Wednesday, March 17, 2010

15,762-15,609 BBY: The Despotica: Xim at Vontor


Michael Kogge is one of the most innovative Star Wars EU writers.
As has already been stated on this blog, the Xim material is by far the most original EU work out there. The History of Xim and the Tion Cluster, and The Despotica parts I and II gave three different looks at the writing prowess of Kogge, and provided for Star Wars fans a fresh way to experience the universe they love.

Kogge has allowed us to look at the universe we enjoy through new perspectives, whether it be through the eyes of a star cartographer, the lectures of a Ruurian historian, or through the deeply ancient history of a playwright. And now through the work of The Desptoica part III: Xim at Vontor, Kogge has given us yet another viewpoint of the Star Wars universe, that of holomaker (aka movie director).

With regards to Star Wars chronology, Xim at Vontor is an ‘in-universe’ movie script that situates itself in the years 15,762 – 15,609 BBY, placing it a full 10,000 plus years after the works of Lyechusas, and a full 8600 plus years before our next chronological source, the stories of the Jedi exiles and the foundations of the Sith Empire.

There is so much to say with regards to this piece, I can only start at the most logical place: the beginning.

Xim at Vontor begins with an academic preamble, presumably by our old friend professor Skynx. He provides for the reader some history into the evolution of Xim storytelling in the Star Wars universe. Marking its evolution from dramatic stage performances, to “holoplays”, Peshosloc, the ‘director’ of the holoplays gives to the galactic community a new way to experience “The Despot”. My favorite line in professor Skynx’s preamble is: “critics hailed Peshosloc's scripts as more than just bang-and-boom. Where others had tried and failed, Peshosloc succeeded in "blowing up" The Despotica for popular consumption because he never wrote down to his audience. Throughout dazzling detonations and sordid villainy, he wove simple tragedies of the heart, the very foundation of good space opera”. Peshosloc is to the Star Wars universe what George Lucus is to ours, and what is more, Xim at Vontor is to the Star Wars universe what “Star Wars” is to ours.

After Skynx’s preface, we get into the script of Xim at Vontor. What I love about this piece of writing is that it’s written like an actual screenplay, complete with set direction and font that emulates what an actual screenplay looks like:
“FADE IN:
EXT. SPACE.
TRIPLE MOONS part their celestial junction to reveal the GIANT PLANET they orbit...
TITLE: Vontor System, Si'Klaata Cluster.”

Xim at Vontor tells the story of Xim’s third battle at Vontor, his betrayal by his Queen and Generals, and his de-humanization and subsequent revenge.

Three scenes caught my attention in the telling of this story, the first being the presentation of Xim, the second being his ruthlessness on the battlefield, and the third being his Oedipal blinding at the end of the holoplay.

The opening description of Xim is very familiar to us, as it is very ‘Vader-like’: XIM THE DESPOT, hands folded behind a scarlet shimmercape, gazes out the viewport. He is calm, almost serene, as fireballs engulf the starfield”. This can’t but recall to Star Wars fans’ minds’ the classic scenes we have of Vader, standing on the deck of his Superstar Destroyer, surveying the spacescape of “his new Empire”.

As the battle progresses, Xim commands his General to “discharge the pulse canons” at the thickest part of the battle, knowing his own forces, along with his enemies, will face the brunt of his attack. His general hesitates, and then does as he is ordered. Xim makes his point with the line: “Thanios's men know there is no greater sacrifice than to give their lives to the glory of my legend”. This scene recalled for me the movie Braveheart, when Richard the Lionheart ordered his arches to fire into the battle, knowing his own troops would be hit with the arrows along with the Scottish.

Finally, the last scene I want to comment on, and the one scene that caught me by surprise, was Xim’s blinding by his own hand. After the assassination attempt by Jaminere, and Xim’s betrayers subsequent hasty exit, the Despot is left alive (unknowingly by his enemies) with a gaping hole in his head where his eye used to be. Struggling down the corridor of his ship, he is found by his faithful servant Oziaf. His head of engineering then helps his master by replacing his gaping eyehole with the eye of one of his war-droids. Xim responds with: “So this is how they see. In the infrared. Ultraviolet. And the twenty spectrums. (Optic lens rotates) I should have done this sooner”.

Xim then plucks out his own eye: “No, master, don't-- Squishes, a POP, and Xim plucks out his eye”. This is utterly gruesome, and endlessly entertaining. I was reminded by Oedipus Rex in this passage: “He rips off her brooches, the long gold pins holding her robes-and lifting them high, looking straight up into the points, he digs them down the sockets of his eyes, crying, 'You, you'll see no more the pain I suffered, all the pain I caused! Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen, blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on! Blind in the darkness-blind!" Much like Oedipus, Xim is now blind, but yet, like Oedipus again, he can see far more than when he had his own eyes.

It’s unfortunate I won’t be dealing with anymore Xim material for a while. It’s not until 671 BBY before I come across the name of our favorite pirate and despot again, and before that I’ll have to complete two video games and three novels. So it is here I say goodbye to the works of Michael Kogge. In the meantime I’m still working my way though the KOTOR videogame, and for my next post I’m going to engage with some miscellaneous items I’ve missed in the Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force text. Plaristes was good enough to point out some areas I’ve missed, so I’m going to go over them and report my findings (If I’m going to complete my PhD is Star Wars-ology, I’m going to have to look at everything!). Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

17 comments:

  1. I've enjoyed these insightful posts on the Despotica very much, MKB. Mike Kogge's given us an innovative vision of possibilities of what Star Wars storytelling can yet be.

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  2. How is the KOTOR game coming? I had a thought. Once you finish the game, there are only two small items on Joe's timeline before you hit the second KOTOR game, which will also probably take you a while. While working on that, you might consider looking at a couple other minor items that aren't on Joe's timeline: the portions of The New Essential Chronology covering up to where you are on the timeline; the minor "news" articles in the KOTOR comics which I don't think were reprinted in the trade paperbacks (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Knights_of_the_Old_Republic_news_organs). The latter are extremely minor, and if you don't have the individual issues, it can be fairly expensive to pick them all up (unless you're willing to settle for bootleg scans).

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  3. Abel, thanks for the positive comment. I think in one of my last posts I spoke about the possibilities of Star Wars storytelling in the future, and I said I think it’s going to be a universe writers will be adding to for hundreds of years (and I really do believe that). I really do believe Star Wars storytelling as it is, is only the tip of the iceberg.

    When I think about other franchises with this potential, I wonder why the Tolkien estate has not allowed the L.O.T.R. universe to be placed in the hands of its fans, under the same sort of supervision Lucasfilm provides for Star Wars. I know there is a plethora of Fantasy books out there, but they are not “Middle Earth” or “official” histories of that particular universe. Or why Rowling has not allowed other writers to investigate her world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter. I think more good comes from sharing a universe with other imaginations.

    Plaristes, KOTOR is coming along slowly. I’ll talk about my waning enthusiasm for the inclusion of video games in the SWCP when I’m done. It has taken the wind out of my sails a bit. However, I do believe that the video games are vital for the completion of this project. It’s the difference between reading about Boston, and looking at pictures about Boston, versus actually going to Boston. Reading about it and looking at pictures is just not the same as visiting. If I want to have a PhD in Star Wars-ology, I think I’m going to have to play the games.

    Thanks for providing the information on those other bits of chronology. I’ll defiantly look at them and try to include them.

    Cheers.

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  4. I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog but I am having trouble finding copies of The Despotica. Do you know where I can find them.
    Thanks!

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  5. Leave an e-mail address here.

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    1. lizluvsbears@yahoo.com

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  6. Great blog.I don't find anything about Xim Week the despotica. Could you help me please.
    Thanks and sorry for my english.

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  7. Leave an e-mail here where I can reach you.

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    1. Hey could you also help me find the Despotica? You can reach me at ben.verhaegen[at]gmail.com

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  8. I'm also having trouble finding the Despotica. I'd love to read it. My e-mail is freedom4[at]mac.com

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  9. Not sure if you still check this but I would love to be able to read the Despotica. My email is jdc6x6@mail.mst.edu, I'd really appreciate it!

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  10. Hey MKB, I would love to get my hands on the Despotica. If you still check this, my email is chainsalamander@yahoo.com

    Thanks!

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  11. Id like a copy of the Despotica as well. srftitans10@yahoo.com

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  12. I'd like a copy of all 4 parts of Xim Week: The Despotica as well. mhjones645b@att.net. Thank you!

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  13. Anyone still got a copy of the Despotica? It's impossible to find anywhere else. I'd appreciate it

    the_dark_side_13@hotmail.com

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  14. Would love a copy The Despotica (Part II) & (Part III) as the rest is on my harddrive from ages ago. lando_200@hotmail.com

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  15. Also looking for a copy of all of Xim Week: The Despotica.

    toastyoaties@gmail.com

    Much appreciated.

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