We’re less than a month out from Rogue One and discovering just what a non-Saga, “anthology” Star Wars film looks like. Lucasfilm seems to be dipping its toe in the non-Saga pool gently, giving us a story — the theft of the plans to the first Death Star — separate from but still intrinsically linked to the original Star Wars film. In the meantime, to whet our appetites and give us some backstory for the characters we’ll meet in the film, Legends and Tarkin alum James Luceno has brought us Catalyst, the story of Galen Erso and Orson Krennic (Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn in the film, respectively) and how their unlikely friendship led to the development of the galaxy’s most powerful weapon.
Random House has consistently released audiobook versions of the novels in the new canon, and Catalyst is no exception. Catalyst is performed by Jonathan Davis — not the lead singer of Korn, but the veteran of more than four hundred(!) audiobook recordings, over of thirty of which were under the Star Wars banner.
So, how does Catalyst work — as a stand-alone novel, as a film prelude, and as an audiobook production? Read on to find out!Continue reading →
If you were amongst those who were disappointed that the first Aftermath book wasn’t a more direct prequel to The Force Awakens,Catalyst will most definitely scratch that itch for you for Rogue One. Set during the Clone Wars and the early years of the Empire, Catalyst dives into the long history between Orson Krennic and Galen Erso. I obviously haven’t seen Rogue One and only know what the trailers have told us but after reading Catalyst, I can’t help but feel that this book is a must read for any Star Wars fan who really wants to enhance their first viewing of the film next month. That’s just one of the reasons why I absolutely recommend picking up Catalyst by James Luceno today at your earliest convenience. Or right now. Now would be good too.
If you’re a Luceno fan, you’ll definitely enjoy this book. The writing style is less dense than Tarkin and will appeal to more people but you’ll probably still learn a new vocabulary word or two. Luceno does a wonderful job of weaving the tale of the slow burn manipulation of Galen Erso across the years without ever leaving the readers lost and wondering exactly when we are. (An impressive feat unto itself.) Primarily, Catalyst is told from the point of view of Lyra Erso, Orson Krennic, and a smuggler named Has Obitt but very rarely from Galen’s. It may seem an odd choice but it works oh so well especially since it can so often be a struggle to get Galen out of his own thoughts and scientific musings.
Although Catalyst is very much a character showcase, it also serves to show a different side of a story than what we already know along with expanding the galaxy a little. What was the last time we got the scientist’s point of view during a war? Catalyst may lack the grand battles that so many assume are synonymous with Star Wars but more than makes up for it with its characters. It’s a big galaxy so it’s nice to see its other facets.
While the book establishes Krennic as being someone you definitely don’t want to cross, the real standout here is Lyra Erso who is also the hero we need and deserve. While some may be disappointed that she’s not a scientist like her husband, she is most definitely her own person and a complex character. We spend a lot of time in Lyra’s head and it is absolutely to the book’s benefit. While yes, the book revolves around Galen and Krennic’s slow manipulation of him, Lyra has agency and keeps trying to do what’s best for their family. She doesn’t just sit there and fret about Galen or just let things happen. She plays an active role in trying to get to the bottom of just what Krennic’s ultimate plan for Galen is. Lyra is exactly the sort of capable female character we need to see more of in Star Wars because she shows us that strength isn’t found in combat alone.
Catalyst will definitely raise your excitement for Rogue One to critical levels. Luceno has done such a wonderful job of weaving together bits and hints of Rogue One into this prequel while also telling a complete story that can stand on its own merits. This is definitely one that Star Wars fans should pick up soon.
Thank you to Del Rey for providing an early copy of the book for review purposes.
You’ve watched it a billion times already. What did we think about the Rogue One teaser trailer?
Nanci: I did not expect the teaser trailer to make me as excited as I am about this movie. Everything about it looks great, especially the Rebellion base (which we’re all assuming is Yavin), Jyn Erso, MON MOTHMA, and the new Imperial villain with the awesome cape. The entire thing gave me serious Wraith Squadron vibes, from them using a misfit to complete a dangerous mission, to assembling a crack team, to possibly (likely) going undercover. I can’t wait to learn more about Jyn’s backstory and all the other characters, especially Diego Luna and Ben Mendelsohn. It’s also great to return to the Original Trilogy era on the big screen, although seeing regular stormtroopers is going to weird me out after getting used to the First Order troopers. Finally, I’m hoping and praying we get Jimmy Smits back as Bail Organa, because seeing him and Mon Mothma interacting on screen would be fabulous and I’d forgive them for not using Mon Mothma on Rebels (yet) (although Rogue One could be the reason why she hasn’t showed up there yet!).
Bria: GIVE ME BAIL OR GIVE ME DEATH. No but actually: the first thought after I saw Mon Freaking Mothma and went “Ohhhh baby” was “Wait have they fooled us all and are we getting Bail too?” Actually, could they STILL be fooling us all and we’re going to see Bail just chilling and being a boss in the film? Wait hold on I’m missing the point. The trailer seriously thrilled me. They gave us just enough to get us excited without giving away the whole game and I LOVE THAT. I love that almost as much as I love suave villains with capes. I can’t wait to see all of these new kickass characters on the screen especially since it has a female lead and TWO Asian actors in main roles. T W O. I can’t wait to see where they go with this. Is it December yet?
Matthew: I must confess, I’ve been more excited for Rogue One than I was for The Force Awakens. With The Force Awakens, we knew more or less (hopefully, at any rate) what we were in for, at least tonally and thematically. With Rogue One, however, we’ve been promised something that’s somehow new and different while still being firmly rooted in the Star Wars universe and mythos.
Happily, the trailer seems to confirm all that.
I didn’t care for Gareth Edwards’ take on Godzilla, but even I had to admit that that film was visually striking, and it seems he’s brought his sharp visual style to the Star Wars universe (I’m sure having Greig Fraser [Zero Dark Thirty, Snow White & the Huntsman] as your DP doesn’t hurt in that department either). We’ve been promised a “ground-level” view of the Star Wars universe, and — with the exception of the stunning effects shot of the dish being installed on the Death Star — that’s literally what we’re given here. The film looks appropriately grimy and rough and visceral, while at the same time clearly taking place in the same universe as the rest of the Star Wars canon (it makes me think of the Twilight Company novel, which managed the same trick). I’m already excited for what looks like a Normandy-style beach scene with AT-ATs, Grand Admiral Capey McCaperson is appropriately regal and menacing, Forest Whitaker is doin’ his Forest Whitaker thing, and holy crap New Mon Mothma is a dead ringer for Old Mon Mothma. All of which doesn’t even mention Felicity Jones, who, though sadly saddled with the most forgettable and Star Warsey name ever, completely commanded my attention in the brief glimpses we got of her. She both looks and sounds like she’s playing a fantastic, interesting, layered character who we’ll be more than happy to hang out with for a couple hours (and … beyond?). And the last shot? Stunning. Happy to report this trailer has me even more excited for this film than I was previously.
Shoshana: *rewatches the trailer for the I-don’t-even-know-how-manyth-time*
I did not expect to enjoy this trailer this much. At all. I was already excited about this movie but, dang. I am. So hype. I pretty much watched the trailer on loop this morning before work, went to work humming the music from it, played Star Wars music at work all day, and spent much of my time talking to friends and customers about the trailer. I really enjoyed it. I already love Felicity Jones’ character, even though most of what we see of her is pretty trope-y. And that last shot of her was chilling and a great reminder that we do not know what will ultimately happen with any of these characters. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch it again. Also: WHY IS DECEMBER SO FAR AWAY??
Emily: Mon Mothma! OMG Mon Mothma! I may be a bad person for saying this, but I might be more excited about Mon Mothma than I am about Jyn. I have to admit, the first thing that caught my attention, though, was the music. Classic Star Wars theme, but done in a new way, which made me wonder–is John Williams scoring this one too? (Do we know?) Also, Grand Admiral? And I am really digging the cinematography–this is a war movie, and it looks like one from the trailer. Something else–I’ve got friends who were not terribly excited at the prospect of this movie and who are suddenly looking forward to it after this trailer, and that’s the sign of an excellently done teaser.
Brian: Well I’m definitely all-in now! Holy wow, that was like Wraith Squadron on screen. Pilots and commandos, the grunts who make the Rebellion work. Mon Mothma! What’s amazing is this film looks like someone brought high definition equipment back to a set in the 70s and started filming. Visually it’s a perfect fit with ANH. I don’t know quite how Edwards has done this. The film looks gritty, but it’s not grimdark and brightness stunted. It’s clear it’s a war movie, but it’s clear it uses Star Wars’ visual slate to the fullest. Then you’ve got Jyn. I can’t believe we’re getting a second straight Star Wars film with a female lead. And then look at the racial diversity of the cast. Toss in the X-wings and the soldiers and the ground war and the freaking Death Star and I’m hooked. I want this movie in my eyeballs yesterday. If this trailer is any indication, the standalone films are going to be off to a great start.
Well how’s that for a surprise? The Rogue One teaser trailer dropped today and we, in turn, dropped everything we were doing to gush about it and break down what we saw. Joining us this week are Jay and Coop from Eleven-ThirtyEight. We also discuss the latest news, the geeky stuff we’ve been up to, and highlight the new additions to the blog in the last week.
Star Wars fans didn’t have to wait very long to get comics and books related announcements from C2E2 out in Chicago but it was all rather vague. At a retailer breakfast this morning, it was announced that Marvel will be releasing a three issue comic plus a standalone issue in October that will be related to Rogue One. No writer or artist has been announced yet. We don’t know any other details but it’s likely filling a similar role to what Shattered Empire was for The Force Awakens. The Star Wars Free Comic Book Day offerings will be $1 a pop copies of some of the previously released books, mostly #1s.
At the Star Wars books panel this afternoon, the big announcement was Star Wars: Catalyst. Arriving on October 4th, the novel will be a prequel to Rogue One… and that’s all we know. Author announcement is forthcoming. Start the betting pool.
Outside of the Rogue One pattern, we did learn from Claudia Gray that a character from Lost Stars will make an appearance. You may also start the betting pool on this one. Claudia Gray also mentioned that the reason for the Bloodline’s delay was that she wanted to see The Force Awakens before finalizing her draft but also that this is a book about Leia herself and not Leia defined by her roles as wife or mother. For fans of Mark Waid’s run on the Leia comic, it sounds like Gray had the option to pull from the book but didn’t so don’t expect Queen Evaan to appear.
The Star Wars books panel featured Claudia Gray, John Jackson Miller, Jeffrey Brown, Adam Bray, and Elizabeth Schaefer. You can read Newsarama’s liveblog here for some of the more fun tidbits that panelists mentioned throughout the hour.
The announcement of Star Wars Land wasn’t the only big news to come out of D23 today.
Con attendees were treated to a new Drew Struzan poster for The Force Awakens.
J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, and Harrison Ford all made appearances at the live action films panel. Kathleen Kennedy was unable to attend as she was bringing her daughter to college. Awwwww.
J.J. Abrams revealed the film’s current runtime is 124 minutes.
Colin Trevorrow, of Jurassic World fame, was officially announced as director of Episode IX. The movie is set for release in 2019.
Rogue One is currently filming principal photography.
The standalone films will no longer have the “Anthology” subtitle, but rather “A Star Wars Story.”
The cast includes: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, and Riz Ahmed.
And that Rogue One cast photo below? Yeah. That’s awesome.
One of my biggest regrets of Celebration Anaheim is being unable to attend the Gareth Edwards panel on Sunday morning. As everyone who’s ever attended a large convention knows, the schedule is a fickle goddess, and I suffered her wrath when she decided to place the “standalone” panel opposite Tosche Station’s live podcast recording. Thankfully, Twitter is a thing that exists, so I was able to learn about the panel as it was happening as well as from recaps on other sites. We didn’t learn a whole lot about Rogue One, but it was more than I was expecting at this point in time.