Book of the Month(ish) Club: Vector Prime

Utinniii

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I keep meaning to reread my EU novels and have just gotten back into the joy of reading physical books again.

I am intending to start Vector Prime in September (because a buddy will also be reading it) and work my way up from there.

I thought it might be fun if a bunch of us were to read it and talk about it while we read it. We can even relive our first experiences with it. Anyone interested?

I'll assume everyone has already read it so unless someone want to join that will be reading it for the first time, (which would be fun for everyone) I won't worry about spoilers.

Everyone is welcome to join in so long as everyone wants to discuss the novel in a constructively critical way(not just to say how much they hated it). There were novels or parts I didn't like and I will talk about them but in a respectful way.

As I read it, I will post my thoughts, what I remember about the first time I read it, and anything else that comes to mind. I'd like to hear yours as well.

With busy schedules, I have no idea how long it will take to finish it. Depending on how many people are interested, I'll read it at a leisurely pace (probably on weekends) but might read for hours at a time. I'll try not to get too far ahead/behind if anyone else is also reading.

Since we won't be getting any new material, I think it might be nice to refresh our memories and have something new to talk in detail about.
 
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Great idea!

I am going to opt-out this time, but if you eventually circle backaround to the Thrawn Trilogy I would love to join in.

I have a few fond memories of "Vector Prime" from my reading back in the day, but I remember the "New Jedi Order" series as being such a long slog I wasn't able to muster the excitement to finish it when it was current, and I haven't had the desire to go back through it since, with the exception of rereading the Aaron Allston books because that guy could write. (He kept me reading through the Darth Caedus storyline.)

I may chime in on the stuff I love (like the asteroid run) when you get to it, but I just can't commit to the reread. I will be following the thread, though!

"It's a Both!"
 

Utinniii

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Thanks!

So I started VP this weekend.
I've been dithering about how to write this PositiveVSNegative or my thoughts as I read it, mostly because I didn't want to start off with a negative.

I've always thought the author was over rated, not bad, just not deserving of the esteem he gets.

The opening starts off with Leia and gets a lot of backstory out of the way. We know Mara is sick and Jaina has evolved from the "young Jedi" books. Jaina really shows off her character here as there is action but no real threat.
I also thought is was a good way to introduce the "Rogue Jedi/Jedi Council" subplot that the series will delve into.

We are also introduced to Ackdool. I have a pet peeve about lazy name choosing (and I'm not saying the author was doing this). The Ack might very well be common for the fishies but I felt that the name = Ackbar substitute. I'm not a fan of names like Beedo, Luuke where there are simple letter substitutions, as well as taking an English word like yeoman and spelling it out differently. (some authors do this on purpose since the definition of the word or meaning of the name reveals character information.).

We also learn about the anti droid sentiment here. I liked this idea as it makes the main droids lives more harrowing. They are not just sidekicks here, they have personal threats here. This story was also relevant at the time with more robots replacing factory workers as well as the rise of social media.

I really don't remember if we have met Nom Anor in previous books but they flesh him out very well here even before we meet him.
He is a good villain since he simply a devout believer.
 
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I am the 'other' mentioned who is reading this, and I'm about 100 pages in. I've been re-reading the entire timeline in chronological order since the Disney EU announcement, what was it, back in 2012? The main adult novels and comics, no young Jedi or young adult titles.

So at this point in my reading of the timeline this is the story that was read furthest back from today, and not much is familiar detail-wise. I'm very good with concepts and ideas but when away from a section for a significant length of time, the details can become fuzzy. So coming into it I had no recollection of how the invasion started, how they snuck in, or how long they were sneaking until they became revealed. Also, I didn't remember us being introduced to Mara already being ill, as opposed to it happening as we read it.

Having read all the way to the end of the timeline already, what I'm going to find interesting is the development of Jacen. He is already developing a different perspective on the Force from his brother Anakin. One way Anakin sees the Jedi is along the lines of a galactic police force, being there to right wrongs. And Jacen is approaching the Force as a deeply personal thing, where attaining inner peace will help solve problems, as opposed to responding to problems and using the Force in a martial way. Luke is debating on reforming a Jedi council, Anakin sees it as a good thing, the structure and organization to help knights go out and use their lightsabers and the Force to right wrongs. Jacen is against the formation, against the idea of knights using the Force as a soldier or police force or in a medieval knight sort of way.

But he also has a strong feeling against anybody else, the new Republic government, perhaps more generically non Force users, "Having the opportunity to have any say on how a Jedi uses the Force. The Force is something we have, so how can they know how to tell us to use it and in what way? If we decide what is good how can they know to question our conclusions?" That sort of idea. So right there the foundation is being formed for how he decides what he must do to bring the galaxy to peace, in future story lines post Vong. The future deeply personal things he goes through, and how they help form his knowledge and usage of the Force, are being set up by this early character development.

I wasn't very politically or socially motivated back when this came out, but I am more so today, and am already getting some impressions of things based on knowledge of the world today. Let's say something happens in the story, that back then was a new idea to me, and I thought it was interesting as something I had never thought of before. But of course it was sci-fi fantasy. But now today I know of real life examples that perhaps do bother me, thus this event in the story may bring me down by reminding me about something in real life that I am not happy about. I don't really want to see/feel real life parallels in my Star Wars. This grand arc may have the potential to have different impacts upon me than it did the first time I read it.
 
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Utinniii

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Well, my memory is a sieve so a lot of this will be "new" to me. In my memory, the book started with Chapter 2, which I find more suspenseful. It also starts off with the villain, which is how I remember all the movies starting.

I am also interested in the paths the children will be taking. At this moment, how much of their future was already plotted? Jacen has an interesting perspective, and even Luke says he isn't wrong.

Chapter 2 opens with Danni and she doesn't like organizations so seems like she will side with Jacen. She is a smart likeable character.

We are also introduced to Carr. I found him an excellent villain. He was well written and we learn so much about the vong through his perspectives. He sees everything wrong with "humanity" and uses it against us. I found him more interesting than Anor and liked that his actions were suspicious and imperfect, be it his Yoda grammar or missing certain humanisms.

The rest of the crew were developed enough but weren't fleshed out as much.

We learn a lot more about the vong, and it isn't really in an expository way.

The science in this chapter was also interesting. As were the politics and Carr used them well. His manipulations were more exciting than a space battle for me.

Chapter 3 shows us the floundering of the new Republic and how people like Borsk manage somehow to succeed. We see how self serving most of them are, and perhaps even blind with their support. The events that take place later in the series are foreshadowed here as they can't decide (and even condemn) what should be a no brainer with regards to the Jedi. Jacen is also further fleshed out.

Chapter 4 has fun manipulations and characterization of Anor and the vong. We learn about a few more beliefs and creatures. While parts of the Vong are still mysterious, we have a fairly good understanding of them already. Their motivations are more interesting to me than Palpatine ever was. Their absence from the Force is also intriguing. This enemy is alien in so many ways.

I loved the line, "Speak your mind," Nom Anor bade him. "Your questions will only strengthen me." This makes Anor smarter than a lot of leaders.

Anakin is written as a good teenager and as a counterpoint to his brother. His relationship with Chewie is well developed and didn't foreshadow anything to me the first time I read this. There is a lot going on here.
 

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Chapter 5 -7
"Belek tiu," as a sign of respect but still wanting to continue is a great expression. Vader or the Emperor would choke that person out (probably why the Emperor never knew about the original flaw in the Death Star: A technician runs in, "Your Lordship, we discovered a serious flaw in the Death Star..."
"What?, you question the perfection of my space station??" <Force Chokes man>
Tech 2 drags the body away and quietly put in a transfer to the Alderaan garrison.

The excitement of the scientists was well done. It makes their fate more meaningful later on. It also helps show just how different our perceptions are from the Vong. (I know Vong is desrespectful but I'm not writing the entire name. Chewie says it is OK.)

The impressiveness of the new Mon Cal cruiser is also a great point. Our best is still nothing compared to their biotech.
I think how overwhelmed the New Rebuplic will be and how they slowly learn how to adapt to the Vong is the part that I liked best.

With the Empire, it was always just outfly or turn off. As soon an a problem was discovered, they had a solution (even if a difficult one). Here they have no idea.

The Mara Leia exchange was good. Even if we feel that Mara will survive this, it is still possible that she can't have kids. We see Mara presenting who she was to Leia but in the end shows us she is vulnerable.

The saber duel is also a useful scene. It shows the brother's different ideas of the Force which will come in handy later on when both realize the other might have been correct.

Yomin Carr is such a great villain. He shows us that by having a singular purpose, he can outwit others that don't. He can swallow his pride just to get the job done. There is much to admire about him. At the time I hoped he would become a long term nemesis.
He is still flawed though, his joke about the killer cat failed to entertain. He doesn't quite get humor.

Luke and Jacen's discussion is also a nice contrast from the way the Vong talk. It shows a willingness of a superior to honestly listen but without the fear of dismemberment if the superior disagrees.

I liked how Leia ditched her bodyguard (and removed an unnecessary character).

Later we learn about Lando's mining operation. I thought he was well written but felt he was a deus ex machina plot device. (In this series as a whole, especially the Lando-bots - but loved their voices!)

We finally get to see what is happening to the planet with the bugs. This is pretty exciting and we see how self sacrificing the team actually is. If only they knew what was waiting for them at the camp.

And then suddenly, I realized I was already at chapter 10.
 

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Chapter 10 – 12
Mara once again shows her amazing teaching style that shows her personality.
I really enjoy most of the characterizations in this book.

Carr is still more interesting than Anor for me, perhaps because he is directly getting his hands dirty.

Kyp’s bit was fun, suggesting that his squadron will play a large part in the unfolding stories. This is good since Rogue Squadron has all but retired at this point.

With Han’s and Chewie’s run, the loss of shields bothered me a bit. One complaint I have about this book is the overuse of certain ideas. This is one case. This is a surprise tactic of the vong so using it here takes some of the power away. It also has the characters already thinking of a counter measure. It is also an example of Lando Ex Machina.

It was a good scene for showing Han and Chewie’s relationship though.

Chapter 13-14
This has the first real skirmish between the Vong and Republic and the Republic is soundly thrashed. When I first read this, I was actually concerned for the Republic. This wasn’t another Explod-O-Death-Star, this was an actual threat. It took out a squadron lead by a Jedi.

On the planet, they even had the biotech to possibly break a Jedi. The alienness of the attacks made for me, a really interesting story.
 
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