Wed, 31 July 2019
This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories takes us from books to fashion to movies, with plenty in between. Six months out from the release of The Rise of Skywalker, Tricia, B.J., and Kay look ahead to what might come next for Star Wars and its fans.
We begin, though, in the present: discussing the recently released novel Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. Taking place shortly after the defeat of the Empire, the book is the first in a trilogy telling the story of a group of pilots, each flying a different type of starfighter, who are tasked with tracking down an elite Imperial starfighter wing. We evaluate the book on its own terms, how it works to kick off a trilogy, and its relationship to Freed’s other work. As big fans of the X-Wing novel series in the Expanded Universe (Legends) era – featuring the tales of Rogue Squadron by Mike Stackpole and Wraith Squadron by Aaron Allston – we also consider how Alphabet Squadron compares and contrasts with those beloved stories. (For more, you can check out Kay’s review of the novel, too.)
Earlier this month, Tricia and B.J. had the opportunity to attend San Diego Comic-Con as credentialed media for Fangirls Going Rogue, and they share some of their insights and reactions from the convention here on Hyperspace Theories, too. We start with the Her Universe Fashion Show, which Kay was able to follow along thanks to livestreams and social media. The work of the designers was impressive as always! Tricia talks about some of the other geek fashion she covered at the convention, as well. We also talk about the Star Wars panels at SDCC, including the Lucasfilm Publishing panel and a bit of Star Wars comics news, along with several other panels examining the role of women in pop culture and the entertainment industry.
One of the SDCC panels Tricia attended gathered a group of experts to discuss how fans and fandoms display their reactions and emotions when long-running stories end. We take this idea as a starting point to look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars, both of which reach highly anticipated endpoints this year. With Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, the MCU drew to close a ten-year, 22-movie epic storyline and resolved the fates of a number of prominent characters from the series. In December, The Rise of Skywalker will conclude a nine-movie, four-decade Skywalker Saga story told in the Star Wars films. We note the similarities and differences in the two franchises, and consider how the reactions to the end of the MCU’s Phase Three may or may not necessarily transpose to the aftermath of Episode IX. In particular, the Phase 4 slate of new films and Disney+ series announced at SDCC keeps the MCU moving forward at a fast pace, and with great strides in improving the diversity of the talent on screen and behind the scenes at Marvel Studios. By contrast, Lucasfilm currently is scheduled to have a three-year break before the next film and has only two Disney+ series announced for that time period; on the other hand, Star Wars tells stories in animation, books, and comics that continue to advance the same singular storyline in a way that Marvel does not. Although both the MCU and Star Wars will pivot in new directions, we expect to see some significant differences in how the franchises and their fandoms react and adapt going forward.
Sun, 16 June 2019
We have the future, the past, and the present to discuss in this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories. With Celebration Chicago in the rear-view mirror and December’s movie still half a year away, Kay, Tricia, and B.J. still have plenty of Star Wars to talk about.
We begin with the Vanity Fair cover story on The Rise of Skywalker, featuring an article by Lev Grossman and photographs by Annie Leibowitz. As is typical for these pieces, we learned a few new character and planet names, but very little other new information – especially following so closely on the heels of similar interview answers given at Celebration. Likewise, Leibowitz’s composite style provides imagery presumably intended to convey the tone and spirit of the film, but they are traditional behind-the-scenes snapshots or on-set stills. But we did get much better looks at the costumes for Rey and Zorri Bliss, much to Kay’s excitement.
Our storytelling segment travels over sixty years back in time on the Star Wars in-universe chronology, to the era when the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic – though the seeds of the Order’s demise already had begun to grow. The novel Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray focuses on the teacher-pupil relationship between Qui-Gon Jinn and a teenage Obi-Wan Kenobi a number of years before The Phantom Menace. She spins a tale of trust and friendship, as well as prophecy, ethical dilemmas, and the political power of governments, leaders, corporations, and the Jedi. One of the new characters is Rael Averross, also an iconoclast to the Jedi Order – but in a quite different manner than Qui-Gon. What they have in common is that both are former apprentices to Dooku, who appears only briefly in flashbacks in Master & Apprentice. The fallen Jedi turned Sith Lord is central figure of the full-cast audiobook Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, released two weeks after Gray’s novel, which also includes Rael and Asajj Ventress from The Clone Wars. Between the two stories, the backstory to Episode I gains a considerable amount of new perspective.
This month’s world-building segment takes us to Anaheim, California, where Tricia attended the official grand opening of the Galaxy’s Edge expansion at Disneyland. She shares her reactions to the new land, including the setting, inhabitants, food and drink, and of course the ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. She also gives a behind-the-scenes peek at the dedication ceremony and formal opening of the ride, with VIPs in attendance including Star Wars animation guru Dave Filoni and Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson. One prominent new character in Galaxy’s Edge is Resistance spy Vi Moradi, who appears in Delilah Dawson’s novel Phasma and August’s upcoming Black Spire. In the park, Vi is portrayed by cast member Alex Marshall-Brown, who has been sharing her experience on Instagram and Twitter.
Vanity Fair‘s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Links
Tue, 28 May 2019
On Episode 44 of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia, B.J. and Kay discuss Star Wars Celebration in Chicago and share our reactions to, and favorite moments from, the convention. The convention was definitely a busy one: we didn’t even have time to record the episode live at the con, but hopefully the clearer audio quality is a worthwhile tradeoff.
We begin, of course, with the Episode IX panel that kicked off the convention on Friday morning, April 12. In addition to the panel itself, we give our initial impression of the movie’s title, The Rise of Skywalker, and the teaser trailer unveiled at the conclusion of the panel – including a surprise appearance by the Emperor’s Ian McDiarmid on the Celebration stage.
We then talk about a wide range of other experiences from the convention. Panels discussed include The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, Galaxy’s Edge, and Claudia Gray’s writer workshop. Other topics include merchandise, cosplay, the fan-organized Ahsoka Lives picture, and the fun of socializing with friends from all over the country and around the world. We also offer some constructive criticism on several of the logistical problems that arose before and during the convention, in the hope that these issues can be resolved for Celebration Anaheim in 2020.
We conclude the show with our favorite moments from the convention. For each of us, these were more personally important than anything else – but that’s what conventions like Celebration are really all about.
FANgirl Coverage of Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019:
Wed, 8 May 2019
Many Star Wars fans, including the team here at FANgirl, have long urged the franchise to release a novel centered on Padmé and her political career. That moment has finally arrived from Disney Lucasfilm Press, in the form of the Young Adult novel Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, who previously wrote the YA novel Ahsoka.
As usual, we begin with our meta segment, in which we consider influential forces and figures that have shaped the Star Wars franchise. Part of what makes this Padmé novel special is that Johnston is one of the first Star Wars creators from the Prequel Trilogy generation to attain the opportunity to contribute as a professional. In interviews, she shares that she first saw The Phantom Menace on her fifteenth birthday, and immediately built her fandom around Padmé, Sabé, and the rest of Amidala’s handmaidens. From fanfic to her career as a published author to books about Ahsoka and Padmé, Johnston brings priorities, values, and emphases to her Star Wars work that differ greatly from most contributors from the Original Trilogy generation. As even more peers from her generation join the franchise, Star Wars will broaden with new perspectives from new voices.
We share our reactions to Queen’s Shadow in the storytelling segment. Padmé and Sabé are the principal characters, but the book has a lot of other elements to discuss, as well. In addition to the handmaidens from the Prequel Trilogy films, the novel includes appearances from characters in The Clone Wars animated series and connections to Claudia Gray’s novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan. Also noteworthy are several of Johnston’s new characters, as well as the variety of different forms of representation she includes in the story.
For the world-building segment, we discuss the recently revealed details about Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, opening later this year at that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansions at Disneyland (May 31) and Disney World (August 29). From cast member costumes to food and beverage options, in-universe toys and attire for purchase, the Imagineers have developed an impressive range of immersive qualities for the theme parks. Fortunately, Disney has anticipated the high demand for the openings, and has several guest-flow control measures prepared to keep the experience from being overwhelmed by dense crowds.
April brings the Star Wars Celebration convention in Chicago. Hyperspace Theories will be there, so check back for our coverage from the event.
Sun, 20 January 2019
Hyperspace Theories visits The Dark Side in this month’s episode. That’s right, Tricia Barr has a new Star Wars book, which just released in French and Spanish language editions.
Before we talk about the book, though, Tricia, B.J., and Kay share our reactions to the latest announcements about the live-action television series for the Disney+ streaming service set to launch next year. Diego Luna returns to play Cassian Andor is a series set prior to the events of Rogue One. Considering Cassian has been in the fight since he was six years old, there’s a lot of story potential in his backstory. In addition, Lucasfilm announced the principal cast for The Mandalorian, including Pedro Pascal in the titular role and a variety of other familiar faces.
Each episode, our meta segment is based on the theme of how to speculate wisely about upcoming Star Wars tales. Sometimes that means knowing when to be careful not to draw any big storytelling inferences from material that doesn’t warrant it. This month, that idea definitely applies to a tweet from director – and trusted advisor to J.J. Abrams – Ava DuVernay, who tweeted a photograph of her friend Victoria Mahoney, second unit director on Episode IX, in her office at Pinewood Studios. On the wall behind Mahoney is a “mood board” of imagery, most of which has no direct connection to Star Wars – although the picture of Mahoney in a pink fluffy coat and Vader helmet is certainly the centerpiece. The inspiration on the mood board ranges from Patty Shepard in the spaghetti western The Man Called Noon (1973) to a book of portraits by painter Kehinde Wiley. Though it may not tell us any details about Episode IX, the tweet does give us a stronger sense of Mahoney’s visual eye and the talent she brings to the film.
Our storytelling segment features Tricia sharing her thoughts about writing The Dark Side, a new title from Hachette Heroes. Written from an in-universe perspective, the book examines the dark side of the Force through the lens of the characters who wield it, including the Sith, fallen Jedi, the Nightsisters of Dathomir, and the Empire’s Inquisitors. In addition to movie characters like Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Count Dooku, the book also addresses characters featured in animation and other stories, such as Asajj Ventress, Mother Talzin, the Seventh Sister, and the extended story of Maul, formerly Darth. Although an English edition has not yet been announced, the French (ISBN 978-2017003809) and Spanish (ISBN 978-8416857418) editions are on sale now.
Our world-building segment spins off from the news of the Cassian Andor television series. We consider how the Star Wars franchise over time has involved a balance between open-ended stories with no inherent conclusion and closed-ended tales constrained, at least to some extent, by known endpoints. The Mandalorian and Episode IX are examples of the former, while the Cassian series and The Queen’s Shadow fall into the latter, and some stories, such as Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance, have elements of both. In the first six to seven years of the Disney era, the franchise has leaned heavily on backstory and closed-ended stories. While this makes sense to steer clear of the Sequel Trilogy during its development, we consider the implications for the franchise and the fandom that choice has created.