Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Weapons Development

Just finished this very fine novel, Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by Star Wars veteran James Luceno (2016). I rate this as one of the best Star Wars books of recent times.

A great read, in my opinion. A nice dose of science and math flavor. Some interesting tidbits about life during the chaotic last days of Republic, through end of Clone Wars and transitioning into Empire. Interesting in that Darth Vader and Palpatine are mentioned, but never "seen", on camera. We do spend some time with Tarkin and Mas Amedda. We get to know scientist extraordinaire, Galen Erso. We also come to know Commander Krennic, a bureaucrat in charge of a certain space station's superlaser project.

A nice tie-in to elements of the prequels. A calm-before-the-storm type novel without much action to speak of, but with plenty of groundwork laid for connecting this story into the upcoming movie, the original trilogy, and the prequels (without mentioning Jar Jar). I like it. I like this time period on the cusp of the Galactic Civil War. Some beings are already forming into a nascent resistance, here and there. More will follow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Last Command

Sniff, sniff. Just finished re-reading the last book in Zahn's wonderful and ground-breaking trilogy. So many more things made for the first time, here. Conner Nets. Assault Frigates. Such well written characters: Han, Leia, Lando, Luke, Chewie, the droids...all true to their big screen counterparts. Nice supporting cast of new characters: Thrawn, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde. In this installment we get to learn that Wes Janson and Derek "Hobbie" Klivian are in Rogue Squadron along with Wedge. Janson is Rogue 5. No other specifics learned on the Rogue Squadron front.

A thrilling conclusion to the trilogy, The correct amount of galaxy-spanning threat and intrigue, without resorting to a superweapon plot device. The action focused squarely on the heroes and their efforts. This is truly the best three Star Wars books in the line-up, in my opinion. Bar none.

The climax being a blend of jumping between an epic space battle and a Force-fueled ground war was spot on, truly some Star Wars cinematography going on at the end. With the vanquishing of the last of the former Emperor's Grand Admirals, the fledgling New Republic has a bright future, indeed. Best to stop reading somewhere around here, timeline-wise, lest you run into either the Disney new canon of  low quality material related to The Force Awakens or come upon some of the worst "Legends" books ever written.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Just finishing up Star Wars Adventure Journal, Vol. 1, No. 5 (WEG, February 1995). Another fine issue, to my mind. Some highlights include and interview with Bill Smith (who was editor of the WEG Star Wars line at 26 years old) wherein he describes writing the 2nd edition of the Star Wars RPG. He joined the company in 1990, had written the 2nd edition rulebook for a 1992 release, and had just celebrated his 4th year working a WEG as of the time of this interview. A solo choose-your-own-adventure where you play a protocol droid was fun. An interesting recap of the "Star Wars Summit", a get-together for all Star Wars licensees hosted in November 1994 at Skywalker Ranch, included some of the earliest information on two major announcements: the Shadows of the Empire multi-media release, and the future plans for what would become the Prequel Trilogy. Exciting times, back then!

The fun continues with a cool little adventure on a gas giant (not Bespin, but similar). We are treated to another installment of Charlene Newcomb's ongoing story about the rebel activity on Garos IV. The Galaxywide NewsNets snippets are interesting, and we get another story/comic at the end, describing a Rebel operation against an Imperial target.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What Has Come Before

As we grow more and more familiar with the Star Wars RPGs from Fantasy Flight Games, and as anticipation builds for Rogue One, it's important to remember the rich depth of material that has already been created for previous incarnations of the game. With that in mind, I share below a couple of maps (one from the d6 System and one from the d20 version) that can be used by GMs who want to incorporate the Alliance's Yavin base into adventures or campaigns.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dark Force Rising

Just finished book two in the Thrawn Trilogy. Another epic spin through the New Republic. More Han. More Leia. More Lando, Thrawn, Mara Jade, and Luke.

In this installment we learn that there were a total of 12 Grand Admirals in the Empire. We also never learn any names of the pilots with Wedge in Rogue Squadron. The best we get is a call sign here or there ("Cut the chatter, Rogue Seven"). A bit strange to be so anonymous, coming from my recent history of reading the "X-Wing: Rogue Squadron" comics. We also see a poisonous grass, deliberately planted on the Noghri homeworld by the Empire. I think we see a similar scheme in the recent Ahsoka book. Can't recall the name of the grass in that newer tome, but might be a cool nod to the past by the Disney canon.

Two things I remember thinking about Zahn as I read this one. 

First: Zahn's big (perhaps a bit too big, in my opinion) on intelligence. Everyone from Thrawn and Karrde to Lando and Han to Garm bel Iblis and famous ship-jacker (who has yet to actually jack a ship 'on-screen') Niles Ferrier trades in information. People know things. A lot of things. And other people know who knows these things. And people know who knows who knows things. And there are double-crosses. And fake-outs. Everyone is very "information rich" in these books.

Second: the action (rightly so) focuses squarely on our favorite characters. This is a sweeping tale, but definitely told on the human scale. This can lead to Shakespeare-like plot devices (antagonists and protagonists frequently wind up in the same place at the same time, unbeknowst to one side or the other). Sometimes people are hiding in a closet peeking at the enemy, sometimes they're shacked up in an out building when the main bad guy arrives, sometimes Friend A is present, not knowing Friend B is also present. Highly entertaining, in its way.

All in all a very nice read. Wrapping up the trilogy will be bittersweet. After that I will have to move onward to re-reading the first four books in the X-Wing novel series by Stackpole.