Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Countdown to the 'Apocalypse'
Two weeks from today we will finally get to read the culmination of the latest EU series, Fate of the Jedi. The series began THREE years ago with Fate of the Jedi: Outcast. And it continued on as a nine-book series.
First I'd like to ask how many of you are still reading these books? I have been a reader since I was in high school, losing some faith at the beginning of NJO, having it regained, enjoying the Dark Nest Trilogy and then not being able to keep myself from being sucked into the downward spiral that followed. I have tried to quit. I promise you I have. There have been several occasions in which I bought the latest book thinking to myself, "This will probably suck, and if it does, I'm done." And then something in it would catch my eye and make me want to keep going, and I'd curse myself for not having the willpower to stop.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history of how these books have been published in the past, Bantam published them starting with the Thrawn trilogy through Vision of the Future. The books weren't necessarily meant to flow in one, cohesive story, were published out of order and sometimes even sort of contradicted each other. It was difficult I'm sure to write a book that came between two others that had already been published because you didn't have much room for creative license. I also am under the impression that they weren't very forward thinking in how they wanted the books to progress as a whole. Perhaps in the beginning they didn't really expect there would be demand for lots of books, so the idea of a few stand-alone novels made sense. But then once they became popular they had sort of painted themselves into a corner.
Those that first batch of books was full of stand-alones, a few paperback trilogies and I think just one duology to end the series. Anyone who has read Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future knows that they really did a good job of sort of closing out that entire era and even really giving us what many could've seen as a satisfying end to the adventures, under the assumption that after that everything was just fine and dandy in the Star Wars universe.
Then Del Rey took over. Immediately they planned a huge series following one story line to encompass nineteen books, hardcovers, paperbacks, e-books, covering a few years in the Star Wars universe and killing a couple of main characters in the process. Talk about a change of pace. It used to be that you'd buy a Star Wars book and get to the end and that was just... the end. Sure, you wanted a new book just because they were fun to read but you didn't feel this intense need for the next book just so you knew what was going to happen next - of course with the exception of the trilogies.
Many of these New Jedi Order books did sort of feel like they had endings and weren't necessarily huge cliffhangers, but you still wanted to know what was going to happen next and how they were going to face this new enemy and if they were going to lose their galaxy in the process. I'd like to say that while there were certain things I of course didn't like about that series - and I'm sure most of you could probably guess which things and would agree with me - I did find it to be an enjoyable series overall and it kept me on the edge of my seat with a real sense of fear that they might not triumph in the end. I could go into a lot more detail on NJO, but maybe that is for another post.
But, man, nineteen books is a lot to swallow! And after all of that I had been looking forward to some more stand alone novels. What we got next was the Dark Nest trilogy, which took place I believe five years after the NJO ended. Let's assume that was because for five wonderful years they maybe weren't under threat of death and could live normal lives. I enjoyed that series, even though a little weird but probably mostly because Troy wrote them.
Well, then there was going to be another long series. Only nine books this time, okay, manageable. Legacy of the Force. This was where they started to lose me. First of all, things were taking such a dark turn and it was all starting to feel like all of the success they had at the end of ROTJ was utterly pointless if this was how things were eventually going to pan out. They killed more main characters and our heroes had practically become fugitives. There were a few books that barely had mention of Han and Leia. And quite often I was left wondering if this "story" really needed nine books to tell it.
Good won in the end, but they sure did lose a lot in the process. I can't remember what it was in the midst of that series that kept me going, because I'm sure somewhere along the line I thought to myself I couldn't do it anymore. It was probably just one or two cute Han and Leia lines. I'm such a sucker.
Oh, but let's do another nine-book series! And this time let's make them all hardcovers so they cost more! And let's release them incredibly slowly! Let's see, the nineteen New Jedi Order books came out over a span of four years, so nearly five books a year. This one came out over three years, obviously three books a year (see? I'm good at math, too). Even more maddening was that a few of them were awfully short, making me wonder why I was waiting so long for these, paying so much and just not getting that much content. Plus, many of them just felt like they were filling in space to stretch the story to so many books.
But look at me now, still reading them anyway. I bought that first book once again with the intention of giving it this one last chance but hopefully finally being able to stop buying new books forever. Well, then something really interesting happened and I was incredibly curious as to how it was going to pan out. Of course that interesting plot point hasn't been a widespread issue as I expected and they haven't made that big of a deal out of it, but there have at least been lots of cute Han and Leia moments in it.
And now for those of you still with me, it's time for this series to come to its end. Apocalypse, the final book written by Troy Denning, comes out two weeks from today. The last book came out in August making this probably the longest stretch between books, though not quite as long as originally scheduled as it was pushed up from April. Is anyone excited for this book to come out? I am not sure what I feel.
I will say I've enjoyed the last few books and some of the things that have happened in them. I was definitely mad when I had to wait such a long time for this series to come to its end. At the same time, the fact that it is called Apocalypse can't possibly mean anything good, can it?
Normally when a book release date gets close, I start scouring the internet for bits and pieces from people who got to read advanced copies. I knew Chewie was going to die before I read it. I knew Jacen was going to die. I do recall somehow managing to keep myself from reading that Anakin died, although I knew there was a death and for a while people talked in code about how "Jimmy" was going to die and I think I sort of figured out who they were talking about anyway.
This time around, internet spoilers are notably absent. I'm not the only one who has noticed this, either. People who have read it aren't talking any more than just to say that they liked it. They aren't even talking in code about certain things or alluding to any major plot points, or even minor ones. And there are plenty of people complaining on message boards about how nobody is spoiling it.
Do I want to be spoiled? I don't know. For most of the recent books I felt the story was kind of uninteresting enough that knowing beforehand that certain things were going to happen wasn't going to interfere with my enjoyment of the books. And I'm sure I'm right about that. I don't recall reading a spoiler and being mad that I knew it since it ruined things for me when I got to it. Except when someone told me Bruce Willis was dead the whole movie before I saw it, because THAT ruined it. And I wasn't looking for spoilers.
That said, there have been times where I've intentionally tried not to know anything before. Episode I comes to mind. I remember averting my eyes during trailers on TV, not reading anything or wanting to see too much. What a waste of effort. So at this point, if someone on the internet doesn't talk I'm left wondering if I can keep myself from flipping straight to the end probably before I even pay for the stupid book at the store. I may either read it fairly intently to see what it's all about, or just skim for the very easily identifiable words "Han" and "Leia" (I have amazing Han and Leia detection skills as my eyes automatically zero in on those names if printed on a page) and make sure that they're still alive. But I don't know! I can't make any promises either way.
So again, anyone excited about this book? Anyone eagerly (sort of) awaiting its release and intending to read it as soon as it comes out? Speaking of which, as a side note, the week of March 18th we are skipping the EU book club so your faithful bloggers can take a break from old books to read the new one. So this week will be Darksaber, then Planet of the Twilight, and then no old EU book the following week. We may take two depending on how long it is, but we'll see when we get there.