Rage, rage against the dying of a planet.

In my last post, I commented briefly on how Chewbacca’s death had set a grim tone for The New Jedi Order book series.  I would like to take some time now and examine that a little more in-depth in the first post on this topic.

In Vector Prime, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and his son Anakin Solo, go to the planet Sernpidal at the request of Han’s “old buddy” Lando Calrissian.  Lando has asked them to pick up a shipment for him, but things are not well when they get to Sernpidal.  The moon, Dobido, looks awfully large and seems to be moving awfully fast through its orbit around the planet.

They are approached by the former mayor, who tells them the moon is on a collision course with the planet. Then Han and Chewie begin loading up people onto starships to get as many folks off the doomed planet as possible, while Anakin runs off with the former mayor to try and see what’s causing the moon to behave this way.  As it turns out, the Yuuzhan Vong are behind it all, using a dovin basal to manipulate gravity and literally pull the moon into the planet.

When Anakin is knocked away from the Falcon, Chewie runs after him and gets him back up on the ship.  Han asks Anakin to take over so he can help Chewie up onto the boarding ramp.  However, the planet is beginning to come apart at the seams.  The ground is in violent upheaval, the winds are hurricane-force, and the moon is about to make contact with the planet at any moment.  Despite Han’s protests, Anakin makes a hard decision to leave Chewbacca behind, to save themselves, and the dozens of people on board, all of whom are now homeless refugees.

Han watches, disbelievingly, as the Falcon flies away, and Chewbacca howls defiantly at the moon as it crashes into him and the planet.

Chewbacca howls defiantly in the face of death. Image from http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090626185056/starwars/images/f/f6/Chewbacca_Sernpidal.jpg
Chewbacca howls defiantly in the face of death. Image from http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090626185056/starwars/images/f/f6/Chewbacca_Sernpidal.jpg

Han is furious with his son and so overcome with grief-fueled anger, that he goes as far as to blame Anakin for Chewie’s death.  Han Solo, revered and hated throughout the galaxy, became a man consumed by grief.  He spent weeks alone in the Solos’ apartment on Coruscant, with the lights off and a bottle in his hand.  His family and friends feared that he would never come out of his grief.  They all tried to pull him back into the fold, to be there for him, comfort him, but he would just push them away.  Even after Chewbacca’s funeral on Kashyyk, Han was nearly inconsolable.

This whole ordeal causes a massive rift to form between Han and his family, and he goes so far as to fly off in the Falcon, leaving Leia and the kids to their own devices.  Even with a new temporary sidekick in the form of a Ryn named Droma, Han still refuses to even take comm messages from his wife for several weeks.  It is a full four books after Vector Prime before Han begins to return to his old self, but even then, it is not entirely his old self.  Chewbacca’s death breaks one of Han Solo’s most endearing qualities: his sense of invincibility.  For several months after Chewie’s death, Han second-guesses himself and errs on the side of caution much more than he ever did.

It is also some time before Han actually apologizes to Anakin for the blame Han placed on him.  Yet, even with his father’s apologies, Anakin is forever changed by the guilt he feels.  With or without Han’s blame, Anakin feels responsible because he made the decision to leave Chewbacca behind.  It is Anakin’s reaction to Chewbacca’s death that I wish to examine next time.  For now, how did Chewbacca’s death affect you?  Do you agree with Han’s reaction, as developed in the series?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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The New Jedi Order

Hello all!  For my first sci-fi post here at the Thoughts, I wanted to tackle the book series from the early 2000s called The New Jedi Order.  I was always under the impression that this book series was not well-written and generally not a good read.  However, some time ago, I decided that it would behoove me to know more about the details of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion.  This seemed to impact so much of the Star Wars galaxy that I felt under-accomplished as a Star Wars nerd for not having read the series.

Image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/51/Vector_Prime.jpg
Image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/51/Vector_Prime.jpg

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

…if you haven’t read any of these books or been on Wookiepedia at any point in time.

The series begins with a book by R. A. Salvatore titled Vector Prime.  This is Salvatore’s first Star Wars novel, and he does a fantastic job.  I doubt very much that this surprised anyone, as Salvatore is the rather successful author behind many of the Forgotten Realms books.  I’m sure what did shock everyone was his choice to kill one of the main cast from the original trilogy movies.  The death of Chewbacca was a hard one to take and affected the tone of the whole series, but the subsequent authors did a very nice job of picking up where Salvatore left off and expounding on the new society he created: the Yuuzhan Vong, a race from a whole other galaxy.

The Yuuzhan Vong are a completely alien entity to every facet of life in the Star Wars galaxy.  They embrace pain as a natural and very important part of life.  They intentionally inflict pain on themselves as a means of worshiping their gods.  Indeed, their creation myth tells them that the first Yuuzhan Vong were cut off of their most revered deity, Yun-Yuuzhan.  His initial sacrifice to bring his children into existence is a big part of why the Yuuzhan Vong practice ritual sacrifice of slaves and captives, as well as personal sacrifice of their person.

Another major differentiating factor is their use of biotechnology, or shaping.  The Yuuzhan Vong do not use any form of technology as we, nor indeed the denizens of the Star Wars galaxy, understand it.  But the Yuuzhan Vong take it a step further to the point that mechanical technology, no matter to what scale it is used, is blasphemous and an abomination to the gods.  This is usually the first thing they set about doing when they have conquered a planet during the invasion.

Perhaps the hardest thing to come to terms with for the Jedi is the fact that the Yuuzhan Vong exist outside the Force.  The Jedi can’t detect them, anticipate their movements, affect them with mind tricks, pick them up and toss them away, none of that.  However, the Jedi quickly become the focus of much of the Yuuzhan Vong’s efforts to splinter the factions of the galaxy by more or less posting a bounty on Jedi.

I will admit that I have not finished the series yet, but I am close to the end.  With only three and a half books to go, I believe I have found the part of the series where some start to take issue with the writing.  There is a trio of books toward the end of the series written by two authors: Sean Williams and Shane Dix.  Admittedly, I know nothing else by either of these authors.  However, they do seem to railroad the story line into a particular direction in their first book, and also have a distinctly different approach to some of the characters.

Jaina Solo is a major player, both militarily and as a Jedi, throughout the entire Yuuzhan Vong war.  She was deeply affected by the Mission to Myrkr with the other young Jedi, including her brothers Jacen and Anakin.  With the death of Anakin, and Jacen’s capture on that mission, Jaina was in a dark place for a while.  She eventually came to the conclusion that Jacen had also died in Yuuzhan Vong captivity.  As such, she closed herself off to a lot of her friends and family.  Her outlook on life became very grim as well, and she fully expected to die before the end of the war.  It therefore made absolutely no sense to me that suddenly, in Force Heretic: Remnant, she is quite jovial and optimistic about things.

I’m not sure which of the authors penned this part of the book, but it is making this trilogy within the series quite difficult to read at times.  However, my overall opinion on the series still stands.  It has been my experience that The New Jedi Order is a vastly underrated series in the Star Wars expanded universe.  I intend to have future posts that return to this series, so please tell me your thoughts on the book series in the comments.  May the Force be with you.

Hey, Listen!

My Editor-In-Chief has asked that I give you all a sort of “about me” blog entry.  Well, here it goes.

I’m 26 years old and have lived in Indiana all my life.  I have been married for nine months to my wonderful wife, who is pregnant with our first child!  Like the EIC, I attended Wabash College.  Unlike the EIC, I do not have a Bachelor of Arts in English.  My degree is in German.  I have never really had any idea what to do with it, as I was not an exceptional German student.  None the less, I have managed to survive pretty well so far.

My nerd credentials are somewhat extensive.  Star Wars was my first science fiction memory and love.  I couldn’t have been much older than 8 when I first saw A New Hope, in its original release edit.  We were over to dinner at a friend of my father’s house.  I realize now he probably wanted as much to share Star Wars with my brother and me as to distract us so the adults could talk.  But it was that day that sparked my love of space and all its magnificent glory…and sometimes danger.

Additionally, I grew to be quite the fan of Star Trek.  This will undoubtedly draw some hissing breaths from some readers, but we are more common than you might think.  My next major sci-fi love would not come for several years after that.  During that in-between time, my videogame love expanded with such classics as Sonic the Hedgehog, Warcraft (I’m talking MS-DOS version), Rebel Assault II, and the like.  As I got into middle school and high school, I discovered things like the realm of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Stargate SG-1, the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Shogun and Rome Total War.

There are still more nerd influences that have shaped me into my current form.  Games like Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Dungeons & Dragons, television shows like Transformers: Beast Wars, Spiderman: The Animated Series, the animated X-Men series of the 90’s, Batman: The Animated Series, and other various superhero cartoons, as well as Doctor Who, Farscape, and Game of Thrones.  As you can see, the list is quite extensive.

It is my hope that some, if not most, of this is something we have in common.  I hope to expand on that commonality as my posting continues here on the Thoughts.  For now, I would love to see comments that highlight some of your favorite nerd influences.  Please comment with them below!

Greetings and Salutations

Hello, long time and new readers!  I would like to take some time to introduce myself.  My name is Phil and I am one of the new contributors that Jeremy spoke of in his post here.  I do have a profile set up here on WordPress, but have no blog posts on it.  I do plan to use it as I become accustomed to the blogging ways for more personal posts.

In regards to the content of my posts for Jeremy’s blog, they will primarily focus on Star Wars Star Wars was really my first science fiction love, and, despite some of the overboard modifications Lucas put it through, will always hold a special place in my heart.  I will branch out to other sci-fi things from time to time.  After all, I’m not one of those “Star Wars is the only good sci-fi” kind of nerds.  I enjoy many other sci-fi shows, including, but not limited to, Star Trek, Farscape, Stargate (the movie, SG1, Atlantis, and Universe), Battlestar Galactica (the reboot from 2003), and Doctor Who.  If there is ever a particular topic on which you would like to hear my thoughts, please feel free to leave the suggestion in the comments section.

Star Wars Expanded Universe Image from http://www.subdivx.com/X12X15X180715X0X0X1X-el-universo-expandido-de-%E2%80%98star-wars%E2%80%99-llega-a-su-fin.html
Star Wars Expanded Universe Image from http://www.subdivx.com/X12X15X180715X0X0X1X-el-universo-expandido-de-%E2%80%98star-wars%E2%80%99-llega-a-su-fin.html

This is all a little surreal for me.  I am so used to watching YouTube videos or reading posts and being the commenter.  To be the one asking for comments makes me feel strange, but also good (get it? anyone?).  It is my hope that this will be a successful and healthy place for my nerd knowledge to flow and help expand the knowledge of my fellow nerds.