Monday, June 22, 2015

SkyeWalkers: A Clone Wars Story Footnotes/Endnotes, Part 2—Sith Conspiracy Theories? I’m All Shooked Up

You made it back! Thanks! Welcome yourself to this totally satisfying no-prize: {  }.

Well, once again, if you haven’t yet read the bomb bookends that are my Star Wars novella SkyeWalkers: A Clone Wars Story and Star Wars short story “Lone Wolf: A Tale of Obi-Wan and Luke,” please download those (for free!) and enjoy an afternoon of kickass Star Wars adventcha!

Now, what you’re reading here is the next set of editorial footnotes that I submitted with the manuscript for SkyeWalkers. Sure, in the last bunch I touched on concepts as basic and sacred to longtime Star Wars fans as the nature of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s relationship to his “brother” Owen and the plural possessive form of “Jedi”—but in this collection of notes I raise the stakes, marshaling everything from poetic license to scientific estimates to defend some of my oh-so-controversial literary choices (including the development of a Sith conspiracy theory). On top of that, I document the evolution of Force levitation, and even find myself forced to get philosophical about Star Wars grammar because of my previous principled stance. This shee was definitely not covered in the Star Wars Styleguide.

And I haven’t even gotten to the notorious “Darth Maul” footnote….

That’s for next time.

21 (page 40) It sat the four flinty-looking members of the S’kytri Supreme Council: “In Star Wars Annual #1, there appear to be five councilors, not counting the patriarch: the female speaker plus four blue guys. I’ve reduced the number to four here because, whereas the Outland Clan is presumably represented in Annual #1, that clan is here in revolt.”

22 (page 40-41) …the S’kytri were a culture of animists, believing all things on their planet indwelt by a living essence:Star Wars Gamer #1, ‘The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Marvel Series.’”

23 (page 44) Henceforth, a Jedi could have but one pupil: “From the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide.” [This note actually sources something I myself wrote in another Star Wars book as justification, which always seems like cheating to me—sort of like if theologians could write new gospels and then get to reference those additions as evidence when arguing subsequent positions. In any case, I wasn’t so proud as to let that moral quandary get in the way of me writing a good story. Obi-Wan’s full quote here is: “You see, millennia ago, during what my people call the Great Sith War, some of our number betrayed our brotherhood and turned to evil! What we Jedi refer to as the dark side of the Force. Though these renegades were defeated, our masters determined that this betrayal stemmed from a flawed system of mentorship, with far too many apprentices studying under a single Master. Henceforth, a Jedi could have but one pupil.”—ed.]

24 (page 47) The essence of the Jedi’s art is control: “i.e. the ‘archetypal’ Jedi, hence singular possessive.” [Here I found myself in a real pickle. Why? Because here the character Halagad is “remembering” the words of his former Jedi Master, which is a direct quote from the book Domain of Evil—and that quote contains a possessive form of “Jedi” that seems to contradict the grammarsplaining I did just a few footnotes ago arguing the plural possessive. Hence the “archetypal” clause I stipulate here. Jedi mind trick, you say?—ed.]

25 (page 48) Using the Force to levitate a person should be no harder than levitating a big rock. In theory: “Levitation of another ‘body’ was first seen in Return of the Jedi, when Luke levitates See-Threepio. Marvel Comics #89, published soon after, extended the idea by demonstrating that Luke was also capable of levitating a human body, albeit no longer living. The Clone Wars TV series extrapolated the next logical step, by showing Anakin levitate a living being, Padmé, in ‘Destroy Malevolence.’” [The idea of using the Force to levitate a living person may not seem controversial, but the fact that I could recall no precedent of it for decades (until the Clone Wars TV series provided an example in the midst of my writing SkyeWalkers) prompted this cautious note.—ed.]

26 (page 48) …committing my heart to the simple idea that if people only helped each other, there would be far fewer problems in the galaxy: “‘Mom, you said that the biggest problem with the universe right now is that no one helps each other.’—Anakin, The Phantom Menace

27 (page 49) If this prophecy of “the One” you speak is true: “The prophecy of ‘the One’ and the S’kytri’s pledge of loyalty, established in Star Wars Annual #1, is here logically dovetailed with the prophecy of the Chosen One from the prequels.” [This is one of those serendipitous coincidences that I was always grateful for when working with Star Wars continuity. As often as sources unwittingly contradicted one another, it seemed almost supernatural when a story published in 1978 essentially predicted a plot element of a movie from 2002.—ed.]

28 (page 53) Expressed another way, I am—in a Republic of a thousand-thousand worlds—no one: “There are hundreds of billions of stars estimated to populate the Milky Way Galaxy, and we might expect something similar in the Star Wars galaxy. But the phrase ‘thousand-thousand worlds,’ though suggesting a much smaller number, is a poetic metaphor for the extent of the Empire/Republic established in West End Games books such as The Imperial Sourcebook. The more scientifically sound estimate is referred to later in the narrative.” [On page 97.—ed.]

29 (page 58) With repulsive instinct, their bodies continuously shooked themselves of invisible crawlers: “That should indeed be ‘shooked’ and not ‘shook.’ A bit of poetic license.” [This “poetic license” was certainly less egregious than the neologism in the immediately preceding sentence, “micronnia,” which I coined with some reluctance when I couldn’t find a suitable “millennium” equivalent for a million years—the deeply awkward “megaannus” for astronomical contexts notwithstanding (and whose compatriot is the equally ungraceful thousand-year-counterpart “kilannus,” after all). Instead, I followed the SI-prefix conventions in the direction with belletristic precedent.—ed.]

30 (page 60) …in the absence of a true penetrating tetrahertz echolocator: “The term ‘echolocator’ comes from Children of the Jedi, pg. 65.” [And there’s actually a typo here. The “terahertz penetrating radar,” of which the echolocator is supposed to be one variety, was introduced in the novel Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines.]

31 (page 61) Obi-Wan didn’t entirely blame Anakin for sometimes confusing the clone troopers for something … less human: “Obi-Wan’s misgivings about clone troopers are spelled out in detail in The Cestus Deception, pg. 60: ‘If Obi-Wan was entirely honest with himself, he had to admit that large groups of clone troopers made him slightly uncomfortable… although genetically human, they had not led human lives: clone troopers were born and bred purely for war, without the nurturance of a mother’s embrace, or the safety of a father’s loving discipline. They looked human, they laughed and ate and fought and died like men. But if not human, what exactly were they?’”
32 (page 64) Long ago … the Jedi themselves experimented with cloning technology: “As established in Galaxy of Fear: Clones.”

33 (page 66) She felt something … invisible reaching into her consciousness, threading through her thoughts like fingertips through locks of hair: “This is a technique for detecting Force-sensitivity introduced in the Jedi Academy Trilogy novel Jedi Search.”

34 (page 68) Abruptly, a little ball of blue-yellow light blossomed spontaneously before her face: “Jaina Solo performs a similar trick in the novel The Crystal Star, pg. 105-106.”

35 (page 68) She watched Anakin’s face to see if he could make out her “A” “N” and “I figures: “These letters are here meant to be seen by the reader in an aurebesh font.” [It was pivotal for this scene that Anakin’s nickname “Ani” be spelled in the well-established alien script of Star Wars called Aurebesh. But because the manuscript was being submitted electronically, even though the font showed up fine on my computer, there was no guarantee that would be the case when it got to Lucasfilm. Hence, this footnote.—ed.]

36 (page 71) …we’ve got things there so nasty they’d make even Master Mace Windu shee in his Jedi robes: “As established in the novel Shatterpoint, the word ‘shee’ is an expletive in Mace Windu’s native tongue, Korruni.”

37 (page 74) Well, facts are facts… Here’s another one: Magnus is a Sith title: “Darth Malak is referred to as a ‘Sith Magnus’ in the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide. Its meaning given here is new.”

38 (page 74) The “Second Sith theory” had gained little traction:The concept of the ‘Second Sith,’ as a formal theory, is introduced in the comic Republic #63, wherein Jedi double-agent Quinlan Vos kills a senator because Dooku has led him to believe he is ‘the Second Sith.’ According to Labyrinth of Evil, pg. 58, the Jedi Council overwhelmingly believes Dooku was lying about Darth Sidious and that Dooku himself is the ‘Dark Lord.’” ~ Abel G. Peña

Sunday, May 3, 2015

SkyeWalkers: A Clone Wars Story Footnotes/Endnotes, Part 1—Obi-Wan's Brother and Jedis' Rules

Welcome! First things first. If you haven’t read my novella SkyeWalkers: A Clone Wars Story (and its companion short “Lone Wolf: A Tale of Obi-Wan and Luke”), your ass needs to do me and yourself a favor and enjoy the hell outta that.

Writing a Star Wars project is often a fun and rewarding assignment. But even after you’re done writing and editing it, and it is finally published, there still often remains for an author the task of promoting it, especially in modern publishing. One of the tools I’ve traditionally used for this end is what has become popularly known among fans as “endnotes.”

I can identify at least three different styles of footnotes/endnotes common to Star Wars authors. The most familiar of these are “endnotes” of a style pioneered by Pablo Hidalgo in a companion piece to Daniel Wallace’s The New Essential Chronology. This was a species of notes that amounted to a blow-by-blow account (or bean counting) of every cross-reference to another Star Wars work—movie, novel, comic, video game, trading card, toy, etc.—mentioned in the newly published project. It was a labor-intensive yet inexpensive style of self-promotion that I emulated early in my Star Wars writing career again and again and again. The tone of that class of notes is what I like to think of as “for the fans”: They’re technical checklists that can really only interest the most hardcore.

A second distinct, and less common, form of endnotes/footnotes in Star Wars publishing has been a kind of reflective remarks, similar to a director’s running commentary selectable in the “Special Features” submenu of a Blu-ray. Examples of this style include the “annotated” 20th anniversary edition of Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire and the endnotes for Book of Sith: Secrets From the Dark Side by Daniel Wallace. The tone of these notes tends to be somewhat “artsy”: a reader-who-is-also-a-writer’s or creative type’s cup of tea.

There is a third category of notes that Star Wars authors deal in which fans are much less familiar with, however. These are what I’ll call “editorial footnotes.” These are the footnotes that accompany some Star Wars authors’ manuscripts when those works touch on subjects of particular interest for an editor at Lucasfilm and/or at one of its licensees. These footnotes may take up a technical textual detail, a particularly knotty or obscure piece of continuity—a significant concern in the sprawling mythology of the original Star Wars Expanded Universe—or even comment on some current event or consideration indirectly relevant to the project. The tone of these notes I like to think of as “blue collar”: they’re a behind-the-scenes look at what the practical writing and approvals process for a major franchise project can be like. Sometimes the statements in the footnotes may seem overly obvious, while sometimes the contents border on the oblique.

There are about 80 editorial footnotes between SkyeWalkers and its companion story “Lone Wolf” (about 60 for the former and 20 for the latter). So I’ll break those up into four parts of about 20 footnotes each. For hardcore fans, this will only scratch the surface of the “checklist”-style endnotes I used to produce following a Star Wars project. But they will also give some insight into the idiosyncrasies of writing in a galaxy far, far away.

Well, without further ado, here is the first collection of editorial footnotes for SkyeWalkers: A Clone Wars Story—albeit presented to you in the form of endnotes. (Confused yet?)

1 (page 8) —his affectation for the wardrobe of Onderon’s bygone royal Magi Sentinels: “Named here for the first time, these elaborately robed Onderon guards appear in The Freedon Nadd Uprising.”

2 (page 13) But I thought these Kamino units were supposed to take all orders without question? “In Attack of the Clones, Lama Su describes the clones to Obi-Wan as follows: ‘You’ll find they are totally obedient, taking any order without question. We modified their genetic structure to make them less independent than the original host.’”

3 (page 14) The Kaminoans did say they considered a Thyrsus Sun Guard as prime donor for the GAR: “As stated in Galaxy at War.”

4 (page 15) We had the Triplehorn mountains bordering the Aldera Royal Palace: “4 The name for this mountain range is taken from Galaxy of Fear: Planet Plague.”

5 (page 16) Reminds me of my first lightsaber … Qui-Gon Jinn’s: “As explained in the novel Rogue Planet and Vader: The Ultimate Guide.”

6 (page 17) I guess that’s what happens when someone builds one of these in just two days: “According to the novel I, Jedi, during the Clone Wars Jedi Knights often built lightsabers in the span of two days.”

7 (page 17) Anakin and Halagad had recently partaken in an ancient ritual known as the Concordance of Fealty: “As stated in ‘Aliens in the Empire, Part II’ on, retconing a passage from Star Wars Annual #1.”

8 (page 28) And this is grounds for a newborn’s death sentence? “‘A small percentage of the population are born with reverse pigmentation, but the S’kytri consider them an abomination of nature and destroy these babies as soon as they are detected.’—Star Wars Gamer #1, ‘The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Marvel Series,’ pg. 61”

* (page 29) Their eyes were as seeled: “That is, in fact, meant to be ‘seel,’ as in the falconry practice, and not ‘seal.’” [This is one of those editorial notes that can come off a little pretentious, but is unfortunately sometimes necessary. The S’kytri may look humanoid, but their culture draws heavily from bird influences; Star Wars Annual #1, in which they were introduced, was subtitled “The Long Hunt/A Duel of Eagles,” after all.]

9 (page 30) Hope—or lack of it—Obi-Wan knew, had a manifestive influence on the energy field surrounding all living things: “From the novel Planet of Twilight.” [“But Callista had told him that hope, too, can sometimes affect the Force.”—ed.]

10 (page 31) Anakin experienced a decisive falling out with his closest Jedi Temple acquaintances: his best friend, Tru Veld, and his occasional rival, Ferus Olin: “As seen in Jedi Quest: The Final Showdown.”

11 (page 32) But Halagad’s master never made it back: “This mission was established in the HoloNet News article ‘Virgillian Jedi Envoy Declared Lost’ at The circumstances of Halagad’s escape are new.”

12 (page 32) Anakin had become considerably withdrawn since the loss of his mother: “Obi-Wan would be aware of this, as The Clone Wars: Wild Space shows Anakin telling his master almost immediately after the Battle of Geonosis that his mother is dead.”

13 (page 32) The young man was as atypical as apprentices came. Not in terms of appearance: “Halagad’s physical appearance is established in Domain of Evil and ‘Republic HoloNet News Special Inaugural Edition’ in Star Wars Insider #84, while his background is predominantly drawn from Domain of Evil.” [The physical description of Halagad, as well as the assertion that “he looked every bit the heroic stereotype of a Jedi Knight,” was maybe the most cringe worthy meta moment I experienced while writing SkyeWalkers. (Second place goes to Halagad and Magnus staring vulnerably into each others eyes.)—ed.]

14 (page 32-33) Ventor was a product of the heterodox Almas academy, admitted into the Jedi Order at the tender age of seventeen:Domain of Evil states, ‘When he reached manhood, Ventor set out to find a Jedi Master to teach him the arts.’ Halagad is established as having attended the Almas academy, known for taking older Padawans, in Dawn of Defiance: Echoes of the Jedi.”

15 (page 33) the Jedi Watchman responsible for the gaffe in protocol, Master Jorus C’baoth—dead five years now: “Jorus C’baoth’s position as Jedi Watchman for Alderaan is mentioned in the Pello Scrambas databank entry at His death occurs in the novel Outbound Flight.”

16 (page 33) Obi-Wan had often wondered whether it was right of the Jedi to take infants from their families in the first place: “As seen in The Approaching Storm, pg. 107.”

17 (page 34) living life outside the Jedis’ rules and strictures: “Everyone knows that the term ‘Jedi’ is used in the singular and plural instances, but multiple times in The Phantom Menace screenplay, George Lucas himself writes the plural possessive as Jedis’ with an ‘s,’ followed by the apostrophe.” [This footnote cuts REAL deep. To quote Mark Hamill in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Don't fuck with the Jedi Master, son—ed.]

18 (page 34) Obi-Wan had briefly renounced the Jedi Order to fight in the Melida/Daan Civil War: “As seen in Jedi Apprentice: Defenders of the Dead and Jedi Apprentice: The Uncertain Path.”

19 (page 34) and, later, there had been that harrowing year spent on Mandalore: “As mentioned in the Clone Wars TV episode, ‘Voyage of Temptation.’”

20 (page 34-35) He vaguely recalled a mother … and a father. A brother. It was all so long ago: “From Jedi Apprentice: The Hidden Past, pg. 97. Written before Attack of the Clones confirmed that Owen is Anakin’s (and not Obi-Wan’s) step-brother, I’ve injected some ambiguity into Obi-Wan’s recollection of the visit in order to retain the viability of his emotional response to that ‘memory.’ The theme of ‘brothers’ is not just the central thesis of this story, but proves key to Obi-Wan working through his feelings about having Halagad as an additional apprentice (foreshadowing his dialogue and confession in Revenge of the Sith, ‘You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you!’), since Anakin shares with Halagad a distinctly brotherly bond that Obi-Wan feels envious of.” ~ Abel G. Peña