Anakin Skywalker

Review: Clone Wars 206 Weapons Factory

Luminara and Anakin act as decoys to divert new enemy super-tanks, while Padawans Barriss Offee and Ahsoka attempt to destroy a Separatist droid factory.  "No gift is more precious than trust." Star Wars: Clone Wars episode 206 Weapons Factory airs November 13, 2009.  Watch it streaming online here

Weapons Factory preview

What did you think about episode 206 Weapons Factory?

Let me know in the comments below what you like, dislike and are your favorite moments?

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Review: Clone Wars 122 Hostage Crisis

Review of:  Star Wars: Clone Wars 122  Hostage Crisis Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Star Wars: The Clone Wars Overall Rating: 7

Aurra_SingTo free crime lord Ziro the Hutt, bounty hunters seize control of the Senate Building and take hostages -- completely unaware that Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker is still inside.

This was a good episode of Clone Wars.  We get to see two bounty hunters in action Cad Bane & Aurra Sing.  I’m really curious how much of Aurra’s story line we will get to see as the show progresses.

As a big fan of Star Wars it really pains me to say this but this episode was not much of a season finally.  It lacked any kind of fanfare one might expect nor was there any kind of cliffhanger ending either.  Saying that I must remember that this is a show made for children and episodes like this one really remind me that I’m not even considered for their target audience.  I guess I’ll have to wait for the live action show to get great Star Wars fun.

Get you copy from: Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Check back latter for a list of my most favorite episodes from season one!


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Literature of Change

We have discussed What Speculative Fiction is, What makes it Progressive, and Why it is important that it is progressive,  but now it is vitally important to clarify some key points about the nature of Progressive Speculative Fiction.  There are two equally disastrous paths we can take from here.  As with everything in life, we have to find the middle path between the opposites:

  • The Light Side: Everything is great, and will only get better.  The future will be a universally happy place.  We are heading towards a utopia.
  • The Dark Side: Entropy rules the world and things are only getting worse.  The future will be a gloomy and sinister place.  We are heading towards a distopia.

Both are extremes, and neither can ever paint a valid world that has any grounding in reality.

Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

Damien G Walter at the Guardian wrote a fascinating article about the utopian and distopian sins of Science Fiction (read it here).  He asks the basic question that I would love to paraphrase: Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

From the recent releases, you might assume the answer is a yes, but it doesn't have to be.

Gloomy has its place in any story, but if that story only strikes one note throughout, then it become boring, and the audience looses interest.  We can see this trend with Lost and Heroes, but shows like Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, and Sanctuary show that it s possible to strike a happy median.

Sometimes a story has to be bleak and gloomy throughout to make the point, like 1984 by George Orwell, but more often then not writers take the gloom to an unnecessary extreme.

The challenge for writers of science fiction today is not to repeat the same dire warnings we have all already heard, or to replicate the naive visions of the genres golden age, but to create visions of the future people can believe in (The Guardian).

Must SF fix the worlds problems?

Kathryn Cramer at Tor had an interesting take on Damien's post (read it here):

I view science fiction partly as a set of perceptual tools we take with us into the world. I don’t think SF can be held responsible for finding solutions to all the world’s problems, but I think it is SF’s task to help us understand them (Tor).

Whether or not the writer understands or believes it, all fiction is a perceptual filter that shows their readers/viewers the world from a certain point of view.  People are influenced by these perspectives to differing degrees.  The quality of the fiction plays a part in that, but so too does the structure and discipline of the reader/viewer's mind.

It is too much to ask any writer to solve the world's problems in their work, but they have to understand that they are responsible for show the cost and consequences of their character's actions.

For example, we like to believe that people are born good or evil, and that it is alright to be amoral from time to time.  This is why so many people reacted negatively to George Lucas' edits of the original Star Wars Trilogy and the addition of the prequel.  He clarified Han Solo's morality and showed how a good person can become evil.  In fact, it has been argued by C. S. Lewis and others that their truly is no such thing as evil.  There is only vile, horrible, and misguided attempt to do good.  If you look at most of the "monsters" in history, they are people who thought they were doing good even though they wrought horrors on the world.

It is the job of every writer to show that every action has an effect.

A Positive Science Fiction Platform?

Jason Staddard over at Strange and Happy put forth his Stranger and Happier: A Positive Science Fiction Platform.  While it is well intentioned, I think it swings the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Let's go through the planks in the platform.

Positive science fiction starts with acknowledging that there are positive things happening, now (Strange and Happy).

Is this necessary? No.

Often an SF writer will start here, but others will start with the fear of the current situation or from the perspective that the current state of affairs in beyond saving, and impose a new solution to avert the mistakes the present state could lead too.

  • Star Trek starts with a world war and global catastrophe that nearly brought about another dark age.
  • Lestat saw the system of mandated belief an filial duty as corrupt and corrupting.  It wasn't until he became a vampire that he started looking for a better way.

That does not mean we should ignore this plank, but simply take it as advise rather than a rule.

Positive science fiction is about the possibility of positive change (Strange and Happy).

Absolutely.  In the Project: Shadow Manifesto, I call this simply "hope for the future."  Things can get better, but that doesn't mean they are destined to.  If there is no hope, there is nothing at stake for the characters and no tension in the story (What is Progressive SF?)

Positive science fiction has a protagonist or protagonists that can effect change (Strange and Happy).

Definitely.  This is the problem I have pointed to time and time again with SF media, and why I didn't like Battlestar Galactica for a long time.

This ties directly into hope.  If it is impossible for a character to affect change, then there is no tension.  The villain will win.

Positive science fiction isn’t afraid to look at challenging definitions of “positive (Strange and Happy).”

This is where the writer has an important question to answer.  "For whom is the change positive?"

Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side is necessary to bring balance to the force.  There are many ways to take this, but it is fundamental to Progressive Speculative Fiction.

Positive science fiction inspires people to act and influence positive change (Strange and Happy).

So long as it is not preachy, I agree.  If the story inspires the reader/viewer to make a possitive change within themselves, then the story succeeded.  There isn't enough time or space for me to list all of the stories that have influenced me positively.

Literature of Change

There is a common thread weaving through this discussion.  Jetse de Vries on his blog, In the Plane of the Ecliptic found the middle ground between gloom and naivite, the answer we have been looking for:

I disagree with the cliché that SF is the literature of ideas (they help, but they're not the core): to me, SF is the literature of change.

Roughly speaking, there are two kinds of change: things change for the worse, or things change for the better (I realise life is much more complex than that: some things improve, other things worsen, and some things don't change very much. I'm looking, admittedly roughly, at the net result here) (In the Plane of the Ecliptic).

Even the simplist horror and fantasy deals with the nature of authority and friendship.  Change is the only constant in the universe, and Speculative Fiction is the literature of change.  Writers ask themselves, "What if this happened?"  The answer is usually, everything would change.

How writers explore the changes is the difference between and great and a mediocre story.

Literature of Change

We have discussed What Speculative Fiction is, What makes it Progressive, and Why it is important that it is progressive,  but now it is vitally important to clarify some key points about the nature of Progressive Speculative Fiction.  There are two equally disastrous paths we can take from here.  As with everything in life, we have to find the middle path between the opposites:

  • The Light Side: Everything is great, and will only get better.  The future will be a universally happy place.  We are heading towards a utopia.
  • The Dark Side: Entropy rules the world and things are only getting worse.  The future will be a gloomy and sinister place.  We are heading towards a distopia.

Both are extremes, and neither can ever paint a valid world that has any grounding in reality.

Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

Damien G Walter at the Guardian wrote a fascinating article about the utopian and distopian sins of Science Fiction (read it here).  He asks the basic question that I would love to paraphrase: Does Speculative Fiction have to be gloomy?

From the recent releases, you might assume the answer is a yes, but it doesn't have to be.

Gloomy has its place in any story, but if that story only strikes one note throughout, then it become boring, and the audience looses interest.  We can see this trend with Lost and Heroes, but shows like Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, and Sanctuary show that it s possible to strike a happy median.

Sometimes a story has to be bleak and gloomy throughout to make the point, like 1984 by George Orwell, but more often then not writers take the gloom to an unnecessary extreme.

The challenge for writers of science fiction today is not to repeat the same dire warnings we have all already heard, or to replicate the naive visions of the genres golden age, but to create visions of the future people can believe in (The Guardian).

Must SF fix the worlds problems?

Kathryn Cramer at Tor had an interesting take on Damien's post (read it here):

I view science fiction partly as a set of perceptual tools we take with us into the world. I don’t think SF can be held responsible for finding solutions to all the world’s problems, but I think it is SF’s task to help us understand them (Tor).

Whether or not the writer understands or believes it, all fiction is a perceptual filter that shows their readers/viewers the world from a certain point of view.  People are influenced by these perspectives to differing degrees.  The quality of the fiction plays a part in that, but so too does the structure and discipline of the reader/viewer's mind.

It is too much to ask any writer to solve the world's problems in their work, but they have to understand that they are responsible for show the cost and consequences of their character's actions.

For example, we like to believe that people are born good or evil, and that it is alright to be amoral from time to time.  This is why so many people reacted negatively to George Lucas' edits of the original Star Wars Trilogy and the addition of the prequel.  He clarified Han Solo's morality and showed how a good person can become evil.  In fact, it has been argued by C. S. Lewis and others that their truly is no such thing as evil.  There is only vile, horrible, and misguided attempt to do good.  If you look at most of the "monsters" in history, they are people who thought they were doing good even though they wrought horrors on the world.

It is the job of every writer to show that every action has an effect.

A Positive Science Fiction Platform?

Jason Staddard over at Strange and Happy put forth his Stranger and Happier: A Positive Science Fiction Platform.  While it is well intentioned, I think it swings the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Let's go through the planks in the platform.

Positive science fiction starts with acknowledging that there are positive things happening, now (Strange and Happy).

Is this necessary? No.

Often an SF writer will start here, but others will start with the fear of the current situation or from the perspective that the current state of affairs in beyond saving, and impose a new solution to avert the mistakes the present state could lead too.

  • Star Trek starts with a world war and global catastrophe that nearly brought about another dark age.
  • Lestat saw the system of mandated belief an filial duty as corrupt and corrupting.  It wasn't until he became a vampire that he started looking for a better way.

That does not mean we should ignore this plank, but simply take it as advise rather than a rule.

Positive science fiction is about the possibility of positive change (Strange and Happy).

Absolutely.  In the Project: Shadow Manifesto, I call this simply "hope for the future."  Things can get better, but that doesn't mean they are destined to.  If there is no hope, there is nothing at stake for the characters and no tension in the story (What is Progressive SF?)

Positive science fiction has a protagonist or protagonists that can effect change (Strange and Happy).

Definitely.  This is the problem I have pointed to time and time again with SF media, and why I didn't like Battlestar Galactica for a long time.

This ties directly into hope.  If it is impossible for a character to affect change, then there is no tension.  The villain will win.

Positive science fiction isn’t afraid to look at challenging definitions of “positive (Strange and Happy).”

This is where the writer has an important question to answer.  "For whom is the change positive?"

Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side is necessary to bring balance to the force.  There are many ways to take this, but it is fundamental to Progressive Speculative Fiction.

Positive science fiction inspires people to act and influence positive change (Strange and Happy).

So long as it is not preachy, I agree.  If the story inspires the reader/viewer to make a possitive change within themselves, then the story succeeded.  There isn't enough time or space for me to list all of the stories that have influenced me positively.

Literature of Change

There is a common thread weaving through this discussion.  Jetse de Vries on his blog, In the Plane of the Ecliptic found the middle ground between gloom and naivite, the answer we have been looking for:

I disagree with the cliché that SF is the literature of ideas (they help, but they're not the core): to me, SF is the literature of change.

Roughly speaking, there are two kinds of change: things change for the worse, or things change for the better (I realise life is much more complex than that: some things improve, other things worsen, and some things don't change very much. I'm looking, admittedly roughly, at the net result here) (In the Plane of the Ecliptic).

Even the simplist horror and fantasy deals with the nature of authority and friendship.  Change is the only constant in the universe, and Speculative Fiction is the literature of change.  Writers ask themselves, "What if this happened?"  The answer is usually, everything would change.

How writers explore the changes is the difference between and great and a mediocre story.

Why Progressive Speculative Fiction?

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today- but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept about which resolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all. Isaac Asimov, "My Own View," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

While Asimov was interested solely with Science Fiction, I believe the same can be said about Speculative Fiction as a whole. Many of the problems we face cannot be faced solely by working to fix the present conditions. If we do not explore the possible futures our choices could produce, we walk blindly into the future.

It is change, continuing change inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the word as it will be - and naturally this means that there must be an accurate perception of the world as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our Everyman, must take on a science fictional way of thinking, whether he likes it or not or even whether he knows it or not. Only so can the deadly problems of today be solved.

Isaac Asimov, "My Own View," The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Again, I would broaden his words out to all of Speculative Fiction.

Lovecraft's Mythos

Cthulhu in the lost city of R'lyeh
Image via Wikipedia

Numerous horror novels/movies have shown us the problems eugenics would unleash upon our societies. Lestat's hope that there is some good in the universe heightens his fear and motivates him to find the answers.

H. P. Lovecraft's fiction had a simple message behind the supernatural horror.  Humankind's chief sin is hubris.  We think too highly of ourselves, and as a result blind ourselves to the fact that somewhere in this vast cosmos, there are creatures who are infinitely more powerful than we are, and whose motives are unfathomable by human logic.

Cthulu, Nyarlahotep, Azathoth, the color out of space, and the color out of time are all horrifying warnings that if we lie to ourselves, pretending there is not a bigger fish out there, we will eventually be devoured by it.

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an all too familiar cautionary tale about scientific and technological advance without the restraining forces of morality and common sense.  The tale has been told and retold, spawning an entire subgenre of horror about the dangers of dabbling in things not understood.

The Resident Evil franchise, Godzilla, and so many others I could spend the rest of the year naming them have picked up the mantle and and shared the horrific future we could create for ourselves if we are not careful to think ahead and not blindly rush into the future.

Star Trek

star-trek-crew-tm.jpgShowed us a future we could hope for.  Imagine a world  where hunger and poverty were removed from the equation.  New challenges would raise their heads, some of which would threaten to return us to the barbaric world we had left behind.

Gene Roddenberry kindled a vision in the hearts and minds of his fans of a world of limitless possibilities.  A world were our only limitations were our imagination and our character.  It is a world to strive towards.

Lord of the Rings

In the Lord of the Rings books, J. R. R. Tolkien showed us a world on the cusp of transition from one age to another.  His mythic prose illuminated the choices that people have to make when culture finds itself on the crossroads of history.

The basic choice is demonstrated through the characters of Sauroman and Gandolf.  Their world, their age was ending.  They had the choice to either embrace the future and try to make the new world a better place to live, or to hold on the past and seek the destruction of the new world before it comes.  Gandolf chose the first path, Sauromon chose the latter.

Star Wars

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Image via Wikipedia

Anakin Skywalker is faced with the same choice in the Star Wars saga.  At first he fights the future out of his attachment, but when he is faced with the ultimate decision, watching the future be destroyed in the person of his son, he learns that he must let go of his attachments and help the future come.

I wonder if that is why more people don't love the prequel trilogy.  It touches a nerve in them, and despite our bravado, no one really wants to think of themselves as Darth Vader.  No one wants to entertain the thought that they could destroy everything they believe in and care for as a result of trying to protect it.

Like all great stories, Star Wars holds a mirror up to us and says, this could be you.

We need Progressive Speculative Fiction

Many things are hard to talk about.  Stories can often show us things we would not or could not have seen otherwise.

Next time, we will discuss the differences between Positive Scifi and Progressive Speculative Fiction.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars - A Galaxy Divided Out on DVD

clone-wars-ambushStar Wars: The Clone Wars - A Galaxy Divided (TV Series) is now available for preorder and will be released on March 24th!  This collection will cover four exciting episodes including my most favorite episode Ambush!

  • Ambush:  A ton of Yoda plus Asajj Ventress need I say more!
  • Rising Malevolence: The Clankers get a new weapon and it doesn’t look good for the Clone army.
  • Shadow of Malevolence:  Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano and Obi-Wan Kenobi lead a mission to find and destroy a massive warship that is under the command of General Grievous.
  • Destroy Malevolence: The trap is sprung and Grievous is in trouble.

I’m glad that they have dropped the initial list price from $19.99 to $13.99.  As for me I subscribed through iTunes Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Star Wars: The Clone Wars and am waiting for the season box release that should be out latter in 2009.

Read more on Free streaming Star Wars: The Clone Wars here

Get your copy of Star Wars: The Clone Wars - A Galaxy Divided (TV Series)

The Clone Wars arrives Friday

clonewarsseries2 The Clone Wars series airs this Friday, October 3 at 9pm (e/p) on the Cartoon Network.  This 22 episode series is set during the years of the Clone Wars between Count Dooku and the Republic.  It Chronicles the adventures of Yoda, Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker and his Padiwan Ahsoka Tano.  The series picks up where the summer movie / pilot left off. On Friday they will show 2 episodes Ambush & Rising Maleovelence.

9:00 p.m. Star Wars: The Clone Wars "AMBUSH": Jedi Master Yoda is on a secret mission to forge a treaty with the King of the strategic system of Toydaria when his ship is ambushed by Count Dooku. Yoda and three clone troopers must face off against Count Dooku's dreaded assassin Ventress and her massive droid army to prove the Jedi are strong enough to protect the king and his people from the forces of the war.

9:30 p.m. Star Wars: The Clone Wars "RISING MALEVOLENCE": Creating panic throughout the galaxy, a devastating Separatist mystery weapon terrorizes the clone Starfleet. Anakin and Ahsoka race to save Jedi Master Plo Koon and his clone troopers in time. (via Star Wars)

clonewarsseries1 Watch Clone Wars Series trailer here.

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Read the Review of The Clone Wars movie here.

Reviewing The Clone Wars A Theatrical Pilot

Review of:  Star Wars: The Clone Wars Overall Rating: 8.5

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a wonderful exciting movie that is a must see for Star Wars fans.  To clarify some points that apparently people did not get.  This is a pilot for a TV show that got a theatrical release not Star Wars Episode 2.1 movie.  The Clone Wars is a piece of   	 Fandango - We've Got Your Movie Tickets!fandom that has made it into the mainstream.

Don't This is a pilot for a TV show that got a theatrical release not Star Wars Episode 2.1 movie.  It is not a star wars movie George Lucas is done with Star Wars, there is only 3 about Anakin's rise and fall, 3 about his redemption, and there is the possibility for 3 more about the Skywalker family but George has already told us that he isn't going to do them.  For those who are upset over this it would be like watching Star Trek The Next Generation and getting mad that Kirk is not in it.

The Clone Wars is a piece of fandom that has made it into the mainstream.  Since this is a work of fandom it presumes that the audience has familiarity with the Star Wars setting and especially the Clone Wars animated series and so the pilot does not take time away from the story to tell the audience about things they should know.  This is great because the pilot has a great pace and does not sag to explain set up.

This pilot has a great pace, story, and action sequences.  They did a great job with the project.  It is a must see for Star Wars fans and a great film for those who like animated films.  I'm very excited about the series that is scheduled to start in January and can't wait to see more.

The Plot / Story: The Clone Wars is set in the time frame between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  As the war rages on between Confederacy of Independent Systems and the Galactic Republic Jabba the Hutt’s son is taken by a group of renegades.  Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi depart in search of answers: where is the Hutt’s son, and who is controlling this mysterious renegade group? Yoda also sends Ahsoka Tano along as Anakin’s apprentice.

Likes

  1. The old newsreel style of intro very reminiscent of Starship Troopers:  although I missed the classic scrolling intro it is only for the star wars movies.
  2. The animation style works, I found it curious at first because it is not familiar.  but is easy to watch and not distracting from the story, The ships looks awesome
  3. I was pleased to see that they did not live up to my two biggest concerns one being too kidsey and two the battle up the cliff face. they didn't make it too kidsey.  kept the same feel that we love about the Star Wars setting where it has a nice balance between being dramatic, comedic moments, moments of tension moments of excitement.  The battle up the cliff face made sense, was dramatic, and intense with a dash of play added in.
  4. they actually pulled off showing the severity of battle and not glorifying it by giving subtle moments where in the background after a battle we can see wounded soldiers hobbling off the battlefield or a trooper stooping down to confirm a fallen soldier was dead which showed the suffering of battle but did so without blood and all of the grotesque reality
  5. It is a wonderful follow up to the animated clone wars
  6. it has a great pace and does not sag in the middle, the story is set up like an intense duel where the overarching story is the two duelers which is supported with multiple mini tension objectives that operate to give tension and satisfaction but build one upon the other toward a clear ending.  They stay focused on the storyline there is lots to take in but nothing that is unnecessary for the storyline.
  7. The ending has a fun twist to it.  instead of the final battle and then the ending we get reminded that there is an objective and that the final battle is not that objective.  I loved this and of course they work out that the final scene is similar in style to the final scene in episode I and IV. a nice homage to the Star wars Movies.
  8. The characters were well done.  Asajj Ventress was portrayed much more like the Ventress in the books and earlier series.  I especially loved Ahsoka she was a perfect padawan for Anakin.
  9. characters have nicknames for each other which added a nice reality to the pilot especially for Sky Guy and Snips.
  10. The force powers are taken to the next level and since it is animation they were able to show those powers in their fullest.

Dislikes / Concerns

  1. Concerned: people will not get that this film is a TV Pilot released to the theaters and not a theatrical movie.
  2. Concerned: This is a film for fans of Clone Wars they don't baby the audience and unfortunately some "adults" can't handle that.
  3. I Still think Count Duku looked weird because he is so blocky

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