Monday, June 28, 2010

5000-4999 BBY: Crosscurrent

I make this post with great hesitation.

Besides the fact that I’m back-posting on Star Wars history, and my own blog’s chronological unity has been broken again, I’m hesitant because posting on this novel in its proper timelines requires me to break the unity of the novel’s plot, which is something that does not still well with me. I have yet to decide what takes priority in the SWCP: stories as a whole, or the chronological line they follow in Star Wars history.

I ran into this problem before with the KOTOR comic series, where in issue 33, there were several flashbacks to the Barrison/Hazzan relationship. Back then, I had made the decision that I didn’t want to deal with flashbacks, but rather I’d prefer to deal with a source text as a whole, and engage with any flashbacks the medium presented in the context of its narrative. Then I posted that I regretted that decision when I had finally reached volume 6 of the KOTOR series. So now I am unsure as to what to do when a source text is broken up into several timeframes.

Looking ahead in the project, to books like Legacy of the Jedi, The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader, each are scatted all over the Star Wars timeline, and I’m going to have to make the call: Do I deal with each chapter and page as Joe Bongiorno has properly delineated as chronologically correct? Or do I follow the spirit of what this blog is all about, which is a PhD in Star Wars-ology, and simply read a book as a whole when it enters Star Wars history?

By virtue of this post, I guess I have decided to follow Star Wars history at the expense of a novel’s unity of plot, which, like I’ve said, does not sit well with me. I could possibly be dealing with the same novel four or five times in this project and I’m bothered by this notion. I think I’d rather make a post about Crosscurrent as a whole in what is its proper chronological context at 41.5 ABY, yet here I am, making a post about Crosscurrent’s first four chapters.

At the end of the day, I understand that it does not have to be one way or the other. This is, after all, my blog and I can do with it what I want. So, with all that being said, I make my post today with the disclaimer ‘I don’t like braking up the unity of a text, but for the most part, this is something that I’m going to be doing – but not always’.

Moving on, Crosscurrent, by Paul S. Kemp, begins its story in 5000 BBY, and situates itself at the heart of the Great Hyperspace War. In this narrative we are privy to the events which set in motion the dramatic dealings of the Lost Tribe of the Sith series. In its first four chapters, background is give to the lines in JJM’s story: “Fully loaded with Lignan crystals, Harbinger and Omen had readied to leave Phaegon III for the front when a Jedi starfighter tested the mining fleet’s defenses.” (LTOTS 1, PG 3).

In Crosscurrent we learn why the Harbinger failed, why it careened into the Omen, who was piloting that “Jedi starfighter” and why, and what fate awaited the crew of the Sith ships. We also learn about the fallen Jedi Saes, who Commander Korsin regarded while his own ship was plummeting to the planet of Kesh.

Again, I wish I had dealt with this source in its chronological order, because it made much sense of the first book of JJM’s Lost Tribe of the Sith series. Lines like: “Saes, captain of the Harbinger, was a fallen Jedi: an unknown quantity. You couldn’t trust someone the Jedi couldn’t trust, and they would trust just about anyone”. I remember reading that line and being mildly irritated by it because the way it was written almost felt like as a reader I was stupid for not knowing what JJM was referencing. Well, now I do.

I have three points I’d like to discuss in today’s post: the first being Sith philosophy, the second being the nature of the Force as presented in Crosscurrent, and the third being the element of the “retcon”, and how the retcon’s presented in this work (as well as in JJM’s material) has affected Star Wars history.

Firstly, a line that jumped out at me in this book was: “There was no absolute right or wrong” (pg 3), which I think speaks heavily to Sith philosophy. This is a thought which Saes, the fallen Jedi, thinks as he destroys an entire moon to retrieve Lignan crystals for the Sith war effort. I find that this thought is the truth which most people cling to in a secular humanist society, and indeed, is very Sith in nature. With this thought, the ends, whatever they may be, do indeed justify the means. Following this line of thinking through then, I believe that this premise brings about some very interesting questions and comparisons of Sith teaching when juxtaposed to present capitalist/corporate society. Indeed, I think one may be able to successfully argue that capitalism, at its very core, is an individual person’s wants, desires, and dreams, over the common good of society. If there is no “absolute” truth, if there is no “absolute” right or wrong, then each individual is “free” to interpret the world around them for themselves, and “free” to have their environment (whatever it may be. I don’t just mean environment as in ‘nature’) adapt to them, rather than the other way around. I enjoyed this line of the text, because I feel it properly sums up the dichotomy of the Sith and the Jedi: the secular vs. the sacred.

Secondly, I want to question one of Kemp’s lines. Narrating through the eyes of Relin, Saes’ former Jedi master, Kemp writes: “He (Relin) saw in that beauty the Force made manifest, a physical representation of the otherwise invisible power that served as the scaffolding of the universe. But the scaffolding was under threat. Sadow and the Sith would corrupt it” (pg 9). It’s the last line I want to focus on and nit-pick a little bit. How can Sadow, who draws his power from ‘the dark side of the Force’, then, through his use of it, corrupt that power? How does the Force come under threat through the use of the darkside? To reconcile what Kemp wrote, I guess one could argue that the Force is neither light nor darkness, and Sadow’s intent was to make the Force itself evil, so that any future Force wielder would naturally become Sith when being trained to call upon that well of power. But I’m not really sure I agree with this idea, or what Kemp meant by this. If my reckonings are correct how does Sadow, or any other darkside user “corrupt” the Force itself? It makes the Force, in my eyes, rather weak and itself a separate entity from everything else, and not something which “flows through all living things” to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi. I’m just not entirely sure what Kemp meant here. And if he means what I think he means, then that weakens what the Force is, as I understand it.

The last point of discussion I want to focus on with regards to Crosscurrent, is the idea of the “retcon”. Here, we have yet another retcon of Star Wars history, and a move by Star Wars writers to expand that time in history known as the Great Hyperspace war. I understand why writers would want to expand this section of history: to make the “Great Hyperspace War”, seem much ‘greater’ than what we have to read about. In truth, I believe that writers like Kemp and Miller have been successful with that, but adding Jedi to the mix (as both have done in their stories) voids the idea that Jedi and Sith did not have any contact prior to the attack on Kirrek and Coruscant (aka The Great Hyperspace War). I believe that the book Jedi vs. Sith, The Essential Guide to the Force, makes this point clear somewhere in its pages. I rather liked this idea. That the Sith just basically fell out of the sky on top of the Republic and caught the Jedi order unawares.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of Crosscurrent, and I’m looking forward to engaging with it again down the line. I find Kemps style easy to read and enjoyable. I enjoyed the relationship between Relin and his padawan Drev, and how Drev liked to find the humor in almost anything. I little like myself I felt.

After two months of hiatus I’m back. I’m literally on the last part of the KOTOR video game. I have the game saved right before I go in to challenge Malak, and hopefully I’ll be finishing it tonight. But expect an increase in posts over the next few weeks.

For my next post I’ll be looking at JJM’s fourth installment of the Lost Tribe of the Sith series. Untill then my friends, may the Force be with you.

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