Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens – Part Two – The REAL Review this time

The Force Awakens Novelization CoverI explained last week why I’m so excited that Alan Dean Foster is back to novelize a new Star Wars film. The Force Awakens comes at a time when film novelizations aren’t as much of a thing as they used to be. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, we weren’t a culture that went to see a movie multiple times, and there was no such thing as Blu-Ray, or its older brethren DVD, VHS or Beta. From the time a film went out of the theater, until it was bought for lots of money (and shown heavily edited) by a TV network, there was no way to enjoy the story and characters from your favorite film, other than by buying the novelization. Back in the day, even comedy films got novelizations. Now, it’s pretty much confined to SF films, and that’s pretty much because fans of those films tend to be both collectors and readers.

I still like novelizations because, if I really get into a film’s story, it’s a way to go back and enjoy that story in detail and at a slower pace. And a really good author can enrich a film as he adapts the screenplay. (Or she adapts it–Vonda N. McIntyre, D.C. Fontana and Joan D. Vinge have all written enjoyable film adaptations.)

Foster steps into the world of Star Wars as if it hadn’t been almost 40 years since his first novel in this universe was published. He fleshes out the new characters and makes them feel completely real. Under his hand, these are not merely retreads of Luke, Leia and Han; but meeting Rey, Fin and Poe does rekindle the feelings I had the first time I met Luke Skywalker in the pages of The Washington Star. (See last week’s entry for an explanation of that.)

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Review – Alan Dean Foster’s Star Wars – The Force Awakens – Part One – Why this book matters to me

Force Awakens novelization coverSo, before talking about The Force Awakens, let me tell you a little bit about my introduction to Star Wars. A lot of fans my age will tell you they saw it on opening day, or at the advance world premiere. They camped out in line, or they stood that morning for hours, or they snuck in the side door with their friend, who was the adopted child of a great, forgotten film director, because they couldn’t pay, because they were orphans who lived in train stations…

Wait, that’s another movie, isn’t it?

Anyway, I didn’t see the film under any of those circumstances. I saw it, oh, sometime after it premiered in regular release. It might have been the first Saturday. But my first exposure to Star Wars was not the film.

You see, in 1977, none of us knew the word “spoiler” other than as it referred to something that went on the front end of a car. Studios were not paranoid about plot leaks, and no special measures were being taken to keep audiences from finding out in advance what happened in a film. That’s because, until 1977, there had never been a film like Star Wars. Indeed, except for the James Bond series, and things like Tarzan, Bulldog Drummond or the Thin Man, there hadn’t really been–well, damn. There really had been a lot of movie series, hadn’t there? I just named a bunch. But those series were all pretty episodic. No film really left you hanging on the edge of your seat, waiting to find out if Tarzan would find a son, or if Drummond would get married, or if Asta would chew off William Powell’s mustache.

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What Drives Kylo Ren? The Psychology of a Poor Little Fascist Boy

“You,” she heard herself saying clearly, “you’re afraid. That you’ll never be as strong as–Darth Vader!” –from Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster

Spoilers. See the movie first. Blah, blah, blah.

Think about it—a kid raised to privilege. He’s the son of a princess who’s also a senator and a general. She may be on the run from enemies sometimes, but this is a lady who has access to entire planets to spread out and live on, and who commands a large, imposing fleet of space fighters. He’s also the heir to two generations of Jedi Knights, elite warrior monks who have control over the Force which binds the universe together.

Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens Continue reading

A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe

Just in time for the upcoming release of the seventh film in the franchise, Sequart Press has released a collection of essays on the Star Wars cinematic universe. Editors Rich Handley and Joe Berenato were kind enough to invite me to contribute. It will be followed in 2016 by two more volumes covering the comic book and novel tie-ins. Here’s the first page of my entry for Volume 1. In Volume 3, I’ll have an essay on the Lando Calrissian novels of one of my favorite authors, L. Neil Smith, and my son Ethan, keeper of the Figure in Question blog, will offer a retrospective on the Star Wars action figures.

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Whatcha Gonna Do with the Briefcase?

IMG_2342Family and friends are already sick of this story, but I’m told it was “legendary.” (All one word. Not Barney Stinson Legen-Wait-for-it-Dary.) And my brain is so drained that it’s pretty much all I got this week. By rights, I should be doing a Farpoint 2014 After-Action Report this week. For reasons of my own, I’m not going to do that. My reaction to Farpoint 2014 goes too deep inside my skull, and, as I’ve warned you, it’s dark and scary in there, and there are little mice…

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