Thursday, June 7, 2012

5 on 5 Roundtable: Star Wars: Awakening

Welcome to a special THURSDAY edition of the “5 on 5” Star Wars Roundtable! I will be attending the Star Wars Weekend on Friday and so I am bringing you this edition today. A special shout-out goes to the Star Wars “Geeks of the World Unite” group on Facebook for supplying the panelists. In addition, we are joined by Mark Cristobal, author of Artoo Detoo: Droid of a Kind. Our topic this week is the novel, Star Wars: Awakening. Enjoy!

1) Fact or Fiction: Khian is the new Han Solo.
Yvonne: Fiction. Hmm… I never thought about him like that. He was always a person of his own and I didn’t compare him with any other character of the Star Wars Universe. So for me he is not the new Han Solo, he is Khian, and that’s good so!!
Blaine: Fact. Make that fiction, in a superior sense. Han Solo was a shoot-first, luck-of-the-draw type dude, relying more on flukes than on actual skill. Khian on the other hand was immensely superior to him, as he was actually trained in the use of his weapons. Little more gruff, less well-kept, and I really would NOT want to come onto his bad side.
Alida: Fiction. Although Khian is a total badass there can only be one Han Solo <3....Khian is very mysterious and interesting and maybe even a bit sexy, he has some "luggage" which makes him somewhat grave. He has his blade "Alanna" and is probably better skilled in combat .Han on the other hand is also a total badass, but not grave at all!!He tries to make the best of each situation and makes jokes about it. In short: Han is sexy and he knows it!!!!
Mark: Fact. On a certain point of view, at least for me. Two different guys with different backgrounds and era, not to mention different Star Wars dimension. In the case of Awakening, then yes, Khian may well be the Han Solo of this wonderful re-invention saga. I don’t see them comparable in terms of role or personality but on their basic symbolism, the spice in the mixture per say. These are two tough men with colorful and very interesting background struggling in the universe to find their lost purpose of existence.
Darryl: True. While there is not a one-to-one correlation, Khian shares many of Solo's attributes, as well as creating a similar dynamic in the storyline. The quick wise-cracks, the mysterious background, and the knack for being in the right place at the right time are very Solo-esque. He's the anti-hero demanded by any saga worth its salt.

2) Phantom Menace Padme vs Awakening Padme, who wins?
Yvonne: To be honest, I wasn’t a big Padme fan before I read SWA. But the Padme in SWA got my sympathy, because she actually has more fire and spirit in her and also an emotional side that is not overdone! That’s how I like women!
Blaine: Awakening Padme, because she actually picked up a blaster and killed stuff besides brainless blocks of metal.
Alida: Awakening Padme will beat The Phantom Menace Padme in a hart beat!!!I was never a fan of Padme (sorry..) but Awakening Padme is much more confident and powerful than TPM Padme. She knows what she wants and goes for it, even if it means breaking a few rules ;) TPM Padme is (to me) a nagging indecisive girl.
Mark: Not exactly a fair match, TPM Padme is a teenage first-time Queen whose world is under siege while Awakening Padme is a planetary senator whose scope of authority and power leans heavily more on legislative areas than that of a Queen Padme’s monarch rule. Awakening Padme has the edge; her character is older and more mature.
Darryl: No contest. Awakening, hands down. If you'd named her Leia, I'd have accepted it without a blink. None of the overwrought ceremonialism of TPM, but all of the political intrigue, Awakening's Padme was smart, tough, in over her head, but up to the task.

3) True or False: The absence of Jar-Jar Binks is noticeable.
Yvonne: True. It made my heart crumble, that Jar-Jar wasn’t the main character in this book! *lol* No honestly, that was one of the best things in this book! I wasn’t annoyed with any character!
Blaine: True, though not necessarily an improvement. As I have admitted before, I don't hate Jar-Jar. However, the addition of other characters pretty much covered for him. Again, not in a bad way, as I know David Gremillion particularly hated him.
Alida: True. I was not annoyed at all so I noticed he wasn't there. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Gungan city and the fact that it was under water but Jar-Jar was to annoying. It was a nice idea of Mr. Lucas to want to add a comic relief, but it had been better if it had been a Han Solo-kind of humor.I was glad there was no Jar-Jar icky-pooing all over the place in Awakening.
Mark: False. I didn’t notice his absence because he is not needed. Besides he’s a Gungan local of Naboo, Padme here is an Alderaanian Planetary Senator. Unless of course if you consider imagining Jar Jar Binks as a Caamasi. That’ll entirely rebuild his persona because the Caamasi are a peaceful and contemplative species.
Darryl: False. Jar Jar WHO? He added nothing of substance to TPM - other than marketing profits from the cute-factor contingent in GL's audience - and I didn't even give him a passing thought as I read Awakening.

4) Most intriguing new character is?
Yvonne: Khian of course! I loved this character the first time he appeared in the book! His comments made me laugh, and he is a really interesting character in this story and Im looking forward to Book 2 and hopefully we get to know him even more! I mean who didn’t wish to have such a friend and bodyguard like him?
Blaine: Issic. Looking forward to seeing more of him. He reminds me of me, actually. Reserved, temperamental, but still commanding, if I'm reading his character right.
Alida: The most intriguing character would be either Khian, Aiya Rios or Felic Ordon. It's hard to decide, I like all three of them!!. Khian is mysterious, strong and sexy, what’s not to like? Aiya is a badass pilot; don't forget she almost beat Anakin while she isn't able to use the force! But.....Felic is my favorite. He is a bad guy, I know, but he fascinates me! I was always curious what he was up to and why. I was very much intrigued by his character and his motives. And don't we all have a "dark side"??
Mark: Major Issic. Who is this guy? What powerful connections does he have for him to be involved in such grand yet secret project? His role in Awakening could pique enough curiosity and generates enough mystery that he could very well be depicted in his own solo novel trilogy.
Darryl: I'm going to take a left-turn here and nominate: Anakin. Although he goes by the same name, the Anakin of Awakening was a completely new, different, and most importantly, a believable character. This is an arrogant, immature, conflicted guy I could definitely see going to the Dark Side with the proper enticement. Although not evil, necessarily, his self-centeredness and narcissism peg him as a bad choice to be given a position of power and authority, and I'm looking very much forward to see how his decline and fall play out.

5) Biggest difference between The Phantom Menace and Awakening is?
Yvonne: Good dialogues and the characters were authentic. And Darth Maul got was he deserved: a bigger and badass part in SWA!!! Hehe
Blaine: Maul had more lines, and was not some mindless killing machine. Missed Qui-Gon a bit, but not too much. And the addition of Khian and Issic was pretty amazing.
Alida: There are many differences between Star Wars Awakening and The Phantom Menace. One of the most significant to me is Darth Maul. Danger radiates from him, you just know he is evil. And he could speak more than two words!!!I totally loved the fight scene between him and Anakin where he tries to seduce Anakin to come to the dark side!!!I also liked Anakin and Padme being around the same age, it makes the romance more credible. But, believe it or not, Anakin still is a nasty piece of work!!!
Mark: Everything! Anakin Skywalker starts out as a young adult, Padme Amidala is a Planetary Senator, Darth Maul is… well… different, Obi-Wan although still somewhat that same persona is still different. Awakening is a fresh path for the beginning of the first saga. It’s like entering a forked road before reaching the main road that was the Original Trilogy. On one side was Phantom Menace and the other was Awakening. Each a unique experience and both leads to that immortal epic space opera that was the Original/Classic Trilogies of Star Wars.
Darryl: The Phantom Menace was visually stunning, but an uneven story, not consistent at all with so many elements of the OT. They've been pointed out endlessly already, but I won't rehash them here. Awakening presents a scenario which is perfectly in keeping with the canon as laid out in the OT. I have yet to find a single aspect of it which I can't tie in to the original story, unlike TPM. Take Gremillion's story, apply $100 million in CGI, and you've got a REAL Episode one, worthy of the franchise.

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writers, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.


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