accepted, regardless of how ridiculous it is (midichlorians, immaculate conception, Jar frakin Jar Binks.) the only GL canon that can be debated is the differences between the remastered and OT, and that is a completely different can of worms.

    All that to say that I wish KT the best, I'll read her other books with enthusiasm, and I am glad she isn't writing Star Wars ever again.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  13. blackmyron

    blackmyron Chosen One star 6

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    Oct 29, 2005
    Ah, but that's not how it'll be going forward.
     
  14. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Punching Nazis in Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Mar 4, 2011
    I prefer "the good guys ended up falling because the bad guys killed them."

    In fact, that's how I still see it. No ambiguity there.

    The PT was interesting in that Palpatine was once viewed as a good guy by the other characters, but from an audience standpoint he was still a manipulative conniving little **** and his victims were still his victims. No different or more ambiguous than the OT.

    I felt Lucas himself got a bit preachy with the PT and TCW, it was not just EU authors, but my reaction was the same: Cool story, bro, but at the end of all the finagling and knicker-twisting, the murderer is still the murderer and the victim is still the victim.
     
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  15. Null Arc 11 0rdo

    Null Arc 11 0rdo Jedi Knight

    Registered:
    Jun 25, 2014

    Exactly.

    It seems like one side is arguing that the stories fail to meet the definition of what it is to be Star Wars, because the Jedi aren't the heros. Because It's to militaristic, too dark, too gritty. Some grand and epic standard was not met because in star wars bad guys are bad guys and good guys are good guys. They like there Star Wars simple and uncomplicated. That doesn't make you less of a Star Wars fan.

    Neither does the fact that I like my heroes to be forced to make hard decisions, to have to face loss and lose their sense of invincibility. Sure losing Chewie was rough, but reading through the rest of the NJO had an urgency that I hadn't really felt while reading previous series.
    KT's book didnt mess up any cannon, didn't change anything for any other author. I've read the RC books a bunch of times, they dont change anything when i watch the movies or read other authors.
     
  16. MistrX

    MistrX Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 20, 2006
    I disagree. The fact that by the end of the story the good guys have won doesn't mean that they didn't fail at one point in the story, particularly the first set of good guys. The old Jedi were supporting a government that had lost its way, that was no longer the positive force for its people it once was. They protected a government that wouldn't act to help a planet being invaded and for whatever reason didn't even testify to that government on what they had witnessed there. Their order was wiped out, the government they supported changed to something worse, and an evil man rose to power while their survivors had to hide. They changed their goals when this happened, protecting the children of a former friend and hero, but that doesn't mean they didn't fail in their original goals of stopping the Sith and protecting freedom in the galaxy. That happens in this straightforward, archetypal story all the time. Bouncing back from failure to eventual victory and success is a familiar trope.

    I would also argue that the characters certainly change and grow. Anakin's fall was a change, a descent into villainy. His Redemption Equals Death end didn't make up for everything he did, but there was some redemption in it, and that was necessary. Obi-Wan and Yoda grow in their realization with how wrong they were at the end of the PT, but like you note with Vader, their change doesn't go all the way. They have shortcomings, and that's what a major part of Luke's journey is all about, becoming and yes, growing into the hero he needs to be and realizing he can save his father through love and forgiveness. And I don't know how you can watch Han's journey in the original trilogy, even after the simultaneous Greedo shot, and claim he doesn't change or grow in three movies. Just because he had that capacity to go good, doesn't mean he didn't have to choose to leave his "quite a mercenary" lifestyle, to turn back and save Luke, to get Leia away from Hoth because he was falling in love with her, to eventually rise to the post of military leader in the Rebel Alliance. How can you argue that they don't change over the original trilogy? Isn't that one of the major points of the hero's journey?

    As far as the EU goes, I think one reason it went into the more complex themes is because it got so big. On one hand, you have the chance to explore a more nuanced story, but on the other, you sort of have to in order to continue making stories that feel new and fresh. How successful the EU was at doing this is another argument, but I disagree that doing so somehow makes it not Star Wars. As I said, it's my opinion the the prequels themselves did this, with Lucas showing us how a previous force for good in the Republic can degrade into the tyranny of the Empire. TCW, also a part of Lucas canon, had the opportunity to explore this with its wealth of new material. There's never a doubt that the Jedi are on the side of good, but we're still able to explore or at least touch upon themes that make you think, like Slick's feelings in "The Hidden Enemy" or the dilemmas of the Umbara arc.
     
  17. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Traviss's picture seemed to be "Black and gray" rather than "Black and white" - the Sith are Evil - but the Jedi don't live up to Good standards - at least not her Good standards.

    Probably shaped most by her perception of the clones as "a slave army that the Jedi are OK with" (Star Wars On Trial).
     
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  18. themetresgained

    themetresgained Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 23, 2013
    So a TV show that Lucas was relatively involved in - more so than the new movies - is not 'Star Wars' enough for you?

    By all means, if you don't like the interpretation then so be it. But let's not sit here and pretend it's somehow *not* Star Wars because you don't like it.
     
  19. patchworkz7

    patchworkz7 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2004

    She'd seen and reviewed the original movie(s) from her time as a journalist and she'd read (at least skimmed) The Cestus Deception since she had the script and was using the (as discussed above) brutal training programs on Kamino on the way they were presented in that manuscript. She was also hired to adapt the REPUBLIC COMMANDO game, which presented itself as a fairly SF-military based FPS game that was set in the SW universe. I'm not really sure what's with the genre arguments, since her use of third person tight means you can assume everything was from the POV of the characters in her story (the narration matches the characters...she's used it ever since she started writing novels), and if you have trouble with picturing that just think about CHINATOWN, which is essentially a third person tight movie as we see everything from Jake's POV (although the narration of the original script wasn't used, it would have lampshaded the fact this was Jake's recollection).

    She was hired to adapt an SF FPS that was strongly military on the basis of her background and the way she'd written military characters for her Wess'har Wars. It did well and they hired her to continue doing it and made bank since each novel sold better than the last.

    Whether military based fiction or non-quest based space opera fiction belongs in SW...I would say the IP holders decide that and from what I know the reason we got the RC game was because George himself vetoed several other options and wanted it.

    I'm gobsmacked at TCW being called "Karen Travissy" since I've seen plenty of fans point to it as a refutation of Traviss' works (for my part I doubt GL even knows who Traviss IS), so I guess there's several interpretations of the material...I sense that the earlier material was seen as being "less Travissy" and later stuff that gave the clone troopers more ambiguity and sometimes showed the Jedi in less than stellar light was considered "more Travissy", but considering she'd been long gone by then I don't even know how one measures TCW or how many Lucas' are in a Traviss...I'm afraid I prefer the metric system.
     
  20. themetresgained

    themetresgained Jedi Master star 4

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    Feb 23, 2013
    *snigger* nicely put.
     
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  21. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Chosen One star 10

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    Sep 2, 2012
    Star Wars on Trial has some interesting debates of the PT Jedi Order, between David Brin and Matt Stover.

    Stover's take on them is a bit more sympathetic than Traviss's - but it's a long way from "they did nothing wrong".
     
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  22. Wildwookiee

    Wildwookiee Jedi Master star 4

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    Apr 14, 2001

    Again, this goes to my point that there are no grey characters. Palpatine was ALWAYS evil, and the perception of him being a good man was him twisting the truth. Anakin Skywalker was ALWAYS a good man, however he was twisted by Palpatine and love for Padme and the fear of her death into service to the Dark Side, however he was untwisted by the love of his son and the sacrificial act that his son was first willing to lay his life down for him, and the realization that the Emperor would use him to twist his son into what he had become, and then his sacrificial act of saving Luke. These Characters never change, merely bent. The perceptions that the characters around him do not matter; what matters, what creates the light and dark, is the situation of their hearts, so it is ok for us to know Palpatine's polarization and for those on the screen to be oblivious to it.


    No. It has everything to do with the fact that these stories do not meet the same ethos as outlined by the source material. Regardless of if any situations were changed, the point is that the flavor, the tone, and the heart of the story is not Star Wars. It is a non-Star Wars book written with Star Warsian elements. Just because a show has a police box in it, does not mean its Doctor Who.


    I agree with this assessment, which is why I don't support her work as being "Star Warsy."


    Let me define what I mean by failure. I'm not saying that they can't fail 'within' the story- this happens all the time. Luke loses his hand, Han gets encased in Carbonite, The Rebels lose at Hoth. What I mean by failure is looking at the entire arc...who is celebrating at Endor? Yes, its the good guys. It isn't an ambiguous win, it isn't just a moral win, it isn't a win where only one or two survive- The good guys win, and ride off into the sunset with a bunch of carebears. Did they have failings? yes, but those were overcome. Heroes are not defined by their lack of shortcomings or failings, they are defined by what they do when those traits rear their heads.

    On characters changing and growing- I still say they do not grow. While what they KNOW and their abilities grows, they are still the same at their core as they were at the very beginning of the movies. Luke was a hero from the first time we saw him on screen, and so was Anakin, if we go from PT-OT, he begins a hero, and he ends a hero untwisted. His villainy is the result of the hero being twisted, bent, but not broken, and still redeemable, which Anakin was at the very end. The Force agreed, note that Anakin appears restored and in his Jedi robes, not as the monolith of evil he became. I submit that a hero does not change, rather simply is refined into what they already are.


    I went back and read my point, and I believe that I was hasty in comparing TCW as 'Travissy' I will freely admit that I got a bit excited, and misspoke.
     
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  23. Ulicus

    Ulicus Lapsed Moderator star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Wildwookiee -- [hl=saddlebrown]Please make use the edit function to add new content to your posts as opposed to posting on top of yourself, so as to keep the thread as uncluttered as possible. Thanks.

    I'll be merging the above posts into one.
    [/hl]
     
  24. patchworkz7

    patchworkz7 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2004
    No problem.

    FWIW, I can understand the issue of genre cross-contamination and why it bothers some. I mean; Noir SW was just "This character is wearing a Space Fedora and is a Space detective"...not particularly noirish. It felt like they'd have been better off just telling their story straight, and the attempt at introducing horror didn't work too well either.

    My only point was that in regards RC the remit was to write a series spinning out of a military SF First-person shooter and the strength of that working (at least selling) was what earned her more books.

    Star Wars is a pretty broad tent, so I think there's room for experiments even when they don't work, but I get the genre argument you're making.

    If I turned on the telly and Dr Who was suddenly a grim & gritty noir detective show I'd certainly have issues, but again, I think the broad church approach is in play. I don't really think that level of darkness is appropriate for Luke's Order, although we do have the NJO, which at points was matching WARHAMMER 40k for SF grimness. So....where/how do we draw the line beyond personal taste and only buying/reading what we like?

    I wasn't on the forums for it, but I can't imagine that the sudden hard turn into dark territory of the NJO went over especially well with purists.
     
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  25. Abadacus

    Abadacus Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 4, 2014
    I think it's wrong to phrase this as "black & white" vs. "complex". Stackpole got pretty morally complex in what are considered some of the definitive Star Wars books, and while the "grittyness" of NJO was controversial, it was often actually mature rather than "grimdark" mature, and proved a refreshing change which has aged relatively well (individual problems aside - Chewie's death).
    I'd argue that Travis' vision is very morally simple; she proposes the stoic, "primitive" alpha male warrior stereotype as the paragon of good in contrast to Lucas' vision of the thoughtful, philosophical, nonviolent idealist in that role.
    Star Wars is a very big tent, and there's plenty of room for badass grunts that still feel like Star Wars stories - but Travis was hacking away at the central tentpole shouting "My corner of the tent is the ONLY GOOD ONE!"

    That's not to say the PT order wasn't flawed, but when she got to the point of pretty much saying "(My culturally-appropriated version of) Mandalorians are AT LEAST as important as Sith and Jedi!" through in-universe mounthpieces, it became clear she had stopped adding slight shades of grey and was just splashing whitewash on her patch whilst throwing tar on everyone else.