Star Wars: When it sucks and when it doesn’t!

Happy birthday, Star Wars! The present I was hoping to get you is not quite ready yet. So instead, inspired by some debates on episode 7 (e7), I’ve recently read, I’ve decided to analyze why the original films of SW worked, and the new stuff less so.

Note that this does not need to affect your enjoyment of any of these movies. However, neither does your enjoyment wash away these stories’ flaws. I myself love to death the movie Pacific Rim but even I can admit that it has some flaws. Likewise even when they are great, we will be cracking these movies open and looking at how they work underneath which can spoil some people’s enjoyment.
Proceed with caution. Extreme nerdity ahead.

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Jon Del Arroz’s Definitive Top 5: Space Opera Series

It’s #SpaceOperaWeek and I can think of no better way to launch my first regular Superversive column than to celebrate the genre in which I write and love. I’ll be doing more top fives as they feel appropriate, but as a writer of Space Opera, it makes a lot of sense to launch in celebration of some of my greatest influences. Naturally, these are just my opinions, so I expect outrage, disagreement, fist shaking, and the like at my choices. Just know that you’re wrong. It says definitive in the title, and we all know the internet never lies.

Without further ado, your Space Opera Top Five!

5. The Serrano Legacy – Elizabeth Moon wrote what at first feels like a light romp in the vein of “The Most Dangerous Game.” At the same time she has a compelling background with the Famlias and their political influence over the Fleet that both hampers and helps our heroes at different times. The characters are about the easiest to get attached to in science fiction, and when you get to the third book in the first trilogy – you start to see some really cool sci-fi concepts in a rejuvenation treatment that makes the elderly young again, and its consequences to society. Moon uses the universe as a backdrop for other stories from there, always relating to the Serranos and their influence over the fleet. From a pure fun perspective, this work is some of my favorite.

4. Hyperion Cantos – Dan Simmons shows the depth of imagination that Space Opera can attain. This series mixes literary prowess with Indiana Jones in space style fun. While the later books aren’t as good as the first couple installments, Simmons left his mark on the Space Opera genre and most modern authors riff off of his concepts even if subconsciously.

3. Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy – Tie in fiction is looked down on quite a bit, and I actually will differentiate this from the Star Wars films, as we’re focusing on literary fiction for the purposes of this post. Honestly, this series stands on its own. One doesn’t even have to have seen Star Wars to enjoy the depth of character, the machinations of the supreme strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn, the coming to prominence of Mara Jade, or all of the other wonderful facets of this series. It takes Star Wars and adds real depth and gravitas to the universe. There are very few examples of space opera out there that are finer.

2. Lensman – The original Space Opera by E.E. “Doc” Smith. He wrote this over the course of his life. Two epic alien species the Arisians and The Eddorians toying with the younger races like humanity in order to try to assert their will over the galaxy. These books are short, action packed, and they have a great punch to them. This series has inspired the likes of Star Wars and Babylon 5, and still is some of the most impactful work in the genre to this day.

1. The Vorkosigan Saga – This is a series by multiple Hugo winner Lois McMasterBujold, which debuted in the early 1980s. Originally penned as Star Trek fanfiction, the world was launched with Shards of Honor, a romance story in space about lovers from two worlds with completely different values. Though this is one of the lighter stories in the universe, it grew from there as we next met Miles Vorkosigan, the series’ main protagonist in The Warrior’s Apprentice. It’s got sweeping empires, weird body modifications, a great fleet battle, mercenaries, spies, about everything you’d want out of a book. And while that book shaped my interest in the genre in my youth, the series honestly only gets much better as it goes along. Lois hit on every mark possible in space opera and plays with a number of different story archetypes.
Jon Del Arroz is the author of the Alliance Award nominated and top-10 Amazon bestselling Space Opera, Star Realms: Rescue Run. His second novel, For Steam And Country, is set to be released by Superversive Press this summer. He is considered to be the leading Hispanic voice in Science Fiction, and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. He regularly posts to his popular Science Fiction blog at http://delarroz.com. Twitter: @jondelarroz Gab.ai: @otomo

Beginning of the End

Image result for spider-man homecomingI’ve been thinking of that “Homecoming” trailer, and I realized something: My analysis was wrong. “Homecoming” is the beginning of the end of the MCU.

Well, not “Homecoming”. Technically “Doctor Strange”.

I’ll explain:

Early in the MCU, there was no guarantee the franchise would be a juggernaut. “Iron Man” was a huge risk. There’s a reason they followed it up with name brand heroes like the Hulk and Captain America. They wanted to build a brand. Even Thor was a little more well known than Iron Man was, if only from Norse mythology. The risky franchises, like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man”, came later.

Then “Doctor Strange” was made. The Marvel formula always included background and side characters of different races and sexes. But “Doctor Strange” was different. Not only was Eastern European aristocrat Baron Mordo turned into a well-spoken black man, the Ancient One was changed from an old oriental man to a middle-aged Scottish woman. Yes, she was changed into a white person, but don’t kid yourself: This was about social justice. It was about adding a woman and changing stereotypes. Tilda Swinton was terrific, sure, but that wasn’t the point.

“Doctor Strange” wisely didn’t comment on this at all, since it had nothing to do with the movie, but it was an experiment: viewers were willing to accept changes to even more major characters without revolting.

And now “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is continuing the experiment. I’m sure “Homecoming” will be very good. They don’t seem to be attempting to do any commentary on racial issues, the casting for Peter Parker is excellent, and honestly it does make sense for an NYC high school to have more minorities than white folks.

But focusing on that misses the point. Now *everybody* who is a part of Peter’s world, including best friends, BOTH love interests, and even Flash Thompson, are minorities. Even if Zendaya’s character isn’t Mary Jane, they specifically made Peter’s love interests minorities. They specifically made sure to make his best friend a minority. And don’t think for a second that the villain being white is a coincidence – you’re “allowed” to make the villain white and still fulfill your social justice quota.

“Homecoming” isn’t the end point. It’s a test. It’s to see how much diversity casting audiences are willing to accept without revolt. “Star Wars” underwent the same evolution. The prequels made Star Wars think they were invincible; even after critical bashing, they were all still huge monetary hits. Thinking they could get away with anything, they started diversity casting with “The Force Awakens”. It was also a huge hit, but this time…there were rumblings. Brian Niemeier relays those concerns well.

But the franchise still doesn’t see it. They still think they’re invincible. And now, “Rogue One”, explicitly a pro-diversity, SJW film, as openly bragged about by the writers, is going to be the beginning of the end. Oh, it will do well. But it won’t do as well as they expect it to do. They still don’t understand the difference between a movie being poor and insulting your viewers.

“Homecoming” is Marvel’s test. And it will do well. And it will be the beginning of the end for Marvel, because they will think they’re invincible, and their SJW messages will get more and more overt, and, as always, people will get tired of it.

I don’t think “Spider-Man: Homecoming will be bad. In fact, I think it’ll probably be great. But it’s a sign of things to come, and mark my words: It’s not a good one.

“The Force Awakens”: It’s Pretty Good, I Guess

Okay, I’m about to say something really shocking…really, really shocking.

Are you sitting down?

Good.

*mumblemumble* As a remake I liked it more than “A New Hope” *mumblemumble*.

Sorry. “A New Hope” aged badly. Nowadays it comes off as very corny. Them’s the breaks.

(Yes, as a remake, not a sequel. The plot was paint-by-numbers the same, come on.)

Things I loved:

– Finn rocked

– Poe rocked

– Kylo Ren rocked. Making him a whiny, petulant loser was a brilliant idea. Following up Darth Vader with an even evil-er Darth Vader could never have worked. The whole concept of Kylo Ren was great.

– Han Solo…was actually not as entertaining as he could have been, but it was great to see Harrison Ford back in that role.

– I liked the actress who played Rey. Very pretty, at least, and she had a certain natural charm.

Things I didn’t love:

– Yeah, Rey was ridiculous. Her fight with Kylo Ren was a little off, but at least he had already been injured by Chewie and Finn. It was her use of Jedi mind powers that really got me, something Luke was never able to master until after his training with Yoda but that Rey got through…I dunno. Jedi osmosis? And, yeah, maybe she could pilot the Falcon since it’s been there for such a long time and she’s probably looked through it before, but expertly pilot it, outmaneuvering several trained fighter pilots in a high speed, low-orbit chase through tunnels?

Not quite the same as “She managed to fly it”.

Her treatment of Finn at the beginning of the movie was contemptible, and her fight with the four men who tried to mug her was ludicrous. Her sudden and basically inexplicable expertise at flying the Falcon made no sense. Rey Sue indeed.

Why I liked it more than “A New Hope”:

To be perfectly honest with you, there was no character in “A New Hope” I ever liked as much as I liked Finn with the exception of Han…who had a major role in this movie, and anyway Han’s very best lines came in “Empire” (which remains easily the best in the series and one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time).

As much as I disliked the character of Rey, the chemistry between her and Finn gains some genuine sizzle later on, which was good to see. Sure, the rehash of the plot of “A New Hope” was kind of dumb, but thought of as a reboot rather than as a sequel it works fine.

The dialogue wasn’t as corny. As memorable as some of the lines from “A New Hope” are, overall it’s pretty cheesy. I don’t mean to bash the movie. It’s not bad, and some people like that corny sort of optimism. I just liked this one more.

You can take it or leave it, I guess, but there you go. It’s not great, but it’s a very good movie. Highly recommended.

Star Wars: Aftermath

Heir to the Empire

Such lightning. Much Force.

Back in 1991, a book came out that rocked the world of ten year old Josh: Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, the inaugural book in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It officially opened up the post Return of the Jedi galaxy for exploration, for better or for worse. Most of the time I remember loving the EU– back before it was necessary to differentiate between levels of canon– and I only remember a few stinkers in the mix. (I’m looking at you,Crystal Star.)

Fast Forward– I guess we really should say “chapter skip” now?– a few years, and the trailer for The Phantom Menace hit. I was excited as the next dude, but I remember having misgivings even then. There’s a double-bladed lightsaber? I thought only Exar Kun was so skilled and savage as to be able to use a double-bladed lightsaber, and he’s been dead for thousands of years, but heck. It’s a big galaxy. Maybe this Sith lord is just that awesome.

Well, we all know how that went.

I said good bye to most of the EU somewhere along the lines of the second prequel film. It wasn’t just that the prequels were subpar, or that they contradicted the previously established “canon” of the novels/games/comics– and until the prequels came along, it was Canon– it was that they did it cavalierly, in little ways that showed utter spite for what had been written. The Clone Wars glimpsed through the lens of Zahn were something terrible and unnatural. In the prequel films, they’re a muddled mess, and clones, an unnatural abomination that felt terribly wrong to Luke in Zahn’s trilogy, are suddenly… good guys. Qui Xux was no longer the Death Star’s naive designer; its origins lay with some bug people on some planet in a muddled and incoherent conflict. Jedi are no longer the badasses that they were in the EU, capable of knocking Star Destroyers out of orbit with the force (albeit at the cost of their life), they were chumps who, universally, didn’t have the Force sensitivity to see betrayal coming. The biggest fight put up by a Jedi during the slaughter was from a youngling.

Anyways. The only thing I felt when Disney canned the previous EU was some sadness at the loss of Zahn’s wonderful villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn and quite a bit of schadenfreude. But then Star Wars Rebels came along, and all of a sudden it felt like the old Star Wars was back. And the Clone Wars cartoon turned out to be not half bad. And that trailer? Man, that trailer. All reasonable expectations went out the window the first time I saw the Millennium Falcon in the Episode 7 trailer.

Why did I bother posting a picture of a snack bar?

Not pictured: Me sitting at the table right behind Santa’s head.

So when Star Wars: Aftermath came out while my wife and I were taking a weekend in Frankenmuth, Michigan, I cheerfully logged into Bronner’s wifi and downloaded the book on to my Kindle, stole away to their snack bar, and holed up with my book, some deliciously terrible nachos, and a Coke while my wife browsed endless selections of Christmas ornaments. It was time to see the new EU! Lets see what wonderful glimpse of the future of Star Wars awaits!

And Aftermath was…. not very good. Really. I stopped reading Somewhither for this? I’m back on it Somewhither now, after taking a month and a half to read Aftermath, which should be telling. Yes, I’m in seminary and I have to spend most of my days reading Tertullian and a giant, terribly boring book on Christian counseling, but this was light science fiction. I should’ve destroyed it. I should’ve chomped that thing down into little bits, because there’s no easy like reading science fiction after fighting your way through Patristic era writers easy.

Star Wars: Aftermath opens immediately in the Special Edition’s added scenes of citizens rejoicing at the Imperial defeat at Endor. And then, wonderfully, logically, Imperial police come along and put down the riot on Coruscant. Because an Emperor’s death doesn’t mean the end of an Empire, y’know? After that, we pop in with our real characters: Rae Sloane, an Imperial Admiral, fighting to keep the Empire from falling apart after the massive loss of troops and equipment at Endor. Norra Wexley, a Rebel pilot, returning home to find her son after fighting for the rebellion. Temmin Wexley, Norra’s son, who tinkers with droids and gets in over his head with the local crime syndicates. Wedge Antilles, on a scout mission searching for Imperial remnants in the Outer Rim. Sinjir Rath Velus, an Imperial loyalty officer who deserted at Endor. Jas Emari, a Zabrak bounty hunter that once hunted Rebels for the Empire and is now hunting Imperials for the New Republic.

Aftermath is, largely, a long comedy of errors in which fan favorite Wedge is captured right off the bat, and where largely unmemorable characters do unmemorable things on an unmemorable planet. If this sounds harsh, it probably is. But Wendig’s writing isn’t to my taste at all– and I checked some of his other books on Amazon to see if that was him or this book, and it’s him– and he doesn’t do a terribly good job, typically, of making the book feel like Star Wars.

There are moments of very interesting things here, to be sure, but that’s all they are: Moments. Putting two and two together gives us a glimpse of why The Force Awakens has a First Order and a Resistance instead of an Empire/Imperial Remnant and a Rebellion/New Republic; the Empire is decimated, and a character mentions secret research bases in the Outer Rim, where the Imperial forces can hole up and lick their wounds. Most of the Imperials seem to feel this is a good thing. My inference is that they do just that, afterwards, and come back as the First Order and steamroll the New Republic.

B1 Battle Droid

Not pictured: Awesomeness

Another standout is, bizarrely, an ancient battle droid from the clone wars. Not one of the fancy destroyer droids, one of those goofy, terrible droids, that exist solely so that Jedi could chop them into pieces without getting the films an R rating for dismembered limbs. Norra’s son, Temmin, has modified “Mr. Bones” and uploaded a fair amount of combat programming into his head– possibly including Grevious’ skills– and some dance and acrobatic programs, creating a droid that is both hilarious and deadly. Mr. Bones’ fight scenes were among the best scenes in the book, and I found myself laughing, for the first time ever, at “ROGER-ROGER.”

Sprinkled through the book are little interludes that show snippets of life going on away from the book. These are largely less successful than they were probably meant to be, but at the very least they give you an end to the war that’s not quite as unrealistically neat as it was in the EU. One of the best things that’s been happening with the new canon is that they’re showing us an Empire that is evil— in the original trilogy, life didn’t seem so bad as long as you weren’t trying to overthrow the Rebellion. (We all know Alderaan had it coming.) But between Rebels and Aftermath, we see an Empire that will torch a village just to draw a Rebel out of hiding, and who has Soviet-style loyalty officers trained to be on the lookout for disloyalty and wrong-think. It’s some how strangely more effective, narratively, than blowing up an entire planet. I suppose it breaks the evil into manageable chunks.

All things considered, it’s hard to say that I hated Aftermath. I didn’t. It wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t so bad that I’d throw it out of the canon like The Phantom Menace or the almost equally regrettable Crystal Star. (Which, being part of the EU, technically was thrown out of the canon.) But it’s also not very good. It’s a very… mediocre book. The highs aren’t so high, and the lows aren’t so low. I’ll read the next one in the trilogy, but to be honest, a lot of that comes from a mysterious figure appearing in the epilogue that gives me a lot of hope (that I’m certain will be dashed) for some future awesome.

The Rebel Alliance Won… Didn’t They?

Once bitten, twice shy. Near the end of the 20th century, I caught a transatlantic flight just to see a film on the first day of release. It was called The Phantom Menace, and it was not a good film. Some years later I was coincidentally in Cannes on the day they premiered Revenge of the Sith. I arrived too late to see Natalie Portman going in, but afterwards I did catch Hayden Christensen and George Lucas hanging around outside. The crowd swooned, cheered and waved desperately at handsome young Hayden. George waved back. Revenge of the Sith was a better film, but the bubble had burst by then. There was no urgency when I eventually sauntered to the local cinema to watch it.

For weeks after The Phantom Menace, I wandered around New York wearing a variety of suitably themed t-shirts, engaging in conversation with total strangers about how excellent the movie was. I really believed it was a good film, and so did they. The disproof only came after I had bought the DVD, played it, put it on the shelf, and stared at the box many times, trying to will myself to watch it again. I doubt I ever will. Ever since that time, I felt a sadness about the saga. A great story had been diminished because the storyteller had continued to tell it, after he should have stopped.

Darth Maul and Boss Nass action figures

I also convinced myself that plastic toys were a good investment. When I bought these, Apple shares were trading at $1.86.

Though it is anathema to the business of science fiction and fantasy, the best stories end when their creator has the courage to admit that continuing them would be a disservice to the audience. Stories should end with a bang, or a pie in the face, or a kiss on the lips, or a wild crescendo, or a door slammed shut. Like a passionate love affair, you may fondly remember the good times, but those emotions are heightened because your lover walked out on you, never to return. When a great story ends, you should feel its absence, whilst knowing it cannot return. A great story should not be allowed to fade to dust, strung out and slowly abandoned by a once-admiring audience that loses their interest.

And yet, people seem very excited by the prospect of a new Star Wars film. As Disney is behind it, I expect the movie will give audiences what they want. There will be familiar old faces, and bright young things, cool robots, and natty costumes and stunning special effects. Being the marketing geniuses they are, Disney will find a way to hook people and ensure they come back for me. But the problem with giving people what they want, is that people do not really want what they want. As the artists Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid have shown, if you paint the paintings that market research tells you to paint, the results are terrible. On the other hand, if you think you really want something, you can probably persuade yourself it was good, even after you should have realized how awful it was. In that sense, art confuses infatuation with love in the same way we all do.

The more I learn about the new Star Wars film, the more I wonder why its story needs to be told, except for the obvious fact that Disney and everyone else involved intends to make huge profits from the venture. Do they have a story to tell? Or are they telling the same story again?

The film title, The Force Awakens, demonstrates the moviemakers have studied what audiences like. So many movie titles include words like ‘rising’ or ‘dawn’ that if an extraterrestrial race is watching us from afar, they must assume we humans are obsessed with our daybreak rituals. I associate mornings with alarm clocks, wanting more sleep, and being late for work. Heck knows what kind of bright-eyed people get surveyed about the choice of movie titles. Do they choose to watch a film about war after leaping from their beds, bursting into a Doris Day song, and skipping to the cinema, all whilst still wearing their pajamas?

So far we know the film features a new bunch of baddies, who are much like the old baddies, and live on a planet-sized planet with a big gun inside it, much like some moon-sized space stations from previous films. Some of the planets are icy, whilst others are sandy, because the filmmakers find it impossible to imagine a weird new kind of planet which has ice somewhere on its surface, and sand somewhere else. A plucky ‘resistance’ movement is going to stop the firing of the baddies’ gun, or something equally horrific, much like their forebears, the ‘rebels’. One of the baddies wears a black helmet, wields a sword, and feels empathy for an earlier helmet-wearing sword-wielder. As he carries a sword, a goodie will also carry a sword and fight the baddie in a duel. The goodie is happy to fight a duel like this, even though it indicates a poor grasp of the essentials of combat, which is to defeat the enemy without risking your life in the process. The goodie would consider it terribly unsporting to kill the baddie by shooting him with a ray gun, or firing a missile at him, or dropping an atom bomb or an anvil on his head (only cowards kill their enemies like that). Presumably the baddie carries his sword because he shares that aspect of the goodie’s moral code, even though he is a baddie. At least one good person will die, to demonstrate how serious the story is. Mostly the universe revolves around pretty humans, but aliens, robots, dogs, dog-aliens, and robot dogs will briefly appear as comic stooges and/or mysterious others. Somehow, I am left with the feeling of déjà vu.

The trouble with making a sequel to Star Wars is that the original was not a very original story to begin with. Basically it was a rehash of themes from World War 2, plus some magic, and minus the part where Stalin sacrificed 20 million Soviets on the Eastern Front, then received Poland and East Germany as his reward. Or rather, Star Wars was a rehash of themes from World War 2 movies, which usually involve a few brave soldiers parachuting (or jumping to light speed) behind enemy lines and then stealing/exploding something really important to the Nazis. The Guns of the Navarone, Saving Private Ryan, U-571, The Dirty Dozen, Inglourious Basterds… the point is to take a complicated conflict involving huge numbers of people with diverse and selfish interests and to turn it into a story where a small group committed to doing the right thing are fighting overwhelming odds and a very large group committed to doing the wrong thing. And so it was with the original Star Wars, where even the title tells us the whole galaxy is engaged in a prolonged and desperate military struggle, but the victory was won by a boy, a criminal, an old man, a princess, two robots, and their upright-walking semi-talking dog.

The World War 2 parallels go on and on. The Empire is described as the ‘New Order’. They are opposed by a Rebel Alliance, not by a Rebel Axis. The rebels seek to end the Emperor’s ‘ten thousand years of peace’, in comparison to overthrowing the Führer’s tausendjähriges Reich (thousand-year realm). The political leaders of the Allied forces come from aristocratic families, whilst its soldiers are backwoods farmboys from places like Arkansas or Tatooine. Officers in the Empire’s military wear the same gray as Nazi officers wore, and the stormtroopers are… well, they are stormtroopers. The dogfight above the Death Star is a replay of the Battle of Britain. The Death Star represents the technological advance of the Nazi V-weapons. (The Death Star could also represent a nuclear bomb, but it would complicate the moral analogy to observe WW2’s goodies were the ones who used WMDs.)

As with World War 2, the basic dynamic of Star Wars is that good liberal democrats will suffer a lot, but they will eventually overcome the militaristic fascist tyrants who want to oppress them. And if the good liberal democrats ever felt the need to ally themselves to a bunch of militaristic communist tyrants, then that would spoil the story, so let us avoid all mention of that.

At the end of Return of the Jedi, the audience was led to believe that the Allies had won. Fireworks were launched. Men drank and women kissed. Saddam Hussein-like statues of Emperor Palpatine were spontaneously toppled by the people. Or maybe not. Some of that may have been propaganda, stage managed for the cameras long after the war was over. Original accounts only mention Ewoks dancing to music played on a xylophone made from stormtrooper helmets. But in the end, we all knew the fascists were defeated. They had made a bit of a comeback after losing their first Death Star, but they could never survive the loss of their Führer. However, it seems we were all wrong. Hence we need a new episode in the Star Wars saga, which if it followed historical convention might have been called ‘The Continuity War’ or ‘The Thirty Years War’.

Following WW2, the Cold War lasted 40 years. There was a realignment of power that led to relative peace for most, prosperity for a minority. However, in the Star Wars universe, the rebels seemingly need to resist the fascists for another three decades. Like Leon Trotsky’s permanent revolution, the resistance believe there can be no peace until utopia is delivered everywhere, for all. Enemies cannot be contained, nor negotiated with. There is no possibility for the equivalent of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, or the Nazi-Soviet Pact, which would allow enemies to co-exist without further bloodshed. They have abandoned the hope of a cessation to fighting, and do not engage in the messy compromises needed to deliver peace amongst real people with genuine differences. The resistance will keep on revolting, and will never say die until their enemies are completely wiped out – or turned to their side.

As much as I loved Star Wars, a story of perpetual war is not one I embrace. I can see why it would appeal to some people; even when real fascists fell, some still wanted to beat them over and over. When necessary, some invent new fascists to fight. This happens in both fiction and reality. Woken from his long sleep, Captain America fights the continuing Nazi program of Hydra. From the 70’s to the 90’s, the Red Army Faction also claimed to fight German Nazis, though their members were born after WW2 had ended. The Red Army Faction justified murder, robbery and kidnap by saying it was part of an ongoing struggle against imperialism.

Stories often appeal to the child inside us. Those infatuated with a cause, and disinclined to deal with messy realities, may prefer the childish story of a never-ending struggle between pure good and pure evil. In the real world, those who have peace may seek war, but those who have war mostly seek peace. Only the latter are wise. War stirs emotion, which is why it is suited to storytelling. However, war is not a solution for ennui.

Ultimately I liked Star Wars because I was kid when it came out, and that is how it should be. There was a war, it was fought, and it was won. The story had a happy ending. In contrast, a story of an endless war is not one fit for adults or children. Children have the advantage, because they will watch the new film with fresh eyes, and with little concern for the films that went before. The rest of us should consider ourselves less fortunate. Adults will see a story that has been extended, but also made more superficial. After war comes peace, or else the war must lose its meaning.

Peace is a messy business, involving compromise. After war, helmets and uniforms are removed, and people have to find a way to live next to their neighbors, and get along with their work colleagues, whoever they may be. Puritans fear the peace that comes after the cessation of hostilities, even if their enemies were thoroughly vanquished. But puritans never develop beyond the reasoning of adolescents, and so they treat every clash of wills like a teenager treats love and war. If young new fans want to discover a stirring space story where a family lineage fights a perpetual struggle for good against evil, I hope they enjoy the new Star Wars film. But as an old fan of Star Wars, I think this film is not for me. Time moves on, and so should stories. If warriors die of old age before they find peace, they probably enjoyed fighting too much.