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Always in motion the future is...or isn't it?

 
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Always in motion the future is...or isn't it?
 PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:53 pm Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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I didn't see a thread specifically on this idea, but it's been discussed in part in a bunch of them.

The question is: How does our (the viewers) knowledge of the future (both in and out of Universe) effect the story?

I don't recall ever reading a SW story where I didn't know more about what was happening then the characters in it. This is arguably necessary for third-person POV, and bound to happen in an Adventure story like Star Wars.

In an Adventure story the protagonist has a mission to complete and will face difficulty, but must ultimately succeed. It's necessary because if they failed the story would be over. When we start watching A New Hope we know that Luke Skywalker is going to become a Jedi Knight and defeat the Empire. This future knowledge requires us to suspend disbelief that any peril he suffers will actually pose a threat to defeating him. This is OK because its what we expect from an Adventure. The point is not the outcome, but how it effects the character.

Star Wars can be problematic because it's not just about a protagonist, but the story of the Universe itself that has an established history. When we know the future of events outside of a character it can become a forgone conclusion. For me when it comes to the Old Republic I can't suspend that disbelief because in the face of future certainty it makes me feel like any character effects are insignificant. By that I mean the knowledge that the Jedi will be wiped out and the Empire established means that anything the Jedi did, any battle's they fought, will be pointless. I also feel like the Legacy comics series has created this same cap on the post ROTJ EU stories.

The PT dealt with this better by contrasting a certain future with an uncertain past. We don't know how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, and so we can go back to character identity in the story. In the EU I think it was best handled in "flash-back" stories like Millennium Falcon and Death Star. We know what happened, but the character's don't so they in a sense act out the scenario that we have created for them with our future knowledge.

I don't think people really like those stories because while they resolve the problem on one level, they preserve it in the same way of eliminating character identity. Since the characters are forced by fate to achieve it's end, they have no control over their destinies.

This conflict has been addressed In Universe briefly in some of the EU stories. Characters ask the epistemological question, "Do I control my destiny or is the will of the Force (fate)?" But it's usually dismissed and they go back to the Adventure. We are told that the future is ever-changing and always in motion, but much of the story deals with characters fulfilling their fate.

I'd like to see more stories where this dilemma is actually significant to the story. I have some other ideas too, but I'll save them for later since this is running a bit long.


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 PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:55 pm Reply with quote  
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  Cerrinea
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Quote:
A New Hope we know that Luke Skywalker is going to become a Jedi Knight and defeat the Empire.


Well, actually I did not know this when I saw just Star Wars back in 1977. This is in part due to the POV of how the movie was filmed. We're in the same position as the characters in the movie; we only know what they know. This is contrasted with a different movie POV which is omniscient, where the audience has knowledge the characters don't.

Say there's a scene with people in a restaurant. In a Character POV, the audience does not know there's actually a bomb under one of the tables. So when the bomb goes off the audiences is as shocked as the characters.

In omniscient POV, the audiences knows what the characters don't. There's a bomb under the table about to go off. The audience's suspense and tension builds because they know the bomb is about to go off.

Basically the books are mostly written from character POV

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I don't think people really like those stories because while they resolve the problem on one level, they preserve it in the same way of eliminating character identity. Since the characters are forced by fate to achieve it's end, they have no control over their destinies.


And I don't have a problem with this at all. If we've learned anything, it's that history repeats itself. That doesn't invalidate anyone's life or journey through it. I think one of the major lessons of Star Wars is how each individual deals with the choices he's presented at the time. And if the choices are different, the end result is different. I also don't believe the characters are forced by fate to achieve it's end. Vader had free will. He could have chosen to not kill the emperor and not fulfill the prophecy of the Chosen One. He made the choice to do so.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:14 am Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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Cerrinea wrote:
Well, actually I did not know this when I saw just Star Wars back in 1977.


Well, true. In 1977 no one knew whether or not there was going to be any other Star Wars movies, but I'm talking about in the story. I think it's pretty apparent that is the whole point of the movie and the idea that it wouldn't be is inconceivable. If you just had the Empire wipe out all the rebels not only would it not be a very good story, but I think people would be pretty mad about it.

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Say there's a scene with people in a restaurant. In a Character POV, the audience does not know there's actually a bomb under one of the tables. So when the bomb goes off the audiences is as shocked as the characters.

In omniscient POV, the audiences knows what the characters don't. There's a bomb under the table about to go off. The audience's suspense and tension builds because they know the bomb is about to go off.


Going back to my previous example, it's limited because you know that they aren't going to just wipe out the hero rebels. You know this, not because the story shows it explicitly, but because it's implicit in the story structure.

But I think you bring up a really good point about the distinction in POV.

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I also don't believe the characters are forced by fate to achieve it's end. Vader had free will. He could have chosen to not kill the emperor and not fulfill the prophecy of the Chosen One. He made the choice to do so.


In that case you don't know the outcome and that was what I was talking about with the characters being effected by the story.

In the "forced by fate" thing I meant stories like Millenium Falcon where you know that Han Solo is going to get the Falcon because it already happened, but you have all these other characters who have gotten it and lost it and they don't know that it's going to end up with Han because they don't know the future like we do.


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 PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:46 pm Reply with quote  
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  Cerrinea
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Quote:
Well, true. In 1977 no one knew whether or not there was going to be any other Star Wars movies, but I'm talking about in the story. I think it's pretty apparent that is the whole point of the movie and the idea that it wouldn't be is inconceivable. If you just had the Empire wipe out all the rebels not only would it not be a very good story, but I think people would be pretty mad about it.


Actually that was a really good set-up for ESB. The end of ESB was a real wtf moment. We were all expecting the heroes to save Han and beat Vader and that's not what happened. Lucas threw a real curve ball with that one, and we had no idea what to expect with the next movie. About the only thing we did know was that there would be a next movie.

Nowadays everyone knows about Luke being a Jedi, but when ROTJ came out you can't imagine the impact of seeing Luke be a Jedi. You have to remember, we had only the very vaguest idea of what Jedi where back then. Lucas tantilized us in ESB, but it was so cool seeing Luke in action in ROTJ.

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In the "forced by fate" thing I meant stories like Millenium Falcon where you know that Han Solo is going to get the Falcon because it already happened, but you have all these other characters who have gotten it and lost it and they don't know that it's going to end up with Han because they don't know the future like we do.


Okay, I get this. It's just, for the most part, I enjoy seeing the backstory filled in. It doesn't usually bother me that I know what the eventual outcome is.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:01 pm Reply with quote  
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  Darth Skuldren
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Lots of different angles brought up, but I'm going to tackle the forgone conclusion aspect. Reading Star Wars, you always know the good guys are going to win, right? Well the Darth Bane trilogy threw that one for a loop because it stars the bad guys. The question there wasn't so much if the bad guys were going to win, but how the heck was this series going to turn out? By the third book, the question was who was Bane's apprentice going to be? I thought that series did a very good job of keeping the reader guessing on what was going to happen.

Another good example of a book where forgone conclusions need not apply is Riptide. If you don't mind getting the book spoiled for you...
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


If you look at the NJO, several big main characters were killed off. It was unexpected and it really changed how people saw Star Wars. Suddenly the good guys weren't safe. The only forgone conclusion was that the Vong would defeated, and even that was questionable. If they kill off the good guys, what's to keep them from having the bad guys win?

So generally, yes, we know the good guys as a whole will triumph over the bad guys as a whole in each story. But the authors and comic writers generally do a good job of packing in a lot of small surprises for the reader.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:00 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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I guess it depends on what you want out of a story. I'm not much for suspense in and of itself. Like I said before, I've read many books that I love for the first time where I knew what the ending was going to be before I began page one.

I knew the ending of Paradise Lost before I started, because I was familiar with the story of Genesis. I knew Eve would take the Apple in the end. However, I enjoyed the psychology that Milton added to the scant Biblical account, the gorgeousness of his writing, among other things and it has become one of my favourite books.

I saw the Lord of the Rings movies before I read the books, but it didn't dampen my enjoyment of the books at all. And this goes for numerous other adaptations as well.

I've heard complaints against the Narnia books for being too predictable (i.e. the good guys always win) and it always surprises me. When I'm reading the books, I'm not on the edge of my seat and turning pages rapidly, I'm sitting back and basking in this lovely, simple-yet-complex world. Of course, the security of 'the good guys always win' is shattered in The Last Battle.

I've even seen an introduction to a book totally give away the ending. My first thought was, 'Oh nice! Drop that spoiler, why don't you?'. The author of the introduction said that he didn't feel bad giving away the ending, because the book wasn't about suspense. And he was right. I ended up quite enjoying it.

I also nearly always enjoy re-reads more than reads. Spoilers are over-rated.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:39 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Quote:
Spoilers are over-rated.


I think this is where I step in with the flaming, Reep Wink .

As you probably all know, by now, is that I avoid spoilers like the plague. You also probably know that I'm a big fan of Bernard Cornwell, and arguably my favourite books ever are his Arthurian books. I read that with a good deal of knowledge of what was about to happen. It was, after all, the tale of (not a) King Arthur, yet the ending was written in such a way that left it ambiguous, yet at the same time, obvious to those who know how it traditionally ends, with Arthur. And it's the same for the character whose point of view we get the story from, Derfel. For those who just read the books, his ending is also ambiguous, yet those who know of the real-life Saint Derfel also know how his story ended. I often go back to these stories time and again to relive those incredibly poignant end scenes.

However, nothing can compare to the very first time I read those books. The impact of that scene, of seeing how it unfolded, and of seeing all the other twists and turns unfold in front of me, in these and in other books, of having no clue of what's going to happen next is a thrill in itself. This is why I react badly when I'm spoiled. I want to experience these things for myself, and when someone tells me a spoiler of a book (or movie) they're actually telling me their own experience, and thus I don't get to experience it in the proper setting, robbing me of it.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:58 am Reply with quote  
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  Taral-DLOS
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Back in the day (circa 2007 maybe?) I used to only buy Star Wars novels in paperback, and so I would wait the year between hardcover and paperback release. But I didn't want to avoid spoilers for a full year. So in some cases I sought them out specifically.

I don't find the spoiler issue to be much of a problem, since the adventure isn't in the ending, it's how you get there. Like watching an old episode of Star Trek, where it looks like Kirk can't possibly get off the planet in time. But of course he does; there are 40 episodes that take place after this, not to mention the 7 films he's in. The fun is in the HOW.

I specifically searched on Wookieepedia for the name of the person Jacen Solo killed in sacrifice, and for his Sith name. Knowing these took nothing away, because the lead-up to their duel, and the duel itself, were really cool.

But that's just my opinion.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:23 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Life Is The Path wrote:
However, nothing can compare to the very first time I read those books.


For me re-reads are better. Good books tend to get bigger and better the more times you read them. The opposite of movies. At least, for me.

That said, I think it depends on the book, too. With modern books, suspense plays a larger role than in old books. When I found out the big spoiler for Sacrifice, I was ticked off. When I found out Hector died at the end of the Iliad, it didn't bother me as much.

Dare I say that suspense is over-rated? If a book is well-written enough, I don't think it needs bucket-loads of suspense. Of course, it still needs a driving force, but chapters ending in cliff hangers is a pet peeve of mine.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:51 pm Reply with quote  
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  Lord Ree'dius
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I love to re-read novels too. I enjoy most just as much a second time and there were even some that I liked better the second time around Smile (and of course some that where bad the first time and got worse the second Wink )
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 PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:07 pm Reply with quote  
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  Dog-Poop_Walker
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Darth Skuldren wrote:
Well the Darth Bane trilogy threw that one for a loop because it stars the bad guys. The question there wasn't so much if the bad guys were going to win, but how the heck was this series going to turn out? By the third book, the question was who was Bane's apprentice going to be? I thought that series did a very good job of keeping the reader guessing on what was going to happen.

Another good example of a book where forgone conclusions need not apply is Riptide. If you don't mind getting the book spoiled for you...
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


That is a good point. I think that Paul and Drew's are some of the best stories to come out in a while because they shake things up. Another is the Death Trooper book, which may not be as successful as books, but the effort is very much appreciated.

It seems like the only stories that want to break up away from the standard structure are ones that are not part of the "core" stories. I wonder why that is and lack, or perceived lack of popularity these stories have in contrast with the "core" series.

A character's death can be a great idea to bring new direction to a story, or it can just be a stale -Who's going to kick the bucket next?- tactic that doesn't really bring much other then just to try and keep us guessing.


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Re: Always in motion the future is...or isn't it?
 PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:01 am Reply with quote  
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  Lord Ree'dius
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Dog-Poop_Walker wrote:
In an Adventure story the protagonist has a mission to complete and will face difficulty, but must ultimately succeed. It's necessary because if they failed the story would be over. When we start watching A New Hope we know that Luke Skywalker is going to become a Jedi Knight and defeat the Empire. This future knowledge requires us to suspend disbelief that any peril he suffers will actually pose a threat to defeating him. This is OK because its what we expect from an Adventure. The point is not the outcome, but how it effects the character.

Star Wars can be problematic because it's not just about a protagonist, but the story of the Universe itself that has an established history. When we know the future of events outside of a character it can become a forgone conclusion. For me when it comes to the Old Republic I can't suspend that disbelief because in the face of future certainty it makes me feel like any character effects are insignificant. By that I mean the knowledge that the Jedi will be wiped out and the Empire established means that anything the Jedi did, any battle's they fought, will be pointless. I also feel like the Legacy comics series has created this same cap on the post ROTJ EU stories.


You know, I really see no difference between this and lets say a story about or set during WWII. We already know the Germans will win, but that doesn't mean that any adventure or story set during the war isn't interresting anymore.
For me The Old Republic Era is like reading adventures set during the Roman Empire. We know the Romans eventually lost their empire, but seeing the impact they had on the world it's cool to learn about those times and it's heroes.
With the Old Republic Era for me, it's just cool learning about the big events and adventures that shaped the Galaxy.
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