Star Wars

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Just because there's no 'light side' doesn't mean there's no light"

Actually, I'm quite excited about this post because I think Rose's take on the novel is different from mine. Yes! Discussion!

I'm with Rose on this: Michael Stover's writing style is hard to sink into. I have a hard time with wordiness (using twenty words when five will do) and I don't like having things explained to me in a way that suggests I can't work them out for myself, using hefty and well-placed cues (for lessons on how to brilliantly weave these clues, refer to Timothy Zahn).

However, Stover did selectively win me in chapter 15 and an element of the epilogue.

One of Stover's strengths in this novel is his metaphysical exploration of the Force itself, through Luke's connection to the Melters. His training, up to this point, seems kind of like a abstract cluster of sayings about the Force: The Force surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together (Obi-wan Kenobi) and Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering (Yoda). These are beautiful and profound statements that resonate with Luke. However, they don't actually explain anything concrete. They're perspectives, not processes of practical understanding. What I love in chapter 15 is how Stover takes this fabulous baseline of broad ideas proposed by Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi (and Darth Vader, to an extent) and applies them to actual situations faced by beings with no connection to Jedi. The Melters don't conceptualize the way people do: "There had never been any malice in their attacks at all; they didn't even understand that their captives were dying - they were unclear on the whole concept of organic death" (Stover 291). Suddenly, both Yoda and Obi-wan's abstract statements carry weight and help Luke understand a whole other form of life, a form of life Stover describes as "a corporate entity that was also an array of individuals, nodes of consciousness in a larger network of mind ... [living] in fear of nothing" (Stover 290). The Force that Luke understands from one limited individual perspective suddenly carries massive weight as he understands how an entire race has access to it a completely different way. He can also understand how facets of the Dark Side (fear, anger, hatred, suffering) aren't always deliberate in their inception or application - the Melters are attacking humans "in self-defense ... struggling to survive" (Stover 291). Their "campaign against humans had been, to them, merely pest control" (Stover 292). Though violent and warlike in appearance, and very much Dark Side in nature, nothing about the purpose behind the actions is in any way linked to the deliberate cruelty, violence, or malice that a dark Jedi like Blackhole (a.k.a. Clonal) employs. Hence, Luke's awareness that there aren't "dark" sides and "light" sides - as he says, Yoda and Ben never called the Dark Side "the evil side or the death-and-destruction side" (Stover 294). As Luke realizes, the true darkness rests in never pushing beyond the fear, anger, aggression (the black hole) to what lies beyond it's power to destroy - endless light. To bring that back to the Melters, they behave like the bad guys but in failing to understand them (until chapter 15), Luke and, to a much greater extent, Han and Leia, exacerbate the Dark itself by not understanding its source. In seeking the light side, "[Luke] saw that the Force didn't shine on him. It shown through him. He was the light in the darkness" (Stover 294). 

Stover's other strength is foreshadowing (and I quote): "And then there's Aeona Cantor [Luke says to Geptun]. She's not my love interest ... she's not my type. Too abrasive. And I don't like redheads" (366). Oh, this line (as Ro-ro knows so well) gave me so much happiness. I giggled. I admit it.

Rose's Thoughts

Ro here. Es did in fact hit the Rancor on the head in one way. I did not like this EU book at all. The writing rubbed me wrong, the representation of characters had me bristling, even the plot made me cringe. It definitely had redeeming qualities (thank god), but not enough for me to want to keep the book on my shelf. I did like the idea of holovids and holothrillers about our favorite Star Wars characters. Of course celebrities are going to have books and  movies written and made about them! I think the fundamentals of human psyche don't change across galaxies: we want to know about our favorite heroes. And if that means fudging a story about them, we're more than willing to believe it as truth (otherwise, how would all those ragmags at the grocery store checkout stay in business...?) I'm glad I read this book, and I'm even more happy it's behind me. All I can do is giggle a little at the ridiculousness of it all and move on.


  1. I hope we wind up feeling this "controversial" about the rest of the books! It's so much fun having these discussions and discovering that we're see different aspects of the book! So much of what you saw, Ro, went right over my head on the first read-through, although when I look back I can see a lot of what you mean.

  2. Same here. During "Truce at Bakura" I didn't even notice the feelings between Luke and Leia. Went right over my brain. I was much more interested in the action and politics. I love that we're alike, but not so alike so we can see things the other doesn't. Ah, the spice of life. I'm sure we'll have many more disagreements as this project continues. I'm counting on it, actually! As long as they're amiable, they'll be fun.

  3. I don't think there's any risk of our disagreements about books getting mean ^_^ I mean, maybe if we were still 13 and 15, respectively .... heehee, no, I don't even think it would happen then.

    What I love about our Mindor discussions is that we weren't trying to change each other's minds about anything - just expanding each other's perspectives on what we read. That's why you read books with other people - to expand and challenge your own thinking (just like you said about "Bakura").

    For instance, with Mindor, had I tried to read it alone, I never would have been able to pin down why I struggled with it so much. As I said above, I found parts of it really compelling - because of that, I couldn't figure out when it was rubbing me the wrong way. When you brought up how irritating you found the writing, it opened a whole other window through which to view my own reactions and really illuminated aspects of the text that went right by me during my own read-through.

    P.S. Told some of my friends here about our project and was surprised when they actually thought it was kind of cool ^_^ I don't know why it shocks me that awesome people love Star Wars ... someday, I'll know better.

  4. Same here! Every time I tell someone about our project, I expect them to laugh or sneer or smile uninterestedly. But no, everyone is really curious and excited about it. They think it's a really cool idea. We must truly be living in the time of the nerds...

    I quite agree, I wouldn't have noticed some things in Mindor or Bakura if you hadn't pointed them out in a post of comment. I'm almost a bit wary of when we diverge and read different series. I'll have to be extra aware of what's going on because it'll just be me reading Young Jedi Knights, instead of both of us.

  5. I'm with you there - it'll be weird reading separately and not comparing notes. At the same time, I feel like it'll be chance to tell each other our thoughts. I can certainly discuss Thrawn with you in great detail and I'm sure you'll have insight into "Rogue Squadron" that'll help me read.

    We've got X-wing to finish, then Courtship (which is LONG, as I remember) so we've got time to think about how to approach that diverging reading hurdle.