Friday, November 5, 2010

3960 BBY: The Lost Tribe of the Sith: Purgatory

The Lost Tribe of the Sith series has grown on me.

I like what JJM is doing with these small e-novellas and the fact that they are being produced on a nearly tri-annual basis. I was a little wary of the series after the third installment Paragon. I thought JJM was going to write a small little trilogy about some lost Sith and that was that. I enjoyed Savior, the last installment, but at the time I thought it was a little gratuitous because I wasn’t sure what JJM was going for or what the purposes of these novellas were. With the completion of the fifth title in the series, Purgatory, I think I see what JJM is doing: he’s exploring the story of Sith culture as it grows in isolation from the rest of the galaxy, and he’s connecting in novella form all of his Star Wars tales. I at first thought he was only going to tell a short story about some abandoned Sith, but his Lost Tribe series is more than that – it’s an exploration of the Sith mindset, Sith governance, the Sith people, and an exploration of a culture that glorifies the individual and places societies’ emphasis on the “me” and not the “we”. I see now that JJM will weave these stories through his already established ones in the KOTOR series, and will most likely entwine these novellas into his new story cycle Knight Errant.

JJM has recreated something new in Star Wars literature that resembles and reminds me of the early work of famous American writers. Artists like Henry James and Mark Twain used to have their short stories regularly published in magazines. At the time of these small publications James and Twain weren’t the literary giants they are today (with that being said though, they were recognized by their contemporaries as excellent artists), and had to produce something to make ends-meat. Many famous writers of American and English literature would write short stories and look for a magazine to publish them in, and they were usually paid by the word. If I remember correctly (and I’m not sure I do), I think James’ novel The Golden Bowl was originally published in a magazine in parts over the span of many months. It was a way for these writers to showcase their work, and generate interest so they could sell novels. Once a writer had written the entire story over the span of many magazines, he would then find a publisher to run the complete story in book form.

It’s only a matter of time before all of JJM’s novellas are collated and made into paper and print format for us to buy. And once this is done I myself will buy a copy because, as I’ve said before, I like to have a hard copy of Star Wars stories, complete with book jacket and pretty cover page sitting on my bookshelf. I like to have a material item I can flip through, reference, and handle.
Again, it is this reason that I love the format of the Star Wars Adventure Journal so much. It was a quarterly publication that contained five to six short stories per issue with some characters from these short stories included in many of the journals. The stories of Alex Winger, for example, run from Adventure Journals one through seven, and she appears again in issue twelve.

I know I’ve harped on about this before, but I would truly love to see the Adventure Journal format get picked up again because it’s a format which is conducive to what JJM is doing with his Lost Tribe series. I think JJM’s work is showing that Star Wars storytelling needs this medium (the short story medium) to come to life again. The e-format is nice because it’s free and easy to access. But at the same time I'm not a fan of the electronic formate becuase I’m not one of those in the literary world prognosticating the end of print media as we know it. I also don't subscribe to the idea that eventually all books will be placed in electronic format for our iPads to download. No matter what is said, I don’t believe any piece of electronic media can replace the book. Maybe I’m not seeing the writing on the wall, but I don’t feel like I actually own a story the way I do when it’s on my shelf as opposed to my hard-drive.

I suppose for the Star Wars Adventure Journal to be re-born a new company has to come along and purchase the Star Wars RPG license since it was originally West End Games who published the Journals. Since Wizard of the Coast has discontinued producing Star Wars RPG material, the fate and future of the game is in question. Does anyone reading this blog know what is happening or what might happen with the Star Wars RPG license? Has it been picked up again? Will Star Wars RPG material be produced once more? I’ve daydreamed of starting a gaming company with a bunch of other people, pooling our money, and buying the license so the Star Wars RPG can come to life again. I know this is a pipe-dream, considering the 800 pound gorilla in the RPG gaming world, WOTC, couldn’t handle the license itself. If not WOTC who is supposed to step in and take over?

Take a look at the fan fiction being produced at There must be hundreds of stories there with the archive going back nearly 10 years. This is the Star Wars Adventure Journal in seed form. I would love to see the most highly rated stories from this archive printed in a book (five or six stories per issue), complete with artwork (artwork which could also be fan produced. Head over to the swtor forums and see some of the brilliant Star Wars art being produced there) coupled with RP stats of the main characters involved. I’m sure the rights to these stories could be purchased and a low cost, the benefit to the writers and artist being their work becomes Star Wars canon. It could also have the added benefit of launching some of these fabulous writers and artist into possible Star Wars careers.

One man’s wild dream, that’s all.

I think in this post I was supposed to talk about JJM’s Purgatory, wasn’t I?

Alas, funnily enough, I haven’t much to say about it. Brining the legacy of the stranded Sith on Kesh ahead a millennium and into the history of the KOTOR comic series, JJM introduces us to Jelph Marrian, a Jedi shadow on the run. Ultimately I thought it neat that JJM included in this narrative the character of the Jedi Shadow. I wonder if he was one of the faces shown on Lucien Draay's holo-screen from KOTOR voulme 5 (Vectors 1)? Presumably in the employ of Lucien Draay, Jelph Marrian, a knight in the Jedi Covenant, knew he couldn’t return to the Covenant after its defeat at the hands of the Jedi Order. Sending himself into self-imposed exile he headed for deep space, only to find himself marooned on a planet full of Sith: his worst nightmare come true. The story of Purgatory ends with Jelph caught up in the affairs of Ori – his love interest and a disposed member of the Sith ruling class. As JJM writes: “He was a lone Jedi on an entire planet full of Sith. His existence threatened them—but their existence threatened everything.”

I’m looking forward to JJM’s next instalment of the series. In the meantime I’ve decided to read and comment on Knight Errant, so for my next post I’ll engage with Influx, the new Knight Errant story by JJM found on Hyperspace. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. I'm pretty sure no company has picked up the license for an rpg since WotC dropped it. I've heard that LFL charges a very high price for that license, so it's not surprising that none of the smaller companies have invested in it.
    I agree with you about the Adventure Journal. The closest we've had to it has been Hyperspace, which gave us fantastic articles like "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji," "The Written Word," and the Xim material. Unfortunately, Hyperspace is being discontinued soon. I'm particularly disappointed since I now qualify to write official Star Wars material (I recently got my first article in a professional journal published, and I have another forthcoming), but with Hyperspace ending, it looks like I've missed my chance (although I have to admit it was mostly a pipe dream anyway).

  2. I had no idea that there were requirements for writing Star Wars material, but now that I think of it, it makes sense. How wild would that be, to have your Star Wars worked published and codified!!! Drop me a line at the swtor forums and send me the information to access your article. I wouldn't mind giving it a read.

    I would be so pumped if you started writing Star Wars lore, and I'm not convinced it's a pipe dream at all.

  3. I sent you a pm over at the swtor forums.

    It's my understanding that in order to be eligible to write official Star Wars material you have to have published your own stuff first. The only recent exception I know of to this rule is that a few of the winners of the "What's the Story?" contest (which allowed fans to submit backstories for a few minor background characters and technology from the films) were given the chance to write stuff for Hyperspace. Some of the best Hyperspace articles came about this way, particularly "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji," "The Written Word," and "Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd."

  4. I've been slowly collecting issues of the Adventure Journal which were missing from my collection, and along the lines of the Hypersapce contest, in the first few issues there is an advertisement for people to submit their stories. I wish I had submitted stories at the time to possibly see some of my own work in print, but at the time I really didn't think of writing Star Wars material. Since I've been doing this project I have all kinds of story ideas now. I think when I'm done with the SWCP I'm going to focus on finishing some bits of writing I did after my thesis, and when that's done I might put my energies to writing Star Wars lore.

    It's at moments like this Rod Stewart's song "I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger" pops into my head.

    As it is, since I've been filling in my Adventure Journal collection and going over the books again I've been falling in love with them.

  5. Dan, Jason, and JJM strike again! Since you're planning on doing Knight Errant: Influx next, you could also cover their new tie-in: As a bonus, it's also a tie-in to the Essential Atlas, so it'll give you a good sense of just how amazingly awesome that book is.

  6. These guys are too much for me. They constantly produce epic material. I took a peek at it last night and my geekery went to an all-time high, especially the ending about the Children of Mani. I can't *wait* to sink my teeth into this one.