But what do I know? I'm just a twice clicken brown shirt teabaggin tjroll. Right? --PatP

Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that. --Thor

If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Sunday, May 9, 2010

More Star Wars

Some of you will remember, a while back I did a post about rebooting Star Wars. I cast Jason Statham as Han Solo and Jude Law as C-3PO (both of which I stand by, for the moment. Although I’ve been watching a lot of TNG lately, and that Brent Spiner does an excellent android. When the script allows), and kind of re-thought the characters a bit.

Well, I had a writing fit today, and here’s what came out. Here’s Ewan McGregor and Hayden Panetierre (I realize she’s too old now, but she was young enough in Heroes 1. Anyway, she’s not really who I imagine, but she’s the only person I can think of who’s anything like close). Enjoy:


One day. Just one day. She'd been in possession of that damned eccentric lump of scrap metal for one blasted day, and now (mostly due to her own negligence), it had run off. She supposed it could be worse. It could have been stolen outright. In regards to where she knew it had gone, it may as well have been. When a little trashcan-shaped robot wanders into the Jundland Wastes, it's going to get nabbed by Tuskens. It had happened before, but this would be the last time. She would see to that.

This would be the last time one of her mechs "wandered off" into the dessert and was "found" by those filthy Sandies. The absolute nerve of those people. She was furious. It's not like she didn't know where to find them. It wasn't so much the theft itself that bothered her (though the resultant lectures and shouting matches with her uncle did) as the brazenness of it. They knew she could find them, knew that she knew they had taken the little bot. And they knew her. While they could be violent, it was hardly ever that the Sandies set upon someone for little or no reason.

She was already going to catch hell from her uncle over the little thing missing it's first day's work, and for chasing after it on her own. Damned if she was going to let this happen ever again. It was time someone stood up to those thieving man-creatures, and Leia Skywalker would be the one to do it.

In her fury, she had lost herself. Glancing down at her dunerunner's dusty instrument panel, she noticed that she was just a kilometer out from the Tuskens' camp.

She had her lightsaber (properly her father's lightsaber, given to her by Ben Kenobi a year ago, when they had first met) hooked to her right hip and her blaster pistol strapped to her left. Being a Tatooine farm girl of seventeen, she had plenty of experience with the blaster and didn't doubt her ability to wield it in battle (though she had never done before). The blade, Ben had taught her. He had been reluctant at first, but she had eventually worn the old man down until he finally relented. Leia had every confidence that she would leave a smoking pile of sand people bits in the camp when she left.

As her dunespeeder hovered nearer the camp, the Tuskens took notice. There was no alarm. They recognized her vehicle and knew her well. They had no reason to expect anything but the usual whining child that had visited them so many times in the past, insisting (rightly) that they had stolen some piece of her uncle's property and demanding it's return. Sometimes they had complied, but usually not. She was, after all, just a child.

"Not anymore," Leia whispered to herself. After today, when Sandies saw her beat-up old dunespeeder on the horizon, they wouldn't laugh. After today, they would be afraid.

She pulled into the middle of the camp. It was early in the day. The second sun was just over the horizon and several of the creatures were tending a dying fire, no doubt cooking breakfast for the rest of the camp. Several of them were milling about, busying themselves with various tasks. Some (but not many) were just awaking, emerging from their little tents. Many of the sand people noticed her. One of them (one of the ones she had dealt with before) waved to her and called out a decidedly disparaging greeting. She couldn't speak their grunting gargle language, but she understood enough to know when she was being taunted.

She slammed the controls out of alignment, tossed her goggled sun hat into the storage bin beside her and launched herself over the side of the vehicle. She stood at least two heads shorter than the shortest of the Sandies and had been afraid of them (largely for just that reason) for as long as she (or they) could remember. But not today.

The one who had waved at Leia continued to call out and beckon her, amused at her arrival. He stood about forty meters from where she stood. Hand at her belt, she stalked toward him, as her dunespeeder fluttered noisily to the ground. Her slitted eyes and slightly downturned mouth spelled death. By now, several of the other Tuskens were watching the little farm girl approach her antagonist.

She stopped twenty meters from him, working herself up. She began to breathe heavy as the dessert creature continued to crow away at her. Her eyes narrowed further, her hands balled into fists. She committed herself. This has to be done. These parasites can't keep leeching off the farmers. It's not right. Someone has to stop them.

Leia quieted her mind, entering the battle state that Ben had taught her. Time slowed. She became less aware of the fact that her visual world was made up of colliding colors and more aware of the movement of the colors. Here, a spot of red fluttered in the harsh dessert wind. There, a stroke of brown walked out of her line of sight. In this state of other awareness, she always took a moment, not only to adjust to the different rate of time, but also to marvel at her own ability to make it happen. In that briefest of moments, Leia Skywalker blinked and allowed herself a slight grin at the thought of her own magnificence.

She opened her eyes, re-acquiring her target. He was still standing there, in almost the same position he had been before she had taken that brief moment of revelry. Drawing the sword from her belt and activating it, she advanced quickly toward him. She saw the raider's eyes. She saw them grow instantly wide, even as his mocking gesture was only half-finished. Then, just as she was upon him, Leia saw his eyes flicker to her left. Time resumed it's normal course as her blade struck. And froze, seemingly in mid-air.

Unable to mask her shock, the girl let out a cry. The tall man she had intended to strike fell backward and scrabbled away. Her blade hummed and crackled in the air. It took a moment for enough of her rage and shock to drain away before she realized what exactly had happened.

In the instant after she saw her prey's eyes flick away from her, another shimmering energy blade had thrust itself in front of hers. She whipped her head up and saw a grey-haired, almost old man, dressed in the sandy brown tunic common on Tatooine and a darker brown, heavy, hooded cloak. His eyes blazed with, not rage, but anger. The man swung his blade up in front of her, creating a space for his body to step into. She took half a step backwards, more surprised than perturbed, assuming a low guard. They faced each other, matching blue blades of light whirring in the swirling sand.

"Ben?" She almost didn't believe it. How did he get here so quickly? How did he know to get here at all? "But..." She stammered, dropping her guard.

Obi-Wan Kenobi, his morning thoroughly spoiled, glared down the blade of his lightsaber at the girl. "Skywalker," he growled her name. Her father's name. To the old master, all of this was too familiar. He had felt her, in the Force, an hour ago. He knew it was her, not because he had felt her presence before, but because his first instinct was that he was dreaming. Dreaming of the day Anakin Skywalker had butchered a camp full of Tuskens: men, women and children. Even across star systems, he had felt that Skywalker's anguish clearly.

Now, with no worlds between them, he had felt her rage instantly and, as soon as he realized that he was indeed awake, had immediately despaired. He had jumped on the repulsor bike Leia had left at his home (to keep it hidden from her uncle) and sped off in the direction of the disturbance. As he approached the Tusken camp, Obi-Wan had seen her jump out of her vehicle, had seen the tall man-beast taunting her, and willed the bike to go faster. It obliged.

Just as Obi-Wan felt young Leia enter the battle trance, he leapt from the bike, its momentum carrying him nearly the full distance. Just as she swung her weapon downward, he took a single step and thrust his own blade in front of it.

Now they stood, teacher and student (he had never considered Leia his apprentice), facing each other with weapons drawn. For a moment, they just stared at each other. For that long moment, Obi-Wan could feel the rage building in her again. Once again, he felt despair.

With a scream that would curdle the blood of a Krayt Dragon, the young Skywalker rushed at her teacher with a swinging blade. His despair subsided as he easily deflected her wild attack. While she was skilled with the weapon, Leia was attacking him, not with the lightsaber, but with her rage. He could outlast that. He could probably do it without injuring her, though he was prepared to kill her if it became necessary. He wouldn't repeat the same mistake he had made with Anakin: he had allowed that Skywalker to live.

The duel (if it is fair to call it that) lasted the better part of a half-hour. They traded blows, back and forth, Leia attacking furiously out of anger, Obi-Wan intentionally bashing against her guard to tire her.

"Enough of this," Leia muttered to herself. She no longer saw Ben Kenobi, her friend and teacher. She only saw the man with the other lightsaber, standing in her way. She paused for a moment, focusing herself. She made a wild, feinting swing followed by a forceful lunge.

The old man easily saw it coming. raising his sword above his head, he stepped back from her swing, spun away from her lunge, continued to whirl in a full circle. He closed his eyes as he brought his weapon down on the girl's hand to sever it from her arm, and shoved his leg sternly into her mid-section.

He heard her shriek in pain for an instant before his knee slammed the breath from her, heard her weapon sputter to its death, heard her strike the hard sand a meter or two away. With a rising sadness, the old man sensed that the fight was almost over. Almost.

Almost before she even knew she had pulled the trigger, his blade returned her blaster bolt to her left ear. Unable to scream properly, the wind still knocked out of her, she made a hideous retching sound as she writhed on the ground. Moments later, she was back on her feet, coughing, but in a perfect shooting stance (perfect for someone who's shooting at small animals, but less perfect for someone at whom others are pointing their blasters), still pointing her gun at him.

"You... Missed," she managed, between labored breaths.

"Do you believe that?" For half a moment, she looked crestfallen (in addition to looking breathless and bloody), as she realized he hadn't. That he hadn't meant to kill her. He had only meant to dissuade her from continuing the battle. He decided at that moment that the next shot would end her life.

"Leia," he growled at the child. "Have I taught you nothing?" She grimaced briefly, obviously confused.

"You said . . . Jedi . . . guardians of . . . peace . . . And . . . lightsaber . . . weapon of . . ."

"OF JUSTICE!!!" he shouted at the very summit of his lungs, cutting her off as he whirled around to face her. "Not revenge!"

Only now did Obi-Wan realize that he had not injured her. Hadn't removed her hand, at any rate. Half of her father's lightsaber lay, sliced clean, on the ground at his feet. The other half lay covered in blood at hers. Only now did he sense the wheels in her head finally beginning to turn for the first time since his arrival. Her face said she was momentarily disarmed. He turned away. He could make the kill. She was worn out. He could have his blade in her before she could blink. But he sensed something else.

Rather, it was what he did not sense that gave him pause. When he had felt Anakin's rage when he had butchered the sand people, and again when they had battled on Mustafar, there was something else. An additional component that he was only now able to recognize as an addition to rage, rather than a part of it. He was still not sure he could identify it, but it gave him the mildest hope that perhaps this Skywalker was not yet beyond salvation.

Just as he had made the decision not to kill her, his hand was forced.

"Ben . . ." she managed to whimper. He felt Leia's left foot lurch forward, felt the blaster jolt in her hand behind him. Eyes closed in resignation, with only the merest of thoughts, with no conscious effort, he twitched his blade behind his back to deflect the bolt of light. His eyes flashed open.

He spun around swiftly, in shock. The girl still stood, heavy blaster shaking in her small hand, the consternation on her face replaced by an absolute horror. She had not fired. She had only stumbled. But she had seen the flick of his weapon, and knew what it meant. Knew what would have happened, had her finger twitched a hair more than it had.

In half an instant, Obi-Wan extinguished his blade and returned it to his belt. Before Leia's eyes could process that his weapon had been deactivated, hers was sailing through the air thirty meters away, swatted from her hand by Ben's use of Force, and he was upon her, wrapping her in the heavy brown cloak he had dropped during the fight.

Part of Obi-Wan was still used to space. Even after seventeen years of life on this scorched dessert world, part of his mind still ran to dead space and cold Coruscant. He knew that, in a cold environment such as a starship, if someone's ear was burned off, body heat would rush out of the wound. If the injured was also sweating profusely from half an hour of single combat, keeping them from getting cold was supremely important.

"Ben," she croaked again, once he had lifted her into his arms. "I'm sorry." There it was. That was the missing component to her rage. Leia was capable of remorse. Anakin had slaughtered younglings and butchered Tusken Raiders because he thought it was right. It may be that he found these things hard to do, but he felt no shame in doing them. Leia's intended rampage had no such conception of righteousness. She knew she had done wrong, and she was sorry. She was genuinely sorry. Ben considered his response to the child's heartfelt regret.

"We'll talk about that later," he decided to say. "Right now, let's see about that little robot."

Please comments.



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Star Wars rant

Tatooine has two suns, as it is in a binary st...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m posting this first so you read it second. Read the post just after (above) this one before you read this one.

Now back to our regularly scheduled font. So first I sat down and wrote a whole ton about how I would change the characters. Somewhere in the middle of that, it occurred to me to swap Luke and Leia. Luke always was a whiney little girl, and in general no fun as a character. No inner conflict, no hard decisions. He was such a little girl, that in Return of the Jedi, when we’re presented with Mark Hamill playing a grown man, we say “bullshit.” Young Luke was such a little b*#$% that you can’t fathom that he could ever grow up. So when he does, it just feels contrived.

Also, Leia was always made out to be a powerful person but never really was one. She was fairly unimportant to the story. She’s just the damsel in distress who in two scenes, while the hero’s busy doing manly saving-the-day things, grabs the hero’s gun and takes a few shots. She’s the character that makes the movie longer because there’s got to be something for her to do. But you tend not to notice that because every other character acts like she’s important and useful. I say make them stop acting like that, but make her important and useful.

Best way to fix both of those problems: Send Luke to grow up as a senator’s son and send Leia to be a Tatooine farm girl. Now Luke isn’t a little girl so much as he is a pampered rich boy and Leia’s not useless because she’s got Luke’s part in the story. Also, she doesn’t have all that conditioning to dampen her angry streak early in her life. That makes the whole thing so much more interesting. Does that mean Leia rescues Luke from the Death Star? Maybe. Does it mean she flies an X-Wing and blows up the Death Star? Maybe. Does it mean that now Luke is completely useless? No, because Luke’s not a girl (at least not in any biological sense). At the very least, he gets killed, making him a meaningful plot element. Does it mean Han falls in love with Luke?


No. No it doesn’t. I think one uncomfortable relationship is enough for any good story. At most, there will be the hefty bromance that was always hinted at (but never actually illustrated) in the original trilogy.

That being said, I’ve got half a mind to get rid of the Luke-Leia awkwardness. It just doesn’t make any sense. How does Obi-Wan take Luke (or in this case Leia) to the Death Star to rescue his sister and not tell him she’s his sister? Bad planning, that’s how. Craftless writers. When Luke rescued Leia from the Death Star, she wasn’t his sister. Not until Lucas let it slip to Carrie Fisher (if I have my story straight) during filming of ESB was Leia Luke’s sister. And how are both of his children in the same place at the same time ten feet away from him and Darth Vader still thinks they’re dead? Meeting one kid, maybe:

“Hey. You look an awful lot like some chick I knew about seventeen years ago. Isn’t that a coincidence? That must be why I feel like there’s a tremor in the Force. Because you remind me of her.” Fine. Fine. But when you feel the same tremor in the Force board your space station, and you know the princess is already on it, you’ve got to know something’s up. When you further discover that that kid that blew up your space station has the same last name as you (and nobody ever thought to change it), then you’ve got to sit down and say “wait a minute. He’s got my name and I feel this tremor in the Force. I feel the same thing when that girl WHO SURE LOOKS A LOT LIKE PADME AND WAS CONVENIENTLY BORN THE SAME DAY SHE DIED is around. There’s gotta be something going on there.” But no. Vader NEVER figures it out. He accidentally discovers that he has a daughter when he catches Luke thinking about her. BUT HE NEVER KNOWS WHO SHE IS!!! Come on. That’s a “villain” no well-organized rebel alliance needs to worry about.

Just full of holes. Bad, bad writing.

Also, how about Darth Vader? Evil, scary dude. But then we find out he’s not really “evil” per se. He’s more “misguided.” But if that’s the case, what’s all this nonsense about blowing up planets and enslaving entire races? Neither of those is really a grey area. Both pretty evil. My solution to that is simply this: know where the story’s going from the beginning. A New Hope was clearly meant to be a one-off. There was no “saga” until Empire Strikes Back, and there was no “Episode 1” until well after Return of the Jedi. If Darth Vader is a dude who thinks he’s doing the right thing but clearly isn’t, make him relatable. The bad guys who are easiest to hate are the ones who fall into a grey area. Gaius Baltar comes immediately to mind. Totally human, totally believable, and totally hated upon.

That being said, Darth Vader isn’t supposed to be Gaius Baltar. He’s supposed to be Darth Vader. But now (right now) when I watch A New Hope, I find myself thinking: where’s the Human Being I saw in Revenge of the Sith who would have some moral qualms about this? He would absolutely blow up a planet to enforce peace. But he would be conflicted about it. And he would totally give his children to the Emperor. But he might (might) hate himself for it. I mean, the way he is, Darth Vader (in the original trilogy) isn’t even a villain. He’s just a bad guy. Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith is a villain. He’s real. He’s believable. There’s something interesting about him. He’s not just the bad guy.

In New Star Wars, Han Solo also thinks he’s smooth less and is smooth more. If there’s one thing Han Solo wishes he was, it’s slick. Don’t get me wrong. He has his moments. Not many, but he does have them. “I know,” is one of them. “Scoundrel? I like the sound of that,” is not. In short, Han Solo needs to be more James Bond and less Jack Sparrow. Not a lot more James Bond. He just needs to be as cool as he thinks he is.

R2-D2 needs to be a lot less Tweeky and a tiny bit more Dalek. Far, far less “beedy-beedy” (R2 was a huge helping of “beedy-beedy”) and a little more “exterminate.” Not a lot of “exterminate.” Just not so comical. C-3PO is plenty of comedy for any robot duo.

And one more note. Just how powerful is this “Force” thing anyway? Can I read people’s minds or not? If I can, then Vader should know that Luke is his son as soon as he sees him on the Death Star. Not because Luke knows who his father is (which he does, by the way), but because Luke name is Skywalker. And if I can’t, then Vader can’t know that Luke has a sister, because he only finds that out when Luke is thinking about her (God knows why) when they’re dueling on Death Star 2.

And can I have telekinesis or can I not? If I can’t, then re-write the entire saga, because telekinesis is used very prominently in several scenes in every single film. If I can then why do I ever need to do any such thing as throw a rock (or was it a skull?) at a button across the room when I could just use my telekinesis to push the button? For that matter, what am I doing in this Rancor pit in the first place? Don’t I have superhuman reflexes? When the floor falls out from under me, I just grab the edge and throw myself back up into the room. JUST LIKE LUKE DOES TEN MINUTES LATER AT THE SARLACC PIT. So many inconsistencies.

It has been my opinion (until about an hour ago) that George Lucas used to be a good writer. Now I understand how wrong I was. There were people that wrote the story for the original Star Wars trilogy who were good writers. Lucas was able to take the story that they whispered in his ear and make it look good. Wherever he did any actual writing, we get crap. But that’s not entirely true, as I think he may have actually written the first one himself. But he certainly had Joseph Campbell whispering in his ear for ESB and RotJ.

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