Review – The Clone Wars – Animated Series #Starwars #scifi

As many of you know I am a geek and a nerd – and proud of it. I love Star Wars – don’t ask how many times I’ve seen the original trilogy. Anyway, I’d seen a couple of these episodes on youtube and on recommendation picked these up.  It took me a while to get into this – (as the first series is a little disjointed) but now I love it. It’s very easy to get hooked on these. And I did. This was my little treat, a couple of episodes before bed and life was good. Seriously this is an EXCELLENT set of animated works and the animation is great.

The individual episodes are short but there are lots and it took us a month or so to work through them all. The stories are ‘canon’ so add a lot to the mythos and storylines of Star Wars.  The characters introduced (such as Clone captain Rex and Ahsoka) enhance the more well-known characters such as Obi-wan and Anakin Skywalker. These compelling and rather tragic characters bring a good deal of life to the stories.

Oh and just because this is a cartoon don’t expect the body count to be low – it’s not. People die – clones, droids, jedi, civilians, aliens, monsters. There is a trail of death and destruction right across the galaxy.  It’s PG rated but if this was a film with ‘real’ people then I’m pretty sure that rating would be upped. The death (and the pointlessness of the unwinnable war) is a key part of the series, and certainly later on the characters question the rationale and the reasons for the war. Of course ‘Senator’ Palpatine is not all he seems. He really is a weapons-grade devious bastard. I found myself wanting to yell ‘don’t trust him!’  He’s evil but not obviously so in the way of say General Grevious or Darth Maul.

This series fills in a lot of gaps in the storylines, showing that Anakin Skywalker’s fall was not as quick as it appears. The Clone Wars are dealt with in the second movie (Attack of the Clones) but it really doesn’t do justice to that side of the story. Thousands, if not millions of clones bred ONLY to fight, and Battledroids wage a war no one can win and few care about the rapidly rising body count. Of course, it’s not that simple – the Jedi are involved, and the Jedi council do not come out of this series especially well. Arrogant, rather partial and often devoid of emotion they ‘peacekeep’ the galaxy against the ‘separatists’ but they are peacekeeping in a war zone where everyone is just a piece in a far greater, and more cunning game. In many places, it’s hard to tell who are the good guys and the bad, but there are some great villains and heroes but the line between ‘good and evil’ is blurred, to say the least.

I felt real pity for Anakin and Ahsoka – certainly, for the former the ‘light side’ wasn’t as squeaky clean as it appears. Good and evil are rather relative and truth is dependent on where you stand. This series answers questions cements relationships with characters and the diverse and complex world of Star Wars. It’s a must for any Star Wars fan.

I wanted more when the series ended and I know I will watch these again regularly.

Fantasy, Science Fiction and Heroic Literature in our Society – Logan Judy

 Name:  Logan Judy

Location (as I am wondering if it is regional)?
:  Northern Indiana (Remington)

Bio: Logan Judy is a fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia author who began writing when he was 12 years old.  Nine years later, he published his first novel, Finding Sage, and the sequel a year later. He currently lives in Indiana with his wife Rebecca and her Don Quixote-esque guard dog, exploring new worlds and writing new stories.

How do YOU define fantasy/science fiction? Both science fiction and fantasy can be broadly defined as stories existing outside of our own present terms of reality.  Either you have science fiction, granting things plausible but not yet discovered or invented, or you have fantasy, existing outside of plausible reality altogether.  I love that definition because it leaves a great realm of possibilities open to us as writers.  So if I want to write fantasy, I don’t have to stick to wizards, elves, dragons, and vampires; I could create something entirely new!

If you’re a writer how do you portray heroism in your books? The hero as a literary construct has been given a very rigid definition by literary critics: a young person, usually male, who receives a call to action, rises through challenges with the help of a mentor, experiences a metaphorical (or literal) death and rebirth, then returns home to glory while having become a different person through self-knowledge.  It’s neat, clean, and defined.  I don’t like that about it.

When it comes to heroism in my books, I like to concentrate on one theme in particular: sacrifice.  There are many things that can make a hero, including bravery, strength, saving people, and conquering great things, but to me, a hero is someone who will sacrifice themselves for somebody else.  Beyond that, I like to leave it wide open.  So that might fit some or even a lot of those typical definitions, but it also leaves a lot of room open for stories that maybe haven’t been done before in quite the same way.  So you could have the aforementioned scenario, or you could have a young woman who sacrifices herself to save her little brother without the help of a mentor, and without a rebirth or return.  She’s every bit the hero that Frodo is.

It has been argued fantasy is full of ‘tropes’ – what are your views on this? It most definitely is . . . just like every other genre in fiction.  Nearly all romance has a formulaic progression to it, but that doesn’t keep A Walk to Remember from making me cry.  The book about small town wonders has been written scores of times, but that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying Dandelion Wine.  There’s a logical fallacy in assuming that just because there are ‘tropes’ that there’s no originality within that.  Different writers can have different takes on the same ideas and concepts.  Dracula is nothing like Twilight which is nothing like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, yet all feature vampires, so that’s less a criticism than an acknowledgement of classic influences – or at least it should be.  In fact, some of the best and most exciting fantasy I’ve read in recent years have been interesting takes on classic tropes, as opposed to completely new inventions.

How important are ‘facts’ in fantasy/science fiction – does something need to be plausible to be believable? If you substitute the word ‘consistent’ with ‘plausible’ then absolutely it does.  But there’s a great deal of difference between the two.  In science fiction, for example, plausibility is a key part of the appeal.  Classic writers like Jules Verne and George Orwell were so successful because their stories were just close enough to reality to make us imagine that they could be prophetic.  But when it comes to fantasy, we have something different altogether.  That a dark lord could make magic rings and bind everyone to them in a land filled with elves, dwarves, halflings, and orcs is not plausible, and yet Lord of the Rings is enormously successful–because it is consistent.  The rules of the world make sense because of the willing suspension of disbelief.  So the premise of the world in science fiction and fantasy doesn’t necessarily have to be plausible, but internal consistency is non-negotiable.

What science fiction/fantasy has influenced you most?  What would you say the most influential writers/film-makers? I grew up on fantasy, particularly the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, as well as more contemporary works such as the Percy Jackson series, Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, and the Star Wars saga.  But of those, I would only ascribe Lewis as a strong influence on my writing.  Since becoming a young adult, I have been progressively influenced by science fiction and dystopia writers, particularly George Orwell and Ray Bradbury (although the latter of those claims to have written only one science fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451, labeling his other works such as Something Wicked This Way Comes as fantasy).  I especially identify with Ray Bradbury; if you read interviews where he talks about his writing method, that’s exactly how I operate.