TV Review: Star Wars Rebels Season 3

I’ve sort of decided to post once a month or so. However, I did add a Gallery to this site, which is where I’ll be displaying my own art.

In celebration of May the Fourth, also known as Star Wars Day, I’m reviewing the third season of Star Wars Rebels. Last year, I reviewed the second season.
The crew took a beating last season, but now they’re back, and Ezra’s starting to take charge.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Star_Wars_Rebels_Season_Three_posterNote on ratings:

*           Horrible.
**         Below average
***       Average. Not good or bad.
****    Above average
***** Above and beyond

Content: **** (Content based off my personal level of squeamishness.)
This season felt lighter than season 2 with less violence. Yes, it’s still Star Wars, but there was a bit less head chopping.


Originality and world building: ****

Like all Star Wars media, the world feels deep, but I think the show could have gone a bit deeper in this season. There are certainly a bunch of different cultures around.

Characters and their Arcs: ****
Ezra’s arc with Maul felt a bit choppy, but it was nice to see Ezra maturing. I enjoyed seeing more Sabine’s arc, which was good. We also had some of Rex, and Agent Kallus got a lot of development. Saw’s arc, though rushed, was also enjoyable.
I loved seeing Thrawn on the screen.

Pacing and action sequences: ***
The pacing felt a bit too episodic in this season. Though there were a lot of good episodes, it felt choppy, and some arcs seemed to be forced into too short of a space.

Animation: ****
The backgrounds are looking pretty good, but I didn’t feel the awe like I did in season 2.

Addition to the Universe: ****
It was really nice to see more of Saw Gerrera, and I think this show does fit the universe well.

hqdefaultOther things I liked:
Saw Gerrera showed up. Even though his character arc felt rushed, I was really glad to see him since his part in Rogue One had been so small. Having the rebel groups not get along, and having characters who disagree with each other really ups the tension.
Sato’s sacrifice in the last episode was good, even if the season final didn’t seem as good as the previous season’s final.
Thrawn is a great villain and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of him. He was one of the best villains I’ve read about, so I’m really glad Disney decided not to cut him from cannon.
It was good to see Maul’s arc ended. A long fight would have been cool to see, but the three-second one was fitting.

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What I didn’t like:
The episodic nature of the series. I also wasn’t that big of a fan of Bendu. This season’s climax wasn’t nearly as emotional as S2’s.

Is it worth watching?
Yes, though it wouldn’t hurt to skip episodes you’re not interested in. It also looks like Season 4 will be really good.

My rating:

fourstar

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Camp NaNo: Black Claw

For Camp NaNo this year, I’m rewriting the third book in my spaceverse, a sequel to Hand of Steel, currently titled Black Claw.

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The cover, which is just a simple thing for Camp NaNo. If I publish it, I’m not keeping this cover.

Pitch: When Klate is captured by bounty hunters and blamed for murders he didn’t commit, Krys must work with the hunters to track down the real killer.

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The team Krys is forced to work with. (For those who don’t know, Krys is the cyborg.)

 

In other news, there are a few new pictures on my fan art page. I also updated the Country in Chaos page to show the book’s cover.

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Kark Breeds

Warhound trinity

Here’s a picture of three kark breeds, a species featured heavily in my novel, The Red Tattoo. Karks are the mounts of the Chix, who are the only species small enough to ride these large predators that are a mix of canine and feline, which gives them an unnerving yowling howl. They’re able to run for hours, much like wolves, but they can also race through treetops.

On the left is the courser, the fastest breed. They’re ridden on scouting missions, in races, or for other situations that need speed and don’t require them to haul much weight.

The right creature is the common warhound. These make up the backbone of the mounts for the Chix cavalry. They are known for their loyalty and intelligence, which makes them a force to be reckoned with in battle.

The middle creature is a Saddat warhound. This somewhat rare breed originated from common warhounds who were brought to Saddat, which is colder than Chibbink. The breed is a bit larger than the average warhound, has more fur, and a thicker build. Because they can handle the cold much better than the common warhound, they are often ridden by the higher-ranking Chix during campaigns in colder regions.

Other breeds:

Pithounds, which look like common warhounds but almost always black. They’re used in pit fights and tend to be extremely aggressive

Draft karks, a species even bigger than the Saddat warhound. These are used for plowing fields and other farm work. They’re known for being extremely docile and slower moving than warhounds.

Wild karks come in two breeds, the plains kark, which resembles the courser, and the jungle kark, which is smaller than any other breed and tends to be very much an arboreal species.

 

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All Senses Story Challenge

This is something I found on DeviantART where a person uses multiple senses to describe their character(s) so I did it with Savora. (In-universe, Jagur would never meet her, but I needed someone to see her from the outside.)

Here is the original. Note that the original included if the character was attractive, but I cut that one out since Jagur wouldn’t notice since he’s a different species.

Sight: Jagur watched the creature as she walked down the path he crouched beside. She had reddish fur with a corse look too it, especially on her short tail. Black stripes marked her body, and her long ears were almost fully black on the outside, with a lighter inner ear. They perked for any sound while her whiskers twitched, sensing the breeze. One ear had a notch taken out of it. Jagur couldn’t tell if she had a good sense of smell, but he’d positioned himself downwind of the game path. She stood nearly seven feet tall, making her quite a bit taller than Jagur, though the way she walked on her toes gave her a few extra inches. She had various scars along her arms and possibly more under her sleeveless shirt and skirt. Judging by her long, sharp claws, she could fight well. With arms that long, Jagur knew he didn’t want to get in a scrap with her. He pressed himself agains the ground behind the bush he’d picked. He’d just let her pass him by and wait for real prey, not something that was obviously intelligent.

Sound: She walked almost silently, an odd thing for a creature of her size. Jagur hadn’t even detected her until she’d come into his line of sight. He couldn’t hear her breathing, not from this distance, but the way her ears twitched worried him. With those big ears, she probably had good hearing. He tried to breath quietly.

Smell: The breeze shifted, blowing the creature’s scent to Jagur. He inhaled deeply, trying to get a better feel for what she was. He caught a dirt scent, giving him the hint she lived underground, which would explain why he’d never encountered any of her species before. She carried a root smell mixed in, and a slight roast meat scent. Omnivorous, most likely, not a full meat-eater like Lazakal. Didn’t mean she was someone he wanted to get into a tangle with, but now, she was too close for him to reveal himself without her getting surprised.

Action: The big alien’s ears twitched, swiveling Jagur’s way. He held perfectly still. He was downwind and hadn’t made a sound. She couldn’t have noticed him.
She sprang at Jagur, her movements fluid and faster than he’d have thought possible for something her size. He rolled onto his back as she crashed into him.

Touch: One of her huge hands slammed into Jagur’s chest, pinning him down. She put enough weight on him he could barely draw a breath. Luckily, her long claws, meant for digging, didn’t slice into his chest. Her other hand poised over him, claws upraised.

Taste: Without thinking, Jagur bit her arm, tasting blood and dirty fur.

Composure: She roared in pain and rage. Her free hand slammed into Jagur’s head. He fell back, half stunned. She shot to her feet and stood over him, her claws at the ready, ears flattened in anger.

Mentality: Wary of Jagur’s jaws, she didn’t attack. Not wanting to anger the huge creature, he stayed low, his head pounding. This wasn’t a fight he wanted. Even if he managed to win, he’d be too injured to hunt.

Emotion: She growled, a deep rumble from her chest, not quite like a Lazakal growl. Jagur met her eyes and noted they were wide. She was frightened, at least slightly. She’d attacked out of fear, not because she wanted to fight.

Posture: Even if she was afraid, her eyes were the only thing that betrayed it. She stood strongly, her left side facing toward Jagur. The only weakness he spotted was how she put more weight on her right side. She favored her left leg, perhaps from an old injury. Jagur doubted he’d be able to get her off-balance.

Alignment: Instead of attacking, she stood over him, watching, waiting for Jagur to make a move. She wasn’t going to finish him off, not if he didn’t show any aggression. Considering Jagur had only been hit, not clawed, she was holding back.

Jagur slowly rose to a crouch. He shook his pounding head.
The big alien watched him, the tension in her body telling him she still expected him to attack her.
“I was hunting animals, not you,” Jagur said. He licked a little bit of her blood from his long canines. “Sorry about biting you.”
She watched him, her stance relaxing just a little as he spoke.
Jagur stood and brushed leaves from his vest. “The name’s Jagur.”
She tipped her ears to him. “Savora,” she said. “I’m sorry. I heard you there and thought you were going to attack, so I figured I’d get you first.”
Jagur shrugged. “No hard feelings. I should have said something when I spotted you. Does that bite need treated? I could lick it.”
Savora looked at the wound. “I’ve had worse.”
Considering her speed, Jagur guessed she wasn’t lying. She’d had him down before he’d had a chance to fully react. This creature knew what she was doing.

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Fanfic, the Dark Side of Writing

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Over the years, I’ve read fanfic and seen discussion of it. I’ll even admit to writing some.

For those who don’t know, fan fiction (fanfic) is when a fan of a story writes another story set in the same universe. For example, if a person likes Star Wars, they might write a fanfic about Luke hunting Womp rats.

Some say fanfic is lazy writing, but I think it depends on the sort of writing. Many published authors started out writing fanfic. Kenan started out as Star Wars fanfic and the Lunar Chronicles started out as Sailor Moon fanfic.

There is also some media that is technically fanfic, but is legitimate, such as Star Wars books and cases where a new author finishes a series when the original author is no longer able to continue it. (When Robert Jordan passed away, Brandon Sanderson had to finish The Wheel of Time series.)

Fanfic is a good way for new, inexperienced writers to get into writing. After all, someone who just started writing is going to need a lot of practice to get to the point where they’re able to write something worth publishing, so there’s no reason they can’t start with fanfic.

But is it lazy to write in someone else’s world? I think this depends on the point of view. If it’s lazy to write in an already created universe, it would also be lazy to write fiction set in any time period in the real world.

Don’t get me wrong, most fanfic is awful, but it’s not because writing fanfic is lazy. It’s because lots of people who don’t know how to write are writing it, and good fanfic takes just as much skill as good writing in any genre.

Most of these lazy writers do things that a good writer would avoid. Their fanfic is little more than wish fulfillment, often jerking characters in directions those characters wouldn’t go, for example, pairing up characters who are not a couple in the story and would never be a couple. Another thing these bad fanfic writers do is write themselves into the story by making a character that is basically themselves but better, so this character can run around with the main characters of the story world. (This is where the term “Mary Sue” came from.)
If these people were writing something original, it would be just as bad as the fanfic, but readers seem more likely to read bad fanfic than bad original stories.

Good fanfic involves using someone else’s characters and depicting them accurately. This can be very difficult to get right. The writer can’t just design characters that they want to. They have to keep each character consistent with the rest of the media featuring that character. They also have to keep track of how the rules of the world work, and if they’re writing something based off a book, they should try to mirror the author’s style. This takes talent, and sometimes, it takes talent that those who write original fiction haven’t developed.

When it comes down to it, fanfic is a form of art, but like any form of art, there is a lot of it that’s just not good, which gives the rare good stuff a bad name. It can also be a good exercise for writers and help promote the authors they love.

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Beautiful Books: Hand of Steel

beautiful books

I’m posting early since I’ll be gone on Monday.

I decided to do one of these linkups since I haven’t done one in a while.

Questions:

  1. What were your writing achievements last year?
    I was published for a second time in Havok magazine, I did some polishing on Hand of Steel, and I wrote and edited The Red Tattoo.
  2. What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?
    Self-publish Hand of Steel, print Country in Chaos, and do more editing on The Red Tattoo. Also, maybe write some other book.
  3. Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!
    Getting Hand of Steel published. First, I want to work on printing Country in Chaos, though I do not believe I will publish it since I don’t think it’s good enough.
  4. How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?
    Hopefully with readers.
  5. Describe your general editing process.
    Write the rough draft. Leave the book to set for a few months. Rewrite. Remove big boring parts and edit anything else I see. Send out to betas. Get feedback. Fix problems. Repeat.
  6. On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?
    For Hand of Steel, pretty good, but I still have a few issues I need to work on. I’d say after the amount of editing I’ve done, it’s probably a 8.
  7. What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
    The middle.
  8. What do you like the most about your draft?
    The pacing is pretty fast, and I like my worldbuilding, even if explaining it can be hard.
  9. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
    Self-publishing. I’d try querying, but it’s too short for most presses.
  10. What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?
    Don’t expect it to be perfect. You might need to rewrite.
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The Antihero

In recent years, the antihero has risen in popularity. For those who don’t know, the definition of an antihero is “a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.”

I think what makes an antihero is someone who, though they may do the right thing, have a different mindset from traditional heroes, setting them apart from the rest of the team.

hqdefaultThere are different types of antiheroes who get stuffed into the same group. One type might be self-sacrificing but much less idealistic than the hero. Instead of having a dual with the main bad guy like a hero would, the antihero might sneak into the enemy’s tent and stab him in his sleep or just shoot him. This type may be willing to lay down his/her life for a cause, but might not be willing to do something idealistic. If the other characters are more idealistic than the reader, this can make the reader love the antihero because s/he’s the one using common sense. In another way, it may make the audience pity him/her, because this person had something bad enough happen that they’ve gone this far. Saw Gerrera from Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels is an example of this type. He’s certainly no coward, but some of his methods go too far.

The other type might be more selfish. While a hero will instantly leap into a battle and risk their lives, this type tends to hesitate. In the end, the good ones normally do the right thing, but they do it grudgingly. With heroes, it’s a given that they’ll join the fight and do the right thing, but with this antihero type, the audience is on the edge of their seat wondering if the character will do what’s right. Tony Stark/Iron Man, fits this category.

photo_902622_thumbTo some, this seems like a bad thing. Isn’t the hero supposed to be a good role model? Well, sort of, but they should also be relatable. In real life, many people will hesitate before they do something brave and risky. This is human nature. In one of these situations, it would be easy to see a normal person hesitate. Making it to the point of being a hero is journey enough.

Another reason antiheroes are liked is that they’re not chained down. They’re normally roaming through the world and have very few responsibilities, other than feeding themselves. These people have the ability to go where they want, when they want. They don’t have a boss, nagging family member, or some other responsibility tying them down. The audience can relate to this, not because they roam the world, but because they’d like to roam around in the storyworld. Who would want to stay on a moisture farm when you could be seeing the galaxy?

In the end, antiheroes shouldn’t be the only character type in a story, and they sometimes make poor main characters, but they bring much-needed moral diversity to a cast of characters.

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Recommendations of 2016

Here are some good things I discovered in 2016.

Books

Mistborn Series By Brandon Sanderson
This is a great series. The first trilogy subverts many fantasy tropes by starting a thousand years after the evil ruler took over the kingdom. The setting is a dark and gloomy fantasy dystopian. I really loved the characters, the humor, and the spiritual musings.
The sequel series is set about 300 years afterward, so it’s in the Wild West era, complete with a train robbery and even more funny characters.

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes
This is one I’d wanted to  read for a while. It’s the first of a Christian dystopian trilogy set in a world where everyone, save the main character, knows exactly when they’re going to die.

30964339Jupiter Winds by C.J. Darlington
Another Christian dystopian with space travel and extinct animals. The story’s setting was quite interesting.


Space Drifters
by Paul Regnier

A very humorous space opera about the misadventures of a starship captain and his motley crew, some of which aren’t technically his crew.

Ones I’ve already reviewed: Blood for Blood, Resistance, Shatterworld, Kenan, and Amish Vampires in Space.

 

TV and Movies

Star Wars Rebels
I’m still a big fan of Star Wars, and this show is entertaining, though not as political as The Clone Wars.

Voltron: Legendary Defender
Though the plot line of kids who fly around in giant alien mechas might seem a bit weird, it has good characters, pretty animation, and aliens. By now, you should know I’m a sucker for alien stories.

True Memoirs of an International Assassin 
An author who writes a first person story about an assassin gets kidnapped after he’s mistaken for a legendary assassin called the Ghost. This is a hilarious must for anyone who writes or has family who writes.

Captain America: Civil War
This one is pretty good and a bit more original than the average superhero movie.

Rogue One

 

Webcomics

I already did a post about this, but then I found Space Boy and a friend of mine started a writer comic called Boople Doodles. Also, Super Strike 10 is updating with more awesome pages.

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In other news, I’ve been doing some drawing. Here’s a picture I did of Savora.

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And here’s a warhound, Fury, running.fury_run_animation_by_rebel_rider-dasymgw

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Movie Review: Rogue One (SPOILERS)

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Note on ratings:

*           Horrible.
**         Below average
***       Average. Not good or bad.
****    Above average
***** Above and beyond

Content: *** (Content based off my personal level of squeamishness.)
There’s a fair amount of violence, but no swearing, sex, or immodesty. A lot of characters die, and Vader shows up with a lightsaber and slaughters people.

Originality and world building: *****
Unlike Episode VII, this film is much more original and surprising. As someone said, it’s a war movie set in the Star Wars universe. It has a new cast of characters and expands on the way the Rebels got the Death Star plans.

Characters and their Arcs: ****
The characters are fun. I liked K-2SO, who was quite funny. However, I didn’t feel a strong connection with the characters, but that’s pretty normal for me since I rarely connect well with characters. It was also neat to see a character from The Clone Wars show up, as well as some other characters from the films.

Pacing and action sequences: ****
The pacing bounced a bit in the beginning, but it quickly lined out and was easy to follow. The action sequences were good, and really felt like a war.

Addition to the Universe: *****
Its very good and a worthy addition to the universe.

Other things I liked:
The Death Star is huge and terrifying. The shots of it make it look epically massive, and seeing it’s effects from the ground is scary.
The battle scenes, on ground, are brutal and war-like, not pretty.
The space battles and scenes with aircraft look really good, with cool lighting and filming.
The setting of the planets is unique, and it was neat seeing more scenery that felt like the Star Wars universe, not just a desert for forest.
The humor is very good, just my kind of humor.

What I didn’t like:
I wish Saw Gerrera had a bigger role. He was a favorite of mine from The Clone Wars, and I was really hoping I’d get to see him fight. It was also kind of sad how bad of shape he was in. The poor guy has been through a lot. I guess I’ll just have to look forward to seeing him in Star Wars Rebels.
I’m hoping Disney doesn’t go overboard on racial diversity thing without doing some worldbuilding. I know American demographics have changed in the last forty years, but Star Wars isn’t set in the US, and this episode takes place right before the Original Trilogy.
A few characters had accents that made some words hard to understand in theaters. (At home, I like to have subtitles.)
I was also disappointed at the lack of aliens. It wouldn’t have been that hard to swap out a secondary human character for an alien of some sort.
No opening crawl.

Is it worth watching?
Yes, and even worth seeing in theaters.

My Rating:

fivestar

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Review: Amish Vampires in Space

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When Jedediah realizes his planet’s sun is dying, he is forced to use forbidden technology to save his colony, but the ship that brings their salvation has a new menace for the Amish.

 

Note on ratings:

*           Horrible.
**         Below average
***       Average. Not good or bad.
****    Above average
***** Above and beyond

Content: *** (Content based off my personal level of squeamishness.)
The title and cover should give you a pretty good idea of what happens in the story. It has vampires who drink blood and kill people. There are also people fighting vampires.

Originality and world building: *****
Considering this is the only book about Amish Vampires I’ve ever read, I’d say the idea was pretty original.
The world is fully fleshed out, and the Amish colony idea does make sense. I don’t know enough about Amish to figure out how well Nietz portrayed them, but it felt pretty real.

Characters and their Arcs: ***
The characters were a little hard to relate to, but this is probably because I’m a twenty-something girl and the main character was a forty-something man and Amish at that. I liked him, but never grew particularly attached.

Writing style and Pacing: *****
The pacing is very good. Even though this was a tad outside my genre, and I wasn’t anything like the main character, I had trouble putting the book down.

What I liked:
The writing was really good. This book is proof that pretty much any idea can be written well, even if it’s Amish Vampires. There was also some neat foreshadowing.

What I didn’t like:
The poor Amish nearly got wiped out. I felt sorry for them.
I could also tell the author didn’t agree with the characters’ lifestyle. I don’t know how that could have been avoided considering the plot. It wasn’t preachy, but it was there.

Is it worth reading?
Yes.

My Rating:

Fourhalfstar

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