Monday, September 13, 2010

1002 - 1000 BBY: Darkness Shared

Darkness Shared is a sad story of the senselessness of war. Good does not overcome evil in a grand moment of victory; but darkness does manage to snuff out the light in an obliterating gesture of rage. This is a story about two beings wrapped in their own feelings of hatred seeking mutually assured destruction.

On the surface, Darkness Shared seems like a story where neither the lightside nor the darkside of the Force gains victory, since Crain Maru and Koax Krul are both destroyed in the end. But when one examines the outcome, the day was won by the darkside of the force.

It was the darkside that won at the end of this story, because Crain Maru was unable to deal with the loss of her padawan at the hands of a Sith. In her final duel with Krul, she let her anger and rage lead her actions, and in doing so, lead herself to her own destruction. I felt sympathetic to Crain’s fall to the darkside, but her fall did not come as any great surprise. Her inability to find peace and then repose in that peace is what separated her from knighthood to mastery. Crian knew this was a weakness she had to overcome, but unfortunately she ran out of time to find a solution to this particular flaw. As Slavicsek writes at the beginning of the tale: “Crian Maru sat rigid in her chair, using every meditative exercise she knew to remain calm and in control. She wasn't sure how the Jedi Masters did it. They always looked so serene, so at peace. Perhaps she would eventually achieve such a constant state of quiet reflection and confidence, the conditions that she believed separated a Jedi Knight from a Jedi Master.” Crain was not able to find that state of quite reflection and confidence, especially in the heat of battle with a marauder of the Sith.

Originally printed in Gamer #5, Darkness Shared now resides on the pages of Hyperspace – the home for lost and forgotten short stories from the Star Wars universe. Like most stories on Hyperspace, Darkness Shared is a gem of a tale.

Bill Slavicsek, writer of the original Star Wars roleplaying game, and editor and creative designer of a plethora of roleplaying material, is a legend in his industry. It’s interesting that he hasn’t written more short stories for Star Wars – I wish he had.

Darkness Shared is a tight little narrative which reveals a simple yet complex understanding of the nature of the Force. What I enjoyed about this story were the small nuances: how the weather performed as a secondary character, and how the thesis of the story was Crain’s inability to move to a higher appreciation of the Force.

I also enjoyed Crain’s description of the Force. She understood the Force as music – a song within her soul. But what was most interesting about this was that this wasn’t how all Jedi understood the Force. The perception of the Force by each Jedi was unique: “Other Jedi explained it differently. Her Master had described it as an omnipresent mist that swirled and drifted constantly around him. Dree described it as a still pond; when it rippled, it told her things.” This personal description of the Force reminded of how Hindus understand God. Many people think that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, when it fact it is a deeply monotheistic one. Hindus worship Brahman – the ultimate and transcendent reality, a singular force. The way they worship Brahman is through devotion to particular Gods or Goddess: Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Krishna, Ganesh, etc. All of these Gods and Goddesses are representations of Brahman, and each one is a simple aspect of the ultimate reality that can be comprehended by the limited human mind. Yet all of these Gods are Brahman, for Brahman is multi-faceted and beyond a singular definition. All representations of Brahman are true and correct. As each person sees God (all that which is good and benevolent), so it is God.

A new way of understanding of the Force was one extremely cool aspects of this story, as was the description of Koax Krul’s armour. A mixture of Sith individualism and Sith alchemy, Krul’s armour is a fascinating piece of equipment: “He wore black body armour of his own design. It consisted of protective padding and composite plates crafted into an intricate pattern that glorified the Sith and the Brotherhood of Darkness. He had also used Sith alchemy to imbue the armour with dark side energy, creating a barrier that provided some protection against the abilities of the Jedi. He was proud of the work he had done, both the menial construction and the application of Sith magic, and he wore the armour as a symbol of his faith in the dark side of the Force.” I wonder, exactly, what Krul had done to his armour, and how his knowledge of Sith alchemy benefited his suit. Moreover, I wonder where Krul learned to use Sith alchemy, as it seemed from the Darth Bane novel, such things were not really practiced at the Sith academy on Korriban – it’s focus seemed mostly hand-to-hand combat.

What I most enjoyed about this story though, was its intertexuality. Written in 2004, this story built upon the trade paperback comic Jedi vs. Sith and the events and characters there – Lord Hoth and Lord Kaan being the characters referred to. Jedi vs. Sith first came on the scene in 2001. Darkness Shared expanded upon that story, and after it came Karpyshyn’s novel in 2006, Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. This was followed by Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force in 2007, which contains elements of Path of Destruction (and a source I’ll cover when I’ve completed the Bane trilogy). What is more, each of these texts covered a different genre: it started in the comic format, moved to the short story, then to the novel, and then to reference guide. I love how Star Wars literature is scaffolded upon itself, and the meaning of one text is shaped by another text and another author. The Story of Darth Bane is not one author’s story, but belongs to Darko Macan, Bill Slavicsek, Drew Karpyshyn, Ryder Windham, and us – the readers of these texts. I sometimes think that Star Wars literature is a giant experiment in poststructuralism – maybe I’ve found my actual PhD thesis?

At the end of the day, I really enjoy engaging with sources that are found on Hyperspace. But I do need some clarification from more knowledgeable sources: is Hyperspace going away? I remember getting an e-mail about Hyperspace but I can’t remember what it said. It left me with the general impression that Hyperspace as we know it will soon no longer exists. Someone correct or verify my understanding here. I convinced myself that Hyperspace would be shut down, so in response I copied all the stories from it – all 200+ stories, and saved them all to a file on my computer. It took me nearly a week to do it too!

Anyway…for my next post I’ll be looking at the trade paperback Jedi vs. Sith – the progenitor of the Bane narrative. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. Yeah, I really liked this story, too. I thought it fit well into the general characterization of this era as a dark age that only begins to end once the Brotherhood of Darkness is destroyed.
    As for Hyperspace, it is ending (I forget when; maybe sometime early next year?), meaning there won't any longer be an official fan club with its own separate, members-only section of the official site. As far as I know, we've yet to hear whether the content in Hyperspace will disappear or be made available to everyone.

  2. I think that's an interesting way of looking at this story.

    Regarding Hyperspace, I hope it's simply transformed into a free site for all Star Wars fans to enjoy.

    I also wondered about the content and copied and pasted everything into word files so in case it does disappear I have a back-up.

    I hope they still add content. I don't see why they wouldn't.