16 for 16: The best and brightest of 2016

In this two part, two day series, we will give you 16 things that made us thankful for 2016, spoilers and all. Today, the first eight….

With the recent hard times that have befallen the fandom, we at Clashing Sabers thought it would be nice to step back and appreciate all the great things that 2016 has given us. Not to avoid the reality of how much we miss our princess, but rather to honor her by giving thanks for the galaxy she helped build.

With that positive mindset, let’s look at the top 16 Star Wars things to happen in 2016 (in no particular order)….

Rebels Season Two Finale

Even if Ahsoka and Darth Vader had not clashed sabers (sorry the pun was too easy), this would have been one of the greatest parts of animation in history. Not Star Wars animation. Animation period.

Add in the Vader/Ahsoka duel and you have one of, if not the, greatest moments of Star Wars storytelling in history. 


Much like Mortis, the Nightsisters, and the Force priestesses before it, the finale of the second Rebels season has endless rabbit holes through which to delve. There’s Maul, his history with Ahsoka, Ezra’s temptation with regards to the dark side, the lore of Jedi/Sith battles of generations past, and every theme Star Wars has ever been known for; in essence it is a display of Star Wars greatest hits.

Bloodline

Between Lost Stars and Bloodline, Claudia Grey catapulted herself to the same level of such Star Wars authors as Timothy Zahn and James Luceno. 

Bloodline, it could be argued, is the best Star Wars books of the new canon. It’s ability to fill in the gaps left by The Force Awakens alone makes it intriguing. But the way in which it flushes out some of Leia’s internal struggles with the New Republic, it’s showing of the starts of the First Order, and the reveal of Vader’s lineage to the galaxy make it essential reading.

Nonetheless, its greatest strength is how it shows what happens when history, through time, no longer becomes real to people on a personal level. In the novel, Ransolm Casterfo, a young up-and-comer in the New Republic, has an office full of Imperial memorabilia. Leia sees this and is agast at how anyone could see the Empire in even the slightest of a good light. Casterfo has to explain that he doesn’t agree with the travesties the Empire committed, but rather believes in a strong central government. Leia comes to realize that the danger of time is that people no longer see the evils of the Empire personally. She had to watch her planet blow up, her friends murdered, and people suffer in indescribable ways with her own eyes. That wipes out any good the idea of an Empire or strong central government might have held.


What makes this so important is how it speaks to our society today. As a teacher, I was taken aback when I realized that my students knew next to nothing about 9/11. To have to explain to them the emotional impact of that day was much like Leia having to explain to Casterfo how terrible the Empire was; without experiencing it there is always something to be lost. This is something we must take into account as a society lest we allow another 9/11, Holocaust, Vietnam War, or any of the other travesties of history. 

How do we do this? I am far from one to answer that, but I pray we all can handle it with the grace and honor of General, Senator, Princess Leia.

The Tin Man Gets a Heart 

When Lucasfilm announced a one-off comic about how C3PO got his red arm, there was a collective eye roll across fandom. What we got was far better than anyone could have predicted.

The story gives a heart to droids, making them more than “as common a blenders.” They were shown to have some level of humanity, and that was further explored with AP5, Chopper, and K2SO.
R2D2 is beloved because of his being like a loyal dog and for basically always saving everyone’s backside. But the stories told about droids in 2016 reminded us to not put R2, or any of the other droids, in a box.

Catalyst

The name holds such power in and of itself. Not only is the book about the  catalyst for the events of Rogue One, it is about the catalyst of the Death Star (at least as far as how the Empire took it from an idea to a reality). Yet most importantly, it is the catalyst for the “Star Wars Story” era of films.

Many people where quite apprehensive about Rogue One. This novel, in its great characters and intriguing story, seemed to, if not completely placate fans, at the very least calm them down walking into the theater.


The greatest strength of this novel is its true linking of the prequel and original trilogy eras. Getting to see the ending seconds of The Clone War was phenomenal, and going from there to seeing how the Empire truly took over the lives of the people of the galaxy did so much to take Star Wars from a set of trilogies into one grandeous story.

Rogue One

Obviously.

Rogue One soundtrack 

This one seems to be a dividing point in fandom. There is a mix of lovers, haters, and not-certainers (yup, just made up a word).

Personally, I’m in the camp of lovers, even though the unbiased journalist side of me can see the perspectives of the whole fandom. All the while, I think it is brash, bold, and new while also paying due homage to the past. Michael Giacchino’s achievement is that, in some four weeks, he brought a new feel to Star Wars and gave all who follow in his footsteps the right to try new things. 

Ahsoka

Full disclosure, Ahsoka is my favorite character. So yes, I did rush out on the day of the release to search through Barnes and Nobles for almost an hour to find their last copy of the book. Needless to say, I had high expectations.


Truth be told, those expectations were not met. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. In fact, I thought it was great. But it just didn’t have “it.” That mysterious factor that makes novels like Darth Plagiues, the Thrawn trilogy, and Lost Stars so phenomenal.

What it did have, however, is a wonderful display of how the Empire completelyram-shacked  planets without regard for the life there. What it brought to lightsaver lore was amazing. Further, it, in the same vein as Catalyst, did much to show the transition from the end of Revenge of the Sith to the start of the original trilogy. For that, I will always respect, love, and will often reread, Ahsoka

JJ Abrams Commentary 

Again, I must uphold journalistic standards and admit that I have not listened to this in full. I have heard parts of it on podcasts and read bits in articles from reputable sources. 


What is important though is not what was said, but that it was said. We are in new territory with the saga we love, and everything Lucasfilm does is setting precedence. Being that fans are the ones making Star Wars now, it’s tremendous to know that they have not gotten “too big for their britches” and remember that the fandom is what makes Star Wars great. Commentaries and other things of the like that allow creator and consumer to connect pay the proper respect to all parties who have worked so hard to make Star Wars great again (sorry that pun was too easy too… really I should be ashamed of myself).

Come back tomorrow for the next eight of our “16 for 16.” Don’t forget to comment below about your favorite moments of 2016 and follow us on Twitter @ClashingSabers .

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