In Praise of Leia

There’s a lot of talk these days about strong women in fiction, and rightly so. There is also a ton of talk about Rey being overpowered, and… not so rightly. It’s particularly idiotic when we accept at face value that literally any dude handed a gun in an action movie is automatically Rambo, including, ya know… Rambo. Hell, including Luke himself, which the puppy/GG crowd will fight to the death, but let’s talk about that original trilogy for a second.

Because while you can debate Luke’s Hero’s Journey all day long (Luke sucks), the fact of the matter is Lucas lucked into one of the bad-ass women of all time. I say lucked into, because I have zero confidence in Lucas’ ability to A) write a decent character in the first place and B) because his track record of treating race and gender with respect is… not good. And C) because all the things that makes Leia awesome, I am pretty sure he did by omission. Here is a non-exhaustive list of Awesome Shit Leia Does:

  • Fights tyranny, not just with guns, but through proper channels and peacefully
  • Also guns
  • Resists torture by a Sith Lord
  • Watches her home planet be destroyed rather than give up information
  • Still manages to get off a snappy line when she is rescued*
  • Realizes her rescuers are, uhhhhh, kinda idiots who have no plan, and takes over
  • Comforts Luke (who sucks) about his friend dying**
  • Coordinates and attack on the Death Star right after all that
  • Doesn’t leave anyone at Echo Base until she is literally dragged out
  • Watches the same Sith Lord torture her crush
  • Saves Luke’s stupid ass
  • Tries to save her BF by going undercover in a mob
  • Gets captured and shoved in a bikini (click that link, kids)
  • Chokes the guy/slug that shoved her in said bikini
  • Volunteers for super-dangerous mission
  • Finds out her dad is the Sith lord who tortured her and her BF
  • Saves her BF
  • Finishes super-dangerous mission
  • Completing super-dangerous mission leads directly to conception of Poe
  • Sorry I got distracted there
  • Son turns to the Dark Side
  • Husband peaces out
  • She leads a new Rebellion… thingy
  • POE
  • Sorry
  • Husband comes back!
  • Son doesn’t
  • Son kills husband
  • Makes sure Rey, who she just met, goes to Luke (why? HE SUCKS) to train

That’s just so far. Most of us would have curled up in a ball and cried from half of that.

I'llNeverTell.jpg

By Chris Trevas

Which brings us to the writing side of it, and the asterisk up there is why I say Lucas lucked out here- that line wasn’t in the script, it was all Carrie coming up with it on the spot. I think Lucas wrote Leia to be a damsel in distress through a lot of it. Because, and maybe this is just me, but if I write about someone getting tortured and watching their planet blow up, I would want to explore the effect it had on them. But Lucas just moves on, as most movies and books do when a woman goes through something traumatic. It’s a plot point, a thing to motivate the actual protagonist (Luke, who sucks) along.

 

Which brings us to the double asterisk up there- Luke loses a friend who has known for… two days? Ish? Leia watched her home go all ‘splodey. Granted, Luke lost his family and home too, and his pain would certainly be real, but… whole planet. And there she is, comforting him. Lucas & Co. just gloss over her pain, but in doing so, make her stronger. Because she, through all of, handles herself. The only person we see her vulnerable with is Han, and that makes their romance more compelling than the standard guy-gets-girl narrative.

I don’t have a super-huge point here, besides:

  1. Leia is bad ass
  2. Luke sucks
  3. Don’t talk shit about Rey, she is perfect

And, maybe, from the writing side of it, there is a good lesson in not over-thinking things. Let your characters be who they are, and maybe they will be stronger for it.

DESR

PS Seriously, don’t talk shit about Rey. I will cut you.

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Reversal of Fortunes

I grew up in a fairly small, redneck town, which produced both a NASCAR driver and a bestiality scandal, which in my opinion says everything you need to need to know. Try to contain your surprise when I tell you I didn’t really fit in with a town of lite-beer drinking, Carhartt-wearing hillbillies (they’re great, really). I had one friend who liked Star Wars too, and we would play the old Star Wars CCG together, which were purchased from the Hallmark store (which wasn’t actually a Hallmark store, it just sold Hallmark cards, but that’s what we called it. But I digress). One time we were walking out, hard earned $3.50 spent on Dagobah booster packs, and a group of the passing ‘cool kids’ yelled “NERDS” at us.

It strikes me funny, in light of experiences such as the aforementioned, that now peoples ‘geek cred’ is questioned. I know the ‘fake geek’ thing is old news, but I recently saw an example of it, so you get to read this rant. Because, seriously, there is no ‘geek card’. No one passes a test. “Crap, I only scored a 25 on the Star Trek portion of the test and I don’t think Doctor Who is really that good, so my card got denied”.  That’s not a thing.

There is this mentality that we- collectively, as humans- want to pretend doesn’t apply to us, and it’s twofold. On one side of the coin, there is what, in the timeframe of the first paragraph, were called ‘posers’. People who wanted to be ‘cool’, wore the right clothes, said the right things, but were still not, as decided by the cool kids. Then there is the mentality of the ‘cool kid’ themselves- that they are part of some exclusive club and they get to decide who to let in. In 1997 rural Washington, it had to do with hunting and sprint car racing. In 2014, it has to do with wearing Star Wars apparel, and god have mercy on your soul if you don’t have every line memorized, as decided by someone who does.

If you were a geek in the 80’s and 90’s, you lived through all that. Nerds were not cool at all, probably still aren’t in most schools. If you grew up in a town like me, you were an outcast, and man, you wanted to be cool, or at least, not to be ridiculed. But now, nerds are cool! We broke through! We have conventions and comic book movies are the toast of Hollywood and everything! But, somewhere along the line, part of geek culture morphed into a twisted jock superiority complex. Enjoy the fact that people want to be geeks, and stop worrying about if they are or not.

DESR

World Teasing

I don’t know if you all have heard or not, but the first teaser for Star Wars came out. You very well might have missed it, since it received only slightly less fanfare than the moon landing. It was 88 seconds long, showed exactly jack about the movie, and it has been examined in more detail than DNA. Reactions ranged from over-the-top excitement to over-the-top rage. Strike that, those were the only two reactions.

Blasphemy! Or, not what you imagined.

I like Star Wars as much as the next person, and am pretty firmly in the ‘excited’ camp, but I have often said I like the idea of Star Wars considerably more than Star Wars itself. Up until about a week ago, the best thing about an Episode VII trailer was that it didn’t exist. Everything we knew about it was open, paint splattered in patterns of our own making on the blank canvas of non-existence. Then, in 88 seconds, everything we imagined it to be was removed and cold reality took shape.

And that’s why the idea of Star Wars is so great. The world building is incredibly well done, but what it does best is world tease. In the original trilogy, we never saw massive population centers. The moon of Yavin, Tatooine, Hoth- those were place no one in the galaxy went. Even Cloud City, for all its romance, is a mining outpost. Yet we got glimpses, ideas of what the rest of the universe was like, and we play in it like the giant sandbox it is.

The oft-cursed prequels made that sandbox a little smaller. They made us look at the population centers and what a galaxy with more than a couple Jedi was like, and none of them were in hiding. The next trilogy will do the same- until now, what happened after the Ewok party was all in our heads, and a few mediocre books.

Bummer, right? We want it, but we don’t, and none of us were hired to write or direct, so it will be the vision of another.

But this rant really isn’t about Star Wars. It’s about what the glory of science fiction really is. You can build an awesome world and tell an awesome story, but is that it? I think the best ones are the ones that invite new stories, the stories that are never committed to paper. That when a reader puts the book down, they wonder what wasn’t told.

Sometimes, the idea of a thing is better.

DESR

Kickstarter- What the Hell?

If you pay any attention to me at all (not that you should), you know I’m a pretty big fan of Kickstarter. Well, I was, anyway. The concept is still brilliant and wonderful and allows people to do cool stuff, but lately Kickstarter seems to be slipping.

A lot.

Kickstarter has some very strict standards– in writing only, it seems. In the last few months, it seems like just anything is getting through.

Here is a guy who wants to build a fort for him and his cat. For $5,000. It will clearly fail, and miserably, as it should. But why is it even there? There is no reason this should ever have been approved.

Here is a guy doing… something with stickers that tell people they are beautiful. I guess he had a bunch made? But he says he is going to make a book? Of pictures? Or something? He’s not really clear, despite having a ‘what’s this about?’ section, a ‘no, really, what’s this about’ section and ‘what’s the Kickstarter for?’ section. For the low, low price of $50, you get a book and 250 stickers, which you could have made yourself for cheaper. Sorry dude, your project is about you buying a car, not telling people they are beautiful. Unless you actually believe yourself, which is even worse.

I shouldn’t have to explain why.

And of course, the piece de resistance right now: The Death Star. Now, I love Star Wars as much as the next guy. Actually, probably more. But this… this is just stupid. Geeks everywhere had geek-gasms when there was a petition to get the White House to build a Death Star, and more when the White House responded with a fun, tongue-in-cheek response.

I get it; it was funny, but now this? This is a waste of time. For one thing, yes, it’s a joke, but why do we need to make it? It takes away from the legitimate creators on Kickstarter.

Even worse, it’s just not well done. There are two rewards, and they are stupid. The description is completely lame. The only reason this has any attention is because it says DEATH STAR at the top. It’s clear that no real thought or effort was put into it.

So come on, Kickstarter. Up your game. If ‘projects’ like this keep appearing on the site, you will lose visitors and credibility with real creators- and they will go elsewhere.

Monday Morning Randomness

I lieu of actual inspiration, I think I’ll start a couple ‘features’ here on ye olde blog(e). I’ll start with a Monday morning news/recap type of thing.

  • In 3024AD news, I just sent Series One out for final edits, and will hopefully have that turned around within the next month. I’m going to hold off on a firm release date until it is 100% ready to go, so stay tuned.
  • Staying with 3024AD, the site will be re-done and re-purposed. Instead of posting the drafts of short stories, it will serve as sort of a wiki for the universe. There will be some shorts available for download for free, but for the most part, it will serve as background for the universe.
  • Outside of that, did you know I write a column once a month for Nerds Feather? Because I totally do, and you should read it. It’s all about indie books and publishing, so if you’re an indie author or publisher and there’s anything you want me to ramble about, let me know.
  • You already know that JJ Abrams is directing the next Star Wars, and if you’re freaking out about it, I offer the same advice I did when the Disney news broke: Chill the eff out. Star Wars is already commercialized. There are already horrible prequels. It’s not going to get worse, and Disney and Abrams are the best (new?) hope for bringing it back to glory. So let’s let it play out.
  • I have been playing The Old Republic again, and I still find it a blast to play. Hardcore gamers won’t, but for a casual gamer, it’s a great MMO. Am I alone, however, in thinking that Stargate would make for an awesome MMO? Someone get on this. If you need a writer, call me.
  • I feel like I should have some sort of conclusion here.