Friday, June 29, 2007

Inferno Back Cover

I have an essay up over on TheForce.Net, entitled Looking Back and Thinking Forward. It's a glimpse over the Del Rey EU, and my thoughts on the next book contract, which should be awarded soon. I bring it up, because some of my thoughts, have a direct bearing on the topic of today's post.

Now on with my regularly scheduled broadcast.

The back cover to the novel Inferno, the next in the LotF series, is now up over at the Official Site. - WARNING: It has Sacrifice spoilers.

Since, it happens to be a paperback, that means there's a blurb up on the site. A blurb that was embargoed for quite a bit of time, due to it containing spoilers for the last hardcover release, Sacrifice.

So be warned: there be spoilers here.

... I think I've watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl on the television too many times

Anyways, on to the blurb (highlight to see the spoilers):

Luke Skywalker wanted to unify the Jedi order and bring peace to the universe. Instead his wife Mara lies dead at the hands of an unknown assassin, his wayward nephew has seized control of the Galactic Alliance, and the galaxy has exploded in all-out civil war.

With Luke consumed by grief, Jacen Solo works quickly to consolidate his power and jumpstart his plan to take over the Jedi. Convinced he's the only one who can save the galaxy, Jacen will do whatever it takes, even ambush his own parents.

With the Rebel confederacy driving deep into the Core to attack Coruscant and the Jedi under siege, Luke must reassert his position. Only he can lead the Jedi through this crisis, but it means solving the toughest problem Luke's ever faced. Does he fight alongside his nephew Jacen, a tyrant who's taken over the GA, or does he join the rebels to smash the Galactic Alliance he helped create.

Well. Ain't that interesting.

A couple thoughts worked through here. First, this is just further proof that Legacy of the Force is nothing but a shallow rehash of the Prequels. Consider. Rebellious Confederacy. Sith Lord seizing power of the government. The Jedi under siege. The Jedi playing a major part in the war effort.

Why, oh why, can't we have a new story line? I would rather go back to the Warlord of the Week model from the Bantam era than this.

My second thought, is why exactly is this a hard decision for Luke?

Luke has always fought for the tenets of the Rebel Alliance. He wanted a Republic, it's what he fought and bled for throughout his twenties and thirties. Why would not fighting for the shell of the GA be such a hard decision?

Frankly, it confuses me, but that's okay, well at least I hope it's okay and that they have a plan for it.

It's at this point in time, if my wife had read the entire series, and cared, that she would point out that I have a tendency to hope for pointless things which have little chance of bearing fruit.

A character flaw, especially when, as she would continue pointing out, I'm so pessimistic about things that actually can, and do, happen.

That's what she would have said, if she had read all of the Star Wars EU, up until this point, and cared about it. Since she hadn't and she doesn't, that means I have to say it to myself for her, because what she will really say when she reads this entry is: "Freak."

Back on topic, I can admit that I am looking forward to Inferno. It's a habit of mine, I constantly, and consistently look forward to the next entry in the Saga. Yet, for once, I find myself really hoping that the back-cover blurb here is, well not wrong per se, but rather, misguiding in the way it is presenting the plot.

I hope, that the story isn't quite a knock off of the Prequels. I hope that Luke isn't back to his wishy-washy, "I can't make this type of decision, despite the fact that I've made similar decisions my entire adult life" self.

Then, there is the way the story itself is presented. The Confederacy is not being presented in a good light, despite the fact that they are the side which I think is in the right.

My politics are small government, personal responsibility and a strong belief in the free market. IMO, the Confederacy are the ones espousing such things, despite the fact that they're labeled terrorists, and show doing despicable things. Of course the big government folks of the Alliance aren't doing much better things.

In the end, I can't help but wonder just what type of political statement they're bringing into play with how they display the two governments here, and I would appreciate some other opinions on things.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Scalzi: The Lie of Star Wars as Entertainment

I love John Scalzi's writings. I may not have much to do with his politics (which can be occasionally referenced in his bloggings), but that is neither here nor there in regards to his published work. Even the writing that he places up on his blog, I find witty and entertaining and informing - and I in general enjoy reading it, even when it delves into those politics that I can't honestly agree with.

Well, for whatever reason, he made reference today back to a previous blog entry, one that I had never read before, entitled The Lie of Star Wars as Entertainment.

Now, I had wanted to go in, read the article, then come here and make some snide comments on why I thought his assumptions were wrong.

Imagine my dismay, when I realized that he was right. Star Wars, the movie series as a whole, is not entertainment, though it can be entertaining. He makes a number of valid points and arguments in that article, and I cannot find anything with which I disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I adore Star Wars, but my love of the franchise builds more out of the books and comics than anything that ever appeared on celluloid. In fact my love affair with Star Wars did not truly begin until AFTER I read my first Expanded Universe novel.

The reasoning behind that, can be traced directly back to the issues which Mr. Scalzi brings up in his article.

Yet, all that aside, I have to quote, what I believe is the most amusing sentences in the entire article:

Star Wars is not entertainment. Star Wars is George Lucas masturbating to a picture of Joseph Campbell and conning billions of people into watching the money shot.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Sci-Fi Character are you?

I was hunting for a Google Calendar that detailed when science fiction novels would be released (similar to NetFlix's Google Calendar for when movies are released) and ran across the amusing question/poll/thing asking What Science Fiction Character are you.

Apparently, I'm:

Gifted and studious, you willingly approach the perils ahead with the help of your talents and friends.

I don't go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Ani-Monday part 2

Well, Noein and Tokko aired their second episodes last night, and they still lived up to my expectations of a English-dubbed anime. Which is to say it was somewhere above nails on a chalkboard. But, hey, I'm still liking the story in Noein, and am still ambilivant towards the story in Tokko. I think I might check out the related Tokko manga, to see if it has a decent storyline.

In other news, I either misread the Ani-Monday website yesterday, or it was wrong, in which episode of Macross PLUS was going to air. I say that, because the site now lists that part 3 will be airing July 2. We'll have an appropriate flogging for such mistakes next week or something.

Oddly enough, the part of Ani-Monday that I enjoy the most are the switches to commercials. When they switch, they will often have a scene from the anime redubbed in an amusing manner. For example, during Noein there was a scene where they were seeing ghost-like people due to mergings in the timeline Well during the break redub, they had Yuu saying "I see dead people..."

Or another time, they mocked Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block of programming.

Additionally, they have it set up as a caption contest over on the website. That alone makes me want to continue watching.

And then my wife sat up to watch it with me. And by sat up to watch it with me, I mean that she sat on the couch with the laptop, mainly ignoring the television. Except to glance up occasionally and make snide remarks.

I would be irked, but most of her comments were amusing.

Oh well - I still love her, despite the fact that she still won't tell me which Star Wars book she's reading. Of course she wasn't all that happy when she discovered my comments in my PotC entry when she went to read this blog last night.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ramblings of a...

I almost put diseased mind, but then thought better of it. But I have to wonder if that's not the appropriate term.

Yet, enough of that. Tonight is the continuation of Ani-Monday. We have the next episodes of Noein and Tokko and then the fourth part of Macross PLUS. Which I think is odd, since I am fairly certain the first part was played last week.

Anyways, I'm hoping that I can suffer through the voice acting long enough to enjoy the story, and determine if this is a series that I'll want to purchase in the future in the SUBBED version. I'm fairly certain Tokko won't be, too much fan service, especially in the relationship between the lead character and his little sister.

Other thing of interest on the SciFi Channel is that Eureka should be coming back on soon. I like that show, it's light-hearted sci-fi fare, and just overall fun. I hope they keep it that way.

What's coming up for No Krakana? Well, I just finished reading Scalzi's The Ghost Brigade and will have a review of it up soon. I'm still deciding whether I wish to rip apart PotC: At World's End or not. Frankly, I think the less I think of that movie, the happier I'll be.

Then, I'll be watching giant robots next week or so, so expect a review of that.

Anime-wise, a lot of the ones I've been watching have finished or are nearly so. Rocket Girls went out with a whimper, and I've dropped most of the other sci-fi based shows that I was watching (i.e. Heroic Age) because they... well were less than stellar. I'm still hoping that IDOLMaster Xenoglossia can ramp up its storyline, but I've no faith in it. Then the slightly fantasy based SOLA only has a single episode left, but though it's an interesting show, I enjoyed AIR and KANON much more.

Final interesting tidbit is that my wife has picked up her first Star Wars novel. She won't tell me which one she's reading (for various reasons I think it's either The Final Prophecy or Heir to the Empire), but it should be an interesting conversation with her once she's done.

It all works out in the end, I guess.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End

I went to see PotC: At World's End tonight with the wife.

A decision I currently regret. Not going with the wife to a movie, mind you. The decision I regret is letting my wife pick the movie.

Frankly, I thought it was rather terrible. Not as bad as PotC 2, but still it was bad.

I liked the first one. It was fun. It was an interesting story. It had a happy ending.

Why, oh why, did Disney have to do this to that movie?

And I want to know, just what the whole point of Calypso was?

Bah... Bah, I say...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ani-Monday Reviews: Noein & Tokko

All right, SciFi Chanel's Ani-Monday has come and gone, and as such, I'm stuck pondering and considering the two animes that I watched that particular night (Noein & Tokko).

Both of the storylines and quality of animation are good. I've seen better, but I've also seen worse in both regards. Frankly, I don't have a complaint in either area just yet.

Noein seems to grab my attention more, as it's a more straight-up science fiction anime, but Tokko does show promise as well-provided we don't delve into even deeper into even more overt ecchi scenes, but again, this is American television, so I have the feeling we don't really have to worry over that, at least too much.

Then we have the voice acting.

Oh, how I wish we DID NOT have the voice acting.

I'm not certain what it is about imported animation that American voice actors just can't seem to, well, act, while performing their craft.

I mean, they can do it for Cars and The Incredibles, and Batman Beyond, but they can't for this series? It really makes my head hurt.

For Noein, it wasn't any one thing, but a cumulative effect. First, the children in the series just didn't sound like kids. They're supposed to be around twelve, but they sounded like high school students. That was annoying enough, but I could overlook it. What really drove nails through my ears though was the "southern belle" accent. I can't remember if they ever actually stated the character's name, but she had an atrocious fake, southern accent. It was so bad, that it made Blanche from the Golden Girls sound like a Yankee. I have a southern accent, my entire family does, we're all from the Deep South, yet none of us sounds like that-not even my grandmother.

For Tokko it wasn't the 'sound' of the voices that was off (well, except maybe the sex-crazed blonde) so much as it was that the characters had a tendency to yell. I call this the Dragon Ball Z voice. For whatever reason, in the Americanized version of DBZ, the characters yell all the time. Literally. I don't think Goku has ever whispered in his entire life, I know Gohan hasn't (and if you don't know what I'm talking about there, well that's what the wiki is for).

Then you couple that with the fact that DBZ is the most 'successful' of the recent imports, the companies in charge of such things, think that EVERY anime character is yelling. It makes me want to smack someone. Do you yell all the time? I sure don't. Yet for some reason, these characters do.

Unfortunately, that's an old gripe about a LOT of anime series that have been dubbed, and a good reason why subs are so much more popular.

In the end, I'm still interested in these animes, and hope that I can get through the dubbed versions, if I can, I may make the effort to find subbed versions to rent so I can really watch and enjoy the shows.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Batcycle... has posted images of the new "Batpod" a renamed batcycle for the upcoming Batman: The Dark Knight movie.

What gets me though is that this thing has guns on either side of the thing. That's just so wrong. I mean this is BATMAN. He's not supposed to use guns. He hates guns.

Maybe I take my geek-ness to far sometimes, but it's just a simple matter, yet one that is at the core of the character.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Eek, SciFi Channel's Ani-Monday programming block is ramping up this week.

On the list for tonight are:

Of those three, Noein and Tokko are of the most interest to me. MACROSS Plus was originally an OVA (4 episodes, of about 40 minutes each), but is considered one of the best anime productions out there. So I might as well watch it, since I'll have confiscated the television from the wife.

I'm still crossing my fingers for subtitled over dubbed animes-but considering that the average American consumer is too stupid to read, I doubt we'll get that loveliness.

The other thing of note (at least to me as a programmer), is that the website over at for this programming block really sucks. It's just a listing of this weeks fares, with no interactivity at all. I mean, I expected to be able to click the title of the shows to get information about them, and instead I had to run over to wikipedia to get it. Disgraceful, especially after their other sites (for Eureka or the Stargate franchise) are so pretty.

News & Link roundup

A handful of things I found interesting in my RSS Reader this morning.

The first is that the new Star Trek script is done, and shooting is scheduled for the fall. As for the rumors of Matt Damon as Kirk-they were neither confirmed nor denied.

Secondly, Stargate Atlantis is going through a number of changes for season four. They're lost a couple of cast members, but what I found most interesting is gaining Amanda Tapping, who reprises her role as Samantha Carter. While I like the fact that this character isn't just disappearing into character limbo, I have to wonder about what this will do for Tapping's career. She's been Carter for a decade now, for 10 seasons of SG-1. That has to do some serious type-casting on her. But, I've got to admit, she plays the part well.

Anyways, the new season of Eureka should be starting soon, and I can't wait for that. Frankly,
Eureka was the only non-animated show that I watched the whole season of in the past few years. I loved Heroes, but still failed to watch the final half dozen or so shows.

Ah well, I guess it's time to start thinking about which game I want to rent for my Wii next.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Content is king - deposed by the Wii

I'd love to tell you that I have some wonderful new content for you this morning. Some witty insight into an aspect of Star Wars, or maybe even a review of the anime Coil: A Circle of Children which I've been meaning to write.

I'd love to be able to tell you that.

Unfortunately (well, for the content at least), my wife made a purchase last night of something that I had been asking for since before Christmas. A Nintendo Wii. Yes, it was my Dad's Day gift, but heck, I can't let a $250 piece of equipment sit unused for four days. That's sacrilege.

So, rather than writing that review or that nifty piece of insight into Star Wars lore or even any fan fiction-I played Wii Sports. Heck, I didn't even draw anything, and almost didn't watch the animes for last night.

Did I look goofy with the nunchuck in one hand and the wiimote in the other while playing the boxing game? You bet. Was it fun despite that? You bet.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Review: Rocket Girls episodes 11 & 12 (completed)

Okay, now I'm irked. Episodes 11 and 12 continued to deal with the big space mission done in conjunction with NASA. That's fine. Seeing the girls go out into space without pre-breathing, I can handle. There's nothing overtly wrong about these episodes, until the final fifteen minutes of 12.

Okay, there's going to be spoilers after this point - but... well, tough.

Anyways, onto the spoiler material, the big conflict here is that when their capsule returns to earth, it will burn up during re-entry, killing both the girls because they're too high. That's good, solid science - the Apollo missions had to deal with that (a fact that the show lets you know). And they come up with a solution about bouncing off the atmosphere a few times to slow themselves down. Makes sense.

So, for whatever reason, they don't have a laptop with notepad in the computer, and nothing to write with, so they give the rentry vector to Askane to memorize, which she does. But, it seems that everyone forgets that Askane loses consciousness at 4g's and the rentry maneuver is to be done at 6. Well, everyone but the audience that is.

Well, the rentry doesn't show the final few moments, just Yukari letting go of the control yoke, and then they cut directly to the Director talking about the girls.

Which left me wondering, are they dead?

It's a cheap ploy, and one that I can only guess they put in because they had to fill an extra ten minutes of air time, and well, who knows. It was just a very disjointed ending. The series would have been much better served with something different. Something less, serious.

And it was as I feared, they did start taking themselves seriously towards the end of the anime.

The other thing that frustrated me is that it was so short. I guess I can understand - after all, there's only so far this gimmick can run, but I kind of hope for some OVA (direct-to-DVD) episodes in the future.

Especially, if they don't take themselves seriously. My suggestion is that this would be a fun anime to watch once or twice, but beyond that I can't see a real reason to own it on DVD.

Episode 11 & 12 get a 2.3 and 1.8 out of 4 while the whole series gets a 2.6 out of 4.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Review: Sacrifice

The latest Star Wars: Legacy of the Force novel is out. It's Karen Traviss' hardcover entry entitled Sacrifice. I can admit something, here and now. I wasn't looking forward to this book. Despite the title, despite the Darth Who contest, despite the fact that it's the mid-point hard cover for the Legacy of the Force series, I expected two things, first that nothing exciting would happen and secondly that I wouldn't like the book. On the back cover is the following blurb (in addition to the dust jacket blurb):

To bring peace and order to a galaxy at war, Jacen Solo will sacrifice anything -- or anyone. Now the moment of choice is at hand...
And that's a good blurb, for one of the plot lines found in the book. The other plots are discussed briefly on the inside of the dust jacket but it's obvious that they're pushing Jacen's journey here as the main focus of the novel. I'm not entirely certain that that's a good decision, as I've serious questions on whether or not Jacen is a strong enough character narrative wise to carry the franchise forward.

As in her previous novels Traviss provides a handful of tight third-person POVs to propel her narrative forward. In this outing, the characters whose heads we get into are Ben Skywalker, Jacen Solo, Mara Jade Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Lumiya, Niathal and Boba Fett. That's quite a list of point of views to wade through and keep track of.

The first I want to discuss is Ben. Ben here stays very true to the Ben that we've seen in the previous outings, especially as he deals with the happenings of the previous novel and his time on Ziost. After that, we get even more bad things for Ben in the form of another mission from Jacen.

Secondly, we have Jacen himself. Jacen does have the most happening in this novel. He's finally coming out from under Lumiya's umbrella here and we even get hints of just what is going on in his head these days. Yet, this Jacen still doesn't feel quite the same as the one that Denning and Allston wrote about in their novels. I'm still not certain if that's just due to the events of the novels or if its just fundamental differences in interpretation of the character or if it's just an issue with Traviss not being able to write Sith Lords that well.

Frankly, I find myself wanting to give Ms. Traviss the benefit of the doubt and say that it is due to what is happening during the novel, but I'm going to withhold that judgment call until I can sit down and read the entire series in what is effectively one fell swoop. The other important part of the advancement of Jacen's character here is the Darth Who contest. Which was the contest to name the next Sith Lord--which unless you've been living under a rock since Traitor is Jacen.

Next is Mara Jade. Mara Jade does a LOT in this novel. She's very true to her roots as an Emperor's Hand here. While there were a few issues with her saying (or thinking) terms which did not seem quite herself, but that said, her character felt more like Mara here than she did during Bloodlines which is a good thing. I would like to say more things about her character here, but a lot of that would fall quickly into spoilers.

So instead, I'll jump onto Luke. We didn't see nearly as many scenes from his POV as we did his son or wife, but we do get him a lot of character growth from him in this novel. We finally deal with the change from Luke the Jedi Knight from the Bantam era to Luke the manager that we've had since the NJO ended. Specifically, we see Luke's own thoughts on this change. How he recognizes that he's different. And I liked that a lot.

Lumiya and Niathal really didn't need to be POV characters. The thing is that some storyline needed to be told, and they were the most convenient POV available. It's a drawback to tight third person, but is not a bad thing, nor is it necessarily a good thing. It just is.

Boba Fett, and by extension all of Karen's Mandalorians are just there. Boba resolves a few issues and generates a few more, but I still have to question the validity of a Boba Fett who has such a daddy complex. Sure, watching your dad be beheaded by a Jedi when you are a youngling will have an adverse effect on your psychology, but come on, that was decades ago. Boba Fett is worth billions of credits, he should be able to easily get a psychoanalyst to help him deal with his emotional baggage. After all, he recognizes that it is there, only an idiot would recognize a problem and then do nothing at all about it.

Then you have the secondary characters who pop up in support of your POV characters. Jaina Solo, Kyp Durron, Cal Omas, Mirta, and Lekauf fall into this category. The biggest oddity among those is when we have Kyp being referred to as a friend by Mara (which is odd, since everywhere else, they're barely on speaking terms one to the other). On the other side of things, Jaina Solo finally decides that she is going to buckle down and be Sword of the Jedi (and is told that she should just pick one or the other of the two hanger-ons in her life).

The novel's plot is split into three parts: hunting for Lumiya, Jacen angsting, and Boba Fett and the Mandalorians.

The hunt for Lumiya is just as it sounds. Mara Jade hunting down Lumiya. This is where we get to see Mara return to her roots, and we do get to see a lot of her psychology in the mean time as well. Of the three plots, this is probably my favorite, even in spite of Mara still saying things that just don't seem Mara. What I really liked here though was the push away from whitewashing Mara's past that has been going on since the Hand of Thrawn. We're once more given the dangerous, assassin Mara. I just wish she had shown up during the NJO.

The Jacen angsting plot is just that. Jacen doing Jacen things. I know that it's necessary to push forward the overarching storyline. I know that we're being given important thoughts and concepts here. But I frankly, just don't care. Despite everything Jacen has done up to the final sentence of this novel, I still don't feel that he's a Star Wars Villian. He's definitely a bad guy, but he's just not strong enough to run the show, at least long term, and if he gets redeemed, I doubt he'll be able to run the show as a Hero long term either.

Finally, we have the Mandalorians. I still don't see where this whole plot line is going, nor why it needs to be in her books. Allston and Denning don't touch the Mandalorians at all, so we only get them a third of the time. They are ultimately bit players on the galactic stage, more concerned about their own sector of space than anything else. I'm left with cold sweats, expecting random Dues Ex Machina solutions involving them to clean up all the problems over the next couple of books. Imagine, Boba Fett and his Supercommandos as the LotF's Zonoma Sekot. Yet, I'm an optimist, and I can only hope that there's a reason for the Mandalorian subplot and that there's a reason why Allston and Denning don't touch it. Unfortunately, I am afraid that it is an empty hope.

The settings and other descriptions are much more fleshed out, and more accurately fleshed out than in Bloodlines. While we're still not given anything huge by way of description, the various places we visit don't all feel the same. One gets the sense of the rustic when on Mandalore with Boba. One gets the sense of ancient temples during the climax of the novel. And one gets the sense of the city while on Coruscant. It's not so much that they're described in excruciating detail, but it's how the characters react to things. Boba notices the heat from the smith's fire. Luke grumbles about traffic. Little things like that.

Of course this lack of detail is troubling as well. The Bothans get a new type of warship in this novel. But we don't know what it is called. Nor do we even know what it looks like. What we do know is that it has five unarmed tenders and a lot of guns. But is it a square or a tube? Does it have wide, sweeping wings or is shaped like a Bothan assault cruiser? We're just not told. The other new ship was produced by the Mandalorians and called the Bas'ulik. As opposed to the Bothans' ship, we are given half-way decent descriptions of this fighter. Which of course is better than the X-wing in every way. After all, the Mandalorians made it!

Okay, maybe I am a bit bitter about the pages wasted on the Mandalorians when we're not given a reason for them actually showing up.

Unlike Bloodlines we're not given an overriding theme for this novel. There's just too many subplots up in the air, and there's a lack of an overarching plot for the entire story. In Bloodlines the Boba, Han and Jacen sub-plots met up into the events on Corellia at that story's climax. Here, there's no connection between the Mandalorian plot and the rest of the POV character's plots. I'm not certain if that was done on purpose or if it is due just to the nature of having to deal with the overarching LotF plot line. Additionally, I'm not certain if that lack is a good or a bad thing. I didn't miss having it while reading the novel, but wonder about its lack now that I'm writing the review.

The mechanics of the story were done well. I cannot remember a single typo or grammatical error while reading the novel. This I like. It always makes me happy to see a book that is free of mistakes like this. Like I said during the Mara character bit though, there were some dialogue choices for her that I found not quite Mara-like. There use jarred me from the story, as I stumbled over them. I think the ultimate problem with those bits of dialogues were that it was just too Earth-like. Did it happen a lot? No, just one or two times, but it was still something that jarred for me. Even better than that though, is the lack of continuity flubs that I noticed while reading. I have the vague feeling that I spotted one while reading, but couldn't remember where or what it was later.

Overall, I liked this novel a whole lot better than her previous entry, Bloodlines. I felt that she paid closer attention to both exiting canon and existing characterization. The Luke, Mara, Ben and Jacen that I read here felt more like the ones that Alston and Denning write than the ones that she provided us in Bloodlines. Frankly, it was as if she read my review for Bloodlines, and then wrote Sacrifice with the issues that I raised in mind. I know that that isn't what happened, but I'm just happy that this novel feels more like a post-RotJ Star Wars novel.

One of my complaints about Bloodlines was the thought that I could have missed the entire novel, and it wouldn't have mattered as far as the overarching LotF plot was concerned. Above all things, this was my biggest worry for this novel. After all, hardcovers are nearly thirty dollars these days. I'd hate to feel like I read a filler novel that set me back thirty bucks. Fortunately, that wasn't the case here. A number of big things happen in this novel, some of which will hopefully push some stagnant characters into new directions.

I give this novel a solid 3.2 out of 4.

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's a Vulcan!

Man, this is just freaky. Some guy up in Canada has dark green blood. I heard about it on the radio on my way into work this morning, and I immediately thought, VULCAN! The guy is a real life Spock.

Okay, I can admit that I'm a geek.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Cherry 2007

Way back in the day there was a movie entitled Cherry 2000. It was a story about a man and his robotic wife.

The back story was that there were human-formed robots - that were designed for, well sex.

It's not that big of a thing, but oddly enough, most of the human-form robots that have been produced to this day are masculine in design. I'm not sure if that is something dealing with human nature, or that they are just scared of what men will do with a robot that moves, acts and looks feminine or what.

Well, one Tomotaka Takahashi decided that he's had enough male based robots, and decided to create the FT (Female-Type) robot. The purpose was to make a robot that looked and moved like a woman. He even went so far as to "study" fashion models to make the robots movements as graceful as possible.

Frankly, I'm not sure if I'm amused or disturbed.

Review: Rocket Girls episodes 8, 9 & 10

I can't keep up with the rate of releases for this thing. I can't imagine how hard the translators are working on this, and to think they do it all for free.

Anyways, these episodes are still dealing with Akane joining the Solomon Space Agency as an astronaut. Truth be told, these are probably the weakest episodes yet, especially 9 and 10. It took me a day or two to realize why that is, and why I felt that way, but I finally realized it was because I wasn't as amused by these episodes as I was by earlier ones.

It is almost as if the anime is wanting to take itself to seriously. For example, the girls all did survival training in the jungle of Solomon Island. For Matsuri, it was no big deal, that was her home. Yukari's training was a farce (and how she ended up finding her dad).

Akane's was a serious part of the story line.

Why I liked this show was because it was mindless fun, and did not take itself too seriously. Yet in these episodes it felt like it was trying to do just that.

They weren't bad by any stretch of the imagination, they just weren't that great, and didn't entertain me as much as earlier episodes did.

If Star Trek can do it....

According to SciFi Wire, CBS and have teamed together to allow fan fiction in the Star Trek universe.

I have been concerned over, and more importantly the terms of agreement that are signed when you join to post materials over there. Basically, what the whole thing comes down to is they're trying to turn the fan's writings into a revenue stream for the franchise owners, leaving the writers of the material in question out of that revenue stream. The whole thing is rather, well, fishy.

And then they go and do something like this.

I've long wanted a Star Wars fan fiction contest in the same way that they have the Star Wars fan film contest. I think it's rather inane that they don't, but of course I am biased as I have a distinct preference for the written word over the movie screen.

Maybe, now that Star Trek is doing it, Star Wars won't be too far behind.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

How did I miss this?

Somehow I missed the announcement of the official Fury cover, thankfully I stumbled upon a notice over at Expanded Universe (Thrawn's on top of things more than me it seems).

Anyways, here's the cover, and the text provided by the official site:

Fighting alongside the Corellian rebels, Han and Leia are locked in a war against their son Jacen, who grows more powerful and more dangerous with each passing day. Nothing can stop his determination to bring peace with a glorious Galactic Alliance victory -- whatever the price.

Here's a first look at Jason Felix's cover of Fury, the seventh book in the nine-book Legacy of the Force series. The book is written by Aaron Allston, and due out in paperback on November 2007 from Del Rey Books.

Following Fury is Revelation by Karen Traviss (March 2008) and the series ends with Invincible by Troy Denning (June 2008), a title recently revealed at Celebration IV.

Review: Star Wars Legacy: Broken

Broken as a storyline works perfectly well. Since it is the opening story arc for the comic series Star Wars Legacy. Legacy is set around 125 years after Return of the Jedi. It was written by John Ostrander and the artist was Jan Duursema. The blurb on Dark horse's website is thus:

The future of Star Wars is here in an all-new adventure set more than a century after Return of the Jedi and the New Jedi Order!

The Jedi Temple is attacked, an Emperor is betrayed, and the Sith are born anew! A lot can happen in a hundred years, but that's just the beginning of the story! Not since Luke Skywalker first stepped aboard the Millennium Falcon has the galaxy seemed like such a vast, exciting, dangerous place!

Readers will meet a host of new characters, see fleets of new spaceships, and visit scores of exotic locations-some new and some familiar.

This is a perfect jumping-on point for any reader.
One thing is for certain, this is a perfect jumping-on point for any reader that is new to the Star Wars expanded universe. It's a brand-spanking new era, so we have new characters out the yin-yang and none of the overhead of the Saga timeframe. Like any first story-arc it is responsible for introducing the major players of the comic. In this case those major players are Cade Skywalker, pirate, bounty-hunter and great grandson of Luke Skywalker, or maybe great-great grandson they're not really clear on that, the Force-sensitive Imperial Princess Sia Fel, who is somehow related to Soontir Fel, and Darth Krayt the resident Sith Lord.

Cade is an interesting character. He's darker than the usual Star Wars hero, more Quinlan Vos than Luke Skywalker. Of course, that darkness tends to be par for the course for Star Wars these days, and I'm not 100% certain that it's the proper way to push forward the franchise. Unfortunately I'm not in charge of directing such things so we're kind of stuck with that darkness.

The female lead is Sia Fel, princess of the Empire and somewhat obnoxious here. It's still to early to get a good read on her character, but she reminds me a whole bunch of Jaina. Very serious, very duty-bound. There's a lot of theories that the Fels here are direct descendants of Jaina and Jagged. Myself? I'm not 100% certain that's the case, but I can see why it's thought that way. Hopefully, Jan and John have a good plot for this.

Krayt is a very interesting character. He thinks a lot like Jacen in LotF and was supposedly alive during the NJO. Exactly who he is isn't said, but it has been said that who he is is not as important as why he is, and that's a question that's not been answered here. Krayt has done away with the Rule of Two and gives us a whole host of Sith to play with. This is good for the comic series as it allows for constant introduction of new bad guys.

There's a handful of other characters introduced as well here. The Imperials and the Imperial Knights, a group of Jedi-like people who work for the Empire. Then there's the Jedi. Most of them have been slaughtered by the Sith, but there's still a number out there, working on the fringes of society. Finally, we have the smugglers, included in this group are Cade's crew. Hopefully these secondary characters will get fleshed out better in later issues, as they're still largely ciphers here.

The plot here is fairly complex. I'm not entirely certain how to describe it, but I guess the prime thing here is just Cade being outed as a former Jedi. Nothing really gets resolved, we're just given more questions while each individual issue has a thin plot-line to drive those questions. Yet despite that, the story works well here.

Art wise, I love Jan's work. She's got a very clean, concise style which easily allows the reader to keep track of what's happening.

Overall, we have pretty much a standard first story arc here. We're given a lot of questions which the reader wants answered and we're given beautiful pencils to look at while asking those questions. The major characters are fairly complex, and even the most important of the secondary characters have the potential to be complex and well formed characters. In the end, I liked it. Cade was a tad darker of a character than I tend to prefer, especially for a Star Wars novel, and I have serious reservations on whether or not he meets the requirements for what I view as a STAR WARS HERO. Yet all that aside, it is still a fun comic series, and I for one, can't wait for the second TPB to be released.

In the end, I give it a 3 out of 4.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thank you Hollywood for raping my childhood...

I... I'm flabbergasted. Utterly and without hope about the future of silver-screen entertainment.

I remember a time when we were given new franchises, beautiful new stories up on the silver screen. Things such as the wonderfully animated The Last Unicorn, the fun The Ice Pirates, and of course we can never forget The Time Bandits.

Ultimately, sci-fi/fantasy was quite often as fun as it was thought provoking, but in addition to that, it was almost universally new.

When they did do tie-ins to existing series, what did we get? Star Trek: The Motion Picture or better yet, Howard the Duck.

Yet, among the upcoming movies is a live action Speed Racer. Which I must admit, the screens I've seen of the Mach 5 look awesome. Then of course is Bay's promise of big explosions... err.. I mean Transformers which looks cool, but then Michael Bay's movies ALWAYS look cool, they usually fail on substance.

Yet, what brought this diatribe against the movie industry to the fore this morning? The fact that a news story from SCI FI Wire carried to my eyes that they're making a live-action Thundercats movie.

Yes Thundercats.

You know, big feline humanoids. Growing swords. A cheetah in spandex. And the big bad guy is a transforming mummy.Yeah, those Thundercats.

I'm scared for this bit of my childhood. Scared that the costumes are going to look something like this:

of course there is always Cheetara...

Anyways, that aside, I don't have high hopes for this movie, and am scared of another desecration of a classic animated series. Why couldn't the movie have been animated? I still don't understand the thought process that animated fare is children's fare. That's not true. Yet of course, that is what happens, that is the fact of things. Heck, even my wife sees things in that light. She doesn't really understand my love for animated movies and television shows. Of course, I don't understand her love of Law and Order so I guess all things are equal.

Anyways, I'm left wondering when we're going to get a Silverhawks or The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers movie.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Review: Rocket Girls episode 7

Wow, the fansubbers are pushing this series out fast.

Anyways, it's the latest edition of Rocket Girls, the amusing anime series about high-school girls in skin-tight spacesuits, flying rockets.

We started this episode off right where we ended the last one, with the girls' rocket capsule in the pool of Yukari's high school. Well, the usual things occur with Yukari taking charge, and pushing things through by the sheer weight of her will alone. We also learn that she's a lieutenant (or maybe lieutenant commander, I forget now).

This episode introduces the third of the rocket girls, though unless you're watching the opening you're not supposed to know that yet. Anyways, her name is Akane Miura, and she is a younger student at the same school that Yukari attends. Other things to note is that she is something of a teacher's pet, part of the biology club, and just smarter than the other girls.

The other two people with a decent amount of talking lines in these episodes are the Principle of Yukari's school and Yukari's mom. Yukari's mom is an odd character. A lot of the time she almost appears to not care about her daughter, yet the advice she gives is usually a lot better from my pov (as an adult) than what Yukari seems to hear and act upon. It's an interesting touch of reality in their relationship, and I like it a lot.

Now the principle I disliked. She's evil, and I have the feeling we'll see her again in the future being a hassle for the girls. Additionally, she annoyed me by getting onto the girls, and telling them that it was not right for a girl to want to be an astronaut (Yukari) or a biologist (Miura). Now, I know that speaking in generalities men are better at math and the hard sciences, but that's a generality and has no bearing on the performance of an individual in those subjects. As a teacher, one would think that she would want her students to excel regardless of the subject, instead she berates them for doing what they wish in this manner.

The main conflict of this episode is that Yukari has now fulfilled her promise to the Director in that she took a single trip into outer space for him. She now wants to take her father off the island (against his will) and return to living with her mother.

Or at least that's what she says she wants. Throughout the episode she's having flashbacks and suffering because she really enjoyed being in space, yet she doesn't want to admit that to herself. She just wants to be a "normal" high school girl.

Again, there's little doubt in my mind that she'll end up staying with the space program, but this time I'm seriously wondering how they're going to reconcile what Yukari says and acts like she wants and what she really wants to do, and how Miura plays into that.

Overall, another interesting episode. It's less fun than usual because they're actually focusing on character development, but oddly enough it worked, and while I did find myself amused by some of the things that happened, I am also finding myself interested in how things turns out for the girls. I started watching this for the novelty factor, and to my amazement, I'm finding that I'm actually looking forward to each new episode.

I guess I'm too used to American television because I'm amazed at that...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Review: Rocket Girls episode 6

Okay, like I said, I enjoy this show. It's clean, simple, mindless fun.

Yet before this episode that fun was firmly rooted in a inane version of reality. The reason they used high-school girls for the astronauts was to save on weight. I can see that, it's a very real problem afflicting space programs.

But the whole point of this episode was that the girls' father was cursing the rockets as they went up.

And those curses were working.

Yeah. That was a bit out of sync with the rest of the show. I mean, they could easily have shown the cursing, and made Matsuri believe in the curses, but have the folks in the command center actually know what caused the problem.

Regardless of the mind-shattering idiocy involved, this episode did have a decent amount of character development for our two heroines. Matsuri shows that she's not just a dumb islander girl (though - again, this sudden burst of intelligence happens effectively overnight) and Yukari shows that she really does like her half-sister.

Ultimately it was a typically fun episode, but the introduction of the spirits as the root cause of the problems afflicting the space program is... well, silly.

Additionally, I didn't fear for Yukari's safety. For whatever reason (maybe because it is a FUN show, or maybe because the opening shows her with the third girl who's not been introduced yet) I had no doubt as to how the episode would end. I'm uncertain if that is good or bad, but it is how it is.

Ultimately, it's not the best episode they've produced, but it's not so fundamentally flawed that it detracts from the show.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Star Wars: Inferno

I know that this has been reported everywhere by now, but I just had to drop it in here. Anyways, has provided us a first look at the next novel in the Legacy of the Force series. It's a Denning novel this time, and is entitled Inferno.

The official site has this to say about the plot of the novel:

Luke Skywalker wanted to unify the Jedi Order and bring peace to the universe. Instead, his wayward nephew has seized control of the Galactic Alliance, and the galaxy has exploded in all-out civil war.

Jacen Solo works quickly to consolidate his power and jump-start his plan to take over the Jedi. Convinced he's the only one who can save the galaxy, Jacen will do whatever it takes, even ambush his own parents.
Quite a lot of interesting things going on here, and to me that tree house behind Luke's saber looks like Kashyyk's architecture. I'm actually excited about seeing the Wookiees in action.

Anakin Solo and LotF

This is an essay which I based a small blurb of fan-fiction off of back when Betrayal was a brand new hardcover. At the time I had No Krakana set up over at which doesn't like anything that even hints of fan-fiction or creative narrative in general from its members. Anyways, since that particular novel has been released recently in its paperback format, plus some throw away lines from the new novel Sacrifice tied into what I read in Exile and Bloodlines well, I figured that it would be a decent time to have a chat about this concept.

Anyhow, a major plot point of the novel Betrayal was the inclusion of Ani-bot. Which as anyone who has read the novel knows is a biometric droid designed by Thrackan Sal-Solo to interface with Centerpoint.

This was an important concept. Why? Because Centerpoint is bonded to Anakin Solo. During the Corellian Trilogy, Anakin imprinted himself onto Centerpoint. It was later established in the NJO that only he could activate it. Basically, without Anakin Solo, Centerpoint is nothing more than a massive floating tin can.

But Anakin Solo was killed off in Star by Star.

Which is why they had to use what has been dubbed Ani-bot.

It's fine and dandy. An incredibly interesting concept.

But it raises questions in my mind, foremost among them is where did they get the biometrics?

After all, Anakin is dead. His body burned to a crisp in a clearing of Hapes.

Additionally, Anakin's home planet (and where all that biometric type of information should have been stored) was Coruscant. A planet that was vongformed. Star by Star showed us that Fey'la destroyed the Senate databanks, which is where Anakin's information was probably stored, after all his mother was the former Chief of State.

So, just how did Sal-Solo get that biometric information for his young cousin? I mean, it's more than just a thin slice of DNA, it's things such as brain scans and auras.

Even if for some reason that information survived the Vong's conquest of Coruscant, Sal-Solo would not have been someone authorized to retrieve that information. I mean we have severe laws in place concerning a hospital's requirements to protect health information (and having developed software for use in a hospital/clinical setting I've had to read that particular law), how much worse would the GFFA's be?

Anyways, we have Sal-Solo with biometric information he should never have been able to get his paws on. How? How did he manage it?

Which is when I stop to think about just what it was that Sal-Solo was doing after Anakin died during the Vong War.

And I remember that he was in charge of the Peace Brigade.

Now, one of my personal pet theories on how Anakin could have survived was the fact that he was in a cloning facility, and in the YV's hands for a few hours at least, and then couple that with the fact that Jaina felt "compelled" by an outside force to retrieve the body (that's in Dark Journey), and I get the distinct impression that Anakin didn't die, but rather the YV quickly created a clone body which Jaina could retrieve, and Vergere helped along by using a Force suggestion to ensure that Jaina obediently came along and took the body away from the Vong.

Yet, what bothered me the most about this theory was Anakin's disappearance from the Force. Of course, a few months ago, I thought up a reason on just why that was something of a non-issue (Midichlorians versus Slave coral).

Anyways, taking that theory in hand, I then combined it with a couple of established facts from the NJO. First the Peace Brigade were used to move slaves around YV space. Second the Peace Brigade's home base of Ylesia was decimated by Alliance forces, while Sal-Solo was there on the planet.

So, my question then became, if Anakin did survive Myrkr and was in the hands of the YV, sooner or later they would want to sacrifice him. So the Peace Brigade would conceivably be tasked with moving him from one planet to another. After all by this point, the YV were stretched really thin. Sal-Solo would have recognized Anakin, and more importantly, recognized the potential Anakin promised via his relationship to Centerpoint.

Sal-Solo would not have hesitated to "rescue" Anakin from the YV at this point. Not in an effort to save Anakin so much as an effort to control him, and use him to gain more power (namely Centerpoint).

This theory provides for the biometrics necessary to produce the Ani-bot.

As for why Ani-bot, well the real Anakin didn't like Sal-Solo, and would not have helped him. Ani-bot is just flat out easier to control than the real Anakin.

Anyways, we have the biometrics needed to produce the Ani-bot, and then Ben comes along and messes up that plan by destroying Ani-bot.

So, it should be a simple matter of Sal-Solo getting more biometric information and rebuilding the Ani-bot, right?

Well, yeah, but Sal-solo was killed shortly thereafter, and if Sal-Solo was the only person who knew that Anakin was alive and well in some warehouse owned by Sal-Solo then who's going to get the biometric information then?

What is interesting (and part of why I'm writing this now) is the fact that as of Sacrifice the Corellians still have not gotten Centerpoint back up and running even to the point it was at during Betrayal. This seems to imply to me that they no longer have access to the biometric data used in the creation of Ani-bot.

I realize that this is somewhat, esoteric and inane, as least as far as theories goes, but it explains a lot.

It explains why the text of SbS never explicitly says that Anakin died. It explains the compulsion which Jaina felt in recovering his body. It explains what the Vong were doing with his body for those couple of hours they had it. It explains where the biometrics for Ani-bot came from. It explains why the Corellians don't seem to have that biometric information now.

I can admit, that I'm still holding out hope that Anakin will show up again. After all, Star Wars needs a hope like that these days. Star Wars needs the next Luke Skywalker back. After all, there is no other character suitable for being an archetypal Star Wars Hero. It's why Luke is still doing everything.

I guess all we can do is hope - which is kind of ironic, even though he's "dead" he's still the most hopeful, and human, character in the EU.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin