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Jul 28, 2014

A review of the 'Tales of the Bounty Hunters' a collection of short stories about .... bounty hunters

Bounty hunter line up from Empire Strikes Back
Dengar, IG-88- Bobba Fett, Bosk, 4LOM, Zuckass
A review of the 'Tales of the Bounty Hunters' 

After that disaster of a read that was The Truce at Bakura I picked up Tales of the Bounty Hunters. I was quietly confident this would be a better read because it was edited by Kevin J Anderson who I had come across as having written a story for the Halo franchise. And as it happens the first of the five tales was written by him. 

The casual Star Wars fan might wonder who these bounty hunters are and why have the Masters of the Star Wars universe determined they should have stories written about them. These bounty hunters are the 5 that Darth Vader summons to his ship the Executor to hunt for Han Solo and Princess Leia after they have escaped the planet Hoth.

The stories cleverly tie in with events in Empire and Jedi.  The 5 stories interact with the moment that Vader issues the bounty for Solo. They all give interesting insights into these hunters and show what makes them tick.

Here's some brief summary review marks:

Therefore I Am: The Tale of IG-88 by Kevin J. Anderson     

This is a stand out short story, regardless of it being from the Star Wars universe. A chilling tale of how a killer robot deigns to take over the universe. Well written by Anderson, as you read it one can actually feel the cold that comes from the heartless IG-88.

Payback: The Tale of Dengar by Dave Wolverton

What started off as a dull assassination story became a warm love story with a fine ending where Dengar fought for his life and new love admist the back drop of Jabba the Hutt’s crumbling empire. I understand that at the time it was canon, the story was the first official reference to Bobba Fett escaping the Sarlacc pit. I'm keen to learn more about Dengar!

The Prize Pelt: The Tale of Bossk by Kathy Tyers

Ah Kathy, that’s a two for two strike with me. This story was hard to follow in the sense it was full of convoluted plots to rescue Wookies from Imperials on another planet while molded around a story to take down Bossk. The thing that bugged me was that there was no way there was time to set up with contrived situation on hearing about the Bounty offer from Vader, as the rescue of the Wookies would have been a well planned exercise.

I also really hated that Bossk’s ship was full of soooo many sensors which allowed for a cat and mouse came on board – that part of the story was a dull and slow paced Tom and Jerry skit. The ending rounded off fairly well however.  When I realised the story was written by Kathy Dyers, it all made sense.

Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM by M. Shayne Bell

Two scum bounty hunters make good. A story of two tales really - crew of a wrecked Rebel ship struggle to survive whilst a robot comes to grips with his 'feelings'. An odd contrast but one that ties together quite nicely. Unlike the Prize Pelt, this story wasn't painted to broad in its scope making it crisp and concise as how short stories should be.

The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett by Daniel Keys Moran

Possibly a wasted chance to tell a really good Boba Fett story, it does give us an insight into an aged Fett who having survived the Sarlacc Pitt undertakes one last bounty to see him into retirement. An itchy Han Solo serves to prove a worthy foe once more.

Summary

I recommend these short stories for those who are keen to explore deeper into the Star Wars universe but bear in mind this stuff is no longer considered cannon.

Extra for experts

Were did Bossk's jump suit come from?
IG-88 was made from parts from the Cantina bar.

Jul 27, 2014

Where did the inspiration for the AT Walkers in Empire come from?


Kit bashed has suggested that the inspiration for the AT walkers that so famously attacked the Hoth Rebel base in Empire were inspired by the Martians that attacked planet Earth on H.G Well's War of the Worlds.

Here's how Wells described his tripod war machines:

"But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand... Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange body.

It picked its road as it went striding along, and the brazen hood that surmounted it moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a head looking about. Behind the main body was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic fisherman's basket, and puffs of green smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as the monster swept by me."

Well, the AT had no tentacles...but what do you think?

If this got you wondering what else inspire Star Wars, check out what Gandalf did for the franchise and the other things that inspired George Lucas.

Senator Jebel quotes Rogue One Jonathan Aris

Jonathan Aris (Sherlock, The Game) has a part in Rogue One, the BBC’s Lizo Mzimba reported.

Aris will apparently be playing Senator Jebel.

Jul 21, 2014

JJ reveals what the X-Wing looks like, mentions something about children in need.

JJ X Wing



The detail on this X Wing looks like the production team is employing the Peter Jackson / Guillermo del Toro mode of attention to detail that helped make them famous.

Remember this X Wing leak? Looks like the same kind of model.

Oh, and the mouse robot.....

Jul 18, 2014

Did Bobba Fett survive his inglorious fall into the Sarlacc Pitt?

Johnathan Rinzler has basically confirmed what every Boba Fett fan has wished for - that Bobba did not die in the Sarlacc Pitt in Jedi. Many fans have felt that the character didn't deserve to die in such an ignomius way.

The trouble of course is no one really knew Boba was going to become considered such a 'cool' Star Wars character. This author think's he's over rated for one.....

Any ways Rinzler did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit and this is the answer he gave about Boba Fett's survival:

"Yes, he does. I have been in meetings with George where he confirms that Fett survived. If it comes from George then it’s true!"

And if you don't believe the man who is one of the team in charge of recording the history of the Star Wars films, I have documented proof Boba lives:






It aint easy being green, especially if you're a slave dancer on Tatooine

oola jedi coslay green twilek

It aint easy being green, especially if you're a green Twilek named Oola that happens to dance for a giant slug.

This cosplayer totally nails the Oola from Jedi, don't you think?

Twilek are actually pretty popular as cosplay targets, as if you didn't know...

Jul 10, 2014

Who is Aayla Secura and is she really the hottest blue alien ever?

Ayala Secura in Revenge of the Sith
Look behind you love...
As usual, we are going to play the sex sells card on this one as it seems the only reason people visit In a far away galaxy is to look for pictures of Princess Leia in a certain slave bikini.

Aayala Securra - she's become a bit of a fan favourite with those who actually enjoy the Star Wars prequels (you could call these people the silent majority if you will). So who is she, what makes the blue Twi'lek tick and who play her in the movies?

Let's start with her official bio from Star Wars website:

'With an athletic build, an exotic beauty, and blue skin, Aayla Secura stood out among the many faces of the Jedi ranks. A cunning warrior and Jedi Knight during the rise of the Clone Wars, Aayla fought alongside Clone Commander Bly on many exotic battlefields. Having mastered the emotional detachment necessary in the Jedi Order, she always tried to pass on what she had learned to others.'

Which is nice and all but most fans first met Aayla in Attack of the Clones.

So did George Lucas create this Jedi?

No he did not. Aayla Secura was first brought into the Star Wars saga by Dark Horse Comics as part of the expanded Star Wars universe. George Lucas took a liking to the character and decided to use her and she was added to the script of Attack of the Clones near the end of the writing process.

I heard she died. Is this true?

Yes, she died in the events of Order 66 on Felucia where her Clones turned on her and shot her from behind. You can catch this in Revenge of the Sith.

Who played Aayla Secura?

Amy Allen played Aayala
Amy Allen played Aayala in Clones and Sith 

Amy Allen played the character. Amy was part of the production crew for many films and wound up work at Lucasfilm. This work was parlayed into playing an extra in The Phantom Menace as a Twi-lek. Come time for someone to play this new character in Attack of the Clones, Amy was called on.

Amy Allen also appears in three different guises during the Outlander Club sequence in Attack of the Clones. She was filmed during principal photography standing near the video screens in one outfit, and digitally cloned by ILM to appear in two different places at the same time. These 'two' characters were later identified as twins Mya and Yma Nalle. 

During later pickup shots Amy appeared behind Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen as they discuss the changeling, wearing a hat and thick braids. This patron was later named Lela Mayn.

Just goes to show it's all about who you know in Hollywood.

Is Aayala the sexiest twi-lek to have appeared in a Star Wars movie?

Well some might argue that Oola is...

Fans love Aayala and the best way to show Star Wars love is to do cosplay!


Aayla Secura cosplay star wars



Aayla Secura cosplay babe

Jul 6, 2014

I heard a theory that the Star Wars movies are inversely as good as the number of times a lightsaber is ignited. Is this true?

behind the scenes empire luke vader duel

From a certain point of view, it may be true that the more lightsabers in a Star Wars movie, the worse it is but the actual numbers suggest other wise in terms of their being an inverse relationship between sabers being drawn and film quality.

Kit Bashed has done the hard work for us all and counted up the number of times a light saber is drawn or ignited in the movies and compared this to ratings of the 6 movies against a range of reputable ratings websites. Let's hope he got his numbers correct...

Asked a rabid reader*: "What did Kit Bashed find? Is it true? I think he found it's true cos the prequels sucked and there were heaps of lightsaber fights in the Prequels!"

Woah, now slow down there hater, first let's be clear what an inverse relationship means. We can say that an inverse relationship is one where an increase in the value of one number results in a decrease in the value of the other number.

So the theory we are exploring is does increasing the number of times a light saber is turned on or drawn in a Star Wars movie decrease how good the movie is? We can use 'good' as a rating by the rating numbers determined by the review sites selected by Kit Bashed (Metacritic, IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes).

Now let's check out the numbers of on screen ignitions (so when we see Vader waiting for Kenobi in A New Hope, his saber is already drawn and doesn't count).

EpisodeIgnitionsMetaCriticRotten TomatoesIMDbAverage
IV391938891
V378978888
VI552798472
I1851576558
II2553676762
III3568807775

So if you took a casual look you might see that the numbers of saber ignitions grew for the prequels and the ratings are lower than the original trilogy received, that's an inverse relationship right? 

Before we start burning effigies of George Lucas in the street, let's turn these numbers into a graph:

theory about quality of Star Wars films and light sabers


That's a really pretty graph. But what the womp rat am I looking at? You are not looking at a truly inverse relationship. Look at how the number of ignitions increases for the prequel films and that the average review numbers ALSO increase. That is arguably a direct relationship. 

Note too that the original trilogies did not have an increase in ignitions at the same rate, indeed they stayed fairly static, yet the average scores declined - indeed Revenge of the Sith is rated HIGHER than Return of the Jedi (Meta Critic appear to hate Jedi...).

What can we conclude?

So given this, it's not fair to say that the the Star Wars movies are inversely as good as the number of times a light saber is drawn in each movie.  I do however suggest that JJ Abrams's The Force Awakens will need at least another 20 saber gnitions more than Revenge of the Sith.... if he is to continue the trend set with The Phantom Menace...

* Reader does not exist.

Crystal Clarke & Pip Andersen cast in The Force Awakens

pip andersen-crystal-clark -star wars 7

Two new fairly unknown actors have been cast in The Force Awakens

Crystal Clarke & Pip Andersen have been cast as a result of beating out 30K other aspirants. Here's the official release from Star Wars:

-

At the end of last year Lucasfilm and Disney invited all young aspiring actors to attend an open casting call for roles in J.J Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII. The casting calls spanned 11 cities across the US and UK and over 37,000 hopefuls attended, with a further 30,000 submitting applications online.

Having hunted high and low for young and undiscovered talent, the filmmakers are delighted to announce that two actors from the open call call have been cast.

Crystal Clarke is an American actress studying in Glasgow, UK, who has both stage and screen acting experience and is soon to be seen in her first feature, The Moon and the Sun (to be released in 2015). British actor Pip Andersen is a skilled practitioner of parkour, a discipline that involves propelling oneself through any given environment with incredible grace and agility. Pip recently demonstrated this remarkable skill in a Spider-Man ad for Sony.

“The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition. We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film,” said producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Meanwhile, principal photography continues at Pinewood Studios in London after wrapping on location in Abu Dhabi in May.

In August, the team will take a brief two-week hiatus while adjustments to the current production schedule are made as actor Harrison Ford recovers from a leg injury. Harrison is doing well and is looking forward to returning to the set soon. Shooting remains on track to wrap in the fall with the film scheduled for release on December 18, 2015.

-

Interesting to note the production re-jig regarding Harrison Ford's injury, it's clearly more debilitation than was initially thought. 

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Jul 1, 2014

A grumpy review of The Truce at Bukura


A Review of The Truce at Bukara Star Wars novel


After my really enjoying read of the novelisation of Revenge of the Sith I thought I might expand my Star Wars reading repertoire.

I headed to the Salvation Army Store down the road and managed to find The Truce at Bakura and Tales of the Bounty Hunters and The Last Command, the last in the Thrawn Trilogy. They cost me 9 of my New Zealand dollars, a bargain for sure.

I chose to read Bakura first as it seemed an interesting idea to learn what happened the day after the events of Jedi.

I guess I'll have to find the other Zahn book too...

Here's my review which is basically notes I thought to make as I read it. I'm coming into this blind, I'd never heard of the book before I picked it from the shelf.

A review of the novel, The Truce at Bukara, a Star Wars novel


The book starts basically the day after Luke killed Vader, Vader killed the Emperor and Lando blew up the Death Star completely oblivious to the murderous rampage the Skywalker family was in.

I'm 20 pages in an Luke has rescued Wedge from some bomb that makes no sense, Leia and Han are getting in on in an Ewok Hutt and Luke is suffering from sickness after being fried by the Emperor's force lightning.

And suddenly the Rebel alliance NEEDS to hold onto Endor for strategic purposes and then NEEDS to defend some never before heard of planet called Burkan that's controlled by the Empire from some never before heard of alien race that has just suddenly decided to attack and steal the brain energy of its inhabitants so it can power robots.

Oh, I just remembered that Obi Wan conveniently called Luke on the Force Phone and casually explained to him some major plot points.

This has not started well. I am looking out for a traitor so that gives me hope. I bet it's C3PO, he's always been a smug fellow.

I'm 60 pages in and Han and Leia and Chewie went to some ice plant and got attacked by robots and came back to the battle that Luke was suddenly commanding.

Gosh knows why Ackbar put him in charge of everything, just because he's the hero of the day?

And Luke has won some space battle but all he seemed to care about was saving Wedge's life (AGAIN) when his X wing squads were dying all over the place. I question his motives.

I am so bored with this.  Who decided this could be canon? I will try some more on the bus when I next go to work 

I'm now at page 90 and I think I want to stop reading this novel.

Leia is meeting the Prime Minister and the Imperial Boss of the planet. Much discussion has centered around Luke's white pants.

References have been made to Death Stars and Jedi mind tricks.

I think I am still hung up that the fall of the Emperor happened only a week or so ago and the MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE in the universe right now are pissing about on Bukara. I would have thought working out the state of the world in terms of the status of the Empire would be more important.

Luke just randomly demonstrated his lightsabre for the Commander of the Imperial Fleet. Before that he used the Force to make Han shake hands with a dude who was kidding Leia's hand as part of a gentlemanly greeting.

Also Luke has a crush on someone.

This is starting to realllllly bore us. Let's get to the chorus!

So now Leia is panicking as she gets out of her transport to have dinner at the Prime Minister’s residence. Is it the Prime Minister’s house? I can’t keep up but Leia seems to flinch at everything that moves because she now has daddy issues due to Luke’s daddy issues. This is not Princess Leia, this is Leia light.

This story is going nowhere but there is a chance a prisoner of the enslaving alien race will betray his enslavers. That could be interesting. 

So, yeah Vader just turned up as a Force Ghost. I mean Anakin Skywalker appeared so he could apologise and ask forgiveness for all that he did such as blowing up Alderaan and killing the Organa family, Leia's family. Naturally Leia didn't take too kindly to all of it. Then she went off for breakfast with the Prime Minister and had toast.

Things are all go now! Luke, a Jedi Knight who a week ago managed to kill Darth Vader, one of the most able sword fighters of all time was able to be knocked out by smelly alien race that had tails.

Han has rescued Leia but it's a trap and the girl Luke thinks he might be in love with has also been poisoned with the heart eating worms and now the old girl that Luke used the Force on is now alive and kicking and running the rebellion from her keyboard.

I'm just reading to find out how this thing ends. Let's see how much I can get through on the bus tonight!

Well well well! My opinions haven't changed! The climax was nothing special. Everyone got rescued, no one of importance died and Luke kissed a girl.

On reflection the author took every Star Wars film element and simply rehashed it into a novel format.

C3PO interjecting - check.
Heroic R2 moment where he interfaces with the mainframe - check.
Han Solo flights the Falcon heroically  - check.
Leia gets to play a stuck up diplomat - check.
Chewbacca continues as the growling side kick  - check.
Luke struggles with his mental health - get the check.

Indeed, as I was reading this on the bus yesterday the lady next me interrupted me to ask if that was a novel of Star Wars or Star Wars novel as she remembered the movies from years ago!

She asked me how it was and I said it was rubbish. She then told her daughter loves Star Wars so I told her there was another coming next year and she smiled and said something about how her grand children might like it.

Am I old?

I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS NOVEL UNLESS YOU ARE A DIEHARD STARWARS SCREW BALL.

Next up is a serious of short stories about the Bounty Hunters found in Empire. After the hunk of junk this was, I'll be happy if at least one of the stories reads as good as a nerf herder's piss tastes.

Oh, and when I finally get to the Thrawn Novels and they aren't as good as every one says, well.....

Heck, I'm not even going to edit this post. Out it goes into the wild.

OH! One more thing! Ben Kenobi is featured on the cover of the book. He's in it once as some lame thing I think I mentioned above.

Lame.

Update: I decided to look for some reviews of the book. A lot of illiterate Star Wars fans love this novel but

I endorse Philips's review:

"I'll confess I didn't read the whole of it, only the first quarter or so. I stopped because it was rather dull and plodding, requiring a lot of effort to keep going. I can only assume the book starts to get interesting later on, though that would be a rather paltry reward for the rather dull first 80 pages of the book."

We say well done staying in school Philip and if you're ever in New Zealand come to my house for a BBQ.

Check out the prices on Amazon if you must