My Top 10 Favorite Characters

I doubt I could ever manage to create a Top Ten List for my favorite stories of all time simply because I’ll never stop finding new stories (at the time of this writing, I’m currently reading The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes and loving it).  But I can put together a list of my all-time favorite characters.

10. Molly Millions (Neuromancer)

Copyright © 1984 by William Gibson.  Image by Andrey Kovalev (AspectusFuturus).
Copyright © 1984 by William Gibson. Image by Andrey Kovalev (AspectusFuturus).

One of my favorite novels is Neuromancer by William Gibson, a classic story of injustice and high-tech counterculture that gave rise to the cyberpunk genre.  And what really sold that story for me was Molly, a “street samurai” with mirror lenses grafted over her eyes and retractable claws in her fingers.  The moment she appears on the scene, everything safe goes out the window and we truly enter the dark cyberpunk world of Gibson’s creation.

She’s a new kind of femme fatale: deadly to her enemies, aloof to her friends, and a dark mystery to everyone else.  The fact that she’s female hardly seems to matter, given how much she swaggers through the story like a bandit.  While there is an affection deep inside her that characters like Case and Kumiko bring out, it doesn’t make her any less of a sharp-witted razor-girl who can’t resist a fight and won’t let a grudge slide.  And though it’s easy to see other cyberpunk heroines like Trinity from The Matrix as descended from Molly, few have the same passion and menace as her.

9. Caine (The Acts of Caine)

Copyright © 2012 by Matthew Woodring Stover.
Copyright © 2012 by Matthew Woodring Stover.

Besides all the success he’s had with his Star Wars novels, Matthew Stover has really shined in developing Hari Michaelson, otherwise known as Caine, the brutal fighter and well-read antihero of the Acts of Caine series.  In many ways, Caine represents some of the worst of humanity: brutish, sarcastic, crude, bloodthirsty, apathetic, and unconcerned with other people.  He’s frequently touted as being a mass murderer and a harbinger of chaos and destruction.

But the thing about Caine is that he’s a bad guy on the side of the angels.  He’s an asshole because he has an ex-wife, daughter, or best friend who needs saving.  He’s a monster to those who abuse others.  In short, Caine is a wish fulfillment character who beats the shit out of people who deserve it.  And it’s a credit to Stover’s writing that Caine’s actions are never glossed over, even while we try to be sympathetic to his past and his family life.  We may not want Caine as our friend, but if there’s a god who needs to be slapped around for His Own Good, we know just who to call.

8. GLaDOS (Portal, Portal 2)

Copyright © 2011 by Valve.
Copyright © 2011 by Valve.

Female characters in video games are usually stereotyped as large-breasted, scantily-clothed, eye candy that male players can earn as a prize.  So of course Valve goes and develops a female villain who is not human, definitely not sexy (unless you count Ellen McLain’s voice), and spawning endless jokes at your expense while she’s trying to murder you.  And then trying to pretend to be your friend.

That is GLaDOS.  Even what happens in the second half of Portal 2 doesn’t diminish her ruthless personality or her resourcefulness.  Much like Caine, GLaDOS is a dark soul, but there’s something so entertaining about her cruelty and the strange way she “cares” for others.  And no one can stay mad at her with such a lovely singing voice.

7. Death (Discworld)

Copyright © 1987 by Terry Pratchett.
Copyright © 1987 by Terry Pratchett.

In let’s say around ninety-five percent of fiction, the specter of death is something to be feared and avoided.  Human beings want to live, end of story.  But sometimes death isn’t scary.  Sometimes the Grim Reaper isn’t so bad once you get to know him.  So God bless Terry Pratchett for giving us Death in his Discworld series, an anthropomorphic personification who tries so hard to understand human beings and leads an otherwise lonely existence as the End of All Things.  In a strange way, it makes sense for him to be heroic because he’s always there for human beings.  He tries to make friends and family, and will fight for them no less fiercely than any man–living or dead.  And if the thought of Death taking over as a Santa Claus-type figure during the holidays doesn’t warm your heart, then nothing will.  This is the kind of face Death should wear: not a terrifying spirit, but a friend greeting us with a considerate nod.

6. Twilight Sparkle (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

Copyright © 2010 by Hasbro.
Copyright © 2010 by Hasbro.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a brony and I regularly watch episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  No audience should ever feel ashamed to be watching something “made for girls” (otherwise what’s the point of Disney princesses?) and the revival of this show has taken that point home.

One of the best arguments to make for that show is its lead, a purple unicorn named Twilight Sparkle.  She’s a curious female character in that she has no obvious love interest and isn’t two-dimensional.  She loves books, but has a strong social life.  She cares for her friends and tries to help them sort out their problems–and accepts their help when she’s having problems of her own.  Like freaking out about tests and special occasions gone wrong.  And did I mention she’s voiced by the talented Tara Strong?  Twilight’s the kind of three-dimensional character that should be seen more often in fiction, let alone in children’s programming.

5. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit)

Copyright © 2012 by New Line Cinemas and Warner Bros. Pictures.
Copyright © 2012 by New Line Cinemas and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Out of all the characters in The Lord of the Rings, my favorite character isn’t even in the three books.  He’s in the preceding book, The Hobbit.  Bilbo Baggins is a curious hero.  While he does eventually fight with a sword and face a fire-breathing dragon, he’s a reluctant companion on the dwarves’ quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain.  Bilbo would rather be sitting back at home by the fireside, far from harm and distress.  And he’s not even enlisted as a hero, but as a “burglar” to help the dwarves steal back their kingdom.  He’s honest, clever, and unfailingly polite, even while scared out of his wits.  He’s the hobbit we all feel like and the hero we’d all like to be.

4. The Doctor (Doctor Who)

Copyright © 2005 by BBC.
Copyright © 2005 by BBC.

No matter how many men portray him, there will always be a Doctor courtesy of the BBC.  Always a mad and lovable vagabond whose TARDIS will take us anywhere in time and space.  I think part of the Doctor’s appeal is that he’s the cool teacher everyone wants to have.  He knows so much about the world and can make it enjoyable to learn half as many things as he’s forgotten.  He’s also the kind of teacher who encourages his “students” (or if you prefer, Companions) to be better people, to be everything great in a human being.  And thank God for that, because the recent Who series has shown us just how terrifying and deadly the Doctor can be when he doesn’t have human Companions to keep his ethics in check.  Godlike he might seem, but he’s really just a clever and ancient being who can never stand a dull moment.

3. Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes stories)

Copyright © 1984 by Granada Television.
Copyright © 1984 by Granada Television.

Another classic British icon is the great detective Sherlock Holmes.  Much like the Doctor, Holmes is renowned for his uncanny deductive reasoning, his skill as a fighter and adventurer, and his energy in pursuing the most baffling mysteries he can find.  But that’s only half of the character as far as I’m concerned.  The other half is his friendship with Dr. John Watson.  It’s too easy to dismiss Watson as a cheap foil to Holmes’s intellect.  Holmes needs Watson to keep his focus on a case and sometimes relies on his help in pulling off a quick scheme or plan of attack against a nefarious rogue.  Having so few friends and being so isolated by his genius, it’s good to see Holmes recognize his need for a partner and a confidant.  It adds a touch of humility and compassion that drives the action in every single Sherlock Holmes story–a drive that even brought the detective back from the dead in The Adventure of the Empty House.  Now how’s that for camaraderie?

2. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars)

Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.
Copyright © 1977 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Whether he’s played by Alec Guinness or Ewan McGregor, I’ll always admire Obi-Wan Kenobi as the greatest Jedi Knight.  Even though he trains Luke to be the hero and succeed where he failed, there’s something honest and noble about Obi-Wan.  He never wrestles with his inner demons like how Luke and Anakin Skywalker did.  He simply listens to the Force and finds a way to do what’s right.  Much like Bilbo Baggins, Obi-Wan is a good example of a humble hero.  He’d rather talk than fight and he’d rather wound than kill.  He is integrity personified.  And even when Obi-Wan fails as he did with Darth Vader, he still finds a way to succeed, just by being who he is.

1. Batman (Batman comics)

Copyright © 1992 by Warner Bros. Animation.
Copyright © 1992 by Warner Bros. Animation.

I was never a comic book fan, but ever since I was young, I’ve always been a fan of the Caped Crusader.  I know I’ve written posts about the Dark Knight film trilogy before, but this goes beyond any one form of media.  As a hero, Batman has always appealed to me more than obvious superheroes like Superman or Green Lantern.  Despite the running jokes about “prep time” and a spare gadget for every scenario, Batman has no superpowers.  He has a costume designed to instill terror, practices martial arts and street-fighting against armed criminals, and uses his mind alongside his gadgets to win the day.  Like so many examples on this list, Batman represents the pinnacle of human achievement.  But he’s also a flawed and tragic hero, one who can never stop trying to avenge his parents’ murder.  The best he can do is protect others from harm and start his own family of fellow crimefighters.  I love that we have a superhero who’s tragic without being hopeless, who’s powerful without being superpowered, and whose courage from the shadows can encourage others to be moral and courageous in the light.

Going over this list, I can tell that I have a liking for entertaining psychopaths, heroic sages and scientists, a unicorn scholar, and a man dressed like a bat. I like characters who aren’t dumb and either have quite a large dark side or avoid temptation through a very humble nature (read into that what you will).

I hope you found the list engaging.  If you’ve got your own set you’d like to share, feel free to put it in the comments section below.

My Top 10 Changes To The Star Wars Expanded Universe

Prologue: In light of this week’s news about Disney acquiring Lucasfilm Ltd. and the possibility of a Star Wars sequel trilogy, I feel a strange optimism about where things might go for the saga.  I know my opinions as listed below aren’t and may never become canon, but the chance that at least some of them could be is very, very interesting.

I’ve talked a lot before about what I would do to fix the Star Wars prequel films and I’ve also expressed my issues with the recent string of Expanded Universe novels (namely, everything since the New Jedi Order series).  So I figure I might as well talk about what I would have done if Lucasfilm had given me a budget, an editorial and research staff, and the chance to define a new generation of heroes for the Star Wars universe.

10. The New Republic Simply Becomes “The Republic”

Copyright © 1992 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

It’s minor, but this is something that’s bugged me all throughout the Expanded Universe: the New Republic keeps calling itself the “New” Republic (and later on, changes it to the inherently silly and bland “Galactic Federation of Free Alliances”).  Why not just be “The Republic”?  If the official name of the Rebellion was “The Alliance to Restore the Republic,” and it’s been proven you’ve defeated the Empire and even wrote up a peace treaty, then why not be truly legitimate?  You’re the Republic now.  It’s time to govern.

9. Make Lando Calrissian The New Chief of State For The Republic

Copyright © 1980 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

It started off as a kind of running joke throughout the EU that Lando is always starting up some crazy new get-rick-quick scheme, though he’s never one to exploit others for the sake of making a profit.  At first, it was funny and a good way to set up Lando providing resources to the heroes.  But now it’s old and tired.  And if Lando really is “‘respectable” now, then why not run for office?  He’s a successful businessman, a veteran general, and has a record of integrity that’s hard to beat.  Plus, it’d be hilarious to watch him run circles around some of the less scrupulous politicians in the Senate given his background as a former smuggler and con artist.

8. Han And Chewbacca Join Talon Karrde’s Intelligence Bureau

Copyright © 1994 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Following the peace treaty signed between the Republic and the Empire, ex-smuggler Talon Karrde decides to start up an intelligence service specializing in keeping both governments in touch to avoid any further armed conflicts.  Given the stealthy nature of the intelligence business, this seems like a nice way for Han and Chewbacca to stay active despite being more or less “retired.”  While Luke and Leia are off being Jedi and looking after the government, Han and Chewie are still getting into trouble on behalf of the Good Guys.  Only instead of being smugglers, they’re covert operatives who’ve grown more dangerous with age.

And yes, I realize that I would not be killing off Chewbacca and retconning everything Han went through in the New Jedi Order.  But I’m okay with that.  It’s Han and Chewie.  They’ve got plenty more adventures left in them.

7. Anakin Solo Trains Under Corran Horn; Jacen Solo Trains Under Luke

Copyright © 2001 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

With the New Jedi Order series, we seemed to lose some of the characterization that Anakin and Jacen Solo had in their respective Junior Jedi Knights and Young Jedi Knights series.  Anakin was an adventurous, puzzle-solving whiz kid, and Jacen was a courageous but sensitive animal lover.  While Jacen’s temperament makes him a good pick to apprentice under his Uncle Luke, I think Anakin needs someone with more of his kind of experience… someone like Corran Horn, Jedi Knight and former CorSec detective.  This would mean that Anakin can bolster his natural problem-solving skills with Corran’s criminal investigation training, turning himself into an uncanny hunter.

And it’s also worth pointing out that Jacen Solo doesn’t need to fall to the dark side, especially if he’s just going to be a blatant ripoff of Anakin Skywalker.  I could see Jacen turning because of his empathy being used against him, a kind of dark side “infection” that he would need to be cured of by his siblings.  But no, that’s much too creative a concept…

6. Jaina Solo Enlists With Wraith Squadron And Trains Under Mara Jade

Copyright © 2012 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

One of my biggest disappointments in the current EU has been Jaina Solo–not because of her gender or her talent as a pilot, but because no one seems to have a clear view of her character.  I was initially excited when she was written to be apprenticed to her new aunt Mara Jade Skywalker, but this was quickly dropped in the NJO series and everything thereafter.  I figure the best way for her to get a solid Mara Jade-style training and fulfill her role as an ace pilot is to have her join Wraith Squadron, a Republic fighter and commando unit assigned to critical missions.  She seemed to shine as a character when she was paired with such colorful personalities during the Enemy Lines duology, and she’d be learning all the best take-down moves from an ex-Imperial assassin.

5. Leia Becomes A True Jedi Knight And Ambassador (Finally)

Copyright © 2009 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Leia Organa Solo is another female character that some authors seem to have trouble deciding where to place.  Half the time she’s in politics, half the time she’s disgusted with politics, and almost all the time she’s Han’s copilot on the Millennium Falcon (just replace “Wookiee” with “part-time Jedi”).  I figure that if she is going to shine, she should focus on her Jedi training as soon as she steps down as Chief of State for the Republic.  And then she might be one of the first New Jedi Order diplomats, since it seems like most of the modern Jedi don’t bother with settling disputes except with lightsabers and mind tricks.  This isn’t to say that she couldn’t be traveling with Han, Chewbacca, and Threepio as well, but I envision her having a more public role as a negotiator.  Maybe as an Obi-Wan type who gets along well with everyone and only kicks ass when necessary.

4. Luke Skywalker Is A Proud (And Working) Father

Copyright © 2007 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Instead of dithering around for the sake of dramatic tension, I would have Luke and Mara’s son already born and in his early childhood.  I’m not disputing that Mara Jade Skywalker would be a good mother, but if she’s training Jaina and working for Wraith Squadron, she wouldn’t have much time for motherhood.  Plus, I would want to see how Luke balances his fatherhood with his Jedi Mastery.  It would make having a new Jedi Council crucial to his family life, since other Masters could help manage the Order.  And I would love to see how Luke handles being a father considering all the issues he must have after his foster parents’ murder and being Darth Vader’s son.

3. Vigilantes Emerge In The Wake Of The New Jedi Order’s Rebirth

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

One of the more interesting–and yet equally annoying–issues of the current Expanded Universe has been the relationship between the New Jedi Order and the Republic.  While it was taken for granted that the Jedi of old served the Old Republic, the new generation of Jedi Knights are less blindly loyal and more willing to question or disobey their government.  However, in the middle of a war like the kind the NJO series proposes (and in every series thereafter), it seems like the two groups can never work together until the crisis is at its worst.

Instead of that, I would look at the problem a different way.  Instead of the Jedi going rogue in their service to the Republic, what if vigilantes and paramilitary groups arose, inspired by the Jedi’s example?  They’d remember the valiant Luke Skywalker who struck down the Emperor and Jabba the Hutt, and they’d want to do the same instead of abiding by the Republic’s legal system.  It’d be a nice parallel to the concerns of vigilantism in so many superhero tales, as well as an issue that would make Luke and the other Rebellion heroes rethink their usual tactics.

2. Turn The Yuuzhan Vong Into The Equivalent Of The Precursors

Copyright © 2009 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

For the most part, despite being an menace from another galaxy, the fanatical alien warriors known as the Yuuzhan Vong were hardly that strange.  Sure, they had organic technology and a nihilistic doctrine of conquest, but they were easy to comprehend and fight once the Republic and the Jedi got their act together.  And once their war was over, the reconstruction of the galaxy was glossed over and everything seemed to go back to the status quo, which was frustratingly dull.

To really give the new generation of heroes something to tackle, I would have rewritten the Yuuzhan Vong into being descendants of the Celestials.  In the EU, the Celestials are ancient and long-disappeared precursors who built such marvels as Centerpoint Station.  They’re cast in the same mold as the Protheans from Mass Effect and the Forerunners from Halo.  I think this would have been an interesting development: to have the inhabitants of the constantly war-torn Star Wars universe take on an enemy that knows almost everything about them and has powers far beyond their comprehension.  It would be users of the Force against the galaxy’s own Creators, a rage against the heavens that only good space opera can deliver.

1. Give “The Big Three” And The Old Generation Less Screen Time

Copyright © 2000 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

For all my concerns about the New Jedi Order series and all the storylines that have followed it, this is my biggest issue: Luke, Han, and Leia never seem to quit.  It’s less about them as characters and more about them as the Ones Who Save The Day.  The Solo children and the other new Jedi Knights don’t get their own mature novels.  Their parents and older relatives are always in the limelight, always cutting down the Dark Jedi leader or exposing the corrupt politician or negotiating a peace treaty with an ancient enemy.  Everyone else might as well be distantly in the background.

If you’re going to have a “New Jedi Order,” you’ve got be serious about it.  Let the kids take the helm.  Let them make mistakes and earn their own wisdom.  Don’t keep writing them as perpetual hotheaded teenagers when their elders are around.  Let them grow up and get a chance to save the galaxy two or three times by themselves, and let the old heroes of the Rebellion settle down and keep their hard-earned government in place and active just for once.  The Star Wars: Legacy comics understood how to break up a lot of conventions about the Star Wars saga while still respecting them, and in my mind, that’s why it was such a success.

I’m aware that I’m slamming a lot onto these recent character arcs and novel series as produced by Lucas Books, but I don’t mean them any ill will.  I just want to see a little more thought put in, a little less shock value, and, overall, a lot more respect for the audience’s intelligence.

My Top 10 Changes To The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

Don’t get me wrong–despite the outrage of other fans, I actually rather like the prequel trilogy.  Some of my favorite things about those films include the duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, the fight between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones, and seeing Vader being put into his iconic armor and helmet at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

But there’s a lot I’d still change if I had my way, such as…

10. Replace Gungans With Another Alien Species

My Issue: I don’t hate Jar Jar Binks.  I just think we can do better.  The Gungans are to Episode I what the Ewoks are to Episode VI: a bunch of comical aliens who have to be convinced to use their warrior strength and ally with the heroes.  Basically Jar Jar isn’t any different from the Ewok Wicket, just that he’s a CG alien and has a peculiar (and possibly offensive) accent.

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: The Togruta, as pictured above.  A race of born hunters with a very interesting appearance and an affinity for becoming Jedi Knights.  Rather than going for wacky accents, we could have had a proud race with a code of honor and good relations with the Republic.  Cut the wacky flavor (trust me, the kids won’t miss it much) and give these guys a chance to shine.

They’d be an excellent contrast to the new villains…

9. Use The Mandalorians As The Bad Guys

My Issue: In the prequels, the Separatists were the most visible antagonists, with the Sith staying in the background.  The “Clone Wars” was pretty much set between an endless army of battle droids versus an endless army of clones.  Now the Jedi Knights were the wild card in the Republic’s favor, Force-sensitive warriors with lightsabers who could coordinate their clone troopers effectively.  But who do they have to counter that image on the Separatists’ side except more battle droids?

Copyright © 2003 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: The Mandalorians.  They may not have the Force, but they’ve got tons of armor and weapons to be an effective match for any Jedi.  And being a fiercely independent group, the Mandalorians would naturally break away from the Republic and become a good icon for the Separatists.  It also would tie in to the iconic character of Boba Fett, whose armor is the only thing that remains of their legacy in the original trilogy.

The high-tech, non-supernatural Mandalorians would also be a sign of another trend that would help set things up for the original trilogy…

8. Show Rising Distrust Of The Jedi Knights

My Issue: When we get to the original trilogy, we see that the Jedi Knights have been reduced to a mere legend and the Force has become nothing more than a superstition.  Yet the prequel films don’t really give us any clue as to how that happened other than showing us a bunch of Jedi being wiped out and declared outlaws.  How did the public react to that?  What were they to make of the publicized image of Jedi war heroes using the Force to defend worlds from the Separatists?

Copyright © 2006 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Palpatine publicly demonstrates his lack of faith in the Jedi.  It wouldn’t be hard.  They clearly failed to protect him when General Grievous kidnaps him at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith and they clearly aren’t up to being front-line soldiers like the brave clone troopers.  It’d be a simple matter of offering a choice to the average citizen: which would you trust to defend your homeworld?  An antiquated monk with a lot of flashy moves and a glowing sword or a modern military force that was literally bred without fear?

Speaking of which…

7. Introduce The Clone Army In The First Film

My Issue: One of the things that bugged me about Attack of the Clones is that the Republic doesn’t seem to question the existence of a clone army when things go from bad to worse during the climax on Geonosis.  Neither do the Jedi, who were investigating ties between a known assassin (Jango Fett) and this clone army that someone ordered without the Republic’s approval.  I know it adds more mystery, but it also seems a bit lazy.

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Have the Republic approve the use of clone troopers openly and from the very beginning.  If the Separatists are geared for war with endless battle droids, then how else can the Republic counter them except with their own endless supply of clones?  Not to mention, it would be interesting to see Jedi Knights throughout the trilogy working alongside the very soldiers that we know become the infamous Imperial Stormtroopers.  It builds up a strong bond that will ultimately be broken by the end of the final prequel film, which will really create an emotional impact.

Speaking of having an impact…

6. Redesign Count Dooku And General Grievous As Villains

My Issue: I actually like Count Dooku as a villain.  He’s sophisticated, graceful, and deliciously arrogant.  And while the cyborg General Grievous was an intimidating warrior and effective commander in the original Clone Wars cartoons, he’s treated more like a cartoon character in the actual third film with his ridiculous voice and peculiar fighting style.  Dooku was sadly cut short and Grievous doesn’t do much except run away and later get blown apart by Obi-Wan.

Copyright © 2007 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Merge Grievous and Dooku into the same character.  Or to be more specific, keep the distinctive image of Grievous, but give him Count Dooku’s Sith powers and Christopher Lee’s wonderfully deep voice.  I think this would have been interesting because it would establish that Palpatine knew what he was doing when he recreated Anakin as Darth Vader.  He would have already had a prototype: his apprentice Darth Tyranus–or “General Tyranus” to the rest of the galaxy.  Not to mention that the cyborg image seems to fit the Sith’s obsession with cheating death and becoming stronger through violence.

5. Replace Naboo With Alderaan

My Issue: The planet Naboo really only exists to look pretty and be imperiled in the prequels.  It has humans and silly Gungans coexisting and is mostly used in Attack of the Clones as a backdrop for Anakin and Padme’s awkward courtship.  Beyond the first film, it really doesn’t influence the rest of the trilogy other than being the homeworld for both Padme and the future Emperor Palpatine.

Copyright © 2011 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Replace Naboo with Alderaan.  You may remember Alderaan for being the planet that gets blown up by the Death Star in the very first Star Wars film.  But the more I think about it, a lot of Alderaan is also Earth-like and seems to share a lot of qualities with Naboo.  Essentially, putting it up in the first film would be giving it some history before its destruction.  It would also be a more effective homeworld for Padme, which ties her to its Viceroy, Bail Organa, who later adopts her daughter Leia as his own.

Bail Organa is someone we might want to get to know a little better, too…

4. Establish Bail Organa As The Founder Of The Rebellion Earlier

My Issue: The first time we meet Bail Organa–Princess Leia’s adopted father–is halfway through the second prequel film.  Then we get more of him after the halfway mark in Revenge of the Sith, where he has a slightly more active role as a covert ally of the now-fugitive Jedi.  He’s really only in the film to be a supporting hero and to take the infant Leia to be raised on Alderaan after Padme dies.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Give Senator Organa a bigger role like founding the Rebellion.  I know that there are, in fact, deleted scenes from Revenge of the Sith showing him conspiring with Padme and other Senators about asking Palpatine to step down from power when the war ends, but even those scenes aren’t as strong as they ought to be.  I think, if Alderaan is the first battlefield for the Clone Wars, then Bail Organa should want to help other worlds defend themselves from the Separatists–like sending out agents to train resistance fighters and militias, who would later be useful in the Rebellion.

Which brings us to a far more crucial character revision…

3. Let Padme Amidala Be More Than A Queen Or A Senator

My Issue: I think we’ve all heard this one before: Padme is a letdown.  She’s interesting in the first film when she decides that the Senate can’t be trusted and leads the rescue of her people herself.  But this active Queen gets downgraded to an idealistic and lovesick Senator, who eventually just becomes a teary-eyed housewife and dying mother of the next generation’s heroes.

Copyright © 1999 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Make Padme into a fighter that would make the future Rebels proud.  I get that her daughter Leia is eventually a Princess and Senator for Alderaan, but why does her mother have to have the exact same occupation?  I envision Padme as being an agent for Senator Bail Organa, someone with an official cover as a Senatorial aide who gets sent on all kinds of important assignments… like helping a pair of Jedi Knights liberate Alderaan from the Separatists or organizing planetary militias throughout the Clone Wars.  This not only keeps her involved in the central conflict, but also justifies why she and Anakin spend so much time together and eventually fall in love.  It would also make it obvious which parent Leia gets all of her courage and tenacity from.

But there’s an even more important factor than Padme’s characterization…

2. Introduce Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker As Partners From The Start

My Issue: I feel like we were a bit shortchanged when it came to Anakin and Obi-Wan’s onscreen friendship.  Sure, they’re good in combat, but they keep getting split up and we don’t even have them together in Episode I except for a quick introduction and a moment at Qui-Gon’s funeral.  Luke and Han had a more engaging relationship in the original trilogy, being contrasts in ideals, temperament, and fighting styles.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: They’re partners throughout all three films (until Anakin’s fall to the dark side, anyway).  I feel like this ought to have been the emotional centerpiece for the prequel trilogy, more than the romance between Anakin and Padme.  Imagine if it were Obi-Wan and Anakin liberating Alderaan in the first film, chasing down Jango Fett in the second, and rescuing the Chancellor in the third, only to fall out because Anakin’s need for power is too great.  Like the clone troopers above, it would be a strong and reliable bond that’s finally and irreparably broken and man would it have been something to see!

1. Start The Clone Wars At The Beginning Of The Trilogy

My Issue: When we first heard about the Clone Wars in A New Hope, it became this giant mythical event in our minds.  What was this epic war that brought Obi-Wan and Anakin together?  How did Obi-Wan serve Bail Organa during the war?  And what part did it play in Anakin’s fall and the rise of the Empire?  All we get in the prequels is one battle at the end of Attack of the Clones and a montage of battlefields in Revenge of the Sith.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

My Suggestion: Make the entire prequel trilogy about the Clone Wars.  In a way, it serves as a nice mirror to the original trilogy, which is all about the war between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.  Maybe we have less filler scenes in the Senate and on Tatooine and more relevant, dramatic scenes on battlefields like Alderaan.  We get to see the Jedi Knights in action.  We get to see the roots of the Rebellion when it becomes clear that Palpatine’s not giving up his power. We get a more decisive story arc like George Lucas said these films were about. The original trilogy began with Luke’s involvement in the Rebellion and ended with the defeat of the Empire.  Why not show us the “dark side” of that story?  We start with the great Anakin Skywalker becoming a Jedi Knight and end with him becoming a Sith Lord as the Republic crumbles.

Ultimately, I don’t hate these films.  George Lucas made them and he deserves to make them as he sees fit.  If he honestly felt he made the right decision to cast Natalie Portman as Padme or Hayden Christensen as Anakin, who am I to judge?  But there is another side to the Star Wars universe: the one that lives in the minds and hearts of its audience.  My list of changes is meant for that second Star Wars, the one that the fans cherish more than any film, book, video game, or TV show.

You know–the world of fan fiction, like the kind I’ve outlined before.  Because I don’t have a million-dollar franchise of my own.

If my readers have their own ideas of what they’d want to have seen or disagree with some of my ideas, please feel free to share your “certain point of view” in the comments section below.

My Top 10 Favorite Anime Series

Last year, I did two back-to-back posts on my Top 10 Favorite Moments From The Star Wars Saga and SW Expanded Universe.  And since then, I’ve wanted to do more lists like that, and since I watch a lot of anime for the sake of this blog, I’ll do my (at-present) Top 10 Favorite Anime.

10. Noir

Copyright © 2001 by Bee Train.

What It’s About: Two female assassins in Paris attempt to unravel a centuries-old religious conspiracy and their ties to one of the assassins, a sixteen-year-old girl with instinctive fighting skills and no memory.

Why I Love It: Besides the intriguing and subtext-laden relationship between the two main characters, I love the beauty of the show itself.  It treats Europe with a lot of dignity, paints a beautiful picture of Paris, and has some pretty cool action scenes made better by the “Salva Nos” theme music.  The show isn’t afraid to slip in a few educated references either, so at least it respects the intelligence of its audience.  It’s both good for the mind and good for the eye.

9. Hellsing Ultimate

Copyright © 2006 by Kouta Hirano.

What It’s About: An OVA series remaking the original Hellsing anime, which details the three-way war between the vampire-hunting Hellsing Organization, the Catholic Church’s Iscariot brigade, and the Nazi revivalist Millennium group.  Also, the powerful Alucard turns young Seras Victoria into a vampire and helps her and the Hellsing Organization fight other vampires and slaughter minions.  A lot.  In lovingly rendered gore and brutality.

Why I Love It: For the most part, it’s the animation of this series matched with the raw charisma of its voice acting (at least as far as its English dub goes). You have the bloodthirsty Alucard voiced by Crispin Freeman, an equally good match in the Major (voiced by Gildart Jackson), and lots of epic scenes of Catholic priests quoting Scripture as they slaughter Nazi vampires (and with a sentence like that, who wouldn’t love it?).

8. Welcome to the NHK

Copyright © 2002 by Tatsuhiko Takimoto.

What It’s About: A college dropout and shut-in tries to come to terms with his bleak reality through the help of a seventeen-year-old girl, gets into some antics with his old friend from high school, and struggles in reconnecting with society and the outside world.  And occasionally hallucinates a conspiracy that’s holding him back.

Why I Love It: This is one of the first slice of life anime I ever watched, which took some getting used to, but was well worth it.  I really sympathized with Saito’s plight and liked how he slowly matured over the course of the series.  I like a lot of the atmosphere in this show, shifting from comical to tragic in less than a heartbeat.  And ultimately, even its ending is a bit strange but enjoyable all the same.  No big dramatic resolution, but a series of small and meaningful changes for everyone involved.

7. Samurai Champloo

Copyright © 2004 by Manglobe.

What It’s About: An ex-samurai, a part-time bandit, and a young girl travel across Edo-period Japan in search of destiny, trying to survive and succeed in a world where samurai and their prestigious way of life have all but died out.  The story is told is an anachronistic fashion, allowing for such modern things like rapping, graffiti art, and gangsta fashion to exist alongside the traditional scenery.

Why I Love It: Besides the fact that it was made by Shinichiro Watanabe (the same guy who made Cowboy Bebop), the show is well-animated, with vibrant colors, quick-paced action scenes, and some clever blending of historical and modern images and styles.  The show is also nicely blends some comical and tragic elements, with more emphasis on drama toward the end as we get into Fuu’s heritage and the power held by the Shogunate.  Also, the fact that Steven Blum was the English voice actor for Mugen sold me on the series right away.

6. Black Lagoon

Copyright © 2006 by Madhouse.

What It’s About: Both this show and its sequel (Black Lagoon: Second Barrage) detail the adventures of four thieves and gangsters in the fictional island of Roanapur.  An ex-salaryman lives among the criminal element of East Asia, trying to maintain his integrity and his sanity despite his surroundings and the very sinister people his crew encounters during their travels.

Why I Love It: The entire show is an affectionate homage to the crazed action films of directors like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, full of epic gun battles, comedic psychopaths, and non-stop swearing (Revy, as voiced by Maryke Hendrikse in the English dub, provides most of the above just by herself).  But beyond the devil-may-care attitude of the show, there is also a lot of serious thought given to the price people have to pay for power and success, especially when it means leaving behind the “light” and entering the darkness of corruption and war.

5. Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Copyright © 2002 by Production I.G.

What It’s About: In future Tokyo, a team of government security agents attempt to curb acts of terrorism and cyberbrain-hacking by an elusive figure known as the Laughing Man, while attempting to tie him to a conspiracy between government officials and medical corporations.

Why I Love It: I got into GITS: SAC because, at the time, I had finished reading Neuromancer by William Gibson and was really getting hooked on the whole cyberpunk genre (which has become a huge inspiration for my writing).  Essentially, what Neuromancer started for me, GITS delivered on.  It gave me a very complete world of the future, looking at so many issues regarding cybernetics, data security, and the evolution of the Internet and society.  It also delved into some fantastic philosophical issues about identity and social progress, which I like in anime when it’s done well.

4. Death Note

Artwork by Takeshi Obata. Copyright © 2003 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.

What It’s About: A young Japanese student receives a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill people by writing down their names in it.  He begins a campaign to cleanse the world of evil and become its benevolent god, which turns into a fierce duel with the world’s greatest detective, an enigmatic character named L.

Why I Love It: Death Note is very dark, very bloody, and very good.  It’s rich for its ethical questions about power and the nature of justice, its haunting score and Gothic visuals, and its brilliant struggle between Light and L for supremacy.  I also liked Brad Swaile‘s voice acting for Light Yagami and the entire character of L, although not as much toward the end.  This series both horrified and enchanted me, and still does to this day.

3. Fooly Cooly

Copyright © 2000 by Gainax and Production I.G.

What It’s About: A young kid in Mabuse thinks his life is boring and the adults in his life are morons.  Then he gets run over by a madwoman on a Vespa, hit in the head by her electric guitar, and now has to deal with both her and the giant robots that emerge from his forehead to terrorize the city.

Why I Love It: For six episodes, this show is packed to the brim with insanity.  From guitars that double as weapons to giant robots, from a J-pop soundtrack to epic baseball games and high school conversations, this show is all about coming of age in the most colorful, anarchistic, and melodramatic way possible.  It’s a coming of age story on steroids–coated with raw sugar.  Not to mention, the animation is fantastic and the characters are likable in their own quirky, somewhat pathetic way.

2. Cowboy Bebop

Copyright © 1998 by Sunrise.

What It’s About: In the future, a trio of bounty hunters, their resident kid genius, and a sentient dog explore the solar system in search of hot new bounties and easy money.  However, they all have to come to terms with their past sooner or later, and for some, the ending is bittersweet.

Why I Love It: Besides the fact that it’s another Shinichiro Watanabe product and features Steven Blum as the English voice actor for the lead character, this show was the very first anime series I ever watched (thanks to my college roommate and WordPress colleague, DJ McNaughty).  The show is a brilliant blend of science fiction, Westerns, and jazz, giving us slapstick comedy with some very dark storylines involving Spike’s past.  It’s a series I can watch over and over again and never once get tired because it’s just so damn cool.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Copyright © 2009 by Hiromu Arakawa.

What It’s About: Two brothers study the science of alchemy in the hopes of restoring their original bodies after a failed attempt to resurrect their mother.  However, their journey brings them to the heart of a terrible conspiracy that puts the entire country of Amestris in peril, as the brothers and their friends must find new ways to fight an enemy older than their own civilization.

Why I Love It: This show is just brilliant.  The characters are not just fulfilling, but there’s also a large number of characters and they all  have something to contribute.  The use of alchemy–and science in general–is both clever and consistent, meaning there’s less chance of plot holes and random contrivances for the benefit of the heroes.  The story is epic in scale and delivers a monumental impact by the end.  The themes of redemption and atonement are powerful and handled very well over the course of the series, and by the end, you’ll feel proud to be a human being, no matter how small we might seem as individuals.  It’s a big story, a rich story, and a wonderful tale of hope in the face of adversity.

I originally wanted to split this list between my favorite anime and manga series, but in all honesty, I haven’t read a lot of manga (although Fruits Basket would totally be on that list).  Needless to say, as time goes on, I will hopefully one day be able to compile a “Top 10 Favorite Manga Series” list.  But I hope this list was satisfactory enough and I’d be more than happy to hear what kind of anime my readers enjoy, too.

My Top 10 Favorite Moments From The Star Wars Expanded Universe

The Expanded Universe in Star Wars is big.  No, I mean, big.  Like really, really tremendously huge.

So here’s my top picks from that plethora of comics, games, novels, and shows.  Here’s the stuff that made me pump my fist in the air and cheer for the vision that Lucas created so that these moments might one day have life.

10. The Final Defeat of Darth Krayt (LegacyWar by John Ostrander)

Copyright © 2011 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“My eyes are open.  I have seen the vision.  I understand now.  No more doubts or questions.  I know who I am… I am a Jedi.  And you are not my Master.”

The Star Wars Legacy comic series was one of the few things I’ve enjoyed that’s recently come out of the Expanded Universe.  For one thing, it’s basically a retelling of the original six films with new characters and settings.  It also plays around with established conventions, giving us a Skywalker who doesn’t want to save the galaxy, an Empire that’s fairly benevolent, and a Sith Order that’s all about obeying the guy on top than trying to back-stab each other to the top.

But for me, the most satisfying part was the end, as Cade Skywalker finally stops grappling with his own self-interest and accepts what it means to be a Jedi.  It also brings an end to Darth Krayt, a villain who didn’t interest me much at first, but got a lot more impressive toward the end.  This was their final battle, as Cade finally shuts up Krayt about his obsession with control and immortality in the best way possible.

9. Darth Vader Vs. Darth Maul (Resurrection by Ron Marz)

Copyright © 2001 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Maul: “What could you hate enough to destroy me?”

Vader: “Myself.”

This standalone comic reads like something that fanboys have dreamed up–who would win in a fight, Darth Vader or Darth Maul?  The story is that Vader has been lured to a planet where a group of rogue Force-users have somehow resurrected Darth Maul, the Emperor’s former apprentice.  Maul is determined to kill Vader and take back his old place at Darth Sidious’s side.  Vader seems outmatched, being burdened by his suit of armor against the agile and ruthless Maul.  It’s only by a last-ditch effort and a self-inflicted wound that Vader manages to kill Maul, using his hatred as a true Lord of the Sith.

The dialogue shown above is why I love this story so much.  It shows Vader using his own frustration and self-loathing as a weapon against his enemy.  It shows that Maul thinks too highly of his own skills (which was what got him killed in the first place).  And it’s interesting to see Vader be so cunning in a fight, proving that he’s as formidable a Sith Lord as any.  That’s also why I enjoyed seeing him in action against Luke in the duel in Empire Strikes Back.

8. General Grievous Arrives (The Clone Wars)

Copyright © 2004 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“Jedi!  You are surrounded, your armies decimated.  Make peace with the Force now, for this is your final hour.  But know that I, General Grievous, am not completely without mercy.  I will grant you a warrior’s death.  Prepare.”

In my mind, there are two versions of General Grievous: the wimpy, coughing villain with a funny accent seen in Revenge of the Sith and the badass one-man army and Jedi hunter-killer seen in Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars cartoon.  I think we can all agree that the latter Grievous would have been much more interesting to have seen in the final Star Wars film, at least if his first lines (see above) are anything to go by.

7. Anakin Saves A Tusken Raider’s Life (Phantom Menace novelization by Terry Brooks)

Copyright © 1999 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“He gives without any thought of reward.”

In the novelization of The Phantom Menace, there’s a scene set prior to the beginning of the movie proper, where Watto sends Anakin out to make a trade with some Jawas.  However, the landspeeder carrying Anakin and Threepio has to break down in the night.  Even worse, they come across a wounded Tusken Raider, whose leg is pinned under a rock.  And despite the terror of finding a Tusken Raider face-to-face… Anakin helps him out and waits with him while his tribe comes looking.

Remember that this is the nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker we’re talking about, the sweet kid who gives the shirt off his back without hesitation.  Ten years later, well… we know how things will turn out between Anakin and the Tuskens, but for this one moment, it’s a great scene of his innate courage and compassion, which makes his fall all the more bitter.

6. Boba Fett Vs. Jodo Kast (Boba Fett: Twin Engines of Destruction by Andy Mangels)

Copyright © 1997 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“You didn’t earn this armor!  You didn’t earn my reputation.  You called me a ‘fossil.’  If you were going to be me, you should have learned from this fossil.  You’ll never be me.”

Boba Fett has just escaped from the Sarlacc pit and discovered that some young punk named Jodo Kast is trying to masquerade as Fett, letting others mistake him for the veteran hunter on account of the similar armor.  Fett proceeds to announce his return to the galaxy by setting up a trap for Kast, beating him down spectacularly in both a physical and verbal confrontation, and then making sure he dies painfully and creatively.  It shows Fett as both a man of pride (considering his reputation is being abused) and a man of honor (as he berates Kast for having never “earned” his armor the way Fett and others have).

5. Pellaeon Berates The Yuuzhan Vong (New Jedi Order: Force Heretic: Remnant by Sean Williams and Shane Dix)

Copyright © 2003 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“We have no intentions of surrendering–not now, not ever.  You may win the occasional battle against us, Vorrik, but the Empire will always strike back.”

If you’re already read my reviews for the New Jedi Order series, then you know what it’s about, too.  Needless to say, I had to include this grand moment by Admiral Gilad Pellaeon of the Imperial Remnant as he lays down the smack-talk on a fanatical Yuuzhan Vong commander.  He not only makes the arrogance and pride of the average Imperial officer into something glorious, but in this case, it’s an inspiring moment for all the people of the galaxy.  This is Pellaeon saying that, after so many setbacks and losses against the Yuuzhan Vong, the Empire and the Republic were here first and they’ll never lose their spirit to fight back.

4. The Battle of Bilbringi (The Last Command by Timothy Zahn)

Copyright © 1995 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“But… it was so artistically done.”

Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy is what essentially created the modern Expanded Universe for Star Wars, centering a whole set of stories after Return of the Jedi around the arrival of Grand Admiral Thrawn, an alien Imperial warlord whose tactical genius and multiple victories nearly wipe out the New Republic.  So when we get to the Battle of Bilbringi in the final book, The Last Command, it’s the climax of Thrawn’s career, as we see him orchestrate yet another victory and respond quickly to several last-ditch triumphs by the Rebels.  And then… his bodyguard assassinates him for the abuses that Thrawn has helped perpetuate against his people.  In one moment, everything is undone and the Empire is forced into retreat once more.

The most interesting thing about this sequence is that Zahn actually makes us feel sad for the Grand Admiral.  Think about that: he makes us feel sorry for the alien Imperial warlord who nearly defeated the Good Guys.  It takes a lot of good characterization to pull that off, unless you’re going to pull a Vader and have him redeemed before he dies.

3. Yoda Rejects The Temptation Of The Dark Side (Yoda: Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart)

Copyright © 2004 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“You think Yoda stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear?  Yoda teaches like drunkards drink.  Like killers kill.”

Despite walking into one of Count Dooku’s traps, Yoda attempts to reason with his former student and find a solution to the Clone Wars.  The best part is that Dooku tries to throw every argument at Yoda about the supremacy of the dark side of the Force and how the Jedi will ultimately fail at bringing peace and justice.  And yet… Yoda doesn’t buy it.  He plays the simple fool to Dooku’s silver-tongued intellectual, shooting down his eloquence and “logic” with simple thinking and a willingness to accept that, while the universe may be cruel, the people living in it do not have to be and that redemption is always possible–even for a disgraced Jedi like Dooku.

I recommend the entire Dark Rendezvous book just for the fact that it reads like a love letter to the Yoda we first met in Empire Strikes Back: witty, teasing, and above all else, a determined teacher to equally stubborn youth.

2. Jacen Solo Becomes His Own Hero (New Jedi OrderTraitor by Matt Stover)

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“The only power I have–the only power any of us has–is to be who we are.  That’s what I’m going to do here.  Be who I am.”

Although it’s another installment of the New Jedi Order series, Traitor is a story that had me gripped on the edge of my seat.  For one thing, it’s the first story by Matt Stover I ever read.  It’s also the first Jacen Solo story I’ve ever liked.  Apparently, Stover decided that a character primarily known for being peace-loving and philosophical could also be a hero if given the chance.  Here, he takes Jacen Solo’s empathy with living creatures, his philosophical outlook on the Force, and his recent tragedies and turns them into the building blocks of a new and creative hero.

Unfortunately, no one seemed to remember this characterization afterwards or else misinterpreted it severely.  But I treasure this story because of it gave us what the New Jedi Order should have been about: the next generation of Jedi Knights, having adventures with no connections to the original saga, proving themselves to be heroes without needing any help from the aging heroes of the Rebellion.

1. Luke Skywalker Vs. The Dark (Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matt Stover)

Copyright © 2008 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

“Because unlike the Knights of old, Jedi Luke Skywalker… you are not afraid of the dark.”

Stover has a great way of redefining characters into individuals I can enjoy reading about.  He did it with Jacen Solo in Traitor, he did it with Obi-Wan in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, and he did it again with Luke Skywalker in Shadows of Mindor.

This is the Luke Skywalker we saw at the end of Return of the Jedi: not the naive farmboy or the headstrong warrior, but the man who faced down the Emperor and helped his father redeem himself.  Here, Luke faces off against Cronal, a villain who seeks to corrupt him with “the Dark” and break his faith in the Force.  Luke faces the edge of that despair and comes out stronger for it, relying on the love of his friends and family just as he did in Jedi.  He beats the villain not with a swing of his lightsaber, but with a simple resolution to never lose hope.

And only Stover–or Timothy Zahn–can write it in a totally awesome manner.

I hope my readers enjoyed these Top Ten lists for the Star Wars universe.  If you have any requests for other Top Tens you’d like me to do, please leave me a comment or two.  It was a great experience trying to see just what it is I love so much about this franchise and I’d hope to have other lists demonstrating my love (or hate) of other sagas to come.

Bibliography: Boba FettTwin Engines of Destruction.  Written by Andy Mangels.  Drawn by John Nadeau.  Dark Horse Comics, 1997.

Brooks, Terry.  Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (novelization).  New York: Del Rey, 1999.

Dix, Shane.  Williams, Sean.  Star Wars: New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant.  New York: Del Rey, 2003.

Resurrection (comic).  Star Wars Tales#9.  Written by Ron Marz.  Drawn by Rick Leonardi.  Dark Horse Comics, 2001.

Star Wars: Clone Wars (cartoon).  Created by George Lucas and Genndy Tartakovsky.  Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.  Written by Genndy Tartakovsky.  Cartoon Network Studios, 2003 – 2005.

Star Wars: LegacyWar 6.  Written by John Ostrander.  Drawn by Jan Duursema.  Dark Horse Comics, 2011.

Stewart, Sean.  Yoda: Dark Rendezvous.  New York: Del Rey, 2004.

Stover, Matthew Woodring.  Star Wars: New Jedi Order: Traitor.  New York: Del Rey, 2002.

Stover, Matthew Woodring.  Star Wars: Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor.  New York: Del Rey, 2008.

Zahn, Timothy.  Star Wars: The Last Command.  New York: Bantam Spectra, 1993.