July 23, 2004

Vaecordia Confiteor

It is a time for reflection, I suppose. They say that confession is good for the soul. They say that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Of course, they are also largely idiots, but . . . Well, we'll see where this takes me. Check out the following list.

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order

1. Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore - 100%
2. Dark Tide: Onslaught by Michael A. Stackpole - 82%
3. Dark Tide: Ruin by Michael A. Stackpole - 88%
4. Agents of Chaos: Hero's Trial by James Luceno - 86%
5. Agents of Chaos: Jedi Eclipse by James Luceno - 84%
6. Balance Point by Kathy Tyers - 70%
7. Edge of Victory: Conquest by Greg Keyes - 85%
8. Edge of Victory: Rebirth by Greg Keyes - 91%
9. Star by Star by Troy Denning - 93%
10. Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham - 83%
11. Enemy Lines: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston - 94%
12. Enemy Lines: Rebel Stand by Aaron Allston 96%
13. Traitor by Matthew Stover - 100%
14. Destiny's Way by Walter Jon Williams - 92%
15. Force Heretic: Remnant by Sean Williams & Shane Dix - 88%
16. Force Heretic: Refugee by Sean Williams & Shane Dix - 82%
17. Force Heretic: Reunion by Sean Williams & Shane Dix - 76%
18. The Final Prophecy by Greg Keyes - 61%
19. The Unifying Force by James Luceno - 89%

(Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that my rating system for books is so arbitrary, it makes amoebas juggling gelatin look reasonable. Really the only reliable judging factor for the percentages above is as a measure of how good the books were in relation to each other.)

I started the first book in the list way back in late 1999, and yesterday evening I finished the last book on the list. So . . . where do I start in on this, anyway?

This is by far the longest series (to date) which I have read in its entirety. It took me five years . . . and I've only been alive for twenty. The series itself actually covers five years of "Star Wars time," by the way. I was in 10th grade when I started reading The New Jedi Order series. I lived on an orphanage in a suburb of the capital of Guatemala. I was being homeschooled. I had never heard of LeTourneau University, or even Longview. I barely had a driver's license, and I certainly couldn't fathom the concept of graduating from high school. I really don't remember for certain what I thought I might major in. I'm pretty sure that both the archaeology and vague "some branch of science" phases were over. I wasn't anywhere near engineering yet. I was probably thinking "teacher" . . . or maybe just "missionary."

I finished the book while riding in a car with three other people whose existence I was unaware of five years ago. It is the summer before my third year of college. I am double majoring in English and History/Political Science. I am living in East Texas.

In short, I am not particularly staggered by having completed a 19-book series, which totalled 6,974 pages in length, I just can't believe how much water went under the bridge while I was following the epic account of Luke Skywalker and company in their struggle against the Yuuzhan Vong. I find that one of the few things I can confidently say that I still have in common with that other self is that we both enjoy picking up a Star Wars book from time to time.

If you're already rolling your eyes, take care. They might unscrew from their sockets and go rolling away over the course of the next few paragraphs . . .

At latest count, there are 96 Star Wars books on my booklist . . . that's out of 922 total books. 1 in 10 of the books I have read over the course of the last eight years has been a Star Wars book. The only meaningful figures that really even approach that are Hardy Boys books (at 1 in 20, much to my chagrin), and those books that have "Favorite of All Time" status (1 in 30).

I own 77 of these books, plus two of the trade paperbacks (comics). My copy of the Episode II novelization is autographed by the author. On my computer I have 33 MB of reference material in Word documents, including an encyclopedia and a timeline/summary of all published material (together they are over 5,000 pages long, single-spaced). I have 150+ Star Wars pictures in a file, mostly for use as wallpaper. I have written two completed works of "fan fiction" (they are saved in Word), one is 10 pages long and the other is 40, and a half finished work which sat at 20 pages the last time I did anything with it nearly three years ago (all three are single-spaced). (As a brief side note, I didn't use any of the established main characters . . . merely borrowed the universe.) There are nine and a half hours of music from the Star Wars movies on my computer. And, still speaking of computers, I have at various times both owned and played through Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Mysteries of the Sith, Jedi Knight II, TIE Fighter, X-Wing, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, X-Wing Alliance, Rogue Squadron, Galactic Battlegrounds, Force Commander, Starfighter, and Episode I Racer. I can hardly wait to get my hands on Knights of the Old Republic. In other words, I've flown a dozen kinds of starfighters in combat, raced pods on dozens of planets, commanded large complements of both Imperial and Rebel troops in land and space battles, and killed more stormtroopers than you can shake a stick at with everything from lightsabers to turbolasers. I own the Original Trilogy (Special Editions) and Episode I on VHS, Episode II on DVD. Since I don't own a TV or VCR, the full versions of the Original Trilogy (also Special Editions) take up an additional 2 GB of space on my computer. I have a small collection of Star Wars Micro Machines. I own Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. I own a Star Wars beach towel (it features pod racing).

Ballpark figures: I could probably name over 80 Star Wars planets before I really had to stop and think and tell you something about each of them. I might even be able to place about 1/4 of them on a galactic map. (I know the galactic coordinates of Coruscant, why it is named Coruscant, and two alternate names for Coruscant from when it was renamed by invaders.) I could name and describe at least that many alien species and identify their homeworld, if any. (I know about the Vors' Concert of the Winds on Vortex and the floating cities inhabited by Ithorians.) I could probably name over 300 characters, both major and minor, and give you whatever comprehensive biography exists for half of them. (I can name Chewbacca's wife, father, son, nephew, and former arch-rival from his homeworld of Kashyyyk. I can name half a dozen people who have held the position of Director of New Republic Intelligence, and half a dozen Imperial Warlords.) I know the names and a few technical specs (sizes, capabilities, functions, manufacturers) for nearly 200 types of Star Wars vehicles, weapons, and droids. (I know the color of Anakin Solo's lightsaber blade, why the Errant Venture is the only red Star Destroyer in the galaxy, and the function of the YVH 1 droid.) I don't remember the exact number of published Star Wars books, but there are nearly 140. I could put them in chronological order simply by referring to a list of titles. In fact, I might not even need a list . . . I could just list them for you. I could tell you who wrote them, and probably a few other things that they've written. I know who designed the cover art. I could tell you when they were published to within a year (maybe two in some cases) and by what company. I could list and explain the major events from over 55 years of Star Wars "history." I know who the commander of Rogue Squadron was 12 years after Return of the Jedi. I know the particulars of the Wookiee "coming-of-age" ceremonies. I know who killed Grand Admiral Thrawn and why. I can quote the movies, verbatim. I know who played who and what else they've been in. I know that Dennis Lawson (who played Wedge Antilles in the OT) is the real-life uncle of Ewan McGregor (who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels). I know that Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker) is from Sweden. I know names of directors, producers, cameramen, stuntpeople, make-up artists, special effects wizards, puppeteers and sound editors. I know that Yoda's eyes are modelled after Albert Einstein's. I know that they used model battleship kits to construct the miniature of the first Death Star trench. I could simultaneously Force-choke three assailants to death before they could take two steps.

Well, okay, maybe not that . . . I could, however, beat Leatherwood at any game of Star Wars trivia. Probably in my sleep. (This is not a point of pride.) I could go on . . . a lot. But I won't. I just . . . won't.

In conclusion, I don't really need to try and defend myself. It wouldn't work. I merely lay the facts before you. Perhaps you can at least understand why I might enjoy reading Star Wars books. I know these characters better than I know my children . . . errr . . . so to speak. It is comfortable to slide into a familiar universe, and it is fun to see what goes on there as the years go by.

To conclude in as choppy a fashion as possible, let me just say this: May the Fluff be with you, for the Fuzz will be with you, always.

I will now go read the Star Wars version of this, this, and this. And yes, that does mean that I just started Star Wars book #97.

And you will all mock me now. Copiously. And for anyone who wants to know, the correct spelling is L-O-S-E-R.

Thank you very much.

Posted by Jared at July 23, 2004 04:32 PM | TrackBack