The big screen in 2018

It’s a new year, which means so many new movies that I get to look forward to! Though I doubt that I will enjoy anything as much as I enjoyed Blade Runner 2049 and The Last Jedi in 2017, I’m willing to give all of these movies a chance. Most specifically, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time, my two most anticipated films for the year.

Something is going to surprise me, of course, and I am totally ready for that. No doubt I will also be disappointed as well. But for now, in release order, here are the stories I’m looking forward to seeing on the big screen in 2018.

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Black Panther – February 16th

Black Panther is the most anticipated movie of 2018, and so far the graphics and costume design, not to mention the casting, look amazing. I am going into this movie with a lot of nervous anticipation, mostly because I really, really don’t want Marvel to screw this up.

Annihilation – February 23rd

Yes! It’s finally here! I wrote about this movie last year, and it remains an anticipated film. I think that it’s going to be even creepier than I thought it would manage, and I’m feeling a little bit better about the direction they are taking with it (it seems like a combination of Annihilation and Authority, at least in part). The trailer released late last year, and February is just around the corner!

A Wrinkle in Time – March 9th

Have I mentioned how here I am for Storm Reid in A Wrinkle in Time? Making the decision to cast this movie so diversely is a wonderfully visionary one, and brings a refreshing newness to a well-loved text. I can’t wait for this film. If you haven’t seen the trailer, I recommend a watch.

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Tomb Raider – March 16th

I am…possibly pretty skeptical about this movie, but I plan to see it. I loved Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider when I was a kid, flaws and all, so any reboot of the story is going to be a little hard for me, especially one that looks to deviate so drastically. I’m not really a fan of the game it’s based off of either, but I’m not a gamer to be fair. I will probably see this one, but I am going to be side-eyeing it.

Avengers: Infinity War – May 4th

So I’m not the only one in the universe who was really kind of meh about the last Avengers installment. However, Thor: Ragnarok gave me life and I have good feelings about Black Panther. I’ll be seeing this one in theaters, if only so that I can lambaste it with everyone else. I have to admit that I’m most interested in Captain America and Thor’s arcs in this film. Iron Man is getting annoying for me – Civil War sealed that, though I love RDJ in the other Iron Man films. However, it really felt like Captain America gained complexity in that film. Likewise, Thor did some growing and changing, too. While I still can’t forgive Whedon for the whole Natasha-Bruce love arc bullshit, I am interested to see how the team brings these new, evolved characters into the mix.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – May 25th

Continuing the side-eye situation, we have the Han Solo prequel. Will I see this? Let’s be honest here, the answer is yes. Am I skeptical of it being done well? Also yes. It’s going to be a hard sell to have anyone filling Harrison Ford’s shoes (or Billy Dee Williams’ for that matter). I’m at least more hopeful than I am for the Tomb Raider movie, if only because I have enjoyed all the other installments of the new Star Wars to date.

 

Mulan – November 2nd

Bringing up the end of the year, we have a live action of Mulan! This is part of Disney’s effort to make money off of past classics, and I will forgive them many prior indignities if they get this movie right. So far rumors are promising, but we shall see! Anyway, I’m far more excited about this movie than the prior three on this list.

What are you looking forward to watching in 2018?


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What have I been reading?

I realized I haven’t shared with you all the magical things I’ve been reading and watching lately. Sure you got my “Best of 2017” post, but that’s not really indicative of all the things I’ve loved recently (though there were several things I enjoyed on it). Honestly, recovering from the holidays is taking a bit longer than I thought in terms of getting my feet back in under me, which is fine because reading all the books is, as ever, one of my favorite pastimes.

On the non-book front, I did go see Thor: Ragnarok when it came out way back in November, and it was so much fun. You got my post on The Last Jedi, and I finally made it to The Shape of Water, rounding out my anticipated movies of 2017 list. All of them were lovely, it’s been a great couple of months for movies honestly, though The Shape of Water was not quite what I was expecting – it struck me as a modern fairytale more than anything. In retrospect, that’s in like with del Toro’s style.

I’ve also been enjoying occasional forays into Brooklyn 99, which we discovered on our honeymoon and has become our chill date-night favorite. I finished Mahoutsukai no Yome, which started off super feel-good, got pretty dark, and then made it back to feel-good. It’s a found family situation with fairies, so despite some of the weird undertones with Chise being bought and sold, I’ve really enjoyed it. (I was really skeptical at first, but really it’s a pretty tame anime on the gender relations front.)

As for reads, I’ve enjoyed T. Kingfisher’s Seven Daughters, Mira Grant’s Into the Drowning Deep and M.R. Carey’s The Boy on the Bridge on the horror front. I’ve also been doing some reading into gothic literature, including checking out Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, though I’ve only just started Dracula. I have consumed Seasons 1 and 2 of Roadtrip Z by Lilith Saintcrow, picked up because I’m looking into the serial publishing process and what that looks like. And for fun I read Grave by Michelle Sagara, finishing out the Queen of the Dead trilogy. A few of these may knock loose some reviews, etc. Pretty creepy reads lately, in other words, and more planned.

On the less horror front, I recently finished Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull which was so very good. It’s set in the same world as A Range of Ghosts, and I think it’s honestly better. I didn’t think that was possible, but that’s how I feel. It pairs well with K. Arsenault’s The Tiger’s Wife if you’re looking to double up on your Asian-based fantasy worlds. I’ve also squeezed in Lightning in the Blood by Marie Brennan, a sequel in a series of novellas about archetypes who are reincarnated over and over, also an epic fantasy style deal. And I just started reading Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen, which is a weird western tale.

Lastly, I’ve got Oral History by Lee Smith to read. This is a deviation from my usual fare, but I thought I should read something by this Hollins author and also it is a bit in line with a project I’ve been working on. I’m holding on to it to read when I’m done with my first draft of said project, which should be sort of soon? Hopefully?

Anyway, there are lots of words going into the word-pit! Hopefully I will digest them and they will become magical new material.

What have you been reading?


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New Year’s Resolutions

It is a New Year and even though it feels kind of overwhelming to be thinking about resolutions at all I am going to take a stab at it. It helps that I’ve already got a schedule through April.

There are a couple of carryovers from last year, and I’ll get through those. But mostly these are new goals (eek) so let’s look at that.

  • Finish Daughter of Madness. This is the big elephant in the room. I’m hoping for an April release date. I am excited for folks to read this book, but it’s been in the works for a while now and I’m very interested in shifting gears to something else.
  • Finish APM. I may have mentioned this project before. It’s something I’ve been scribbling off and on for a few months now, and the goal is to get a draft wrapped up by March.
  • Successfully attend Futurescapes. Did I tell you all I got into this workshop? No? Well APM is the thing I will be work-shopping there, thus the need to have it finished in March. I told you it’s going to be a busy few months.
  • Successfully attend my planned events, RAI and MystiCon. These always both simultaneously inspire and take a lot out of me, so we will see how it goes! We’ve already started on MystiCon programming, actually.
  • Figure out my next novel project and start on it. Right now I’m on the fence about what project to pursue next. The next Creation Saga book is obviously high on the list, but I’ve had a couple of new novel ideas kicking around for a while and I would like to get started on them. I’ve also been researching doing a serialized novel or novella project for release on Patreon or Gumroad. A lot of this decision is going to depend on what happens between now and April, and whether or not people continue to support my Patreon, which I need to overhaul to comply with a more realistic projection of how much time I will be spending on it and what I can produce.
  • Be better at not over-committing myself, and on following through. I like to juggle things, and I like to be busy. I also enjoy my free time and alone time. It’s a conundrum. Keeping a good balance of juggling so that I don’t get bored and stay productive, and rest so that I don’t get burnt out and stay productive, is really hard. It might be easier if these were the only projects I were juggling. They’re not, and that will probably never be the case. Personal life, and, more often, work life will continue to intrude. I have to find a way to make all of those things balance, and it’s a constant negotiation. It’s one I’ve failed at the end of this year. We have to push ourselves and take chances, so I’m not exactly upset about failing that recently, but life is a marathon, not a sprint, or at least we hope it is. I’ve been sprinting this year and I need to learn to respect my limits.
  • Keep up with my short story craft. One of the things I’ve been glad of this year is that I’ve been exploring new mediums, including short stories. I am not a natural short story writer, I don’t think. It’s hard to tell for sure, of course, but so far I’ve been short listed twice and never successfully sold something. Considering my production rate, I don’t think those are terrible numbers, but having a short story publication under my belt can only help both my self-publishing sales and my chance of diversifying my income and market reach through traditional publishing. All of which is to say that getting a short story published, or five, would be great. So I’m going to keep chipping away at that and hope it works out.

Okay, those are my goals! There are decidedly less than last year for sanity purposes. I look forward to chiming in on my progress in June!

Hope you all have a great 2018! Let me know if you have any fun goals for this year.


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Year-end Creation Saga update

And we are back to Friday blogposts! Sorry for the hopping around, friends. I promised that I would update you about Daughter of Madness when I was re-capping my 2017 Resolutions, and here it is, the update you’ve all been waiting for.

Writing this book has been like pulling teeth. I guess that should have been the clue, way back when, that I was not doing something I was happy with, but it took me several months of poring over the draft to realize that I was not going to publish what I’d come up with. It didn’t fit who I’d become as a writer and what I wanted to say. Worse, it didn’t fit together – the characters marched hither and thither without meaning or agency, moving along on some predetermined arc I thought I needed to write to get to an ending that didn’t end up being the ending anyway. It was, in short, a trainwreck. The worst thing I’ve ever written. It lacked the spark that makes even a clumsy story fun. And I didn’t want this book to be a clumsy story. I wanted it to burn going down.

I think it will.

In many ways, the entirety of the Creation Saga is a problematic story. I guess that is true of everybody’s stories. Wrestling with that after years of growth as a human being has been a lot of what made this story hard to write. I still don’t know if I did it justice – I’ll have to wait for my beta readers to get back to me and tell me how palatable it is, and if that is a good thing. But I’ve worked really hard to smooth the edges that needed smoothing and file the others to a point. In the process, I threw out about 2/3 of the book, added 1/3 back with major changes, and another half of that wrote up from scratch, leaving a much shorter but more powerful book. It was something I couldn’t have managed earlier in my writing career, and we’ll see how well I’ve pulled it off this time.

So where are we in the process?

I’ve got a draft, well, a third draft at this point. It’s gone out to beta readers, who will tell me how bad it is. I will then try to make changes as I can, hoping to add some words back in to the total word count. Then I’ll do line edits, a rigorous process that I am NOT looking forward to. The official release is planned for April, to coincide with Roanoke Author Invasion. Hopefully I will have review copies in March.

There’s a lot of work to do still. But I think we’re on track.

Look forward to some fun promotional things in March, and some other cool life updates as we go forward.


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The Last Jedi

I loved this movie. And if you read this, it might spoil it for you. But hopefully you have made it to the movie already. Hopefully you have gotten to experience it, too.

I’ve read a lot of Last Jedi reviews since the movie came out. A lot. And if you’re recall, the day of the release I posted a blogpost about my hopes for the film. I want to start from that point, and talk about my feelings, and talk about some of the reviews that have stuck with me. I want people to understand why this movie left me glowing, why when I woke up the next morning I was still glowing. This movie gave me hope.

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2017 has been a hard year. It’s been a joyful one for me, too, but I’m not blind to what is happening in our world. When Rogue One came out in December of last year, it felt like the movie we needed. That desperate fight in the rising darkness. The resolution of faith, when hope was gone. I don’t think that I was wrong, in that feeling. I wasn’t entirely right, either. Faith and hope and love must all hold hands. I can have Jyn Erso’s faith, bitter and solid and true. I can have Leia’s hope, the bright vision. And I can have Rey’s love. Rey’s arc has always been about love, and this movie shows us that unshakably.

In my blogpost last week, I talked about how closely paralleled and yet how divergent Luke and Rey’s characters are. In the wake of watching The Last Jedi, I can confirm that Rey is the hero we need. Her character arc continues – as she has come to the force, she comes to it with more skills than her mentor managed in his time. These skills, however, are not just the physical skills that I had previously cataloged. They are emotional skills, too. Rey has learned to forgive others, over and over, sometimes to her own detriment. In fact, Rey’s only character flaw may be that she does not always value herself. She looks up to others, first her lost parents, later Han and Luke, and even, a little, to Kylo Ren. Even though none of these people gives her everything that she wants, though, Rey does not blame them for it. She grows. She becomes what she needs.

In this way, her arc parallels Luke’s in the original trilogy. This, I would argue, is intentional. The thing that Rian Johnson and the new writers of Star Wars want to keep, the inescapable thing that makes a Jedi a Jedi, the thing that Anakin never could hold onto, is emotional maturity. And that maturity requires vulnerability. Without being vulnerable, a Jedi cannot care for and protect what she loves.

Nothing else plays out quite like what we expect, however. I agree with Chuck Wendig that this is a lot of what has made this movie divisive. The Force Awakens trades on the familiar. The Last Jedi steps beyond it. But it keeps the heart.

“They want the familiarity. They need nostalgia.

And this movie burns it all down.

A lightning strike setting fire to a sacred tree.”

– Chuck Wendig

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the burning of the sacred tree, the original Jedi temple. Luke intends to burn the past, to let it die as Kylo has tried to do. Their journeys, here, parallel. Luke is tired, he is angry and afraid. His anger and fear are for himself. He has failed. The Jedi will always fail, because they are human, and so there is no point in any of it, not anymore. Luke is lost. He goes to burn the tree as an act of destruction.

Yoda, on the other hand, burns the tree as an act of emancipation. The past cannot die. The path of the Jedi will always exist, because the Force will always exist. Whatever petty symbols of it may remain are crutches. A Master does not need them. This movie keeps the Force at its heart, and burns down the trappings of it.

And yet, at the end, the books, the knowledge of the Force that the temple guarded? They are carried in the Millenium Falcon, safe. Finn finds them, not during battle. He finds them when he is caring for Rose. Rose, who gave herself up to save him, when he had given up on hope and love and let it all go to rage.

Rey’s power to defy the First Order comes from love. Love for her friends, love for the world. When she goes into the cave to face her test, she doesn’t see an enemy. She sees herself. She sees herself, alone, forever. This is her greatest fear, this aloneness. Luke’s fear was to become his father, to fall to the dark side. His fear of the dark side is also what destroys his relationship with his nephew, starting Kylo Ren along his path.

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Rey’s fear is to lose her new family, but she has been alone before. It is a fear she has faced before, a horror she has lived through.  It is no wonder that the dark side does not tempt her as easily. She knows that she has survived her fear. It cannot, therefore, consume her. Luke is horrified when she is pulled into the dark side so easily, because he does not believe that she can withstand temptation. He, after all, could not, not entirely. The dark side has marked his life, forever, it has lost him too much.

Luke’s fear moves the plot of this film just as much as Kylo’s anger and Poe’s pride. Each of them must work through those feelings, because “building that emotional intelligence is the difference between the dark and the light.” Luke succeeds, and finds oneness with the Force. Poe begins his journey by valuing his comrades over the cause. Only Kylo does not embrace that emotional maturity, and in his anger and hatred he writes his own downfall. He is so afraid of Luke, so focused on his hatred, still, of his father and the Millennium Falcon, that he fails to accomplish his goal, effectively losing the final battle to crush the Resistance. He cannot grow without bringing himself into balance, and he shows no signs of doing so, even when Rey offers him a clean slate despite everything.

In the end, The Last Jedi is the truest bit of Star Wars cinema that we have seen since The Return of the Jedi so many years ago. No, it does not look the same. Many things have changed, but hell, there’s a whole galaxy out there. Who would want to stay in the same old orbit? The heart of this story, however, remains. It is the new hope of a new generation.


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Best of 2017

At last, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Here’s my holiday gift to you, and I hope you enjoy! This post is going live for those still looking for last-minute gifts (like me), and there will be no post this Friday in honor of the holiday. Sorry for shaking things up on you folks, but I thought you’d prefer getting this sooner than later.

I read a lot of books in 2017, though perhaps not as many as I would have preferred. My TBR continues to grow much faster than I can strike things off. But nevertheless, I persist in climbing this mountain! Happily, it’s quite enjoyable.

2017 saw a lot of amazing fiction, honestly, no doubt spurred in part by everyone being pissed off and defiant. I loved some of those pieces, but I also got the chance to discover some preciously clever examples of characters subverting hegemony through self-care and care of others, and those stories were honestly some of the most raw and wonderful. So, as always, we’ll do these grouped by form. I’ll pick five of my favorite short stories, a handful of novellas, and five novels (if I can narrow it down that much).

Without further ado:

Short Stories

With Cardamom I’ll Bind Their Lips by Beth Cato

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Beth Cato is an author I’m just now coming around to following, and I look forward to seeing more of her work. I really enjoyed this story, which is on the slightly darker end set in post-war Britain or something very like it.img_3988

Three May Keep a Secret by Carlie St. George

This story has major content warnings, so please be advised. That said, it’s a powerful story about bringing darkness into the light and how our secrets can be deadly, cemented by a lovely, mostly platonic relationship between the two main characters.

The Earth and Everything Under by K.M. Ferebee

This story was a haunting tale about grief and healing and the nature of death. It also spoke to me about how an entire community can turn on you, but you are forced to live with them. I have complicated feelings about this story, which are the best kind.

Sun, Moon, Dust by Ursula Vernon

Sliding in here at the end of the year is this precious gem of a story that makes me believe in humankind. Honestly everything Ursula Vernon writes makes me feel better. She’s been a huge balm for my soul this year, and inspired me thoroughly as a writer. She also writes as T. Kingfisher, who you’ll see later on this list, and if you want more of her writing I recommend the entirety of Jackalope Wives and Other Stories without reservation.

A Recipe for Magic by Kat Howard and Fran Wilde

This story is another balm to my heart. I am super into kitchen witches and gardeners and anything else bringing magic and power to things domestic and full of love. Please check it out and try not to tear up (happy tears, I promise). It’s up on B&N’s website as part of their new push to publish original fiction.img_3990

 

Honorable mentions to Loneliness Is in Your Blood, The Oiran’s Song, and If We Live to Be Giants. They were all hella good.

Novellas

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

I loved this novella mostly because it felt so real to me. I knew the people that Killjoy described in a way that a lot of characters don’t exactly strike me as real. It’s an urban fantasy, or more appropriately a contemporary fantasy, and it’s an unexpected and delicious story.

Dusk or Dawn or Dark or Day by Seanan McGuire

McGuire had several novellas come out this year, and a few books, too. She is super prolific. I picked this one for the list because it was one of my favorites, and also because it’s a great place to start with her work, encapsulating a lot of her reoccurring themes in a standalone text.

Also I have to point out that I read this novella around the same time that I read “You’ll Surely Drown Here if You Stay” by Alyssa Wong, and if you put those two titles together they make a refrain to what could be a bitterly beautiful poem.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

You all know I love Martha Wells, or at least you do if you’ve been reading this blog any length of time. This novella has taken the sff world by storm for its inventive approach to an alien consciousness that nonetheless remains lovable. It was actually a little short for me – I felt like I would have become more emotionally invested given more time in Murderbot’s head – but good news! There are two more planned installments in The Murderbot Diaries to look forward to next year.

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Novels

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

I read the entire Craft Sequence this year, and I cannot recommend it enough. Technically, the book that was published in 2017 is The Ruin of Angels, which is my second favorite book in this series, bumping off Three Parts Dead to take that honor (barely). My favorite, though, is Full Fathom Five. All of Gladstone’s books explore earth-shaking themes with inventive, masterful language and world-building. (What if magic was real and also managed by a bunch of capitalists, for example. Also: what if the stories we told ourselves became sentient?) I recommend these books to everyone I come across. You can read them in order of publication or chronologically (I did order of publication) but just go read them.

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The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Wrapping up The Broken Earth Trilogy is The Stone Sky, a book that lived up to the promise of the series. I can’t say it was uplifting, but it was satisfying.

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

I wrote about this book a few weeks ago, and it remains one of my favorites I’ve read this year. I’m very much into American West reimaginings that feature women and people of color. I even did a whole blogpost about this subgenre, which you can check out here. Anyway, check out this book, it’s worth it, and can be read as a standalone or as the first in what I believe is a trilogy.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

This book is the only non-speculative fiction title on this list. It’s also the only YA title, I think. It explores similar themes to “Three May Keep a Secret,” mentioned above, so content warnings are necessary. However, this book, too, is about healing, and it was a powerful read for me during this long year when it has seemed like so much darkness has been in the world.

Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher

Surprising no one, another one of T. Kingfisher’s fairytale reimaginings has made my list this year. You will recall “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon, above. They happen to be the same person, and all of her stories are amazing. This one tackles Beauty and the Beast, and it’s one of my favorite retellings of that particular tale yet.

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Serials

This isn’t exactly its own category, as I have only one work to mention here. Serial productions seem to be on the up and up at the moment, and I wanted to note one that I think will go a long way towards revolutionizing the genre. Steal the Stars has been a remarkable listen, and it has taught me a lot about what can be done with a serial story. You should check it out.

Essay

The Shape of Darkness as it Overtakes Us by Dimas Ilaw

Essay is not a category I usually include and probably won’t make it in future best-of lists, but I felt like 2017 has been an exceptional year and so we had to make an exception. If you have felt at all hopeless and overwhelmed, I can’t say that this essay will make you feel better. But it will definitely help you to process, I think, just as the author is processing their own grief. And it will help you to step forward, too.


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Star Wars, The Force Awakens

The new Star Wars is out this weekend, and by the time this post goes live I will hopefully be about to watch it. This is a cause for celebration, so your post is a teensy bit early this week so that I can recover Friday.

I cannot tell you how excited I am. Rian Johnson is one of my favorite directors, albeit little known. If you haven’t seen his other stuff, Brick and The Brothers Bloom are both fascinating movies. When someone shouts in the trailer “this is not going to end the way you think it will,” I believe them. Johnson never fails to have a twist in his movies, and I believe that The Last Jedi will be no exception.

Because the movie is so close to release, I’ve been thinking back on The Force Awakens, and, to a lesser extent, on Rogue One. We’ve had decades to watch and rewatch the previous Star Wars movies, even the terror that is the prequels, and come to our conclusions, to carve out a niche in our hearts for the familiar characters of Luke and Leia and Han. Most of us have never watched a Star Wars movie as a standalone, I would imagine. We’ve always known how the plot goes, always seen Luke not just as the whiny farmboy but also as the powerful Jedi who returns balance to the Force. When we watch A New Hope, we are watching it within the context of both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The Force Awakens has no such advantage.

Now we are finally getting the next installment in this new trilogy, a year later. What happens with The Last Jedi will make or break the previous film, as often happens with trilogies. I have faith in Rian Johnson, and in the creative team that is spearheading this reboot, personally. So today I want to take a moment to reflect on the main characters of each trilogy and their parallels. Luke, Leia, and Han, and Rey, Finn, and Poe. Specifically, at Luke and Rey.

Luke and Rey are the strongest and clearest parallels from each party. Both Luke and Rey are orphans. Luke is raised knowing that his aunt and uncle are not his parents, and that they are both dead. He knows, he thinks, who is parents are – his father, a war hero, his mother, a wife. Leia is more concerned with her mother, and remembers her more clearly, but her adoptive family raised her as their own. Finding out about her is not as much of a concern as supporting her new family. She knows who she is.

Luke doesn’t, exactly. He’s a boy, a kid when we meet him, barely on the cusp of manhood. He has ideas about what to do with his life, but they are just dreams. Any shred of knowledge about his father, who, presumably, would not keep him bound to a farm in the middle of a desert, is something he jumps at. But all that said, he has a good life. He is loved, he is fed, and if he is questing he is not doing so out of desperation. It takes the Empire to unmoor him, though if he had had his way he would have gone off and made something of himself at some point. But his adventures, in his head, are bloodless. Until they’re not.

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Rey is a very different character.

Yes, she grows up on a desert planet. Yes, she is an orphan. Yes, she is preternaturally gifted with the Force, just as Luke will be – more so, even. All of those things are true. But that is the end of the similarities between Rey and Luke. Rey does not want to leave Jakku. Like him, she is forced to leave because of the Empire, but she does not want to go. She continues to try to return to Jakku, where her parents might find her. She believes, strongly, that someday she will be found. Rey’s childhood left her when she was less than ten, and she prays every day that it will come find her again.

She lives alone. She does not have enough to eat. She has no family to love her. Luke works hard on the farm, but Rey works harder, and the work she does has no safety net. Scavenging means that her death can come for her at any time, and it will probably wear a familiar face. There is no protection from her competitors. She must rely on herself, on her own fighting skills.

When Luke comes to the Force, his experience is in sharpshooting and mechanics. When Rey comes to the Force, her experience is in self-defense, in infiltration, in survival.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015

I think that the differences between Rey and Luke tell us a lot about what kind of story we are going to get from this trilogy. Luke’s story was always going to be a hero’s journey, the classic kind, farmboy turned king, or, in this case, wizard. Rey’s story is much more complicated. Perhaps that is why it sits uneasily in the mind. There is no true parallel that we can latch onto. What does a woman whose skills are survival become? An assassin, or a spy, or a courtesan. Not a hero, not in our stories.

Perhaps it’s time for that to change.