The Fundamentalism of the Jedi Order and Christianity Sep17

The Fundamentalism of the Jedi Order and Christianity...

Though the Jedi Council might frown on questioning their faith, Ahsoka Tano has no problem examining it (or anything else that piques her curiosity). If you’re a Star Wars fan, but you’re wondering who Ahsoka Tano is, that’s okay! Many die-hard fans of the series have yet to be introduced to some of its animated components, including the critically-acclaimed Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Chronologically, The Clone Wars takes place between Episodes II and III, featuring the adventures of the Clone Troopers, the Separatists, and the Jedi—namely, Obi-Wan, Anakin, and his padawan, Ahsoka Tano. Ahsoka is a Togruta who is introduced to us as a young girl. Not unlike her master, she is headstrong, defiant, and spunky, though she does have a side that is both cleverer and softer than Anakin. She is overwhelmingly compassionate and savvy, brought to life by the amazing voice of Ashley Eckstein. Ahsoka’s storyline is complex, and to some degree, she was always an outlier while training to be a Jedi Knight. Though she is obedient and strongly trusts in the Force, Ahsoka is never afraid to ask questions, which sometimes appears impertinent to her superiors. She questions motives, desires, and even her faith. In fact, in a climactic moment in The Clone Wars, Ahsoka is framed for a murder, and when she seeks help from the Jedi, they do not advocate for her innocence. Feeling forced to run, Ahsoka escapes the authorities’ grasp, but after her name is cleared, she is left with great doubts about the Jedi Order. I was taught not to question, to obey blindly, and thought that by performing, by being “good,” that I could earn approval. But Ahsoka doesn’t forget the Force, never confusing its solemn power with those who use it, and though...

Android Soup for the Soul: How Robots Model Humanity Aug06

Android Soup for the Soul: How Robots Model Humanity...

From the panicky, nameless robot in the original Lost in Space (reminding me to always warn others of danger) to the much more sophisticated hosts in the newest incarnation of Westworld (suggesting I should know myself and look for a way out of my loops), characters who are human-built offer a great way to explore our own issues. Comparing my humanity to various robots has certainly given me pause for thought. Unhappily Duty-Bound When I was in high school, I discovered The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I devoured the novels—there were only two at the time—and listened to bootleg cassette recordings of the radio programs over and over and over until I could perfectly quote every word. Douglas Adams’ off-beat sense of humour matched my own, as did Arthur Dent’s constant low-level frustration at life. My favourite character, though, was Marvin the Paranoid Android. Although Marvin spent a lot of his time in the background, I couldn’t help but identify with him. Nobody seemed to understand how brilliant he was and they were always giving him chores when he could be doing something more useful. I felt exactly the same! Maybe I didn’t have “a brain the size of a planet,” but I was pretty sure I was smarter than just about everyone around me. My memory is a little fuzzy at this point, but I have a terrible suspicion that I quoted Marvin under my breath—or possibly out loud when my parents told me, again, to take out the trash, or when my teachers assigned homework that I considered busy work. Looking back, I can’t imagine expressing my inner Marvin did much for my popularity. “Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you to...

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture Jul06

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture...

We’re talking a lot about siblings this month in Area of Effect! Here are some of our readers’ and writers’ favourites from geek culture—and most of these relationships are defined by a willingness to support each other and grow, allowing the relationship to change and strengthen as the individuals change. Others, of course, end with one killing the other. 1. River and Simon Tam, Firefly Simon gives up everything for River because of his unconditional love for her. And River, in turn, trusts Simon completely even when nothing else makes sense to her. —Marilyn Rudge 2. The Weasleys, Harry Potter Especially Fred and George. You can just tell they’re a close family, even though Percy leaves for a while (they welcome him back). —Kyla Neufeld 3. Edward and Alphonse Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist Theirs is the kind of relationship I wish I had with my siblings. The age gap and distance between us has prevented the kind of closeness that Ed and Al enjoy. Though the presumptions that lead to conflict in the show are a little too familiar. —Naomi Strain 4. Rodney McKay and Jean Miller, Stargate Atlantis They are so different, but still connected. It’s nice to see someone living their own civilian life, plus the actors are brother and sister so their chemistry is really specific. —Hannah Foulger 5. T’Challa and Shuri, Black Panther They compliment each other so well and encourage each other’s strengths instead of being jealous of each other. Also you can just tell they’re close; they joke a lot, and they really love each other. Reminds me of me and my older brothers. —Caitlin Eha 6. Ruby and Yang, RWBY I love how much Ruby looks up to her sister at first, and how that dynamic shifts as Yang faces the loss...

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture Jun15

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture. 1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core. 2. Samus Aran — Metroid Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history. 3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to. 4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through. 5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.” 6. Merlin – Merlin This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth. 7. Light – Death Note Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping. 8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool. 9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda:...

Where is Hope for the Abused in Solo? Jun06

Where is Hope for the Abused in Solo?...

Spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story below. When we first meet Qi’ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, she is virtually a slave, running tricks in “these mean streets” for the crimelady Proxima. Qi’ra comes from a nebulous background, but despite having a rough life thus far, she is resourceful and markedly full of hope, a fitting companion for a youthful Han Solo. In the initial scenes of the film, Qi’ra and Han run together in Romeo and Juliet fashion, dodging danger and dreaming of escaping together into a better life. They’re playful and brave, but reckless, fueled by adolescent love. Trouble is never far behind these two: upon a bold attempt to flee their home planet of Corellia, Han escapes and Qi’ra does not. This event seems to become a turning point in Qi’ra’s life, or perhaps, merely a confirmation of what she has always believed about the world and her basic value as a person. Does Qi’ra, like many manipulated, fractured women, believe that she is irredeemable. The next time Han sees Qi’ra, she is on Dryden Vos’s yacht. Everything from her appearance to demeanor has changed. Where she once was an edgy adolescent, brimming with hope, Qi’ra is now poised, worldly, and reticent. Han’s hope hasn’t dimmed, even after years of near-death encounters; but Qi’ra’s life has been harsh in other ways, and it shows. The most poignant, heartbreaking aspect of Qi’ra’s evolution is her confession to Han: “I’ve done terrible things.” And she considers herself worthless because of them. Even when, during a scene inside Lando’s superfluous closet of capes, Han tries to convince her that they can finally run off together, she refuses—not because she doesn’t see the good in him, but because she has lost the ability...

5 Corporations that Ruined Love Feb14

5 Corporations that Ruined Love...

1. MomCorp (Futurama) You’d think most moms would love to see their sons or daughters married, but not this one. Since Walt will only marry someone like Mom (and if there was anyone else like her, she would have fed the woman to the nearest El Chupanibre), Larry is only interested in someone already taken, and Igner… well, I’m not even convinced he understands what love is… it seems MomCorp broke these men for love. The likely reason? GrandMomCorp doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it. 2. Blue Sun Corp (Firefly) Here you are on Valentine’s Day, sipping Blue Sun branded cola at the Blue Sun cafe with your significant other. The sun is setting in a glorious display of red and gold and you cannot imagine how lucky you are to find yourself in such a utopia. God bless the Alliance and God bless the Blue Sun Cor… wait… what is that? Let’s just say love hurts, especially when your name is Miranda. 3. Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil) Just when you think that latest red lipstick is safe for your date, think again. We all know cosmetics companies may start with the purest of love-filled intentions, but it is nearly inevitable that they end up creating underground experimental laboratories and eventually release a t-virus on the general populace. Thanks, Umbrella Corporation; we may love Milla, but we know you ruined love. 4. The Jedi Order (Star Wars) Anakin just wanted to love Padme okay! But nooooo attachments to other individuals through love and marriage is forbidden. Well, look how that turned out for you. Order 66 anyone? 5. Wolfram and Hart (Angel) Do not let the upcoming fictional-lawyer-turned-real-world-princess deceive you about fictional law corporations and their evil intent (shout out to Princess-to-be...

Resisting Temptation Like Luke and Rey Dec22

Resisting Temptation Like Luke and Rey...

The Last Jedi spoilers below. Temptation is where selfish desire and short-sightedness meet. When our inmost longings are within our reach but will surely come at a terrible cost, our convictions are tested. Luke Skywalker faces this struggle in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader reveals himself as Luke’s father. Vader immediately presents Luke with a temptation: “Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son! Come with me. It is the only way.” Vader offers victory for the rebellion, purpose, and family (not to mention escaping almost certain death). Luke wants all these things and, on the surface, they’re worthy of wanting. But Luke is also aware of the cost of accepting Vader’s offer—the death of his friends and the surrender of his ideals. In The Last Jedi, Kylo mirrors Vader’s offer by asking Rey to join him. But the stakes are even higher because Kylo is now first in command. He is offering Rey ultimate power, where she would have to answer to no one. The decision is less black-and-white than Vader’s proposition to Luke, because the connection between Kylo and Rey has revealed their hopes and fears to each other. Rey knows that Kylo is also Ben Solo, and believes he isn’t utterly evil, but his ambition has gone unchecked. No matter what decision Rey makes, she will have to bear the weight of what might’ve been. Kylo offers her a place in his new kingdom, a pitch difficult for Rey to resist. “It’s time to let old things die, Rey. I want you to join me; we can bring a new order to the galaxy, let go! […] You have no...

The Danger of Denying Rey’s Past Dec20

The Danger of Denying Rey’s Past...

*The Last Jedi spoilers below. You’ve been warned.* The Last Jedi is a bit of a misleading title in that the Jedi aren’t going to end. Yet it is a movie that asks questions about facing the past. Each of the main characters deals with the past in a specific way. Kylo shoves it aside, destroying memories in the attempt to escape previous attachments; Luke hides from it; Poe repeats it with an initial unwillingness to admit his mistakes; and Rey denies her past because she wants so badly to belong. Rey’s past was shrouded in mystery in The Force Awakens. Most assumed she had significant parents (I was hoping she’d be Obi-Wan’s granddaughter). And yet, in The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren taunts her with the knowledge that her parents are nobodies. She’s known all along that they abandoned her and were never coming back. She has no legacy of greatness like Luke, no secret royalty like Leia, and wasn’t conceived from midichlorians (thank the Maker). But she wants to be a hero. She wants to be loved. She wants to matter. So, she denies her past, convincing herself that her parents are out there looking for her, and will someday return. Setting aside the familiar and letting go can be frightening, strange, and uncomfortable. Of all the characters’ responses to their past, Rey’s is perhaps the most dangerous. She has created a false hope, and has to stay in denial to keep it. Facing the past would mean losing that hope. It is impossible to make peace with a past that you don’t admit exists. It’s impossible to move forward when you are constantly dodging the shadow in your periphery, refusing to look at it and pretending it isn’t there. When we deny...

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes Sep15

College Classes Taught by Your Heroes

If you’re not looking forward to going back to school, here are some classes you may want to add to your timetables. 1. Steve Rogers – American History Not only is Steve passionate about his homeland, but living through much of its history is one of the perks of being 95. 2. The Tenth Doctor – Physics “Physicsphysicsphysicsphysics physics! I hope one of you is getting all this down.” 3. Galadriel – Astronomy She’s so good, she can put starlight in a bottle. 4. Yoda – Communication Difficult, it can be. 5. Hermione Granger – Literature The type of literature is irrelevant. Hermione knows it all—or if she doesn’t, she’ll stay in the library until she does. 6. Spock – Statistics Nothing illogical will be tolerated in this classroom. 7. Sherlock Holmes – Criminal Justice It’s elementary, my dear students. 8. Rumpelstiltskin – Legal Studies No one’s better at making a deal than the Dark One—just make sure your homework doesn’t include signing one of his contracts. 9. J.A.R.V.I.S. – Computer Science He knows computers inside and out. 10. Wonder Woman – Classical Studies She’s straight outta Greek...

Darth Vader and Beauty’s Beast: Loving the Unlovely Aug16

Darth Vader and Beauty’s Beast: Loving the Unlovely...

I missed the original release of Star Wars by a decade and the first printings of Beauty and the Beast by several centuries, but both stories have marked me with their retellings and reiterations. Fairy tales are famous for being re-imagined, but “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” has more in common with “once upon a time” than one might expect. The same stories keep getting retold despite an endless appetite for novelty. I believe it’s because people ache to be rescued; humanity keeps telling stories about how we can be saved. The stories of the Skywalkers, Belle and the Beast evoke a slippery mixture of loss and longing that is difficult to articulate but all too easy to identify with. Much like Darth Vader, the Beast lives in a tortured silence; neither is what they once were and each lives a half-life. Vader is the emperor’s weapon, more machine than man, and the beast hides in angry shame. Both villains live with longing, and so Vader disobeys orders and spares Luke’s life while the Beast risks his life to save Belle from ravenous wolves. At the heart of both stories is a tale of redemption, about how the unlovely can be loved better—and become something beautiful. In both cases, these villains choose redemption, not because they were heroes all along, but because of sacrifice. Growing up, I naturally identified with both Luke and Belle. I was an imaginative, bookish kid who longed to go beyond the backyard that was my moisture farm, my little provincial town. As I’ve read and lived more I realized I wanted to be them not because I saw myself in them, but because I wanted to see myself in them. Ever since I discovered...

Introducing Non-Geeks to Your Fandom Aug04

Introducing Non-Geeks to Your Fandom...

One of the best parts of having a fandom is introducing new people to your favourite characters and worlds. Having someone to share your enthusiasm is great, but take the wrong approach and you’ll ruin it for them. Here are a few things to avoid when recruiting new fans. Never introduce them to the wrong point in the story—especially if it’s a series. You’re not a Harry Potter fan? Oh! Here, let me read you the best scene in book six. You’ll cry buckets! You’re going to love Doctor Who! We’ll start with the first Doctor—William Hartnell—and his granddaughter Susan. The show doesn’t really pick up until the third Doctor, but if you don’t watch the later episodes first you’ll never get all the nuances. Pro-tip: Any episode of The Starlost is the wrong episode to start with—that’s why you’ve never heard of it. Never assume that they’ll love a fandom just because it features actors they like in other properties. You like Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone, right? You’re going to love Demolition Man! If you think Han Solo was a great character, wait until you meet Rick Deckard. Yeah, John de Lancie was great in Next Gen, but he was completely awesome as Discord. Pro-tip: Don’t try to sell someone on Interstellar just because Elyes Gable from Scorpion has a bit part in it. Never use their non-geek interests to introduce them to your fandom. You like weddings? You’re going to love season three of Game of Thrones. Politics is your thing? You’ve got to see the senate scenes in Attack of the Clones. Pro-Tip: Don’t try to sell them on the Saw movies based on their interest in anatomy. Never tell them they’ll like a fandom because they remind you of...

Ahsoka Tano: The One with Enthusiasm Jul28

Ahsoka Tano: The One with Enthusiasm...

Ahsoka: So, what’s the plan?  Anakin: Oh, I thought you were the one with the plan.  Ahsoka: No, I’m the one with enthusiasm. You’re the one with experience, which I’m looking forward to learning from.  From almost the moment Ahsoka first appeared in Clone Wars, stepping off a shuttle that landed in the middle of a war zone, I adored her as a character. Promoted at the young age of 14 to Padawan status, Ahsoka left behind the safety and serenity of the Jedi Temple and was thrust headfirst into a new world of war, struggle, heroism, and heartbreak. As the show continued, she faced challenge after challenge head on, with that same indomitable spirit that she displayed from the start. I was 12 when the film premiered in theatres, and suddenly I—a young girl, just on the cusp of entering into a new world of my own—had a character I could look up to; a character I could identify with. Don’t get me wrong—I admired Leia and Padme, and took some inspiration from them, but they were much older than I was, and it was difficult to relate to them because of that age gap. But not only was Ahsoka close to my age, she was a Jedi. For me, a girl who spent much of her free time challenging neighbour kids to lightsaber duels, this was even better than getting a kitten for Christmas. But what really sealed the deal for me was her exchange with Anakin early in the film: “I’m the one with the enthusiasm”—that line has just as much of an impact on me now as it did the first time I sat wide-eyed in that theatre. At the beginning of her character arc, Ahsoka is eager to learn, good-hearted,...

Dear Anakin, I wasn’t promoted Jun23

Dear Anakin, I wasn’t promoted...

Dear Anakin, I’ve been working my butt off for a big promotion at work for a few years now, but I just found out my boss gave the job to someone else in my department who is way less qualified than me. How should I handle this? Yours truly, Overlooked on Ryloth Dear Overlooked on Ryloth, You deserved that promotion. You showed your bosses you were willing to work harder, longer, and smarter than anyone else to prove you were worthy of the position. You were entitled to it, and now that they’ve made their mistake, it’s time to make them pay. Start by becoming close, personal and invaluable friends with your boss’s boss. Find the department manager, or better yet, the CEO, and buddy up to them. Once you’ve spent some time in their inner circle, it’s only natural to mention the promotion you were denied, and once your new friend hears about how unfairly you were treated, he or she will surely want to help you—that’s what friends do. Ideally, your powerful friend will simply force the other managers to bring you on, even if that position is ceremonial and unrequired. Everyone else in your department will know how important you are because you’re there whether they want you to be or not, and they will never, ever cross you again. If you’re interested in seeking more detailed advice on how to rise through the corporate ranks, I recommend seeking out The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise. Just don’t ask a Jedi, it’s not a story they’d tell you. With hate, Anakin Need some career, relationship, or life advice? Email dearanakin@geekdomhouse.com and ask your own...

The Forgotten Mothers of Star Wars May12

The Forgotten Mothers of Star Wars...

As origin stories go, the Skywalker twins have it fairly rough: they were orphaned not once, but twice. I don’t know much about the Organa and Lars families, but when I watch Luke and Leia, it’s clear they’ve been taught good values, and I wonder how much their mothers had to do with it. “My wife and I will take the girl. We’ve always talked of adopting a baby girl. She will be loved with us.” —Bail Organa, Revenge of the Sith Breha Organa, the queen of Alderaan and Senator Bail Organa’s wife, appears for a few seconds in the closing montage of Revenge of the Sith. The music swells, reminding me of Leia’s journey to come, and I imagine how Breha might have mothered the iconic princess. Breha wants a daughter, not just to train as an heir, but to love. Bail would have been busy on Coruscant for weeks or months at a time, resisting the Emperor as he siphoned away the Senate’s power—hardly a safe place for a young girl. Even though Breha was queen of a whole planet, I doubt Leia was reared by droids in a lonely nursery. “As a girl growing up and seeing Star Wars, of course you want to be Princess Leia. And to know that I’m actually playing her mother . . . I just kept thinking about those buns! . . . Maybe I taught her how to do those buns!” —Rebecca Jackson Mendoza, the actress who portrayed Breha Organa in Revenge of the Sith Leia’s title isn’t “junior senator” or “representative,” or some other role connected to the Senate. It’s “princess.” Early drafts of A New Hope name Leia as the daughter of Queen Breha, almost 30 years before her on-screen debut. Leia...

The Stigma of Jupiter’s Red Spot Mar27

The Stigma of Jupiter’s Red Spot...

The plot hole that bothers me the most in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the lack of health care. No, I’m not kidding. Bear with me. I recently read this fantastic article, “Did Inadequate Women’s Healthcare Destroy Star Wars’ Old Republic?” that suggests most, if not all, of Anakin’s fear for Padmé’s life could have been avoided if she had seen an obstetrician. For those of you who have no desire to relive the prequels, here’s a refresher: Anakin has a dream in which Padmé dies from childbirth. In an effort to save her life, he turns to Emperor Palpatine, all but solidifying his move to the Dark Side. How do I know Padmé didn’t receive any prenatal health care? When she confronts Anakin towards the end of the movie, she asks him to help her raise their “child” ‒  not their “children.” Padmé doesn’t know she’s going to have twins, which means she didn’t get so much as an ultrasound. How is it possible that Anakin lives after losing three limbs and nearly burning to death, while his wife dies from childbirth? (And, please, read the article mentioned above before you bring up how Padmé simply lost the will to live.) How is it possible that the Star Wars universe, which is scientifically advanced, doesn’t have proper reproductive health care? Anakin’s fear for Padmé’s life could have been avoided if she had seen an obstetrician. In this case, I don’t think it’s a problem of the Star Wars universe itself, but rather an oversight by the movie’s creators that resulted in lazy writing. When it comes to fantasy and sci-fi, female characters are often still an after-thought. I’m sure proper reproductive care wasn’t even on the radar when the writers thought out...

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek Feb10

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek...

It’s the time of year for Love Potions, Heart Pieces, and those three magical words. (No, I’m not talking about “Use the Force” or “Beam me up.”) Whether you’re looking for a geeky way to ask your date out to a video game symphony, or planning to print your affections on a Luvdisc-shaped Valentine’s card, here are 42 ways to say “I love you” in Geek. (Why 42? Because it’s the answer to all mysteries in the universe, of course. And love may be the greatest mystery of them all.) 1. If you were a starter Pokémon, I’d choose you. 2. Are you a fairy? Because you fill all my heart containers. 3. All my base are belong to you. 4. I’d travel there and back again for you. 5. You’re my final fantasy. 6. I’d take an arrow to the knee for you. 7. I-it’s not like a l-like you or a-anything… b-baka—! 8. Be my Beka/Faye/Vincent Valentine. 9. Ruby is red, Neptune is blue, hope I get put on the same team as you. 10. You’re the hero Gotham deserves, and the one I need right now. 11. When I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw you. 12. You’re my precious. 13. SoH Dughajbe’bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe’bogh ram. 14. Hello, Sweetie. 15. You are the center of my mind palace. 16. I know. 17. I’d volunteer as your tribute. 18. You were expecting Dio, but it was me—your Valentine! 19. Without you, who else will I have ice cream with? 20. With you, my life is 20% cooler. 21. *Wookie sounds* 22. You’re my player 2. 23. You fill me with determination. 24. Like a Headcrab, you’re always on my mind. 25. You’re the arc reactor to my heart....

Losing Star Wars to Legend Feb08

Losing Star Wars to Legend...

Picture this scene: a short, scrawny Korean boy with glasses sitting on a bench in a middle school locker room, talking nerd stuff with a tall, gangly, bushy-haired classmate. Day after day, we’d broach topics like Japanese film adaptations of fighting games, whether dinosaurs really could be made from mosquitos trapped in amber, and how there was this great game called Doom, but it required a boot disc. Of all these conversations, though, the most significant one to me was when my friend told me there was an “expanded universe” to Star Wars, novels that pushed the stories of our heroes further. I swore to myself that he was lying. He had to be, right? There couldn’t be more Star Wars, could there? Of course, there was more. So much more. I asked my parents to take me to a local bookstore and bought the very first novel I ever read for personal reasons, Heir to the Empire. That book, and the rest of Timothy Zahn’s trilogy, blew my mind. And that was that—my love for reading and my obsession over Star Wars was sealed. What I grew up loving was no longer canon, no longer true. So you might understand why I felt like I was being tortured by force lightning when Lucasfilm announced that the EU would now be called “Legends.” Legendary stories are those relegated to myth and folk tales, to narratives that might have been true but probably weren’t, or else were so mutated over the years that they only match the historical fact in bare bones. No longer was there a Mara Jade Skywalker, nor the Solo twins. Grand Admiral Thrawn has returned through Rebels, but doesn’t bring with him ysalamir or the clone C’Baoth.  And Chewbacca didn’t die;...

Can We Forgive Rogue One’s Heroes? Jan18

Can We Forgive Rogue One’s Heroes?...

In a film about good intentions, heavy consciences, and tainted legacies (also, lasers), the cry for redemption is what stood out to me the most. The line between scoundrel and hero is blurred in Rogue One. Galen Erso, the lead scientist behind the construction of the Death Star, wonders if history will remember him as one of the Galaxy’s greatest villains. Unwilling to die like his wife (who makes a stand rather than be a slave to the machinations of the Empire), he makes a deal to help complete the Death Star, believing his actions will be justified by adding a kill switch in secret. Guilt, when faced head on, transforms its subject into a willing sacrifice for good. Captain Cassian has compromised so much of his conscience as a saboteur, and he wonders if there will ever be a momentous enough victory to justify those actions. If he kills for the ideal of freedom that never appears, is he no different than an empire filled with men following violent orders in the name of a peace that is never established? Saw Gerrera, a fanatic, leads a militant terrorist-like group in the face of the Empire. Gerrera has fought too long, making too many compromises to feel like a hero. When in possession of a turncoat Imperial pilot who brings news of the Death Star’s flaw, Gerrera tortures him. While he saved Jyn Erso as a child, he abandons her when she comes of age in a perhaps misguided effort to keep her identity hidden. It’s another difficult choice to weigh heavy on his conscience, but made with good intentions. Desperate circumstances have led these men to embrace disgraceful methods, and they are all of them ashamed. The Turning Point Galen Erso, Cassian Andor, Saw Gerrera, and many of the Rebels...

Mara Jade, a Redeemed Villain Jan04

Mara Jade, a Redeemed Villain...

There was a time when Mara Jade had it all. She was a favoured agent of Emperor Palpatine, called by the title “Emperor’s Hand.” She enjoyed a life of privilege, which included a personal starship, a droid companion, and private quarters on Coruscant. All she had to do was carry out the Emperor’s will. Acting on Palpatine’s behalf, she eliminated corrupt Imperial officials, Jedi who survived Order 66, and anyone else the Emperor deemed worthy of death. Although few in the Empire knew about her, they would have been jealous of her if they had. She was, after all, advancing the Empire’s interests. Then Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance ruined everything. When Palpatine died at the Battle of Endor, Mara’s life crumbled. She blamed Skywalker and made it her life’s ambition to kill him. It seemed like the right thing to do. Not only is she flawed and human, but she also finds redemption. When Timothy Zahn first introduced Mara Jade in Heir to the Empire in 1991, he could not have foreseen her popularity. She has become a fan favourite and has appeared in novels and comics well beyond what Zahn originally intended. Her backstory—which he sketched out in his novels—has been extensively documented in other stories. Ask any group of fans about her and one or two of them will likely say, “Mara Jade? She’s awesome! I love her.” Really? Why? She was an assassin; a tool the emperor used to destroy his enemies. That hardly qualifies her for “role model” status. I think part of the appeal is that she is a strong, complex character. We can identify with her struggles. She commits evil acts, but her heart sometimes betrays her and she is drawn toward the light. In other...

A Princess to Follow Dec28

A Princess to Follow

When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be the helpless princess in a tower waiting for someone to come rescue me. I wasn’t the Maid Marion or Snow White type. You’d never catch me in the forest chillin’ with the animals and singing “someday my prince will come.” Well, actually I did do that once, but it was straight parody. I wanted to be Robin Hood—or at the very least one of the Merry Men, the knight slaying the dragon, the spy defeating the despot, the rebel saving the galaxy from the Empire. I don’t meant to say that I wanted to be a dude—that was never the case. I grew up with brothers and cousins and now I have sons, and I am more convinced than ever that boys have cooties. But, in my mind, I could be a girl and a hero. I credit this sensibility to my healthy diet of stories with strong female characters. For every helpless Disney princess, there was Eowyn, Wonder Woman, Joan of Arc, or Judith (who lobbed off Holofernes’ head in the Bible). Plus, God made man and woman equal, both in God’s image and likeness, and there were tons of kick-butt heroines in the Bible. Every little girl who has the heart of a warrior will have a place to draw inspiration from. The Star Wars franchise portrays strong women in various ways throughout their movies. I particularly appreciated the roles of the Rogue One ladies. Lyra Erso was a wife and mother who believed deeply in the Force and tried to prepare her daughter for the likely return of Imperial baddies. When Director Krennic came and threatened her family, she didn’t cower. She died trying to protect her husband and daughter. Mon...