Posts Tagged ‘literature’


Can't Be Worse Than "Darth Tater"

The current brouhaha in a galaxy far far away is the Darth Who naming contest. Seems that Han Solo and Leia Skywalker's brat is following in his grandfather's footsteps, and readers get to decide what his street name will be.

To understand why he's doing this, I looked up little Jacen Solo's Wookiepedia entry. Link upon link later, I was again reminded of how voluminous the Star Wars expanded universe — or "EU", as Warsies call it, and not to be confused with a bunch of Anglo-Saxons uniting around a depreciated currency — is. My direct experience with this medium is neither vast nor recent, as not counting four film novelizations, I've read only two Star Wars books: R. A. Salvatore's Vector Prime and its immediate successor. I didn't have much difficulty picking up on where these characters were decades after the Battle of Yavin… but I felt no motivation to see where they were going, either.

Star Wars is an epic setting, yet its cinematic tales began and ended in a mere six films. By contrast, their literary extensions take dozens of books to tell a single saga (such as New Jedi Order or Legacy of the Force). It's far less episodic than, say, Star Trek novels, which can be picked up and read in any order, based on the appeal of individual plots and characters. Already the NJO books I read seven years ago are set 20 years in the past of the EU's current events. I can't keep up!

Star Wars is to novels as superheroes are to comic books as soap operas are to television: hundreds of characters that live, die, and live again, with intricate plot threads that only the most fanatical loyalist can weave an understanding and appreciation out of. I can't even commit an hour a week to a TV series; how am I supposed to keep up with a Star Wars book a month? I think it's great that some of my favorite films ever have left an epic impact that resonates throughout today's bookshelves; but does it have to be so darn daunting?


Just an old country doctor…

This week, I finally tackled Crucible: Provenance of Shadows, the first in a trilogy of books that independently examines each of the three main characters of Star Trek: The Original Series. At three times the length of most Trek novels, Crucible initially intimidated me — but with the Spock's book now out, and Kirk's due next month, it felt time to get cracking on McCoy's installment.

I'm enjoying the book thoroughly, and I'll go into more detail why once I've finished it. But I thought it worth writing today in memory of the actor who brought Bones to life, as today would've been his 87th birthday. It was a sad day eight years ago when DeForest Kelley was the first of the Enterprise's crew to pass beyond the galactic barrier, where he's since been joined by James Doohan. But as I read Crucible, it brings Mr. Kelley's performance back to life in a very real way. It's probably expected of today's Trek actors, but I doubt forty-one years ago, the crew of the Enterprise's maiden voyage realized they would be immortalized, with countless untold stories yet to be discovered and explored, in novels, comics, films, and fiction for decades to come. I can't imagine how different a scape our imaginations would be, had any other actor come to personify Leonard McCoy. I hope novels such as Crucible continue to do his legacy proud.

I regret that I'm not a bigger fan of westerns, as it seems that genre is where Mr. Kelley can most be seen outside the realm of Star Trek. Can anyone recommend some of his films?

Fortunately, he was more than an actor, as today I was delighted to discover a trilogy of Star Trek poems written by the late doctor. "The Big Bird's Dream" presents a rhyming narrative of Gene Roddenberry (whose nickname was "The Great Bird of the Galaxy") and his efforts to realize his screenplay dream. Be sure to follow the links to the two sequel poems as well.


This Will Be A Novel Long Remembered

I recently watched all three original Star Wars films for the first time since seeing them in theaters in 1997 (I bought the DVD set in the fall of 2004). But before watching episodes IV and V, I read the novelizations, as I also did immediately after episode VI. In any such converstion of media, the source material is almost always superior, and this was no exception: the books were vastly dependent on the on-screen action to detail what was happening. The most enjoyable novelization of the three was Return of the Jedi, which offered some useful insight into the characters' thoughts: Han Solo's evolution toward selflessness; Luke's struggle with the Dark Side; Vader's machinations against both his son and emperor. I had hoped for a bit more detail into Vader's final redemptive act, but none was forthcoming.

The only other movie novelization I've ever read was Attack of the Clones, which had numerous exclusive scenes (both deleted from the movie and created by the book's author). I guess I was hoping for a similar treatment from the original trilogy.

In related news, IGN.com recently posted its "Top 25 Movie Franchises of All Time". George Lucas had the winning entry, of course.


Hufflepuff, The Missing Pokémon

Previously available only in theaters and on YouTube, the trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is now on Apple's trailers Web site.

I've commented to several people, "I hope the film is better than the book." Knowing Potheads to be almost as fanatical as Trekkers, I half-expected this sincere comment to be met with outrage. Yet, without fail, their response has been, "How could it not be?" I'm surprised that other people have found this fifth book in the entry to be a slow and tedious, if somewhat necessary, bridge between the outstanding fourth and sixth books in the series. It's nice to know that not everyone is blinded by what is considered to be the genius of J.K. Rowling.

Of course, she's no Gene Roddenberry.