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In this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories, we discuss Star Wars storytelling from a range of mediums, including books, television, and movies. Kay, Tricia, and B.J. are joined by FANgirl contributor Linda for our discussion and conversation.

Before getting into storytelling analysis, we share our reactions to recent officially released Star Wars news. We talk about the toy box character images for The Last Jedi, the announcement of major panels at Celebration for The Last Jedi and the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, and the beginning of principal photography for the young Han Solo standalone movie, which also included confirmation of several additional cast members.

For our meta segment, instead of examining our usual theme of speculating wisely we delve into the ongoing problem of unapproved spoiler leaks made by individuals with review copies of books. The situation garnered widespread attention this month in connection with Chuck Wendig’s new novel Aftermath: Empire’s End. While some amount of leaks on social media has been typical, this time major genre sites such as Mashable and io9 reported on an interlude in the book prior to the book’s release. Although screener episodes of television shows present a similar risk, Star Wars fandom has been fairly lucky in that regard compared to extensive leaks seen in The Walking Dead fandom. We discuss the obligations owed by reviewers to other fans, as well as potential reactions by Lucasfilm or other franchises to reduce the occurrence of these spoilers.

Star Wars Rebels aired a pair of episodes centered on Sabine Wren, “Trials of the Darksaber” and “Legacy of Mandalore,” that take the focus of our world-building segment. We examine Sabine’s story arc over the three seasons of the show, culminating in these episodes, especially the development of her interactions with Ezra and Kanan. We note in particular, too, the importance of “Legacy of Mandalore” as a mother-daughter story, which so far have been sparse in Star Wars. With their inclusion of the Darksaber legend and the political upheaval within the culture, these episodes also position Mandalorians as a powerful third faction in the galaxy along with the Jedi and Sith or the Rebellion and the Empire.

The storytelling segment this month revisits Rogue One to analyze the controversial use of computer-generated effects to create the faces of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia in the film. While storytelling sometimes requires the inclusion of certain characters due to the context or themes of a tale, only the live-action cinema side of Star Wars raises the issue of casting those roles with actors. In Rogue One some characters were played by their original actors, others were recast, and CG was used for Tarkin and Leia. Guy Henry’s interviews with Business Insider and The Hollywood Reporter provide insight into the creative process of performing the role, but do not answer the question whether it was necessary to digitally substitute the late Peter Cushing’s face for Henry’s. With the Han Solo movie also recasting several iconic characters, we share our thought on whether Lucasfilm should ever repeat the digital-face technique after Rogue One.

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Direct download: Hyperspace_Theories_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:20pm EDT

This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories continues our discussion of storytelling lessons to be learned from Rogue One. In addition, we look ahead to the next Star Wars film and share our thoughts on the legacy of Carrie Fisher.

We begin with our reactions to the newly revealed title of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. The title has connections to The Force Awakens, of course, as well as to familiar themes from other Star Wars stories and the Legends tales. We also ponder the potential implications of the red lettering used in the title announcement.

In our meta segment on speculating wisely, we evaluate the role of movie trailers in speculation on future Star Wars films. For both that film and The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm has released trailers which seek to convey the tone, themes, and feel of the story but which include scenes and dialogue that do not appear in the final film. We discuss the merits and risks of this approach, particularly if the franchise is trying to maintain a lockdown on spoilers. On the other hand, it is now clear that both The Force Awakens and Rogue One were undergoing major editing, reshoots and pickups, dialogue replacement, and others changes in the months, even final weeks, before the films’ releases. With Rogue One in particular, some of the seeming inconsistencies in the characterization of Jyn Erso in the early trailers compared to the later trailers and advertisements may have arisen from the changes made during Tony Gilroy’s significant reworking of the story. This raises a comparison to Star Wars Rebels, which, like The Clone Wars before it, has a consistent track record of trailers that include scenes and dialogue matching the final episodes to air. We wonder whether Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, which already is deep into editing and seems to have avoided the mad dash revising of the previous two films, will have trailers and marketing more comparable to Rebels than those movies.

Our segment on world-building also revisits the production process of Rogue One and its ramifications on the story and characters. Relying on the information revealed in The Art of Rogue One, as well as a number of recent interviews by the film’s editors, we discuss major shifts in the development process. The stage of development for the characters and story of Rogue One include the initial treatment and sizzle reel by John Knoll, creative development in 2014 led by Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta culminating in a screenplay by Whitta, a script rewrite by Chris Weitz (including, among other things, the creation of Chirut and Baze), principal photography by Edwards in 2015, extensive script revisions and reshoots from Tony Gilroy in the summer of 2016, and then final editing of the film into its ultimate form. We discuss how these instances of significant rethinking, over a relatively short span of time, impacted the tone, feel, and internal consistency of the plot and characters.

This month’s storytelling segment is dedicated to Carrie Fisher. In addition to talking about her importance as Leia Organa, both within the story and to fandom and the real world, we also share our thoughts on Carrie Fisher as a storyteller herself. From her script doctoring to Postcards from the Edge and The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher could make us laugh and cry, and sometimes both at the same time.

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Direct download: Hyperspace_Theories_25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57pm EDT

The team from FANgirl reacts to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Direct download: Hyperspace_Theories_24.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:46pm EDT

Tricia Barr, BJ Priester and Kay ponder the imminent possibilities for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, out December 16th. Looking ahead to Episode VIII, they consider Rian Johnson's impact on the franchise, including a look at his film camp. Star Wars Rebels Season 3 gives us a chance to discuss fan service versus character growth.

Direct download: HT_23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:30pm EDT

For the third consecutive year, I was delighted to moderate a panel on the Heroine’s Journey at GeekGirlCon in Seattle. Inspired by The Force Awakens and its breakout heroine Rey, we titled this year’s panel “The Heroine’s Journey: Awakening Its Potential.” Tricia Barr and Jennifer K. Stuller returned again as panelists, and we were joined for the first time by Teresa Jusino, a feminist pop culture critic and an assistant editor at TheMarySue.

After introducing the panelists and our respective backgrounds and interests in analysis of the Heroine’s Journey, we briefly reviewed the contexts of our prior discussion for those attendees who hadn’t seen the previous panels. We emphasized that Joseph Campbell’s famous Hero’s Journey framework has its roots in historical myths that arose from patriarchal, misogynist, and unjust societies – yet many storytellers today continue to reflexively rely on its familiar elements without considering the implications for contemporary characters and audiences. The goal, though, is not necessarily to reject Campbell out of hand, but rather for storytellers to make sure they undertake informed decision-making about creating heroes and their character arcs.

We then turned to sharing our thoughts on recent stories which have succeeded in creating Heroine’s Journey tales that can serve as good models for other storytellers. Tricia talked about Rey and The Force Awakens, and Teresa praised the joy of Kara’s adventures in CBS’s Supergirl. Jen noted the great dynamic between Brienne of Tarth and Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones, which inverts medieval fantasy tropes. Netflix also earned acclaim for shows including Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Stranger Things. Common themes we identified in well-crafted Heroine’s Journey include the roles of sisters and mothers, teamwork with allies instead of solo heroism, the importance of mentors, and an emphasis on love and compassion.

We also discussed the pros and cons of the concept of a Heroine’s Journey framework in storytelling. The similar idea of “strong female character,” for example, often is misunderstood as referring to physical prowess rather than other forms of strength such as willpower, or misses the point that advocating for more and better “complex” or “well-written” female characters is the most important goal. On the one hand, show like Jessica Jones or Game of Thrones illustrate that the value in not limiting the focus to heroism as such, but rather encouraging the creation of more stories of all types with women protagonists. More female characters with nuance and agency in lead roles will make a huge differences in evolving tropes, even if some of them are anti-heroes or other non-heroic characters. On the other hand, Tricia pointed out, Hollywood often only understands simple terms, so the terminology of the Heroine’s Journey may be valuable as a form of consciousness-raising to keep the goal of creating aspirational heroes for girls and women at the forefront of the discussion in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, we urged storytellers to consider both perspectives – all in service of the goal of ensuring thoughtful decision-making about how Heroine’s Journeys, and other stories with female protagonists, are designed and written.

 


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Direct download: GGC16_HJ_panel.mp3
Category:Special Edition -- posted at: 4:07pm EDT

This month Lucasfilm released the full-length theatrical trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. After our first recording of our reactions to the trailer was mangled by a pack of electronic gremlins, we sat down to record them again. In the meantime, several more interesting comments about the film emerged in the entertainment press, so we were able take those into account in our comments on the trailer this time.

This trailer for Rogue One is notable in several respects. For one, it continues the trend we've discussed previously: portraying Jyn much more as an inspiring leader taking charge of a mission against the Empire, rather than the belligerent criminal reluctantly conscripted into the Rebellion we saw in the first teaser. This also calls to mind Kathleen Kennedy's description of Jyn back in June, but with more emphasis on Jyn as "a kind of Joan of Arc in the story" rather than as a "streetwise delinquent."

In addition, this trailer has marked differences from the trailers for The Force Awakens last year. It appears to flow roughly in chronological order for the film: from Jyn's childhood to her liberation from Imperial custody by the Rebels, to the Yavin base and on to Jedha, and then to Scarif. The Rogue One trailer also reveals much more about the story of the film: who the protagonist characters are and what they are fighting for. While we still wonder whether the timeline placement in relation to the other Star Wars films will be clear enough to the casual audience who hasn't been paying close attention to the marketing of Rogue One to date, this trailer is a definite improvement in providing an "elevator pitch" for the movie to those fans. Now we have a better sense of who these characters are, and why we should root for them.

Check out the episode for our full thoughts on the trailer, including Director Krennic, Galen Erso, Darth Vader, and more.

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Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_Rogue_One_Trailer_Dissection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09pm EDT

Maybe you don't need an excuse to re-watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but we'll give you one any for #InternationalPodcastDay!

Hyperspace Theories had its origins in significant part in the excitement of the buildup to Episode VII, when our interests in storytelling and informed speculation converged. At that time, we were endeavoring not only to sift credible rumors from less plausible ones from among the reports in fandom and entertainment media venues, but also to work through the storytelling decisions necessarily involved in crafting the movie's characters, world-building, themes, and plot. From that dual exercise, the format of Hyperspace Theories was forged, and we have since explored numerous aspects of informed speculation, storytelling, characterization, and world-building in Star Wars.

Given that origin story, then, it only makes sense that our first movie commentary track episode is The Force Awakens. In addition to sharing our thoughts and reactions to our favorite aspects of the film, we also discuss how the movie presents its storytelling choices to the audience.

Cue up your DVD, Blu-ray, or digital copy of The Force Awakens and watch along with Tricia, B.J., and Kay as Rey, Finn, Poe, and the rest begin the next trilogy of the Star Wars saga.

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Direct download: Hyperspace_Theories_TFA_Commentary.mp3
Category:Special Edition -- posted at: 9:19pm EDT

We’re beginning to learn more about the production and story of Rogue One, and these developments are the focus of this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories.

Whether based on information revealed previously or the newer details, speculation about Rogue One has to take into account the involvement of a significant new player in the movie’s production: Tony Gilroy. The Hollywood Reporter disclosed his prominent role in both the filming of reshoots and the editing of the film in post-production. Subsequently the latest teaser trailer confirmed that Gilroy also is a co-screenwriter – Rogue One has “story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta” and “screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy” in the credits. Under the WGA’s rules for awarding writing credit, this means Gilroy made major additional contributions to the screenplay after Weitz’s version, which itself was a complete reworking of Whitta’s draft. Gilroy is highly regarded for his work on the Bourne movie series, produced by Frank Marshall, as well as his own project, Michael Clayton. He also previously worked with Gareth Edwards in completing Godzilla, so the collaboration on Rogue One seems to be a natural fit. Further insight into Gilroy’s perspective on storytelling and movie-making appears in his BAFTA screenwriter’s lecture, which is definitely worth the time.

Before concluding our meta segment on speculating wisely, we also discussed Kathleen Kennedy’s comments on the importance of female executives in the development process, and Kay shared her thoughts on Carrie Fisher’s appearance at Wizard World.

Our world-building segment turns to the two Rogue One teaser trailers released recently. One aired on NBC during the Olympics; the other premiered in Japan. We share our reactions to the two trailers, and note how they convey different messages about the story of the movie and its characters.

We also consider Edwards’ comments on what the title Rogue One might mean, and some hints about the planet Jedha from Entertainment Weekly. Additional images from the film appeared in Empire magazine and EW’s gallery.

For the storytelling segment, we turn to the characters of Rogue One. So far the most has been shared about the lead, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. She spoke to EW about her character, as well as to Kyle Buchanan at Vulture, who shared several outtakes on Twitter. Additionally, Forest Whitaker at EW offered some intriguing insights into Saw Gerrera at the time of Rogue One, including a fascinating parallel with none other than Darth Vader. While hardcore Star Wars fans have been excited by what’s been revealed so far about the movie, we noted the ongoing discussion in fandom and the media about whether the marketing has been doing enough to reach casual fans. The Hollywood Reporter noted that reaction in China has been muted, especially compared to other properties, like the Marvel films, which already have a large established presence in the country.

We conclude the episode with our plot bunny giveaway, with inspiration drawn from the Rogue One trailers.

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Direct download: HT_20_final_rev.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:23am EDT

For the July episode of Hyperspace Theories, our topic of discussion naturally is Star Wars Celebration Europe, held in London on July 15-16, 2016. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester attended the convention, and Kay caught up on all the excitement with the official livestream from The Star Wars Show and the other great video content shared on the official Star Wars YouTube channel.

The show opens with overall reactions to Celebration. In the end Tricia, BJ and Kay agree with the assessment of Graeme McMillan’s article in The Hollywood Reporter that the convention focused on the fans and their engagement with and passion for the franchise, rather than on breaking news or seeking coverage in the entertainment media. One major theme of Celebration, like last year’s convention in Anaheim, was how much Lucasfilm understands and appreciates the importance of the fans to Star Wars’ success.
Another interesting theme at Celebration was Lucasfilm’s goal of leading the push into the future of storytelling mediums. Tricia and B.J. both got to experience the ILMxLAB virtual reality short story “Trials on Tatooine.” The interaction between technology and storytelling also played a big part in the panel on STEM Heroes & Heroines of Star Wars that Tricia organized.

Discussion moves on to the two tentpoles of Celebration Europe this year. For the upcoming standalone movie Rogue One, the Hyperspace Theories team analyzes the panel, the sizzle reel, and the exhibit of costumes on the show floor. For Star Wars Rebels, the big news is the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the iconic villains of the Star Wars Legends tales, as the featured adversary for the Ghost crew in Season Three. Our last episode covered the 25th anniversary of Heir to the Empire, the novel in which Thrawn was introduced; at Celebration, we learned that author Timothy Zahn also is returning to pen the new novel Thrawn to reintroduce the character’s story leading up to his appearance in Rebels.

The show concludes with the Future Filmmakers panel, which was light on information but gave a lot of insight into the directors of the next Star Wars films. Rian Johnson shared a list of classic movies that comprised a “film camp” he held as inspiration for the people working on Episode VIII. Phil Lord and Chris Miller brought both humor and heart, as well as new Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich, for their untitled movie.

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You can also listen to Hyperspace Theories at Libsyn or download the show there. Or subscribe on iTunes. If you listen, please rate us and write a review as a simple offer of gratitude. Hyperspace Theories is now available on Stitcher, as well.

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Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_19_main.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48am EDT

The team from FANgirl Blog dive into the New York Times Bestselling novel Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray.

Direct download: HyperspaceTheories_18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm EDT