Go/No-Go: Star Wars Rebels – Spark of Rebellion

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Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your time and hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment.

This time around it’s a little different. Normally when we do this feature, we’re telling you whether or not a complete product is worth diving into. For this, we’re reviewing the first installment of a brand new television series: Star Wars Rebels. Today we’ll be letting you know if we think this show is worth getting on board for and tuning in every week. To the cut!

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Spark of Diversity: What Sabine Wren Means for Star Wars

SabineWrenI’m an impatient person. I really thought that I could hold out until the official Rebels premiere on October 3rd but then they bumped the online release date up to Friday and… I watched it. Because I’m impatient person. I’ve known for a while now that I was excited for Rebels to start. It featured a family like crew filled with characters who seemed right up my alley.

What I didn’t realize until I sat down on my couch to watch Spark of Rebellion is what seeing Sabine Wren on the screen was going to mean to me. Finally, after twenty-four years, there was a main character in a Star Wars film or television show that looked like me and the full impact of this hit me like a ton of bricks as she took her bucket off for the first time.

It’s not like I didn’t know that Sabine was going to be there. I was amongst those who loved Sabine’s character design from when they initially debuted it, wondered if she was human or alien, and then rejoiced when they confirmed that she was a human character of color. There’s been plenty of time for all of this information to sink in but somehow watching the episode made it seem so much more real to me.  Sabine Wren was the sort of character I’d been waiting to see my entire life.  All of this brought forth a giant mess of emotions that are difficult to fully describe if you’ve been able to see a hero who looks like you in Star Wars before.

I wish that I’d been born later. I wish that I could’ve had the opportunity to watch Star Wars Rebels as a kid and see a teenage girl who looked like me up there on the screen. I wish that I could’ve had the opportunity at a younger age to watch an Asian woman be an integral part of our team of heroes with no one commenting on her race or gender as she blows things up to stop the enemy… artistically. I wish I’d been able to see a capable lady in the Star Wars universe who looks like me and who does more for the plot than serve as space scenery.  I wish I’d had that extra positive reinforcement that Sabine will give all these young girls out there.

At the same time though, I’m happy. Tiny explosion obsessed Bria may not have had Sabine to look up to but there are hundreds if not thousands of young girls of color out there who can now look at the television screen each week and smile as they watch her kick butt across the galaxy. Some of them may be conscious of how important she is and some may not but the important part is that she is there for them. My heart will probably grow two sizes when I see a little girl dressed up as Sabine and running around playing Rebels with her friends.  (Add in an extra size if I ever see a Sabine joined by other girls dressed up as Leia and Padmé.)

So thank you, Rebels. Thank you to everyone involved with creating this show and creating a character like Sabine and then casting an actress of color to voice her. Thank you Rebels for giving us an Asian human female hero who not only can hold her own but has more to her character than being action girl. Thank you for finally bringing a character like this to the forefront for hundreds and hundreds of young girls to look up to.

Sabine Wren’s not just the sort of character that we Star Wars fans deserve—she’s the sort of character that we need.

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Thrawn Trilogy Retrospective: Heir to the Empire Chapters 1-3

The original cover art for Heir to the Empire

Welcome to the first post of the Thrawn Trilogy retrospective! First, let’s gloss over the history. Heir to the Empire was published in 1991 by Bantam Spectra, and was the first novel in the post-Return of the Jedi era of the Expanded Universe. Many people didn’t think the series would perform very well, but instead it sold out at nearly every bookstore and went through multiple printings. Bantam decided to continue publishing Star Wars novels, and here we are in 2014, with a sequel trilogy in production and the Expanded Universe spawned by the Thrawn Trilogy having been deemed non-canon. People thought Star Wars was dead when Heir was released; it’s debatable whether the prequel trilogy and sequel trilogy would’ve ever happened if this insurgence hadn’t occurred.

Onto the book! Heir to the Empire starts with a Star Destroyer, as do all Timothy Zahn’s novels set in the Rebellion and New Republic era. It’s a fitting start, as the Original Trilogy also started with the Imperials; and because the series later became known as the “Thrawn” trilogy, after the principal antagonist Grand Admiral Thrawn. We’re first introduced to Captain Pellaeon of the Star Destroyer Chimaera, and learn that he was present at the Battle of Endor and was responsible for the Imperial Fleet’s retreat. Somehow he met up with Thrawn not long before the series begins, and now they are starting their campaign against the Rebellion in earnest.

We learn that Thrawn is a different kind of Imperial. For one he’s an alien, the only one to ever be named Grand Admiral. (I don’t think we ever hear the word “Chiss” in this series.) He seems calmer and more calculating than Vader, and intimidates nearly everyone he comes across, including Pellaeon. Pellaeon even wonders what would’ve happened if Thrawn had been in charge at the Battle of Endor. It’s an interesting idea to consider, but of course one must realize that Pellaeon, as Thrawn’s right-hand-man, is a bit biased.

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Captain Pellaeon

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Captain Pellaeon

A scout team has just returned from an attack on Obroa-skai, a world in the borderlands and home to a large data repository. The team succeeds in getting information Thrawn’s been looking for, and that will enable the campaign against the Rebellion to succeed. Pellaeon goes to tell Thrawn this news, and we get our first mention of the Noghri species and Rukh, Thrawn’s bodyguard, in particular. They play a huge role in this story, so it’s nice to see them so early on.

Thrawn’s military genius is put on display right off the bat, when he orders the destruction of the Elomin task force that pursued the scouts. How does he predict what the task force will do? By knowing their art. “Learn about art, Captain. When you understand a species’ art, you understand that species.”

In Chapter 2 we head to the New Republic, which is now headquartered on Coruscant. Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to Luke in a dream, and tells him that he can no longer appear to him through the Force. He tells Luke that he is not the last of the old Jedi, but the first of the new.

Luke wakes up, and he is sad. He heads to the roof of the Imperial Palace with an exotic drink, the recipe courtesy of Lando. It’s called hot chocolate. Yeah, a lot of people hate this part, but whatever, it’s perfect for farmboy Luke. Threepio, sent by Leia, goes to check on Luke. But he’s not very successful. It’s part of Leia showing off her new Jedi skills.

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Jahan Cross mistakes Winter for Princess Leia in the Agent of the Empire comics

The scene skips to Leia, who is about three months pregnant, and we’re introduced to Winter, her right hand lady. Yay, Winter! She has a perfect memory and is awesome. There’s also a neat little mention that Winter was mistaken for Leia in the past, which is referenced in the Agent of the Empire comics (and later recreated by our very own Bria).

Then we move to Han, who’s back at the Mos Eisley Cantina. He’s been going around meeting smugglers, trying to hire them to work for the New Republic. Dravis, the smuggler, isn’t intrigued and says no. He tells Han who’s in charge of Jabba’s organization nowadays–Talon Karrde. He also tells Han that his back-up man is terrible. This is really just an excuse to include Wedge Antilles in the chapter, but we’re also introduced to Judder Page, who becomes a recurring character in the Expanded Universe and was retconned into Jedi.

Chapter 3 is my favorite of this group, which isn’t a surprise since it’s the introduction of my favorite smuggler/information broker. We head to Myrkr, home of Talon Karrde’s base, where he’s setting up a dinner with an employee named Mara Jade. When she arrives he’s quick to point out that this is a business dinner, nothing more. Thank you, Zahn, for cutting off that ship at the pass. No, just no. He’s like her dad!

Talon Karrde, the most interesting man in the galaxy

Talon Karrde, the most interesting man in the galaxy

Anyway, Karrde says he wants to groom Mara to be his lieutenant. Before she can agree, they’re interrupted by the Chimaera arriving in the system. Karrde hails them to offer assistance in retrieving ysalamiri, a native tree-dwelling species. Mara questions why he offers them free help, and he explains the help actually wasn’t free, as his men got to observe the Imperials the entire time. And thus we understand that Karrde might love information gathering even more than smuggling.

Karrde and Mara return to their earlier conversation, and wonder what the Imperials might want with the ysalamiri. Luke Skywalker is mentioned, and Mara has an extremely negative reaction, to say the least. Karrde wonders what her story is, but doesn’t press her. He has time to find out what Luke Skywalker has done to make her hate him. And so do we.

There you have it. Heir starts out with a bang with the attack on the Elomin task force, and it was a good idea to show Thrawn’s military superiority right from the start. While his “genius” might have been overblown later on, he definitely earns respect here. We also find out the state of the galaxy in regards to the Empire and the New Republic, and know that the Empire has big plans. It was also great of Zahn to include the fringe group right at the beginning, as they play a just as big a part in the story. And even though Zahn focuses on movie characters for the New Republic cast, we also get to meet a lot of new characters — Pellaeon, Thrawn, Winter, Karrde, and Mara — all in the first three chapters. It’s no wonder why Heir has become so important to the fandom and the Star Wars galaxy.

Stay tuned for the next two chapters, in which we meet another antagonist, this one a lot crazier than the others, and a really awful protagonist who’s more of an bad guy even though he’s in the New Republic. 

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The Thrawn Trilogy Retrospective: Introduction

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Timothy Zahn and I at Hollywood Studios, during his Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition tour.

I first saw Star Wars in the summer of 1992, when I was 11. (You do the math.) My dad discovered that I hadn’t seen any of the movies and decided to rectify that tragedy. We rented Star Wars (which I later learned was called Episode IV: A New Hope) and the tape broke in the middle of the trash compactor scene. That was an even bigger tragedy than having never seen the Original Trilogy. Thankfully my dad assured me that everything turned out okay, and I saw the rest of the trilogy as soon as possible.

But that’s not when I became a true Star Wars fan. I became a fan when I discovered Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.

For people around my age, it’s not an uncommon story. We became fans at just the right time, when the Expanded Universe was started in earnest; or we were fans from an early age and the EU revitalized our interest. I often say that I became a fan because of Luke Skywalker and stayed for Mara Jade, and it’s not an overstatement. If there weren’t Expanded Universe books for me to dive into, I doubt I’d be the fan I am today. It’s even doubtful that Star Wars itself would be what it is today.

And now Heir to the Empire, and all the books that followed, have been deemed Legends. I’m okay with this for the most part, but sometimes I get sad. Sad because I’m not sure if I’ll ever read about characters I’ve become so attached to again, sad because I’ll never know the end to certain stories, sad because a huge part of what made me a fan has come to a close.

What’s the best way to stave off melancholy and indulge in nostalgia for summer days reading your dad’s copy of Heir to the Empire and falling in love with a saga all over again? Why a Thrawn Trilogy retrospective, of course!

And here we begin. I’ll be reading the entire series–Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising,  and The Last Command–and recapping it for your enjoyment. I’ll be discussing the characters, plot, setting, and the impact on the Star Wars saga as a whole. And in a way I’ll be saying farewell — but not good-bye — because the books will always hold a special place in my heart.

I hope you enjoy the retrospective just as much as I do.

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New Clone Wars Story Reels Online Now!

tcw_s5logo_smHere’s your Clone Wars news, folks. The official site has posted a video for The Clone Wars Legacy, discussing continuing the story of the series through Marvel comics, Del Rey novels, and story reels on the Official Site. Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is discussed, along with Dark Disciple, the new novel featuring Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos and written by Christie Golden.

And while it’s not new episodes per se, story reels for the Crystal Crisis on Utapau arc, featuring Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor and discussing Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order (and a KYBER CRYSTAL), are now available! Dark Disciple will be available Summer 2015. And from what the video says, it seems like more stories are to come.

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Rebels premiere film bumped up one day online

rebels logoOriginally, Rebels was set to premiere this coming Saturday online. Well, you’re going to be able to get your eyeballs on it 24 hours sooner. Per the Official Site:

As the force grows stronger and Star Wars fans become more eager for the debut of the animated television movie Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, Disney XD has moved up the debut by three days, to Friday, September 26 for verified users of WATCHDisneyXD.com and the WATCH Disney XD app for smartphones, tablets and connected TVs.

The new date will give verified WATCH Disney XD viewers a seven-day exclusive window to watch Star Wars Rebels before the global television debut Friday, October 3 (9:00  p.m.,  ET/PT  in  the  U.S.) on Disney Channels around the world, ushering in the series beginning  Monday, October 13 (9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD.

Mark your calendars.

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Tosche Station Radio #93: Good Guy Kanan

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The hosts and Bria review A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller in this all new Tosche Station Radio

Fixer’s Flash starts with Nanci reading a whole bunch of books, both the hosts going to a Disney-themed Halloween party, and finishes with Bria working on more cosplay.

In Deak’s Dirt, Artoo and Threepio are set to appear in Rebels. Speaking of Rebels, don’t forget the first episode premieres on Disney Channel on October 3, BUT you can watch it on September 29 with a cable subscription. Disney CFO says Disney will follow the Marvel lead Clone Wars news is being teased this week. What could it be?

Bigg’s Bull#*$& kicks off with the MILLENNIUM FALCON. Meanwhile at Greenham Common: set pictures. EW has a nice interview with Anthony Daniels

This week on Camie’s Concerns, Bria joins us to review and get into a spoiler-filled discussion of A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. If you haven’t read the book yet and are looking to avoid spoilers, you may want to skip this.

Tosche Station Radio is the official podcast of Tosche-Station.net and a part of Majestic Giraffe Productions. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on the iTunes Music Store. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nanci and Brian are the co-founders and writers of Tosche-Station.net. You can find Nanci on Twitter with the handle @Nancipants and you can find Brian with @LaneWinree.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and Audible.com.

Her Universe - Flaunt Your World - www.heruniverseshop.com Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at audible.com!

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