Welcome back :)Last weekend I attended ReaderCon, and as always it was fantastic. I picked up a bunch of SW books I had been looking for, so expect more SWG: How'd you like that book? posts in the near future.
Before I get to questions this week, I'd like to take a second to implore my readership to send me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Without your questions, I'm out of a gig.
Nate S. asks:
"What are your favorite Star Wars books and why?"
While I did give the question thought, one answer immediately did jump to mind. Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston's X-Wing series definitely caps the list for me. As a series, its got great flow, has an amazing cast of characters, and is just so well plotted it's ridiculous. Of them, my favorites are probably X-Wing: Rogue Squadron, the book which started the series off, and X-Wing: Iron Fist, the 6th book in the series, which will total ten as of X-Wing: Mercy Kill, scheduled to release Aug. 7th this year.
To give some background, the X-Wing series came from the comic series, which came from the game (a classic, to be sure). At first, Stackpole began writing the series to great success[1. And indeed to this day thinks of Rogue Squadron as one of his favorite books], but he eventually turned it over to Allston, who picked up the torch and ran with it.
The series itself was historical for at least one reason though: it was the first big series not to feature any of the big-four[2. Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie, though it's worth noting they do make appearances here and there.], and because of its cast of non-movie characters (with the biggest exception being Wedge Antilles), it was the first series that killed off characters good and bad, and gave that edge of your seat experience that had gone away for big-four novels.
The X-Wing series was my first real EU series, and I'm really happy for that. I don't know I would've gotten into SW quite the same way had I started anywhere else. I highly recommend the books (and gave a brief synopsis of how to approach them last week).
Ariel C. asks:
"When did the Empire switch from using clones to using conscripts, and did they use both at the same time?"
The Empire, as of its formation, was already using a mix of conscripts and clones. As the Clone Wars waged on, non-clones began to trickle into the ranks, though at first, they were only used as officers. Gilad Pellaeon actually started his military career as a low ranking officer for the Republic near the end of the Clone Wars.
After the establishment of the Empire, the kind of clones that began to replenish losses changed: there weren't any more Fett clones after that. The new ones were based off of multiple templates and were grown using Spaarti cloning cylender technology, an inferior technology to the Kaminoian style cloning, but useful enough all the same.
By the time of Episode IV, we know that it was quite popular for young people to want to go to the Imperial Academy and join the armed services of the Empire. Han was dishonorably discharged from the service for liberating Chewbacca, who was an imperial slave. Luke wanted to join up, following his friend Biggs Darklighter. They were all going to fighter pilot training, but the Empire needed soldiers just as badly, and cloning will always be more expensive than letting people grow themselves.
Kristal T. asks:
"What are some other favorites of yours?"
(I'm paraphrasing a tiny bit, but I really don't think we need more than one favorites post, so this will be it.)
Favorite era(s): Classic Era (AKA the Rebellion Era) and the New Republic Era. I think some of the best stories in the SW universe happened in this 30 year (in universe) stretch, including new fiction coming out set in these eras. They also contain all the Tales books, which are short story cycles set in the SW universe and make for great reads.
Favorite character(s): As far as good guys: Corran Horn, a member of Rogue Squadron[3. This article now links to all the Rogue Squadron pages on Wookieepedia :P] and eventually the New Jedi Order. Created by Michael A. Stackpole, he is featured in the X-Wing books, I, Jedi, the New Jedi Order series and beyond. And on the flip side, Grand Admiral Thrawn is the best villian I've ever read. Created by Timothy Zahn in the Thrawn trilogy, he crops up time and time again, especially in any book written by Zahn himself. He is complex, interesting, not motivated by evil, and a supergenius level military strategist.
Favorite weapon(s): The lightsaber, a weapon of a more civilized age, of course.
Favorite ship(s): In a combat situation, I want either a T-65 X-Wing star fighter, or a Imperial Mark II Star Destroyer. For joy riding, though, I've always wanted to take a TIE-Interceptor for a spin.
Favorite Force-user(s): young Anakin Skywalker was really fun to read about, and Anakin Solo gave me the same sort of feelings. Darth Bane is pretty high up my list, too. Corran Horn would be below them on the Force-using side of things.
Favorite movie: Episode V. Need I really say more?
Well, there you have it. Some favorites of mine, a brief primer on clone/non-clone Imperial combatants, and another week gone by. This is where I implore you again to send me your questions, I'd hate to run out!
If you have something vaguely Star Wars related, ask away at email@example.com and see your name/userhandle and question answered here[4. Maybe. Nothing in life is garunteed]!
May the Force be with you, -Michael DiTommaso, the Star Wars Geek