2015-05-01

Tarkula Rasa, Pt. II: The List

Following on from the Tarkula Rasa post about the Star Wars reboot, let me just point out that the big logical defense of this I am polishing off is getting a good re-write thanks to the recent release of the "Ultimate Star Wars" reference book, which proves the point I was making to the letter.  Suffice it to say, I picked a great time to announce the rejection of the new Disney mish-mash universe as a break with the Lucas universe rather than a continuation.

Case in point, the old EU idea of Darth Maul's TPM vessel having a cloak has reared its ugly head, despite (a) "no ship that small having a cloaking device", (b) no evidence of it in the film, script, or novel, and (c) all the trouble Filoni described regarding getting a design for the cloaked ship from "Cat and Mouse"[TCW2] through Lucas, if even the other way around.  Had Maul's ship been intended to cloak, Lucas would've made it so.

In other words, the new universe is rewriting the "immovable objects" of the Lucas canon to match the defunct universe of the EU, creating a new hodge-podge universe of technical and logical inconsistency that would make Voyager proud to exist.  The inmates are running the asylum.

Sure, it isn't all bad ... they get the Death Star sizes right ... but that strikes me as more the luck of a stopped clock (thanks to prior lobbying by the Death Star manual guys per an old Chee tweet) than a reasoned conclusion.

That said, I thought it might be best to share the list of what's in, in rough order of precedence, using as our starting point the old "Putting it All Together" list from CanonWars:
And so, we come to the following way of understanding the layers of the canon, as a sort of "rule of thumb":
Media History Status
The Films I-VI
The Clone Wars
(See note 1)
The films created by George Lucas from his screenplays, but based directly on his vision.  Special Editions created to conform more closely to that vision.
The Clone Wars, initially intended to be a separate animal, was quickly graced with constant story, script,  and editorial oversight by Lucas.
The Supreme Canon, absolute and inviolable, with Lucas also noting he made no distinction between TCW and the live-action films.

To coin a phrase, this is the real story of Star Wars.
Screenplays I-VI Created by George Lucas;  his roadmap to the films.  SE versions conform more closely to his vision. Excellent guides to the absolute canon, with high canonicity in their own right.  Effectively inseparable from the films.
Novelizations I-VI
(See note 2)
Written by other authors with Lucas's guidance and definitively known line-editing in the case of the prequels, based on scripts and film production and pre-production materials "Very accurate depictions" of the absolute canon; generally play the role of very accurate and fact-filled 'historical fiction' regarding the events compared to the 'documentary' of the films.
NPR Radio Plays IV-VI
(See note 3)
Written by Brian Daley, based on the films, scripts, and novelizations, with liberal sprinklings of original and EU creations Expanded version of the absolute canon, but with far less canonicity. 

There are assorted caveats and details to ponder, so let's ponder them below:

1.  This includes the pre-Disney Blu-Ray versions of the films as the highest canon, though earlier efforts may be cited as part of commentary on changes.  Also included is The Clone Wars movie and series.  Differences do exist between the broadcast version of the TCW episodes and the Blu-Rays, but one would think the Blu-Rays should take precedence.  I have not yet reviewed the Netflix versions with the thought of determining which version they match.

Note that TCW includes the completed episodes that were shown on Netflix instead of Cartoon Network, known as "Season 6" or "The Lost Missions", as well as the not-quite-complete arc shown on StarWars.com in 2014, known as the "Crystal Crisis on Utapau" story reel arc.

However, none of the TCW stories currently known as being shifted to other formats (e.g. Darth Maul comics or the Ventress novel) are included.  And, much as I enjoy the previews of the Rebels second season that shows the future of a dozen TCW characters, I cannot consider it as anything more than a possible future in another universe.

2.  Quoting from CanonWars re: the 'historical fiction' idea:
"Thus, the novel's description of what Han said is, indeed, very accurate, but not perfect . . . but this does not render the rest of the canon (i.e. that which is not the absolute canon of the films) in error.   And, it means that we can still accept the officially-recognized canon of the novels as such.  For instance, take a look at the novel's additions to Han's comments to Luke.  It is filled with minor technical details . . . the ship is "back in normal space", there's mention of the "nav'puter" and "galactic atlas" in matters of navigation, "one planetary diameter" as a safe hyperspace exit point, and there's the interesting reference to "wild energy" (radiation?) and a sufficient amount of remaining solid matter to suggest a planetary amount of material after the Death Star's destruction of Alderaan.   These are facts that we are not told in the film, and though we know Han did not make these comments to Luke, it is probably safe to accept these as historically accurate facts, worked in as part of the "very accurate depiction" of events, unless there's reason from the films to dismiss the probability.   Similar occurrences from the radio plays would involve a lesser safety factor . . . those are not referred to as "very accurate depictions", and often aren't."
Let's also ponder the Karen Traviss novelization of The Clone Wars film.  In 2014, in a tweet following up from the Disney announcement, Del Rey stated that the novelizations of the films were still canon. but in a twist they also included the Traviss novel.  Unlike the other prequel-era novels, this one did not get the Lucas treatment of editorial oversight, but was instead treated as an EU work.  As such, it is also out of bounds.

3.  As noted at CanonWars, the radio play treatment is historical, grandfathered in from early canon statements and in honor of their importance to early Star Wars history.  But as noted when I wrote that a decade ago, I had no wish to have Brian Daley's contributions outweigh those of Lucas insofar as hours of content.  The ANH radio play almost outweighed the original trilogy, by that score.

As such, the CanonWars designation in the chart above had included this restriction:  "Mildly useful as a clarification tool, but not for the original (i.e. non-film) material.  May not override or add significantly to higher canon."

However, that's no longer as much of a concern.  With The Clone Wars, the Lucas-helmed canon now far outweighs Daley.  As such, I am willing to relax the prohibitions a little.  Still, even though Daley and the gang had unprecedented access to Star Wars resources, including scripts, notes, production materials like notes and drawings, the novelizations, and even sound design, the fact is that one thing Daley did not have access to was Lucas himself.
"AN: Jasman asks, "Did you get to work with George Lucas directly on any of you projects?"
BD: No, although I always received guidance and overview from his organization. When you realize that Geroge is running a business empire, doing his own projects, trying for some kind of personal life and standing at the center of a universe of tie-in projects, it's not surprising that he's busy frying his own fish. What I've heard from him and others about his reaction to my various works has been very positive, however-- very gracious."
Thus, it seems fitting to apply a twist on the normal EU Completist "canon unless contradicted" logic and consider the Daley work as a low level 'canon, unless contrary'.  Or, to rephrase it as per the novelization caveats above, "it is probably safe to accept these as historically accurate facts {...} unless there's reason from the films ..." or novelizations "... to dismiss the probability."   However, arguments entirely based on the radio dramas without additional backing from the higher canon are still to be avoided.

More on all this is probably sure to come, so stay tuned.

2 comments:

  1. http://www.starwars.com/databank/millennium-falcon
    Length 34.75m

    http://www.starwars.com/databank/sith-infiltrator
    SITH INFILTRATOR
    A fittingly fearsome vessel for its deadly pilot, the Sith Infiltrator is the personal starship of Darth Maul, Dark Lord of the Sith. Maul used the sleek ship to silently travel wherever his master, Darth Sidious, ordered. The Infiltrator set down on Tatooine during the search for Queen Amidala, and became a mobile base of operations for Maul. From his starship he launched a trio of Sith probe droids to seek out the Queen and her Jedi protectors. Once found, he unloaded his swift Sith Speeder to pursue his quarry.
    Length 26.5m


    http://www.starwars.com/databank/stealth-ship
    STEALTH SHIP
    The Republic stealth ship is a heavily-armed vessel used during the Clone Wars, with a cloaking device that makes it completely invisible to nearly all forms of detection.
    Length 99.71m

    http://www.starwars.com/databank/the-ghost
    THE GHOST
    The Ghost, piloted by the gifted Hera Syndulla, was the starship and home base of a small band of Lothal rebels. Named for its ability to travel past Imperial sensors without detection, the craft included many hidden surprises that aided the crew in their fight against the Empire. Among its many features were a 360-degree dorsal laser cannon turret, two forward laser cannons, and two rear laser cannons, as well as sleeping quarters. It also included the Phantom, a secondary shuttle that acted as a fully-armed starfighter.

    Well, I can kind of see how someone might make the mistake that Darth Maul's ship had a cloak from the Data Bank entire, but this really shows that the EU materials tends to be of rather low quality do to the authors just not seeming to care about anything other then the deadline the employer sets, and I assume the story group only really cares about the big picture rather then the.

    Nice to see the people doing rebels seem to be on the ball.

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  2. If the SITH INFILTRATOR was basically a cloak with a hyperdrive and engines then there isn't that big a problem from what we see in Episode One, but the devil is in the details.

    ReplyDelete