Nixxa And The General

You guys voted and the result was unanimous! So today I’m posting the first small snippet of my Star Wars themed story, Nixxa and the General, a collection of short stories about a stolen ship-rat who knows nothing but darkness and the menacing man who might just give her the galaxy… Now this isn’t exactly a fanfic because there are no cross-over characters or locales or anything, it’s just more of the basic setting and the sci-fi feel that I don’t usually work with (I’m a historical fantasy romance writer so space is a big change for me!) and FULL WARNING: this is a steamy story so it might be posted on A03 in full instead of my actual analytical blog, I haven’t quite decided yet, but if the response is positive then f*ck it, we’ll just post it here lol! So if you like the intro and want more on the blog itself be sure to let me know in the comments!

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Nixxa and the General

She lay across the bed, her heart beating like a siren in her ears. The silken wisps of silver-grey cloth they’d clothed her in glided across her newly scrubbed skin, touching her in a thousand intimate places yet leaving nothing truly covered. Not that there was any point in hiding her body now, she reasoned, her eyes flickering to the door as her breath quickened instinctively. When would he arrive? this man whose bed she now occupied, the stranger she’d been chosen and stolen for.

The man, whoever he was, would be someone of little importance. That much she knew. Anyone of consequence could afford the experienced beauties of the Courtesan Class, those beguiling women born and bred to give up their bodies in the most carnal fashion. Only men of the lower ranks, soldiers too poor to rise or too cheap to pay, stole women from the bowels of the Dark City. She’d known many who’d disappeared for a day, two, maybe three before returning with a few coins or bruises or stories to tell around the glow of the photon beams. It was too common an occurrence to be frightened of, but still, she’d never been taken. Until now. With hair the color of dirty grease and skin coated in twenty some-odd years of grime, she faded into the blackness of the Dark City effortlessly and was easily over-looked. Or so she thought.

She looked at the pale skin of her exposed wrist. She hadn’t known the color of her own skin until they’d stripped her bare and bathed her to within an inch of her life, scrubbing her places she never thought needed scrubbing. Plunging her in pools of water – actual glistening water – before dousing her with some sort of bubbly concoction that was supposed to clean her from the outside in while the drink they gave her worked from the inside out. She’d felt funny then, itchy as though a thousand insect legs crawled across her, inside her, eating away at something she hadn’t even known was there. Though once it passed, she felt better, stronger than she ever remembered feeling before. Then they’d started over, scrubbing, dousing, and cleaning every inch of her until someone pronounced her clean.

They’d then attacked her hair, meticulously brushing and drying it before pressing one more strange drink into her hand. It was white with a sharp bitter smell rising from the metal cup. She’d hesitated, but the woman giving the orders was unused to being questioned. Drink it, she ordered. She drank. This time it was a needle piercing her belly, penetrating into the very depth of her femininity and she understood without being told that she would produce no children in her lifetime. It was a sudden loss, and not one she felt too keenly, at least not yet. Perhaps she would feel differently when all this was over, but just now she had other things to occupy her thoughts beyond the thought of phantom children she’d never wanted.

Now she waited, alone with her own thoughts in this strange place, so far beyond the world she knew. He was no one, she reminded herself, no one. But the quiet splendor of the room, the softness of the bedding that molded to her, and the pleasing scent that still clung to her skin and hair spoke of wealth, and wealth inevitably led to position, even someone as lowly as she knew this. She wasn’t sure why, but this thought more than any other frightened her. Why would someone with means, with power want a ship-rat for a bedfellow? Who was waiting on the other side of that damnable door?

**********

The door of his chamber opened with a soft whir, illuminating the darkness within, the silence he craved, and the woman stretched across the far side of his bed. He paused, confused until he remembered ordering a woman to be brought to him this evening. He’d been in a temper  and spoke before thinking about the reality of coming home to a stranger in the only private space he had aboard this blasted starship. He bit back a groan, what the hell was he to do with her now. She couldn’t stay here. He wouldn’t allow her fear to contaminate this space, his space. Damn it.

A curt dismissal was on the tip of his tongue when she moved suddenly, rising up on one arm, watching him as he watched her. A dark nimbus of ebony hair fell in gentle waves around her face, sliding down her neck and spilling over her shoulders, a stark contrast to the otherwise paleness of her skin. But it was her eyes that grabbed him, silenced him even before he spoke. There was no fear in their depths, just curiosity, intelligence, recognition, and just the smallest portion of apprehension. She knew him, or knew of him, and still there was no fear. One black brow raised questioningly and he realized he was still in the doorway staring. He stepped inside and the door closed behind him, taking the light with it, plunging them into absolute pitch. Only the darkness wasn’t complete, she marred it, radiating light from her crystalline skin. Stars, but he could see every inch of her.

A familiar tightening pulled from the pit of his stomach. With a silent growl he strode further into the room, tired of feeling like a stranger in his own chambers. She didn’t stir, but watched him. Let her watch. She’d get nothing from him. Let her watch.

 

Alright guys, make sure to let me know if you want more Nixxa and the General on the Whimsical Mutterings page!

A (possible) Star Wars Story

Hello again my fellow Star Wars fans, I hope you’re having a delightful day — especially since there appears to have been some promotional leaks abounding on twitter regarding Episode IX 😀 Now I’m not one for massive spoilers myself, and in all honestly I didn’t get much out of the “leak” whether it was real or not, but it brought a lot of excitement to the fandom so yay for that!

Now down to tonight’s post… I’m going to level with you — I tried, but it just wasn’t happening. No matter how much I sat down and stared at the open Word doc, the words just were not flowing. And instead of freaking out, I’m choosing to find another option for when this invariably happens again — because let’s be real, even if you love something to distraction, you’re going to falter every now and then. It happens — or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

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Now I know my Whimsical Muttering’s family isn’t familiar with my creative writing efforts because that’s all usually posted on my moonstonemaiden blog, but I do have a Star Wars-esque story that I’ve been working on for sometime that I’ve been debating sharing nor not anyway, so my question for you guys is this: would you be interested in a reoccurring creative piece that would be updated on those days where I don’t want to disappoint by not posting anything, but the analytical muse is just not cooperating with me? No worries if it’s not something that interests you, I just want to make sure the site continues to grow and expand and has something to offer to everyone, even myself when I just need a helping hand 😀

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So if your don’t mind, make sure to vote and let me know what you think and thank you guys so much for taking this epic Star Wars journey with me! Even though I stumble from time to time, I’m having so much fun breaking down this story and finding incredible new SW truths with you all!!!  ❤ Tara

The Phantom Menace: The True Phantom Menace


For over forty years we’ve celebrated the Jedi as heroes, the ultimate victors in the galactic conquest that spanned time and space itself, and when we had nothing but the Original trilogy to go by, that might have been true. But if the prequal trilogy has taught us anything, it’s that the truth is never what you think it is and things are never as simple as they originally appear. For example, Darth Vader is more than a suit-encased villain…he’s a little boy who builds droids to help his mother and who risks his life to help complete strangers. And the Emperor is more than a threatening hooded-figure holding Vader’s leash on the Death Star, he’s a suave, well-liked politician who comes from one of the most peaceful planets we visit in the entire series. Even Obi-Wan was once a student with a flair of a temper who questioned his teacher. Time and again we are shown that our first impressions of these characters and themes are wrong, or incomplete because we didn’t know the whole story. So with all that in mind, are we to believe that the entirety of the Jedi order just conveniently misunderstood the word balance and nobody bothered to correct them?

“You refer to the prophecy of The One who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it’s this boy?” – Mace Windu

I know prophecies can be interpreted in a thousand different ways and none of the interpretations be correct, but balance has a straightforward definition as words go. Balance: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Pretty easy stuff. And yet a roomful of highly intelligent and supposedly wise, leaders of the galactic police-force all misinterpreted it? Even Master YODA?! He’s been around for over 900 years at this point and has presumably spent a great chunk of that time meditating and seeking wisdom, so either he’s really bad at it, and by default, the rest of the Jedi are as well (which I find difficult to believe) … or our more likely, our heroes knew exactly what balance meant — and actively fought against it, because it makes no sense that such a diverse group of enlightened individuals all came to the wrong conclusion about the meaning of such a simple word.


There’s a line Padme speaks in Revenge of the Sith that catches my attention every time I revisit the saga: “What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?”

Ergo: What if our heroes are not heroes at all…what if they’re the villains?

Let’s be honest, the Jedi Council knew exactly what the prophecy of The One meant because if they didn’t then their lack of intelligence is unbelievably staggering. So when Anakin finally appeared before them, they immediately shunned him– and by proxy, the will of the Force itself – because they knew balance does not mean wiping out the Sith to leave the Jedi unchecked. Balance means a clean slate. It means equality. It means an end to their powerbase and their perceived right to judge the galaxy by their views and opinions.

That’s right. When a little boy newly freed from slavery stood in front of a roomful of heroes and asked to join them in their quest to help bring peace to the galaxy, they responded with a harsh and resounding: NO. He is too old, they crooned, too full of fear. And because they’re our heroes of old, we and the rest of the galaxy listened, and in their excuses heard wisdom. But is anyone too old to learn to be a better member of society. Is anyone too old to try to do the right thing? I personally wasn’t aware that there was an age-limit on becoming a good person. A child who has been a slave all of his life and who suddenly has the autonomy to choose his own course in life, decides to give himself over to selflessness and the good of the galaxy and you belittle him and tell him no…because he’s nine…and has the emotional maturity to handle all the things life has thrown at him without becoming bitter or violent… and you’re the heroes in this story?

I don’t think so.

The plain truth is the Jedi Council recognized Anakin for what he was the moment he first stood before them: he was their reckoning, their downfall from power. And in their own palpable fear, they rejected him. They purposefully rejected the will of the Force and because we hailed them as heroes, we didn’t see it. Anakin was the physical manifestation of the Force itself coming to wipe the slate clean and put an end to the warring extremist ideals, which would in turn leave the notion of the Jedi in the antiquated past where it belonged, and as a collective voice the Jedi Council said no – we wield the Force, the Force does not wield us.

So no, I do not see heroes here. I see an inflated sense of self-importance, a belief in their own divine right to rule and judge both the Force itself and the morality of the galaxy at large. I see narcissism, and fear, and the refusal to compromise. You can preach and speak peace and love and harmony, but your actions better reflect all those things or everything you claim to stand for is meaningless. If your hallmark is compassion, then you damn well better show it.

“See through you we can.” – Yoda

In the end, the prequel trilogy sets us up to discover all the hidden truths in the Star Wars saga that we ultimately missed the first time around, and it all begins in The Phantom Menace. We learn that Vader was more than a monster, and that the story we thought we knew is only partially true. But perhaps most important to the tale as a whole, and yet sadly overlooked due to our emotional attachment to the original story, we’re given a harsh truth about those we’ve come to love, emulate, and admire above all others. We just have to be brave enough to see it. Because again, the truth is there in the simple meaning of the words: The Phantom Menace. It’s not referring to the darkness we all plainly see coming, it’s hinting at those who hide in plain sight, those whose darkness is masked by faces of those we trust most. The true phantom menace.

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Epic Fun In The Fandom: #ReyloNight

So last night Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered on ABC and to celebrate, the Reylo fans of Twitter decided to do a Reylo watch party and live-tweet throughout the entire movie, and your girl totally joined in the fun!!! I’ve never done a live-tweet movie watching event and considering how I fared last time I tried to watch a movie and take notes, I didn’t think it would go over well, but it actually ended up being fantastic fun!!! Like it’s probably sad how much fun it actually was!

 

I had actually already watched the movie earlier in the day (because I completely forgot about the event) so at first I just followed along on Twitter, reacting to people’s hilarious comments and getting the gist of how the process worked but after awhile I dove straight in, commenting, posting, finding gifs for epic moments, and just generally just gave in to the epic Star Wars collective fun — AND MY GOD WAS IT FUN!!!

I seriously didn’t expect that, so it was a helluva pleasant surprise on my end. I’ve never been to a Con or fan event (besides like Harry Potter midnight book releasing’s) so I didn’t know how interactive the whole experience would be, but it was completely immersive. It felt like a bunch of new friends freaking out about one of my all-time favorite movies and I was HERE FOR IT!

Overall I laughed, I cried, and most importantly I interacted, I engaged and had soooo much unexpected fun. I never realized how amazing it felt to be completely surrounded by fellow fans all being so supportive and hilarious and basically just loving this movie and seeing things in a similar light to the way I see them. I’m so used to having to defend my ship or Kylo himself as a character but last night there was no need and it just felt so liberating and right.

I forget sometimes that the fandom is an awesomely-fun interactive place, but after last night I can’t wait for the next #ReyloNight! Bring on The Last Jedi!!!

 

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The Phantom Menace: Shadows In The Force

When I started today’s post (yesterday) I actually thought it was going to be a relatively easy one to write. It was one of the first ones I jotted down when I decided I wanted to do the one-film a month theme, and I just felt so passionately about it. Then when I started writing, the words flowed so effortlessly and with a humor I don’t often achieve, so suffice it to say, I was thrilled.


Until about 8:30 pm last night when I’m about halfway through writing and it hits me, and dammit if it didn’t hit me with my own Star Wars logic that I was using at that very moment to prove my point: I was wrong. I was very, very wrong, and the entire half a blog post I’d already written was going to have to be scrapped because although I could finish it and it would make sense to most everyone else, I knew it was flawed and would make my arguments inconsistent. So…I panicked. I shelved the unfinished post and created a Whimsical Mutterings tumblr account to give myself something to do while I calmed down and figured out what to write instead. Needless to say, it was a long night.

Originally this post was going to be all about how Qui-Gon stole from Fate (the Force) by manipulating the dice-roll to obtain Anakin’s freedom and in retaliation, Fate fought back in the finale and claimed his life. I mean the song playing as he, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul are fighting is even called Duel of the Fates! It was so epically perfect!

Until it wasn’t…

“All is as the Force wills it.”  — Chirrut Imwe   Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Ironically my notion of Karma being a bitch ultimately bit me in the ass. My argument was predicated on the fact that Qui-Gon acted outside of the will of the Force, to obtain what he wanted. And in my defense, it truly does seem that way. He wants Anakin freed, there is a 50/50 chance this will happen on its own or that the Force will choose Anakin on its own, but Qui-Gon uses the Force to ensure that it does. He took away the possibility of Shmi being liberated and in doing so set Anakin on a path that led directly to the Jedi Council and their own deadly neuroses. It made perfect sense then that since he interfered and essentially tipped the scales, there would be resulting consequences. He dueled with fate and ultimately fate claimed victory. Thank you, the end, put a nice bow on it and we’ll call it a day.

Except that I believe (and have said so before) that Anakin’s destiny was predetermined. He was the one foretold to bring balance to the Force and that meant he had to walk a certain path in life, no matter how difficult or painful. So how could I then say that Qui-Gon acted outside of the will and desire of the Force by essentially ensuring that Anakin goes where he needs to, to fulfill his ultimate destiny?! I can’t. It doesn’t work. Yes, Qui-Gon interfered because he wanted to, but also because the Force knew he would want to and placed him there to do just that. He didn’t steal from fate… he helped it.

So naturally you can see my dilemma, I couldn’t publish something that I no-longer believed in myself, but there was still something about the idea of fate and Qui-Gon that wouldn’t stop nagging me. And the title of the song – Duel of the Fates – it, it was basically taunting me, I mean it couldn’t be for nothing right? There was something there, I just had to find it. And after many hours of pondering and some verbal sparring, I hit upon something: Qui-Gon didn’t steal from fate/the Force, but at the very end he did unlock a new aspect of it.

His role in the Chosen One’s life was always meant to be short. He had to die to ensure Anakin turned out the way he did under Obi-Wan and the council’s guidance and tutelage because eventually Anakin would have to turn on the Jedi to bring balance to the Force, but he never would have if Qui-Gon had lived. It was Anakin’s anger, resentment, insecurity, and need for secrecy that was necessary to make him break from the Jedi, but they would be non-existent had he grown up with a more tolerant Gray Jedi like Qui-Gon who would have tailored his training to fit Ani’s unique situation and personality. He would have taught Ani hand’s on and with a calm passion and determination, instead of spouting off never-ending rhetoric and sarcastic witticisms. Therefore Qui-Gon had to die. He had to pass the torch on to his morally-upright padawan, Obi-Wan for Anakin to become the conflagration that the Force needed to cleanse itself. And he did.

But that was only the beginning.

Qui-Gon is the first Force Ghost we get any mention of it the Star Wars saga (not the first to appear onscreen, but in the timeline of the episodic story I mean). He is the first to transcend death and still remain himself after the passing of his mortal body at the end of The Phantom Menace, which seems to come as quite a shock to others – even the great master Yoda himself. So it stands to reason that this occurrence is outside the norm, even in this fantastical galaxy far, far away. Unseen and mostly unheard, Qui-Gon can no longer affect the outcome of the prophecy of the Force, but that doesn’t stop him from at least being present when Anakin needs him most. We hear Qui-Gon call out to Anakin in The Attack of the Clones when Ani takes his vengeance upon those who killed his mother. He reaches out, desperate to reach that little boy he’d found so long ago who has grown up to know such desolation and pain. Even in death, he never gives up on Anakin. Instead he stays with him, trying to guide him even when no one can hear him. Until Yoda does.

Just as Anakin’s resentment, anger, and insecurity were necessary for him to become the balance of the Force, so to were Qui-Gon’s skepticism, determination, and his absolute belief in Anakin, in allowing him to accomplish what no other Force-user had done before: to open a doorway to immortality, and perhaps time itself. I know they’ve delved into the shadowy realm of time in the Rebels show so it would not surprise me if the subject came up again in Episode IX. There is something there in the space beyond death, in the web of fate and time itself that Star Wars wants us to see and comprehend. And when we finally reach that moment of clarity and understanding it will be with the knowledge that Qui-Gon, a Gray Jedi, led the way for us.

 

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The Phantom Menace: Enter The Gray Jedi


Hello again my fellow Star Wars fans, thanks for joining me once more on this Epic Star Wars adventure! Now, by this point my distaste for the Jedi and their manipulative practices has probably become apparent, but for those just joining us, let me basically sum it up: I don’t dislike every Jedi simply for being what they are, as individuals they are either descent or not, but as a collective group and power I think they are as morally corrupt as their dark counterparts, the Sith. I think Kylo Ren pretty much had the right idea: the Jedi, the Sith, all the constructs of the past that separated people into opposing groups needs to end. People are not made to be all good or all bad, and to say otherwise is setting people up for discontentment, failure, or in Anakin’s case total and complete destruction. That being said, I didn’t always feel this way. It wasn’t until I got old enough to read between the lines and dissect what was actually happening in the story that my opinion of these lightside heroes began to shift.

“Remember: Your focus determines your reality.” — Qui-Gon Jinn

As a child, my heart was set on being a Jedi. Dear God, did I want to be a Jedi, and I was partially convinced I was one until I discovered Harry Potter on my eleventh birthday and then I just knew I was a Jedi/Witch hybrid the likes of which the world had never seen. I mean I used to walk around grocery store with my eyes (mostly) shut and pretend the Force was guiding me – I was that kid. I LIVED by Yoda’s fear leads to anger leads to hate leads to suffering speech, like hardcore. I refused to hate anything, even in jest as a preteen because my ass was not walking down that path. Dramatic much yes, but I was a writer even then and we tend to be a rather emotive people. Suffice it to say, I was enamored with the Jedi-code…which is why I think it’s funny because even then, when I all-out believed in the Jedi way of life, my absolute favorite Jedi was the one who called them out on their bullsh*t and questioned the council every step of the way: Qui-Gon Jinn.

As soon as he appeared onscreen in The Phantom Menace, calm, cool, and collected, Qui-Gon had my attention. I know most people were thrilled to see his apprentice Obi-Wan and I was too, but there was something about Qui-Gon that just captured my interest. Looking back on it now, I recognize him as being the closest representation to a Gray Jedi that we ever get onscreen – a Force-user who embodies the middle-ground between the light side and the dark side of the Force, neither completely good or bad but capable of using both sides at will. Gray Jedi’s believe in balance: light and dark, love and hate, compassion and passion. They are what I hope the sequel trilogy is leading us towards: more all-rounded individuals who don’t suppress aspects of their personality, but instead use moderation.

“Keep you concentration here and now, where it belongs.”

Qui-Gon espouses some of the most meaningful wisdom in the prequel trilogy, reminding us all to live in the moment while it’s here and now and that what we focus on determines what we get in life. He sees the injustice of the council purposefully shutting Anakin out and resolves to teach him anyway. Yet he’s also a masterful user of subterfuge and is definitely not above cheating, using misdirection, or threats to get what he wants. He’s unafraid to walk that hazy middle-ground of Jedi morality to ensure that things happen as they should and even back then I noticed and appreciated Qui-Gon’s uniqueness. He chose to defend the galaxy, uphold goodness and order, but he didn’t do it blindly. Qui-Gon questioned everything every step of the way, and when those in power turned their backs on a child for their own security and ease, he called them on it.

In the end, Qui-Gon Jinn is not perfect. He makes assumptions and mistakes that cost the galaxy greatly, but he does so with the best of intentions. He acts with what I would call societal morality, or common morality, not the limited concept permitted by the Jedi teachings, and though it is flawed, it is the most like our own human morality. I think what Qui-Gon represents in The Phantom Menace is the beginning of the shift towards true balance – which is what the Force itself desires. With this in mind, I also think Kylo Ren is a composite character of Qui-Gon, Anakin, and to a certain extent Luke, much like Tolkien used the best aspects of Bard and Thorin from The Hobbit to later create Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. For any kind of major change, the groundwork needs to be laid in the beginning, and Qui-Gon, unperfect as he is, set the foundation for what I hope to see as the story progresses, a shift from uncompromising and restrictive dogma, to the acceptance of people just as they are. Good and bad, light and dark, compassionate and passionate, individuals striving for the betterment of the universe but with the option to pick their path as they go. We have that opportunity with Rey and Kylo in the final upcoming film, to see a dark-sider find the light inside himself, and a light-sider embrace the darkness that fuels her. Together with both halves of their personality present and accepted by themselves and each other, they could do what Qui-Gon tried to do in The Phantom Menace: bring true balance to the Force and with it, peace to the galaxy.

Media Via:

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The Phantom Menace: The Emergence and Importance of Fate


When I think about The Phantom Menace, I am overwhelmingly struck by the quintessential fairy-tale nature of the entire film. The scope, the dreamy colors, the adventure, and dangers, and daring! It’s all there and so are the familiar characters we as an audience know by heart: the age-old damsel in distress (who valiantly saves herself IMHO), the Arthurian-esque knights of morality who color our perception of good and evil for better or worse, the archetypal lost prince with an uncertain destiny, and larger than life villains who seek to overthrow goodness and humanity, etc. etc. In essence, TPM truly is the “Once Upon a Time…” segment of the Star Wars saga and without it the entire series is immediately unmoored and unbalanced.

The trials and tribulations of the future don’t mean as much or pack as much of an emotional punch when you don’t know that before Vader was Vader, he was Anakin, a young slave who dreamed of setting his people free and who opened his heart and his home to people in need and risked his life to help them when no one else would. And it’s hard to care about the momentarily-mentioned broken bond between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in A New Hope (when so much else is happening onscreen with Luke and Leia and Han) unless you’ve witnessed the two meeting for the first time and felt the ripples of fate move across the surface of the galaxy. And it’s difficult to feel pity for a man who makes ALL THE WRONG DECISIONS when it comes to his family unless you know that that entire future of that family began with a little boy innocently asking a beautiful young girl if she was an angel.

And that’s what I love so much about The Phantom Menace. More than any other prequel film, it shows the working hands of fate – or the force – and all that was required for the story that we know and love to come into existence. Padme’s world had to be invaded so she would leave it, her ship had to be damaged so it would need repairs, and Ani had to be a slave so he would be in the shop when Padme walked in looking for help. Because how else would a Queen from a lush, green planet meet a slave boy from a harsh, desert world?

In short, this movie had to happen, these events had to take place for the rest of the story to mean anything. Without TPM the story of Darth Vader is still there, but the emotional impact is stunted, and the characters only partially fleshed out. After all, a villain is only a villain at a certain time in his life, and a hero is only a hero when the story is told a certain way.

 

Media Via:

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The Phantom Menace: Judgement and Consequence

When I originally planned this post a few weeks ago I had the idea to do a running commentary of my thoughts and reactions to watching The Phantom Menace. That being said, about thirty minutes into the movie I realized two rather crucial things. First: I can’t concentrate on taking notes and watching a movie at the same time, it’s just not in me. I don’t know what I was thinking really, I’m one of those nutters that nearly drowns while drinking things because I sometimes forget to stop breathing for a second and I end up inhaling a lungful of sweet tea or something. Seriously, it’s sad, I have to give one thing my full attention and it quickly became a nightmare trying to watch and write. Second – and perhaps more important – my “revelations” and inner-thoughts were boring as hell. I mean I have my own Star Wars theories and ideas and a crap ton to talk about, but I couldn’t make a compelling list of thoughts to cover an entire two-hour movie where some things just aren’t worth talking about. It just wasn’t happening and I was losing my own interest lol.

So, I had a dilemma… what to do for this post since I have all my other ones already planned out for the month and set in the order I want them in? I couldn’t think of anything at first, I just kept swirling back to a quote in the movie that nearly smacked me across the face this time. And then it hit me. There are so many exceptional quotes from The Phantom Menace that just set up the basis for not only this singular movie, but the entire saga, yet there was something so relevant about this one in particular, something that wouldn’t let my mind rest. I had to discuss it! The quote is simple enough, it’s Qui-Gon’s defense of Anakin after Obi-Wan insists that he and the entire council can see that Anakin is dangerous.

“His fate is uncertain. He’s not dangerous.”

And it’s true, Anakin wasn’t dangerous, not at this point. Ani was a relatively happy little boy who was expressive, emotive, and unerringly kind, who had been raised to think intelligently for himself and problem-solve along the way. But the things that made him a good person in normal circumstances were the very things that turned the Jedi order against him. The Jedi would need to take everything that was Ani away and instill their own doctrines, beliefs, and ways of seeing the galaxy to make him one of them, but at advanced his age, Anakin’s personality was likely setting into place. They wouldn’t be able to fully overcome his own instincts and opinions – he wasn’t a baby or a toddler who they could teach or force to think how they chose – therefore he was dangerous, he was other, and they immediately treated him as such.

Instead of welcoming him with acceptance and understanding or even compassion, the council immediately set themselves apart from Anakin and make it clear – to a child who had just escaped enslavement and had helped two of their own order – that he was not welcome in their company because he was going down the darkside path simply because he admitted to feeling fear. Yeah… let that sink in for a moment because I’m getting mad just typing this. In an entirely new place with strangers who are testing him left, right, and center, far away from the only source of love and security he’s ever know, it’s no wonder Ani is afraid. The Jedi use a little boy’s love of his mother to make him unworthy of their time and consideration, they twist love into a weakness and call themselves the better for it.

Needless to say, I have A LOT MORE to write regarding the council and that’s already planned for later, so I’ll stop myself here. But I will say this: Qui-Gon was right. Anakin wasn’t dangerous until the Jedi made him so. The Jedi created their own destruction and it eventually cost them everything. I think this is a theme that often goes overlooked because it’s the “good-guys” doing the wrong things and we like to turn a blind eye to that sort of thing, but it bears noting that the same thing happens again in the sequel trilogy. Lessons are not being learned here. Ben Solo struggled with the darkness inside himself all his life, but it was Luke –a Jedi – who sealed his fate and the galaxy’s by deciding for everyone that his nephew was dangerous and needed to be dealt with. Another great evil is born because of the judgement of the peace-keeping righteous. And it’s just as Rey says, Luke created Kylo Ren, the same way the council created Darth Vader, and it began here in The Phantom Menace.

Today’s post ended up being a little darker and heavier than I wanted to start out with but hey, that’s Star Wars for ya! There is always darkness at the heart of fairy-tales and if you don’t see it then you’re missing the entire point of the story itself. But what about you guys, what quotes stand out to you when you watch The Phantom Menace? Are there any moments that you just can’t let go of? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll see you guys next time!

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The Journey Begins: The Phantom Menace

The year was 1999 when the biggest Star Wars event of my young life exploded into existence, changing everything I thought I knew about that galaxy far, far away and the people there who had captured my youthful attention. The Phantom Menace hit theaters in mid-May, a few months shy of my tenth birthday and it was like a gift from George Lucas himself. Fifth-grade was looming at the end of the summer, I was a year into my Pokémon craze and a year out from discovering my next great love – Harry Potter – and I had been a die-hard Star Wars fan my WHOLE life. Simply put…life was good.

It’s funny, because I don’t remember actually being in the theater watching the movie with my mom and little brother, but I do remember coming home and repeating Every. Single. Jar-Jar line to my dad and basically reenacting the entire movie. I was a storyteller even then, and Star Wars was the most dramatic, earth-shattering, mind-blowing story I had ever come across and this new installment was everything I never knew I needed, both as a viewer and a writer myself. To see the greatest villain of my childhood portrayed onscreen as a kid almost my age was astounding, add to that the fact that he was an absolute sweetheart was mystifying. How had this eager, helpful, little optimistic Ani become one of the darkest forces in the galaxy, someone capable of destroying entire worlds and torturing his own family?

And Padme! She was only a few years older than me, but she was already a stalwart queen and a determined, powerful woman I envied and respected equally. I saw her up there, in both her handmaiden and her queenly guise, living out the adventure and I wanted so badly to be her. Leia was always, always, amazing but with her ferocity and quick wit, she seemed so far above me, so completely unreachable to a nine-year-old, but Padme felt like she could be me. She was young, scared, intelligent, and determined, she didn’t know what to do but she was brave enough to try. She made me realize that we all start somewhere, that people aren’t just born Leia’s, but that they can become women like her and that that pathway started now. I’d known Leia my whole life but now I would grow up with Padme.

Not to mention the story itself…suffice it to say, I knew the story of Star Wars. But now there were even more stories, more pieces of the puzzle I had just blindly taken for granted before… and therein lies The Phantom Menace’s greatest gift and lesson. I already understood that there is great power in the telling of a story – A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi had already taught me that – but The Phantom Menace taught me there is always more to a story, and it’s the way you deliver it, (i.e. telling it in a certain order or a specific way) that elicits totally different responses. TPM didn’t change what happened in ANH, but it changed our entire perception of it. It forced us to ask those simple, powerful questions: how? Why? And it’s those questions that make us realize, we only know half of the story.

I never questioned Vader as the villain in the original saga, he was presented to me as such and I accepted it immediately. But after TPM I could never see Vader without picturing Ani’s face beneath the mask. The story was done, nothing could change Vader’s fate, but Ani’s was still uncertain, and I couldn’t give up on him, the kid who risked everything to help a group of strangers for no other reason than because it was the right thing to do. Ani had a story to tell and even knowing where it was going, I was determined to stay by his side until the very end, to hear the part that no one had ever heard before, the forgotten tale of that little slave-boy who loved his mother with all his heart.

Like I said, in the end you can’t change Vader’s story. Redeemed or not he goes down the darkest path possible and becomes one of the most powerful, terrifying villains the world has ever seen – whether you start his story from the beginning or from the middle. But by beginning in the middle and circling back once the tale is done, we aren’t left with just Vader, we are left with Anakin and that’s the whole point of Star Wars. There is always more to the story, always more to the people we see on screen, whether we want to admit that or not. We can accept Vader as bad simply because he is, or we can understand that he was once a person who made the choice to help people, and that choice led to more choices and those choices led to a path he never expected. We can ignore Anakin’s story if all we want to see is Vader, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. And this is something I use in my writing even now. Readers see the world as the writers choose to display it, I give you the side of a character I want you to see and you judge in an instant whether they’re good or bad or a million shades in between. You judge an entire lifetime with a moment, deciding a person’s fate and worth with my perception of the story as well as the main character’s coloring the entire thing in our favor. And I know you’re going to do it. There is unlimited power in that, and The Phantom Menace taught me to see it.

Now, back to 1999, flash forward three months and school had started again, and I was finally ten years old. Fifth grade was the epitome of my elementary school journey and conclusion of the first part of my young life. Just like in the galaxy far, far away, things were changing, I was gearing up to strike out on a new adventure, with new places and people and situations I could never dream of. It was exciting but hella scary. But for the time being, Star Wars was all anyone was talking about, Jar-Jar was everyone’s absolute favorite character, and I had pod-racer Ani plastered all over my new school supplies. Simply put, life was good.

*Starting this month, I will be focusing on one Star Wars film each month as we countdown to the final episodic film release in December. And if you couldn’t tell already, we will be starting at the beginning of the story as we know it: The Phantom Menace. I have some awesome posts already planned and I can’t wait to see what others emerge as inspiration strikes and my muse goes into SW overdrive. I hope you join me on this Star Wars adventure and make it the most fun it can possibly be so we can share this year together waiting and reminiscing about all those characters we love to love. This Monday I’ll be watching TPM (again) and doing a running commentary of my inner thoughts and opinions and all that fun stuff and I hope to see you there… I’ll bring the popcorn! – Tara

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Epic Star Wars Women!

I don’t know about you, my starfighters, but I love me some Star Wars! Shocking I know but can you blame me?! There’s epic space battles, heart-melting romance, mystical forces, and characters that exist so vividly that they almost literally leap off the screen!!! You tell me Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t actually exist somewhere out in the cosmos and I’m sorry but we can’t be friends, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life 😉

But seriously, we get so many wonderfully rich, multi-faceted characters from the series and for me as a writer, I appreciate just how “real” they feel. This doesn’t happen with just every story, it takes a certain something extra for characters to truly come alive outside their films or books and I think it’s because they (the Luscasfilm/SW writers) really take the time to flesh characters out. Real people have motivations for everything they do, there are always precedents inspiring their reactions and actions, and perhaps most importantly, no one stays the same their whole life, people are never the same person they were more than once, and SW displays that beautifully (Luke in TLJ). It’s inspiring to see such a well-crafted universe filled with so many diverse characters, and with the books and animated shows (which I fully admit, I’m not completely caught up on yet) they just keep adding to this amazing lexicon.

There’s always a million off-shoot stories I want to see and characters we encounter that I want to follow further, but for today I want to focus on the ladies of Star Wars that I think need more screen/book/etc. time. I’m going to exclude Leia and Rey from this just because I understand we won’t get much more Rey content until the sequel trilogy is finished, and because over the past few years we’ve already been given some awesome new Leia content! So, let’s get to it shall we!

1) Ciena Ree — The female protagonist from Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, Ciena is such an eye-opening character in so many ways. From the planet Jelucan, Ciena is a woman whose life is dictated by honor and the demands of keeping her word. She begins as a little girl with a dream to pilot the greatest ships in the galaxy and through that desire, leads us first-hand into the life of an Imperial Officer. I always wondered what kind of person would willingly work in such a horrid place as the Death Star, what would make someone think that what they were doing was acceptable? And following Ciena’s story, it opened my eyes to how many good people were manipulated into such a life. We see as she rejects the idea of the Empire doing any wrong because it conflicts with her upbringing of honor above all, we watch as she rationalizes the horrors around her, then finally as she accepts that the organization she’s pledged her life to, staked her life’s honor on, IS the great evil in the galaxy. And I have some interesting ideas on how she can easily enter the SW films themselves…

2) Kendy Idele — A delightful emerald-haired addition in the Lost Stars novel by Claudia Gray, Kendy is originally an Imperial cadet/officer during Palpatine’s reign but after the introduction of the Death Star and the evils she witnesses first hand she heroically switches side and joins the Rebel Alliance! She’s a sharpshooter extraordinaire and X-Wing pilot with the Corona Squadron whose hatred for the Empire rings with such emotional-comprehension that I would just love to see her again in perhaps a novel of her own.

3) Greer Sonnel — Introduced to us as the enigmatic personal assistant to Senator Leia Organa, Greer immediately caught my attention in Claudia Gray’s epic novel Bloodline. There was just something about her that stuck out to me as I was reading, something that I couldn’t put my finger on… She was competent, intelligent, and oddly uncomfortable in the life she was living. For a moment I thought she might be a spy for the upcoming First Order, but then we’re given more of her backstory and we learn that Greer’s story is a little more tragic than espionage-filled.  An up and coming young pilot, Greer developed a rare disease that literally made the thing she trained her whole life for — what she wanted most in the galaxy — the thing that was going to kill her. Han Solo himself (her mentor/friend) asked Leia to take her in and although she knows flying will one day kill her, Greer can’t help but yearn for the one thing that makes her feel most alive. In the end, she chooses to help Leia rebuild the resistance, knowing that once again, evil was stretching across the galaxy. Greer deserves a solo book of her own — perhaps with a dash of romance with her fellow pilot Joph Seastricker! — her tale has the potential to be emotionally devastating: a fierce, intelligent woman who chooses to fight for the greater good, despite knowing that each time she sits in the cockpit she is closer and closer to death!

4) Amilyn Holdo — Introduced to most in The Last Jedi, Holdo actually makes her first appearance in Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan where she admittedly is the odd one out in sixteen-year old Leia’s new crop of companions on her journey to being named the crown princess of Alderaan. As much as I enjoyed the strong, self-sacrificing woman Holdo became in TLJ, it’s her character in Leia, POA that really struck me as fascinating. Amilyn is someone who knows her own mind and doesn’t feel like she has to explain herself to those around her, she makes wild, often unsettling statements that have an uncanny habit of coming true later in the story. She sees things in a way that Leia (and myself as the reader) cannot comprehend and most of the time she just seems flat-out weird, a kind person perhaps, but definitely strange. But in reality there’s a next-level intelligence bursting from Holdo that I don’t think she knows how to communicate yet, but then again, I don’t think she feels like she has to explain herself, other people will catch up to her eventually (for example her not telling Poe about Crait). And she’s one of the most loyal, brave friends that Leia ever encounters, not only risking her life to help her friend, but standing by her side when Leia faces her first devastating loss. Amilyn teaches Leia how to find and center herself amidst suffocating depression and this is the Holdo I want to see more of!

5) Breha Organa — The Queen of Alderaan herself people! Leia’s adoptive mother was briefly seen in the closing scenes of Revenge of the Sith and is seen more frequently in Leia, Princess of Alderaan, but there is so much more I want to know about the woman that shaped Leia into the feisty, hero that she is! What was it like for her to raise the daughter of a woman she most likely had met, or at least was a friend of her husband’s? What was it like to know that her child was the offspring of another Queen and a Jedi, the unknown daughter of Vader herself? The fear she must have felt knowing that Palpatine and Vader were out there in the same galaxy as Leia… it makes my heart shudder thinking about it. In POA she mentions that she nearly died while completing her own tasks to be named crown princess of Alderaan, I’d love a narrative of this, or of her and Bail’s courtship in the time before the Galactic Civil War. There’s just so much that can be written about Breha and I think the world deserves to hear more about this epic Queen who defied an evil Emperor!

6) Qi’ra —  Introduced to us in Solo: A Star Wars Movie and in the book Most Wanted by Rae Carson, Qi’ra is the literal definition of an enigma! She’s street-smart, confident, and hyper intelligent, but that’s really about all we know! There’s such a big chunk of time between Most Wanted and the opening scene of Solo, and again between when Han and her get separated and reunited in Solo in which sooooo much obviously happens, and we know the result but not the reasons why she does what she does and chooses what she chooses. Obviously her relationship with Han is fascinating, but I feel like it’s  completely unfinished at the moment and there is more to tell there before he goes and his own way and meets Leia. I have a hard time imagining Han letting go of her so easily, so we definitely need to see what she’s doing with Maul. Whether she comes back in a sequel to Solo (which I would LOVE), or we get a book in her perspective, we need information about this epic new character!

7) Shmi Skywalker — This is the Skywalker woman we need to know more about! Shmi was the original driving force behind Anakin’s teetering to the dark side, his absolute love and devotion to her lead him down a shadowy path when she was taken from him, and I feel like there is so much we can learn from her. What was her life like before Anakin, what was her mental state when she realized what was happening to her (the pregnancy), and what were those early years with just her and Ani like? Did she sense Ani’s potential for great emotion, or wonder if that could ever go wrong? I mean, we have here one of the strongest, most capable mother’s in the Star Wars universe, and we just don’t get enough of her! Personally I would like to see her impact her great-grandson in some way, whether she comes to him in a dream, or like Rey, Ben touches something that holds memories of her and he sees her for the first time. Shmi just embodies steadiness and love and that’s what Kylo/Ben needs!

8) Padme Amidala — Last but certainly not least in my perspective, we are dire need for more Padme in the Star Wars universe! I know she was featured on the Clone Wars television show, but I haven’t seen much of it and what I have seen (while wonderful) still has her as a more secondary character. I’d love to see her get some novels of her own much like Leia, (Come on Claudia Gray, I’m counting on you!!!). Whether we go back to her early years before she was queen, or right after TPM, or those few precious years she and Anakin shared together there is just so much that can be explored. Padme is a strong, intelligent, brave woman and her impact on the galaxy is still felt now in the sequel trilogy. You can see her in Leia, in Ben even, and it’s such a missed opportunity not to see her again. (Yes, I’ve seen that she’s going to be in the new Thrawn novel, but against, that’s someone else’s book, not her own!) Bring back Padme, the Senator, the Queen, the lover of the Chosen One, and the Mother of the future of the galaxy!

And there you have it my starfighters, the epic women of Star Wars that we DESPERATELY NEED MORE OF!!! Were there any that I missed, any that I might have overlooked? Who’s your favorite of the SW ladies? Let me know in the comments! And remember: May the Force be with you!