Sunday, January 24, 2016

Build Up to A New Hope

The very satisfying Han Solo Trilogy is now complete, at least my reading of it. Rebel Dawn (1998) concludes the three book set with a bang featuring a nicely written ground combat war scene (to go with book 2's big space battle) and tie-ins galore with the Original Trilogy. In fact, the end of this book dumps you right into the lap of A New Hope, leading me to want to read the OT novelizations next (I have never done so).

The only gripe I might have with this one is understandable: A. C. Crispin includes a bunch of 'back story', re-hashing the events of the prior two novels quite a bit (in case book 3 is the only one you read). It wasn't too bad, though. There are some interesting "interludes", where Crispin works in a synopsis of the events from Brian Daley's Han Solo Adventures (in the Corporate Sector). An elegant way to have Rebel Dawn cover material before and after those side-trek books. I may go back and re-read those short works for the sake of completeness. I guess I will have to go get the Lando books, too, and see what Vuffi Raa et al is all about. Even the titles of those Lando stories make me want to cringe: Mindharp of Sharu, Flamewind of Oseon, and Star Cave of Thonboka? I guess they're nothing if not...original.

As far as Rebel Dawn goes, again I was very pleased to pal around with Han, Chewie, and Lando. More Hutts. More Imperials. More fledgling Rebels. All good stuff. This was a wonderful trilogy; I can't believe I took so long to read it. Better late than never, I suppose. Highly recommended!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Internal Hutt Politics

Just finished book 2 in The Han Solo Trilogy: The Hutt Gambit, by A. C. Crispin (1997). A fun read, a great follow up to book 1. I'm ready to start #3.

What's not to like? Han and Chewie, meeting Lando, Boba Fett, Jabba and the other hutts, Soontir Fel*, a rag tag space battle featuring an ad hoc smuggler and pirate fleet versus a second rate Outer Rim Imperial force. Even an "off-page" appearance by Darth Vader!

Nate thought I would like this series, and he was right. I am a big fan. The amount of great development and cross-pollination going on in these books is wonderful. A nice balance between making up tons of new stuff (Hutt clans, politics, biology) and working in known stuff (the types of equipment and spaceships used, some of the planets visited, etc). One of my new favorite SW phrases: "Minions of Xendor!"

It felt a bit strange to think of Han and Chewie sharing an apartment as a couple of young bachelor roommates, but what the heck. This book also subscribes to the "Long Hyperspace Travel Times" idea, like needing 5 days to travel from Corellia to Coruscant. Otherwise, the book is wonderful.

*As a side note, including Soontir Fel as a character in a book published in September of 1997 was pretty awesome, as he was 'invented', as far as I can tell, by Stackpole et al in a Dark Horse comics series first published in August of 1997. Now that's some great teamwork, SW!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Putting Episode VII on the Map

The following chart provides locations for planets from Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the map from pages 248-9 of the Age of Rebellion core rulebook. They were determined by comparing that map with the one from pages 8-9 of the Visual Dictionary.

Planet Region Coordinates
D'Qar Outer Rim 0-18
Hosnian Prime Core M-12
Jakku Inner Rim J-14
Starkiller Base Unknown Regions H-6
Takodana Expansion Region/Mid-Rim J-16

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Force Awakens Novelization (no spoilers, yet)

Just finished the novelization of "The Force Awakens" by Alan Dean Foster, as read on my Kindle Fire. I really liked it! Not only was it a fast and easy read, packed with movement and action, it did what one hopes a novelization of a movie you've already seen will do: add to the enjoyment of the overall experience.

My least favorite portions of the movie definitely have to do with a certain secret base with special properties. The novelization helps in this respect, by adding a bunch of pseudoscience gobbledeegook* that serves to make the entire thing a bit more palatable. Hand waving at its best, perhaps, to shoehorn an outrageous concept into a semi-plausible sounding portion of the story. Hand-waving of this type is a necessary art for writing in a shared universe, where super nerds like us that want everything to hang together in some semblance of order and internal logic. Alan Dean Foster does an admirable job in this regard.

*In this case, I do not mean this as a disparaging term. Space opera like Star Wars need not (in fact should not) have too hard an edge to the science aspect of science fiction.

Other portions I quite enjoyed were some more details about Poe's escape from Jakku, a bit more on Lor San Tekka, as well as a couple of extended scenes here and there which give one the feeling of getting a peek at an earlier version of the screenplay, before changes brought about by filming and editing and whatnot.

I must say, this read has solidified my already certain love for these new characters. Particularly Rey, but also Finn, Poe, and BB-8. I will be very interested to see where the next movie takes these adventurers (and glad to have a certain secret base behind us, story-wise).

Friday, January 1, 2016

Visualizing the Movie (Spoilers)

Just finished reading this book. It is almost essential reading, in my view, if you want to understand the movie. I don't consider that a good thing.

A few notes I took as I read and looked at the pretty pictures. Warning: likely spoilers ahead!

A new (partial) map of the galaxy, featuring Starkiller Base (DS3?), Jakku (Rey's home), Hosnian Prime (current seat of Republic Senate), D'Qar (the main Resistance base), and Takodana (site of Maz Kanata's castle). Strangely enough, still no report on where the heck Lothal is located, I far as I can tell.

The Galactic Concordance is the official name of the peace treaty signed between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant. This treaty ended the Galactic Civil War. Shortly thereafter the Republic Senate passed the Military Disarmament Act, wishing to dramatically reduce the size of the standing armed forces which had been in place since the beginning of the Clone Wars.

In an effort to woo worlds to their cause, the Republic Senate is no longer on Coruscant. The body is now hosted on a rotating basis, each host site elected by member worlds. As of the movie, the current Senate is meeting on Hosnian Prime, a Core World.

Lor San Tekka, an important figure in the movie now given a name (here and in a few other books), was a well traveled explorer who, among other things, helped Luke find lost or repressed Jedi artifacts and information after the GCW. Since the time of the Empire, San Tekka has been a member of the "Church of the Force", a religion based on revering the ideals espoused by the Jedi. The adherents to this faith are not, themselves, Force users but they respect the ideals nonetheless. I don't know that something called 'Church of the Force' sounds all that in line with Star Wars, personally.

Captain Phasma is not a captain in rank. Thank goodness, as that would be silly. A Stormtrooper Captain would be in command of something like 150 or so Stormtroopers, not the entire contingent within the First Order. No idea on what real rank she has, but it isn't Captain. As a side note, it is said that her armor was chromed using metal taken from one of Palpatine's personal star yachts.  Cool.

Germane to this blog, it turns out Rey's old broken salvaged Rebel starfighter helmet used to belong to one Captain Dosmit Reah of the Tierfon Yellow Aces. No idea on how a "Yellow Ace" made it to the Jakku battle at the end of the war (since they were disbanded years before that time).

The new movie and its attendant stuff (books, comics, novels, etc) is all very interesting, but I am growing to dislike the decisions made in a number of places. More on that later. Probably much more on that, in fact.