Trailer: THE LAST JEDI (!!)

The promotional blizzard for The Force Awakens was incredible. Actually, it was probably excessive. It ultimately left me a little disappointed with the movie on first viewing — my expectations had been ratcheted up so high that it was pretty much guaranteed that the movie wouldn’t live up to my hopes.

Now, we have the trailer for the eighth episode in saga. I’m really looking forward to this. I’m going to make a better effort at just waiting for the movie to come out, rather than consume all the coverage. Crossing fingers…

Upcoming: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO STAR WARS by Cass R. Sunstein (Dey Street)

SunsteinCR-WorldAccordingToStarWarsUKJust spotted this on Harper Collins UK’s website, and thought it looked interesting. Cass R. Sunstein is a law professor at Harvard, and also worked for the Obama administration during the first term. I’m familiar with some of Sunstein’s scholarly work, and I think it’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about Star Wars. Here’s the synopsis:

An original celebration of George Lucas’s masterpiece as it relates to history, presidential politics, law, economics, fatherhood, and culture by a Harvard legal scholar and former White House advisor

There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, The Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting with down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’ score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and what it has to say about why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about the freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines new light on the most beloved story of our time.

The World According to Star Wars is due to be published on May 31st in the US and Canada, and June 2nd in the UK. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Upcoming: STAR WARS: BLOODLINE by Claudia Gray (Del Rey)

GrayC-SW-BloodlineAs I’ve mentioned before on CR, I have read a lot of Star Wars fiction in the past. Recently, though, I haven’t really liked any that I’ve tried. Claudia Gray‘s Bloodline, however, sounds like it could be good. Set before The Force Awakens, here’s what it’s about:

WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE

When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy — from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy. 

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position — even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing…

Bloodline is due to be published by Del Rey in the US, on May 3rd, 2016. Gray also wrote Lost Stars, part of the YA Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens series.

Turn Back 10: BETRAYAL by Aaron Allston (Arrow)

TurnBackTimeClockIn this second edition of Turn Back 10, I’m taking a look at an early Star Wars novel review. In the first few months of CR, I read and reviewed a lot of Star Wars fiction. Not long before I started the blog, I had picked up a couple of newer novels in the series, having stepped away for quite some time. I can’t remember what it was that made me re-start, but I did and I got sucked into it in a big way.

They were among some of the first novels I received from a publisher for review. I think this may have coloured my reviews — I didn’t lie about what I liked, but I think I did (in the very early months) focus more on what I liked than what I didn’t. I don’t think I am alone among reviewers to have done that, not that I would ever recommend it. I also think I read many of the Star Wars novels while still in the glow of renewed fandom. This loyalty would slowly wane as ever-more novels in ever-more convoluted series-within-series were published. My interest in reading SW novels cratered in 2013, as I tried four and finished none. With the The Force Awakened behind us, and a new era in SW fiction and movies upon us, though, who knows if my interest will be reignited?

Anyway, here’s my review of Betrayal by Aaron Allston — the first in the nine-book Legacy of the Force series — from a time when the now-“Legends” novels were still pretty great…

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AllstonA-LotF1-BetrayalBETRAYAL by Aaron Allston (Arrow)

This is the era of Luke Skywalker’s legacy: the Jedi Master has unified the order into a cohesive group of powerful Jedi Knights. However, as this era begins, planetary interests threaten to disrupt this time of relative peace and Luke is plagued by visions of an approaching darkness.

Melding the galaxy into one cohesive political whole after the savage war with the Yuuzhan Vong is not the easiest task, and already some worlds are chafing under the demands of the new government. Civil war may be brewing, and the Skywalker-Solo clan find that they might not all be on the same side. Meanwhile, evil is rising again — out of the best intentions — and it looks like the legacy of the Skywalkers may come full circle…

Betrayal is the beginning of the latest Star Wars series, which ushers in (yet another) dark time for Luke Skywalker and his expanding clan of family and friends. This time, the darkness doesn’t come from beyond the galactic rim. This time, its source is far closer to home. Continue reading

New Books (October-November)

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Featuring: Fiona Barton, Robert Jackson Bennett, Lee Bermejo, Mike Brooks, Nick Cole, Steve Coogan, Nate Crowley, David Dalglish, Matthew Dunn, Kate Elliott, Christopher Fowler, Alexander Freed, Teresa Frohock, Christopher Golden, Charlaine Harris, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Mark Hodder, Drew Karpyshyn, Julia Knight, Victor Lavalle, Peter Liney, Peter McLean, Claire North, Megan O’Keefe, Steven Rowley, Jane Smiley, Paul Starkey, Tom Toner, Ian Tregillis

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Excerpt: STAR WARS PSYCHOLOGY (Sterling)

LangleyT-StarWarsPsychologyToday, we have an exclusive excerpt from Star Wars Psychology, edited by Travis Langley (Sterling, 2015). Specifically, a section by Jim Davies about droids. First, the synopsis for the book:

STAR WARS PSYCHOLOGY: Dark Side of the Mind explores the various psychological aspects of the beloved series, giving fans a better understanding of the motivation and mental states of their favorite characters.

A group of expert contributors, led by Travis Langley, explore the “Big Five” personality factors and the characters who embody each major trait. Get to know the major players a little better leading up to the new movie coming out this December… How does anxiety disorder explain the transformation of a character’s psyche from good to evil and back to good? Can robots feel pain and suffering? How does limb amputation and neuroprosthesis impact the brain? Does music influence our emotional reading of the entire saga?

And now, on with the excerpt. Continue reading