Hive of Scum and Villainy
About this journal
Celebrating five years of tirelessly defending and endlessly discussing all things Star Wars from a certain point of view rarely seen elsewhere! Enjoy the occasional gen and het fic! Be amazed at the coherent sentences!
On the bookshelf: Clone Wars: Wild Space (Or, How I Got Paid To Write Fan Fiction)
I finally finished Karen Miller's Clone Wars novel, Wild Space. The novel brings to mind the fact there is an aesthetic difference between fan fiction and licensed commercial works based on a t.v. show or movie. Fan fiction has its quirks that licensed spinoffs don't have (for better or worse) and the focus of fan fic tends to be different. There's a lot more focus on character study and on relationships than on plot or things that go kaboom. Wild Space is by far the most fan fiction-y SW expanded universe novel I have read since Kathy Tyers's Truce At Bakura.
Even without the fangirly dedication to Ewan McGregor, the book's focus on Obi-Wan as one of the two protagonists in story, the shirtless meditation scene, or Miller's admission in interviews who her favorite character is, you can tell she is in mad fangirl love with Obi-Wan. How? He gets put through the meat grinder! If he's not suffering some sort of psychological trauma, he's getting the crap beat out of him. Injuries and suffering are covered in ever-loving detail. I haven't read anything like it since my fanzine days, when a popular Han Solo fan writer would put him through enough injuries to bankrupt the Rebel Alliance's health care system. Are we sure Karen Miller didn't run the defunct Obi-Wan Hurt/Comfort archive?? I wondered if the OC healer at the Jedi Temple was going to say, "Oh not you again." You can tell she likes the other characters as well because they all suffer their share of injuries. She must have a Jimmy Smits fetish too because Bail Organa gets put through the wringer almost as much as Obi-Wan does.
There are some comfort scenes, most notably a scene early on in the book that takes place between Geonosis and Anakin's trip back to Naboo. Obi-Wan goes to see an injured and traumatized Anakin and he takes Anakin into his arms, and Anakin starts sobbing. I swear to God this is true.
Just about every fan fiction convention is in this book except for the Mary Sue and the gay sex. Oh wait. There's some covert fodder for slash fans I suppose, such as a scene where a shirtless Anakin--who had been training, mind you--is chatting with Obi-Wan via hologram and Obi-Wan looks him up and down and makes a wry comment about how he sees Anakin has been training. I really have been reading this stuff for too long.
But don't worry het fans! We get glimpses of Horny!Anakin and Horny!Padmé earlier in the book. Aside from a scene I described in a post when I first got the book where Padmé is pleading for Anakin to stay the night, there is a scene that is pretty hot stuff for a licensed SW novel. Anakin and Padmé have obviously been up to some nookie and the next morning: "(S)he let him tumble her to the sheets, mock-protesting as his embrace crushed the fragrant fruit against her skin. Didn't protest at all as he savored the sticky juice, the fragrance of her, let himself fall headfirst into their shared secret passion." It doesn't go too far from there (dammit), but a few paragraphs later Anakin admires how Padmé looks with flushed cheeks and sex hair.
In fact these two can barely keep their secret love much of a secret. At the beginning of the book, Padmé demands she be allowed to see Anakin while he is recovering from his amputation. Yoda sends Obi-Wan to make sure any funny business doesn't happen, and Obi-Wan tells her to stay out of Anakin's pants. Padmé lies to Obi-Wan's face, practically crossing her fingers when she says she will bring Anakin to Naboo and gently break up with him during the trip. Palpatine already knows. Ahsoka wonders where her Master keeps disappearing off to. At one point before Anakin takes off for a rendezvous with the little lady, Ahsoka asks if she can come along. Uhhh, no...
Oh yeah, the plot. The book begins right after the battle of Geonosis and it's a bit of a soap opera as it moves ahead toward the era covered in the CW t.v. show. To make a long story short, Bail Organa's contacts reveal a plot by the Sith to attack the Jedi. Anakin and Ahsoka are gone to chase General Grievous around. So Obi-Wan is sent to find out about this plot, with Bail along for the ride. There's lots of RAWR between them because Obi-Wan thinks Bail is a pampered pol who's in way over his head and Bail thinks Obi-Wan is an arrogant, condescending bastard. What complicates things is their journey takes them to a planet steeped in the Dark Side and Obi-Wan's sanity is nearly shattered. But through their shared adventures and injuries, they become friends and prevail. There's a method to Miller's madness because this establishes why the Jedi trusted Bail with Leia, why Bail felt obligated to help the Jedi, why the Jedi knew they could trust Bail's help, and why Leia sought Obi-Wan in ANH. Leia's feistiness might be in her genes but it's obvious it was nurtured by her adoptive father as well. Bail is one hard-drinkin' dude; it's a miracle Leia didn't grow up to be a lush herself.
On the down side, it's not clear when the Obi-Wan-n-Bail adventure takes place. It kind of indicates it's during the time Artoo disappeared ("Downfall of a Droid"/"Duel of the Droids") but Artoo's fate isn't resolved here. If I wasn't watching the show, I wouldn't know what would have happened. I'd bring the emotionalism down a few ticks; the characters can be rather high-strung and teary-eyed. Some readers might find the violence a bit too much. Some things are brought up once and never mentioned again, such as Palpatine plotting to make Anakin jealous by encouraging an affair between Padmé and Bail; don't worry A/P shippers, nothing happens. Whoever copyedited the book missed "just deserts." And the idea Obi-Wan would abstain from alcohol is totally OOC ;).
Wild Space was a very enjoyable read. Whether you like Miller's approach or not, it is nice to read something by an author who has a fan's sensibility. Oh and if the book publishing gods see fit to produce an Anakin/Padmé centered novel, Miller ought to be at the top of the list to write it. Just don't hurt Anakin too much and keep him shirtless most of the book.
Obi-Wan hugs a crying Anakin?! Wow. Okay, this is definitely a must read.
"Palpatine plotting to make Anakin jealous by encouraging an affair between Padmé and Bail"
Huh? What the hell is that all about? I know you said it was "brought up and never mentioned again" but for some reason I am really bugged by the thought of this happening and I'm not even an A/P shipper.
I guess I will have to read the book right after I get through with Shadows of Mindor which probably means it may take me a few years before I get to it.
I'm pretty pathetic.
Nothing happens. Palpatine just kind of wonders if such a thing is possible, especially with Anakin and Padmé separated.
I think that was Palpatine vice. He's not interesting in love or sex but he loves manipulation. Constantly plotting, constantly determining the fates of those around him and beyond.
If Miller writes another SW novel, I'm avoiding it like the plague. It takes forever for the main storyline to kick in, and there is no B-plot to relieve us from overdosing on Obi-Wan and Bail's bitching at each other, and there is just waaaaaay too much crying going on, especially from the Jedi. Why do authors have to make their favorite characters suffer in such horrible ways?
There are a few good moments in the story, but you're right about Miller getting paid to write fan-fic. Hopefully she didn't get paid a whole lot, because it is not all that good. I've read better, and by people who weren't getting paid.
And the dedication to Ewan is such a fan-girl type thing to do that she looses a lot of credibility in my eyes.
I don't see anything wrong with the dedication. You have some points with the main storyline taking a while to kick in and the constant grring between Bail and Obi-Wan, though.
yeah - i felt it did take a while for the main story line to get going... so that when it ended, i felt that really, the novel could have kept going to bookend around the Bail & Obi's road trip to have more with Palpatine's plot to manipulate Anakin with the Bail/Padme thing.
"Oh yeah, the plot. The book begins right after the battle of Geonosis and it's a bit of a soap opera as it moves ahead toward the era covered in the CW t.v. show. To make a long story short, Bail Organa's contacts reveal a plot by the Sith to attack the Jedi. Anakin and Ahsoka are gone to chase General Grievous around.
If the story begins right after the Battle of Geonosis, what is Ahsoka doing with Anakin? I thought she didn't become his padawan until after he became a Knight.
It spends a couple of chapters post-Geonosis then it jumps ahead to just after the battle of Christophsis/Teth.
Miller's totally a fanfic writer!! :D
Really great review/synopsis here--thank you for putting into coherent words what I could not, with all my fangirl praise and flailing, lol.
To me, this was a fangirl's dream SW novel, through and through, and I can't thank Karen Miller enough for giving all the characters such heart, complexity, and vivid LIFE. She left no one one-dimensional, and really gave Bail, in particular, an awesome personality and backstory that absolutely explains why Obi-Wan would trust some politician with one of Anakin's children. I said earlier on my LJ that I'm pretty certain I've read significant chunks of this book across several fanfics in the past three years, lol. AND I LOVE IT.
And you're totally right, in that every 'ship seems to get some kind of recognition here, and miraculously, Miller does that without stepping on any ships' toes. I'm NOT an A/P fan, but heh, all I had to do was turn a couple pages, and A/O are sparring and sweating and sharing something that nearly brings Ahsoka to tears, and makes MY fangirl heart sing. Heck, even the old-school Obi-Wan/Bail shippers could have a field day with this book.
As an Obi-Wan fan, I am THRILLED by her characterization of him, and I hope that she gets the chance to write him more in her upcoming books. Now...if only we could get Miller and Stover to collaborate...
Re: Miller's totally a fanfic writer!! :D
I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought this book read like a fan fic.
I didn't read the book but I LOVED your review. I can't quote my favorite parts because all of them got me at least chuckling. ;) The thing is, it even made me want to write some A/P Clone War stuff.
Oh and ever since I watched AOTC again, I totally have a soft spot for Obi-Wan all over again. Hugging a crying Anakin is totally okay with me. ;)
Hee hee, there's plenty of fodder for fan fic in this book ;).
I'm a sucker for this book.
And you caught 'just deserts,' also, good catch. I liked it for all those reasons stated earlier, and have to say that the quibble is with the plot: someone along the way states that 'it was a trap,' and I wonder who it was supposed to catch way out there. Palps finagled everyone to go with the hopes of killing Bail and Obi-Wan, yes, but the trap being so far out was a little bit off. All in all, the ... ellipses ... snagged me in from the get-go.
*Just found this review from google, having just finished reading the book today*
Ohman, best book review ever. XD
It was SO a giant paid-fanfic, but I dunno, maybe that's why I liked it? I really enjoyed the character interaction, which a lot of novels don't focus enough on, though almost everything about this book was, honestly, very ficcy. Especially the obviousness of favorite characters.
Something also unusual about it was how long it took the plot ot move, and how much padding there was. I mean, there was so much time spent on the trip to Zigoola, that was only talking. Extensive dialogue is kind of a hallmark of fanfiction.
All in all though, I really did like the book for that reason. It was really nice to see why the Jedi trust Bail so much, and it puts a lot of history to influence the scenes between them and him (especially he and Obi-Wan) in Episode III.