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Everyday Drabbles #201: Call Me, Kathleen Kennedy

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The jury forebeing read out the verdict. “We find the defendant guilty on all counts.” The courtroom was filled with gasps of shock.
The presiding judge of Coruscant Youngling Court banged his gavel for silence.
“I have no choice but to sentence this defendant to ten years hard labor in the Spice Mines of Kessel.”
“Objection I have,” The Defense attorney said. “Merely shoplifting the crime is. A promising future this young one has. Overly harsh this penalty is.”
The judge sneered down at the defense team. “Galactic Republic law increases the penalty for crimes involving the Use of Force.”

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Podcast: CCRC37: Droids

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh of HughJODonnell.com, Rich the Time Traveler, and Jurd, get in trouble, in trouble – in trouble.

Click HERE to listen to the podcast commentary!

And Click HERE to watch Droids Episode 1 (not that episode one, though) on YouTube.

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and http://hughjodonnell.com, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Hugh Likes Fiction: Star Wars: Canto Bight

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Star Wars: Canto Bight
Written by: Saladin Ahmed, Rae Carson, Mira Grant, and John Jackson Miller
Published by Del Rey

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The Skinny: A collection of four loosely connected novellas set in the Star Wars casino-city of Canto Bight, as briefly seen in The Last Jedi.

In the latest Star Wars film, “The Last Jedi,” we get a very short glimpse of the casino city, Canto Bight, a playground for the rich and powerful play while the rest of the galaxy fights for survival against The First Order. But aside from the message that nobody good profits in wartime, and a delightfully destructive chase sequence, we spend little time there. Del Rey has released a novella collection focused on four stories of gamblers, tourists, servants and criminals that call Canto Bight home, and it is a delight.
The best of the four is “The Wine in Dreams,” by Mira Grant. It follows the self-described greatest sommelier in the galaxy, Derla Pidys, as she attempts to buy a rare bottle from a pair of sisters claiming to be from another dimension, all under the nose of a dangerous night club owner who will do anything to get it.
These four stories are very much in the vein of the new Expanded Universe. You won’t see any familiar faces from the movies in these pages, but they do a magnificent job of transforming a galaxy far, far away into a living, breathing place rather than a backdrop for Our Heroes’ Adventures. They also serve as a light, quick introduction to the writing of four excellent authors. You can find Star Wars: Canto Bight on Amazon, or in person at your local independent bookstore.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End

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Star Wars Aftermath Book 3: Empire’s End
Written by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey
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Star Wars Celebration was this weekend, and as a big nerd, what better time to gush over my latest Star Wars read, Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End?
The remains of the Galactic Empire’s fleet gather above the wasteland planet of Jakku. The fledgling New Republic Senate becomes mired in debate over committing to one last assault. And the last disciple of the late Emperor Palpatine activates an installation hidden in the sand…
The final book in Chuck Wendig’s aftermath series has the complex task of wrapping up his trilogy and also bridging to the new and old trilogies. It juggles these tasks fairly well, although if focuses much more on the former than the later. We do get some scenes with a young Hux and and the birth of Han and Leia’s son is a plot point that the novel determinedly skirts.
Instead, the novel focuses on wrapping up the adventures of Wendig’s crew of misfits, and he starts by splitting the party. Half of the cast is running around Jakku, and the other half are in the New Republic capitals. Wendig’s look at space politics isn’t quite as gripping as Claudia Grey’s, but is still witty and fast paced enough to not be a drag on the story. He also continues to sprinkle in vignettes throughout the galaxy, including a surprisingly touching short story about Jar Jar Binks. Really.
The Aftermath series has always been controversial. Criticisms have ranged from Wendig’s clipped writing style to his use of darker themes to his inclusion of queer characters. The novels were also favored targets of fans of the original Expanded Universe material. Two of these groups of fans made a concerted effort to tank the series, but Aftermath remained true to itself throughout the trilogy. This is no mean feat, especially for a licensed property.
Afthermath: Empire’s End neatly wraps up Chuck Wendig’s trilogy and is a great stepping stone to further adventures in the Star Wars universe. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore, or order it from your preferred digital book syndicate.

Hugh Likes Comics: Doctor Aphra

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Doctor Aphra #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Drawn by Kev Walker
Published by Marvel Comics
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How do you write a good anti-hero?  Put them up against forces larger, and worse than themselves and always, always make the bill come due for their evil deeds, in one way or another.  This is just what Kieron Gillen and Kev Walker’s Doctor Aphra sets out in its first issue.
The scheming anthropologist accomplice of Darth Vader is back in her own series, and I couldn’t be happier to see her again.  Accompanied by her droids 000 and BT, dark-mirror analogues of C3P0 and R2-D2, she’s still out looking for big scores and outsmarting the Galaxy’s ever-present underworld.  Clever, deep in debt, and out to save her own skin rather than the galaxy, she’s the perfect update of all of Han Solo’s tropes.  Just don’t call it a redemption arc.
Gillen’s story ditches the Campbellian melodrama and delivers a story full of double crosses, brawling, badass wookiees, and grimly comic murder droids.  Walker’s art is fun, and expressive, with action-oriented layouts.  Colorist Antonio Fabela proves you can tell a dark story in comics without over-shading the page.
Aphra was one of my favorite characters from Gillen’s Darth Vader run, and I can’t see what shenanigans she gets up to away from the sith lord’s watchful eye.  Doctor Aphra #1 is available digitally from Comixolgoy, or in print at your local comics shop.

Hugh Likes Fiction: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (novelization)

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Hugh Likes Fiction-Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Written by Alan Dean Foster
Based on a script by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt
Audiobook narration by Marc Thompson
Published by Random House Audio
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Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of blockbuster Sci-Fi film Star Wars: The Force Awakens lacks the polish and ingenuity of the original prose content of the new Star Wars canon, but it is still and enjoyable read for fans of the series.
Hewing fairly closely to the plot of the film, it follows salvager Rey and escaped stormtrooper Finn on their adventures in a galaxy far, far away.  Foster embellishes here and there and delves into the deeper motivations of the characters, but it is a mostly faithful rendition of the plot.  The few added scenes, such as an encounter in a tavern and a snowspeeder chase on Star-killer Base feel more like deleted scenes from an earlier version of the script than things Foster added himself.
Foster’s writing is quick and exciting, although it can get a bit bogged down and melodramatic at times.  It suffers from the demand of quick turn-around time that is a necessary evil of the medium.  If you go in knowing its there, it is easily forgivable.
I experienced this novel as a CD audiobook.  It was narrated by voice actor Marc Thompson, who brings a bit too much emotion to the narration, but his dialogue is fantastic.  He brings each of these characters to life in a way that is consistent with their film counterparts.  Overall, his is enjoyable to listen to.
The Novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn’t for everybody, but if you’re a die-hard fan, or are interested in film/novel adaptation, this novel is for you.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Star Wars: Lost Stars

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Lost Stars
Claudia Gray
Penguin/Random House Audio
Narrated by Pierce Cravens
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Lost Stars is one of the new Star Wars novels that does what I like best about the new Expanded Universe.  Following two aspiring young pilots from the backwater mountain world of Jelucan, it updates the events of the original Star Wars movies with delightful new characters and fresh perspectives.
Marketed as a YA Romance, it follows the relationship of of Ciena Ree, a peasant girl from Jelucan’s valley settlement, and Thane Kyrell, the son of an urbane, upperclass ‘Second Wave’ family from childhood friendship to budding war-time lovers, and finally to conflicted enemies as they find themselves caught on opposite sides of the Rebellion.  Thane, awakened to the Empire’s cruelty, defects to the rebels, but Ciena, bound by a strong sense of honor, stays at her post.
Much like Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath, Gray infuses a sense of darkness and nuance into the new Star Wars cannon that is both welcome and refreshing.  She spends a significant portion of the book following Ree and her fellow Imperial officers throughout the events of the film trilogy.  She does a great job giving these characters a human face and exploring the hard choices that living under a military dictatorship necessitates.  Furthermore, she manages to thread the needle of doing so without excusing the atrocities and loss of life that result from those choices.
I experienced this book as an audio book via audible.com  Narrator Pierce Cravenss does an excellent job with the text, bringing characters to life without slipping into exaggerated voices.  He is supported by a mix that incorporates moments of the films’ iconic scores and sound effects.
Star Wars has always worked with romance at its heart.  Ciena and Thane’s story is a worthy addition to the canon for new and old fans alike.  This is one flight I heartily recommend.

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