Star Wars Books Hub

courtship-leia-wolvertonI have read almost every book in the Star Wars Expanded Universe that takes place post-movies. With the sun setting on the EU and rising on a new series of “canon” novels, I’ve had a hankering to go back to the beginning (Princess Bride reference, anyone?) and re-read a number of the books in the series. So I’m going to. I think I’ll actually start with Darth Pelagius because it’s been recommended by a large number of people, and then dive in at the place I started so long ago: The Courtship of Princess Leia. Yes, I will be writing reviews of each book along the way, so if you want to follow/read along, you’ll be able to. These posts won’t be going up at any specific or regular times so just be aware of that. I may or may not skip the X-Wing series because I don’t own them all. Let me know what you think of this as a possibility and if there are any specific things you’d like to have me mention in a review. I want these to be fun and not just reviews, so categories like ‘Best Droid Moment’ might become a reality. I’ve also recently edited this post to include official canon novels from the Disney launch of their own fictional Star Wars universe. Expanded Universe Book Reviews Standalone Books Darth Plagueis by James Luceno– Recommended by numerous friends, I finally got around to reading this book on Palpatine’s past. Is it worth recommending? The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton– The first Star Wars book I ever read. Does it hold up, or was nostalgia the only reason I enjoyed it? Tales of the Bounty Hunters edited by Kevin J. Anderson– A collection of short stories about those bounty hunters encountered in The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno– A prequel book to Episode III purports to fill in some blanks in how Anakin became Vader. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover– the novelization of the film does some work in making the movie seem not so disappointing. The Thrawn Trilogy Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn– The Thrawn Trilogy gets underway. Is it deserving of its fame? Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn– Book 2 of the Thrawn Trilogy. Does it continue to succeed? The Last Command by Timothy Zahn– The conclusion of the Thrawn Trilogy. Will my fond childhood memories be shattered, or will the book hold up after 20 years? The Han Solo Trilogy The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin– The Han Solo Trilogy starts off with The Paradise Snare. Is it worth finding out Han Solo’s origins? The Hutt Gambit by A.C. Crispin– The second book of the Han Solo Trilogy. How does the famous scoundrel hold up in this prequel book? Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin– The Han Solo Trilogy concludes with a book that brings Han and Chewbacca all the way up to the events of “A New Hope.” Can it stand up to the rest of the trilogy? The Darth Bane Trilogy Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn- The Darth Bane trilogy came to me highly recommended. It deserves accolades. Darth Bane: Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn– More exploration of the background of the Sith long before the Star Wars movies, and it’s well worth your time. Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil by Drew Karpyshyn– The conclusion of the fantastic Darth Bane trilogy proves the whole series can stand on its own. The Jedi Academy Trilogy Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson– The first book in the Jedi Academy series seeks to establish some new enemies and main characters. Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson– The second book in the Jedi Academy series–does it manage to cash in on the previous book’s promise? Champions of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson– The conclusion of the Jedi Academy Trilogy seeks to wrap up a number of loose ends, but can it deliver a compelling finale? The Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy The Mandalorian Armor by K.W. Jeter- A great first entry in a trilogy about one of the most enigmatic  and interesting side characters from the films. Slave Ship by K.W. Jeter- Does middle book syndrome strike again? (It does.) Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter- What will Fett do next? Can the strong start of the series be reflected in the concluding work? Canon Book Reviews Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller- this book kicks off the canon novels with a bang, introducing some fascinating characters and great plot to start the TV series. Other Links Sci-Fi Hub– Check out this page for links to all my science fiction related posts, along with hubs for other things like Star Trek and Warhammer. SDG.

New Star Wars “Canon” Novel Sampler

canon-samplerIf you have some qualms about jumping in to the new “canon” novels now that the “legends” (read: Expanded Universe) series has effectively been shut down, now’s the time to check them out. There’s a free sampler of several of the new upcoming books so that we can tip our toes into the water before we dive in.

Star Wars Books on Facebook had this press release:

We’re thrilled to announce that our FREE Star Wars 2014 sampler is available for download on all e-reader platforms. Includes exclusive previews of the first wave of novels that are part of the official Star Wars film canon, created in collaboration with the newly formed Lucasfilm Story Group:

A NEW DAWN by John Jackson Miller
Set during the legendary “Dark Times” between Episodes III and IV, A New Dawn tells the story of how two of the lead characters from the animated series Star Wars Rebels first came to cross paths.

TARKIN by James Luceno
Bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.

HEIR TO THE JEDI by Kevin Hearne
The author of The Iron Druid Chronicles tells a thrilling new adventure set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and-for the first time ever-written entirely from Luke Skywalker’s first-person point of view.

When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their awesome martial skills to prevail.

Click here to download the Star Wars 2014 sampler for free, and take your first step into a larger world…

Rest assured that I’ll be reading at least a few of the samplers to see if I want to pursue this new “canon” series after the shut down of the Expanded Universe! Let me know if you also read the sampler, and what you think! I have written about my thoughts on the closure of the Expanded Universe elsewhere.

Fiction can change your life. Also, answer me this.

matildaFiction can change your life.  Here, I’m specifically talking about books. It’s actually very easy: you read a book and you yourself are an open book, ready to ingest what the book tells you. You may not do it uncritically, but fiction has a way of catching you unawares.

I also know that fiction can change your life because it has done so for me. It has done so at least three times in major ways. The first was the book Matilda by Roald Dahl, which I consider one of the greatest masterpieces of children’s literature. The way that it changed my life was by opening my mind to a new understanding of the power of books to bring about emotions and love. Matilda was, for me,  almost an avatar of myself in literature. Her love of books mirrored my own. Did I have special powers? No. Was I in a horrible family situation? Absolutely not, my family is and was amazing. What Matilda did for me was to make me realize that the love of books was something almost necessary to my existence. It created in me a desire for fiction that still cannot be satiated. I admit that I have read this book more than any other. I think I have read it easily over 100 times. I used to grab it and a cup of tea (just like Matilda did!) when I was young and sit in my mom’s office at school and read the whole thing.

Another  book that changed my life was C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. I read this when I first began thinking very seriously about faith and Christianity in particular. I remember seeing this book in my dad’s collection and on others’ shelves, but always thought that it was just some boring old book about religion. Who cared? I read the book and realized that religion touches on every aspect of life. Lewis, for me, awakened a love of reading books about Christianity and religion, and he opened the doors for philosophy of religion as well. This fictional book has very much shaped my life in many ways over the past several years. Were it not for this book I probably would not be writing on Christian philosophy and apologetics at my other site.

ben hur bookFinally, the masterful Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace, a book which continues to inspire my vision of life.  Ben Hur is my favorite movie of all time, but I had never read the book. I mean the thing was written in 1880, so I figured that it didn’t really have any relevance today. How wrong I was. The book is simply astonishing in its scope. The tumultuous action, the beauty of romance, the bitterness of revenge, and the trials of faith are all portrayed vividly by Wallace throughout. However, it wasn’t so much the story itself that inspired me, but the fact that it opened my mind up to a whole new reality: books that weren’t written during my lifetime are relevant and awesome. I know, this seems absurd to deny, but it is easy to fall into this feeling that only those things written now are good. The things written in the past are just old fashioned and out of date. Ben-Hur changed that for me. It gripped me throughout and delighted me. I now often read “old” books and find I enjoy them greatly–often more than modern works of fiction and non-fiction.

Now, answer me this: have you ever read a book that has changed your life? If so, which book was it? How did it change your life. Leave me a comment to let me know. I want to know!

Science Fiction- One of my loves.

Science fiction is, in my opinion, the most malleable genre for writers to play with. One can hypothesize about the science of the future, or make up magic; one can explore the stars, or have the stars come to destroy you; one can contemplate the human condition, or ignore it and charge forward to meet one’s destiny. It is beautiful and frightening all at once.

This was a long time ago... I look much different 😉

I love science fiction. I don’t often read anything but philosophy, but when I do, sci-fi is my genre of choice. (Okay, so I’m not exactly the most interesting man in the world.) I have read almost every Star Wars novel which is post-movie canon. I love Orson Scott Card anything. He is a simple genius with words and worlds. I know he’d cringe to be grouped with Star Wars because I met the man once, and he is one awesome guy [proof in the picture!]. David Weber is also growing on me of late, I find his military sci-fi fascinating. Ben Bova is also captivating. His speculation about the future of our technology and expansion across the solar system is gripping. I recommend his works highly. I remember still the day that I picked up Moonwar and couldn’t stop reading it.

I’ve been writing my own science fiction novel, playing with the malleability I’ve already noted. One can speculate not just about future technology, but also about future theology. Writing sci-fi, one can speculate on the “What if?” questions that we so often ignore. Thus, in a way, it seems to me that science fiction just is philosophy. Authors frequently contemplate the big questions, and their stories and characters are their answer to these questions. This, I think, is what makes science fiction so great. It’s not just storytelling; it’s future-making. Science fiction strives to point humans in the direction the author thinks is best. The genre is worldview-laden. Authors cannot write without a worldview, and the fact that science fiction tells the future means that authors frequently inject their worldview into the story. Their vision for the future is the ideal society; the author’s fears are reflected in a dystopia.

For all these reasons, I say that science fiction is one of my loves. Perhaps one day I’ll finish the book I’ve been working on for years (at one point it was over 80 pages–I’ve since edited it down to 30) and then I’ll be able to offer my own vision of the future. Until then, I’ll enjoy the masterworks others have created.

Do you love sci-fi as well? If so, who do you read? Why?