Saturday, December 12, 2015

Pop Culture in the 2016 Presidential Election

At the risk of getting too political, the 2016 Republican primary process has been a low point for civil debate, but a high point for pop culture references in social media. After Republican candidate Donald Trump announced a controversial plan to ban all Muslims from traveling the United States, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tweeted:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Star Wars: Battlefront (Veteran's Day)

Today, November 11, is Veteran's Day. I thought I'd mark the occasion by discussing how Star Wars has treated warfare and soldiers throughout the saga. Despite the name "Star Wars," the saga actually has very few prominent characters who are soldiers. The main characters tend to be Jedi, Sith, smugglers, or politicians. Moreover, in the Prequel Trilogy, the opposing armies consisted of Clone Troopers and battle droids, not ordinary men and women in uniform.

That changed somewhat with The Clone Wars animated TV show. The series started to individualize the clones, allowing them to develop unique personalities. The clones came across more like regular men than exact duplicates of bounty hunter Jango Fett. The fact that they're clones does mean they can identify more closely with each other, and as a result they exhibit a high degree of camaraderie. There's very little grumbling in the clone ranks (although there are a few cases of defection and desertion).

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Legendarium Media

Recently, I joined Legendarium Media as contributing writer for all things Star Wars. It's been a great opportunity to share my love of Star Wars with a different audience. I'll be posting a new article roughly every week. My current articles include:

Monday, July 6, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Dark Disciple" by Christie Golden

The latest canon Star Wars novel, Dark Disciple actually comes from a script written by Katie Lucas, Matt Michnovetz, and Dave Filoni for The Clone Wars animated TV show before it was canceled. In Dark Disciple, the Jedi Council sends Quinlan Vos on a mission to recruit Asajj Ventress to help assassinate Count Dooku. I’ll try not to reveal too many spoilers, which is especially difficult for this book, and will focus on plot developments that happen during the first quarter of the novel.

Although Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress are both fan favorites, I’d never imagined that they’d appear together, much less in a Clone Wars novel. Yet, after having read the novel, the pairing seems natural. They’re both strong, sexy - yes, sexy - characters who have touched the Dark Side. Dark Disciple is a character study of how these two learn to trust and respect one another.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Star Wars course at Mythgard!

One of the reasons I created the Poli-Sci Jedi website was because I believe that the Star Wars saga is worthy of serious academic study. Although I haven't always had the time to use this site to engage in that sort of critical inquiry, it definitely remains a part of my long-term plans for my own personal fandom.

Fortunately, Mythgard Institute, an online university specializing in speculative fiction, is making that easier by offering an online course about the Star Wars saga this fall. I've followed Mythgard since its beginnings and am a big fan of its classes. The professors take science fiction and fantasy literature seriously, but don't overanalyze it (as so many high school teachers are prone to do).

Although the course isn't free, it definitely sounds worthwhile. Dr. Amy Sturgis, a professor of literature who focuses on the history of science fiction, will be teaching. Personally, I plan to take the course and write a paper about political institutions in Star Wars (what else?).

Monday, April 27, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Lords of the Sith" by Paul Kemp

Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine flex their Force muscles in Paul Kemp's Lords of the Sith, but the real stars of this book are Cham Syndulla and his rebellion on Ryloth. According to the publisher's summary:
On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What's wrong with the economics of sci-fi?

[This article was reposted from my main blog, NardiViews]

Economist David Berri has an article in Time criticizing the depiction of economics in science fiction. In particular, he argues that sic-fi stories frequently depict technologically advanced galactic empires despite the fact that, in the real world, autocracy sniffles economic growth. Historically, empires have seized private wealth, making citizens more reluctant to invest in technology and innovation. By contrast, inclusive governments, such as democracies, allow people to reap the rewards of their investments, thereby encouraging investment in technologies that stimulate economic growth.

I know something about both political economics and science fiction, and unfortunately Berri gets both wrong.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Heir to the Jedi" by Kevin Hearne

There are some nice character moments in Kevin Hearne's Heir to the Jedi, but I can't shake the feeling that it's not the same Luke we saw in the films...

From the publisher's summary:
A brilliant alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems is being detained by Imperial agents determined to exploit her exceptional talents for the Empire’s purposes. But the prospective spy’s sympathies lie with the Rebels, and she’s willing to join their effort in exchange for being reunited with her family. It’s an opportunity to gain a critical edge against the Empire that’s too precious to pass up. It’s also a job that demands the element of surprise. So Luke and the ever-resourceful droid R2-D2 swap their trusty X-wing fighter for a sleek space yacht piloted by brash recruit Nakari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul, who’s got a score of her own to settle with the Empire.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


A new year, a new episode of Star Wars: Rebels. Unfortunately, I don't have time to write full reviews for each episode. However, I wanted to comment on the general direction of the show, especially because I have revised my opinion of the show since reviewing "A Spark of Rebellion." Overall, the show is getting much, much better. The characterizations, story arcs, and animation have all improved.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


As a big fan of James Luceno’s “Darth Plagueis,” I was excited to hear that Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin would be getting the Luceno treatment. Unfortunately, “Tarkin” isn’t quite the equal of “Darth Plagueis” in that it doesn’t provide a sweeping backstory for Tarkin. It’s more a story in which Tarkin is the central protagonist. However, we do get some great background information about Tarkin, especially about his upbringing on Eriadu. And there are some wonderful treats for fans of the old EU.


Friday, October 3, 2014

REBELS REVIEW: "Spark of Rebellion"

The latest incarnation of Star Wars, Rebels, has now officially aired on TV. I won't be able to review the entire show - I don't even know if I'll have access to cable overseas - but I thought I'd at least share my thoughts on the TV movie, "Spark of Rebellion." Overall, there is some real promise with the characters, but a number of problems with the overall tone of the show and, surprisingly, the soundtrack. It's a fun ride, but does it have the potential to become something more?

I don't feel that I can review the show adequately without discussing key plot points in depth, so there are SPOILERS below.

Monday, September 1, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Star Wars: A New Dawn


Star Wars: A New Dawn” is an important entry into the Star Wars library for a few reasons. First, it is the first book in Disney’s new Star Wars canon. In other words, this book is just as much a part of the Star Wars saga as any of the movies. Second, this book introduces readers to a few of the main characters in the upcoming animated TV show “Star Wars: Rebels.”

To be perfectly honest, I had not been particularly excited about “Rebels.” I had some issues with “The Clone Wars” and the same creative team is heading “Rebels.” From what I’d seen thus far, it seemed like the beginning of the Disneyfication of Star Wars. So I was initially somewhat skeptical of this book. That said, John Jackson Miller is one of my favorite Star Wars authors, so it had that to its credit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Far Far Away Radio podcast episode about politics

I just finished recording a podcast episode about politics in Star Wars with Far Far Away Radio. Look for it soon!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Revising politics in Attack of the Clones

In my article for the Far, Far Away Radio blog, I mentioned that many critics attacked the political scenes in the Prequel Trilogy. I had mentioned that the Prequels sometimes failed to connect the political story with the characters' arcs. Of course, criticizing is one thing; doing is another. So, as an intellectual exercise, I thought I would take one political scene from Attack of the Clones to see if I could retain the substance of the scene but add more of a character moment.