Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My take on the Latest News from the Avatar Movie

If you have been sleeping under a rock, you might have missed the fact that M. Night Shyamalan will be directing the live action movie adaptation of Nickelodeon's Avatar: the Last Air Bender. In the Omi household, we are avid watchers of the TV show. The final season really met our expectations. It was educational as well as action packed. Although the characters possessed European features, the characters were undoubtedly Asian and Inuit.

The blogosphere and on line forums lit up last week when news hit the scene that Shyamalan was going to get some white folks to play the main character. It would be too shameful to list the actors he suggested on using. Let's just say it seems as if Shyamalan is trying to cater to the Hannah Montana crowd (never would have thought that I would say Hannah Montana and sci fi in the same entry).

Of course, this bothers me completely. Folks will say, “there are bigger things to worry about like the economy.” I agree but this is ONE of the reasons why we are here. Let me 'splain something.

All sectors of this economy are doing bad. However, it didn't get bad overnight. Whether it was Wall Street, the American automotive industry, the real estate industry, or even Hollywood, a good part of the problem is the piss poor decisions and lack of vision on the part of the executives that run these sectors. Hollywood has done all kinds of things to sell tickets at the Box Office. One sure shot way of making big is to use the latest and most popular actors and actresses to be leads.

It is usually the only way that an unconventional script can be given the green light. When Ali was made, they used Will Smith who at the time was still working on his chops. The movie was wack on all counts, but it made the Box Office happy. Yet Hollywood has banked on some flops. Every now and then there is a fluke in the system and a movie like Fahrenheit 9/11 or Juno will come out and break all kinds of records. A franchise like the Batman Begins which has a cult following and then blossoms into a blockbuster like The Dark Knight comes through. So you have a quality film that sells a lot of tickets. Hollywood however cannot be counted on the next big thing or appreciate creativity. Movies like the ones mentioned above are a mathematical anomaly. Hollywood has always tried to do either of two things: spend huge loads of money to make money or try to make a hit by green lighting something new without really promoting it (gee, sounds like the American automotive industry and the record industry.. go figure!).

Many will say that when Hollywood attempts to deliver something new and creative to audiences, the people just don't come. In a way it makes sense. Most of us are short sighted. Most of us would rather see cars being blown up and all kinds of guns being used to blast people into oblivion than watch a movie that really questions the status quo (again, a few movies do stand out like “V for Vendetta” but again, that is a mathematical anomaly). Most of us won't pay a cent to see something of substance. It's kind of like the American auto industry. Sure we can place all the blame on the guys making the decisions but when someone called an SUV a gas guzzler or something that was bad for th environment, they were called unpatriotic. When one drove around, every other car was an SUV. Instead of purchasing a smaller, economical and more environment friendly car, people acted like sheep and tried to keep up with the Joneses knowing that it was not a sound decision.

Let's be real, something like the Avatar really can't sell to a huge audience. I enjoyed watching the TV show because of it's weaving of Eastern Philosophy to a modern day fairy tale. The characters were simple, everyday people who came across complex problems. My children got the entire thing and actually understood Aang's (the Avatar) dilemma. When faced with fighting the greatest enemy mankind ever encountered, Aang refused to go against his upbringing to take someone's life. Yet many felt that as the Avatar, he needed to be unselfish and commit murder.

In a sense, most teenagers have to make decisions like that. Of course, they may not be as dire as that faced by Aang but it sure did feel like that. Most people don't to watch a character with this kind of dilemma. They want the kung fu action and the special effects. That's a hard thing to convey in a two hour movie. I dig Shyamalan. I think he is ahead of his time. Sure he has made some bad career moves and I am sure he has found it difficult to make a movie as successful as his first one. I wouldn't call this decision a bad career move but a really dumb idea.

I would expect this from say, Steven Spielberg or any other white director or writer. I didn't expect to see that from Shyamalan. I have seen some argue that it is the message that matters not who is delivering the message. Yet as a watcher of the Avatar, I don't think you can convey that message that this series is trying to make by changing the face of the characters. The basic gist of the movie is that we are the sole controllers of our destiny. People and events may influence and challenge us but in the end, we choose our own destiny. We must embrace it or deny it. Many cultures tell this story in their own way. Yet the story of the Avatar, which is rooted in Buddhism and Inuit culture, can only be told by those people. Sure, a Brazilian cat directed it and an American wrote it but the choreography and the concept was based on Kung Fu, Buddhism, and Inuit culture and theology. They cannot be separated.

I understand that ultimately, the movie will be nothing like the cartoon series. How many movie adaptations follow the original formula? Many in Hollywood will say that using the actors slated to play the main characters will help make it a success and the message will get out there. That the only way something of quality such as the Avatar can only make it if it is packaged properly.

I have to ask, but packaged for whom? It's a message that is conveyed on THEIR terms. So are you saying that the Inuits or Buddhists have nothing to really say? That the message has to come from someone white? My children are not stupid. They know that the Avatar is a fairy tale but they know it is rooted in Asian and Inuit culture. They can tell by the characters and the settings. You can show them a photo of an Inuit hunter and quickly identify it. They can quickly point out if someone is practicing Wing Chun. They will undoubtedly notice something different in the way the movie is put on the silver screen.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Gotta Love Youtube

Some treats

(I know most of the songs come from Indiana Jones and Encounters of the Third Kind)

How Star Wars EP IV should have ended:

Star Wars Jedi Church:

(not that funny, but i wanted three vids, bear with a brother)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Success of Jacen Solo: How does a Sith Lord do it again?

Every Star Wars EU fan knows who Jacen Solo is. The grandson of the Darth Vader who eventually becomes a sith lord and attempts to take over the galaxy. One would assume that thousands of years into the future, people wouldn't fall for a sith lord to be in charge again especially after Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader ruled the galaxy for over 18 years. Yet it almost happened.

We must point out that art is a reflection of the culture from which it springs. No writer lives on a deserted island. No writer can escape what is going on. In an age where we claim to be the most sophisticated and most technologically advanced that ever walked the earth, there are still dictators. Yet why was Jacen Solo successful? Why wasn't it until after he reached the height of his power, did his followers being to question their complicity in his reign?

The best example I can give is that of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Of course, many of us are idiots when it comes to history. Not only are we ignorant to the history of our nation and others, we still assume that most people that made the news are new comers as if their success happened overnight. Mugabe was a political prisoner who did ten years for his work as an activist. Mugabe was known for taken a stance against tribalism by accepting Pan Africanism as his mantra. Back then, this was something very deadly for most Africans (see Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba). Back in the 60s and 70s, Mugabe was admired for taking risks and committing himself fully to the revolution. When the British decided to give Zimbabwe their independence, leaders like Mugabe were hailed as heroes.

Ever since then leaders who survived the 60s and 70s were considered mentors for the upcoming generations. Individuals such as Thabo Mbeki, members of the ANC (African National Congress in South Africa), and other organizations throughout the region took notes directly from Mugabe. In a sense, Mugabe helped to launch the careers of other African leaders. When the United Nations asked African leaders to condemn Mugabe publicly many refused because of that. Many clinged to the hope that their mentor and friend would come to his senses and relinquish power.

Jacen Solo did the same thing. He went out in the front line with his troops. He put certain men and women in power. He even helped the powerful such as Admiral Nianthal. Yet when it was time to denounce him, many of his supporters could not. It makes sense. I recall reading how it was difficult for some people to help depose the Last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I. Selassie appointed people to so many posts that it was hard for anyone to give up any information on him. Those who overthrew his monarchy were young people who were not part of the upper classes.

I am sure that the writers of the Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus story arc may not have had the intention of teaching that particular lesson, but I am sure they were influenced by what they saw around them. Many will say, “well you are reading too deeply into the characters.” I have learned that when it comes to art, many things are deliberate (big up to Dr. bell hooks and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Star Wars: Clone Wars (novelization)

The Clone Wars, Vol. 1 (Star Wars)

by Karen Traviss

Book Review by Dan Tres Omi

Omi's Note: Again, I have yet to see the movie. I plan on watching it before the October 3rd release of the animated series on Cartoon Network. I do have a few points to discuss on this blog about the Clone Wars and GL's current maneuvers. I know I am so behind on what is going on. Please bear with me. Again, thanks for the support and the emails.

When it comes to the Clones of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) or the Mandalorians, Karen Traviss is the go to person. Her successful Clone Commando series is a testament to that. Not to mention her contribution to the Legacy of the Jedi Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus story arc. Unfortunately, Traviss gets caught up in the Star Wars franchise scramble for more money.

One would assume that George Lucas, or GL as we affectionately call him here, has made enough money to really sit back and let the SW canon evolve. Most of us, even non Star Wars fans, know that GL is loaded and there is no need for him to make bad decisions. Of course, many Expanded Universe (EU) fans wanted the Clone Wars plot to continue since the movies only cover a very small portion of the actual Clone Wars and the books only make reference to them. So it was natural that supply and demand would bring new stories out. Yet introducing new characters that have never been mentioned before causes more problems.

Of course, Traviss is not to blame in any of this. I find that when it comes to the Clones, Traviss brings even much more of a perspective from a cloned human. Although much of it deals with their do or die dedication to the Republic and the Jedi Order. Yet through Captain Rex, his non commissioned officers (NCOs), and Commander Cody (who plays a prominent role in Ep III), we see a more personal interaction between the clones. Unfortunately, the story takes away too much from the clones. The idea of the Jedi helping Jabba the Hutt is far fetched but when the story continues, it makes sense.

Remember, these stories are supposed to get into how Anakin continues to slide deeper and deeper into the dark side. So helping a Hutt who at one time owned him and his mother helped to bring out some deep seated anger. Helping Jabba also made Anakin asks more questions about the Jedi's role in the galaxy. Why aren't the Jedi helping the regular citizen of the Republic instead of some questionable characters such as Jabba the Hutt? Why didn't the Jedi free all of the slaves that Anakin knew growing up on Tattoine? Traviss does a good job of exploring that.

Making Anakin a Jedi Knight keeps Obi Wan Kenobi out of the picture. This allows Anakin an opportunity to really explore his feelings about the Force, the Jedi, and his relationships with Padme Amidala. Although I have issues with Ahsoka, Anakin's padawan, I can see why she was introduced into the story. Having an apprentice keeps Anakin in check. However, there could have been other ways to do that.

Traviss does a great job but unfortunately, she will catch all the flak from the EU fans due to the input of GL and Dave Filoni. . The book is a quick read since it covers two short battles. Members of the 501st will also enjoy this book since it adds two more battles under the 501st flag.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Invincible (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 9)

Invincible (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 9)

By Troy Denning
Book Review by Dan Tres Omi

When George Lucas allowed several authors to pen the numerous books for the Yuuzhan Vong war (the New Jedi Order – NJO), there were so many problems. While there was a strict adherence to continuity, the flow would sometimes stifle or pick up depending on who was writing. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. With so many books, several plots and subplots were neatly finished. One would have never expected Jacen Solo to turn out the way he did. If anything, readers were left either hating or somewhat tolerating Jacen Solo. What made the NJO series special was that it allowed the reader to really explore the nuances of the Force.

In the Legacy of the Force (LOTF) series, there were only nine books with three authors. Like the NJO, the LOTF would ebb and flow. Some books were right on while others were just plain bad. Troy Denning had his work cut out for him. I expected the book to be as big as “The Unifying Force” by James Luceno. Yet it was only a scant 299 pages and the book moves very quickly.

I was glad that Denning places the reader in the Mandalorian defense of the Verpine mining asteroid of Nickel One in the Roche system. The Verpine and the Mandalorians have a treaty that began in the early part of the LOTF series. Boba Fett wanted to honor it even if it meant fighting against the Imperial Remnant. Fett was definitely out of his league and expected a massacre. It is good to see Fett in a situation that calls upon all of his resources. The Mandalorians get their beskar'gam handed back to them. I assumed that Denning would have left them out since that is Karen Traviss' realm.

Jaina Solo is in the front with Fett and his granddaughter Mirta Gev. She splits with the Mandalorians and meets up with the Jedi Council who agree that someone should be sent to kill Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus. Everyone agrees that Jaina should be the one to do it. It takes two tries but Jaina is finally successful. Both battles are worth the price of admission. Darth Caedus uses all of his Force ability and even pulls out the Shatterpoint technique last used by Master Mace Windu. The reader will also see the Moffs in action once again.

The drawback that takes so much away from the book is the ending. The galaxy is pretty much in shambles. The Bothans have sided with the Corellians. Admiral Niathal, who defected with bits of the Fourth Fleet, joins up with the Jedi, the Wookies, and the Hapes Consortium. The Mandalorians are for themselves and the Verpine. The Imperial Remnant is maintaining an unsteady alliance with Darth Caedus. Politically there is no one shot solution that would keep everyone happy. While killing Darth Caedus is a good idea, what to do afterward is never considered. Denning tries in the last twenty pages. To be honest, this would have been done more thoroughly in a separate series. Unfortunately, the Sith that the late Alema Rar found are not even mentioned.

We do see how the galaxy is set up to be the way it is in Cade Skywalker's time. There is a new found hostility towards the Jedi since many people are beginning to place blame on the Jedi Order. The galaxy is still in an uneasy alliance. I think that every reader knew that Darth Caedus was going to be killed. It's the way of the Sith. No matter how powerful a Sith Lord becomes, someone comes along and takes them out. One would think that the Sith would figure that out by now and try something entirely new.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Been a Long Time...

If you haven't heard, the Omi's purchased their first home so we have been busy moving in and working on projects. I am behind on so much. There is so much to discuss. Before we get into the Clone Wars movie, we have so much ground to cover.

As usual we are behind anyway, right folks?

If you know how the Brother Omi rolls, you know that we try to avoid what everyone else is talking about. So I want to give everyone a chance to get out there and check out the movie first and then head back here. I have yet to watch it. So you must give me a chance...

I do have to big up an event that's coming up.


Program and scheule of events.
The opening reception for this group show which is entitled,

"The Blacker the Hero"
will be on Oct. 10th 2008,
5:00pm to 8:00pm, free admission at the
African American Cultural Center of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
830 South Halsted Street
Chicago IL 60607

The exhibition will feature selected images, posters, and illustrations
from a variety of Black Age or indie characters created by a
variety of artists. The lecture-discussion will feature a moderator, an agenda,
with invited professional Black Age/indie publishers.

OCTOBER 11th 2008

We will be vending books at the
South Side YMCA
at 6330 South Stony Island in the Alcove area
10am until 4pm. Free Admission.
Press Conference and panel TBA

OCTOBER 12th 2008
Ari-Ware Store .
Time: 2pm until 5pm
266 Lake Street in Oak Park IL 708-524-8398,
will host Turtel Onli , "The Father of The Black Age"
Theme: The history and value of the Black Age of Comics. Plus additional guests. Signings, vendings, panel, & learning opportunities.

AZIZI Bookstore
at 134 Lincoln Mall Matteson Il
708-283-9850 Time and creators TBA

Interested fans and participants should contact Onli Studios at onli@sbcglobal.net .
Participants will be taken on a first come first served basis. We have limited places to complete.

"BLACK AGE XI" is part of Chicago Artists Month, the thirteenth annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant visual art community organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and is made possible through the Presenting Sponsorship of 3Arts and the Lead Sponsorship of the Sara Lee Foundation. For more information, call 312/744-6630 or visit http://www.chicagoartistsmonth.org/ .

See you then?

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Butlerian future?

Two days ago on June 25th, was the born day for George Orwell, the author of the classics Animal Farm and 1984. It's unfortunate that this was glossed over in the mainstream media even though HR 6034 FISA Amendment Act of 2008 was just passed last Friday. I remember way back in 1983, when the mainstream media made a big hoopla about the book “1984.” Most people balked at the idea of an Orwellian society. Many assumed that Orwell was discussing a future where Stalin like dictators ruled the world. Contrary to popular belief in 2008, there are Stalin like dictators who run several countries (Zimbabwe, North Korea, etc.).

In the United States, things are much different. Yet lately, our economy has hit a low. Food and gas prices have skyrocketed to prices that have not been seen in decades. The 1973 oil crisis was not as bad. Next winter, people will see gas bills for heating their homes to double. Economists claim that there will be another 1.5 million foreclosures in the next 18 months. Some are afraid that more and more companies will continue to lay off their employees as more of them move overseas or try to cover the rising prices of food. Gun violence is beginning to have another upsurge. Gangs continue to plague communities throughout the nation.

All of these things seem to place us teetering at the edge. It reminds me of Octavia Butler's “Parable of the Talents.” It is set in the year 2025 and things are much worse than we have it now. However, it all sprung from the situation we see ourselves in now. The suffering economy, loss of jobs, lawlessness, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, etc. It's scary to think of it that way. I don't mean to scare folks just wanted to point that out.

Maybe Butler was warning us. She also saw the potential in humanity to uplift itself. Of course like the characters in the story, we have to find the solutions within ourselves. We can expect some wanna be deity save us from all this. Like Butler's story, there is hope but we have to work at it. That's the part I took away from her stories.

If anything, I encourage my readers to check out her stuff. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A few more fan films

because I love you.

SW fans never cease to amaze me. Every day or so, I might run into a fan film. I have not provided you readers with treats, I apologize for that. Here are a few:

The lighting could be better, but the concept is pretty funny. They mix SW lore with American Chopper. Sort of a little red necky (is that a work) but i think it works.

A fav of mine is really a documentary (gotta love those docs). It's pretty good and the producer of the film has done several interviews. All pretty good.

and a little short for all of you ewok and gospel music fans,


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Ultimates

Why I dig the Ultimates...(Avengers, that is)

As many of you may know, I am very, very afraid of movie adaptation of comic books. Some of you may also know that coming up as a youngblood, I was a huge Marvel head. I just couldn't get with DC comics (That was until Dwayne McDuffie came alone... he pretty much singlehandedly returned me back to the world of comic book-dom). If you were to read my other blog, you would learn that I am a huge fan of Captain America. Yes, my Pan Africanist tail loves me some Captain America.

The huge bumrush of the Mutant-palooza made me stop reading titles such as the Avengers and Captain America since the better writers were used for the mutant based comic books (Again, I have to thank folks like Joe Quesada for taking Marvel into the direction the New Avengers have been going as well as the Civil War series – big up to Billie Wheelz for that). When Marvel did the Ultimates universe, I was not really impressed. I did however, dig the Ultimate Avengers which was written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Bryan Hitch. I enjoyed how they redid Captain America, the Pyms, Thor, Hulk, Betsy Ross, S.H.I.E.L.D. (yes they got rid of those tight suits), Hawkeye, the Black Widow, and yes Nick Fury.

They made Nick Fury a black man! Now, don't get me wrong I dug the original Nick Fury despite the tight outfits. I really just can't take a super secret government agency trying to arrest cats while wearing tight suits.

Marvel took it a bit further and did two made for DVD release movies, Ultimate Avengers I and II. The second DVD focused on the Black Panther and the African country of Wakanda. It can't get any better than that. Love it, man.

Had to get that off my chest.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keeping Up With The Jones

Omi's Note: Tony Muhammed, an educator and Dj from Florida had some pretty interesting things to say about the Indiana JOnes promo on BET's 106 and park. To be honest, I have only seen one episode of that teeny bopper show in my entire life (what ever happened to Teen summit?). But check it out. the link is below. Let me know what you think. (big up to Davey D for this).

Keeping Up With the Joneses: BET and the Subliminal Culture of White Supremacy

By Bro.
Tony Muhammad
www. myspace.com/tonymuhammad

Since Viacom bought out Black Entertainment Television (BET) my attention towards the cable channel's programming has diminished to a crawl. I noticed several years ago how as soon as the take over was complete the changes became obvious.
Conscientious talk show host Tavis Smiley was immediately fired from BET Tonight and replaced by the non-threatening Ed Gordon, ultimately doing away with the late night news segment altogether. At the same time, Rap City seemed to have all of a sudden lost its edge on bridging the gaps between the old, new and true schools in Hip Hop.
The predominant images in Hip Hop, especially on the famed 106 and Park became increasingly trendy; which actually meant more sexist, savagely stereotypical and violently vulgar. Alienated, I like many other conscientious loyal viewers made the decision to tune out. With the exception of special eye catching programs such as the Hip Hop Verses America panel series that aired last year, the only updates I would receive about what was shown on BET came through my students.

Flash forward to May 20th, 2008. It was late afternoon. A very close friend of mine who happens to be a pioneer in the music industry was visiting from out of town. He was flipping through channels on my living room television set and just so happened to land on BET. He quickly called me over to pay special attention to what was taking place on the screen. The first obvious thing I noticed was that this was a special 106 and Park show, promoting the release of the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The first thought that came to my mind was that this was rather unusual, considering that all of the main characters in the film are white.
This is Black Entertainment Television after all right??? Not only this but the main character himself, Indiana Jones played by Harrison Ford, is supposed to be a famous anthropologist who is on a life-long journey to explore non-Western lands for precious treasures, which in his mind should be placed on display in Western (European) museums.

Co-host Terrence J was wearing an Indiana Jones get up on the show; brown leather jacket, brimmed hat and all. The show was airing live from the Magic Johnson movie theatre in what was once known as the Mecca of Black intellectualism and culture; Harlem, New York. Today, Harlem's population has been "whitewashed" as a result of rabid gentrification efforts. I automatically started making these connections in my mind and became concerned yet interested to see more.
I then noticed two pillars, one on either side of the set, reminiscent of ancient Egypt (Kemit), which according to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was one of the last greatest Black civilizations on Earth. It quickly dawned on me that the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, took place in Egypt (Kemit) and how many of its glorious ancient artifacts are today found in many Western museums and how European (white) scholars have historically discredited Black people from developing such a civilization; giving more credit to what has been termed as "North African Caucasoids" (if there ever was such a thing) or simply put, "tanned" white people. Knowing all of this is important in order to understand what was to come.

Ashanti was the first artist to perform between the two pillars. On one level she appeared culturally enriched, with makeup around her eyes symbolic of the great pharaohs of ancient Egypt (Kemit). Artistically however, it was obvious that she is being molded according to corporate-music industry research standards - trying to mold her to sound more like what's presently "hot" (Keyshia Cole) rather than her own natural soft sensual musical self. After Ashanti's performance Shia LaBeouf, who plays Indiana Jones' sidekick Mutt Williams, was brought up on stage. He was asked to kick a freestyle, but refused.Instead, he did the "Crip Walk. " The audience cheered.

read more here...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Revelation

Revelation (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 8)

by Karen Traviss

Book Review by Dan Tres OMi

Omi's Note: I did read this book several weeks ago but held out on the review until the latest installment was out and gave everyone a week or two to catch it. This way, I wouldn't spoil anything for anyone.

With Karen Traviss at the helm of this book, the readers are returned to the Mandolarian culture. This time, Jaina decides it is up to her to defeat her brother. She was advised to seek training from someone that Jacen/Darth Caedus would never expect: Boba Fett. The story moves along at a quickening pace as Jacen/Darth Caedus finds a new apprentice.

The Mandolarians begin to secure more weapons contracts as they start to design fighter craft that are superior to anything used by the Galactic Alliance (GA). Some old characters from Traviss' Clone Commando series also make appearances. The reader also learns more about Fett's past. I only found these parts to be the plus ones. Everything else could have been done in a comic book.

Again, I must reiterate this particular theme: Fett is too old to be out there fighting. Yes, he has been cured (escaping death yet again) but his aging wasn't reversed. I expected there to be more deaths at the hands of Jacen/Darth Caedus. I expected to see more major characters meet their end. Yet none of it happened.

Personally, I don't think Jaina has what it takes to take on Jacen. When it comes to the Force, Jacen is just too formidable unless the authors from the Dark Nest Trilogy have been pulling our legs. Although I enjoy Traviss' work, I feel that this book and the last one were not enough to wrap up the later part of the series. The first few books did well to set up the plot yet now it seems as if Jacen/Darth Caedus despite all of his power can't seem to hold anything together.

There are so many characters that I feel should be focused on such as Kyp Durron, Seba Sebantyne, and others. Yet we get the same old guys, Luke (who should have been killed instead of Mara Jade), Han, and Leia. Although I dig the Mandolarians and their culture, I didn't really want to see a wedding.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kwisatz Haderach: Sandwords Part II – The Breakdown

Another mythological concept brought into sci fi by the brilliant Frank Herbert was that of the Kwisatz Haderach or “the shortening of the way” in Herbert's Dune trilogy. In the Dune universe, this messiah like being would be able to connect the bridge between time and space. The Kwisatz Haderach would be everyone at once and be able to tell the future through prescience. In the original books, the Kwisatz Haderach was manifested in Paul Mu'adib who later refused this role, and then his son Leto II who became the God Emperor and ruled the universe for 2500 years.

While reading Ben Bova's Saturn, I noticed that many of his heroes were people of color. It is authors like Bova who remind me that in the future, it will be people from other countries outside of the United States who will most likely map out the stars. Bova does not mean people of Canada or Europe. If anything, there have been several articles that discuss how countries such as China, India, and even Nigeria have robust space programs.

In Sandwords of Dune, the concept of the Kwisatz Haderach returns. This time (this is a spoiler, folks) that person is manifested in Duncan Idaho. Idaho was a close bodyguard to the Atriedes family where the original Kwisatz Haderach came from. I must point out that Sandwords of Dune was written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson using notes left by the late Frank Herbert. Yet here we are, maybe 25,000 years into the future and a white cat named Duncan Idaho is the savior of the universe. Go figure. Why did his name have to be Duncan Idaho? Why can't it be Chen or Ramirez or Taiwo? Let's take it further, why couldn't it have been Sheila Idaho or Janet Idaho? I will say that the Dune series has a great number of female heroes. Yet what about the Kwisatz Haderach?

It's this type of sci fi naivete that bugs me out. As stated before, many will say that these gentlemen write from their perspective. When it comes to sci fi, I have to disagree. There have been many ideas and technological advances made because of the things discussed in sci fi. Even an element on the periodic table is named after Krypton. To think that white men will continue to run things even in science fiction is borderline idiocy and wishful thinking. There I said it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sandwords of Dune Book Review

Sandworms of Dune
Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson

Book Review by Dan Tres Omi

Omi's Note: I know this is a blog about Star Wars. Just bear with me. There will be an addendum to this post.

Many consider this to be the final installment in the Frank Herbert's Dune universe. Fortunately for Dune fans (depending on who you talk to), there will be other books written centered in the Dune universe. Brian Herbert, the son of the late author, and Kevin J. Anderson decided to conclude the Dune story after finding several pages of handwritten notes by the elder Herbert which detailed the conclusion of the House Atreides, the planet Arrakis, and the conflict between humanity and the thinking machines.

This author has read all of Frank Herbert's books and jumped at the chance of reading the prequels written by his son and Anderson. However, Brian Herbert and Anderson have yet to match Frank Herbert's brilliant writing and masterful vision. Yet this author does to expect anyone else to. Anderson has written several Star Wars novels and penned his own books that encompasses an entire universe with it's own history in the Saga of the Seven Suns series. Again, this author must admit that reading the prequels and the books after Chapterhouse was not as easy as reading Frank Herbert's original books. The writing quality is just not up to par. Yet reading all of those books helps to explain the history of the Dune universe.

For one to fully understand why the humans during Paul Mu'adib's time and that of his son Leto II did not use thinking machines, one must read the “Butlerian Jihad” and “The Machine Crusade.” To get a full grasp of why the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood operate in the manner in which they do, the prequels have to be read. Many a Dune fan has expressed their regret for picking up a few of these books. Yet learning about Frank Herbert's world through the notes interpreted through the younger Herbert and Anderson is worth it all in my opinion.

Sandwords of Dune takes place after Hunters of Dune which takes place immediately after the events of Frank Herbert's final chapter in the Dune universe before his unexpected demise. In Hunters of Dune, we follow the ghola Duncan Idaho who pilots the no ship Ithaca and his crew of refugees who escaped the genocide of the Honored Matres from Chapterhouse, the homeworld of the Bene Gesserit. Sheanna, a Bene Gesserit has decided to grow gholas of famous figures in histoy such as Paul Atreides, Chani his concubine, Dr. Yueh Wellington, Lady Jessica, Thufir Hawat, Leto II, Liet Kynes, and Stilgar. In Hunters... Matre Supreme Commander Murbella finally unites the Honored Matres and the Bene Genesserits to form the New Sisterhood to mobilize humanity against a centuries old enemy. We also learn that the thinking machines have returned to confront humanity in one final battle and have been scheming for centuries on their revenge under the watchful eye of Omnius and Erasmus.

In Sandworms, the Ithaca is still being pursued by Omnius and Erasmus. At the same time, Omnius has grown his own gholas of Paul Atreides and the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Murbella finally has mustered every available warship and soldier the universe has to prepare against the final battle with the thinking machines. Omnius has calculated that the key to fully defeating the humans is to control both Kiswatz Haderachs. Omnius sends a plague to destroy Chapterhouse since he understands that it is the New Sisterhood is humanity's only hope. Each action leads the major players closer and closer to the final confrontation which is full of surprises.

Of all of the prequels written by Brian Herbert and Anderson, I have to admit that Hunters... and Sandworms... are the best ones. Both writers build enough tension through Sandworms and throw in quite a few surprises. In the prequels concerning the Butlerian Jihad and the main houses of humanity, the story lines were tremendously predictable and several characters were ones the reader ended up not caring for. With the post Frank Herbert books, some new characters are really fleshed out.

Both authors pose more questions than answers. This adds to the mystery of the Dune series. There were so many plots within plots and this reminded me of Frank Herbert. Despite the destruction of Arrakis in Chapterhouse Dune, spice remained the ingredient that put everything together. Several groups, even the thinking machines, fought over this commodity. Personally, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to the story. Not only did the two authors tie everything up from Frank Herbert's original novels but they also tied things up from the prequels as well. Many of the prequel characters make an appearance.
Much of what Frank Herbert used in his original books were also explained.

As stated before, there are several fans who are disappointed in the work Brian Herbert and Anderson have done. Yet this book is worth reading since everything is tied up properly. Plus it is always good to know what happens in the end.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The New Clone Wars

Like most SW fans, I await the premiere of this exciting new series. Many readers of this blog have asked us several questions about it. I know we have waited far too long to answer some of them but as most of you know, I am looking forward to it. I knew it would be on Cartoon Network (probably the only place where one can find the freedom needed to really put out a quality cartoon – just look at the Justice League Unlimited which pretty much has forced me to even look at the DC line again). Here we go.

a. For those of you that don't know, GL has allowed the production reins to Dave Filoni. Filoni is like many of us, a hardcore fan who enjoys dressing up as Jedi Master Plo Koon. He will be working as the Supervising Director. This is seen as a good move by many since Filoni follows the EU closely. However, I must point out that GL still makes the final decision. GL has stated that they will be introducing new characters and new storylines. So don't expect to learn more about the campaign at Boz Pity or more about Quinlan Vos.

b. GL and Filoni have both stated that you will see the Jedi and other characters that are in the movies. So of course you will see stories with Plo Koon, Adi Gailla, Mace Windu, and Ki Adi Mundi. So that should be good.

c.No one has come out to say this, but the implication is there, but many of the stories will be considered canon and may not contradict anything in the EU. I guess that is the reason why Filoni was chosen.

d.Of course, you all know that I have issues with Anakin having a padawan. There just wasn't enough time. We have to consider so many issues if he had a padawan. I know that several masters were killed leaving their padawans in a state of limbo. Yet the Council did not wily nily hand out padawans to folks just because.

e. the artwork is just too awesome.

f. Filoni explained that there will be a lot of clones. He will introduce some new commanders and see a better relationship developed with some clones and Jedi.

I hope this helps.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Star Wars: Fury

Fury (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 7)
by Aaron Allston

This is the seventh installment in the Legacy of the Force series. Things are all coming to a head as the Jedi under Luke Skywalker finally decide that they have to move aggressively against Jacen. At this point no one, not even Luke, believes that Jacen could be brought back to the light side. Jacen/Darth Caedus has passed the point of no return by torturing Ben Skywalker and killing Mara Jade Skywalker. However, no one suspects that Jacen/Darth Caedus is the one behind the murder of Mara. Everyone continues to think it is Alema Rar.

As the Jedi begin to search for a new place to move their academy, Jacen/Darth Caedus along with Admiral Niathal are looking for that one battle that would turn the tide and win the war. Ironically, Jacen/Darth Caedus is losing allies from within and without the Galactic Alliance as planets continue to claim their independence or join the Confederation under Corellia.

Jacen/Darth Caedus decides to kidnap his daughter Allana from the Hapes Consortium due to the betrayal of Tenel Ka. When he successfully accomplishes this, Tenel Ka approaches Luke Skywalker and comes clean about their child. The Jedi decide to get Allana back and confront Jacen/Darth Caedus.
Meanwhile Admiral Niathal begins to realize that Jacen has always been acting in his own interest. Jacen continues to overstep his boundaries and make decisions without consulting her. Admiral Niathal decides to wait awhile partly because she feels that the war would come to its climax soon.

The Confederation decides to approach Jacen to sue for peace. Jacen and Admiral Niathal quickly understand that it is a trap even though intelligence demonstrates that the Confederation fleet is in dire straits. Both joint Chiefs of Staff, set up a plan in case the trap is sprung. Jacen/Darth Caedus decides to keep Allana near him. The Jedi learn about the peace “summit” and make their plans. When Jacen/Darth Caedus arrives, the Confederation springs their trap and Jacens calls in his fleet from hyperspace. That is when the Corellians use Centerpoint Station to destroy the Galactic Alliance Fleet. At the same time, Leia, Han, and several others are successful in their attempt to rescue Allana.

Despite the defeat, Jacen/Darth Caedus and Admiral Niathal decide to counter attack the Corellians at Centerpoint Station. This idea was put together to let the Confederation believe that the Galactic Alliance is no where near defeat. Of course, the Jedi learn about this attack and make their move as well. They plan on sending a team to destroy the station from within. Meanwhile, the Corellian Confederation is slowly falling apart as factions begin to upset the balance of power.

To be honest, Fury is overwhelming. So many things happens but it makes sense. In this book, everyone even Admiral Niathal loses faith in Jacen/Darth Caedus. Being the seventh book, things will be moving pretty fast to wrap things up. Unfortunately, when everything is said in done the galaxy will probably return to its former position right after the Yuuzhan Vong war. This explains how the Empire takes over before the time of Cade Skywalker.

In this blog, we have covered the idea of how an Imperial government seems to “govern” a vast galaxy in a much more efficient manner. The lights stay on and folks get to eat. The Republic or the Galactic Alliance just never seems to do it right. As the action unfolds, we see the Galactic Alliance (GA) crumbling. Of course, Jacen and Niathal led the GA to it's breaking point even though both of their intentions were supposedly for the good of the galaxy.

Jacen (which is why I switch back and forth between Jacen and Jacen/Darth Caedus) still has not come out of the closet as a Sith. Ironically, none of the Jedi have admitted to this as well. A few suspect but overall, the feeling is that Jacen is nuts instead of a Sith lord. As a reader, we have the benefit of knowing the plot but Jacen is compared to Darth Vader so many times one would think that someone would say “hey, dude is a Sith.” Is this the same pattern from what happened in Ep III?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Star Wars: Honor and Duty Graphic Novel

Honor and Duty (Star Wars)
by John Ostrander, C.P. Smith, Luke Ross, Jasen Rodriguez, and Steve Firchow

This graphic novel covers 3 issues in the Star Wars: Republic line. All three cover the story of Sagoro Autem, a Republic Senate Guard two years before the onset of the Clone Wars and the events shortly after Episode III. It is stories like that of Autem that keep me glued to the Star Wars EU.

Autem is third generation Senate Guard. He is a by the book family man who finds that the Republic is the next best thing since the Holonet. Like Jedi Master Mace Windu, Autem believes that the Republic is the only thing that keeps the galaxy from falling into chaos. Like Windu, Autem does whatever it takes within the guidelines of the Republic to maintain that order. So he makes sure that he gets his man.

Like all ordinary people, Autem does have his problems. His brother, Venco, is a former Senate Guard who was fired due to his corrupt deeds. Venco continues to visit his brother's protest. His son Reymet, who is currently a student at the Senate Guard academy does not share in his father's view of the Republic. If anything, he is carefree and wants to venture outside of Coruscant to learn about the outside world. Autem's married life is strained at best. Yet he continues to punch the clock each day to earn his pay and get the bad guys.

Everything changes when Autem and his partner are asked to investigate the murder of a Senator right before the passage of an important Senate bill. The new Senator is assigned two Jedi, Obi Wan Kenobi and the young Anakin Skywalker. Autem is distrustful of the Jedi but decides to keep them in the loop. Soon Autem discovers that Venco is involved in the plot and his son has unknowingly assisted his brother in his criminal activities.

Autem's fate is set when he kills his brother and learns that he would be put under investigation when the Senate Guard realizes that Venco had paid Autem and his family several visits. Autem decides to leave the Senate Guard when he learns that his family has fled the planet. Fast forward until the events after Episode III where Autem is a celebrated war hero due to the siege of Saleucami. He learns about the Empire and Darth Vader and quickly realizes that again, he has bought into the wrong system. Somehow Vader takes a personal vow to kill Autem himself, yet in the end the hero escapes.

What makes the story so great is that we see what happens to the little people in the wake of the Clone Wars. We see how the Republic and it's corrupt bureaucracy runs over the powerless. It makes one understand why so many planets decided to become independent. Autem and several like him throughout the story struggle with that idea. Unlike the other characters, it takes much for Autem to realize that the Republic has failed him.

Again, I enjoy the story line but I was frustrated that the other stories of Autem and his encounters with other Jedi, his return to the Republic, and other battles are left out. I understand that in several of those stories, Autem was a background character and the other stories would not have centered around him. For those not familiar with the EU, it may seem rather confusing. Overall, it is nice collection of good writing and great artwork.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Anakin and his padawan

(GL does it again)

I was not going to let the cat out of the bag, but someone in the comments page did. I wanted to really meditate on this for a second and then I wanted to peruse through all of my Clone Wars stuff to see if it fit. For those that don't know, in the new Clone Wars series coming in August of 2008, Anakin will be given a padawan.

Now the span between Episodes II and III is only 3 years. Dark Horse comics and Del Rey have done a good job at keeping everyone up to snuff on their timelines. There may have been a few weeks missing in the lives of Anakin and Obi Wan but throughout the Clone Wars, during Episode III, and after there is no mention of Anakin having a padawan. If memory serves me correctly, Anakin did not become a Jedi Master until shortly before the events in Episode III. So he did not have time to have a padawan since so much was going on.

It would make sense for him to have watched some padawan since many padawans were losing their masters during the Clone Wars but not as an apprentice. Of course GL was guilty of this before with the Qui Gon Jinn debacle but heads were able to let that slide. Then we had two alternate prequels in the second season of Clone Wars and the book Labyrinth of Evil. This one is going to be a doosy to explain.

Anyone care to try?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Darth Bane: The Rule of Two

by Drew Karpyshyn
Book Review by Dan Tres OMi

The story begins shortly after the finale of the Jedi-Sith battle on Ruusan. The Jedi win a Pyhrric victory as the Sith seemingly wipe themselves out while taking close to a hundred Jedi with them including the heroic yet stubborn General Hoth. One Jedi padawan however, Johun Othone, believes that there are a few Sith hiding in the shadows. Yet the Jedi, particularly General Farfalla, doubt that any Sith survived the inescapable thought bomb. The Jedi decide to turn their military power over the Republic through Chancellor Valorum (no not the one from Episode I).

Darth Bane and his new apprentice, Zannah, attempt to leave Ruusan but encounter problems through mercenaries. They quickly dispatch them and leave a few of them alive so that they can spread rumors of dark siders. Bane's plan works as he uses these seeds of deception to spread his Sith like tendrils throughout the galaxy. Ten years pass as Bane and Zannah continue to gain power, spread dissent, and continue to create a web of resources throughout the galaxy. Bane understands that his power needs to grow and that there is still much to learn. Zannah shows a tremendous amount of patience and she continues to follow Bane's orders.

Eventually Othone discovers Tomcat, one of Zannah's cousins who saw her after the demise of the Brotherhood of the Sith on Ruusan. He brings Tomcat to the Jedi temple to bring him before the Jedi Council. Zannah, on a mission to steal information from the temple, encounters Tomcat and kidnaps him. A chase ensues. The Jedi are again ready to deal with the Sith. Or are they?

The story moves slowly. At this point, we see the lightsaber action take a back seat as Bane and his apprentice begin their machinations towards the ruin of the Jedi. Through Bane's actions in both books, one can easily come away with the idea that Bane is stronger and more diabolical then Palpatine ever was. If anything, Bane set the standard for the rule of two. Bane continues to demonstrate the weakness of the previous Sith lords who maintained large armies of Sith masters and students. Bane's focus and determination is unparalleled as he tries to create a Sith holocron. He is truly a student of the dark side and wastes no effort in learning more. At times, the reader wonders if Zannah is worthy of being his apprentice yet she proves her loyalty over and over.

The arrogance of the Jedi is clearly evident. One can see the beginnings of their elitist approach to the galaxy. In Valorum's debate with Farfalla, we see the Jedi refuse to turn over their power. Quickly, they become enslaved to the Republic. Othone, even though he is a student of General Hoth, is a pragmatist. He sees the error in both decisions but realizes that the Jedi can maintain control forever. Othone feels the Jedi should pay a more prominent role in Galactic politics however. It seems as if each Jedi represents a different sentiment. Even the minor Jedi introduced in this book each represent a different facet of what he or she feels the Jedi should follow.

Through the Jedi's insolence, the Sith do escape and they are much stronger than ever. It would be interesting to see how this plays out since Lucas has cancelled the book on Darth Plagueis. For those who want to understand how the Sith work right up to Palpatine, this book is a must read. One will learn that in the Star Wars EU, the Sith after the death of Palpatine revert to the old ways of starting a brotherhood. Soon, our blog will begin to focus on those Sith lords when the time comes.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Make Mine Marvel?

Some of you comic book heads remember the days when Marvel comics reigned supreme before all the X Men movies. In the letter's section of any Marvel comic, several fans would end their letters with “make mine marvel.” Before they would write make mine marvel they would throw a punchline before that. It would go something like this:

“Until Wolverine cries, make mine marvel...”


“Until Dr. Strange smokes weed, make mine marvel...”

My brother from another mother Billie Wheelz and I still throw punch lines such as these all the time. Call it a geek moment but only the true Marvel heads (O.M.'s, right?) know about this. However Marvel has done some stuff that made me think twice about supporting them. To be honest, they fell off for about a decade. Yet when I was a die hard fan, they did some ill things. Check the method.

1.The marriage of the Vision and Scarlet Witch – I think Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were smoking some crack with this one (I am sure when Lee's biography comes out there will be several instances of drug binges in there). How the heck is a cyborg that walks through walls going to get with a mutant? I understand that Marvel has explained the children part through the Scarlet Witch's powers but sex? Come on man. That is borderline perv.

2.Luke Cage in his old threads – A yellow top and tight black pants? WTF, a pimp? In the late 90's, someone at Marvel decided this was wack and now has Luke Cage wearing regular street clothes. Whew! I know much if happened because of the stereotype folks had in the 70's but even Black Lightning in DC comics was played like that.

3.Modok – WTF? Then he came to rule over the Kree Empire? WTF? He was just too weird. Can't wait until the History of Marvel comics comes out. I am sure there will be plenty of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston moments.

4.Storm – I never really got close to her character because she had white hair and blue eyes. This was NEVER explained. So a sister had to have some recessive trait in there to be considered a goddess. I will admit that the Storm graphic novel by Eric Jerome Dickey is dope on so many levels, I got it for T'Challa instead of Storm.

5.Wolverine – the reason why I was not big on Wolverine was because as tough as he claimed to be, he always manages to get his ass handed to him. He talks so much junk it's ridiculous. It actually gets on my nerves. If it wasn't for his healing factor, dude would have been tossed a long time ago.

6.Nick Fury – die mofo, die! Dude does not have the Super Soldier Serum like Captain America yet he has not aged a day since WWII. Okay they throw a little white on the edges. He has no super powers but still lives. Come on man, kill him off, please. BTW, did anyone see Michael Hasselhoff play Nick Fury? It is too funny. (the name is so dope though).

7.Oh about S.H.I.E.L.D. -- what's up with the tights? I really can't take a federal agency seriously if they are all wearing tights. I have grown to understand why comic book artists draw super heroes in tights, but federal agents?

8.Did anyone collect the Dazzler comic book? Let me catch someone who did so I can joke them. I can't picture the party now....

9.As much as I love Jack Kirby's and John Byrne's the Fantastic Four (remember when the Thing left and the She Hulk was a member?), I cannot stand the Silver Surfer. I just can't take a cat who flies around on a surf board seriously. Sorry dude. Another crack binge in the office.

Until Nick Fury lives another ten minutes, Make Mine Marvel.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Star Wars: Secrets of the Jedi

by Jude Watson

Review by Dan Tres Omi

Young Adult (YA) books have come along way. While attending education course at Old Dominion University (ODU) who used many YA books for the curriculum. I was amazed at how historically accurate many of these YA books were. Although they left much detail out, the stories were exciting. Star Wars YA books do the same. They stay close to the official canon and there is much continuity involved. Jude Watson has written several YA books for the Star Wars EU. If anything Jude Watson has filled in so many blanks when it comes to training in the Jedi temple. She started with the apprenticeship between Qui Gon Jin and Obi Wan Kenobi and continued through that of Obi Wan and Anakin Skywalker. I have to big up Billie Wheelz for consistently recommending the YA books. He has read all of them and is an avid supporter of YA books. My oldest son, X-man, has been reading them since he was eight years old and thoroughly enjoys them.

In Secrets of the Jedi, Watson tells a story about Obi Wan as a padawan under Qui Gon, and a love interest he had with Siri Tachi, a padawan under Adi Gallia. While helping a young child escape bounty hunters who worked for Passel Argente, the head of the Corporate Alliance. While helping the young Taly escape from the clutches of the bounty hunters and destroying the plot set up by Argente, Siri and Obi Wan discover their fierce love for one another. However, Qui Gon and Yoda convince Obi Wan of the dangers of acquiring attachments and leaving the Jedi Order.

Twenty years later, Obi Wan is Anakin's master while Siri refuses to take another padawan after Ferus Olin's decision to leave the order. They are assigned by the council to meet with Taly and convince him to give the Republic his super code breaker. What makes the mission even more complicated is that fact that Padme Amidala has asked to come along. Things take a turn for the worse when Taly makes impossible demands and Siri and Obi Wan relive their past feelings for one another.

The story makes a strong argument for the Jedi's approach to detachment. When Obi Wan asks Yoda if the council could change the rule, he is told that it will not happen. Qui Gon answers that one day it might when the times change. Of course, this happens with the order is destroyed and Luke Skywalker rebuilds it. Yet their reason is not because it must be but because they do not want Jedi to leave the order. As simple as the plot was, the story asked many questions. Those questions will hopefully be examined in future stories written by Watson and others.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Star Wars Republic Commando: True Colors

by Karen Traviss

Book Review by Dan Tres OMI

There's one thing that bothers me, sir. They say Master Yoda referred to the war as the Clone War after the Battle of Geonosis. It was the very first battle of the war. Why did he identify the war that way, by the clones who are fighting it? Have we ever said the Fifth Fleet or the Corellian Baji Brigade War? What does he know that we don't?

-- General Bardan Jusik, confiding in General Arligan Zey ( an excerpt from Karen Traviss' True Colors).

I thoroughly enjoyed Traviss' third installment of the Republic Commando series. There is not much action in this book but Traviss goes to work in the drama department. We learn more about Omega squad and the other Clone Commandos and Null ARC Troopers who Kal Skirata, the Mandalarian who Jango Fett had hired to train several units of the Clone Commandos, takes under his wing as his own sons. The story made me want to read more versus waiting on action scenes. I assumed that Traviss would begin the story close towards the end of the Clone Wars. Instead she starts about 18 months after the battle of Geonosis.

Traviss also throws in several interesting intelligence reports about how the war is being conducted. As the Null ARCs learn that the Separatists' droid production has been over exaggerated and that the war could be over if a series of strong pushes were conducted instead of spreading the Jedi and the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) thinly across the galaxy. Jedi General Arligan Zey, head of the Special Forces, makes note of this several times and notifies Master Mace Windu who in turn let's Supreme Chancellor Palpatine know what the intelligence on the ground is telling him. Like most wars, the Clones realize that it is the politicians who run the war. Doing the math, the Commandos and Skirata learn that the Clone Wars are being fought for entirely different reasons then everyone expects.

We also learn that the Republic has no plans to purchase new clones or take care of the ones they already have. When one of the members of Omega is put in a coma, they learn the shocking truth that any clones who are too hurt to return to the field are exterminated, Skirata decides to take matters into their own hands. Skirata has always wanted to reverse the aging process of the clone army. When he learns that Ko Sai, the Kaminoan chief geneticist, faked her death during the Battle of Kamino the chase is on. The Commandos also learn that Palpatine is also looking for Ko Sai for her secrets into the aging process. Add the Separatists and other companies who are involved in cloning and time is winding down.

Again, there is not much action but the story seems to be winding for a big spring. Traviss must have some great stuff in the works for all the Republic Commando fans. Again Traviss' expertise with all things military shines through. Her tweaking of the Mandalore culture is just the icing on the cake.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Political leaders and Sci Fi

I know I often complain about how in Sci-Fi several white writers somehow leave people of color out of the future. Movies are the most recognizable ways in which this is done. Look at joints such as The Minority Report (which Philip K. Dick's short story takes place in a different city). In this K. Dick remake, Washington D.C. was devoid of black folks. Or the the Star Wars OT where all we had was Lando Calrissian. I could go on and on. However, there are times when Sci Fi has its shining moments when it comes to people of color.

Take joints such as the latest incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. Admiral Adama is played by Edward James Olso. Even GL did his think using Temeura Morrison as Jango Fett and the template for clones. I knew Boba Fett was a brother!

What I notice, and maybe this is a bad thing, is that when there are people of color in Sci Fi they hold positions of power. Take the Matrix or movies such as “Bruce Almighty” and “Deep Impact.” Are we saying that only in fantasy worlds people of color can hold power?

So folks like Jared Ball or Barack Obama have no chance?

Well, I have learned that usually Sci-Fi movies, books, and other forms of media are brief glimpses into the future. They are written to keep humanity hopeful in an often bleak world. Then again, throughout the world, people of color hold positions of power. Most come from humble origins.

We are not invisible anymore.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

We are so behind...

First up, Happy New year to all. 2007 was kind of a busy year for us. There are a few books we have not caught up to. We promise to get to them before the month is out.

One of course is the latest Karen Traviss Clone Commando joint, True Colors (Star Wars: Republic Commando). I am dying to read this piece. It should be on point. It takes place during the Clone Wars. It also answers a lot of questions.
The latest installment of the Legacy of the Force series was released in Nov of '07. It is entitled Fury (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 7). Billie Wheelz has read it (hint, brother, hint). Let's see what happens.

So we have a lot of catching up to do.

Thanks for the support.

Let's keep it great for '08

P.S. -- check some of the new links