My Episode VII Speculation: Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side?

I've been trying to avoid anything Star Wars themed because I don't want to read any spoilers, so someone else may have come up with this, but ... the other day I was just thinking, "I wonder what kind of curve balls J.J. Abrams might throw at us to make Episode VII unique and put his stamp on it?"

He took some liberties in Star Trek to do just that, like the Uhura/Spock romance, Kirk dying in a mirror of Spock's death, etc. And it hit me -- "what if Abrams has Luke Skywalker as the mysterious not-Sith overlord of the Knights of Ren?" Now that would be a twist-and-a-half, but it would also be somewhat fitting since Luke did unleash a fair bit of Dark-side like rage in Return of the Jedi between force-choking a Gamorrian Guard and laying a beat-down on his father.

I also noticed that in the previews, Luke is the only one of the old heroes who we haven't really seen yet. There is a fair bit of Han and Chewie, and a brief shot of Leia. You do see Look putting his hand on R2-D2, but you don't see his face, and he's covered in a black cloak.

I'm pretty sure I'm dead wrong on this, but it is a fun exercise to think about how shocking and unexpected it would be to have Luke's fall to the Dark Side be a key piece of what has kept the not-Empire (First Order) going so strong. That's probably what I would have considered doing if they'd asked me to write Episode VII.


State Zero - post apocalyptic short by Andrée Wallin

I stumbled upon this by accident today, I suppose because the spy software in Youtube saw that I had viewed a Predator fan-film recently (which was actually pretty decent). Thought I'd share this as I was very impressed with the production quality, script, and general ambience of this film. At a time when sci fi seems to be dying the death in Hollywood it's refreshing to see stuff like this.

Thanks to technology, this sort of thing might be the way of the future. Youtube gave me a whole stack of other independently created short films in the sidebar to view.


Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens Official Trailer

Another Star Wars: Episode VII trailer released today.

I continue to be mildly impressed, and given reason for cautious optimism. The look still looks basically in keeping with the "good" Star Wars of the 70s and 80s, but with a tolerable dash of modern update and very J.J. Abrams action sequences. I like that the trailer shows enough to tantilize without giving anything away. After watching this I'm left wondering what in the 'verse is this going to be about?

Some speculation here, it seems like this future is not going to be a continuation of the fairy-tale ending of Episode VI or the expanded universe novels that followed where a New Republic starts up and brings peace to the galaxy. The whole bit where Han is saying that the stuff about Jedi and the Dark Side being "real" leads me to believe that possibly after the collapse of the Empire galaxy-wide anarchy ensued. Which would be an excellent and unexpected trajectory and one I fully endorse!

One thing I really do not like is the whole Storm Trooper-turned-good guy thing that is clearly a part of this film. Ugh. A Storm Trooper would never betray the empire, they're the crème de la crème of the Imperial military, and politically they are true believers. It's a stupid, unnecessary plot device. But if the rest of the movie is good it might be tolerated.


I'm Back, Aliens, and Getting Back into Writing

2015 has been a weird year so far, with some serious ups-and-downs, and very little writing. Unfortunately very little interest in writing, even, but after a good recharge of the batteries back in my homeland (Manitoba) and I'm starting to get back into it. I was encouraged to see 4 new likes to the Facebook page despite my absence, too!

First, some complaining: man, I really wish Ridley Scott would stop making science fiction films. I will never be able to say enough about how awful Prometheus was and he's going back to the trough for Prometheus 2 (A.K.A. "Alien: Paradise Lost"). And then he's preparing to poop all over the all-time classic Blade Runner with a sequel also.

Blomkamp's contribution to the Alien franchise which, oddly, is anticipated to come out the same year (2017) as Prometheus 2, has some potential. I liked District 9 and I think the visual style from that will work well with Alien. Apparently it is to be the sequel "that should have been" to Aliens. I respectfully disagree with those who think Aliens is the best of the franchise (can't beat the original IMO), nor do I think Alien 3 was that bad (although 4/Resurrection was embarassingly bad). So I'm going to hold-fire on that for now.

For my own writing, "space vampires" have been on my mind, and I've been reading more of Fr. Montague Summers' works. My plan is to get writing soon, and I want to write two short stories in two different styles and I'm hoping readers will help me out by voting on which they prefer. Then I'm going to run with the preferred concept/theme.


Home for a Visit

It's been an insane year so far, with my life consumed for January, February, and March by a murder trial I was defending. But it seems fitting that my first post for 2015 feature my triumphant return to Winnipeg for my first Winnipeg Jets game since 1996. At the airport in Toronto and again in Winnipeg I met Don Cherry and Ron MacLean and got my picture taken with them and my dad.


More Races of Twilight Imperium

We're gearing up for our second game of Twilight Imperium at the Château Wansbutter, which means another round of pre-game race selection. We're going to have seven players this time around, with many familiar faces from last time. Mr. Heiner is already plotting his revenge for my denial of his well-planned attack of last game. He's told our group "remember that shafting Nicholas, not necessarily winning, is the point of TI."

But I digress. Since we have more players, and I purchased the Shattered Empire expansion, I decided to add a few more races to the mix:

In a word: Fire people
Background: Former slaves of the Universities of Jol'Nar; a race of living flames who must travel inside special suits when off-world, they seek to revenge on their former masters and a new regime of justice in the galaxy.
Pros/Cons: The start the game with a War Sun, can move through supernovas, their War Suns can spawn fighters without a space dock, good trade agreements, mediocre home system, start the game with a War Sun although the rest of their fleet is weak.
Style: For the cautious player who wants to be left alone in the early game (having a War Sun will have that effect on neighbours), yet able to play with some finesse as the Embers are not considered one of the strongest races.


In a word: Warrior Zealots
Background: Genetically-modified fanatic adherents of a bizarre cult centred around long-dead scientist named Darien who illegally cloned hundreds of his children in an effort to save his wife from a deadly disease who now seek to bind all to their religion.
Pros/Cons: Beasts in ground combat, can do kamikaze runs to destroy enemy ships, poor trade agreements, poor home system, very strong starting fleet.
Style: Another race for a very aggressive style of play -- really, these guys would have been well-suited to Greg's aggressive militarism of our first game.

In a word: Warrior Space gypsies 
Background: Genetically-modified fanatic adherents of a bizarre cult centred around long-dead scientist named Darien who illegally cloned hundreds of his children in an effort to save his wife from a deadly disease who now seek to bind all to their religion.
Pros/Cons: Have mobile star bases, can still collect victory points if their home system is occupied, gain bonus trade goods for capturing planets, good trade agreements, rubbish home system, good starting fleet.
Style: For a player looking to play a subtle and crafty game, utilising mobility and trade goods to gain influence in the galaxy.


This will be a day long remembered

Ok, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer out today. So far so good -- I like everything I see in this teaser. Glad to see that they'll be bringing in remnants of the Empire as the bad guys. Storm Troopers with slightly changed armour to reflect the passage of time gets a thumbs-up from me. Tie Fighters vs. the Millennium Falcon in an atmospheric battle? Definitely cool.

Above all, this trailer makes it look like Abrams has nailed the "maculate reality"/lived-in universe feel of the original trilogy. This teaser has that gritty and real feel to it. 

As I've said on Swords and Space Radio, though, I will assassinate J.J. Abrams if he sneaks in a gratuitous bikini scene like he did with Star Trek into Darkness. Although I must unfortunately concede that there would be precedent for such trash with Return of the Jedi and Princess Leia's infamous slave costume.
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