Friday, May 30, 2014

Han Shot First...From a Certain Point of View

Vader with his allies
Star Wars has struck my house. I'm to blame, of course, but I never thought it would become this intense. We've been playing with the action figures for a while now and I'm particularly fond of Han Solo because of his versatility. If you're short a villain, for example, you could always have your existing team of bad guys, like the Joker and Storm Shadow, approach Han with an offer. Because I think we all know that Han would switch sides for the right price. He's a smuggler. Despite what George Lucas wants us all to believe, Han blasted Greedo in that Mos Eisley bar before the alien got the jump on him. Han shot first, and no amount of CGI editing will convince me otherwise.

After the toys came the movies. Episode IV first, then the prequels, because that's good parenting. Those first three are pretty funny as an adult. My favorite scene now is when Obi-Wan tries to worm his way out of his past lies to Luke. The young Skywalker confronts him in Return of the Jedi, pointing out that Obi-Wan said his father was dead. The old Jedi kind of sighs and goes into this rambling discourse, admitting that he was lying without actually owning up to it, and finishing with, "So what I told you was true...from a certain point of view."

Mind tricks aside, that scene kind of got me thinking that Jedis would make good lawyers. Imagine Obi-Wan going up against Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men? He would have smoked him.

The one big disappointment of this whole Star Wars obsession is the books. Much of the stuff that's out there for early readers right now is TERRIBLE. The early DK Readers are really abysmal. I can't believe that Lucasfilm let them produce those things. They don't read as though they were written for first graders. They read as though they were written by first graders. And the real tragedy is that these books are popular. Immensely popular. You see them everywhere, and it would have been so easy for Lucasfilm to collaborate with real writers capable of turning out out good books.

The LEGO-themed series of early readers are an exception. Generally, books with the LEGO brand attached tend to be pretty well done. There are a few by Ace Landers that I particularly enjoy. Alas, Ace does not appear to be a real person. I can't find any pictures of him, and the difference in quality from one of his books to another is too immense for him to be an actual writer. The person who wrote this is not the same one who penned this Power Rangers story. Absolutely not. The former was fun to read aloud, while I had to edit the latter on-the-fly.

A memo to the team of editors behind Ace: Protect the byline! It's such a fantastic name, even better, I admit, than my alter ego, Lance Mansion. And Landers already has a few good stories, so it would be a shame to continue staining the brand with mediocre work.

And Ace, if you're a real person, I'm sorry. Really sorry. Especially if you're one of my editors, or one of the people who will be reading The Unlikely Ninja in the next few weeks. The manuscript is leaving my desk soon, venturing forth into the world of publishing after a dozen revisions and refinements. It's not really in Norman's nature to be noticed, but in this case I do hope a few people see past the red hair and the buck teeth and the constant daydreaming and learn to love him. Or appreciate him, at least. The future of the world is pretty much in hands.

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