Adventures In the Star Wars EU – Part 2

The Crystal Star (1994)

Vonda N. McIntyre

Princess Leia’s children have been kidnapped. Along with Chewbacca and Artoo-Detoo, she follows the kidnappers’ trail to a disabled refugee ship, from which children are also missing. Here she learns of a powerful Imperial officer with a twisted plan to restore the Empire. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are cut off from Leia by the death of a nearby star, which has caused a disruption in the Force. They have gone to the planet Crseih to investigate a report of a lost group of jedi. Instead they find a charismatic alien named Waru whose miraculous healing powers have attracted a fanatic following. As Leia follows the path of her children across space, Luke and Han draw closer to the truth behind Waru’s sinister cult. Together they will face an explosive showdown that will decide the survival of the New Republic…and the universe itself!

(RIP Miss McIntyre 1948-2019)

Vector Prime (1999)

R. A. Salvator

More than two decades after the heroes of the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star and broke the power of the Emperor, the New Republic has struggled to maintain peace and prosperity among the peoples of the galaxy. But unrest has begun to spread and threatens to destroy the Republic’s tenuous reign.

Into this volatile atmosphere comes Nom Anor, a charismatic firebrand who heats passions to the boiling point, sowing seeds of dissent for his own dark motives. And as the Jedi and the Republic focus on internal struggles, a new threat surfaces from beyond the farthest reaches of the Outer Rim – an enemy bearing weapons and technology unlike anything New Republic scientists have ever seen.

Suddenly, Luke Skywalker; his wife, Mara; Han Solo; Leia Organa Solo; and Chewbacca – along with the Solo children – are thrust again into battle, to defend the freedom so many have fought and died for. But this time, the power of the Force itself may not be enough…

Dark Journey (2002)

Elaine Cunningham

Though the Jedi strike force completed its deadly mission into Yuuzhan Vong territory, the price of success was tragedy: not everyone made it out alive. In a daring getaway, hotshot pilot Jaina Solo stole an enemy ship, taking along her fellow survivors – and leaving behind a huge piece of her heart.

With the enemy in hot pursuit, Jaina is forced to seek haven in the unprotected, unfriendly Hapes Cluster, where the Jedi are held responsible for a past tragedy – and where the royal family has grim plans for their famous Jedi guest. Even more sinister are the intentions of the Yuuzhan Vong, desperate to capture Jaina for a hideous sacrifice.

Grief-stricken and obsessed with revenge, Jaina is blind to these threats – and to the overpowering evil dangerously close to consuming her. In the coming conflagration, Jaina will be fighting not for victory or vengeance, but for her very being…

Jedi Apprentice #2: The Dark Rival (1999)

Jude Watson

Qui-Gon Jinn’s past is not at rest. How can he forge a bond with young Obi-Wan Kenobi while he is haunted by the betrayal of his first apprentice – Xanatos? Xanatos was also a promising student…until the dark side of the Force intervened. Qui-Gon thought he was gone forever. But now Xanatos is back. And he wants revenge.

The Jedi Prince Series (1992-1993)

Paul and Hollace Davids

There are six books in all: The Glove of Darth Vader, The Lost City of the Jedi, Zorba the Hutt’s Revenge, Mission From Mount Yoda, Queen of the Empire and Prophets of the Dark Side. 

From Wookieepedia:

Jedi Prince is the informal name given to a series of Star Wars young reader novels that ‘take up where Return of the Jedi left off’. The Title ‘Jedi Prince’ refers to Ken, the twelve – year – old hero of the series who teams up with Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance to fight the Empire.

The Empire, led by Grand Moff Hissa and Supreme Prophet Kadann attempt to install Trioculus as Emperor, claiming that he is Palpatine’s son. Palpatine’s real son, according to the series, is a madman named Triclops. Both Trioculus and Triclops are mutants who have three eyes.

The series is generally not popular with fans of the movies, who consider them to be silly.

Oh how one or two installments can change everything! The Disney Sequel Trilogy and Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath books make the Jedi Prince novels look like a Tennessee Williams play. Yes Ken’s a Jedi Prince who shows absolutely no evidence of Force sensitivity (it’s never explained why Luke tried to send him to a regular school instead of training him in the ways of the jedi). Yes, there’s the ongoing use of onomatopoeia and acronyms. The code that reads JE-99-DI-88-FOR-00-CE. The Moffrences. The “Dark Greetings”. And Hologram Fun World. But these books remind us that once upon a time, Star Wars was fun and occasionally corny. With the right writers and a little retconning, these books would’ve made a great animated TV show.

Young Jedi Knights (1995-1998)

Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta

When The Empire died, they were born—a new hope for the New Republic. The young twins of Han Solo and Princess Leia are now fourteen, and enrolled at Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy on Yavin 4. Together with friends both old and new, the future heroes of an already legendary saga begin their training.

The first sci-fi novel I ever read: “Heirs of the Force” (the first in the series where Jacen and Jaina are captured by an injured Imperial TIE pilot). The series was my episodes 7-9 for years. It thrilled me to see a new generation of heroes with their own adventures. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way because action figures were made of Jacen and Jaina (two for her) and fans were upset when Disney chose to create new characters (and reboot the franchise) instead of using our beloved next generation. But if you have no desire to see Episode IX, then you can read “Young Jedi Knights” instead. There are 14 books in all.

 

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Great Amazon Moments In Genre History

As you know, March is Women’s History Month (or should it be Women’s Herstory Month?). For me the ultimate symbol of female empowerment are the Amazons, those legendary women famous for practicing the arts of hunting and battle and all female societies. Previously thought of as just a myth made up by the ancient Greeks, newly unearthed archaeological evidence proves that Amazons and warrior women actually existed.

Science Fiction and fantasy on the other hand always believed in Amazons – as great story potential. Here are 7 works featuring those battling beauties of yesteryear – and the future.

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1. Wonder Woman

Well duh! Wonder Woman is always the first thing that comes to mind when someone says amazon. She is an Amazon! She comes from Themyscira (which really was the name of the island in the Greek myths and was believed to be Asia minor in real life). She was raised and trained by Amazons! It was the Amazon myth that inspired William Moulton Marston to create comics most important supershero and he envisioned the Amazons as an advanced civilization of warriors who believed in wisdom before weapons and peace above war. Their queen was Hippolyta. Diana was their princess and greatest champion. Their other famous inhabitants were General Philippus, Antiope, Artemis and Donna Troy.

Hooves and Harlots

2. Xena: Warrior Princess

Yes, Xena was a warrior princess and she often crossed paths with the Amazons but she wasn’t an Amazon. That honor went to her cherished friend Gabrielle, who was given the Right of Caste by a dying Tereis (a princess, you see) in “Hooves and Harlots”, then had to take her rightful place as Queen in “The Quest”, and even lead them into battle in “Dangerous Prey”. Time and again the duo would cross paths with the Amazons throughout the series. On the show they were portrayed as scattered tribes throughout the ancient world with different laws, customs and celebrations similar to the indigenous peoples of our world. Fun fact: R.J. Stewart and Rob Tapert, the creators of Xena, wrote and filmed a pilot about a teenage girl who get’s transported to the past and forms the beginnings of the Amazon nation. Amazon High, never took off as a series but some of the pilot was included in the Xena episode “Lifeblood”.

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SingingMountainGuardian-GH

3. The Nightsisters and the Singing Mountain Clan, Star Wars

Two societies hailed from the planet Dathomir. Both Force sensitive but with different views. The Nightsisters tapped into the Dark Side of the Force to harness their powers (but were not the Sith), while the Singing Mountain Clan tapped into the Light Side. Star Warriors were first introduced to the Nightsisters with the 1985 TV movie Ewoks: The Battle For Endor and the Singing Mountain Clan made their introduction in the 1995 EU novel The Courtship of Princess Leia. Famous Nightsisters include Charal, Tamith Kai, Mother Talzin and Asajj Ventress while Augwynne Djo, Tamith Kai, Gethzerion and Tenel Ka are members of the SMC.

4. Herland (1915) Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Three men come across a “lost civilization” made up entirely of women who reproduce via parthenogenesis. An early work in the genres of utopian and women’s sci-fi, and a reflection of Gilman’s feminist views. The women don’t engage in any warfare but they’re still Amazonian in the athletic sense.

5. The Foretelling (2006) Alice Hoffman

OK, this isn’t a sci-fi or fantasy novel but I wouldn’t label it an historical novel either. There’s no characters or creatures from Greek mythology but the Amazons presented here are not based on the Scythians but on the Greek descriptions of the fabled warrior women.

Rain is an Amazon princess. She’s next in line to the throne despite the rejection of her mother, the Queen. As Rain learns archery and to ride and raise horses, she also learns about the world outside her tribe.

6. Califia’s Daughters (2004) Leigh Richards

Inspired by the story of Califia, the Queen of California (yes, that’s how California got it’s name), this post-apocalyptic novel imagines a Golden State where most of the male population is wiped out via plague – and women have taken over. The males that have survived are viewed as precious commodities for – you guessed it – reproductive purposes.

Tempest

7. Tempest, Hercules: The Animated Series (1998)

You’ve seen Disney’s Hercules but did you know there was a Hercules TV series chronicling Herc’s teenage years? Yes and it was just as funny as the movie (especially if your an expert on the Greek myths). One recurring character on the show was the Amazon princess Tempest, whom Hercules had a crush on. In the season one episode “Hercules and the Girdle of Hippolyta“, Tempest is taken out of Prometheus Academy by her mother, Queen Hippolyta (who else?) and is forced to undergo an initiation ceremony to prove her worth as an Amazon. What makes this episode interesting is that Tempest has a father, King Darius, who is kinder and gentler than his wife and is an expert cook (rest assured despite Hippolyta’s gruff demeanor, she loves her husband very much). Now those familiar with Amazon folklore, know that the Amazons left their territories to mate with men and kept the girls from the unions. But there’s another version of the myth where Amazons had husbands but it was the husbands who cooked, did housekeeping and raised the children. King Darius fits this description.

220px-Dora_Milaje

8. The Dora Milaje, Black Panther

Now that Black Panther has won its Oscar I’m finally saying it: Black Panther was a missed opportunity for Marvel to make a female-led movie. Sure, everyone gushed over the female characters of the 2018 blockbuster but these women still had to play second fiddle to the main (male) character. I would’ve rather seen a midquel that takes place during the events of Civil War that depicts the Dora Milaje – and Queen Ramonda – rule Wakanda in T’Challa’s absence.

A team of women who served as special forces for the nation of Wakanda and it’s royal family. They were first introduced to the Black Panther comics in 1998. Their most well known members are Ayo, Okoye and Xoliswa. They were more than likely based on the real life Dahomey Amazons (also called Agooji) of Benin, who lived up until the 19th century.

And now I leave you with some non-fiction Amazonian recommendations:

Brave Warriors of Greek Myth: An Amazon Roster

Fraser, Antonia. The Warrior Queens: The Legends and Lives of  the Women Who Lead Their Nations Into War. 1990

Davis-Kimball, Jeannine. Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines. 2003

Warrior Women with Lucy Lawless *

Epic Warrior Women (this one’s narrated by Lynda Carter!)*

*You can watch these series on Amazon Prime (no pun intended) too.

 

 

 

 

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Ugh, Just Stop It Already!

Reading this USA TODAY article (via Yahoo) by Morinsola Keshinro made me so sick to my stomach I had to type this post in response.

“Captain Marvel” Introduces a Powerful Female Lead. Young Girls Should See That.

My enjoyment of Thor led me to “Black Panther” and then “Avengers: Infinity War,” which encouraged me to understand the world of Marvel. And now, here we are days away from the “Captain Marvel” movie, and I’m excited to see Marvel introduce us to a powerful female character.

Now that I’m a person in the Marvel world, it feels different. Different in that in these stories that have existed with powerful and strong male leading characters, that the most powerful superhero in the Marvel cinematic universe is a woman and is Marvel’s first female-led film. What a time. What an opportunity.

Judging by the reverence of this article, you’d think Captain Marvel was the first female superhero film ever made. Makes you wonder.

After 20 male led superhero movies, after the sudden cancellation of Agent Carter and after Kevin Feige’s lame excuses for no Black Widow movie, it’s aggravating that (some) people are giving Marvel a free pass for it’s long standing sexism.

Unlike many female characters, the women of “Captain Marvel” don’t rely on romance and other typical woman character arcs. There are multiple female characters in the film that enforce diversity of women in race, careers and talents. The film is co-directed by Anna Boden and scored by Pinar Toprak. Plus, the film releases on International Women’s Day during Women’s History Month. Talk about girl power.

This is why the #CaptainMarvelChallenge, an effort to have young girls go see this movie, is so important. The opportunity to see and support women and girls being strong, smart and bold is something to get behind. Something I want to be a part of.

This makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs, lift a tank over my head and hurl it at the media. HELLO! WHERE WERE YOU TWO YEARS AGO? DID YOU FORGET ABOUT A CERTAIN LITTLE FILM CALLED WONDER WOMAN? THE FILM THAT HAD AN ISLAND FULL OF AMAZONS OF ALL COLORS? THE ONE DIRECTED (NOT CO-DIRECTED THANK YOU VERY MUCH) BY PATTY JENKINS WHICH WENT ON TO BECOME THE HIGHEST-GROSSING FILM DIRECTED BY A WOMAN? THE ONE CO-PRODUCED BY DEBORAH SNYDER? THE ONE WITH COSTUMES MADE BY LINDY HEMMING? THE FILM THAT PROVED THAT FEMALE SUPERHERO MOVIES CAN MAKE A PROFIT? REMEMBER WHEN ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE WANTED TO HOST FEMALE-ONLY SCREENINGS OF THE FILM? REMEMBER WHEN LYNDA CARTER COULDN’T STOP GUSHING ABOUT THIS MOVIE AND WAS JUST AS PISSED AS I WAS THAT IT DIDN’T GET AN OSCAR NOMINATION? REMEMBER THAT, MS. KESHINRO? REMEMBER?

(If you think I’m overreacting, look at the comments section and you’ll find the same reaction from readers.)

Also are you also aware that one of the most popular films at the moment is Aelita: Battle Angel which currently has a 7.6 rating at IMDB.com (Take that Mark Ruffalo!)?

I’m looking forward to the conversations to be had around this film. Everything from how it made people feel to how people see the work done in the film as part of the overall storyline. Also, how in our current social and political climate it will live in the discourse, and — what I may not hear until many years later — what it meant to people in this period of time.

In meantime Ms. Keshinro, take a gander at these conversations around Wonder Woman and how the film changed their lives:

Starting with this:

To that point, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, shared a tweet of an amazing list of kids’ responses to seeing the film: “My producer just sent me this… ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! This makes every hard day worth it. Thank you to whomever wrote it!!”

“I work at a kindergarten and this is a collection of cute Wonder Woman related things that happened within a week of the movie being released.

  • On Monday, a boy who was obsessed with Iron Man, told me he had asked his parents for a new Wonder Woman lunchbox.
  • A little girl said ‘When I grow up I want to speak hundreds of languages like Diana’
  • This girl had her parents revamp her Beauty and the Beast birthday party in THREE DAYS because she simply had to have a Wonder Woman party.
  • Seven girls playing together during recess on Tuesday, saying that since they all wanted to be Wonder Woman they had agreed to be Amazons and not fight but work together to defeat evil.
  • There is this one girl that refuses to listen to you unless you address her as Wonder Woman.
  • Another girl very seriously asked the teacher if she could ditch her uniform for the Wonder Woman armor because she ‘wanted to be ready if she needed to save the world.’ The teacher laughed and said it was okay, and the next day the girl came dressed as Wonder Woman and not a single kid batted an eye.
  • They are making a wrap-up dance show, and they asked the teacher if they could come as superheroes, they are going to sing a song about bunnies.
  • This kid got angry and threw a plastic car over his head and a girl gasped ‘LIKE IN THE MOVIE’
  • A boy threw his candy wrapping in the floor and a 5-year-old girl screamed ‘DON’T POLLUTE YOU IDIOT, THAT IS WHY THERE ARE NO MEN IN THEMYSCIRA’
  • On Wednesday, a girl came with a printed list of every single female superhero and her powers, to avoid any trouble when deciding roles at recess.
  • I was talking to one of the girls that hadn’t seen the movie, and the next day she came and very seriously told me ‘you were right, Wonder Woman was way better than Frozen.’

Consider this your friendly reminder that if this movie completely changed the way these girls and boys thought about themselves and the world in a week, imagine what the next generation will achieve if we give them more movies like Wonder Woman.”

Then there’s this:

note: the top image is from 2015, the bottom image is from 2017 (gif courtesy of wonderswoman.tumblr.com). What difference a film makes.

Here’s the video. The conversation starts at 21:54 and ends at 23:24.

Read about this little boy and his quest to own the epic WW costume.

And here’s my personal experience: When I was selling books at the flea market, a father and his family bought a DC Superhero Girls comic from me. He told me his daughter loves the show. The daughter held up her doll and said in the cutest voice, “look I have a Wonder Woman doll!” Of course I had to recommend Hero of the Year – which I own.

I’m sure Captain Marvel will make money. Marvel can show us two hours of the Avengers flushing a toilet and the studio will still make money. If you like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, more power to you. But let’s stop pretending that CM is the biggest thing since Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in that famous tennis match. Will this movie finds its rightful place in women’s cinema? Only time will tell.

Now I’ll leave you with a really funny snippet from Kyle Smith’s negative review of Captain Marvel:

Two years ago, Wonder Woman proved a female-led superhero movie could reach the highest levels of the genre, with Gal Gadot proving robust and redoubtable, yet also charming and feminine. I spent Captain Marvel waiting for Gadot.

Heh, heh.

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In Honor of “Queen’s Shadow”, Here Are Four Padme Stories Worth Reading

queens-shadow-tall

On March 5th, bookstores everywhere will have copies of Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. What a wonderful Women’s Herstory Month present! Now as a Legends Loyalist, I usually shun the new canon (with the exception of Dark Disciple) but I’m looking forward to reading this book because – alas – we have no EU novels with Padme as a central protagonist. But we have comics and short stories. Here are four of them.

Image result for star wars a summer's dream

1. “A Summer’s Dream” – Star Wars Tales Vol. 2

In Attack of Clones while having a picnic in a Naboo meadow, Padme recounts to Anakin an old flame she had in school. But she never told him about Ian Lago, a summer romance she had just when she was the Princess of Theed…

Tpmqueenamidala

2. “Queen Amidala” – Star Wars Episode I Adventures, Star Wars Omnibus: Emissaries and Assassins

Set during the events of The Phantom Menace. During preparations for the Boonta Eve Podrace, Amidala, in her disguise as handmaiden Padme, and Jar-Jar have their first little adventure as a team…

QoD_Amidala_Handmaidens

3. “Queen In Disguise” – Jedi Readers Step 2

Aimed at kids in grades 1-3, Queen In Disguise talks about Amidala’s early days as Queen of Naboo and how she formed a close bond with her handmaidens. Yes, it’s written for kids but I would recommend adults read it for its illustrations and heartwarming story about teamwork and sisterhood.

Amidala_lends_her_amulet_to_Sabe

4. “The Queen’s Amulet” 

On the morning of the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo, Amidala realizes that her most prized possession – a locket given to her by her father is missing. With help from Sabe, she looks for it – then trades places with her decoy. The book came in a keepsake box with an actual locket to wear.

Now it’s your turn, dear Star Warriors. Are there more Padme-centric stories out there that I missed? What’s your favorite Padme story outside of the movies? Reveal them in the comments.

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The Xena Script That Never Was

An unused script for the much-demanded Xena reboot has been leaked and it’s title is “Destroyer of Nations”:

Here’s another link.

Now in this pilot, Xena is aiding Hercules in one of his famous Twelve Labors. This isn’t the Hercules we know and love from Legendary Journeys. This Herc is a Jerk. Iolaus isn’t Hercules’ loyal traveling companion and battling brother, but his nephew and a flat character, while Xena…uh…um…what is Xena’s role in Herc’s army?

I will admit this script has some (key word: some) potential, but it’s just doesn’t work as a Xena episode. For starters it’s too focused on Hercules in the beginning and less on Xena which reminds me too much of that rotten Wonder Woman script Joss Whedon pounded out a couple of years back (which told the story from Steve Trevor’s perspective instead of Diana’s). This is more of a Hercules episode. Bad move Grillo-M. The story has to start from Xena’s perspective for it to work.

As I mentioned earlier the characters of Hercules and Iolaus deviate from their original incarnations. I’ve heard the argument that this is keeping in line with the source material but the Xenaverse was never one to stay faithful to the Greek myths. They were famous for reinventing the classic myths in creative and sometimes feminist ways to appeal to a 20th century audience. See the HTLJ episodes “The Apple” and “Faith” and the XWP episodes “Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts” and “The Giant Killer”. Was Grillo-Marxuach respecting the source material or was he just assassinating Herc’s character to spite Kevin Sorbo? Whatever your feeling’s about Sorbo’s politics or personality, doesn’t mean we should deny The Legendary Journeys’ place in pop culture. After all, if it wasn’t for the success of Hercules we wouldn’t have Xena, Roar, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones, and so on.

Then some children enter the picture and Xena refuses to kill them on Herc’s orders because…reasons. It’s confusing. I know that in the “Xena Trilogy” episode “The Guantlet”, Xena’s men turned on her because she spared a baby but here her motives are unclear. How does she live up to her title of “Destoryer of Nations”? Is she Herc’s ally? Does she plan to betray Herc? Did she read stumble across an Ancient Greek version of Feminist Current and realize that she needs to topple the patriarchy? This script is 61 pages long and I got so impatient reading it, I had to scroll down to see if/when Gabrielle makes her appearance.

Ok she’s introduced on page 17. And her mother is dead whereas in the show Gabby’s mom was alive (of course until “Who’s Gurkhan?”). This reminds me of every Disney movie in history until Mulan (“mom, why don’t any of these girls have mothers?” I used to ask a lot as a kid). And her father is some burly guy with tattoos named Herodotus.  Xena recognizes Gabrielle’s family as Scythians. Ok we’ve encountered a problem here. If Gabrielle is a Scythian then re-casting Renee O’Connor as Gabrielle would be considered whitewashing. The Scythians were Eurasian in appearance and may have been of Mongolian descent. They would have to cast a new actress for the part and fans can’t agree on whether the roles of Xena and Gabrielle should be recast.

I don’t want to go into a page by page analysis of the script because that’s not the purpose of this post but I will conclude this by saying that I can see why this script was rejected. It’s vague about Xena’s personality and motives (it’s like a combination of Bad Xena and Reformed Xena all rolled into one) and it’s…just…too…long. I’m probably the only fan in the world that has no desire for a Xena reboot and if this labels me a bad fan, then I accept the label. But, remember Xenites, as Star Warriors learned the hard way, four years ago, always be careful what you wish for.

But you can still put in an order for that Xena FunkoPop! Yes, really! (I did :D)

What do you think fellow Xenites? Did you like the script? Do you think it should be produced? Are you longing for a Xena reboot or movie or do you think we should let sleeping dogs lie? Send me your thoughts, wishes and death threats in the comments section.

 

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Why I’m Leaving the Star Wars Fandom

Rest assured I still love Star Wars. I will always love Star Wars.

But I don’t like Star Wars fans. Not anymore. At least not on the internet. I no longer associate with the pro-Disney faction or the anti-Disney faction. Both sides have become stuck up and rude and I’ve had it.

I’ve had it with the pro-Disney side, who use lame arguments to support Disney’s shoddy treatment of Lucas’ legacy. Arguments like labeling antis as bigots who feel threatened by women/gays/non-whites. Using ageist arguments to excuse Luke & Han’s character assassinations. The ones who say there’s no right way to be a Star Wars fan. How can a true Star Wars fan ignore the way Disney constantly tells us that only the OT & ST matter (just look at the recent Celebration poster)? Saying things like: “this film wasn’t made for you. It’s for a new generation.” Well the first trilogy wasn’t made for adults and it became a hit with all ages. The second trilogy wasn’t made for adults and it appealed to all ages. I weep for the new generation that is growing up with this trilogy. I am also appalled with the Reylo shippers that want Rey to hook up with main villain Kylo Ren – the Darth Aardvark that murdered her mentor before her very eyes, strapped her to a chair and tried to mind rape her. The butt ugly dark side user who throws tantrums whenever he fails.  How anyone can one minute label Anakin and Padme’s marriage as abusive then swoon over the idea of Reylo the next disgusts me.

I feel sad that Bryan Young, Geek Girl Diva or Amy Ratcliffe are no longer the people I once read, listened to or corresponded with. They’ve fallen so far off the deep end that I no longer recognize them.

But I’m starting to get fed up with the Disney critical Star Warriors that I once followed on Twitter or WordPress. What was once honest, in-depth criticism of corporate vampirism, has now turned into an excuse to bash feminism or ignore real injustice simply because Kennedy is using feminism as a front for her lousy films. Fans that tweet, post videos or articles examining, say, the box office failure of Solo or the declining sales of Star Wars action figures also tweet or post videos discrediting the existence of rape culture, proclaims feminism as irrational misandry (despite mounting evidence that suggest otherwise) and act oblivious to the rising threats of transgenderism, male violence, pornography, prostitution, child brides and FGM (one Twitter user even told me “that never happens here” – in the US – but it does, far more often than we realize). Then there are those EU/ Legends fans who use their platform to hurl potshots at the 2008 Clone Wars and Dave Filoni because they think it contradicts their beloved canon (and because he also produced Rebels) – even though Lucas himself created and executive produced the show and came up with most of the ideas (such as bringing back Darth Maul). Dave Filoni has always been respectful of the EU and always gives it credit. When I tweeted that I liked both series I was mocked so I unfollowed.

But the final straw for me was when two anti-Last Jedi Star Warriors made fun of the recent Gillete commercial addressing toxic masculinity. One of them did it because some comic book writer praised the commercial.

Ms. Liu is a lesbian. Does she even know about the growing lesbophobia in the LGBT community?

I mean, what does any of this have to do with Star Wars or Rian Johnson? Rian Johnson is no feminist. He’s not even an ally. Kathleen Kennedy is not a feminist. She’s just another Hollywood player who treats feminism as the latest fad or trend. The real feminists are not wringing their hands over how many female characters will show up in Episode IX. They’re out there fighting against the very things I listed earlier. I’ve even met radical feminists who liked the prequels. As someone who’s suffered from misogyny most of my life seeing tweets like this hurts me and makes me feel like the injustices I suffered don’t matter (in other words: get over it – #NotAllMen).

There was nothing anti-man about the Gillette ad. If anything, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon would’ve approved because throughout the saga, they practiced the very same things depicted in the commercial. Qui-Gon broke up a fight between Anakin and Greedo and saw potential in Jar Jar Binks. Yoda said “Wars (i.e. violence) make not one great.” Han assured Leia – without resorting to slut-shaming or sarcasm – that he would step aside when Luke came back. Obi-Wan told Anakin that he loved him. These are examples of true masculinity.

The Sequel Trilogy IS About Toxic Masculinity

The Gillette ad encouraged men – particularly fathers – to stand up for those that can’t defend themselves, i.e. women and children. The men of the sequel trilogy are the opposite: Luke contemplates killing his nephew because of a “feeling” (why does this sound so familiar?). Then hides away on an island to mope. Han abandons his marriage and his duties to the New Republic because of his wayward son. Finn asks Rey after they’ve just met, if she has a boyfriend (why didn’t he just ask her if she was an angel?) And Yoda? Pffft! This is not true masculinity. These are not the men George Lucas created to inspire little boys to be the best a man can get. The men I grew up with and admired, even though they’re fictional.

The new women of Star Wars are nowhere near Leia, Padme, Ahsoka or Mara as feminist icons. They don’t undergo any character growth, they don’t earn their heroism. They’re Mary Sues. That is not feminist.

So from now on, whenever I tweet Star Wars, it’ll be something I type into the search bar or I’ll post my own tweet. This blog will only focus on the Star Wars made when Lucas was in charge, from the OT to the CW. The Phantom Menace‘s 20th anniversary is approaching and I’m going to celebrate in a positive way. I will no longer follow any Star Wars accounts, not even the official Star Wars Twitter. I don’t want to even acknowledge Disney Wars positively or negatively.

But to end on a lighter note, I’ll eventually buy that Queen Amidala Itty Bitty.

 

 

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So God Made An Astronaut

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And on the fourth day God looked at the luminaries in the heavens and the stars and said “I need somebody to wander through them.” So God made an astronaut.

God said: “I need somebody to chart the distances of planets, suns, moons and asteroids, photograph galaxies and calculate how far and how often he can circle the Earth and the moon.” So God made an astronaut.

“I need somebody with a strong mind, strong enough to see into the dark expanse of the universe, strong enough to move forward despite not knowing what waits there, yet also possess a heart strong enough to keep seeing and moving into the darkness time after time.” So God made an astronaut.

God said: “I need someone with the knowledge of numbers, the imagination of a child and the creativity of an artist to master the art of spacecraft and  fly rocketships and shuttlecraft into space, then come back and inspire others to lift their eyes to the heavens so that they will know that it is I who created these things.” So God made an astronaut.

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God had to have somebody willing to inspect the heavens and the bodies that reside in it, to see if they were fit for human life, yet reveal the beauty and uniqueness of the Earth as the birthplace of man. So God made an astronaut.

Somebody in spacesuit, who’d welcome children with open arms and smile when one of them says, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” So God made an astronaut.

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To the astronaut in all of us.

Note: Inspiration for this poem came about when I was watching Apollo’s Daring Mission on NOVA. This episode wasn’t about the world famous Apollo 11 moon landing but Apollo 8 which preceded it by a couple of months (Dec. 21, 1968 to be exact). Three men – Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman – in their spacecraft, were the first men to orbit the moon and successfully return to Earth. While in orbit they each read a segment from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verses 1-10 as a public statement. When I was at work, I thought about the Bible reading and that 1978 speech Paul Harvey made at the Future Farmers of America convention, used famously in what is, arguably, the greatest Super Bowl Ad of all time (a Ram Trucks commercial) and combined the two. After all farmers are outside so they must look up at the sky a lot. And the man who discovered Pluto was the son of farmers, so maybe in the heart of every farmer, there is an astronaut or astronomer.

 

 

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To Sir, With Love

Dear Mr. Stan Lee,

Just recently I discovered that you had died at 95 years of age and I couldn’t be any sadder despite the fact that I was never a fan of your work.

However I’ve always liked you as a person. You seemed so friendly, warm and approachable, and if there had ever been an opportunity to meet you, I would’ve jumped at the chance. When I saw you host Cocktails With Stan, I had wished that I could’ve guest starred even though I’m not a celebrity (though I’m a heck of a lot more interesting than most celebrities) and I don’t drink cocktails. When you said that Spider-Man was more relatable than Superman, I begged to differ, not in hostility, but in friendly conversation. We could’ve had lots of interesting conversations.

I was also upset when I heard about your financial and personal troubles. No one, least of all legend like you, should be treated that way! I’m grateful you don’t have to deal with that anymore.

I wish I had more to say but all I can say is this: rest in peace Mr. Lee, you’ll be missed by all comic book fans, be they Marvel, DC, both, or neither.

In Grateful Memory of Stan Lee (1922-2018)

With Love,

The Lady From Planet X

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More Great Cat Moments In Genre History

As you know, October 29 is that magical time to express our love for our feline lor…er…friends. Two years ago, I posted a list of notable cats in sci-fi and fantasy but then I realized I left some characters out (by accident of course). So without further ado, here’s more great cats that are out of this world.

Cat – A – Lyst

A 1991 novel written by Alan Dean Foster. When movie star Jason Carter takes a vacation in the wilds of Peru, all he wants is a little R & R. But what he finds is much more — a lost civilization of extra-dimensional Incas out to conquer the world! The only one not worried about this mess is Carter’s cat, which acts like she’s in charge of the planet…and she just might be right!

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Nexu, Star Wars: Episode 2 Attack of the Clones

It’s hard to believe that this scary looking thing that looks like a cross between a tarantula, a possum and a shark is actually a cat. But it is and it’s famous for ripping off part of Padme’s jumpsuit in the Geonosis arena. It’s also famous for getting kicked and knocked to the ground by Padme in one of her best butt-kicking moments. According to Wookiepedia, nexu are native to the planet Cholganna. Many years later, Padme’s great-granddaughter, Allana would keep one as a pet.

Uhura’s Song 

A 1987 novel written by the late Janet Kagan.

Years ago, Lt. Uhura befriended a diplomat from Eeiauo, the land of graceful, cat-like beings. The two women exchanged songs and promised never to reveal their secret.

Now the U.S.S. Enterprise? is orbiting Eeiauo in a desperate race to save the inhabitants before a deadly plague destroys them. Uhura’s secret songs may hold the key to a cure — but the clues are veiled in layers of mystery. The plague is killing humans, threatening other planets — and Kirk must crack the code before the Starship Enterprise succumbs!

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Ishtarian

A native of the planet Ishtar in Poul Anderson’s 1975 novel Fire Time. According to Wayne Barlowe’s essay on extra terrestrials, Ishtarians

…with its leonine body and nearly human torso, stands about two meters tall. The body is covered with a mosslike plant, leafy on the head and mane…removing carbon dioxide and wastes from the being’s bloodstream and returning oxygen and vital minerals. Skin color among the Ishtarians varies from very light brown to nearly  black. Females are generally more slightly built than males.

According to this website, Ishtarians are a modern-day wemic.

 

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An inhabitant of the icy planet Tran-ky-ky. From Barlowe again:

The Tran are two – meter – tall mammalian entities. Their long arms end in four-fingered hands. The Tran’s three-toed feet have long, curving claws that act as skates but that can be retracted upward to allow it to walk on land. Broad, membranous wings stretch from their hips to their arms, spreading as the arms are lifted to catch the wind.

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Mr. Tawky-Tawny

A friend of Captain Marvel who happens to be an anthropomorphic tiger.  Introduced in 1947, Tawny just wanted to live peacefully among humans. At first humans are fearful of the talking tiger until Captain Marvel intervenes. In recent years Tawky Tawny has the power to shapeshift, sometimes turning into a smilodon (’cause, y’know, they were once called saber-toothed tigers). My personal favorite version is from the DC Nation short Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam.

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Lt. M’Ress

A character introduced in Star Trek: The Animated Series. M’ress serves as a relief communications officer and a temporary science officer. She hails from the planet Caitian and was voiced by Majel Barrett. You can see M’Ress in all 22 episodes of the Emmy-winning series on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

And I will leave you with this recommendation: be sure to catch Super Cats: A 3 -Part Nature Miniseries only on PBS and PBS.org. You’ll love it.

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The Best Russian Sci-Fi

Privet Amerikans. My name ees Rusa Botansky and I am guest writer in today’s ahtikle. I write because thees morning as I was eating my borscht, I saw internet ahtikle about Mother Russia sending robots to destroy film called Staw Was: The Last Hedai. This upset me so I call Comrade Lady From Planet X to express my displeasure and she invite me to educate Amerikans about Mother Russia’s contribution to nauchnaya fantastika. 

But first, few things must be said. Why would Mother Russia want to waste Her robots on sillee movie about some neudachnik old man who get pestered by little girl into fighting government when we have works of Rossiyskaya nauchnaya fantastika that are better than The Last Hedai? I show you list, da?

Aelita, Queen of Mars (1924)

Yakov Protazanov direct film about young man who goes to Mars to help workers fight ruling class with the help of exotik Queen Aelita. It silent, no talk. Watch here.

Roadside Picnic (1971)

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Aliens visit earth, leave litter behind. Humans look at litter. Is considered to be best Russian novel ever written.

Solaris (1972)

Andrei Tarkovsky direct film of Polish Stanislaw Lem’s book of same name. It win awards. It good film. Watch trailer here.

Heart of a Dog (1925)

Mikhail Bulgakov

Scientist put human glands in doggie, doggie evolve into human. Not good. Novel is classic in Mother Russia.

We (1921)

Yevgeny Zamyatin

People live in glass city, ees watched over by Blagodetel’. But one man learns he has soul. Big influence on 1984 and Brave New World. 

The Slynx (2000)

Tatyana Tolstaya

Blast kill people. Benedik survive blast. Benedik es happy, niet? As long as Benedik stay away from the Slynx.

Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Russian Fantasy and Science Fiction (2008)

Alexander Levitsky

It have Russian stories that stretch from 1700s to 1950s with essays by Levitsky. It big book.

Red Star Tales: A Century of Russian and Soviet Science Fiction (2015)

Yvonne Howell, ED.

I copy intro here:

A scientist keeps a severed head alive, and the head lives to tell the tale… An explorer experiences life on the moon, in a story written six decades before the first moon landing… Electrical appliances respond to human anxieties and threaten to crash the electrical grid… Archaeologists discover strange powers emanating from a Central Asian excavation site… A teleporting experiment goes awry, leaving a subject to cope with a bizarre sensory swap… A boy discovers the explosive truth of his father’s “antiseptic” work, stamping out dissent on distant worlds…

Has stories from the ’80s and ’90s as well.

Hard to Be a God (1964)

Boris and Arkady Strugatsky

Future earth man Anton goes to planet that look like middle ages. Anton cannot interfere with planet’s evolution. It frustrating for him. Strugatsky brothers are gods in SF community. Was made into movie in 2013.

Now Ameirkans, stop blaming Mother Russia for your elections,  your smelly tomatoes and your inferior Staw Was movies. You go, read, watch these shedevry.

 

English translation:

  • Privet: Greetings
  • nauchnaya fantastika: science fiction
  • neudachnik: loser
  • Rossiyskaya: Russian
  • da: yes
  • Blagodetel: Benefactor
  • niet: no
  • shedevry: masterpieces

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