The Living Shadow (1931) by Walter B. Gibson ***

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The Living Shadow
by Walter B. Gibson
1931
First Appearance of The Shadow

Walter B. Gibson was a freelance reporter and crossword puzzle writer who got the break of a lifetime when he just happened to be at Street & Smith headquarters in NYC looking for reporting assignments. A radio drama called Detective Stories had an unnamed narrator who would close with the line “The Shadow knows!” and listeners wanted to know more about this narrator. Street & Smith decided to make a character out of him. Gibson was at the right place at the right moment and lobbied for the assignment. Three weeks later he had written the first Shadow novel The Living Shadow where he introduced the titular character as well as supporting characters who would appear in hundreds of novels to come. To Gibson’s dismay Street & Smith insisted he use a pen name “Maxwell Grant” in case they used fill-in writers. Of the 336 Shadow novels, only 53 were penned by someone other than Gibson. He wrote more stories about a single character than anyone else in history, including comic book writers. Gibson was a writing machine and has the world’s record for the most published words in one year, 1,680,000. He made L. Ron Hubbard look slow by comparison. He wrote two novel length Shadow stories every month and usually delivered them a week before his deadline. Gibson also wrote over a 100 books about magic.

The Living Shadow is the most reprinted Shadow adventure, not because it is the best but merely because it was the first. The Shadow barely appears and is more of a string puller, a mysterious presence, directing the action of the plot. The hero of the novel is actually Harry Vincent, one of the Shadow’s agents. We get to see the underworld of The Shadow and New York City uncovered by Vincent as he becomes more deeply involved in The Shadow’s plans. Fans of the hit radio show may be surprised to learn that The Shadow of the pulps was not the same character from the show. Lamont Cranston is not his real name is just another one of his disguises. Nobody knows who The Shadow really is. Readers would later find out that his real name is Kent Allard, WWI fighter ace turned spy. Margot Lane was also a radio invention.

The novel begins strong as Harry Vincent dives into a great mystery. However near the middle I became a bit lost as nobody but The Shadow knows what is really going on. It is not until the last chapter that we find out it was all about an over-complicated gem robbery. Street & Smith asked Gibson to set the story in Chinatown so they could reuse some artwork from a previous story. It would end up having a big impact on the character as even The Shadow film from 1994 featured a Mongolian villain. As this was written in the 30’s there is some dated slang and references. The word “chink” is used perhaps twenty times, which would be taboo now. Overall it was a decent mystery, but was merely a first chapter in an on-going saga of crime.

3 Crimelords Outta 5

Last and First Men (1930) by Olaf Stapleton ***

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Last and First Men is probably the most unique sf novel I have ever read. Conceived as a future history of humanity the novel features almost no individual characters, no three act structure, and little dialogue. The basic concept is that a highly evolved human being 2 billion years in the future is sending a message back in time to us, the first humans in the 1920s (when the book was written). What he tells us is the history of our species for the next 2 billion years. In that time homo sapiens eventually go extinct but not before a new species of human evolves or is created. In all of the millions of years to come 18 distinct species carry on the human “career.” Some modern critics believe one should start with Chapter 4 and skip Stapleton’s speculation about the 20th and 21st centuries but I found those early chapters to be very interesting. As this was written before 1933 Stapleton would have had no idea about the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Therefore, he thought that it would be Italy who would start World War II. It’s an interesting historical artifact to read what an educated Brit thought the world was becoming before the actual WWII changed everything.

Stapleton still got many things right. The world eventually moves towards a one-world-government, nuclear war is a real threat to all life on Earth, and humans of this age are too stupid and irresponsible to exist with such high technology. We destroy ourselves. Out of the ashes come two new species. One that is more intelligent and has larger a brain than us and one that reverts back to Neanderthal savagery. The Second Men eventually fight a brutal war with Mars. The Martians in this book are unlike any alien I have ever read about but they are clearly inspired by H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds. They are in fact so alien that the humans don’t even realize that they are being attacked from another planet but believe it is some kind of Earth born plague at first. I can see why so many have lauded Stapleton’s vivid imagination. He seemed like an interesting man. He wrote books about philosophy before being inspired by Wells to write scientifiction (as it was then called).

The only complaint I have about this bizarre yet fascinating book is that it’s too long. I thought it would be over by the evolution of the Fifth Men, but no, it goes on for another 1.5 billion years until the 18th Men are living on Neptune. Obviously Stapleton’s knowledge of the outer solar system was only as good as the scientific data of the day. Pluto was discovered the year this book was first published. None of Stapleton’s works, even his more traditional narrative novels, have been adapted into films or TV series so he is not well read these days. However his influence on sf writers who came later was huge. Of Last and First Men Arthur C. Clarke said this: “No other book had a greater influence on my life.” H.P. Lovecraft was also fan: “Last and First Men—a volume which to my mind forms the greatest of all achievements in the field that Master Ackerman would denominate ‘scientifiction.’ Its scope is dizzying—and despite a somewhat disproportionate acceleration of the tempo toward the end, and a few scientific inferences which might legitimately be challenged, it remains a thing of unparalleled power. It has the truly basic quality of a myth, and some of the episodes are of matchless poignancy and dramatic intensity.”

In the final summation it’s a unique work of imagination and speculation. It really gets the creative juices flowing and is not like anything else I have ever read. It can be challenging or even boring to read as the human race itself is the main character but I’m still glad to have read it. The influence of the book is obvious. Frank Herbert probably read it as the idea of ancestral memories brought out by the Water of Life is similar to a concept in this book. Also Herbert’s scope of time in the Dune series seems familiar to Stapleton’s idea of history repeating itself. There are so many concepts in this book that were never thought of previously. I disagree with many of Stapleton’s conjectures (such as religion still being a thing millions of years in the future) but his ideas are different and probably plausible.

So it’s really a novel for the true science fiction fan who wants to read something different, something that is more famous for it’s influence, but I would call it a good experience in the end.

3 epochs outta 5

Last and First Men is in the public domain.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Last_and_First_Men.pdf

2018 Oscar Round-up

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The billboards in the title say this:
RAPED WHILE DYING
AND STILL NO ARRESTS?
HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?

Frances McDormand (famous for Fargo and pretty much nothing else) is the mother of a murdered daughter and uses her life savings to rent the billboards to light a fire under the cops. The DNA from the rape kit matches no known felon, there were no witnesses, and no suspects. It happens. But the angry mother must blame someone. She could blame herself as she is the one who brought a victim into the world.

Woody Harrelson is Chief Willoughby. A character who immediately is sympathetic once you realize he did everything he could to solve the crime. Oh he also has terminal cancer. The shitier cop is played by Sam Rockwell and he really is the star of the movie, as he is the only character who changes. But even though he goes from criminal assault to actually trying to do his job, I never felt any sympathy for him. Primarily because this film is just so badly written. I wouldn’t think that even a first year film student could write something so illogical and nonsensical.

McDormand’s character lights the police hq on fire, is not arrested or charged with any crime despite the fact that Rockwell is seriously burned. This director really doesn’t understand how the law works. Rockwell is sitting in the police station (but with earphones on!) yet he doesn’t notice the raging inferno around him. Maybe the fact that the room he is in is getting brighter and brighter would tip him off? The Rockwell cop character also beats an innocent man nearly to death and throws him out of a window in broad daylight right in front of his new captain and about 20 witnesses. He loses his job but is not arrested or charged with any crime. Is Ebbing, Missouri a town that’s in a state of anarchy or what?

This movie sucked.

2 stars outta 5

Nominations:
Best actress Frances McDormand
Best actor in a supporting role Woody Harrelson
Best actor in a supporting role Sam Rockwell

Lady Bird

This is another one of those identity politics movies that gets nominated for awards even though it’s nothing more than an after school special. But it’s got gay dudes, token minorities, fat acceptance, 9/11 references, girl power… it’s got all of that shit. It’s supposedly a coming of age story but the main character played by Saoirse Ronan learns nothing by the end and simply returns to being the exact same person she was before the movie started. It’s the story of a really lame rebellion phase. It’s also supposed to be a comedy but I didn’t laugh once. It’s boring, it’s set in 2002 for no reason, and nothing happens.

This movie super sucked.

1 star

So naturally it is nominated for …
Best Picture
Best director Greta Gerwig
Best actress Saoirse Ronan
Best supporting actress Laurie Metcalf

I, Tonya

Finally a watchable movie. It does help that I am a fan of ladies figure skating. I watched the entire 4 hour version of the free skate this Olympics, but not on NBC of course. They decided to show boring bobsledding and skiing instead. How many times can you watch someone slide down a hill before you get bored to death? But I digress. The figure skating in this movie is a special effect of course as Margot Robbie is no Olympic figure skater. She is also wildly miscast and looks nothing like Tanya Harding. The fact that Harding is frumpy white trash is a big part of her character arc so casting a stick-thin Australian fox seems misguided. Maybe she lobbied for the part… who knows, but it doesn’t work.

The skating scenes are still very well done as the camera gets the viewer right on the ice with her. The only problems come up when Robbie’s face has to be digitally placed on top of the face of the double. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it just looks uncanny. The way to go for this movie would have been to cast a real ice skater and just cast better known actors around her in supporting roles. The movie also strangely views Harding as a victim, as if she had no idea that her husband was going to have her rival Nancy Kerrigan attacked. But still this biopic was better than most of the other crap getting nominated for awards  this year.

3 stars

Nominations:
Best actress Margot Robbie
Best supporting actress Allison Janney

The Post

While perhaps a bit too long, this is heads above that other newspaper movie Spotlight that undeservedly won Best Picture in 2016. It would be quite a feat if this movie was bad considering the talent involved. Spielberg and Hanks shine as usual with beautiful lighting courtesy of Janusz Kaminski. The plot of course covers the famous Pentagon Papers which showed that the government knew the US was losing in Vietnam but kept sending conscripted teenagers to die anyways. The Washington Post thought that publishing the classified papers could potentially ruin the paper but in the end it resulted in a sales boom. Honestly my favorite part about it was just seeing how news was printed and consumed in ancient times.

3 stars

Nominations:
Best Picture
Best actress Meryl Streep

Braven ***

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Braven is a 2018 action movie vehicle for Jason Momoa. It co-stars Stephen Lang as Momoa’s dad (he looks nothing like him but whatever), and the versatile Garret Dillahunt as the psychopathic heavy.

I have to say this is probably one of the better movies I’ve seen this year. It was just refreshing to see a well-told unpretentious action movie that introduces all of the archetypes, the beautiful setting of Newfoundland, the conflict, and then lets it all play out over a period of one day.

The conflict arises when Momoa takes his mentally ailing father to their hunting cabin to reconnect and they both discover that someone has stashed a million bucks worth of quality H in their tool shed. If you have seen Commando then you know where this is going. The criminals come at the two with paramilitary precision and weaponry and the simple blue collar father and son team must defend themselves with only a rifle, a bow and arrow, fire, and some tools. Some of the kills are clever and have never been done before. The villain is ruthless and charismatic. The setting is, as mentioned, a nice change of scenery. The music is also pretty good.

Braven is the directorial debut of long time stunt coordinator Lin Oeding. Momoa is great as the lead. I just wanted to see more of him. I would like to see a sequel to this more like Rambo II where we won’t need any exposition and we can just get to the action.

3 bear traps outta 5

A Quiet Place ***

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Plot holes the size of an Abrams tank hurt this film but I did still enjoy it and can see why it was a minor hit. It’s an interesting premise and it moves with constant tension and action. Much like with The Walking Dead the viewer is constantly befuddled by nagging internal questions like “Well why didn’t they just soundproof an apartment building next to a supermarket and just chill for the rest of their lives?” Or “Why didn’t they soundproof ANYTHING?” Or “Why don’t they watch their kids better?” Or “Why in the fuck would you get pregnant in the Apocalypse?” But other than that it’s still a fun movie. I sadly saw it in a theater with a sci-fi movie playing next door so my experience was not as “quiet” as I would have liked.

3 weaponized hearing aids outta 5

The Field (1990) ***

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I wanted to watch something Irish for St. Patrick’s Day to go along with my Guinness bread, vegan Shepherd’s Pie, and cabbage so it was finally time to watch this thing.

My initial comment on the DVD is that the transfer is of poor quality. I have only seen two other DVD/blu-rays that were this bad and those were The Whole Wide World (the Robert E. Howard biopic) and Wall Street. We are so used to seeing dust and scratch free images now that it’s unusual to see a dirty transfer. But I will say it wasn’t as bad as those other two films and it didn’t impact the experience too badly. The sound was fine.

The story is about a psychopathic old tenant farmer played by Richard Harris and his mentally handicapped son played by a young Sean Bean. They live in squalor and are obsessed with a three acre piece of land that they have worked for a generation even though they do not own it. But the Harris character ‘Bull’ McCabe thinks he owns it because he’s worked it so long. Welcome to capitalism Mr. McCabe!

He says there is a difference between “The Law” which says the owner can sell it anytime she wants to and “The Law of the Land” which he says entitles him to the field because he dug so many rocks out of it over the years. So he already is clearly not on board the reality train. But the people of this rocky, barely habitable Irish fjord are nice people and when the field goes up for auction they will allow the crazy old man to be the single unopposed bidder. Until… in a direct contrast to the worn out downtrodden Irish in comes a smooth as silk Yank, played by Tom Berenger, who offers more than the old man could ever afford.

I don’t know if this was the filmmaker’s intent but I immediately sided with the Berenger character. Not only is he a smooth dresser who drives a cool car, but his family came from that town and he wants to build a dam on the land, a project that would create badly needed jobs and cheap electricity. Set in the ‘30s this town is still such a backwater that there are no electric lights in most of the homes. But Bull can’t have this, he must have HIS land so he murders Berenger in cold blood with his son’s help. Catholic guilt is a real thing and after getting scolded by the town priest, McCabe goes “super crazy” and then the real killing in earnest begins.

The photography, locations, music, and acting are all excellent. Harris especially carries the movie. However I kept wanting to see more of the civilized American. Berenger had to be one of the most handsome men in Hollywood at that time. He just stands out so sharply against the dirt poor and crazy Irish. John Hurt is even lower class than McCabe as a toothless barely understandable stooge. Everyone but the American and the priest is dirty, drunken, and poor. So very, very poor. So it’s not exactly a “fun” movie. Many animals are killed throughout and that was a turn off for my wife. I don’t know how they accomplished the animals dying, whether they used corpses or dummies, but hopefully they didn’t actually kill them just for the movie.

So it’s probably not the best St. Patty’s Day movie to watch but the acting is so good that I have to at least give it…

3 shamrocks outta 5

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi *

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John Williams is probably the only reason I don’t give it zero stars. It’s sad that his name has to be associated with this disaster. Same for Mark Hamill. He’s making millions off this trilogy so I can’t say I blame him for doing it, but if it weren’t for the money I’m sure he would have told Disney to take a hike after he read the script.

Luke here is a coward, traitor, and curmudgeon. Hmm, I seem to ‘member him being selfless, brave, and optimistic. He burns down a Jedi Temple and all of it’s sacred texts. He says “The Jedi must be destroyed.” WTF??

J.J. Abram’s made us care about Rey’s (the new female Luke) mysterious origins in the last movie. He made it seem like her parents were somebody. Same with the Sith Lord Snoke. We never find out who he is either. Last Order? No idea who they are or how they came to be. Clearly Disney wrote no backstory.

And yes, Leia flies through the vacuum of space without a space suit. The problem with that is 1) even Lord Vader (the most powerful Jedi of all time) couldn’t do that and 2) we’ve never seen Leia use The Force except to communicate with Luke. But now she can’t even do that, but she can survive in the vacuum of space and fly like Supergirl. And that’s a huge problem with this movie. The Force is way too strong. Luke uses it to “enter the Matrix” for chrissakes. Vader never did that. The Emperor never did that. Kylo (the new boyishly lame Vader) and Rey use it to talk across light years of space like it’s a walkie talkie. And apparently it doesn’t even take years of training to master it any more. Luke teaches Rey nothing, she just becomes a Jedi on her own.

Not only is this the worst Star Wars movie by far, it’s one of the worst blockbusters ever made. Nothing makes sense. If the chrome stormtrooper Phasma has armor that can repel blaster fire then why wouldn’t every stormtrooper have that armor? Why did Luke make a map to himself if he just wanted to be left alone to die? It’s an epic fail of storytelling besides destroying the legacy of the original movies. Everything the Rebellion fought for is completely meaningless now. Vader’s sacrifice? Pointless. It stole many of the plot points from the old movies again. It’s just a train wreck. I would compare it to The Matrix 3 or Highlander 2 for it’s incompetent mishandling of a series.

1 fan film outta 5

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me ***

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This documentary film by Drew DeNicola tells the story of a little known but influential rock band from the ’70s. If you are a fan of The Jesus and Mary Chain, REM, or The Replacements then you’ve probably heard of these guys or at least would recognize the influence. The primary force in the band was Alex Chilton, singer of the ’60s hit “The Letter.” He wrote most of the songs with lead guitar player Chris Bell. Responsible for the engineering of the pretentiously titled “#1 Album” Bell dropped out of the band after the record failed to go #1 or even close. After destroying the master tapes the rest of his life was a downward slide of drugs, depression, and religion. He died in 1978 in a car crash.

Chilton likewise was a madman and abandoned the project that he would be best known for. Big Star only made three albums with the third one not even getting published until years after it was recorded. The documentary goes to great lengths show how bad marketing and an ahead of it’s time sound kept the music from gaining popularity. Well that’s life isn’t it? No one is owed anything no matter how talented. Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting while he was alive.

This doc is very well done and engaging but because the lifespan of Big Star was so short it lacks gravitas. Chilton would go on experiment with the punk sound and became a producer for The Cramps and other lesser known bands. Even though he said he hated Big Star he saw where the money was finally and reformed them in ’90s to capitalize on the Nirvana trend. He died in 2010. It’s not a great film, but it is very good and recommended for fans of indie/alternative music.

3 Big Stars Outta 5

Triplanetary by E.E. Smith ***

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Alongside Asimov’s Foundation, Burrough’s Barsoom, Herbert’s Dune, and Heinlein’s Future History, E.E. Smith’s Lensman series is a seminal universe in science fiction. The first book in the series is called Triplanetary and establishes a united “federation” of planets allying Earth, Venus, and Mars. The beginning of the novel starts with an attack on Triplanetary by a “death star,” an artificial moon that is all but unstoppable. It uses “tractor beams” and “shields” to disable the Triplanetary ships and withstand their attacks. If it came out now it would seem to borrow heavily from the worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars, but it was in fact the other way around. This was the first novel to coin the term “tractor beam” and first to invent invisible shields around space ships (called “screens”). It was also the first to use phaser beams (called “projectors” by Smith).

No one loves Doc Smith’s work for it’s incredibly insightful three-dimensional characters or for it’s witty dialogue. No, this is a war story pure and simple and is about shit gettin’ blow’d up. It’s great pulp action and was way ahead of it’s time. Smith had a keen understanding of science and technology and he packed this adventure yarn to the gills with it. It also features enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.

As the “death star” is about to completely obliterate the entire Triplanetary fleet… swooping in out of light speed comes an alien race to attack Earth. So a human civil war immediately turns, mid battle, into a fight for species survival. The aliens are interesting and original and their method of killing is… unusual. They suck all of the iron from the body, leaving behind a bloodless white shell.

Many critics lament that Smith was merely a pulp writer who never elevated his work to that artistic level of his most famous pupil, Robert Heinlein, but he did actually have a flair for description:

“Above her, ruddy Mars and silvery Jupiter blazed in splendor ineffable against a background of utterly indescribable blackness–a background thickly besprinkled with dimensionless points of dazzling brilliance which were the stars.”

Heinlein named many of his characters “Smith” in honor of his biggest influence, including Valentine Michael Smith of Stranger in a Strange Land. In addition to it’s influence on all of the epic science fiction that followed, including Star Trek and Star Wars, the novel also directly inspired Steve Russell to create the original video game Spacewar! in 1962. Even though sf has grown up out of space opera and pulpy adventure, this novel is still a fun read and would definitely make good young adult reading.

I read and reviewed the original version of the story as it appeared in Amazing Stories in 1934. Smith did go back and add a few chapters to better tie it in to his later novels in 1948. I heard that the original edit was better. This book is in the public domain and can be found online.

3 projector beams outta 5

Tales of the Jedi *****

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Tales of the Jedi is a Dark Horse comic series consisting of seven graphic novels. I had time to read them all after I was laid up after foot surgery. This series, which began in 1993 and ran until 1998, was one of the first stories to be told in the Expanded Universe after the Star Wars franchise had pretty much died out. There was of course the Marvel comic book series which told stories about Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo until 1986 when it was canceled. After the cancellation of Lucas’ Ewoks and Droids cartoon series, the property laid dormant for almost ten years. The resurgence of interest began in 1991 with the publishing of Heir to the Empire by Timothey Zahn, the first of the post Return of the Jedi novels. Back then Lucas still had input in these materials. Tales of the Jedi is based upon notes given to the writers by Lucas himself. The first two graphic novels are about the origin of the Sith race and how they came to be controlled by a Dark Jedi. Now the word Sith goes hand in hand with the term Dark Jedi, but the Sith were originally a red-skinned humanoid race that formed the basis of a Dark Side empire on the other side of the galaxy from the Old Republic.

The tale begins 5,000 years before A New Hope. In this time the galaxy is not yet fully explored. Hyperspace jumps are extremely dangerous because navigation computers have not been invented yet. So only the bravest or most desperate explorers take random jumps hoping to find a new trade route and gain wealth and fame. A brother and sister team accidentally discover a Sith homeworld and inadvertently lead them back to the Old Republic. And so begins the first Sith War.

This story was excellent, although short, and gives a good backstory to the whole Dark Side/Light Side of The Force. Lightsabers have cords connected to power packs that were worn on the back or belt. It’s a nice touch, showing that we are in the old days of the Republic. After this introductory story, the narrative then leaps forward a thousand years.

The later five graphic novels all tell a connected self-contained story with the same characters. This is where it gets good. The main characters are two young Jedi brothers, Ulic Qel-Droma and Cay Qel-Droma, and a female Jedi, Nomi Sunrider. Their masters are good characters as well but it is the students who have the greatest character arcs. I especially liked Nomi Sunrider, someone who never wanted to be a Jedi Knight. I love this cover by Dave Dorman of the moment Nomi first picks up a lightsaber and realizes that she is a Force sensitive. It has such a mythic-religious aura about it. I even like how Dorman painted the rim lighting on her hair to resemble a halo.

Her husband is a Jedi Knight who is surprised and murdered by a band of thieves. To protect her child she picks up his lightsaber and cuts them all down with remarkable ease. The Force guides her to her husband’s master and she begins her training. But throughout the story she is a true pacifist and refuses to pick up a lightsaber again. She is not merely Luke with boobs (as Rey is) but a feminine mother protector. She eventually falls in love with the doomed Jedi Ulic Qel-Droma.

The story centers on a resurgence of Sith power on a backwater planet. Ancient Sith texts and artifacts from the previous story are discovered and once the dark techniques are mastered, the new Sith begin to easily start taking over again. One of the brothers in the story, Ulic Qel-Droma thinks that he can learn to control the Dark Side, but as always, he succumbs to it and joins the enemy. So you end up with brother vs. brother and lover vs. lover. It’s pure Greek tragedy.

Tales of the Jedi was co-written by Tom Veitch and science fiction writer (co-author of the Dune Universe) Kevin J. Anderson. The art in the series is not the best, but it is also not the worst. This series came out during the comic book boom of the ‘90s when artists were being paid more than any other time in history. Star Wars was not a best-selling property then so they had to make do with what they had. One interesting thing the editors did was have one artist draw the characters and another draw all the tech like ships and weapons.

What really makes this series great is that it was adapted into a series of audio dramas sold on cassette and CD. These were full productions with professional actors, sound effects, and music. I am kind of surprised at how well these radio plays brought this story to life and elevated the characters in my mind. The writers of the dramas expanded and clarified the story from the comic series making it into a movie of the mind’s eye. The only bad thing about it is that they weren’t able to finish it. The audio drama stops mid-way through the saga. Probably because the series kept going until 1998 and by then audio dramas weren’t selling well.

Now that Star Wars is done as a film property, I have turned to the books and comics that I missed or could not afford in the ‘90s. The stories were based upon George Lucas’ notes and are much truer to the original saga. Tales of the Jedi could easily be adapted into a film trilogy. The audio drama is essentially a film without the pictures.

5 Dark Siders Outta 5

You can listen to it on YouTube. The entire story was also released in a series of two large omnibus editions from Dark Horse. The video game The Knights of the Old Republic was inspired by this series. It takes place 40 years after these events.