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J. J. Abrams, George Lucas, and Greg Farshtey

Posted by Sumiki , in Writing, Rants, Not Essays! Feb 04 2014 · 296 views

Long-time Blogarithm viewers may remember a long rant I wrote about the link between Star Wars and BIONICLE with regards to their respective prequels. In it, I made the case that fans of a certain thing have higher expectations and preconceived notions regarding backstory.
 
I thought that it might be time to significantly expand on that train of thought by considering the monstrous job that now lays ahead of J. J. Abrams, a task that is both Herculean and nearly Sisyphean in its proportions.
 
The post-Return of the Jedi world saw the beginning of what would become known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Now, the EU is huge - not just with more licenses than you can shake a lightsaber at, but with games and books that delve into the mythology like never before. It's pretty insane how much canon Star Wars material is out there. The fans have been accustomed to the Expanded Universe and the stories that are from the EU are as - in some cases, more - revered than the movies that started it all.
 
Let's face facts: J. J. Abrams will not be able to make a Star Wars movie without contradicting the Expanded Universe. The EU also relies so much on its own internal canon that contradicting one thing would likely cause a domino effect and negate pretty much every EU story that fans have come to love.
 
The so-called "Thrawn Trilogy" is a good example. Set after Return of the Jedi, the Thrawn Trilogy were a series of books by author Timothy Zahn that chronicled the main characters fighting off what remained of the Galactic Empire and fighting an Imperial admiral named Thrawn. It's considered to be one of the definitive EU novels and were considered frontrunners to be turned into Episodes VII, VIII, and IX.
 
Well, as it turns out, they're not going to be made into movies, which means that they - along with quite a lot of the EU - is going down the drain, so to speak.
 
The only way that effigies of J. J. Abrams aren't burned by rabid Star Wars fans is if, hidden behind all of those lens flares, he's actually a genius beyond mortal comprehension. However, I hope no one takes it as an insult if I say that I sincerely doubt that, even when taking into account the existence of Fringe.
 
The common problem is that fandoms generally expect consistently high-quality material from content creators. Star Wars had such a following that the prequels were bound to disappoint, regardless of quality. The pre-A New Hope universe was not nearly as explored before A Phantom Menace as the post-Return of the Jedi universe is right now. (I hope that made sense.)
 
All of which brings us to Greg Farshtey. BZPower did not grow to have the most members of any LEGO fansite without reason. BIONICLE was big, and BZP's heyday saw a level of traffic and server-busy messages unheard of today, all because of BIONICLE. We appreciated Greg's dedication and his interaction with the community, which is unheard of amongst the content creators of such a large fan base.
 
Nevertheless, voices of dissent emerged, which only became more prevalent in the post-Great Downtime BZP, after Greg disappeared due to his personal life and LEGO's new interactivity policy. Opinions on Greg's writing skills are lukewarm at best, as fans have matured and looked back on Greg's methods of storytelling with more critical eyes. (Time Trap is a great book and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.)
 
Why? Well, we had become accustomed, as a community, to Greg's presence. Without it, I believe that criticism of his writing would have come about much sooner. We, as fandoms are wont to do, came to expect an inhuman level of quality from Greg, as the Star Wars fandom is expecting an inhuman level of quality from Abrams and his gang.

 
After all, Lucas got enough flak for the prequels.

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Akano Toa of Electricity
Feb 04 2014 09:37 PM
I half expected this entry to begin "all walk into a bar..." :P

Very good points. Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks Time Trap is great book.

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Tyler Durden
Feb 04 2014 10:10 PM

I think all three of the names up here are overrated; Abrams just happens to be by far the least so, and that gives me at least some degree of confidence in him. Then again, I'm only a casual Star Wars fan - the movies, the two KotOR games, and the Battlefronts are about it for me - so I'm not really as qualified to speak on this one as some other people.

 

-Tyler

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J.J's pretty good (witness LOST) but he's no good at respecting canon (witness Star Trek). 

 

And if he tries the alt. dimension thing again, he will be shot at this time. :P

 

I think BZP, kind of like the EU SW, had access to some privileged information. It was difficult for me to get into the S&T forum at first, even though I had been following Bionicle for years, because of the information gap. That sort of stuff is the first to get wacked in any sort of return, whether Star Wars or Bionicle.

 

Also Time Trap is awesome. Because it is.

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The Prequils never bugged me that much, but I guess I'm not a big enough SW fans.

 

And for the most part, Greg's books were really good 2004-2006, and decent from then on.  It's the online serials where quality dropped... but then again nobody was paying for those, so what's the incentive.  (In my opinion, anyway.  Time Trap is good, but I also like Island of Doom quite a lot too.)

 

:music:

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The Prequils never bugged me that much, but I guess I'm not a big enough SW fans.

I generally have a big problem with that association. I personally found a lot to enjoy about the prequels and I understand a lot of the reasoning behind how Lucas did it all, and I wouldn't say that makes me less of a SW fan (it bugs me when others do say that about me). And I look forward to Abrams' sequels, but I find that sequels are easier to enjoy if you -don't- have expectations. I'm just interested and along for the ride.

 

What bugged me about Bionicle later on had nothing to do with Greg (with the exception of Makuta as a race and Mata Nui as a giant robot, but I've warmed up to the latter). I think from a storytelling point he was always quite good and I didn't see that falter.

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The Duchess Approves
Feb 05 2014 06:16 PM

Well Time Trap is a thin paperback book.  This makes it very easy to bend the spine.  Not only that but as books are removed and placed back on the shelf it is a prime candidate for bent corners and pages.  On top of that the font is huge and the only picture it contains is located on the cover despite the fact that it is a children's book.

 

So the quality of the book itself is far from great in my opinion.  

 

The story's really good, though.

 

Anyway, as for Star Wars; I really only ever saw the movies.  All I'm hoping for is a movie that can make me feel like the story has a a sense of adventure and intrigue even after so many years.

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What bugged me about Bionicle later on had nothing to do with Greg (with the exception of Makuta as a race and Mata Nui as a giant robot, but I've warmed up to the latter). I think from a storytelling point he was always quite good and I didn't see that falter.

 

 

But... neither of those things had anything to do with Greg, or at least him alone. They were both planned from the beginning, and at thatm point in time he was just one member of a larger story team.

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Tyler Durden
Feb 06 2014 08:46 PM


J.J's pretty good (witness LOST)

 

I like J.J. well enough, and I'm a huge LOST fan, but I never like giving him much credit for LOST beyond the first arc or two, because he was hardly the showrunner. He didn't have a lot to do with driving the story forward beyond Season 1, and his last writing credit came in Season 3. He was credited as Executive Producer solely because it was his idea and he got the story team together.

 

-Tyler

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I reread Time Trap recently and it was still good.
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He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo


"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker


LISTEN TO SUMIKI - Cholie


Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva


BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex


What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus


I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh


EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH - Kakaru


Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok


Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker


Sumiki - hat-wearing ladies man. - Black Six


He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist


I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens


I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig


I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk


I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome


Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex


Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz


10/10, would Sumiki again. - Bfahome

    

Sumiki
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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)

    

1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/13 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi
8/27/13 - 8/5/14 - None
8/12/14 - Another Chro Original
8/19/14 - Kanohi Zatth
8/26/14 - Miniland Hatpile
9/2/14 - S. S. Starfish
9/9/14 - Special - Claude Hairgel
9/16/14 - Green Flame
9/23/14 - Avohkah Tamer
9/30/14 - Special - The Havoc Wreaker
10/7/14 - Fire Snake

    

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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.

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Sumiki
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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle

so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra




You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.

It's a long story.

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