Reflecting on The Force Awakens

I, as much as any fan, bought into the hype and excitement around Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I wrote a number of blog posts about it - more than any other movie, certainly. And generally, on reflection, I'm happy with what we got, mostly...

Now I’d like to revisit The Force Awakens from a different perspective: How to improve the version that we’ve all seen. I know, as soon as we talk about “improving” Star Wars, we get “Special Edition” fright. But the Phantom Edit and other unofficial works have shown that improvement isn't necessarily bad. Besides, there are only two places that I would prefer to have seen changes, so bear with my hypothetical "improvements."

Astronomers Find An Interesting Mystery (probably not aliens)

Interesting astronomy news breaking today (October 14, 2015):

A star 1,451 light years away from us, catalogued as KIC 8462852, is showing an odd behaviour. Up to 80% of its light disappears for between 5 and 80 days at a time, suggesting that something big is orbiting it.

We're not talking planet-sized big, we're talking big-big. For example, Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system, could have that same effect on an observer if the observer was standing on one of our outer planets, like Pluto. Pluto is about 5.5 light *hours* away from our sun. This star is 1,451 light *years* away.

Originally posted October 14, 2015 • LATEST UPDATE: January 19, 2016

TV’s Influence on Science Fiction Novels

This is the story of the frozen protagonist, but it's not fiction.

Over at SFF Chronicles, a British science fiction community website, there’s a writer's topic that’s run hot and cold for a few months now in a couple of different threads: Does a novel’s main character have to change over the course of the story? There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on this, but interestingly, most of those arguing ‘no’ are referencing TV shows as their rationale for why the character shouldn’t change.

So let’s examine that.

The Force Awakens: Star Wars’ Greatest Hits with A Few New Numbers

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Episode VII) was a good film, but not a great one, and I’m far from the only person to say so. It felt like watching an 80s rock band perform their greatest hits, with a few new numbers thrown in for good measure. Some of my friends were quite happy with that. I wasn't. (My Star Wars geek credentials are here and here.)

Yes, this has spoilers for the newest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens -- a lot of them. If you’re so inclined, see it first or forever hold your peace. UPDATED! READ ON FOR SPOILERS

Rejection: Living the Writer’s Life

This is the first year that I’ve made an effort to make money from writing fiction. The decision to start trying to create and sell short stories grew from the fact that I’m getting closer to finishing what I hope will be my first published novel. So, the time had come to start acquiring publishing credits (and contacts) through shorter works.

Everyone tells you that it will be hard, and it is. As we near the end of this year, I thought I’d share my experiences, if you're interested.

De-mythologizing the Lightsaber

Obi Wan called it a more elegant weapon from a more civilized age, but is the lightsaber really all that great a weapon?

When all we had was the original trilogy, the lightsaber appeared to be the top weapon in the food chain: it sliced, it diced, and it made limbs go away. But then George Lucas gave us the prequel trilogy. Suddenly Lightsabers were both more and less than they were before.

Pages