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Lit Another TIE Variant: Concerning the Silent Badass, Raith Sienar – and that Ryder Windham Fellow

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Barriss_Coffee, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. Barriss_Coffee

    Barriss_Coffee Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2003
    I have long wanted to make this thread, except an opportunity has never arose. Until now. And thank you, Sinre, for the thread title.

    This thread is partly to ponder the enigmatic mystery man, Raith Sienar, and partly about Ryder Windham, both of whom I think are secret private badasses. Neither get a lot of recognition, and yet their name is on everything. And with good reason.

    Let us begin with a quote from the recent TIE Fighter Owner’s Workshop Manual, which I am absolutely in love with:

    “Engineer and designer Raith Sienar headed his corporation with minimal self-promotion, and was, according to numerous reports, less interested in recognition than technical challenges and customer satisfaction.”

    I remember the first time I was introduced to Raith when I got the Incredible Cross Sections books. I was just starting to read the EU back then, and I was perplexed why this Sienar name was all over the place. It was like he invented everything. Even Darth Maul’s ship!

    Eventually he finally showed up in the New Essential Guide to Characters, this seemingly dull middle-aged nobody, and there’s this little passage that says he infiltrated the Xi Char for a time to work with them and learn their skills. Wait, what? This humble nobody infiltrated a cult of crazy alien zealots just cuz he was curious? You guys know the Xi Char look like Vulture Droids, right? I immediately got out a pen and paper and wrote a fanfic about this. It ended up resembling some zany Doc Ock antihero quest, but it was totally worth it to delve into the mind of a fellow who literally just doesn’t care what anybody thinks. He’s just doing it because he’s got this machine-like interest with learning technology and making more of it.

    While I generally didn’t like Rogue Planet, that had nothing to do with Sienar. It was his only book role to date. And honestly, I think he’s fine. There’s this one scene, in fact, that’s classic Sienar: little Anakin looses his temper near the end and Force-chokes Tarkin (SO glad that’s been removed from canon), and Sienar’s standing around nearby inspecting a ship and just casually stops to watch. Doesn’t interfere. Watches with interest. Like it’s a scientific demonstration. That is SO Sienar.

    I thought poor Sienar was a gonner with the new EU, until his name was dropped in the Lando comic. And now we have this wonderful TIE manual, which is chock full of Sienar. It’s like he's some sort of wizard, and every time they need a new TIE, they go to him with an idea and he’s like “why look, I already designed a prototype for a TIE that does exactly that.”

    How many prototypes does Sienar have? Will we ever know?

    I honestly suspect he did not get along with Thrawn. I’d love to learn more about that. The new Thrawn trilogy (are we calling it that now? The Disney Thrawn Trilogy?) shows how obsessed Thrawn was over his babies, the TIE Defenders. Just cuz they have shields. Well Sienar had already invented like 5 TIES with shields before he did. I would love for someone to write a story about that. Just not Zahn, cuz Thrawn would win by studying Sienar’s TIEs. Except Sienar might have a prototype to outmaneuver him. Hmmm. That might be an interesting competition.[face_thinking]

    I also want to spare a moment to thank that other crafty fellow behind the drawing board, Ryder Windham. This guy is another human machine. How many decades has it been, and he’s still writing Star Wars source books? I remember reading his Missions books when I was a kid. And here he is, cranking out source books as if it’s the 90s and Bantam still has the license. This dude is amazing. What I love about his TIE Manual is how he comes up with a backstory for why the Empire wanted each design, and how they all link up. He takes the known pieces of old EU canon that fit and ties (ahem) them together with the new models to make a rough story from the engineer side of things.

    So thanks Ryder. Or Raith. For all the TIEs. (uh the resemblance is deceptive, right? Or was that Essential Guide artist up to something?)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I can’t wait for the next edition of the TIE Fighter manual in five years. It’s already obsolete in lacking the Fallen Order TIE.
     
  2. Thrawn McEwok

    Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    May 9, 2000
    *a cheering Ewok stands up on a log and applauds*

    Just grinned even more at this turn of phrase.

    And if Zahn can set Thrawn against Sienar, I'd bite. Though to be honest, I'd suspect that they're working together on the TIE Defender. Because, you know, Thrawn appreciates art.

    And a TIE without Sienar is just pastiche. :p

    - The Imperial Ewok
     
  3. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Somebody once posted here that they headcanoned that, no matter the continuity, whatever incarnation of the Empire that exists will always have Raith Sienar secretly hooked up to a life-support tank somewhere designing new TIEs. I'm on board with that.
     
  4. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    The hell? I thought Ryder was a wooden ventriloquist dummy. What's up with that human pic?
     
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  5. Wrinty

    Wrinty Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Fallen Order TIE?
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  6. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Well now I need that TIE manual.

    :tie:
     
  7. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    I want to read the story of how Raith Sienar invented the TIE fighter. Not the TIE Interceptor, not the TIE Bomber, damn sure not the TIE Defender. The basic TIE fighter. That commodity which, after hydrogen and stupidity, is the most plentiful in the galaxy.

    I mean, did somebody just go up to this incredibly talented, once-in-a-generation starship designer, and say "I want you to design the least capable, least durable, most expendable fighter you can possibly imagine?" Did somebody tell him "I want you to design the space superiority version of a Foot Clan henchman?" Did he just walk in with his designs for a next-generation starfighter like no one had ever seen before, and the Imperial Starfleet admirals were like "yes, but... take out the shields, the hyperdrive, the life support, and practically everything else that might make it awesome?"

    I actually can imagine him diagnosing what kind of military power the Empire would be (in Rogue Planet he seems to be at the very least aware of politics, if nothing else), and coming up with the TIE fighter design on his own because he knew that's the sort of thing the Empire would go for. But still, what a waste of talent.
     
  8. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    The ETA and V-wing predate the TIE, no?
     
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  9. The Positive Fan

    The Positive Fan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Ryder Windham and the TIE Workshop Manual earn my gratitude for finally, canonically, acknowledging the outward-bent-wing design of the TIE command shuttle. It even includes a beautifully clear picture photo of the ship that's reasonably close to the design that appeared in TESB. Glorious!
     
  10. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Most definitely, yes.

    The thing is that the Eta-5 is mostly a Jedi starfighter - meaning the pilots have the reflexes and supernatural abilities to compensate for the fact that it's such a light craft. The V-wings are more like your standard TIE fighters, but they're also complemented by the ARC-170, which is a much heavier and more capable starfighter. Whereas the TIE was clearly meant to be the backbone of the Imperial fighter corps, without the more powerful starfighters to complement it or the supernatural pilots to make up for its shortcomings.

    They eventually do start making better craft, but it takes them a while.
     
  11. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 24, 2013
    Raith Sienar needs to get enteched by Ssi Ruuvi and installed into a World Devastator so he can churn up debris and forever create new Ties on repeat!

    Well, one can't do that to my friend Ryder of course but him being kept alive to churn out more books with no end in sight would be a delight! He is giving his everything for these... even his blood ;) He is literally spilling himself into the world with a blooddrive to share the best of him with everyone! (Go and donate too!)

    Regarding Ties with shields... I always had the feeling that when the New Republic captured and used Imperial tech like Stardestroyers it too used Ties. So we might be due a New Republic Tie-Fighter refitted with shields long before the First Order did it down the line once post ROTJ era opens up in full next year! Damn Centrists just stole NR Tie ideas for the First Order variants and added some new antennae and turret guns!

    Pity we never got (so far) a rant of Raith about pirates and rebels modding his brilliant designs into Uglies! That'd make a nice rpg or inuniverse guidebook story textbox. Or how budget cuts and burocracy turned his brilliant vessels into cut down canon fodder lacking its original purpose and versatility. Like a Tie-Crawler that might have taken to the skies as well despite thick wheeled-wings? If you shoot it down it just keeps driving at ya!

    Canon also has yet to recanonise the Chiss Tie Fighter version of Legends, I am sure it is coming down the line.
     
  12. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 24, 2013
    Ah yes I was lobbying for that design to be recanonised and used or acknowledged ever since I saw the original artwork of it and a nice model recreated from it at Celebration. The builder claimed he once saw the original model, which was believeable given his connections and other pro-level model recreations he had on display. Got pics of it still in my fb photos I believe.
     
  13. Thrawn McEwok

    Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    May 9, 2000
    Depends. The Haynes manual mentions the V-wing and the Eta-2 as precursors to the Imperial procurement program that led to the TIE Fighter, and says that Sienar then offered the Empire two designs - the one they knew about in advance was relatively fragile, with narrow cylindrical struts between the cockpit and the wing panels, and limited to hard vacuum, but Sienar offered an alternative, the main visible difference of which was in the design of the connecting pylon, which became the TIE.

    Now, the pre-reboot sources always claimed vaguely that the original "T.I.E. starfighter" was an Old Republic design (this was originally from WEG, I think) - but more specifically, the Advanced Project ship from Rogue Planet was recognizably a prototype of the TIE configuration in 29 BBY (ball cockpit, narrow struts, and the wing panels are purely cooling vanes), and the HNN website tie-in - pun intended - before Ep.II reported the debut of the prototype SIE-TIE propulsion unit - recognizably the pylons and cockpit frame of the classic TIE - in 22 BBY.

    Now, the subtext behind the Haynes text seems to be that the original version which the Empire asked for corresponds to the Advanced Project ship and the alternative offered by Sienar which proved the superior design corresponds to the SIE-TIE; you could read this either as a chronological relocation of the older narrative, or as implying that Tarkin asked Sienar to dust off the design he knew from 29 BBY, but Sienar responded with the engine he'd prototyped in 22 BBY. Either way, I wouldn't be surprised if Ryder Windham was perfectly aware of the implications. :D

    There have definitely been some wiggles in the reboot narrative - in "Mist Encounter", the Strikefast carried T.I.E. starfighters in 19 BBY, but these have become V-wings in Thrawn, where the reboot version of the same events also appears to occur somewhat further into the Imperial period. But as things stands, the relationship between the Hayes text and the old canon could be read both ways.

    I'm going to step in here and defend the TIE. I think the design is entirely logical as a fighter designed to work in conjunction with the flight-deck, flight control and sensor package of a capital ship (plus dedicated sensor-picket variants), which provides an integrated and sophisticated and very Imperial way of doing thing. The idea that the TIE prioritises performance - range, speed, manoeuvrability - and simplicity of design and maintenance makes good sense to me. The resemblance to the Imperial Japanese design ethos is certainly no accident - and to a certain extent the Luftwaffe's Fw.190, which was almost uncatchable within a specific performance envelope (in this case, low-altitude speed and snap-roll manoeuvrability).

    A recent rewatch of that the ANH footage, prompted by some interesting points raised by a poster here named @Hernalt, led me to very much like the idea that we should see the blasters on the TIE as very powerful guns capable of killing shielded fighters with a single punch if you can get in to very close range on their tail - just like the autocannons of Japanese fighters and Focke-Wulfs, while the longer-ranged but less punchy quad-lasers of the X-wing correspond to the .50-cals of the opposing Grumman 'cats and Mustangs, just as their more rugged and long-legged designs broadly match the ethos of those planes.

    There are some other parallels, but they're obscure and possibly just chance... :p

    - The Imperial Ewok
     
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  14. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 25, 2004
    Yeah after seeing the V-wing, I think the TIE fighter does make more sense. If you cram a hyperdrive and a ton of proton torpedoes onto your fighter, then it makes it much heavier and less maneuverable. I'm surprised the X-wing is always depicted as having all this nice extra stuff but is still somehow able to fight and win against TIE fighters.
     
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  15. Long Snoot

    Long Snoot Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2018
    All things considered, the TIE might simply be the best option for what the Empire needed during its foundation and expansion.

    Versatile and durable designs such as the V-19 and the ARC-170 were pretty effective in most roles but, like the yet to come X-Wing, they were also expensive. The Republic Navy's need to quickly replace lost fighters and quickly expand its fleets for the outer rim sieges led to the cheaper (but more specialised) V-Wings, which still proven to be effective. As soon as the Empire was founded, its military had to control both Republic and Separatist space, where old factories and mining facilities would soon be taken over and defended. A galaxy-wide fleet of X-Wings or similar fighters would simply be too expensive, even with the Empire's resources, and the manufacturing a smaller fleet would be unable to defend all this territory, not effectively at least. Even when Sienar presented more advanced designs (like the v1 or the x1), the Imperial Navy had to compromise with the cheaper TIE interceptor in its plan to slowly replace the TIE fighter.

    Considering all these requirements, the TIE fighter is still a formidable weapon. It has an advanced engine technology that makes it considerably fast and manouverable, its weapons are very compact and yet much powerful (being able to take down a shielded fighter in a single shot in close range, as pointed out before), it has VTOL capabilities and it's shape allows it to fit in many different racks or hangars. The vast amount of specialised variants that derived from the TIE fighter are a perfect demonstration of the design's efficiency and versatility. Shields and torpedo launchers are useful tools, but perhaps redundant in a fleet built in a period of (relative) peace which main purpose would be defending military assets from pirates and insurgents.
     
  16. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    Yyyessss his blood drive stuff on facebook is phenomenal. The man's a blood machine; he just never stops. He may not be the most well-known of SW public figures, but he does use the fame he has to advocate for a good cause. I love it.
     
  17. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 24, 2013
    I was at Frankfurt Bookfair today and read through the Rebel Starfighter Manual at display... after the Tie one, we are in for another treat! You bet you do not want to miss this one either! :D
     
  18. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Something that occurred to me when doing my X-wing reread recently: you often hear about the New Republic taking and refitting Star Destroyers into their service (even Super Star Destroyers when they get the chance). What you don't come across nearly as often: the New Republic appropriating TIE fighters in the same way.

    It's not hard to imagine that they just took one look at it and said "you know what, I think we'll just stick with the fighters we've been using since the Rebellion."
     
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  19. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    The Rebel vs. Imperial approach to starfighters actually reminds me of an article I read long ago about the British vs. German doctrines when it came to aircraft, on the eve of WW2. Basically, the British put more stock in the idea of an independent air force which could take action at long-range against its enemies on the continent, whereas the Germans put more stock in the idea of the air force in a supporting role for its ground troops, in circumstances like blitzkrieg warfare.* (As you'd expect from a maritime power with no borders with anyone on the continent, versus a land-based power in the middle of Europe - different priorities). There's a similar thing at work in Star Wars, where the Imperials see starfighters as primarily a tool to complement the fleet, while the Rebels, presumably because they have far fewer capital ships or people to crew them, put a lot more emphasis on a starfighter force having more autonomy and packing more punch by comparison.

    * That's theory, of course. In the actual war they both had to change their ways, what with the Germans having to use air power alone to try and bomb the British into submission, and the British having to put more emphasis on defense than long-range bombing for a little while.

    Well, I think whether they're too expensive depends largely on what else you want to spend money on. The old expanded universe only implied, but the new one has made more explicit, that the reason the Imperial war machine spends (comparatively) so little on its fighter force is because of all the money being sunk into superweapons production. Hence the competition between Thrawn's TIE Defender project and Krennel's Death Star project. The Empire probably could afford a respectable number of high-performance fighters (with the ordinary TIEs complementing them the way the V-wings complemented the ARC-170s), but they'd rather build superweapons instead, which, given the performance of those weapons as per the movies, turns out to've been probably a bad call.
     
  20. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    I think the X-wing's whole shtick is to be a jack of all trades. It's more lightly armed than a Y-wing or B-wing, but it's also faster and better in a dogfight. It's slower than an A-wing or a TIE fighter, but it's better armed and better protected. It's less advanced than an E-wing or a TIE Defender, but it's cheaper and simpler to fly. The X-wing isn't the best at anything, but it's "good enough" at damn near everything, which is why it remains so popular for so long.

    The X-wing actually strikes me as less complex and so probably also cheaper than the ARC-170 - most obviously, only one crew member instead of three. I imagine the people at Incom drew the same conclusions as you about how expensive the ARC-170 was, and decided to go with a "less is more" approach with its successor.

    By the way, ever notice how Z-95s are still popping up all over the place even decades after they've been superseded, but ARC-170s not so much? Obviously, OOU that's because they weren't invented until twenty-five years later. But IU, it's also easy to imagine that a lot of people looked at the ARC-170 and went "eh, nice bird, but damned expensive and damned complex," and went with the simpler and cheaper Z-95 instead. Which Incom would have noticed, and then taken into account when designing its latest ship.
     
  21. Long Snoot

    Long Snoot Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2018
    Oh yes 100%, I only mentioned the ARC-170 as another example of fighter that's meant to be indipendent from capital ships.
    I'd say the X-Wing and ARC-170 are two different evolutionary lines with the same predecessor (the clone Z-95). Interestingly enough, the T-75 would follow the same philosophy of getting lighter and more adapt for dogfighting, while the more recent T-85 would go back to being much heavier (possibly a matter of needing a more indipendent fighter as a consequence of the demilitarisation).
     
  22. Daneira

    Daneira Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2016
    Interestingly, though, the New Republic did use "liberated" A-9 Vigilance interceptors, which was basically just KDY's attempt at a TIE fighter. So maybe they just hate Sienar?
     
  23. ColeFardreamer

    ColeFardreamer Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 24, 2013
    We know KDY is in it for money, not the Empire itself. Sienar is an Artist, he may not be a believer in the Imperial dream but as an artist he had his own ideology and would not give in when any government came with wishes and requests about changes to his masterpieces. KDY is more open to such for business reasons.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  24. Barriss_Coffee

    Barriss_Coffee Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2003
    Interestingly, this book actually covers a little of that story. Admittedly, I don't have every source book, so I was unsure at first whether that story had been told before. But I think at least some of it is entirely new.

    There was a lot of back-and-forth regarding the original TIE. Sienar's last version, which is the one we see in the films, does not look entirely like the plan the Empire requested, which was his first design. Little things like reinforcing the wing spars and allowing the ship to "rest" on its wings were his own last-minute editions. Tarkin kept harping on the cost and forced them to turn it into a death box. Er. Death... bowtie.

    There's also a quick story at the end of the book, almost one of the last pages, which explains how Raith invented the docking mechanism for the TIEs. So all those catwalks are his as well.

    Honestly I think a lot of these little details in the backstories come from Windham just staring the hell out of all the TIE variants, including accidental errors in drawings, from over many years. There are little pieces of info like "for the such-and-such variant, the windows were slightly larger because [insert Imperial bureaucratic reason/Vader request/Sienar flourish here]" or like... what kind of deal Sienar Fleet Systems had with the mining guild, explaining why their TIEs in Rebels had "chipped"-looking wings. Just a whole lot of random explanations. Or not-so-random. Clearly well thought out, but on the basis of oddities in the designs over the years that, OOU, were just due to people playing around with the basic TIE design.
     
  25. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Yeah, that would make sense. The value of the kind of starfighters the Rebels use is that they can do serious damage to capital ships, while costing a hell of a lot less than said capital ships. Same basic principle as using a Stinger missile to bring down a Soviet attack helicopter. They're a poor man's weapon, relatively speaking (which is probably one reason why the X-wing's controls are designed to resemble those on the T-16s favored by Outer Rim farmboys). So it would make sense that a more cash-strapped military would go back to putting more emphasis on them.
     
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