For how much we commended Lucasfilm on its great strides towards gender diversity since The Force Awakens, I think a lot of us forgot to look more closely at Rogue One until it was already out. Not everyone—god knows I been pointing out the severe lack of women since last year alongside some friends—but enough. After Phasma, Rey, Maz and Leia, and the diverse background characters in The Force Awakens, perhaps it was too easy to become complacent. Too easy to believe that once we’d taken that step forward, it was impossible to fall behind again.
Well, apparently fuckin’ not, because Rogue One barely even tries, if I’m completely honest. The tough-white-brunette-as-lead doesn’t really make up for a distinctive lack of other women anymore—not that it ever should have. As much as Rogue One seemed to want to cling to some Star Wars traditions, the sole-white-female-heroine-among-men is one that should have been thrown right out with the opening crawl (though I remain forever broken-hearted at the lack of the crawl).
Especially when the ancillary material is working more than it ever has to create a diverse galaxy, introducing women like Admiral Rae Sloane, Doctor Aphra, Cienna Ree, Shara Bey, Brand, Sabine Wren, and even more amazing women who veer away from the typical Star Wars films’ leading lady. I would give anything to see any of these women, or women like them, on the big screen, and it’s disappointing to watch Rogue One fail when so many other stories within the universe succeed. Especially because I know Star Wars can do better. Especially because I love Rogue One as much as I do.
I align myself as being aromantic. Most definitions describe aromanticism as “an individual that experiences very little to no romantic attraction.” So why do I rank Lost Stars as my favorite new novel in the Star Wars canon? A young adult novel that tells the story of two “star-crossed lovers” on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War? What about the countless numbers of romance webtoons I subscribe to on Tapastic and Line Webtoons? In what world does this make sense?
Something about these stories appeals to me. In Lost Stars the two main characters, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, are so very well written. While reading it you feel for them. You understand their actions and reactions. Their acceptance. Their experiences are things that could happen to us in our lives, you know – besides the whole spaceships and superweapons thing obviously. For me, using their story to live out what it would feel like to be completely devoted, to truly love another, makes sense and doesn’t make sense at the same time. There are many factors in our world that enable us to connect with others on a romantic level. For some it comes naturally, others it takes more time to develop, and for others like me, that “thing” just isn’t there.
Spoiler warnings for Version Control, Unwind, and The Fold.
Let’s talk about ladies. More specifically, let’s talk about god damn General Leia Organa, biological daughter of the biggest mistake of the galaxy and the bravest queen to ever grace Naboo’s picturesque vistas, adopted daughter of verified owner of the Galaxy’s Best Dad mug. At the tender age of nineteen, she stands up to Vader himself; decades later, she’s leading the only resistance the New Republic has against the First Order.
She is vitally important, not just in the GFFA, but in science fiction in general. Why? Because she still has her voice. She falls in love, becomes a slave (ugh), gets married, has a kid — and years later, she still has a voice.
I’m a nerd. I’ve been one since Pokemon first aired in little ol’ Aotearoa and I tried to make Pikachus out of modelling clay with my mum. The attempted Pikachus melted, I still loved them.
Much of my childhood was dominated by Pokemon, to the point that I would actually say my childhood was defined by it, as well as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. These franchises helped me form strong friendships, find a love for the creative, and explore an interest in books and film. Most of all, these things helped me encounter joy in hard times. Being a nerd is as much a part of me as my love for food.
Recently, cynicism has been everywhere. Or, has it always been? It seems that whenever enough people love something, a vocally negative group pops up to disagree. So let’s talk positive:
There have been three defining moments for me recently that sparked something inside me. As if, for just a second, the clouds had parted and sunlight had shone down upon me. Weird, right? Who even remembers what happiness feels like these days? Not me, apparently.
2015 was a year of great cinema, that’s without a doubt, but the best part? That the two most anticipated of last year—The Force Awakens and Mockingjay Part 2—had something in common other than their sci-fi foundations, something that is still unfortunately new in action and science fiction and big blockbuster films: female leads. Rey, and Katniss Everdeen. Not adults, but girls, both thrown into their respective stories while still teenagers.
Though similar in their survivalist personalities and ability to defend themselves, having learned their fighting abilities simply to survive their harsh lives, both Katniss and Rey have vastly different personalities. Maybe it’s the traits that parallel the two that make them work so well as leads, and their differences that create such compelling young women as they fight for their lives, and the lives of those close to them.
For someone who has fully embraced the new canon of Star Wars, this year has been a great year for reading. For the past two years I’ve been slowly making my way through the now-Legends novels chronologically (though the X-wing series got pushed ahead, for obvious reasons), and I can definitely say the ratio of books I’ve enjoyed to those I’ve slogged through has been much higher with the new stuff than the old EU.
That’s not to say I don’t love what I’ve read of the old novels, but I absolutely adore some of the newer books, so much so that two of them have become two of my favourite books ever, something that none of the old EU books have managed to do so far. In fact, that list is damn hard to get onto, because I dislike almost everything I read.
Protip: never suggest I read your favourite book, because odds are I will hate it and will pick apart all the reasons I think it’s awful right before your very eyes. (I’m so sorry, friends who like The Name of the Wind.)
For some, Star Wars is a hobby. For others, it is their life. This goes for people of all ages from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, race, or age. Something truly beautiful about the saga is how it can bond people—from friends to family to complete strangers.
My latest interviewee is a friend found through our mutual love of Star Wars, thanks to a network on Tumblr. Her jokes about Darth Wheezy were what initially made me think she was Too Damn Cool (and really, her jokes are hilarious).
A twenty-year-old who speaks her mind, Mára Kuryt:nîk grew up in various locations in Canada. Her native tongue is French-Canadian and her second language is English. Her mama is of Ukrainian descent and her papa is of Mohawk and Māori descent.
Until she was eight-years-old she thought Star Wars was real and had happened in the past, and had to see someone for about two years before finally accepting the truth. Life just hasn’t been as fun since. You can find her on Tumblr, and hear her A+ mixes on 8tracks.
Something that is unique to Star Wars is the generational shifts that have occurred over the past near-forty years, from the older fans, the ones that grew up with the Original Trilogy; the fans like me, who first experienced Star Wars on the silver screen through the Prequels, whose childhood crushes were the Padawan Obi-Wan; and the kids who were introduced to the GFFA through the animated series of The Clone Wars and Rebels. Soon enough will come the generation of the Sequel Trilogy and the Stories.
We are a fandom split across a massive time span. Each generation of fans has a different take on the saga, their own individual part of the galaxy they are drawn towards. I tend to the younger side of my fandom circles, and even then I’m an Old Fart compared to some of my other Star Wars buddies.
Even though I’m relatively young, I notice that voices that are younger still are often ignored, or aren’t given a proper platform to speak about their own experiences with the series and the fandom. Thus I am doing a series of interviews of younger fans, each under twenty years old, to try and capture the opinions of the younger generation—the people that will one day inherit this saga and make it their own.
My first interviewee is the lovely Liza, known as Bookybarnes on Tumblr, a sixteen-year-old student currently living in the States who is a relatively new fan of the galaxy far, far away. Introduced mainly through Tumblr and The Clone Wars, Liza embodies the generation being brought to Star Wars through the animated shows and internet culture rather than the films themselves.
If there’s one thing I love unabashedly above all else, it’s women in my sci-fi—specifically, women in Star Wars. My utter adoration of Rey Last-Name-Unknown is no secret, even though I know essentially nothing about her. She, like Captain Phasma, (or Padme, or Leia,) ticks every box: she’s a girl, she’s in Star Wars. Hey, I’m easy. Sometimes all some people want is a scrawny dude in black. Different strokes, folks.
This week has been Women of Star Wars appreciation week on Tumblr, which means that there’s even more positivity about the ladies on that blue site than usual. I don’t do gifs anymore, nor do I even spend much time on that timesink of a hellhole once I discovered the joys of productivity after escaping; that doesn’t mean I don’t want to participate somehow.
One of the prompts (the first one, which leaves me anything but prompt) is Don’t Look Back, which is a great one since I’d love to look forward to the women who will soon be gracing our screens, pages, and shelves in the years to come. The women of The Force Awakens, the woman of Rogue One (an apt name, considering there is only one woman so far), the ladies in the upcoming books Aftermath and Lost Stars, and even the ladies of the comics. Why not appreciate the women who will soon be leading our stories?
It was a month ago that I finally stepped foot onto the plane that would bring me, for the first time in over 15 years, to America. I meant to sleep the flight away–I really did–but instead I absentmindedly drank a glass of wine offered to me before remembering my sleeping pills had a “no alcohol” rule. So for around 30 hours, I did not sleep. Oops!
Why was I going to America? Well, for Star Wars Celebration, the massive convention for Star Wars fans all over the globe to converge and nerd out together. As if anyone needed more proof of how much I love the franchise, this was it. From the 15th to the 19th of April, I was to be surrounded by Star Wars.