Star Wars Creators, Media Lash Out At Star Wars Fans In Attempt To Sweep Their Failure Under The Rug

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Ever since Solo debut in the box office, we’ve been hearing rumblings from the media about how the film was a dismal failure. Forbes came out with an article on May 27th calling it a “bomb”, following several articles across the internet where it mentioned Disney was ready for the movie to fail. In some ways, it was set up from the start with production troubles, switching teams midstream, even if there weren’t a disastrous problem with the Star Wars franchise as a whole, movie goers were tepid of this film going in. 

When the movie fulfilled the prophecy where everyone agreed it was going to fail, the internet became a hotbed of analyses explaining why the movie performed so dismally. Perhaps the oddest theory was male feminist and science fiction writer John Scalzi’s tweet proclaiming the movie didn’t do well because it didn’t have a strong female lead. But the majority of the internet’s consensus was that they tuned out of Star Wars because of The Last Jedi’s slap in the face to fans, the film having destroyed the legacy of beloved characters in a train wreck of a plot. 

As the mainstream media reached peak worry for the franchise’s future on Monday, June 5th, with stories of Solo’s failure reaching Drudge Report, it looked like some heads would have to roll within the franchise. After all, anyone with business sense would see that the very expensive Star Wars investment was squandered by people who didn’t understand the pulse of moviegoers.

But like clockwork, the media got involved in what appears to be a coordinated assault on Star Wars fans.

Solo Failed Because… #GamerGate?

On the same day all of the bad box office news was releasing, Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose, deleted her Instagram account. Within minutes of this, director and writer Rian Johnson made an ominous, passive aggressive tweet on the topic:

Manbabies? By the vague post, it appears as if Rian knows he screwed up with The Last Jedi, and instead of taking responsibility, blamed the fans. The timing was very odd for the Instagram account being deleted at the very least, and shortly thereafter, The Mary Sue came out with an article claiming “racist” mobs were harassing the actress which led to the Instagram deletion. NBCNews went on to liken the situation to #GamerGate and actually evoked Milo Yiannopoulos in the article, even though he’s been largely silent about Star Wars. It was strange to say the least, and with Rian Johnson’s follow up tweet, it started to look coordinated:

The Fake News Media Strikes Back

Like usual with the blogosphere, once one group set into motion, the others all joined in. Soon there were articles about how poor Ms. Tran was “harassed off the internet” popping up in the Washington Post, USA Today, Slate, The Daily Beast, all the usual suspects. Their content was all so similar in the articles that none are worth speaking about individually. This was clearly a coordinated effort. The oddest part was not one of these sources actually had a screen shot of any of the alleged harassment and/or racism on Instagram. All of the original articles only referenced Rian’s tweet on the subject and an alleged change to the Star Wars Wikipedia which is called “Wookiepedia” that referenced this about the character Rose (I’ll stress not the actress, the character in the film): 

Childish to say the least, but not nearly a harassment of the actress as the media’s portraying it to be.

After scouring more than 30 articles on the subject, I was unable to corroborate any of the alleged Instagram harassment of Tran. Given that she is a star of a very prominent geek franchise, I’m certain some mean comments were left regarding The Last Jedi, but alleging “harassment” by fans and racism seems to be the playbook that’s used every time there’s a social justice failure at the box office. This happened with #GamerGate, where they claimed poorly made games were due to “sexist” fans. This happened with #ComicsGate where with horrible stories including making Captain America into a Nazi, fans were blamed for “not wanting diversity”, and now fans are being blamed for the failure of a movie. 

Star Wars Creators Lash Out:

It didn’t end there. A new round of articles to keep this media cycle going hit this morning. The tactic by the media seems to be to overwhelm everyone with a blitzkrieg of articles on the topic so that the general public has sympathy for Tran and therefore for the Star Wars franchise as a whole. That way the blame can be shifted away from those who have been in charge of the franchise for the last several years as it’s sank lower with each release. 

Mark Hamill even was brought into the fold, posting a picture with him and Tran with the hashtag, #GetALifeNerds. It’s not the best look for such a prominent actor to be lashing out at fans and telling them to get a life to say the least. It adds to the appearance of a coordinated attempt to blame the movie failure on fans, and with more lack of evidence in this new round of articles, it makes the entertainment media look very suspect.

Perhaps the oddest of all was Star Wars novel writer Chuck Wendig, who has been under fire the last several years for his shoddy writing in the Aftermath series. He finally lost it on twitter, lashing out at fans, blaming white male fans in particular for both his and The Last Jedi’s failure: “it’s sexism and racism. It’s sphincter-stung white dudes who are so tender, so brittle, they cannot hack that the world is now only 90% about them instead of 95%.” 

Very odd comments to say the least, when the only people talking about race in the contest of the film are the filmmakers themselves and the media who’s pushing the narrative. Wendig’s rant  went on for more than a dozen tweets, reported by Bounding Into Comics. How far he goes to defend this strange narrative is astounding.

Anger, Fear, Aggression, Of The Dark Side Are They

With the hard media push, the strange deletion of any potential evidence by Tran of the accusations, and the creators all lashing out in tandem, it appears as if this is a deception campaign aimed more at Disney’s executives than at fans. They’re framing an argument as if to say “if you fire us, you’re on the side of racists and sexists!” In order to shoo away any responsibility for the fans abandoning the franchise. It’s such a bizarre move that it’s only going to hurt the franchise further, as fans now have been insulted not just by a movie giving them the proverbial middle finger with its content, but by the creators they’ve been following telling them they’re horrible people and they don’t deserve to even watch the films.

Begun, the #StarWarsGate have.

If you like great characters and epic space opera, try my novel The Stars Entwined, on sale for 99 cents this week only. It’s got characters who are true to themselves, and an epic backdrop with world building that blows the current Star Wars iteration away. Check it out here. 

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Book Blast: The Stones Of Silence by Peter Grant

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Peter Grant is a man who has my utmost respect, and is a wonderful author. He penned one of my favorite books, Brings The Lightning, which won the CLFA Book Of The Year Award last year (of which my book, For Steam and Country is the winner this year). So he’s a man I like to keep company with.

He made a name for himself originally with his very successful Maxwell Saga in science fiction, which I consider to be a Nathan Lowell-style earn-your-keep adventure. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, but it’s working hard and doing the right thing and becoming a man… in space. A fabulous book series.

He’s finally back into space opera / military science fiction with this latest effort, after dabbling in Westerns and Fantasy, and it’s bound to be very exciting as Peter keeps getting better at writing with each release. And congrats to Peter for already cracking the top 3,000 of all of Amazon!

Check it out here.

The secret is out – the Mycenae system is the hottest new mineral find in the spiral arm. Now it’s about to become ground zero in a gold rush by every crooked company and asteroid thief in the galaxy.

Andrew Cochrane, with his crew of the finest veterans and cunning rogues, have an even better scheme. They’ve conned the owner into hiring them as a mercenary security company to defend the system. With no oversight but their own, Cochrane’s Company plans to seize the richest pickings for themselves.

But nothing ever comes easy. If they want to keep their loot, they’re going to have to outwit and outfight every smuggler, bandit and renegade after the same prize – and their boss, too!

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Retro Review: The Rebel Worlds by Poul Anderson

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The next story in the Dominic Flandry series brings about another change for the character. Ensign Flandrey brought us a nice war with the Mersians and showed how one world escalated a galactic conflict. A Circus of Hells showed Dominic floating around doing spy work, expanded the Mersian conflict, and it truly felt like a James Bond in space novel. This one, Flandry is given command of a ship as we set out to the frontier where a Rebellion is stirring against the Terran Empire.

It begins from the perspective of an Admiral accused of treason, who is breaking out of prison and his beautiful wife is being held captive by a local governor. Flandry goes out to investigate, finds the Admiral has declared himself Emperor of Humanity and has amassed a fleet, and through a series of really fun events, we end up on another alien planet.

What’s interesting is Poul Anderson weaves these world-changing political events into a story, but has each time moved us to a planet where we saw some strange alien species that has a big difference to them than general humanity. This one is perhaps the coolest alien concepts of the books yet — with a species that has three different creatures to it, and when they come together, they form sentience. When they part, they separate sentience. They also can combine with other creatures to form different entities. They have strange memories and a strange way of being and I loved this conceptually. They play a huge part in the book and overall story.

What’s interesting is Anderson really has the conflict of the major worlds going on in the background, while Flandry is in his own little mission doing his own thing. I like this style of writing, it adds to the space opera flare in my opinion. Flandry can influence events, but he’s not at the center of the battle because of his position. And Even as he roams around on other planets, eventually his actions do amount to solving the conflict with the Rebel Worlds.

The story also, like the others so far, centers around a woman — the wife of the rebel admiral who is so captivating, everyone falls in love with her. This subplot adds a nice dynamic to the story, and highlights Anderson’s excellent characterization in this. Flandry, of course, falls for her as well, and like the prior stories it ends without fulfillment for Flandry. A minor annoyance is that the past loves and past adventures really don’t get referenced, despite this being somewhat of a continuance from those, but these older books are all meant as standalones more than the way series are written today, despite the shared universes.

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. This is probably the second best of the trilogy so far, with Ensign Flandry being my favorite still. There’s many short stories next in the Baen collected version of this series I’m reading, and not sure if I’ll review all of those. The next novel to take place in this series apparently doesn’t star Flandry proper, but is set in the universe.

Overall, this is some of the best space opera out there. Highly enjoyable read.

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Retro Review: A Circus Of Hells by Poul Anderson

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A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Ensign Flandry, the first of the character of Dominic Flandry, and I was so impressed with the space opera that I found myself eagerly awaiting the second book. Been actually rereleased these books as 3-book omnibuses in a seven volume set a few years back, so I was able to pick up the entire series relatively inexpensively.

A Circus of Hells takes a drastically different tone than Ensign Flandry. Where Anderson set up the Imperium and the human structure against this giant Merisan structure as an epic in the first, this is much more localized. It also takes much more of a “James Bond In Space” feel. Whereas Ensign Flandry surprised me when he was suave with the ladies, in this one he is unabashedly out to get some action.

It starts out where he’s assigned on a backwater planet, and he gets pulled into some mob scheme to investigate the planet Wayland, completely off the radar to see if there’s mining potential for profit. A woman, Djana, is assigned with him. She’s a hooker, but a very noble one with a passion for Jesus. It’s an odd character, but she works.

They go together, get shot down on the planet which they find is infested by robots. It takes a 180 as they go and get captured by Mersians on another planet where there is intelligent life that some only awaken during certain climates of the year–a very interesting concept. Anderson likes to explore the hot/cold environmental aspects of what makes civilization tick, like he did in Fire Time, and that theme is developing here.

I gloss over Wayland because though he presents and interesting planet there, he drops the thread for the Mersian plot. I found the development of the new world after Wayland a little boring for awhile, it takes a bit to get jump started as if it’s a completely separate story. However once Flandry forms his escape plan, it starts to get interesting again.

The ending is really interesting, if unfulfilling. Djana gets left in the cold to some degree, and we see a flaw in Flandry’s character, which he blames on the job, but it’s a little more than that. It made me lose my liking for Flandry a bit, but, if he’s going to be a James Bond, he can’t be tied down.

Overall, I liked it, but enjoyed it a lot less than Ensign Flandry.  It’s a solid book, and it’s actually standalone so if it sounds more interesting to you, you can actually start here without any trouble. There’s no much reference to the first book beyond in passing.

It’s also very short. So it’s a quick read, despite the slowed pace when it shifts gears in the middle.

8/10

If you like Poul Anderson’s space opera, or my thoughts on it, you’ll probably like The Stars Entwined. It’s got a spy with a bit better of a moral compass when it comes to women. Check it out here.

 

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Why Disney Can’t Make A Good Star Wars Film To Save Their Soul

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Disney just can’t do Star Wars. They don’t understand it. And there’s a big reason why—they’re a soulless monolithic corporation trying to recapture nostalgia in a property that is really about intense spirituality. You can’t create spirituality if you have none.

Star Wars really fell off my radar after The Last Jedi, which I found not only to be a bad movie, but an insult to everything that Star Wars was. On the spirituality front, the whole message was a slap in the face to the religious, the spiritual. No matter what you do, evil will rise anyway, it’s pointless. You will fail. Nothing you do matters. Nihilism.  Those were everything we got not just from the movie universe all around, but from Luke Skywalker, who as a character in prior films, was all about being wide-eyed and child-like in his thirst for enlightenment and the spiritual. It’s a big 180 to the point where it doesn’t’ make sense from a character perspective, and that’s a big reason why the film comes across as such garbage. I know they technically explain it in the interactions with Kylo Ren in the past, but it’s thin, and Luke’s not shown as being very heroic in the past example either—he pretty much lies about the encounter. It’s all very messy, and anti-spiritual.

And the problem is you have an entire Hollywood who doesn’t understand spirituality. Nor do they understand religion. They act like the imperial officers who mock Lord Vader in the first film, calling it superstition, a hokey religion, etc. Vader just responds through action. Look at the power of faith. He says by choking them with nothing other than the force.

While Disney doesn’t understand faith from a business-side, the directors and their nihilism come at it from an even worse vantage, as mentioned before. The combination is a complete train wreck when it’s dealing with mythology. The Force Awakens sucked the soul out of the series, and The Last Jedi took that soul out back and beat it in an alley and left it for dead.  It’s frankly a worse mishandling of the properties than the prequels ever were.

But that perspective doesn’t understand Star Wars at all.

What brought this to my attention was a tweet by author, Scott Lynch, who is a very solid writer, but definitely comes from the dark-fantasy nihilism perspective, one that very much isn’t Star Wars. Someone mentioned “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” being an iconic line, but didn’t pay off—a person who doesn’t understand spiritualism. Lynch’s analysis is this (source, twitter):

I think it did, but you have to bear with me for a moment here. When Obi-Wan says this (IMHO), he’s not talking about anything he’s going to do himself. He’s not even talking about becoming a Force ghost and an afterlife tour guide/apologist. He’s talking about Luke, and he’s maneuvering himself quite specifically so that Luke will have a clear view of everything when Obi-Wan lowers his guard, closes his eyes, and gets cut down by Vader. Note the meaningful sideways glance before he gives in.

Let’s dissect this. One, he is talking about becoming a Force ghost, though putting it in accurate humanistic terms like that is missing the point of what he’s really becoming there. He is attaining pure enlightenment, becoming one with the force, or one with God as you will.  His concerns are not about Luke beating up Vader in a human sense. Those things are below enlightenment, below anything Obi-Wan or any Jedi is trying to accomplish. It’s off the mark because it ignores spirituality and religion as important to the movie’s messaging and subtext, which is because those aspects of life are not understood by Mr. Lynch.

It’s very similar to how Rian Johnson approaches these subjects, and it misses the point so far that it creates films that just feel completely wrong in the context of the originals.  Obi-Wan is not concerned about being an afterlife tour guide/apologist, this is true. He is becoming more powerful than ever because he’s removing his temporary earthly shell. If one can’t understand that basic premise of religion, of ascending, of complete transformation and glorification, one can’t understand the soul of what makes stories like the original Star Wars so great and resonate with so many.

The Guardian put out an article today saying there’s red flags on the new Han Solo movie. I could have told you that from the minute one was announced, because though Han plays the skeptic in the film, he deep down understands truth and righteousness, and comes to admit that to himself over the course of the trilogy – through the help of Luke and Leia guiding him and forcing him to reconcile that with himself. It’s a beautiful arc, but a new movie making him devoid of that spirituality is going to only end in disappointment, unless the people producing the film have a very real come to Jesus moment themselves.

If you like my perspective on character and story, you’ll probably like my books. Check out The Stars Entwined, a space opera that has characters who will grip you throughout the story.

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Space Opera Talk With David V. Stewart

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I went on author David V. Stewart’s youtube this weekend which did really great, over 1000 views.  We delved deep into writing and genre, and I think it was one of the more interesting streams I’ve recorded.

Now we’re about one week into The Stars Entwined‘s launch, which has gone really fantastic. Though I didn’t have as many guest blogs and the like as I did with For Steam And Country, the release was on par with it — and for Steam itself went crazy over the weekend, up to #2 in Steampunk, which is the highest it ever has been. So thank you everyone for checking out my books. Reviews have been stellar (pun intended) on The Stars Entwined also, which is really exciting. This universe really is my baby.

A lot more work ahead both with marketing and books, but the SF Elites out there are fast finding they can’t stop the signal because I produce too good of work for them to shut it down. And my readers are the best!

Here’s our chat if you missed it:

 

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Jon Del Arroz’s Epic Military Science Fiction Extravaganza

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On Tuesday, March 20th, I’m releasing my new Mil SF book, The Stars Entwined. A book reviewer sent this to me:

A welcome window into a new sci-fi space opera from the pen of John Del Arroz, After reading both his previous works I was honored at the chance to get a review copy of The Stars Entwined opening at a frantic pace it drops you into a fully fleshed out universe without missing a beat expecting you to land on your feet and take off following the main characters of Lieutenant Sean Barrows an Internal Affairs agent with the Interplanetary Navy tasked to uncover the mystery of a lost ship within the space of the Aryshan Empire. While on the side of the Empire we have Commander Chavi Tamar di Aresh. As much of the enjoyment I got was from experiencing the story unfold I won’t go into much more detail on the plot, just know that if you enjoy space opera of Babylon 5 caliber you owe it to yourself to give The Stars Entwined a try.

I welcome the comparison to Babylon 5, certainly, as that’s what I was going for 100%.  Glad to hear it worked.

To celebrate the release, I also planned something special, which is going to be a marathon broadcast with the who’s who of the Military Science Fiction writing world. I was able to secure 66% of the 2017 Dragon Award nominees for Best Mil SF last year, and other great guests. The full list is here:

2:45 Yakov Merkin – A Greater Duty
3:00 Richard Fox – Dragon Award Winner, The Ember War
3:15 Robert Kroese – Rex Nihilo and Saga Of The Iron Dragon
3:30 C.J. Carella – Warp Marines
3:45 C.T. Phipps – Lucifer’s Star
4:00 Cedar Sanderson – Tanager
4:15 Amy J. Murphy – Dragon Award Nominee, Allies & Enemies
4:30 John F. Holmes – Dragon Award Nominee,
4:45 Mark Wandrey/ Chris Kennedy – Dragon Award Nominee, Four Horsemen Universe
5:00 Jason Anspach/Nick Cole – Galaxy’s Edge

These are the pacific time they will be appearing at the link below. Tune in, check out great books, most importantly, have fun!

And of course, you’ll want to make sure to grab The Stars Entwined, out Tuesday!!!

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Book Review: Dream Of The Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese

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I’ve been a fan of Robert Kroese for a couple of years. I discovered him with The Big Sheep, which is an excellent novel, and went into his Rex Nihilo adventures, which are a star wars-ish parody that really is a love letter to sci-fi. What they have in common is a lot of comedy, and I almost would think of Kroese as the Terry Pratchett of Sci-Fi (if that weren’t already Douglas Adams).

He launched The Saga Of The Iron Dragon as a kickstarter last year, to a lot of buzz. Vikings in spaaaaace! I thought I might find something ridiculous and off the wall as his other concepts, but the more I read into it, this was more of a serious venture.

Kroese did a lot of research on this as well. He took a trip to the Nordic countries last year, and I saw the stacks of books he posted when he was reading up on Vikings. He put the work in, had a cool concept, and is definitely a very smart guy to be able to piece together some cool history and make a story. But would he succeed in a more serious venture with his work?

The Dream Of The Iron Dragon opens in modern times, a prologue of people investigating what appears to be a space ship crash in Iceland in modern times. Not what I expected, but I was interested in that perspective. It set up a mystery, and just as I was getting comfortable, we shifted to the future.

In this future, humanity is at war with a single alien race, who’s been kicking our butts. Earth is all but uninhabitable, and humans are struggling to survive. There’s alien jump gates that allow us to go from system to system, and we find our story taking place on a science vessel who is investigating an asteroid out in the middle of nowhere. They come across the alien race and something mysterious, and it’s a really awesome space opera war set up that takes a good portion of the book. As much as I’d been waiting for vikings, this surprised me how much of the book this took up, but I was very invested in this greater world by Kroese’s expert characterization and gripping suspense. As this part drew to an end, and i knew what was coming–they were being flung back in time, I almost didn’t want this portion of the story to end– and i hope he gets back to it in future books.

Without giving too may spoilers from this point, a shuttle from the ship crash lands on Earth in viking times, and hijinx ensues. The crew is trying to survive, and also to get back, but plans go desperately wrong. We switch perspectives to crew we met before, but didn’t have intimate time with, as we were dealing with those running the ship, which I was sad for at first, but I quickly became just as attached to these characters as any of the others. The vikings get a few perspective points as well — and they’re just as deep and intricate of characters. I really can’t speak too highly of how well Kroese did on that front.

Kroese teaches us quite a bit about the history of the Nordic countries from this time too, just in little snippets so it’s never too overwhelming. There are points where there’s a bit of infodump, but it’s interesting, and mostly history we don’t hear a terrible amount about, so it’s a learning experience that almost feels like earlier Heinlein novels when he drifts into his scientific concepts.

Through the first half of the book, it’s about perfect. There’s a big battle mini-climax at a point which is just awesome. I will say from about half to two thirds, the pace bogs down a little bit. I’m still trying to avoid spoilers, but there’s points when goes into montage-explain mode where the crew needs to perform a task, they use some science to do it, and they complete it. This is done three or four times and along with the history lessons, slowed down this portion of the book to where maybe some of it could be cut or glossed over. I understand the necessity of most of it, but it did make for some skimable material.

It picks right back up for an epic climax… and ends on a cliffhanger. We aren’t resolved at all beyond getting past a single hump in this history section that was set up about 30% into the book, which is a big one, but it leaves this feeling like a part of a book rather than complete because of it. Now, Kroese never set expectations otherwise, so it’s very much as advertised and is imminently forgivable — it was billed as a trilogy going in, and the way the books are titled it’s kinda obvious they wouldn’t just get back into space and come back into the present in this first installment, so I don’t feel cheated as a reader. but I hate cliffhangers! That’s just me. Some people won’t have a problem with this at all, but definitely go into this knowing you’ll need 3 books for the complete story.

It did work, the cliffhanger. I’m interested. I’m hooked. I really want the next one to come out. That last battle in the book was epic. The stakes were high throughout, and the danger is real to the characters. I can’t offer more without massive spoilers, but even with the slow down in pacing and my lack of closure, frankly this is the best book I’ve read this year and I think it’ll be hard pressed for me to find one in 2018 that I”ll enjoy more. Of course, now he has to top this for the next one.

Overall, the complaints are minor, and this book is solid science fiction. World building is A+. History A+. Characters A+, can’t really ask for more than that. I haven’t firmly concluded my Dragon Awards list yet, but it’s currently my frontrunner for Best Science Fiction category.

You can check out Dream of the Iron Dragon here. 

5/5

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Space Opera and Spirituality

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Yesterday I had a good question from another writer about characters with spirituality in space opera making for something important to the genre — or better stories. I thought about it over the course of the evening, and in context of the discussion with DS9 and Babylon 5.

Deep Space 9 was the first Star Trek to really offer an in depth religion of a race. Though there was the one original series episode that definitely confirmed Jesus Christ was God and savior, most of Star Trek until DS9 proved religion-less, which did give the show one of its more interesting angles overall. Like most Star Trek, the Bajoran “gods” weren’t “gods” but wormhole aliens. The big difference was – they acted like gods in a lot of ways. Sisko being their emissary, even reluctantly (what real prophets aren’t reluctant though?) gave his character a very interesting dimension which other shows lacked, making for a more interesting program overall. The spiritual element played a big part in the show, and because real religion, not mocked, is something a lot of science fiction writers are afraid to touch, it differentiated it.

Babylon 5 was also differentiated. the Narn religion, the Minbari religion, they were all based on the Shadows and Vorlons acting as actual gods over the aeons.The prophets and the like were all real, and all had truth spanning millennia–yet the religions were false in their own way as well once we found what the aliens were truly about. It was presented as something for an intelligent race to grow out of, albeit subtly. Still, when monks or pastors arrived, they were mentioned and treated as what they were — as real people, and their convictions were presented as true and not in a biased way like we usually see on TV, this made for better storytelling as well, and gave another reason to connect with the show.

Sheridan/Sinclair in B5 also had almost a prophet-status by the end of the show. It was a little different, however. Some people took them as saviors, but really the men were about a sacred purpose for the human race, and living purpose was what made them appealing characters.

Living purpose is what’s important to focus on. Everyone has a sacred purpose, whether they realize it or not. When you do realize it, and live toward it, your life becomes far more fulfilling and rewarding. Likewise a character living such a purpose will become easier to attach to, because it triggers something in us we desire to have, or desire to execute. When it’s presented heroically and accomplished over heavy odds, it serves to inspire us.

In The Stars Entwined, I don’t focus so much on religion. Sean is really just your standard guy thrust into a job in over his head. He’s lost to purpose at the beginning of the book, but by the end, he starts to find it. It’ll become more clear over the next couple of books as well. The Aryshans talk about Overseers and stormwraiths in passing, which stem from their world and their mythology, but I don’t go further into that as we’re mostly focused on one military ship over the course of this novel. Both the main characters have very clear purposes though from the Aryshans, and those make them into more dynamic characters.

In Justified, which will be my next released novel, I have a very spiritual sacred purpose for Drin, the main character.

Which one works better? I think having that purpose is what’s important in a story, and the specifics give variety in storytelling. Making sure your religiosity feels real, whether it’s personal religiosity in what someone wants to accomplish in life, or someone following a god via their actions, will help to create epic tension throughout the storytelling, and is necessary for space opera. Connect with a purpose, and make your character serve a purpose that feels worthwhile, and you’ll have a better work.

The Stars Entwined is out March 20th, and you can check it out here.  

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What I Wanted From Space Opera

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We’re about 15 days out of The Stars Entwined‘s release, and I want to shift gears to talk about space opera.

1999 saw the end of an era on TV with both Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9 going off the air. Those shows really were the blueprint for great space opera on TV, with overarching storylines that swept across the galaxy. Alien races, who, some were not too dissimilar from us, navigating through the stars as well. Overwhelming threats to humanity’s existence — but what differentiated those from what I’ll call the “Post-Battlestar Galactica Era” was that through all this, our main characters really kept their souls. They were cheerful, optimistic people. They were real heroes. Sci-fi after this went dark, where in efforts at first to make characters “more real”, plunged shows into nihilistic dreariness, from which the genre hasn’t really recovered.

Part of it was Hollywood’s lives being so corrupt and nihilistic. When you’re in that environment, you tend to write what you know. That’s why we see even Straczynski’s later work as he became more of a militant atheist, drifting from the beauty of Babylon 5 — which truly the theme of it is “one man can make a difference” — to his later work which is devoid of beauty or meaning.

But in 1999 we were left with a hole in the zeitgeist for humanity’s push to the stars. I felt that hole, really delving into online roleplaying in sci-fi/star trek-based environments, where, while many of t hem were fun, didn’t quite fulfill in the way watching those beautiful stories did. Some books nearly scratched that itch — Lois Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga did well in several of the books — but it still didn’t quite have the feel I was looking for as it waded a bit too far into dark territory at times.

That was the real origin of why I turned to writing writing. I, during this period, wanted to set up and recapture the feel of those two shows in the 90s that really to this day are unsurpassed in their storytelling excellence. I set up a station of my own, which is now dubbed Palmer Station in the book (named after David .R Palmer whose Emergence novel is amazing — and very hard to find!). My intent was to create episodic building narratives that pushed the world like DS9 or B5…

…and then my characters had different plans.

I think I still captured the feel of DS9/B5. The sense of wonder of doing something different, the aliens who are cool, not too distant to us — some even sexy, but the sprawling events of The Stars Entwined couldn’t keep someone confined to a station. It took me from 2001 when I started writing this to 2012 to finish the first draft, which looked VERY different than what you’re going to read at this point (I will be putting up pieces of that over on my patreon for those curious as to what it looked like). But I needed to not just copy that which I loved, but come into my own with my own voice to tell the story that was burning in my head.

As I reflected more on those shows, what made them different was the characters. The characters who wouldn’t give up. The characters who wouldn’t lose their souls even through immense troubles. Those were what was missing from modern entertainment. And those were what I feel I created with Sean Barrows, Tamar, and Tol (who you will meet in 15 days!). As this expands into a series, more characters will come into the limelight. I’m very proud of the way these characters turned out and the progressions they had within the story.

Did I succeed in capturing the feel of what I was looking to? You’ll have to tell me in 15 days! Let me know.

The Stars Entwined is available March 20th and is up for pre-order now.

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