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Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

Star Wars Chronology: The Fourth Precept!

*Okay, so here I am with a new post about my Star Wars Project.  I know, I’ve only recently gone through a major change up on my timeline project.  But here I am about to do another one. 

*So, I’ve discovered a timeline that I would have sworn I looked at before I settled on DinoJim and Joe Bongiorno as my guides this last time I changed timelines.  I know I went to the website and I was sure that I had looked at it, but apparently I had not.  I know this because I just did look at it and it is exactly what I was looking for last time. 

*So, I’m going to be switching to using it and I’m going to talk here in this post about why I think this is kind of the perfect timeline for my project.

*I am speaking, in case it isn’t clear yet, of Rob Mullin’s excellent Chronology. 

*Mullin defends his own particular style of chronology much better than I can in an introduction to his own timeline.  But briefly, he has simplified things back into a “in what order should I read these stories?” kind of thing.  He admits that there is certainly a place for incredibly detailed timelines as reference guides.

*For example, here’s a brief snippet from Joe Bongiorno’s timeline:

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (chapter 1) (Del Rey/Ballantine)

Episode I: Anakin’s Fate (The Race) (Random House)

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (chapter 2) (Del Rey/Ballantine)

Episode I: Anakin’s Fate  (The Space Pilot) (Random House)

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Prologue) (Scholastic; Collector's Edition: Borders Exclusive)

RPG: Peril on Naboo (Secrets of Naboo; Wizards of the Coast)

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (chapter 3) (Del Rey/Ballantine)

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (chapters 1–2) (Scholastic; Collector's Edition: Borders Exclusive)

Episode I Journal: Darth Maul (Entry 1–2) (Scholastic)

Episode I Journal: Queen Amidala (Entry 1: Blockade) (Scholastic)

Episode I Adventures #13: Danger on Naboo (chapters 1–3) (Scholastic; reprinted in Star Wars Adventures #11)

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (chapter 4) (Del Rey/Ballantine)

Episode I: The Phantom Menace (chapters 3) (Scholastic; Collector's Edition: Borders Exclusive)

Episode I Adventures #13: Danger on Naboo (chapters 4–5) (Scholastic; reprinted in Star Wars Adventures #11)

Star Wars Junior: Jedi Escape (Scholastic)

*As you might note, this is, quite literally a chapter by chapter journey through The Phantom Menace novelization, or rather, all the TPM novelizations, comics, tie-ins, etc.  This is, in its incredible detail, fascinating stuff.  It is also, of course, nigh onto impossible to even try to read the books this way. 

*DinoJim’s timeline is more simplified, but Rob’s is more simplified yet.  He takes you through the era’s in less detailed fashion, but it’s a style that appeals to me.  He would have you read, for instance, the larger texts of an era first and then go back and fill in the cracks, as opposed to trying to break all the works up by page numbers, etc. 

*In this way, he emphasizes splitting books and stories up fairly seldom which is something of a virtue, I think. 

*Now, Rob’s timeline isn’t perfect.  For one thing, it’s not updated nearly as often as either Jim’s or Joe’s.  It’s also not as complete as either of those.  For one thing, I noted instantly that Rob’s timeline doesn’t include the Despotica, which I’ve already reviewed a couple of those.  I’m not sure if it’s because the works are fairly obscure and he missed them or if they hadn’t come out yet in December 2010, when he did his last update.  Either way, they’re legitimately interesting EU works that aren’t included on his timeline. 

*So, how do I deal with this?  Well, I’ve hit on what I think is a rather ingenious idea. 

*In short, I’m going to go with Rob’s timeline as my default.  So, I will begin at the beginning of his timeline and go with it.  This simplifies my reading schedule quite a bit and helps my reviews be a little longer and not so short. 

*However, at each era break in Rob’s timeline, I will go back to DinoJim’s timeline and Joe Bongiorno’s timeline and go back through their timelines, picking up anything that isn’t on Rob’s timeline.

*This will allow me to simplify even the things not reflected on Rob’s timeline since, when I go back to Joe’s timeline, things that he broke up into multiple pieces will all be together. 

*I don’t know if this makes any sense to you.  At the moment, things will not be particularly complicated, as I begin posting my reviews here.  Eventually, the hope is that it won’t even matter what order I post in, since you’ll have my dedicated Star Wars page to go by.

Transient

*But enough introductions!  Let's get to it with The Fourth Precept.

Buy Visionaries

25,783 BBY

*So, Visionaries . . . we talked a bit about Visionaries before when I reviewed Prototypes, the ridiculous story about Durge, and the story about Dooku creating Grievous, which it seems was called The Eyes of Vengeance or something.  My memory is patchy about Visionaries, which is somewhat merciful, I think (though I did like the Dooku story and the Maul/Obi-Wan story; nothing else was really worth the paper it was printed on, but whatever).

*So, I pulled out my copy of it again and took a look at The Fourth Precept.  This story can be summarized very briefly.  Over six pages of stunning visuals, two figures have a lightsaber fight in space, the heart of the earth, maybe some other places, I dunno, before ending up poised together, their bodies perfectly balanced against each other. 

*In other words, you might want to load up on the Mary Jane before you start this one.

*Ok, so let’s plumb the text here.  Well, the story is completely dialogue free, but the title gives a clue.  The Fourth Precept would be, I am assuming, a reference to the Jedi Code, of which the fourth precept is “There is no death, there is the Force.” 

*WELL OKAY ACTUALLY THAT WAS NO HELP AT ALL.

*So, here’s something that I found really amusing about this one in a meta way.  I am using three timelines in conjunction on this project and while there are certainly moments where the timelines disagree with each other, there is surely no story about which the three timelines are as violently divided as they are on this one. 

*In my “baseline” timeline, or the default one, Rob Mullins places this story at 25,783 years before A New Hope.  He calls it, in a note on the entry, “A surreal amalgamation of images,” which works for me.  He then states that he believes it to be a mythological telling of the foundations of the Jedi religion, which is why he places it here.  He sees it, then, as a myth about how the Jedi order began and, since we don’t really have any serious information about that beginning yet, we place this story here as the best representation yet.  Okay, I suppose in some ways this works; the story ends with the opposing figures in balance with each other, so I suppose the rationale is that the moment when the Jedi Order began was the moment when balance and order came to a disordered and chaotic galaxy. 

*Joe Bongiorno over at The Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline, on the other hand, places it at the very, very end of his timeline, just before a batch of public service announcements released in the late seventies to tie in with the movies, released, that is, in this galaxy, where Artoo and Threepio had apparently stumbled.  So, here’s the question, and I may be putting words in his mouth a bit, but it appears to me that Joe’s perspective seems to be that the story is some sort of apocalypse.  It comes after Storyteller, by far the oldest story in the GFFA, and just prior to the beginning of Star Wars bleeding over into our own galaxy.  Is The Fourth Precept about the apocalypse that ends the Galaxy Far Far Away?  Evidence in support of this?  Well, the fourth precept, which gives this story its title is about death and how the Force survives even death.  Is this about how even in the death of a galaxy, the Force remains in balance? 

*DinoJim splits the difference over at this Star Wars Timeline Checklist.  He puts the story in a separate list from his main timeline and labels it Infinities.

*So, this is either a creation myth of the Jedi order, the story of the apocalypse of the GFFA or it didn’t actually happen at all.  Frankly, I’m going with the third option. 

*I mean, okay, I’m not going to be a total grump.  I will admit that the art is quite spectacular.  But this is a story that forces you to ask if pictures, completely devoid of narrative context or emotional resonance, is enough for you.  I say no.  Your mileage may vary.

½ out of **** stars.

Stephen Martinire