2015-04-05

Tarkula Rasa

"A wildly inconsistent universe is neither deeply enjoyable nor intellectually stimulating nor subject to (or worthy of) analysis."  - Me, just now

Several months ago, I said:
As far as I'm concerned, the default position ought to be that what's contrary to the inviolable Lucas canon is invalid.  But really, that's not likely to remain an enjoyable position simply because, as more and more self-referential EU new canon stuff is made, such a thing would be a point of divergence. 
Nevertheless, the facts are what the facts are, and if the facts are that the new canon is contradictory, fans are either stuck with (1) accepting it without question, (2) making their own choices, or (3) going with the retcon reports from Chee and other folks about what's considered authoritative just like back in the EU days.  That's messy. 
My hope would be that what I've seen are just some EU holdovers and eventually things will shake out, but the problem there is that the precedents are being set now.

Watch this space.
And here we are.

I am working on a much larger post, but suffice it to say for now that, much as I do not view any aspect of the Star Trek reboot as having anything to do with the prime Trek universe (as detailed in the as-yet-unpublished "Not Our Spock" page wherein I detail why Nimoy wasn't playing the TOS character in 2009) , the recent Star Wars reboot, initially supposed by many to primarily affect the EU only, in reality has taken both pre-existing universes and made a new one, one rapidly contradicting the Disney position that the Lucas canon was to be held as immovable objects to which new stories would have to align.  Rather than be stuck doing line-item vetoes and arguing retcons forever, I think it best to simply close the door on the new canon.

As such, I am putting a hold on any analysis of the new universe and not including its separate facts into my analyses of the canon Star Wars universe of Lucas.





To summarize, quoting a bit I have posted elsewhere:
I've been thinking more seriously about this lately and believe it is the right way to go.

The universe is changing, said Disney of the EU, but not being discarded. {Logically and, as we have seen in the past year, operationally, that} makes the new Disney canon a mix of Lucas canon and EU concepts. Of course it is natural that going on without Lucas means there would be room for unavoidable differences of vision, but by explicitly including the EU in the new universe I cannot help but recognize it as separate.

This being a board of folks familiar with Trek, consider Tuvix. If the Lucas canon is Tuvok and the EU canon is Neelix, then the Disney canon is Tuvix. Ostensibly Disney holds the Tuvok side as 'immovable objects' insofar as the new person is concerned, which would make this a changed Tuvok but still Tuvok going forward, but in reality we see that Tuvix charts his own path that often ignores Tuvok in favor of Neelixisms.

How can we view him as anything else but Tuvix?
I don't view this as a partisan matter of whether Kirk's wee-wee is bigger than Solo's, but one of intellectual honesty.  I don't *want* to lose Rebels, nor do I want to be "that guy" who seemingly rejects new stuff.  I have given it a year for them to work out the kinks, even despite my previously-stated misgivings, and have faithfully purchased novels and the Insider, so I feel like I have been fair, unlike the EU Defense Force web-terrorists.

But, the simple fact is that instead of a tabula rasa expansion of the Lucas universe a la the Marvel Star Wars 'what if' redux, taking us back to the basics and starting fresh from the Lucas canon alone, we are instead simply getting the same old EU concepts contradicting the Lucas ones all over again, the same strange EU obsession with mining corporations behind every Imperial officer, and so on.  As James Luceno, author of the bad EU new canon book about Tarkin, stated,
I’ve adopted this policy where—even with the new film that’s about to come out and certainly change the continuity that we’ve grown up with post-Return of the Jedi—to me, Tim Zahn’s books and all those Bantam-era books, they’re still going to be there for me. I appreciate them as stories. They’re well-told, they’re very interesting. So even if the movie is telling a different story, I’m not ready to dismiss anything that’s come before. 
I don’t know how authors are going to handle it. I think this is what the Story Group’s role is going to be, in terms of making some elements canon, maybe working around something. I’m just not privy to what their plan is. Anything I say is really speculative. But that’s just my personal on it. I’m not going to dismiss anything that’s gone before.
In other words, he held the EU as canon unless contradicted, and it shows ... the editors and Story Group seem to be of the same mind.  And that interview makes it quite plain that Tarkin was a post-EU novel with Story Group oversight.  Despite that, it felt totally foreign and alien to me, just like EU novels before it.

(On the other hand, he did make a prediction of mine come true.  In September I said:
I feel sure hypermatter will rear its ugly head, trying to replace the nuclear fusion from multiple film novelizations, for instance.  And if presented as a new development in the sequel trilogy era then that's perfectly fine, but you know and I know that won't be what's done. 
And indeed, hypermatter is referenced in Tarkin as being related to the Death Star, though not specifically enough to matter.)

The most distressing part of that interview is that Luceno reveals he was some distance into writing the book about Tarkin before even seeing some of his appearances in TCW, and didn't even talk to Filoni about the Tarkin/Vader relationship!  Another more minor example: in one of the prequel novelizations it describes Obi-Wan's "clipped Coruscanti accent" or words to that effect, nicely explaining the Imperial British accents like Tarkin's (and Leia's when trying to sound officious to Tarkin and Vader) and giving a nice nod to history, besides. The American-sounding characters were thus natural in their role. But in the Tarkin novel, his is a backwoods Outer Rim accent. That rather curiously alters the whole perception of Imperial characters.

Tabula rasa, indeed ... just in the wrong direction.  The Lucas canon should have come first as immovable objects, just as Kathleen Kennedy said, but in reality it isn't.  (Even Luceno's characterization of Vader as a chatty cathy showing rapport with his troops doesn't make sense compared to Ep3.  How does an author and Group screw that up?)

It is all much too inconsistent, and even the Disney canon itself is already showing internal inconsistencies.  With the recently-announced rush of 20 novels leading up to Episode VII, I expect the problems to mount quickly rather than resolve.  I have no great wish to be part of that as a deep fan interested in the world-building side of things.

Don't get me wrong ... some of the new canon is really good.  I liked "Blade Squadron" and thought Heir to the Jedi was a great story and pretty decent, tech-wise.  That said, their approaches to combating capital ships felt totally different and HttJ completely nullifies the old hyperspace lanes so important during the Clone Wars.

And, of course, while Rebels is no replacement for TCW, it is growing on me.  I'll be watching it, unquestionably.

Indeed, there are certain advantages, here.  I get to enjoy the new stories at my leisure (perhaps even the novels, so long as Luceno isn't involved) without worrying about finding time to analyze them.  And as both the Trek canon and Star Wars canon are basically now closed, it is possible for me to catch up before I'm 60 or 70 years old.

However, there are disadvantages.  Whipper-snappers and crumb-snatchers will come along talking smack about the old codger who doesn't participate in "Pine-Kirk and the Substitution Class versus Disney-Thrawn and the Interdictor" debates.  And, it is a particularly fine line for me given past debates with Trek anti-canonites who reject everything after Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  But, I am convinced I have found the proper logical consistency.

And, inevitably, there will be some who try to claim that I am an evil Trekkie and that this is strictly partisan, done because of such-and-such bit of tech showing up, but let's nip that in the bud right now.  For starters, the Lucas canon, per Disney, overrides that which does not align, 'good' or 'bad'.  Second, I think right now that this is actually better for Star Wars.

For instance, Heir to the Jedi makes plain that missiles are spoofed by phosphorus flares that burn hotter than engines.  That's a direct confirmation of a TCW event that we could otherwise wiggle out of a bit.  Further, vessels have serious issues with windswept planets like the Kupoh system where the issue is not that the winds are likely to blow a person away or make walking difficult, but just that they're loud.  That's much less than hurricane force, and yet the vessels of Star Wars required wind protection to avoid crashes at landing.  Further, they had to have shields up to prevent damage from collisions with flying creatures there.  You'd certainly think an inflationist-wanked small Star Wars vessel like a fighter, capable of laughing at mere single-digit megatons per second, would hardly have to worry about a pterodactyl on the nose, yet here we have big bird strikes as a significant danger to the hull.  And there's the effectiveness of the bullet-firing gun, as well as the ungainly costume needed to defend against threats that can penetrate normal hard armor.  Hyperdrive speeds do seem inflated, but that's about it.  In short, HttJ is a boon for Trekkies ... at best inflationists get rapid-response tin cans that would probably melt under intense Starfleet scanning.

If I am ditching it, do you really think I am doing so for pro-Trek partisan purposes?  If so, you're probably an inflationist idiot.

And of course, Rebels, like TCW before it, is exceptionally bad for inflationists.  We even had a nice further confirmation about kyber crystal behavior early on that I am not keen on losing, explicit reference to TIE shieldlessness, the ease of their destruction, et cetera.  The only unhelpful thing for Trekkie partisans is the issue of kid-friendly stormtrooper disabling, where every dead guy still moves around while unconscious to show he's just stunned.  In TCW there'd be droid parts and dead guys everywhere, though even then we saw littke dismemberment.

In any case, the point is that intellectual honesty (and its corollary of logical consistency) is an unforgiving master, so here is where we are.  I've always been on the right side of the big issues before, unlike my opponents, and I think this time is no different.

But, if something changes and logic demands recognition of the Disney canon, then I will, again unlike my opponents, happily change my tune.

9 comments:

  1. Having not read it, nor do I plan to read it, how does "Heir to the Jedi" contradict the way hyper lanes are shown in Star Wars: The Clone Wars?

    Have you thought of writing an article about the effectiveness of things like spears, arrows, bullets and other physical objects against storm and clone armors?

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  2. HttJ suggests one can easily forge a new hyperlane, and that it does not seem to be terribly much slower than normal hyperlane travel. If suggested as a new or massively improved capability in the galaxy then it might be alright, but it isn't.

    Meanwhile, TCW showed that Republic defenses were based around hyperlanes, hence the import of the Nexus Route, and hence the Separatist seizure of hyperlanes early in the war. But in the Disney-verse, such things are suddenly irrelevant and nonsensical.

    In addition to the strategic value of seizing hyperlanes, I will add this post to SFJ from September last:

    1. The precise physical nature of hyperlanes is not known.

    2. The fact that secret, ancient hyperlanes exist suggests they are either natural phenomena or at least pretty much maintenance-free.

    3. The fact that the Republic's defenses were set up along known hyperlanes and that a secret, ancient hyperlane known as the Nexus Route would allow for devastating bypasses of these defense routes (as per the TCW Citadel arc) means that they are critical, strategically-speaking.

    3a. This also means it is not strategically plausible to build/locate a hyperlane in the timeframe of a three year war, and presumably is not possible to just divine one from known parameters. Knowing half the Nexus Route info was useless, after all.

    (Whether that meant waypoints 1-5 of 10, or just the even ones, or just the X and some Y coordinates versus Z and some Y, or maybe polar directions with distances as the other half, et cetera, is not known).

    3b. This also means that off-lane travel, whether possible or not (but even presuming it is), is not strategically plausible within the timeframe of a three year war.

    4. Without explicit evidence to the contrary, it makes no sense to presume that lanes or their need have vanished within decades . . . after all, secret ancient routes require their longevity, and the fact of their military need suggests that they are not mere commercial highways.

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    1. That sounds like the sort of thing that makes me avoid EU material for any setting. EU authors all too often fail to do basic research on the settings they are writing about, and at times seem proud of that fact, and in this case the research would just need to be watching 7 feature length movies.

      I was hoping for a quote from "Heir to the Jedi".

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  3. Here are a few relevant ones lifted from a post at SDN:

    Ch 1 pg 12 wrote:
    We had to navigate several different hyperspace lanes to get to Rodia from the Sujimis sector and I was getting used to the way the Jewel handled, so our trip probably took more time than strictly necessary. Fortunately we weren't in a hurry and I enjoyed every minute of it.

    Ch 4 pg 43 wrote:
    We took a longer route back to the fleet, a circuitous path that involved forging a new hyperspace lane between Kirdo and Orto Plutonia - but only after scanning the ship for tracers and spyware. Without immediate pressure and with the luxury of time, Artoo minimized the inherent risk of traveling along unknown hyperspace lanes in conjunction with the nav computer of the Desert Jewel.

    Ch 4 pg 48-49 wrote:
    And the other thing is, the hyperspace lanes to this system aren't well established yet, and being in the Deep Core with all those mass shadows makes it even more risky. So he needs someone who's not only loyal but also willing to take a leap. The nav computers on the Jewel are pretty good, but I don't know if they're that good."

    Ch 19 pg 219 wrote:
    "The Empire's Interdictors are blocking egress here, here, and here." She pointed with a pale finger to the three yellow dots. "I have indicated the mass shadows of their gravity projectors with blue lines. So to escape, we must plot a course out of the system in between those mass shadows and travel a goodly distance offplanet before the hyperdrive can engage. And you see that there are several options available to us - but our interest would be to move to the galactic east, correct?"

    "Yes," I admitted, "but there's almost nothing mapped out in that direction."

    "Precisely why they don't consider it a possible avenue of escape."

    "You're right, nobody would consider it, including me. I'm all for the element of surprise, don't get me wrong, but what are you using as a navigation point? Not Gamorr, right? Because there's an entire sector of space between here and there, and that sector is largely unexplored. There might be uncharted brown dwarfs or planets or any number of things we could run into if you just pick a direction and go."

    "Ah. One moment." Drusil dismissed the system map and called up a second one, which was a much larger view of several sectors, except that it had math symbols written all over it. "We will use this star here." She pointed to an equation below and left of center, and I failed to see any indication of a star. The marks looked indistinguishable from any other set of scribbles on the map. I had no idea what she was talking about.

    "I'm sorry, which star again? You pointed to an equation."

    "That's the star."

    "I...what?"

    "Unexplored space does not equate to unobserved space. An analysis of the movements of other stars around it prove that it must be there. No one has viewed it yet except through the lens of mathematics, but such a lens is frequently better than mere glass."

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    1. Ch 20 pg 231 wrote:
      "The flagship captain points out that if I am on board, I might be capable of charting a new hyperspace lane on my own. That is sobering. I fear he may be distressingly competent."

      Ch 20 pg 234 wrote:
      I'd had very little to do with it - this part of the trip was all made possible by math and physics and brains that could process it far faster and more accurately than I ever could. It wasn't without its own tension, however. Without traveling established lanes, there was a chance we'd never come back into realspace again. But if we did, we'd have a view of the galaxy no one else had ever enjoyed before.

      Over the next eight hours, we would up spending more time in realspace than hyperspace. Drusil's short jumps dumped us into new systems, and she spent time with Artoo taking readings, scanning the stars, and then tweaking her calculations for the next jump. I encouraged her to take all the time she needed.
      -snip-
      The worry of being lost in space got replaced by the worry of running into Imperials again once Drusil and Artoo announced that we were back on established routes, skirting the far side of Hutt Space and traveling to the galactic north....

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    2. Ch1 Pg 12
      No contradiction, it just implies that can be more then one way to the same location.

      Ch4 Pg 43
      The ease of which they scan for spyware and tracers seems like a nasty contradiction with the movies(episode 4), and if they are so easy to spot, why use them at all?

      Forging a new hyperspace lane could just mean they are changing lanes? There's some odd syntax in later dialog.

      CH4 Pg 48-49
      "Aren't well established yet", seems odd. It sounds like they only have a vague idea as to where to go without getting killed by hitting a dead end?

      Ch 19 Pg 219
      "A goodly distance" is the rather odd syntax i was talking about. No one that I can recall talks like that in Star Wars. If the book has people talking in an odd manner then who knows what misunderstandings can be the result of abnormal syntax and terminology?

      The large number of gravity projectors seems odd. We see nothing like this in the OT, PT, SWTCW, or Rebels that I can recall.

      The worry about uncharted planets and brown dwarfs seems odd and contradictory with all things Star Wars, and makes the Galaxy sounds like it is barely charted.

      We knew from the Episode 5 that different lanes could lead to the same system.

      The charting of a new hyperlane simply from knowing where the stars are is a clear contradiction.


      Ch 20 Pg 231
      The author either has no sense of scale or did not do basic research. Seriously, if it is so easy to plot new hyperlanes then the CIS could not have mined enough area to cause a problem for the Republic. Even if you had enough mines, the amount of time needed to lane them, or the number of ships would be insane, and just overwhelm the Republic fleet.

      CH20 Pg 231
      We see short jumps used to set an ambush in SWTCW. It can be done, but seemingly not how it is described here.

      "Without traveling established lanes" makes it sound like there are a load of unknown lanes that may or may not be there. Has no one bothered to explore and map the GFFA in over a thousand years? This is worse then the whole hyperlane contradictions.

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  4. Your final question is the real winner, glad I wasn't the only one to see it. And the situation is far worse, at 25,000 years.

    So to recap, this novel tells us you can hyper around the galaxy in days and forge new routes of significant length in hours so long as you have more than an 8086 with you … so why isn't the entire galaxy known? And it makes no sense that the Clone Wars lasted three years while everyone aligned their defenses along hyperlanes, sought to control hyperlanes, desperately sought the secret of the forgotten Nexus Route, et cetera. I realize that during WW2 we could get to Tokyo quickly by air and sea yet logistically needed to island-hop, but that defense doesn't fly here because of the Nexus Route discussions. They couldn't get there, period. That makes HttJ contradictory, unless they try to retcon fast-forging as a new capability. But then why would you build interdictors and use them as they do here? It's like blocking roads to stop a tank from escaping a city… mostly pointless.

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    1. The biggest problem is that the fast forging of new Hyperspace Lanes was seemingly done with pen and paper. If a human can do it, then a computer should be able to do even faster and better.

      Why else would the map be covered in math?

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  5. I don't know from where this notion that EU was a canon came from in the first place? Why Warsies ever thought that novels, games, comics, etc. were as valid, and as important as movies? Why? Because EU authors themselves, or some dude responsible for EU publications said so? Don't make me lough! Because it's licensed continuation of the movies, and it was published by or with permission of Lucasfilm? By that logic every piece of fiction set in Trek universe, and officially endorsed by Paramount Pictures is also canon... So, I guess, "Star Trek/X-men" trilogy is canon now? ;) I don't know how you can completely ignore what George Lucas himself said and against all logic delude yourself into thinking that EU was canon? But I don't think that this is the case; I think that Warsies are just intellectually-dishonest; they know damn well that EU was never fully canonical, but they lie, just to score the points in versus debates. I just don't see other explanation of this phenomenon.

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