The Diversity of Star Wars

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Since the publication of the Star Wars novelization in 1976 we have had 41 years of Star Wars content being released nearly every single year. Whether it arrived in the form of films, books, games, toys, action figures, or other paraphernalia it is clear that Star Wars came and never went. There are other popular multimedia franchises of course, but nothing seems to have had the same lasting impact and level of diversity that Star Wars has had.
Presently we now have hundreds of Star Wars books, hundreds of comics, action figures of nearly every single character, popular or obscure; dozens of video games of various genres, hundreds of board games, a number of films, TV specials, Television shows, and other collectibles.

Star Wars covers everything. There is not a single medium, tool, household appliance, item of clothing, etc. that does not have a Star Wars iteration of some kind. Hell, I once saw an ice scraper for your car that was designed to look like a wampa arm. You can buy coffee mugs that look like Vader’s head, Star Wars bed sheets, Star Wars shower curtains (I’ve got one), soap, towels, and literally anything else you can think of.
If you wanted to you could turn every facet of your life into something Star Wars related. There are enough Star Wars T-shirts out there to make a full wardrobe for your casual wear. And they have Star Wars ties for other occasions. They have Star Wars watches and clocks if you need to tell the time. You can turn your phone’s ringtone to the Imperial March. If you manage to injure yourself they have Star Wars band aids.
You could practically educate your children with it too. There is a large number of phonics books, ABC’s, 123’s, and other school subjects that have materials presented in a Star Wars theme.

And with the entire body of Star Wars media being in nearly every genre there is no shortage of content catering to one’s taste. Do you like war stories and military fiction? Well, you have Rogue One, Karen Travis’s Clone Wars novels, some of Timothy Zahn’s books, and the recent Battlefront books. Do you like Battlefield and CoD? I personally don’t, but there are the Battlefront games if you want a Star Wars equivalent. Do you like Halo? There is Republic Commando which is similar. Do you like Mass Effect? The Knights of the Old Republic and SWTOR games are a close equivalent as well. How about Doom? Dark Forces was made in the same game engine. Were you an avid Goosebumps reader as a kid? The Galaxy of Fear series are very much the same. How about Choose Your Own Adventure? There are Star Wars versions of that too. If you are more into hardcore horror there are the Death Troopers and Red Harvest books. Do you like snack food? I’ve bought Star Wars Cheeze Its, fruit snacks, and candy before. There is even Star Wars cereal. Are you a masochist? Well there is the Star Wars Holiday Special, Masters of the Teras Kasi, and Kevin J. Anderson’s books to suit your needs when the call for self abuse arrives.
And for you new parents out there I have seen for sale onesies that look like Chewbacca’s fur and mobiles with X-Wings and TIE Fighters. My two year old has several stuffed Star Wars toys, Star Wars Little Golden Books, Star Wars colouring books, and she watches an episode of the old Droids or Ewoks cartoons every morning with her breakfast. When she is a little older I will probably go and pick up some of those aforementioned educational materials for her.

It’s clear that Star Wars has covered everything. From your entertainment, attire, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, to even your office space or cubicle. There is a way to make anything in your life Star Wars. Whether you should or not is a question discerned by the individual I suppose. The Star Wars makeup that was being released to promote The Force Awakens might have been going a bit too far in my opinion, but that is a matter of taste and since I do not wear makeup I will refrain from further comment. After seeing Star Wars toothbrushes and even lightsaber chopsticks you can see Star Wars has something out there for you down to the last detail. There is even Star Wars themed porn out there which just goes to show that in addition to the Little Golden Books, Saturday morning cartoons, and onesies Star Wars covers a wide age range which doesn’t pander to specific economic status, gender, political affiliation, or race. Every sort of taste, interest, need, want, and hobby can be effectively Star Wars’d.

Some might argue that this diversity is not a good thing and that it is more of a byproduct of immaturity than healthy fandom. While I agree that anything can be taken too far (just look at the people camping out in front of department stores at midnight) I think Star Wars’ing your life doesn’t necessarily have to be an unhealthy obsession. If you can afford to pay for a Star Wars toothbrush I highly doubt you will suffer much from using it instead of a more mundane kind. The people using lightsaber chopsticks don’t seem to be having problems any more or less than others using the regular kind. You aren’t negatively affecting your sleeping habits by having a C-3PO bedspread. People who use Princess Leia shampoo and an A New Hope poster shower curtain aren’t less cleanly than others. Those who read Heir to the Empire aren’t less literate than readers of Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, or Tom Clancy. If my kid learns phonics from a Star Wars themed book then she still learned phonics. A is for Artoo as much as it is for Apple.
If people are splurging on this stuff to the point of financial ruin or if their Star Wars fandom somehow or other affected their social life negatively (which it rarely does by the way despite what naysayers may claim) then I would concede that that would be a serious issue. However, such a principle would not apply solely to Star Wars. There are people who waste money on other things as much as anything else. Anything can be addicting and unlike drugs or alcohol Star Wars is not special in this regard. But you aren’t hurting anyone by putting blue die in your milk or wearing a Darth Vader tie. A Star Wars life can be a good life. If the only downside is people taking you less seriously then I don’t think there is much to worry about. Because I don’t take myself that seriously either.

 

NOTE: Due to some time constraints involving family, school, and other projects Star Wars EU reviews will not likely return until around November. However, for the time being I will try to periodically post these non-review articles every once and awhile to keep the blog alive. Everyone have a great day and may the Force be with you.

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What Would Living in the Star Wars Galaxy Be Like?

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If it turned out that the Star Wars universe was real and you could go live there would you do it? There are a lot of people who would probably scream YES!!!
But the question I would like answered first is what would living in a Galaxy far, far away actually be like? It’s easy to say yes to things when we don’t think about them. But sometimes when we fully appreciate the complexities of accomplishing something we feel less enthused about it. Now I am not saying that if people knew what living in the Star Wars Galaxy would be like they would all say no. I am just saying that perhaps a brief little tour might be in order before we start looking at real estate on Coruscant.

Unfortunately before we begin a lot of arbitrary assumptions have to be made about one’s life in the Galaxy since it is a very diverse universe of species, planets,  employment, and time periods. A Jedi’s experience on Coruscant during the Clone Wars won’t be the same as that of a Czerka contract miner working on Tatooine during the Jedi Civil War. So before I begin describing life in the Galaxy I am going to take the liberty of presenting the reader with a basic profile of who you are, where you are, and when you are so there are less extreme variables that would pose severe flaws for this essay. I shall try to be as general as possible to give full freedom of exploration and movement, but some background is still needed.

So for the sake of this argument you are a human living somewhere in the Core Worlds like Coruscant, Alderaan, or Corellia about ten or twenty years before the events of The Phantom Menace. You are neither poor nor rich, but rather a middle-class university student who hasn’t decided on a career yet. And from there we shall go on.

Now we must start looking at the things you are going to need to know and be ready to deal with now that you live in the Star Wars Galaxy and no longer have our real life world as a frame of reference. I am going to divide these things in categories for convenience and will be operating under the assumption that the Legends continuity holds true for the Galaxy I am describing. As much as I like the new Canon there is too little detail in it to make this sort of post work.

LANGUAGE

You will still be speaking English, but now it is not called English. It is now called Galactic Basic and it is the common speech of the Galaxy.
Sadly this doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about having to learn a new language in the Star Wars Galaxy. Almost every citizen of the Republic also knows Huttese as a second language. Huttese is commonly spoken by Hutts, Twi’leks, and other species and it is not uncommon for humans and those species to interact in their own languages while understanding each other perfectly. Learning new languages isn’t too difficult, but it is time consuming and requires discipline to avoid getting lazy. But if you persist at it you should do fine, especially if you are immersed among speakers of the language you are trying to learn.
Also another major inconvenience is that you are going to need to relearn the alphabet. The Latin alphabet we use is also used there, but it is rare and is a very formal high-class writing method not favoured by common people. Most writing in all the signs and books you will see in the Galaxy will be written in Aurebesh which is the standard alphabet of the Republic.

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Memorise that and you should be good. There is also a Mandalorian alphabet, but I think you could survive without knowing it for awhile.

HISTORY

With the real world no longer a viable frame of reference a lot of reeducation is going to be needed. One thing you are going to need to relearn drastically is history. Knowing about the Crusades, the World Wars, and the Columbus voyages won’t help you because those things didn’t happen here.
You have new wars, new events, and new dates to learn and memorise all over again!
And 35, 000 years of Galactic history is nothing to scoff at either. In the real world human history is only about 10,000 years old and only about 6000 or 4000 years of that is even required learning to live in our world. The Star Wars Galaxy covers a wider span of history that involves hundreds of worlds and species. You will need to learn of the Rakatan Infinite Empire, the Fall of the Sith Empire, The Sith War, The Mandalorian Wars, The Jedi Civil War, the Sith Triumvirate, the Ruusan Reformation, and a bunch of other things that will make all the homework you need to catch up on a major headache. And that is nothing compared to the local history you are going to need to learn. If you live on Alderaan, for instance, you are going to need to study the Organa-Ulgo feud in addition to the expansive Galactic history you already have on your plate. Good luck. You’re gonna need it.

DATING AND CALENDARS AND UNITS OF MEASUREMENT

So what day is your birthday? What days of the week do you need to go to work? What time is it? These questions may be difficult to answer now that you are in a new environment that does not use the same calendar we do.
The Standard Week in the Republic has 5 instead of 7 days which are as follows:

  1. Primeday
  2. Centaxday
  3. Taungsday
  4. Zhellday
  5. Benduday

Seven weeks make a month and 10 months, 3 festival weeks, and 3 holidays form a standard year consisting of 368 days.
And for years you can forget the BC/AD dating system since the events that system marks aren’t relevant in the Galaxy. After the destruction of the second Death Star and the formation of the New Republic a system using BBY/ABY (Before Battle of Yavin and After Battle of Yavin) will be employed but since we are in the pre-Clone Wars era a different system that was not specified to my knowledge in the EU is used.
Most standard units of measurement are the same, but if you are an American you are gonna need to learn the Metric system and Celsius since those are used in the Republic rather than the Imperial and Fahrenheit systems.

GEOGRAPHY, ASTROGATION, FLORA, AND FAUNA

If you plan on traveling the Galaxy much you are gonna need to learn Hyperspace routes and what the different planets are. The frequent stops for a traveler doing business of any kind will be places like Coruscant, Alderaan, Corellia, Manaan, Nar Shaddaa, Naboo, Bespin, etc. You will need to learn where they are on the Galactic map, what sort of terrain they have, local customs, what cities, mountains, forests, rivers, and nations are on them, and you will obviously have to learn about traveling expenses, visas, and other arrangements. And if you don’t have a good droid or Wookiee to help you, you might want to learn how to pilot a ship.
And each planet has its own variety of plants and animals. There are dogs, cats, and horses in the Galaxy, but they seem to be a rarity. Instead you are going to have to contend mostly with such oddities as firaxa sharks, bomas, drexl, Eopies, Kaadus, kath hounds, kinrath, mynocks, and nerfs. And it is the same thing with plants too. All of this points to how alien the Star Wars Galaxy is to us. However, one of the apparent advantages is that new advanced medicines have been designed that can heal injuries that we cannot heal in our world. Bacta and kolto are medicinal products of the unique ecosystems that exist within this Galaxy and have worked wonders from severe plasma burns to wampa attacks.

NEWS, ENTERTAINMENT, AND FOOD

Do you wanna watch TV? Or a movie? Well the closest equivalent in the Star Wars Galaxy is the HoloNet which broadcasts news reports and programmes regularly via hologram. As for movies there are Holovids which are fairly popular in the Galaxy. Some well known classics are Quest for Quasar, Rodian Kisses, Zeltrons in Love, and Easy Spacer. Just know that if you love Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Supernatural, or DC and Marvel comics you are going to live without them since they don’t exist in the Galaxy.
Also if you are craving pizza you are gonna face a sad reality that such a delicacy was never invented in the Republic or the Outer Rim. But if you like bantha steak or blue milk you are in luck! And while there is no coffee there are the equivalents caf and coffeine. And thanks to Timothy Zahn hot chocolate exists in this Galaxy.
In the mood for a game? Well we don’t have any Monopoly, Poker, or Skyrim. But the Galaxy does have the holographic chess game Dejarik. And there are card games like Pazaak and Sabacc you can play. And if you like NASCAR perhaps Swoop Racing or Pod Racing will be an apt replacement for you.
Like music? Well Figrin Da’an and the Modal Nodes are a popular Bith jazz band that frequents cantinas around the outer rim. You might be able to catch them on HoloNet one of these days.
Do you like social drinking? There is no Budweiser, but there is Juma Juice and Corellian whiskey.For a few credits you may find some in any local cantina. But if anyone offers you death sticks just say no.

ECONOMICS AND GOVERNMENT

Now that you are living in this Galaxy you are going to need to adjust to the new government of which you are now a citizen. In the Pre-Clone Wars era The Galactic Republic is an ancient edifice that has stood the test of time; surviving a history of wars, inner conflicts, and the differing political philosophies of the many cultures claiming membership. If you have ever taken a civics class you will undoubtably be aware that you will need to learn how the Galactic Senate functions, what the Senators and Chancellors do, what the Constitution contains, and who is in office at the time.
You will also need to learn the value of Republic money. The standard currency of the Republic is the Republic Credit which is acceptable throughout the Core Worlds and the Mid Rim. Out in the Outer Rim Territories and Unknown Regions you may run into trouble using Republic credits but for regular usage you should be fine.

ALIENS, DROIDS, AND THE FORCE

Most of the things I have mentioned are more or less replacements or equivalents to things we have here. But there are some things in the Star Wars Galaxy completely unique to itself.
In our world we do not (as far as we know) interact with aliens, but in the Star Wars Galaxy alien species are commonplace and to be seen everywhere. In addition to all the humans there are Rodians, Wookiees, Ithorians, Bith, Twi’leks, Quarren, Zabrak, and other denizens who enrich the Galaxy with a wide range of cultures, traditions, and beliefs. They also have unique anatomies which you would no doubt learn of in your travels. For instance, Wookiees have long life spans. Chadra-fans have two hearts which they can donate the way we do kidneys. Gand can drink dangerous toxins like alcohol. All these new creatures will create a fun, new learning experience. Just try to avoid prejudice and racial bias. Don’t call a Quarren “squid-head” and never refer to Tusken Raiders as “Sand People.”
You will also become acquainted with droids which are a controversial topic for many in the Galaxy. Some hate them, some are annoyed by them, some can take or leave them, and others form strong bonds with them and regard them as friends. Whatever stance you may take be prepared for the very harsh reality that droids have no rights in the Republic. But if you wish to buy one and make friends with it you certainly may do so if you have the credits. Just don’t expect to be able to bring them into a cantina. They won’t be welcome.
But, probably the most unique part of the Galaxy is the Force. You will find some in the Galaxy who are skeptical as to the reality of the Force citing it as nothing more than simple tricks and nonsense, but the fact remains that there is a mystical energy field that permeates all life in the Star Wars universe that is created by life and connects all living things together. Those especially attuned to the Force can manipulate its energies to lift objects, achieve otherwise impossible physical feats, influence others, and even generate lightning and storms.
Even if you are not a Force-sensitive yourself studying Jedi philosophy (or Sith philosophy if you are into that sort of thing) might be worth your while. There aren’t many Baptists or Catholics in the Galaxy, but there is a large number of Republic citizens who respect and venerate the Force and being aware of it and respectful toward it may gain you some respect and prestige among Republic citizens and Jedi. At least for the next 20 years anyway. When the Jedi Purge hits you may want to pipe down a bit. And on that topic you might want to move away from Alderaan in a few years. Trust me.

If you manage to get all these things down you may have a fighting chance of being successful in the Star Wars Galaxy. With time, patience, and energy living there might be doable. That is if it was real of course. Either way only you know if it is worth it. If it is then you have taken your first steps into a larger world.

Check next week for my review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #51-52 and may the Force be with you.

Remembering Carrie Fisher

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Having just learned of Carrie Fisher’s passing a few minutes ago I am still trying to gather my thoughts from the shock and find something appropriate to say. The loss of Kenny Baker earlier this year and the death of Carrie are both hard pills to swallow. I grew up with Star Wars and every character from the films were like old friends to me that I would revisit from time to time.
Having been born in the early 90’s I never got to see the Original Trilogy when it first came out, but Star Wars was in my consciousness from the very beginning. I do not remember the day when I was first introduced to the Saga because for me it was always there. Star Wars was something that seemed to have always existed for me growing up and so naturally the characters felt equally omnipresent.
To my mind Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher form The Big Three; an iconic triad who represent the series. This morning we lost one of them and the world will not be the same.

Princess Leia was arguably my first crush on a fictional character as a young boy and she was probably the first fictional princess I ever saw on film. I am quite certain Star Wars was already firmly in my consciousness before I was introduced to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the other Disney princesses who have been sadly marketed to death lately.
Star Wars represented a lot of “firsts” for me and Carrie Fisher played her role in more than a few of them. As I said she was the first princess I saw on film. And she was my first crush. I was very young and I doubt I fully comprehended the feelings she evoked in my prepubescent mind when I first saw her in that slave outfit, but probably the less I speak of the indelible impact that left on me the better. But there were other firsts she represented too. And not just for me, but for others.
Hollywood was already well on its way toward being open to representing women as more independent than just winnable “dames” and quasi-romantic objects to be rescued and/or tamed; but Star Wars really thrust a strong female character into the mainstream spotlight for the first time for a lot of younger audiences. Star Wars was aimed at children as well as adults and this means that impressionable young minds were being exposed to progressive concepts that would shape them into better people as adults. Now young girls didn’t just have pathetic role models like Snow White and Fay Wray whose only skills were screaming in a nightgown or fancy dress for the big strong male protagonist to come rescue them. They now had Princess Leia, an idealistic hero who is just as skilled with a blaster as she is with her words and resolve. She isn’t needy, but her emotions are appropriately balanced so that she is still capable of love and warmth and charm. She could be comforted and comforting, but she could not be used and abused.
And it is not just young girls who can learn from Leia either. I firmly believe that a young man or boy who is exposed to stronger women in his youth is much less likely to grow up into an abusive, misogynistic neanderthal than the boys who have only seen weak, obedient, submissive “females” all his life. The young man who has a crush on Princess Leia is seeing a woman who is capable of free choice and surviving on her own.
When Luke Skywalker came to “rescue” Princess Leia one of the first things she does is snag his blaster from him, take out several Stormtroopers, and calmly find an escape route that Luke and Han were too distracted to find themselves. In essence she isn’t a big baby like Snow White screaming at trees or an airhead like Cinderella singing “So This is Love” at a man she just met and whose name she doesn’t even know.
And for many children Princess Leia was the one who first showed this more progressive side to femininity. And Carrie Fisher performed the role well.

After Star Wars Carrie’s roles tended to be a bit more obscure and I have to confess that I have seen very few of them. I am acquainted with her voice work on animated shows like Family Guy, but Star Wars is truly where I know her. She was my first Princess and my first crush. And as years went by as I kept watching Star Wars the depth of her character and every other character in Star Wars became clearer and garnered new insight. A true testament to how much Star Wars is as much for children as adults is how we find new things in its characters and story as we get older. Leia impresses me more and more as a grown man than as a boy and I hope my own daughter is similarly impressed by her growing up. I would rather see my little girl grow up to be like Princess Leia than a mewling damsel in distress.

I probably won’t see Carrie Fisher again until Episode VIII which will be nearly a full year since her passing. It will be a bittersweet moment for all of us.
Today we lost a talented, intelligent, funny (just watch her interviews), and beautiful individual who lives on in memory. All those wonderful people who have become one with the Force in recent years like Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker, Drewe Henley, Richard LaParmentier, and Michael Leader should not be taken as a sore reminder of the mortality of life, but rather bittersweet and peaceful passings that prove that memory is a stronger giver of life than the temporal health of the body. None of these people are truly going anywhere. Memory and joy in that memory immortalises us all. May the Force be with them. Always.

R.I.P. Carrie Frances Fisher (October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016)

Update: Star Wars EU Reviews Going on Hiatus for Holiday Season

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Just to let everyone know I am taking a break from writing Star Wars EU Reviews for the rest of the 2016 Holiday season. I am busy with other writing projects this time of year and staying on schedule with this blog is proving to be too difficult. That is why I am taking a three month vacation. It’s been a ton of fun, but balancing my personal life and my other work has made running this blog impossible this time of year.
Because of this it may become an annual tradition from now on to break off from writing here every October through December.

Star Wars EU Reviews will resume January 6, 2017. See you then and in the meantime may the Force be with you.

-Rick McGimpsey

The Best Star Wars Youtube Channels

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Youtube is an extremely diverse community that distributes all sorts of content to a wide range of viewers across the internet. Some of it can be brilliant and entertaining while some of it is just terrible and unimaginative. Some become overnight viral sensations while others reach hardly any audiences and are forgotten quickly if they are ever noticed at all. The content varies from vlogging, video game “let’s plays”, prank videos, top lists, reaction videos, and educational and informative clips.
Naturally Youtube has become a great haven for Star Wars fans to share there love of the franchise and bring their insights and knowledge to the Youtube community. So while Youtube in certain places can be a wretched hive of scum and villainy it is also a wonderful place to revel in our shared love of Star Wars and the universe it has opened to us fans for the past 40 years.
Today I am going to share a list of some of the best channels on Youtube for lovers of the galaxy far, far away.

1. The Official Star Wars Youtube Channel

This is an obvious one. Just like Starwars.com this is the place you want to go for the latest trailers and news regarding official licensed material in the Star Wars universe. The official Star Wars channel keeps all of us informed about what is happening with upcoming films, video games, and books being released. It’s also a great place during Star Wars Celebration as during this time dozens of videos will be uploaded per day with interviews and panels revealing the latest info about upcoming content.

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2. Star Wars Explained

This is probably my favourite Youtube channel for being educated on the Expanded Universe lore. Formerly known as Star Wars Minute this channel has released hundreds of short videos thoroughly discussing characters, vehicles, species, object, and aspects to the Star Wars EU and Canon. It’s extremely informative and professionally done. Bear in mind, however, that many of the videos contain spoilers so watch them at your own risk.

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3. Star Wars History

Star Wars History does exactly what Star Wars Explained does, but tends to release longer videos of less professional quality. The quality is still excellent though and when coupled with Star Wars Explained offers tons of variety for learning about Star Wars lore. I highly recommend both channels.

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4. StarGeek

If you are like me you have a weakness for top 10 lists. Lists are a common thing among Youtube channels and StarGeek cures that fix perfectly. Unlike channels like Watch Mojo or Planet Dolan which present lists of a wide range of topics StarGeek is exclusively Star Wars related. And for us Star Wars fans that is just wonderful! Do you want Top Ten Saddest Moments in Star Wars? This guy has a video for it. Top Ten Lightsaber Duels? Got it. Top Top Star Wars Villains/Sith? This channel has you covered. It’s absolutely fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough. Check him out.

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5. Nathan Butler

I owe this channel a tremendous debt because he is the man who single-handedly inspired me to create the Star Wars EU Reviews blog. Since 2013 I had planned on going through and collecting the entire Star Wars EU books, comics, games, etc. to experience for myself and I finally got around to it this year. However, I had no plans on reviewing them as I went along until I encountered Nathan P. Butler’s channel. Nathan is a podcaster and reviewer who has made some contributions himself to the EU lore in the Essential Star Wars Atlas. His channel features several videos where he reviews issue by issue the classic Marvel comics and some of the old books and home media releases of the films. I began watching his videos and was disappointed to find that he had not reviewed the entire content of the EU comics and novels so far. I was, however, so impressed with what he was doing that I began to conceive of a plan to review every part of the Star Wars EU on a blog myself. The concept eventually came to fruition and thus the blog you are reading now came to be born.
And Nathan Butler’s channel is a wonderful resource for becoming aware of the various Star Wars media available and I recommend him to collectors who are just starting to get into Star Wars.

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I hope you enjoy all of these channels and may the Force be with you.