*puts down coffee cup, startled by your presence*
Oh! Hello. I didn’t see you there.
What’s that? You have an email for me? An email about the Star Wars novel I wrote, Star Wars: Aftermath, which is both a defacto sequel to both Return of the Jedi and the TV show Perfect Strangers? Sure, sure, I’ll take a look — I get emails every week from adoring fans such as yourself, so here, hand it over, I’ll take a look and —
It’s one of those emails.
I get these, too, every week.
But! I shall persevere, and though I believe I’m not supposed to, ahem, respond to negative reviews, it’s hard not to considering how many people want to deliver them straight to my inbox. And besides, I need blog content for this week anyway, so here we are.
I will take your email, Unnamed Individual, and go through it bit by bit.
Let’s see where we go, shall we?
Long before I could make memories, I was a Star Wars fan.
Me, too. I had a lightsaber in the womb. That is how I carved my way free from my mother’s belly, as if she were a Wampa cave and I was an imprisoned young Jedi.
These films were a major part of my upbringing, and it plays a major role in my life now as I go forth aspiring to be a filmmaker. And I’ve loved Episode 7, Rebels, The Clone Wars and many of Disney’s Star Wars media. Now, I know that Star Wars, is just a movie, but has this amazing power to bring people of diverse cultures and backgrounds together and share in the joy of fantasy. So when I read your book (Star Wars: Aftermath), I felt almost offended as well as disappointed.
Well, that’s not good. I too like that it brings together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and I would hate to have violated that in some fundamental way. Disappointed, sure, I can handle that. But offended? Oh my. ZOUNDS. ZOINKS. JINKIES! I apologize in advance, and now let us get to the heart of this offense, shall we? Because I’m very sure that the offense is purely based in the way I wrote the book, not in anything untoward or political, right? Right. Let’s go through it.
I thought that the writing style was jarring and choppy; the diction in no way suited to the tone of the book and syntax and grammar created something really off beat. It was bizarre and rough on the eyes –especially when the droid would talk AND IT WOULD BE IN ALL CAPS. It’s incredibly jarring.
SORRY SOMETIMES I VERY MUCH LIKE TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS. ESPECIALLY WHEN WRITING IN THE VOICE OF A LOVABLE-IF-DERANGED BODYGUARD VIOLENCE-PERFORMING DROID. I AM SORRY IF IT IS ROUGH ON THE EYES. NEXT TIME I WILL ENDEAVOR TO WRITE LIKE A SILKEN SHEET RATHER THAN A SCOURING SINK SCRUBBY.
As for the writing style being jarring and choppy — well, I covered that recently. Stylistically it’s one of the things I tend to like, and I’m very sorry you don’t dig it.
I thought the plot was incredibly weak (as well as predictable) and I found the characters to be thinner than the paper that you wrote them on.
Point of trivia: I did not write the story or the characters on paper, but rather, on my fancy COMPUTER MACHINE. It is not made of paper, but instead comprises electrons and steel and the ghosts of old, dead, forgotten novels.
I found it absurd that three of the five characters that served as heroes all had some origin story connected to the battle of endor, and I found it even more ridiculous (and unnecessary) that the bounty hunter had Princess Leia in her scopes and then chose not to take the shot just for the hell of it (which by the way felt like it was lifted straight out of the Force Unleashed Two comic book –because the same exact thing happened in it)
All of the characters being connected is a conscious choice, because in some ways, that’s how Star Wars works and has always worked — a small group of characters come together, bound by common purpose or shared event, and they change the galaxy. In the novel Lost Stars, the two characters are present for most of the major events in the recent Star Wars universe. In the films, Yoda was pretty much everywhere.
He’s under the carpet right now.
As for Jas Emari, the bounty hunter, not taking her shot — that isn’t a plot hole or a Hamilton reference. It’s on purpose. It’s necessary because it is a breach in the character’s protocol. Storytelling is an act of violating the status quo, and Emari’s status quo as a bounty hunter is have a target, take the shot. That circuit gets interrupted with Leia. And why?
If only the novel explained it…
“You think, yes, I’ll kill this spunky rebel princess-warrior like the Empire wants, but then you watch the rebels turn the tide and you realize the winning side isn’t the winning side anymore and if you wanna survive, you’d damn well better change your skin or just plain disappear.”
She doesn’t take the shot because she sees the tide turning. She is on the wrong side of history — and, practically speaking, she doesn’t know if the Empire will be around to pay for the bounty.
Further, it’s suggestive that Jas as a character is deeper than the bounties she takes.
Certainly more strategic. And possibly a better person than she admits.
As for The Force Unleashed Two comic book? Never read it, sorry.
In addition to the characters being thin, they all kind of felt like less interesting off brand versions of other characters already in existence. Norra Wexley (which isn’t even a Star Warsian name), was basically Hera, but worse, Temmin was like Ezra, but unlikable, and Mr. Bones (another ill name) was horrible incarnation of HK-47 but with a hint of Jar Jar Binks.
I admit: I bought my Star Wars characters at an Aldi store. Instead of Trix, it’s COLORFUL FRUCTOSE ORBS. Instead of Triscuits, it’s ASBESTOS ROOF SHINGLE SALTCOOKIES. I just took other characters, filed off the serial numbers, and re-used them. I was hoping nobody noticed? BUT YOU GOT ME. *insert shrug emoji*
Also, what, exactly, is a Star Wars-ian name? And why does Norra Wexley not have one? Not everybody is named like, FLORGIM FINFAM or ZOOP MAGOO or something. Sometimes they have names like Colonel Kaplan or oh, I dunno, Luke Skywalker.
To make matters worse, I felt like your grasp on the world you were exploring was tenuous; you would use a lot of analogies that only serviced the fans and when it came down to establishing the narrative’s universe, you just kind of tried to force in the aesthetics rather than letting them grow out of the story naturally.
Here’s the problem sometimes with writing metaphors or analogies in the Star Wars universe: you can choose one of three ways to go with it.
First, you can use a very Earthy metaphor: “He was like a HAMSTER caught in a JOCKSTRAP.”
Second, you can use something purely Star Wars-ian in nature: “He was like a GRAKKUS caught in a LASER SPINDLE.” Or, for the variant on this, you can choose something familiar in the Star Wars universe: “He was like a BANTHA on a SPEEDER BIKE.”
Or, third, you can try to jostle the metaphor around so that it serves both — it’s Earthy enough to be understood, but Star Wars in feeling. So, it’s like, “He was like a SANDEATER FALCON caught in a PROTEIN RECYCLER,” which tells you, okay, that bird is not an Earth bird but with ‘falcon’ we at least know that it is a bird, and protein recycler is not a known thing but it’s close enough we can figure out what it is.
Trick is, certain fans get mad at each approach differently. If something is too Earthy, they buck because this is Star Wars and nothing is ever Earthy (except for milk and hot chocolate and falcons and X-Wings and A-Wings and Y-Wings and tea and brandy and Cognac and — well). I mentioned a hamster in the book and people are mad because I “canonized” hamsters, which sounds like I put hamsters up for Catholic sainthood.
If you do something too Star Warsy, people don’t like it because really, what the hell are you even talking about? What is a Grakkus? What is a Laser Spindle? If I say “Bantha,” but the character isn’t from Tatooine, someone will complain, “In a galaxy of thousands of systems, how does Zoop Magoo even know what a Bantha is?”
If you do the mix, you do the best you can contextualizing the metaphor for both fans of the world and average readers and so that the metaphor can be understood.
But, it’s a tricky balance. I tried! Sometimes, I failed. Sorry!
A case of point would be the colloquialisms such as “space diaper” or “space bus” –words nobody in this universe would utter because like here on earth, diapers and buses are the norm in day to day life –there wouldn’t be need to be more specific. In the case of the space bus, shuttle would probably be the more apt term and in the case of the space diaper…well I don’t know…when I read those words I almost threw the book at the wall…
I’m glad you didn’t actually throw the book against the wall. It is a large book and you might have hurt your wall and I don’t want VIOLENCE AGAINST WALLS OR BOOKS on my conscience.
As for “space bus” — that phrase does not exist in the book.
As for “space diapers” — goddamn right that phrase exists in the book.
If I could include that phrase in all my books, I would. Maybe I can…
It exists in the book because:
a) It’s funny. I still laugh at it, and I laugh even harder knowing it bugs people. Plus, the humor factor has context for me. In the book, it’s older Dengar saying it to a younger bounty hunter in a scene that is a deliberate riff on the climax of one of my favorite movies, Grosse Pointe Blank, where Grosser (Dan Ackroyd) tries to recruit Martin Blank (John Cusack) into his mercenary assassin’s guild. In this mode, Dengar is Grosser, trying to convince his younger counterpart to join in a bounty hunter union, basically. Further, my version of Dengar is the Clone Wars cartoon version — which is to say, voiced by Simon Pegg. So, Simon Pegg saying “space diapers” is, for me, just the best. That version of him — listen to it here — is ego-fed and cocky. And “space diapers” is fundamentally funnier than just “diapers.” IT JUST IS.
b) Space diapers are actually a thing, anyway. Astronauts use them.
People get very mad about that phrase, “space diapers” — so much so that you start to wonder if these critics are all reading from the same playbook. Either that, or “space diapers” is your safeword and it bucks you out of the storytelling? Spaaaace diaaaapers.
According to Wookieepedia you wrote your 360 page book in under 45 days, so it perplexes me that you have the energy to defend this novel when you clearly spent very little time developing it. Dr. Seuss wrote his 50 page epic Cat in The Hat over the course of a year, and personally I think that may have made a better Star Wars book. You can’t rush a piece of art if you want it to turn out.
I did not spend 45 days in total on the book. I spent months workshopping it with the publisher and Story Group. I wrote the first draft in 45 days, and then there was a second draft, and a copy edit. (And no, that copy edit did not catch everything, which is a shame, but a woeful reality of publishing where perfection is just not possible.)
I tend to spend around 30-60 days writing most of my novels. Again: first drafts. I think Life Debt took me about 90 days on the first draft, but that’s because I had hellacious pneumonia smack dab in the middle of it and that halted forward progress.
Writing quickly is not that weird.
Nor is writing slowly. Every author writes at a different speed because writing is not digging holes. I worked in freelance game writing for over a decade and learned to write quickly and cleanly to hit deadlines. It serves me well now as a speed skill that I practiced over many years.
And no, Cat in the Hat is not a better Star Wars story, and now you’re just being silly.
The good news here is, I appreciate you engaging with the book on a critical level without bringing up any of that homophobic stuff, because —
Oh, oh, no.
*takes off glasses*
I know how this might sound, but I also had a problem with the homosexuality in the book. Not because I have a problem with gay people or anything –in matter of fact I do have a friend that is lesbian and I think she is a delight, but I am appalled by the pandering and pedaling of your own political agenda into something so pure as Star Wars. Star Wars is supposed to be above the politics, but in this novel you made it about that when you needlessly added homosexuals just for the hell of it. Temmin’s aunts served no purpose, the two fathers served no purpose. The only one that did was Sinjir and even his orientation made no sense in context. Considering that it felt like a romance was set up in the beginning of the book between him and Jas, your decision diminished the payoff. And even worse than that, the scene where he reveals this was just horribly executed. It was by far some of the most clunky dialogue I had ever read or seen (maybe even worse than Anakin in Attack of the Clones). The offense comes in at this point: you crammed your politics into a franchise that is universal that is supposed to be above the politics –a subject that would so obviously divide us –and to make it worse when we tell you that your book is no good, you call it a weaponized nostalgia from the Evil Empire comprised of hateful bigots. But the truth is, we do not dislike your book because of the politics as you believe it is, but it is because this book was sloppy and poorly written.
And, there it is.
The kicker, the corker, the game ball, the goal unit.
So, let’s unpack this a little.
You don’t have a problem with gay people in your life — because you have one lesbian pal, and boy howdy is she a delight — but you do have a problem with gay people in your fiction. Sorry, “crammed” in your Star Wars fiction. The inclusion of homosexual characters in the book offended you. An inclusion that, according to you, is forced in and overly political and agenda-driven and yet, paradoxically, done “needlessly” and “just for the hell of it.” (Newsflash: agendas are never just for the hell of it, sport.)
These characters serve no purpose? Temmin’s aunts raised him. The two fathers that died are missed because they were fathers. They were parents. Sinjir is gay because he’s gay. It’s not for the hell of it, but it’s also not because his homosexuality is a plot point. Listen, I’m not some kind of culture hero, and nor is this book some kind of paean to homosexuality. But it includes them as people, as real people, as married people or as people who can love one another and not be marked by stereotypes. That’s their purpose. To be real, complex, compelling characters. It’s the same purpose of the straight characters. Or the asexual droids. They are there to be characters — realized, interesting, and with their own agendas and agency. I did the literal bare minimum here in including these characters and even still, I get weekly fucking emails from people who just can’t hack it. The very thought of there being a man inside Star Wars wanting to kiss — whether sweetly or sloppily — another man is so utterly sphincter-clenching that I’m surprised you folks don’t just implode into your own asshole like a star collapsing into its own center.
And you know the one earmark with all these comments?
The comments always come part and parcel with The Defense.
The Defense of, “I’m not homophobic. Your book just sucks.”
And yet, the most substantive, thought-out portion of Random Guy’s email critique is, drum roll please, a harangue against the inclusion of homosexual characters. A minor portion of the novel gets the major part of your attention.
That, dear emailer, is homophobia.
That is bigotry.
That is hatred.
You worry about how it sounds?
You should! Because it sounds super-homophobic!
You can pretend it’s not. If that helps you sleep better at night, far be it for me to disturb your restful, hate-fueled slumber. But you can object and gesticulate all you like: if the thought of characters being gay upsets you, then that is textbook homophobia. And you can hate the book for all kinds of reasons, and I get that. Not everybody is going to like every book, and maybe I was a controversial choice to write Star Wars because of my style. But what shouldn’t ever be controversial is the act of including gay characters. The moment you poison your critique with that bigotry, everything else you said is now out the window. Because I see one thing: “I am a homophobe, and I’m going to mention these other criticisms in order to try to quaintly pave over my raging prejudice. I’m going to tell you I don’t like sentence fragments, but what I really want to tell you is that I hate that you have two women who are married and who love each other because ew gross yucky face. I mean, also sentence fragments, but really, two dudes kissing.”
No, I don’t believe that everyone who didn’t like this book didn’t like it because of its “politics” — and, by the way, Star Wars has always been political, and science-fiction is profoundly political as a genre — but I do believe that the moment you mention it, you’ve proven that you’re the one with the agenda here. You’re the one with the toxic, nauseating politics that would exclude other people because they make you uncomfortable. (Sidenote, at Amazon, the troll mobs continue on. Someone wrote an admittedly luke-warm five-star review recently, and that review has 18 comments from the self-identified trolls — trolls who mob every positive review and use words like SJW and “cry-bully” and other phrases often earmarked by bigots while simultaneously calling me out for claiming that they are, in fact, bigoted idiots.)
And of course, that brings us to Luke Skywalker and his Rainbow Gaysaber.
Mark Hamill came out recently and said that Skywalker could be gay or bisexual.
Something something ruining Star Wars.
Something something ruining Ghostbusters.
Something something Idris Elba ruining James Bond or the Gunslinger.
It’s all the same shit.
It’s all people from the status quo bleachers mad because their team doesn’t have the ball anymore — never mind the fact we’ve been hogging the ball for too damn long now.
See, earlier I said that storytelling is an act of breaking the status quo. This is part of that, too. White gender-normative dudes have had the run on not just protagonists, but villains, supporting characters, everything. We’re like wallpaper. We’re roaches in the walls. We’re everywhere. But the power of story is the power of breaking the status quo — even when that status quo is about the stories themselves. It’s time to break the status quo. The Force Awakens succeeds because it’s a great story, yes, and also because the protagonists up on the screen are not a bunch of white boy Luke Skywalker clones running around, being white and kissing their sisters. There is great power in breaking the rules, in shattering toxic norms, in doing what other people aren’t: representing all kinds of people inside fiction. Time to pass the ball. Time to let other people see themselves inside stories, and just as importantly, it’s time for you to get comfortable with that — because everyone else has had to be comfortable with it for far too long, now.
Star Wars, to quote the guy who emailed me, does bring people from diverse cultures and backgrounds together. And everybody of those cultures and backgrounds deserve to be seen on the screen and on the page and in comic book panels. This isn’t a joke. This isn’t glib. This is their lives. Not everybody is you. And as I said before, if you can imagine a Star Wars where Luke Skywalker hates gay people, I got bad news for you, hoss: you watched a different Star Wars than I did. You fell to the Dark Side. You joined the Empire. And I hope one day that Big Gay Luke Skywalker shows up at your battlestation door and he shines his rainbow gaysaber at you and you can do nothing but melt beneath its warm rays of inclusiveness and kindness and you come to realize that love is good and gay people exist and dang, were you a huge asshole.
But, if you’re not on board with that, here is a picture of heterosexual love to make you feel better about your choices. Please click and enjoy warm, comfortable familiarity.
Oh, and thanks for the email, Random Guy. Glad you liked Aftermath, and Life Debt will be out this summer. WITH EXTRA SPACE DIAPERS ALL FOR YOU.
Bye! Off to ruin more Star Wars.
*sings Perfect Strangers theme song*
*bounds away on a grunting gay tauntaun*
124 responses to “Episode 0: Luke Skywaker And The Return Of The Rainbow Gaysaber”
Great. Now I might have to read Star Wars tie-in fiction. Thanks a lot.
I’ve been re-watching Star Trek Voyager lately and the metaphors and analogies annoy me a lot. Neelix (a Talaxian from the Delta quadrant who has only just met humans and has never been to Earth) will say something about a “Zingodian tomato” or whatever, and I wonder why an alien race calls something a tomato or specifies its origin. Or is it the universal translator that did that for us?
But on the other hand I recently read a book where in one paragraph on the first page the author bombarded the reader with FOUR new names for creatures (or plants, I wasn’t sure) as the protagonist enjoyed the serenity. The doowangle was particularly pretty today, and she could hear a wawanoo in the murtlefling behind the answander. I didn’t like that either. So I don’t know what the best way of handling this is.
Honest to goodness, the use of space diapers bugs me because it “canonizes” the rhetoric that people use to denigrate sci-fi in general. When making fun of our passion many will throw the word “space” in front of some trivial thing to make a mockery of it. (“Space” sword, “space” laser, “space” milk). As if it’s silly to be interested in something so mundane because it’s just normal stuff, and you only like it because it’s in space.
So, yes, I found your book to be the least enjoyable of the new Canon so far but was dutifully moving through it, ascribing my disdain for stylistic differences. Then “space” diapers. It felt like a novelized trolling of star wars fans. Still does.
I’d also appreciate it if you didn’t file this under “homophobic jerk” because, you’ll note, none of my issues stem from any of that. This book was a disservice to fans, especially given its status as THE book to read before seeing the new movie.
My only further remark concerns the way in which you seemingly dismiss legitimate criticisms from many based on the disgusting homophobia of some. At some point, you must have realized that some criticisms have merit, right?
Hope you read this, understand that’s not likely.
PS. You’re scathing disassembly of that homophobe’s email gives me hope for the rest of the trilogy because it was truly well written, sharp, and focused.
Honestly, it starts to grow a little wearying that I have to reiterate again and again that YES I acknowledge people may have reasonable criticisms, and NO, that does not make them automagically homophobic. What makes them homophobic, as exemplified in this post, is being actively homophobic. That’s it. Like, it’s right there. Present and accounted for. I don’t say WELL HE SECRETLY DISLIKES GAYNESS as a way to dismiss criticism. He actually says it.
P.S. Space diapers are actually a thing. So is a space shuttle and space program and space heaters.
P.P.S. yes, I know space heaters aren’t in space, it was a joke, shhhhhhhh
Automagically just became my new favorite word. Also I think everyone should get space diapers. It would certainly make long road trips easier. Just saying.
>. At some point, you must have realized that some criticisms have merit, right?<
What kind of mindset is this? I just can't fathom this.
Do you honestly think because some random guys on the internet simmering in their self-importance are posting criticism, an author will change how they write? Someone like Chuck here, who spend years honing his craft, do you think he will look at those comments about sentence fragments and go "Golly ho, why has nobody told little old me? I shall change my way of writing immediately so that I appeal to random internet dude!" ???
May the gods grant me the self-important confidence of a mediocre guy on the internet — I could take this world apart with that!
>When making fun of our passion many will throw the word “space” in front of some trivial thing to make a mockery of it. (“Space” sword, “space” laser, “space” milk).
Because people never do this to things they themselves like to be self-deprecating and funny, right? Because nobody in the Star Wars universe has ever had a sense of humor? Look, the best books of the old EU had a running gag about teddy bears. “Space diapers” is in exactly the same spirit.
Plus, it’s not like there’s an in-universe term for diapers already that this is contradicting.
I just can’t believe someone wrote “Star Wars is supposed to be above politics” with a straight face. What movies were *you* watching, dude?
I’ve noticed that a lot of these guys couch their homophobia in gatekeeping. They’re all “homosexuality doesn’t exist in the Star Wars universe, which you’d know if you’d read the web-comic based on a video game version of a cartoon spin off of an Extended Universe novelization of the dream journal George Lucas kept while filming the original trilogy, in which Luke Skywalker says boys that kiss other boys are totes icky.” So, not only are you “politicizing” Star Wars, but you’re a bad fan to boot.
Whatever. I’ll freely admit I enjoyed the hell out of AFTERMATH, and that my eyes glazed over all the name-checking the OP did to prove that he’s the ONE TRUFAN.
I just want to say that I really enjoyed the book in all its facets; I hope you, Mr. Wendig, actually gets emails and comments from appreciative readers too. So here’s one. You are 100% on point regarding the diversification of Star Wars.
It’s official – there is no cure for stoopid. Hang in there, Chucky babe 🙂
I would totally pay cold hard cash to see you put hamsters up for Catholic sainthood. Is there a form for that? An application process?
Regardless, keep up the good work with nessing up the status quo.
I would totally wear a St. Fluffy medal.
I haven’t read your space diaper novel yet because I have children, and they hate reading unless I’m doing it to them, and I don’t want to read to them about space diapers until we’re well passed potty training because romanticizing diapers is a one way fail street.
That being said, the inclusion of homosexual characters being taboo defeats me. These people get that there are homosexual people in the world, right? Not just their one lesbian friend who is a delight? (Aside: what makes her a delight aside from her lesbionicness? Since that is her only identifier, I assume it’s that)…do people not realize that gay folk exist in this here real fact-based reality, which any story that has humans in it is at least loosely derived from (derivative of? – something) I feel like it’s WAY MORE (not spoken by droids, just trying to stress the point a bit) confusing and kind of a reach to disinclude a whole bunch of people than to include them in what is probably a statistically low number.
Also, you should know that you give me brain wood with this awesome response. I’m sorry that you keep getting the emails though. Must be fatiguing.
You know what? Never mind. I figured it out. There aren’t actual gay people. The reality is that we are all characters in a Chuck Wendig novel (and out of millions of people from the straight universe you have the originality and imagination to think that people of the same sex might find each other sexually attractive), and the gays are just in here for the hell of it. I feel better now, but I do wonder – I’m a relatively minor character, so…could I win a lottery, and maybe have a fortuitous accident that makes me extra smart with the brain trauma? I’d like to be able to afford to send my kids to college, and also to solve world hunger or something. TIA. Sincerely, Whatever My Name Actually Is, Cause It’s Your Novel
P.S. Please write out Donald Trump
P.P.S. A cure for ALS would be nice.
P.P.P.S Am I the only one who knows?
P.P.P.P.S. I’m really tired, so this is probably a lot less funny than I think it is, so I’m going to stop now.
I thought it was hilarious. I want to be in on that lotto! 😉
Hey Mr. Wendig, I just wanted to thank you for writing such a kick ass book and to say I loved it. I cannot wait for the sequel. But I also wanted to thank you for adding gay characters to your novel and MAKING THEM HUMAN. It seems a lot of people make the gay (and p.o.c.’s as well) mere token characters that are just walking stereotypes or completely flat.
Being lesbian myself it was cool to see the two aunts doing what they could to raise Temmin, that Sinjir was gay and Jas was like ‘ oh shit, well that’s cool.’. No ‘ ZOMG you freak! ‘ or ‘ how could you? !’. In fact was more than cool to see in your book, it was freaking awesome just as the rest of the characters were. So thank you again.
Space diapers! The term cracks me up.
You’d think that most SW fans would also watch other sci-fi, and after this many years the diversity in them would give them a clue. A cigar isn’t always a cigar, and aliens aren’t always aliens… I guess SW needs its own IDIC. Infinite diversity should be truly infinite.
And fwiw, I <3 sentence fragments.
<3 You thought I was funny, and I love that you used the IDIC. <3 You may partake in my lottery winnings. If you do anything else awesome, I'll share my brain trauma too.
What I hear when reading whiny rants like the one quoted above:
“Straight white cis man does macho things together with straight white cis men and are rewarded with attention from “beautiful” straight woman with no personality = not political.
Woman has a personality and/or does things = political.
Non-white person has a personality and/or does things = political, unless non-white person is villain doing evul things.
Non-straight person exists and leads a normal life = political.
Non-binary person exists and leads a normal life = political.
Disabled person exists and leads a normal life = political, unless straight white cis man has acquired injuries while doing macho things.”
When are people going to understand that women, people of colour, LGBTQ-people and disabled people don’t exist because we/they were somehow summoned by a politician skilled in the dark arts for promoting an agenda, but actually, simply, because we/they happen to be born into these lives? We/they didn’t choose to be born just to make a political statement. Accepting that we/they are *people*, just like straight white cis men (gasp!), shouldn’t be political, it should be damn common decency!
Thanks, Chuck, for being a decent human being.
“Star Wars is supposed to be above the politics, but in this novel you made it about that when you needlessly added homosexuals just for the hell of it. ”
Oy, letter-writing dude. That IS being above politics. Gay people exist, and putting gay characters in a novel simply means that the novel is reflective of reality. Their existence does not need to be justified, any more than the existence of heterosexual people needs to be justified in a novel.
One could more easily argue that never including gay people in stories is a political statement.
(Also, “I’m not bigoted against X group of people; I have a friend who is X” is pretty much a guarantee that what follows is going to be a diatribe against X group of people.)
>Listen, I’m not some kind of culture hero, and nor is this book some kind of paean to homosexuality. But it includes them as people, as real people, as married people or as people who can love one another and not be marked by stereotypes. That’s their purpose. To be real, complex, compelling characters.
This means a lot to me — so often in fiction & sci-fi, gay people are relegated to punchlines, or villains, or given some kind of melodramatic coming-out self-awareness journey that’s gotten old after a couple hundred repetitions. (Not to mention that many gay people, myself included, have their own melodramatic coming-out story. It’s old ground. We’ve covered it about a zillion times.) It’s great to have a Star Wars book where gay people can just be… people. It’s so simple, honestly! It’s such a basic concept. But evidently something that people have a really hard time wrapping their minds around.
I’m glad to know that at least one Star Wars content creator has this outlook and doesn’t consider “Of course there are gay characters in the Star Wars universe!” to be a revolutionary statement… I’ve gotten that vibe a couple of times recently and didn’t really appreciate it.
There is something I want to point out though — “Or the asexual droids.” — this is a little reminiscent of an old, awful joke that goes something like “haha, ace people are robots because they don’t feel sexual attraction, what kind of actual human person doesn’t want to have sex!” I know that’s not what you meant, but I thought you might want to be aware of the implication.
Sorry, definitely not a knock against asexuality — and if anything, I’d hope it’s a compliment since the droids in STAR WARS are awesome. 🙂
But I take the point, and certainly don’t want to imply that, thx.
why do people always imply that diversity is the only way media becomes political? even leaving aside that the whole of star wars is about fighting oppressive regimes (whoa that sounds political doesn’t it??) It’s as if including only straight and white characters when it should be statistically impossible isn’t it’s own implicit kind of political message, which is just… ???
*siiiiiiiiiggggggggghhhhh* When in this world are we going to accept a gay character in a novel without them having to go through trials of fire to ‘prove’ their ‘worthiness’ for being included in the plot? “No honestly, here’s what my gayness can bring to the story, I’ve made a PowerPoint presentation and everything…”
NO! Sometimes a character in a novel is gay because they just ARE, and because they were in the same place at the same time as non-gay people, now they’re caught up in the same shit (plot-wise, not quality-wise) as everyone else. They are under NO OBLIGATION to be the Gay Ambassador for the Gay Kingdom representing All Things Gay, and anyone who thinks that should be the only ‘legitimate’ way they earn their place in fiction is homophobic in real life, no matter how much they might splutter to deny it.
Gay, bisexual, transgender and everyone all up and down the sexuality spectrum are everywhere in real life, doing everyday jobs and all the same everyday boring shit that everyone does. That’s a fact of real life. So why do the people whose first line of disclaimer is “I’m not homophobic, but…” find it so hard to deal with in make-believe worlds?
*stomps off to eat therapeutic chocolate*
Okay, late to the party, but I did bring beer.
So much cool stuff in these comments that I bet my boss won’t mind that I just blew a half-hour reading and re-reading and appreciating the banter.
Thanks for putting it out there, Chuck. Clearly, one douchebag will not ruin it for the rest of us and based on the support here we won’t let them ruin it for you either.
I haven’t read aftermath yet, but if it’s as half as good as this article……I’m sure I will enjoy it. I really don’t understand this age of bashing movies,books,songs,etc. … If I don’t like something, I don’t like it. I see no point in putting my opinion out there so the world can agree or disagree with me. The reason is….I could care less. Life’s to short to waste on things like this and i have better things to do. People let it go! Oops….I just gave my opinion. Sorry..
“SORRY SOMETIMES I VERY MUCH LIKE TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS. ESPECIALLY WHEN WRITING IN THE VOICE OF A LOVABLE-IF-DERANGED BODYGUARD VIOLENCE-PERFORMING DROID.”
I am a fan of Star Wars, a fan of your blog, and a fan of pissing off bigots. Somehow, *this* is the point that made get off my duff and say yes, I’m actually going to read this book. The promise of a cappy violence-bot.
“[Star Wars] plays a major role in my life now as I go forth aspiring to be a filmmaker…I also had a problem with the homosexuality in the book…I am appalled by the pandering and pedaling of your own political agenda into something so pure as Star Wars.”
I don’t want to beat on this email writer, but, this is discouraging. First, it highlights how the industry continues to deliver the content it does when someone aspiring to brush shoulders with the visual storytelling elite is concerned with homosexuality in a book. Secondly, it compounds the obstacles an aspiring filmmaker must overcome by attempting to make visual stories that are without political pandering or pedaling, for every quality story is about a three-dimensional person with his or her own political agenda.
Thank you. You’re amazing.
Also, I really loved the book. One of my favourite things to read is that kind of choppy storytelling where you have multiple plots going on at once and you switch between them. It makes you have to pay more attention to the book 😀
Thanks, a bisexual nonbinary person who is incredibly glad that maybe we’re going to get some more representation that just shows us as normal people.
Where can I send emails?
Everything you said here. Just perfect. I wanna write and read inclusive stories because they feel more real to me, more like the world around me. That means straight and rainbow characters and all races and religions. Oh, and thanks for that gif. Loved it!
Well I hadn’t been interested in Star Wars books, mostly because I already have a teetering TBR and prefer to stick to books where the queer chars are central, but that was an awesome post and I’m going to full on support an author who is actively working to bring more diversity to fiction and make my oft-overlooked corner of queer sff a little more visible to the world.
YOU ARE MY MOTHERFUCKING HERO, SIR.
Red this aloud (with voices, not all of them flattering) to spouse and we both fist-pump in salute.
Rock right the fuck on.
You are extremely cool, sir. Extremely cool. You make me wanna get space diapers.
and I love how the sentences were structured. They make it like a real SW movie, and I can literally see it running in my head, so thank you. That was a three hour long Aftermath-named-actual-SW-movie.
I don’t know what why everyone’s space diapers are all in a bunch. There aren’t any “gay” characters in the book, nor are there any “gay” people in the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars takes place a long, long, time ago. It’s just how things are. The word “gay” doesn’t translate there. It’s just the way some people are — and nobody cares about it there.
Maybe one day, that’s how we’ll be too.
Am I the only one who noticed that this guy complaining (at first) about the style of a book made a grade school error and said “pedaling of your political agenda” instead of peddling?
Unless you actually have a political agenda bicycle, in which case I want one too, because that would be awesome.
You just became my personal hero!
As one of those rainbow gaysaber holding lesbinims, this just made my day. I wanted to say I can’t believe you get that much email abuse for just including gay characters, but sadly I can believe it, doesn’t rid me of my shock/disgust/arson inducing rage though.
By the way, of course a gay character is a political stance. I mean, jesus, didn’t you know the pope has decreed that we gays are the root cause of all evil, including such weather atrocities as the floods, tsunamis and hurricanes?! Clearly imprisonment and death by capitol punishment is the only way to prevent climate change. I’m afraid you are mistaken, your book is clearly THE latest mascot for the next anti gaybashing campaign.
Some people, will always be fucking morons.
p.s. that link to the heterosexual gify… I spat my drink out I laughed that hard.
Chuck Wendig = *swoon* and hey, I’m a lesbian! and no, that’s not a political statement its a sodding birth mark!
Read a lot of starwars books as a teenager, and for the first time in years it feels like time for a revisit.
Thank you for mirroring reality and creating a connection between the real world and Star Wars. It creates a more believable universe (as opposed to the homophobic world the random emailer apparently wants to live in). I thoroughly enjoyed Aftermath. People tend to forget that stories are appealing because they shine light on the elements that make us human and touch on issues relate-able to all. He said he wants to be a filmmaker and I wish I knew his name so I can avoid his films like the plague. After all they would most likely be all flat characters full of hate with no room to grow. (Psss. Shitty films without truth). Thanks for dissecting his email. I’ll be sure to watch for films with no substance and bigotry driven agendas. Oops I said the A-word.
I’m writing a science fiction novel with a bi male MC right now. POC, too. He’s been in my head for the better part of twenty years. He’s waited a long time to swing around his fucking rainbow lightsaber, so screw guys like this email whiner. 2016 is here, bigots, and full of a future that doesn’t look so gray to the rest of us. Get used to it.
Thank you Chuck, as ever, and thank you awesome commenters. My hands won’t shake on the keyboard quite so badly tonight.
I liked your blog a lot already, but you’ve just sold a copy of your book to me. Rainbow gaysabers forever!
Love it! You’re hilarious, Chuck. Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂
i’ve been a star wars fan since 1977. i f*#king loved aftermath. can’t figure out what all the fuss is over. or that the guys on jedi council continually slag it while thoroughly washing claudia gray’s swimsuit area over lost stars. i wasn’t a big fan of lost stars. whatever.
at any rate i’m anxiously awaiting life debt. keep up the great work chuck!
bless you for this. getting to read it was a breath of fresh air.
thank you. thank you. thank you. it’s good to know that the whole geek world isn’t against us.
I enjoyed the Aftermath books for the most part. It seems to help tie up some loose ends in the plot and hopefully more so with the third book. There are a lot of comments complaining about gay characters and complaining about the people complaining about gay characters. I don’t care if the characters are gay but I don’t understand the need for the descriptive ogling of one gay character of another. There is nowhere mentioned that Wedge thinks Nora has a nice ass or something to that effect nor does there need to be. I just think the use of sex in Star Wars is minimal and should stay that way regardless of orientation.
I’d like to thank the unnamed critic in the original post for having the bravery to speak up in such an intolerant environment. Just kidding, I’d like to thank the unnamed critic for calling my attention to Wendig’s Star Wars books, which I’m going to have to read.
Seriously, it really is a bare-minimum sort of thing to put a representative set of different types of characters in a story, even if only as a brief nod. I’ve noticed it in my own writing, that just making some casual reference to a non-straight relationship (insert terminology to taste), has a huge positive effect on readers from non-straight demographics.
It doesn’t bother anyone whose opinion matters, and it means a lot to people whose opinions have been ignored forever. What’s the downside? You just made yourself a new reader, Chuck.
[…] Aftermath, replying to (yet another) email complaining about the gay people in his Star Wars book (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/03/09/episode-0-luke-skywaker-and-the-return-of-the-rainbow-gay…😉 Tagsbless, chuck wendig, star wars, who orders queue under the name of […]