Category Archives: Stories

A Broad Look into the New Star Wars Canon

*Material recent as of Oct. 27

It’s no secret that I’m a big Star Wars fan. In 1997, on their 20th anniversary release, my cousin took me to the theaters and that was the beginning of my fandom. I wrote a little bit about Star Wars recently by reposting the original Tumblr post (and if you go back a bit, I wrote reviews on a few of the other great Star Wars “Legends” books as well – Thrawn Series, Darth Bane).

Today, I want to write a bit about the new canon.  Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, and in 2014 announced that  previous Expanded Universe stories would fall into the Legends banner and not be included in the official canon. From there, with their new official storyboard team, Star Wars created a whole new canon.

First off, I think this was a great idea. Yes, we may miss out on the amazing Thrawn series, fan favorite Mara Jade, and the future of Luke and Mara’s children. We may even miss out on the Knights of the Old Republic era, or the great Darth Bane series explanation of the Rule of Two. But, we finally get a cohesive storyline (hopefully), no more retcons, and a chance to see the story expand under the leadership of Disney. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is any indication, then I’m very excited for what’s to come.

Exploring the new canon so far (as of Oct, 2016), there’s a lot of material to digest. Between the movies, cartoons, books, and comics there’s something for every fan. There’s actually a great interactive wiki on all this, but I want to simplify and scratch the surface into each of the stories. I’ll use the movies as the timeline markers, and give my personal opinion of each.

 

[MOVIE] Episode I: The Phantom Menace

[MOVIE] Episode II: Attack of the Clones

[TV Series] The Clone Wars: This cartoon series is amazing. I felt the first couple seasons were a little slow, but it gets really good. You can binge watch the whole thing on Netflix.  It’s long (6.5 seasons – some “lost” episodes you have to watch on starwars.com), but I say it’s a must-watch.

[Comic] Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir:  If you liked the cartoon series, then this is a great way to figure out what happened to Darth Maul (note: they never finished the cartoon series so they expanded that material onto other mediums). There’s also a potential connection down the timeline in the Journey to the Force Awakens Shattered Empire comic. If you’ve watched the cartoon, then it’s a must-read. Otherwise, you could probably pass.

[Book]  Dark Disciple: Like Darth Maul, this is a fallout from the cartoon series. You’ll learn more about Quinlan Vos, and see what happens to Ventress. It’ll might be a little hard to follow if you haven’t watched the series, but if you do, then this is a must read. One of my favorite Star Wars books, Christie Golden does a fantastic job.

[MOVIE] Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

[Book] Lords of the Sith: This story is entirely about how ridiculously powerful Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are. It’s action packed and entertaining, but (IMHO) not necessarily critical to the core storyline. Fun read, but not critical.

[Book] Tarkin: This book takes an in-depth look at our favorite Grand Moff Tarkin. We get a glimpse of him in the Clone Wars series of his beginnings, but this fills it out completely – how he grew up and how he came to be the Grand Moff. It was good, so if you’re  fan of his character then it’d recommend it, but I wouldn’t consider it a must-read.

[Comic] Kanan – The Last Padawan: If you like the Rebels Series, then I think this does a great job in settling the stage of Kanan’s beginnings and character. You get a good appreciation of what happens after Order 66. I’m a big fan so far.

[Book] A New Dawn: This book tries to set the stage for the Rebels series. It’s mostly a story of how Hera and Kanan meet. It does a good job, but unless you’re a huge fan of the Rebels series, I don’t think it’s necessary crucial to the storyline. It’s a nice-to-read.

[TV Series] Rebels: This is fantastic cartoon. The team has done a good job creating new characters (Ezra and crew), as well as mixing in nostalgia from the previous Clone Wars series (e.g. Ahsoka Tano, and Darth Vader cameos). This show tries to setup the beginnings of the rebellion in Episode IV. I’m excited to see what comes next.

[Book] Lost Stars: This is my favorite book of the Journey to the Force Awakens series (I don’t mind if it’s a “young adult” novel). It tells a Romeo and Juliet inspired story of two kids who grew up together, and eventually land on either side of the war (Empire vs Rebellion). It takes a different cross-sectional look at Episodes IV through VI, and concludes in Jakku. Must read.

[MOVIE] Episode IV: A New Hope

[Comic] Princess Leia: After Episode IV, Princess Leia goes on a mission to save Alderaan survivors. So far, it’s my least favorite of all the new  Star Wars comics book series to far.

[Book] Smuggler’s Run – A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure:  Another young adult novel, that more or less is what is advertised in the title – A Han Solo & Chewbacca adventure. I felt that this one was also pretty forgettable without many hints of Episode VII. I’d take a pass on this one.

[Book] Heir to the Jedi: Set soon after Episode IV, this explores Luke and his struggle/thoughts to understand the Force. Overall, of all the new Canon novels, this was my least favorite and mostly forgettable. I think this book is a pass.

[Book] The Weapon of the Jedi – A Luke Skywalker Adventure:  I thought this one was great, and in some instances does a better job of showing Luke’s struggles of becoming a Jedi than Heir to the Jedi. There’s some great references to the Clone Wars series, some nods to Episode VII, and potentially some hints of Luke’s Jedi ambitions. If my hunch is right, I think it gives of a hint of Luke for Episode VII. It’s short, and enjoyable.

[Comic] new Star Wars: With this, Disney/Marvel re-launched  the new Star Wars comics, taking over from the Dark Horse days. The series skips around the timeline quite a bit, but it’s mostly set between Episode IV and V. Some of the story arcs are pretty good (Skywalker strikes) and others are less interesting (Han Solo’s wife!?!). I would say it’s a should-read given the importance to the canon as a whole.

[Comic] Darth Vader: My favorite series of the new Star Wars comics. Tells the story from Vader’s perspective and leads to his understanding of who Luke is, as well as planting the seeds to what eventually happens in Episode V and VI. I’m a huge fan.

[Comic] Lando: My 2nd favorite of the new comics. Doesn’t really add to the storyline much, but gives you a glimpse of why Lando’s character is so interesting…and a look into the Jedi/Sith artifacts that Emperor Palpatine holds (there’s a small connection to the Shattered Empire comics). Super fun, but not necessarily a must-read.

[MOVIE] Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

[Book] Moving Target – A Princess Leia Adventure: Of the 3 young adult adventures, this might be my favorite. This is the only story that’s set between Episode V and VI so far, so there’s less hints about Episode VII but more about how they learned of the 2nd Death Star. Similar to the other adventures, it’s short and enjoyable. But by no means a must-read.

[MOVIE] Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

[Comic] Shattered Empire: This series is set days after Endor. Gives us a glimpse of Poe Dameron’s (from Episode VII) parents, and a look into Leia and Luke. (IMHO) It’s not particularly exciting, but seems important for a storyline perspective. Must-read only because of the storyline implications.

[Book] Aftermath: The beginning of a trilogy that sets the stage of Episode VII. It gives some small hints of what various key characters are doing (e.g. Han Solo and Chewbacca), and some insights into the beginnings of the Knights of Ren, but it’s mostly about how the Empire gathers itself after Endor and the fall of the Emperor. For me, I thought the story was a slow start…it didn’t pick up until halfway through the book. It was an okay story, but given the importance to Episode VII, it’s a should-read.

[MOVIE] Episode VII: The Force Awakens

So far, that’s what I have. As more material comes out, I’ll try to update my list.

As a comparison here’s an image what Star Wars released themselves a few months back at the Star Wars celebration in Anaheim:

star-wars-canon-timeline

Needless to say, I’m excited for the Force Awakens. And, apparently, it’s no different from the rest of my generation. I’m just bummed that that I now represent the “past”…let’s see if the Force is as strong with the future as well.

Comic Review: Lando, Star Wars, and the new Canon

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I wanted to break the silence by posting my review of Lando #1 of the new Star Wars comics. It was originally posted on comiXology’s tumblr.

A comiXologist recommends:
LANDO #1

by: Douglas Hwang

Ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, Star Wars fans have been wondering how their beloved franchise would change. Then in 2014, it was announced that previous Expanded Universe stories would fall into the Legends banner and not be included in the official canon. This was a major change to the Star Wars universe as we knew it (Emperor Thrawn? Mara Jade?). But, as we’ve learned this year, they have a lot planned for the franchise aside from the new movie, Episode VII Force Awakens. With a new cartoon series, numerous new books, many new movies planned (Anthology Series) and many new comics, the new canon has been streamlined and put together in a cohesive way that was never done before.

As the Princess LEIA mini-series of 5 comics came to an end a few weeks back, a new 5-part mini-series appears and we learn more about fan favorite Lando Calrissian in the new LANDO Marvel series. From Episode V and VI, we know that Lando was the previous owner of the Millennium Falcon before Han Solo and the Baron Administator of Cloud City. But how does he get to where he is? How does he obtain the Millennium Falcon? Will we even get to those questions in this comic series? Well, in this first issue we learn that he smuggles something big…and maybe out of his league.

To learn more about the new Star Wars canon I would also recommend the new Marvel STAR WARSseries based in the canon between Episodes 3 and 4, the new DARTH VADER series which interweaves the new Star Wars comic series in Vader’s point of view, and also the Kanan series where we learn more about the backstory from one of the protagonists from the new Star Wars Rebels cartoon series.

It’s been fun ride for Star Wars fans, but we’ve quickly come to learn that the Force is strong this calendar year. Can’t wait for the movie in December.

[READ LANDO #1 ON COMIXOLOGY]

DOUGLAS HWANG is a Product Manager at Comixology, lives in Brooklyn and is crazy about Star Wars, Portland Trail Blazers, and the great outdoors.

Book Review: The Sports Gene – Why I Won’t be an Olympic Sprinter

In the 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, there was a great panel between David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene – Inside the Science of Extraordinary Sports Performance, and Malcolm Gladwell. The panel was less of a debate, but more a conversation of how you need BOTH nature and nurture to be a top sports athlete in our current society. From that panel, the book was on my to-read shelf, and having just finished it, I highly recommend it to others.

The book mentions numerous cases of why choosing the right “parents” is a key reason people can be elite athletes. From exploring Jamaican sprinters – both the culture around sprinting and unique heritage, Kenyans – their unique genetics and the environment they are raised in, to unique genetic markers that correlate to a high VO2 max, or ability to pass doping tests, it’s a excellent way to expand one’s knowledge of the amazing way we are all born, and the unique environments that determine who we are. For every person who dreamed of being in the Olympics, to every child who dreamed to be in the NBA (yours truly), this book helps to look at sports training and development in  a whole new light. There is no “one way” to train, “one way” to do this…rather, all our genes and bodies are different and we all may respond to different things.

Which means…….there are more questions. It seems that this subject’s surface is only scratched. Though genetics may explain one’s ceiling on VO2 max or development of fast-twitch muscles to be a better sprinter,  it can’t yet explain free-throw percentage? catch and shoot situations? ability to see and track down a fly ball? effort? heart? motivation?

I may not have the genes to be a  gold medalist in the 100m, but I’ve never see a 3-point shot that I didn’t like. And, as Francis Collins in Language of God writes about the amazing infinite complexity of the genome, I also cannot help but be more awed by the miracle of life the more I learn about it. Perhaps the dream (though quickly diminishing at my age) of the NBA is still alive 🙂

Book Review: Console Wars. The Battle that Defined Me, and the rest of my Generation

Thinking back to my childhood, there are only a select few number of things that really really stick out. For me, many of my memories was playing video games. I can definitively say, it helped shaped who I am (in both good ways and bad ways). Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation written by Blake Harris, and audiobook narrated by Fred Berman is a great read that covers the back story, main decisions and the key players that helped bring the video game industry alive.

The book talks of the marketing decisions beyond the awesome commercials such as this and this. How marketing was used to split people/children into Sega people and Nintendo people. It mentions the various innovations that changed the video game industry as we know now.  Just to list a few:

  • Sonic Tuesday, the idea of treating video games like movies and doing a major marketing releases of them.
  • The video game rating system
  • E3

More than the story, another reason why I liked the book so much, was that it was a story about the team, the people, and how they worked together. About David beating Goliath (the uprising vs the entrenched), about doing crazy unconventional things, about creating everlasting bonds with one another. It’s a team (the Sega team) that anyone would love to be on, a team that I would love to be on. In the whole startup age, as much as we care about perks and sky-high valuations, often the deepest work satisfaction comes from the team that you go to battle with, the work that you do together, and the relationships that come from it.

A few things that stood out to me about the team.

  • Everlasting friendships. They often worked with one another in various capacities after Sega
  • The leader – who cared about his team almost more than the work itself
  • Why it was fun – taking risks, working hard, making an impact. The most fulfilling work is often not the work with the most work/life balance work.

I for one, was a Sega person. And, perhaps that already reveals a lot about me already.

Book Review: Dreamland – Learning to Cat Nap

Finished this book on sleep. Written by David Randall, audiobook narrated by Andy Capole, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

Dreamland talks about the science of sleep, and shares a lot of super interesting stories. It’s entertaining learning about all the odd things that happen to people. But for takeaways, there’s some straightforward advice to improve one’s sleep, and thus improve one’s life.

Here are my takaways:

  • Sleep more = better life
  • More connected to circadian rhythm = better sleep
    • sleep when dark, wake up with sun
  • Better diet = better sleep
  • Regular exercise = better sleep
  • Not looking at your computer/TV/LCD screens before sleeping = better sleep
  • Less alcohol/caffeine before sleeping = better sleep
  • If you have sleep apnea, you can do a few things to help
    • If overweight, lose weight
    • Talk to a doctor – potentially use a mask

Book Review: Everything and Everything: The Everything Store

I just finished the Everything Store by Brad Stone and it’s a fantastic read (or you can listen to it via audiobook).  It details the beginnings of Amazon, how Jeff Bezos came to be, and the imagination of how the future may be continuously disrupted. It’s a terrific story not about how Amazon necessarily disrupts industries, but how the future will inevitably disrupt industries and why companies must not keep to the past, but continue disrupting themselves to have a place in the future (it reminds me a lot from the recent TED interview with Larry Page).  For anyone in tech, and/or anyone with aspirations to build a company/change the world, this book will help inspire that.

 

 

Book Review: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive, written by Daniel Pink, I would recommend for all people managers. I think it’s a great supplement to any management training where you are in direct control of the motivation of your employees. At the very least, it might spark some new ideas.

Just to share a few of them:

  • People are motivated by Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose
  • Ask everyone in your organization to rate, on a scale of one to ten, how much autonomy do you have over your tasks, time, team, and technique?
  • Ditch the “to do” list and opt for a “don’t list” instead
  • Sagmeister: Work 7 years, take 1 off 

The best use of money is to take the issue of money off the table . . . Effective organizations compensate people in amounts and in ways that allow individuals to mostly forget about compensation and instead focus on the work itself

Also, is a neat animation of one of his talks (youtube).