Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Chewie timeline revised, death cancelled

April 7, 2014

The Verge writes:

Even though the rumor mill surrounding Star Wars: Episode VII has been swirling with casting rumors in recent weeks, at least one actor has reportedly been confirmed to be returning to the classic series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Peter Mayhew is set to reprise his role as Chewbacca in the new film…

…Even though the plot is still a secret, Disney and LucasFilm did confirm that Episode VII’s narrative will take place 30 years after the end of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. When the movie hits theaters in 2015, fans can at least look forward to seeing what Chewie has been up to in all that time. And hopefully some amazing behind-the-scenes photos.

However, the current Star Wars timeline, based on the many books (all approved by Lucas Films) as well as the movies, lists Chewbacca dying 25 years after the events of the first (to be made) film, “A New Hope”.

So Chewie seems to have been given at least an extra 5-10 years of life.

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Review: “Star Wars Crucible” by Troy Denning

September 21, 2013

This latest Star Wars book is also placed tbe latest (so far) in the timeline, 45 years after the events of the initial film “A New Hope”. Some of the books along the way have been very good, especially those by Timothy Zahn.

But I don’t think this book is among them. It’s a decent read, but fails to meet the initial promise of being something new.

The opportunity is there, as Denning’s starting scenario opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. Instead of the usual “bang bang” enemies, the adversaries are businessmen, two brothers who are so intelligent and so wealthy that not only do they corner the market in many key industries, they can also bribe, extort, or assasinate politicians and other officials to get their way.

How will the Jedi deal with such economic power, when every official might be a secret tool of the enemy? Sadly we’ll never know.

For reasons which only seem partly plausible (hubris?) the baddies kidnap Han Solo and take him to their secret base, just as they are about to use it to transform themselves into something even more powerful. If they’d ust left Han alone they could have accomplished their plan unchecked. But kidnapping Han brings in Luke, Leia, Lando and a couple of other Jedi.

The Jedi have with them battledroids that (very deus ex machina) take out all of the opponents’ massive military strength. So what’s left is a long description of the Jedi tracking down and taking out the brothers. Once again the swish swish of light sabers saves the day.

It’s perfectly workable, it just fails to live up to the promise of the initial premise.

Review: “Kenobi” by John Jackson Miller

September 14, 2013

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Ben Kenobi’s home in the Jundland wastes from Star Wars Galaxies, Image: Sony Online Entertainment

At the end of “Revenge of the Sith”, Obi-Wan Kenobi takes baby Luke Skywalker to Tatooine and turns him over to Owen and Beru Lars. Nineteen years later he is still there, watching over the son of Skywalker. This book is the story of Kenobi’s first period on Tatooine, trying to settle into the Jundland wastes without revealing he is a Jedi.

Apparently it wasn’t easy. Kenobi can’t help trying to help the people he meets in their conflict with the Sand People. But things aren’t always what they seem. He befriends a young widow, reaches a kind of accommodation with the Tuskens, and keeps his Jedi powers mostly secret, but there are some surprises along the way.

In the background lurks Jabba the Hutt and his minions, who also have to be dealt with. Along the way we learn a bit about the life of a moisture farmer, and the dangers of Mos Eisley.

While there’s no answer to how Luke is supposed to be kept hidden while bearing the name Skywalker, we learn how Obi-Wan became Ben, and why he can continue to call himself Kenobi.

This is one of those books that has you looking to read the sequel as soon as you reach the end. (In Star Wars Galaxies, Tatooine was my home planet, and it was fun to visit it again.)

Review: Star Trek Vanguard Storming Heaven

April 13, 2012

“Vanguard: Storming Heaven” is the eighth and final book (seven novels and a collection of short stories) set in the period of the original Star Trek about a Federation space station in the mysterious Taurus Reach far beyond the Federation’s boundaries. The series has been fascinating, and has suffered only because of the lengthy period between publication (on the average about a year between books, in one case almost two years).

This has had the drawback of making it difficult to remember the story arc when a new book arrives. Fortunately the concluding novel fills in a lot of information right at the start, easing that problem.

Photo: David Cross, Simon and Schuster

Another difficulty is anachronism, if the Taurus Reach is so important, why no mentions of it in other Star Trek offerings? This book also mitigates that unavoidable weakness.  A handful of previous Star Trek characters have been in the series, and more are in the final book. Carol Marcus, former lover of Captain James Kirk, and whose research plays a pivotable role in the film “The Wrath of Khan”, is not only in both of the final two books, we learn exactly how she ended up on the research station where Khan tried to steal her work. There’s even an explanation for why the planet Khan was stranded on by Kirk in the original series episode “Space Seed” suffered a disaster.

Best of all, Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise play small but important roles in the final days of the Vanguard station.

It’s sad this series couldn’t just continue forever, but if it had to end, “Storming Heaven” is a good ending.

Author David Mack’s web page about “Storming Heaven” is here.


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