A Closer Look at ‘Kenobi’October 19, 2012 at 8:18 am | Posted in Opinion, Speculation, Star Wars Books | 1 Comment
Tags: john jackson miller, kenobi
This week we’re taking a closer look at Kenobi, the recently announced Star Wars novel from John Jackson Miller. John has teased readers with the following…
“Kenobi is a sweeping story that’s part epic western, part high-stakes drama, part romance — but it’s all Star Wars, taking place in the early days of Obi-Wan’s exile to Tatooine. I shouldn’t expand too much beyond what Random House said on its panel and Facebook page, but I can say this. I’ve been working on this concept for years — I’ll talk more about that process later on — and the basics are pretty simple. The greatest hero in the galaxy faces his toughest challenge yet: He must stop being Obi-Wan — and become Crazy Old Ben.” -John Jackson Miller
Epic western. High-stakes drama. Romance. What can it all mean? Well, we’re prepared to delve into the depths of possibility.
When John mentions “epic western” I think of the first Star Wars film. Some of my earliest memories as a child were of a film where two robots were wandering through a desert and there was a bar full of strange aliens. In A New Hope we see a galaxy that’s not all clean and symmetrical, but one that is full of rough edges, dirt, and grime. When we’re introduced to aliens, they’re getting drunk in a bar, picking fights, and getting killed. Han Solo’s iconic introduction is reminiscent of a gunslinger when he blasts Greedo (no matter who shoots first). Even the classic double sunset on Tatooine is characteristic of the landscape shots that are often utilized in western films. Bringing that western feel into the novels is only fitting, and long over do.
In more recent times, characters like Cad Bane and the bounty hunters in The Old Republic MMO have kept that western vibe alive in the franchise. Kenobi promises to do the same, but what will it mean for the story? Personally, I’d love to see Obi-Wan saunter into town like Clint Eastwood’s ‘Man with No Name.’ Being a stranger on Tatooine, he would be the quiet guy people would learn not to mess with. His conscience would get him into trouble, helping those in need, and resulting in escalating violence as the local scumbag population quickly dwindles to zero.
High-stakes drama makes me think of sabacc games, though, and I don’t think that’s what John has in mind for Obi-Wan. The galaxy is changing as it transitions from a time of war to one of peace under an oppressive regime. Jedi can no longer go about their normal business because they’re enemies of the Empire. Yet Obi-Wan has been a Jedi all his life. The desire to help others could very well lead Obi-Wan into dangerous territory as he seeks a balance between laying low and maintaining his morality. For Obi-Wan, high-stakes drama could mean anything from outrunning Imperial Inquisitors to breaking out of a Hutt dungeon without revealing he’s a Jedi. Fitting in with the western theme, I could easily envision an Inquisitor or two popping up to give Obi-Wan trouble. Especially if they happen to follow him back to the Lars homestead and begin wondering who this child is that Obi-Wan is so interested in. Keeping Luke a secret could definitely lead to some high-stakes drama.
And then there’s the romance. In the Expanded Universe, Obi-Wan has had many romantic run-ins. Starting off in the Jedi Apprentice series, Obi-Wan had a proto-romance with Cerasi in the Melida-Daan Arc. She died which seems to be a theme with Jude Watson because Obi-Wan’s next romantic interest, Siri Tachi, ended up dying as well. I don’t think Duchess Satine’s odds on surviving are all that good either. And when we met Taria Damsin she was already in the process of dying. Of course, with Order 66 and the Purge, Siri and Taria’s chances of dying anyway were about 99%.
And then there’s Asaj Ventress. She is by far the most interesting of Obi-Wan’s female relationships. Not exactly love, but there’s wonderful chemistry there between the two. Ventress’s fate is still open-ended at this point in the EU.
Left alone on a desert world with no one for company, it’s makes perfect sense that Obi-Wan might meet someone. In fact he might even encourage the relationship in order to further disguise his identity. On the other hand, Obi-Wan might need someone to help him find a sense of normalcy. But with his past relationship history and the fact that he’s alone on Tatooine in A New Hope, being Obi-Wan’s love interest is the kiss of death. I would not like to see, yet again, another love interest die. Don’t do it, John. If romance in this book means Obi-Wan, leave it open-ended.
Yet there is one more element to the story; one where all these things can combine to reach the ultimate story point: Crazy Old Ben. At what point does the western adventure on Tatooine, one sprinkled with high-stakes drama and romance, become the breaking point for Obi-Wan? We all know there has to be some defining moment where he makes the momentous decision to go from being Obi-Wan to Ben. And as John hints at, it’s not just Ben, but Crazy Old Ben. That transition from Obi-Wan to Ben and ultimately Crazy Old Ben, is one adventure I can’t wait to read.