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July 9th, 2007


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01:39 am - Musings on the Star Wars universe
I'm currently working on a project for the new Star Wars Saga Edition for Wizards of the Coast. I initially took the job because WOTC pays well and swiftly and I have always had a very mild interest in Star Wars. I've seen all 6 movies, and enjoyed The New Hope, very much liked The Empire Strikes Back, Thought Return of the Jedi was fun until they got to Endor and the Ewoks, which were dreadful (the original plan to use Wookies would have been vastly better). I also thought the three most recent movies utterly sucked, but did have the sole virtue of being very pretty.

I've been using Wookieepedia fairly extensively and have also been taking breaks from work-related research to simply read it, and I'm discovering that the Star Wars universe is actually quite fascinating and cool. I like many of the small details of this setting and while parts are goofy, some of the worlds are exceedingly nifty and the cultures interesting. For the first time, I feel something akin to what I've heard many fans of the Harry Potter setting speak and write about - that the setting is far more interesting than almost all of what's been done with it.

George Lucas couldn't write good characters to save his life, but I'm finding that I very much like the universe and the world building and I've definitely come to the conclusion that it would be a wonderful universe to read novels set in or to roleplay in. Unfortunately, I think the old West End Games D6 Star Wars was somewhat clunky (if also serviceable) and I'm simply not all that fond of D20, or in fact any game that uses levels. So, if I was ever to run or play in it, I'd likely use a conversion to some system I like (almost certainly Cinematic Unisystem , which seems custom-made for Star Wars gaming).

I'm also interested in finding some good Star Wars novels, if such things exist. I'm especially looking for novels set in the Old Republic (before The Clone Wars, and most of all, I'm interested in novels that are both relatively well-written (ie better than any of the movies) and where the author has a good sense of the setting and does good world-description. In both gaming and fiction, a good sense of place is an important part of my enjoyment. So, given that my favorite authors are Alastair Reynolds, Kage Baker, Andre Norton, Ken MacLeod, and Melissa Scott and value both well-done characters and significant skill at rich, consistent, and believable world-description, what would you folks recommend to me?
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:xuenay
Date:July 9th, 2007 09:16 am (UTC)
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While I don't know about the Old Republic era novels (did most of my Star Wars reading before the prequel movies), I thought Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn were among the best SW authors out there. I admit it's been a while since I read the books, but to the best of my recall they were good. IIRC Stackpole puts more emphasis on the characterization and has somewhat more down-to-the-earth stories (though that's not saying much, considering that this is Star Wars), while Zahn has more of the political intrigue.

As a side note, I cut my roleplaying teeth on the WEG D6 SW. I still think replacing that infinitely beautiful (okay, so nostalagia might be coloring my sentiments a bit) system with the class- and level-based D20 was a horrible act of sacrilege.
[User Picture]
From:bright_lilim
Date:July 9th, 2007 09:54 am (UTC)
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I don't think there are novels set in the Old Republic times. However, if I'm wrong, I would love to read those as well provided that they didn't suck utterly.

There has been quite a few comics set in that time and I've loved the ones I've been able to get my hands on.
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:July 9th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
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Premission to steal that icon?
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From:bright_lilim
Date:July 10th, 2007 11:02 am (UTC)
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Sure. I stole it myself.
From:aarondb
Date:July 9th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
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Shatterpoint (by Matthew Stover) - set during the Clone Wars, sorry - is the closest thing the EU has to literature. It's about Mace Windu going back to his home world.

I'm not big on Zahn or anything post-Jedi. It tends to be shallow grandstanding of the "But this planet-destroying threat is BIGGER than the last!" variety, and hokey jazz like Force-resistant lizards comes into it, etc. It gets ugly.
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From:slothman
Date:July 9th, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC)
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The games Knights of the Old Republic and the sequel, The Sith Lords, are available for PC and X-box and do a really good job of capturing the original Star Wars feel. (Also feel free to raid any of my work-in-progress at Rise of the Jedi.)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:April 7th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
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I was looking over this recently and was reminded that I'd not posted this
analysis of the Star Wars universe that I did a while back on my lj. It occurred to me that you might be interested this analysis - the basic idea being that in the SWU, electronics and all related technology and science completely stalled at mid 21st century/ GURPS 4E TL 9, and all of the more advanced technologies in the SWU are due to the availability of special materials that break physical laws in various unusual and useful ways.
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From:slothman
Date:April 8th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC)
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That makes a lot of sense; I see it as an equilibrium: as their technology advances, they develop increasing ability to create superweapons that let them blow up everyone with advanced tech knowledge, and the cycle begins again. (They don’t seem to develop wisdom at the same rate as they develop technology.) I also posit that all the extropian sorts have already gone through their own Singularity and the rest of the galaxy have self-selected for the kind of conservatism that avoids that kind of radical change. I’m using that principle when contemplating the kind of cyberware such a culture would have: lots of things that are very practical, but staying away from serious cognitive enhancement and other dangerous things that are known to start down the path of acceleration.
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From:indicoyote
Date:July 9th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC)
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It's been a while since I read any Star Wars books, though I really enjoyed them when I was first getting into science fiction in general. My feelings about Star Wars seem to be very similar to yours; I love the setting,but can really take or leave most of the actual movies (Though you really couldn't tell by how much I talk about them.) What I tend to look for in books seems similar to yours too, so let's see what I can remember.

The Corellia Trilogy is lots of fun. It's set fairly well after the movies, with the expected characters, but there's a lot more going on there, dealing with the three inhabited planets in the system Han Solo came from, each with very distinct species and interesting remnants of very old technology. This is one of the ones I read in high school though, so it's possible I was just much more easily impressed then. ;)

Rogue Planet by Greg Bear(!). This one I read more recently, in college, and it seems to fit what you're looking for very well; it's set in the Old Republic (Marginally: a couple years after Phantom Menace) but it certainly has a lot of character work, and there's a heap of focus given to the titular setting there, which, while maybe not a useful setting for an RPG itself, definitely shows more of the fun things you can do with a setting like Star Wars.
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From:amberite
Date:July 10th, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)

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Barbara Hambly wrote one (Children of the Jedi) that I rather loved. It wasn't "Star Wars flavored", which made lots of people dislike it, but it was strange and eerie and beautiful and sad.

I also like the Zahn; I think you will like them, because they have that sort of stylistically clean, hard-SF vibe, and the characterization is actually pretty good -- not vastly deeply dimensioned, because this is Star Wars, but true and readable.
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From:bruceb
Date:July 10th, 2007 06:15 am (UTC)
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Michael Kube-McDowell's Black Fleet Crisis trilogy has really, really good psychology and politics of the New Republic 15 years on or so, and cool hard-feeling-even-though-actually-soft sf for tactics ands tuff.

Brian Daley's old Han Solo novels are a joy, full of the attitude that makes vintage Poul Anderson and Keith Laumer fun.
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From:rjgrady
Date:July 10th, 2007 08:15 pm (UTC)
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The only Star Wars novel I can wholeheartedly recommend is Shatterpoint. It's very nearly literary, an amazing blend of space opera, Heart of Darkness, and maybe even a little Dune.

The rest range from entertaining to causing me mental anguish.

[User Picture]
From:rjgrady
Date:July 16th, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC)
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I'm currently working on a project for the new Star Wars Saga Edition for Wizards of the Coast.

Hey, I forgot to express my enormous jealousy. I wish I were working on a project for Saga!


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