Last Shot and First Shot

Last Shot: A Han and Lando NovelLast Shot: A Han and Lando Novel by Daniel José Older

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not only one of the best of the new Star Wars books, it is one of the best Star Wars books ever.

I have been looking forward to this book for quite a while. I actually sort of met Daniel José Older. I did an online workshop called the Brainery for a YA novel I’m working on and he was one of the guest speakers. So I got to video chat with him and all the other workshop members. It was fun. Anyway I have always wanted to check out his work and never have, but with a new Han and Lando adventure on the horizon there was no way I could stay away any longer. I pre-ordered this from audible the day it was announced and eagerly downloaded it when it released last week.

I love all the Zahn Star Wars books and really enjoyed Scoundrels. Some of the new Star Wars books have just been ok but I usually end up really liking the characters. Sinjir Rath Velus comes to mind as a character I really liked and he was the first openly gay Star Wars character in the Canon if I’m not mistaken. There are so many characters and things to like in this book. Lando’s wardrobe alone needs at least a paragraph. There is a a narcoleptic Ugnaught, a slicer Ewok, a well spoken Gungan and more droids than you can count. There is even a non-binary character. Taka is excellent and the non-binary they/them confused me at first but I thought Older was going for non-binary. I love how they advertised themselves as Han Solo to get people to try and hire them. Its fantastic that no one treats being non-binary as a big deal.

I’ve really enjoyed the voice acting on the audio book and Older even does some sections. I can practically hear the smile beaming through his voice and can feel his excitement during the chapters he reads. Marc Thompson does a fantastic job as always (he’s been the voice for the majority of the new Star Wars books i’ve listened to) and January LaVoy is also sharing the audiobook duties and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard her before but she is fantastic. I’m having a really great time listening to this book and I like it so much I picked myself up a signed copy.

So this Star Wars book pretty much has it all so far and I’m having a hard time not listening to it all the time and I will definitely be doing a re-read because it’s that friggin good. More Daniel José Older Star Wars books, now please.

Quickly in other news I’m submitting my story to the tor.com novella open entry. I’m sure it will be soundly rejected but its the first time I’ll be submitting to a publisher and someone in the industry will hopefully read my drek and professionally soundly reject it. Exciting times.

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Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form – Star Wars – The Last Jedi

I’m a huge Star Wars fanatic. As you can see from the picture above with my home made Jedi robes, plastic light saber, and frosted tips (It was 1999 believe me they were super cool back then). I like Star Wars a lot. I have my Episode I ticket that I camped out for in a 1/4″ thick plastic case. I don’t even really like The Phantom Menace and I’ve seen the movie in the theater 9 times. So of course the release of a new Star Wars film is kind of a big deal for me.

I honestly never thought that we’d get more Star Wars after the critical reception of Episodes I-III. But thankfully George Lucas sold the rights and Disney will churn their Billion dollar making machines out like candy. I started getting super obsessed with Star Wars in high school. I collected the cards, had my mom buy me tons of prequel toys (some of which are worth surprising amounts of money now), and watched the special edition re-releases A LOT. I had my mom make me a Jedi costume (As seen above) for the Episode I premier and I even practiced a choreographed light saber fight with my buddy the entire weekend before. I now am the proud owner of an Obi-Wan Kenobi Cosplay that cost me a shameful amount of money to put together. But I love it and Star Wars.

I really liked The Last Jedi. It was surprisingly funny while still keeping the darkness and gritty feeling that most 2nd movies of the Star Wars triple features usually have. In terms of the overall Star Wars Universe I’d say it’s in my top 5 films. I’ve been thinking about my ranking of Star Wars films lately. Mainly because I’ve been watching Rogue One every weekend for the past month or so. I don’t have any kids and my wife travels to dog shows on the weekends a lot so I have a lot of free time. Sue me.

Rogue One is in my top 3 favorite Star Wars films and probably top 5 or 6 movies of all time. It perfectly captures how I imagine the Star Wars universe to look and feel during that time period. I’ve read almost every Star Wars books and the nixing of what is now termed the “Legends” canon is one of the saddest things about the Disney acquisition. I loved so many of those books but I’ve been voraciously reading all of the new books as well and they are pretty solid so far. Especially anything by Timothy Zahn.

Along with Rogue One I’ve also caught up on the animated series Star Wars: Rebels, which means as usual I’ve got Star Wars on my brain all the time. Rebels has some of the best characters in the Star Wars Universe. Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the best big bads period. He was awesome in the Zahn Legends trilogy and he is awesome in the new timeline and canon. I’m very excited he’s a part of the universe still and I hope he comes back for Episode IX since the finale of Rebels left a lot of unanswered questions. Speaking of best characters ever Ashoka Tano is one of my favorite characters of all time in any universe. so with all that said here’s my rankings of the movies (shows not included but they are awesome).

Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi

Rogue One

A New Hope

The Last Jedi

The Force Awakens

Revenge of the Sith

The Phantom Menace

Attack of the Clones

 

One of the goals I’ve set for myself in this crazy journey to become a writer is to work on/write for Star Wars. Someday It’ll happen.

Two for One: Eragon and Scoundrels

I haven’t gotten around to reading any Crichton lately, because I really haven’t been in the mood, but I still have been doing lots of reading and I have finished two books in the last few weeks. As I’ve gotten older I noticed that I tend to go through phases with reading, I will read a lot and want to read a lot for a few months or so and then I will not read at all for a while. I’m hoping that I can make this current reading phase that I am in last longer than a few months and finish up the initial draft of my novel while I’m at it. The wife and I are doing the camp Nanowrimo in July and if I can stick with it I will make my goal of 100k words total on my novel by the end of the camp. I already have several Alpha readers lined up and I am ready to start my first of many revisions, this ball needs to keep on a’ rollin. So with that this will be a two for one blog on Eragon and Scoundrels, fair warning there will be spoilers ahead for both of these books.

First a shot from my hotel room where I recently spent a week and a half in Kona Hawaii.

View from Hilton in Kona

The epic views of the Pacific were a great setting to finish this book up and I look forward to reading the others in the series sometime soon. Overall I really enjoyed the book even though I have read many others that are set in high fantasy worlds with Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, Magic and the like. It was very much a YA fantasy novel, much in the same genre that I hope to market my own book. My book will have considerably less Dwarves, Elves, and Dragon riders. But I do plan on keeping at least some Dragons around, but there will be no riding of them allowed, maybe… Eragon is the name of the main character who, while out on a hunting trip in some mountains surrounding his tucked away little farm where he lives with his Uncle and Cousin, finds a mysterious stone that appears out of nowhere. He was looking for something to eat and not a strange glowing stone so promptly tries to trade it for a bunch of meat to help his family survive the winter. It does not go well at the butchers but the blacksmith swoops in and hooks him up in exchange for some help at the Forge over the next year. Eragon gladly accepts and heads back to his farm with the haul that will help them make it through some tough times. Everything seems to be going fairly fine until the strange rock decides to hatch one night and blammo, Eragon now has a full-fledged Dragon to look after. It grows really fast, making it hard to keep a secret and after asking the local old Curmudgeon in town about Dragons, Brom, gives him a list of all the previous Dragons names and keeps asking very pointed questions about Dragons. Eragon consults with the Dragon who he can now communicate with telepathically and they decide her name will be Saphira. Saphira is my favorite character in the book and as things keep happening at a fairly quick pace all throughout their adventures she seems to grow as a character along with Eragon of course. Lots of bad things happen very quickly, some bad guys come and kill his uncle and destroy his farm so Brom and Eragon head off after them seeking revenge. Along the way Eragon learns he can perform magic and also learns the finer points of fighting by practicing every day with Brom, he even learns how to read. Lots of other fun and interesting things happen along the way and I would greatly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially YA fantasy. Next up Scoundrels! But first a picture of the best beach I have ever been on, Hapuna beach on the Kona side of Hawaii.

Hapuna Beach Kona

Scoundrels is the latest Timothy Zahn Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, since Disney has taken over the Star Wars franchise they gave the EU some sort of new name but I forget what it is. This isn’t my favorite Zahn novel in the Star Wars universe but after a slow start the book really picked up for me and had a really crazy twist ending I didn’t see coming. The book is framed around a Heist, think Oceans 11 but instead of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are running the show. Chewbacca along with a bunch of other characters are thrown in to liven things up and we get a little more detail on exactly how Lando came into Cloud City and what the old beef between he and Han was. There was a prequel novella included at the back of the book which I didn’t get to until about halfway through the novel, I wish I would have read it first because it really helped set things up and introduce some of the other cast that appears in Scoundrels.

I decided to pick up Justin Cronin’s The Passage after I finished Scoundrels and I have not been the least bit disappointed. It has really been hard to put down and I look forward to reading more as soon as I finish up this blog post! After that I am thinking of finishing Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy to help myself get back into the Sci-Fi writing groove. I started Camp Nanowrimo today and have about half my word goal for the day completed, I will write a little more before bed. That is all for now, I will probably update the blog next when I get the Michael Crichton Experience timeline up to speed, hopefully soon. Also I am disappointed the USA team lost to Belgium today but glad that Soccer got a little bit of the headlines I love the World Cup and I have my own personalized USA jersey to prove it!

jersey