Thrawn

thrawn-zahn-tall-435x375In the 90s, Lucasfilm strongly pushed the Star Wars novels. Timothy Zahn wrote the Thrawn Trilogy. I probably bought as many as 50 Star Wars books wanting to read about what what happened next, before, and during the movies.

I suspect the strength of all our interest is what made Episodes I-III possible. And Disney seeing the continued strength of the brand made VII-IX plus Rogue One and the coming Solo movies appeared obviously good moves.

However, I dunno what to think about Thrawn.

When Disney bought Star Wars from Lucasfilm with the intent to make more movies, we fans in the early days thought “Heir to the Empire” starring Mitth’raw’nuruodo (aka Grand Admiral Thrawn) was not likely the next story because it took place five years after Return of the Jedi. That movie should have been released around 1988.  We figured back then on a Jacen and Jaina Solo (the force sensitive twins of Han and Leia) story. Then Disney dissolved all this material into the Legends. Fan theories show people still want to believe in the old material.

Thrawn is evidence why we continue to have faith some of the old Expanded Universe stuff is not permanently dead. Disney brought him back for the Rebels series foreshadowing and expanding on Rogue One. They have expanded his character so much they even tasked Timothy Zahn to write a novel chronicling his rise. First he was the future, then he was banished, and now he is back.

So… Bring back Mara Jade!

Resolution Progress 2017: First Quarter

(Original ; Half ; Three-Quarters ; Final)

For the first quarter, I should have progressed about 25%. So, let’s see where I am.

5 Books: Mindset and Outlook

What are the “Top 5 Books” that have molded your mindset and outlook on life?

  1. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness: introduced me to behavioral economics and helped me learn how to disrupt obsessing over indecision.
  2. Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection: counter-intuitively it exposed me to figuring out that my love of solitary time is normal.
  3. The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child: personalities exist on various spectrums and being different is okay.
  4. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman: intelligent people can be a pain in the ass, but people will give them a pass as long as they get stuff done.
  5. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future: creativity is important in working with data and knowledge for achieving wisdom.

I have done some similar lists to this.

My Five Star-Rated Books Read in 2016

So, out of the many books I read this prior year, here are the ones I gave five stars.

  1. To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science by Weinberg, Steven
  2. Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Prediction in Life and Markets by Brockman, John
  3. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Isaacson, Walter
  4. Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Ridley, Matt
  5. White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Wise, Tim
  6. Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Haley, Alex
  7. Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World by Grant, Adam M.
  8. Eaters of the Dead by Crichton, Michael

I hope to make this a regular feature of the blog.

Last year was a banner year with 14. It looks like 2013 was about equal with 8.

Review: Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rogue One is a prequel to A New Hope. Catalyst is a filler book tying together the events of Revenge of the Sith movie with Rogue One. I have not yet seen the upcoming movie, but the given what I know from watching the trailers dozens of times, I feel comfortable that I understand where it will be going.

The plot and writing are pretty basic. Books like this name drop a bunch of characters, so we have the expected names like Jyn Erso, the Emperor, Darth Vader, and Moff Tarkin. Plus some extremely minor characters non-fans would need Wookiepedia to recall. Plus some new faces show up.

I liked some of the science introduced in the story. There are some hints that I hope are further expanded in the movie where I can tell my friends, “Well, if you read Catalyst, then you would have seen that coming.”

View all my reviews

Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back in college, I was part of an anti-racism group. We worked with a local group and took their People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Tim mentioned them near the end of the book, which made me think part of why I liked this book so much is his perspective and approach to white privilege is very similar to how I have been taught to think of it.

I think given the current climate on race relations in this country, this is important for people to read and understand.

View all my reviews

Review: Robot Visions

Robot Visions
Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the Asimov’s essays about robots, computers, and cyborgs. They are well done.

The short stories at the front of the book are the same stories published in other books. There are a few new ones. So, if you do not mind re-reading them or have not read other books, then you are good. Otherwise, you should just read the first and second short stories “Robot Visions” and “Too Bad!” then skip to the last one “Christmas Without Rodney” and continue through the essays. Essentially, 347 pages of this book are unnecessary.

View all my reviews

Review: Crash Go The Chariots: An Alternative To “Chariots Of The Gods”?


Crash Go The Chariots: An Alternative To “Chariots Of The Gods”? by Clifford A. Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wilson challenges the evidence presented in Chariots of The Gods. As scary as Chariots was, Crash seems to fall on its face in similar ways. Ad hominems and non-sequiturs abound. At the end, it even goes way off topic to claim the evils of the ancients are the result of Satan operating in the world. So we are to believe it could not have been aliens because it was actually a fallen angel.

Still, of the two, I prefer Crash.

View all my reviews

Review: Chariots of The Gods

Chariots of The Gods
Chariots of The Gods by Erich von Däniken
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Däniken makes the case that what humanity thought of as gods in the past are actually aliens. We are the result of their breeding programs. Ancient monuments too sophisticated for the peoples of their times were built using the technology of the aliens to demonstrate our readiness of their return.

The evidence is viewed with the strongest optimism. In my more skeptical eyes it comes up wanting. Things presented as supposition are later used as fact to make more supposition still later used as fact. In this way the case becomes more and more fragile instead of stronger.

That people take this seriously is disturbing.

View all my reviews

Review: Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This historical fiction novel covers this history of the a black family. How their ancestor started in Africa, was brought to America as a slave, and how the family fared under that despicable institution.

Alex Haley learned the stories of his family passed down along the generations to him. And using the details of the stories, researched for more, and from that wrote this novel.

The visceral emotions evoked were probably due to feeling connected to it. Over the past couple years I have researched my own genealogy. That came about after taking a DNA test and realizing I could use suggested relatives to find more information. But, Kunta Kinte, the Haley ancestor knew his grandfather was from the same part of Africa as my Y-DNA has the highest concentration (suggesting the origin location). Reading Roots feels like what my story could be if only I could find the same information.

I suspect this is why the show captured the American imagination.

View all my reviews