Star Wars – My Theory about the origin of Rey

leia-rey-solo-163329

Photoshop mashup borrowed image of Leia, Rey and Han.

The Last Jedi opens in just a few months, and I keep meaning to write up my own theory about the origin of Rey, the young woman with force abilities whom we last saw handing Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber.

This isn’t based on any inside information and it could quite possibly not be where the story tellers have decided to go. I believe that as J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm wrote The Force Awakens, they had no idea what back story they were going to give Rey. They might not have even thought she needed to have a back story until “who are Rey’s parents” dominated the conversation. Unlike the original Lucas stories, which were linked together by one person’s vision, this new trilogy seems to be made up as it goes along. I am not necessarily saying this is a bad thing (well, yes, I am saying that), rather that it is just a thing. Therefore, absent a grand plan, the answer to the “Who is Rey” question might never really be fully satisfying.

My theory below isn’t meant to be “the” answer. It’s actually the only story that will redeem this new trilogy for me. Up to now, I don’t really incorporate it into my own “head canon.” I have gone on and on before about how I abhor the fundamental changes to the main three characters (Luke, Han and Leia) in this new trilogy. My theory tries to fill in some acceptable background story so that I might find their motivation slightly more palatable. I don’t think I will ever accept the new trilogy as my Star Wars. It lacks so much of the heart and wonder and joy of the original.

So, given that long introduction, my theory on Rey is that she is the presumed dead daughter of Han and Leia, younger sister to Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), and also a former student of Uncle Luke Skywalker’s young Jedi academy. I based this theory less on how it neatly ties up loose ends and more on the fact that the pain of losing their daughter is the only way I will accept that Han and Leia wandered around in a separated state. They fought too long together against too many things to separate because their son made bad choices. Having their son turn to the dark side is just another thing in a long line of things that Han and Leia would have faced and fought together. I never felt it was enough of a motivation to drive Han to run off and return to smuggling as an antidote to parental pain. But the loss of a young child? That kind of grief could drive our favorite smuggler to wander about the galaxy, a grieving father, drifting about.

If I were to frame the story, Rey would have been another one of Luke’s pupils, along with her older brother and other force sensitive young children. She could have been 8-9 years old at the time of the massacre of this new Jedi academy at the hands of the Knights of Ren. But because she is his little sister, and perhaps “there is good in him”, Kylo would not have been able to kill Rey. Instead, he’s the one who took her away and hid her on Jakku. He had to do it quickly, and left her someplace that his fellow First Order folks would never look. He either had to make it look like she died as well or that somehow she got away and disappeared. Perhaps he’s spent the last few years trying to prevent anyone from finding her, keeping her safe from a distance.

Rey would have been young, and things would have been traumatic. Maybe she has a vague memory of her parents, maybe she doesn’t. We haven’t really been shown any memories on purpose so the storytellers after The Force Awakens weren’t boxed into any decisions about Rey. So, with a little hand-waving, the story could decide that Rey is be the daughter of Han and Leia.

In the end, I think the back story of Rey will be revealed in The Last Jedi. I don’t know which way Lucasfilm has decided to go. For some time, both Abrams and Johnson have said that her origin didn’t matter as much as her future. I contend that Star Wars is all about origins, and their impact on the future as well as the choices we make in spite of those origins. I approach this December with much trepidation. After I do see The Last Jedi, you can be sure I will weigh in with my opinion. Depending on how it goes, it might be the last new Star Wars movie for me for a long, long time.

 

 

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More thoughts on Han in The Force Awakens

Now that I’ve watched The Force Awakens on digital download on my iPad, I wanted to touch back on my thoughts about the characterization of Han. This post is inspired by a conversation I was having with my Mom on my Facebook page. It will be short and sweet because this was only a few sentences. For the record, she completely agreed with me. We were not arguing. She was very nicely listening to me vent for what seems like the 100th time.

To the character of Han, let us start with our beginning with him. We start with A New Hope. Han’s got a cargo hold full of money from rescuing Leia, and he turns back straight toward the death star to rescue Luke.

Continue on with Empire Strikes Back:  When Luke doesn’t check back through any of the entrances to the rebel base on Hoth, Han goes out into the night, against the recommendations of all of the other rebels around him, to rescue Luke. Later on, as the Empire finds them on Hoth and all heck is breaking loose, instead of leaving to settle his debt with Jabba, he rescues Leia and plans to get her to the rebellion, keeping himself in danger.

Then in Return of the Jedi, he volunteers to lead the Endor moon raid to take down the shield generator to keep his friends from harm.

He’s a hero plain and simple and those who think he’s just a smuggler/rogue who would return to “what he knew” when times get tough were simply not paying attention.  This, above every other misstep in the storytelling of The Force Awakens did more to disappoint me and throw me out of the movie. They got it wrong. I will never stop saying that, because it is true.

I’ve seen The Force Awakens, and no, I did not like it (spoilers ahead)

After finding this article from io9 I figured it was safe for me to share with you my very personal feelings after having seen the new Star Wars movie.

Beware dear reader, for if you continue reading the paragraphs below, you will get my honest assessment of the new Star Wars film. This means I will talk about plot points. If you haven’t seen the film yet, please do not read any further. I do not want to be responsible for spoiling anything for anyone.

 

You.

Have.

Been.

Warned.

 

I really wanted to like Star Wars: the Force Awakens. I had hung my hopes and dreams on it being something that would speak to me, something that would move me. I have been counting down the months, and then the weeks, and then the days. I wore my Star Wars clothes every day the week of the premier.

Not only did I not like it, half way through it did something I was dreading, and from that point on, I didn’t care how it ended. I didn’t care about the characters. I didn’t care about anything other than it being over so I could go home.

Yes, I’m not taking it very well.

Let me set the stage, so that you’re not thinking I am some fair-weather fan. I saw Star Wars, then only called Star Wars, in the theaters at the age of 8 in 1977. You can do the math. It stirred me like no entertainment had up to then and ever would after. Only The Empire Strikes Back would come close to recreating those feelings for me. I have since watched the original trilogy easily over 100 times each. I know all of the dialog. I can see a frame grab and begin reciting lines from that scene on. I hear the music and I know exactly what’s happening. I’ve been a fangirl since before fangirls became the rage all over twitter.

I didn’t mind the prequels, although I hated Revenge of the Sith. I know I’m alone with this opinion, but as you’ll see, I don’t care for “Dark” films. I liked The Clone Wars TV show but not enough to share it with my children. Again it’s just too dark. I am loving Star Wars Rebels and hope that at least they continue the storylines where the good guys always win and no one dies.

It is with this reverence that I approached The Force Awakens. I was fully ready to hand over the mantle to the new trio. To follow them on their adventures, but to feel as though it was not quite my Star Wars. That would have been ok. I knew this one wasn’t made for me. Sure it had a strong female protagonist, but it is being made for the new generation. Not for the old generation, and I was fully ready to be ok with that.

I expected to leave the theater thinking, “that was fun, I hope kids today appreciate the gift they’ve been given”. I would have been removed from loving it first hand, but would appreciate it for those that would follow me.

And then they stuck the Millennium Falcon in a junk pile.

And then they had Han and Chewie back to being smugglers and pirates.

And then they had Leia and Han having had a kid, had that kid go bad, and had them separate rather than work it through together.

And then they had Luke, the optimist, who saw the good in everything, off hiding on an island on some far away planet, having failed in restarting the Jedi order.

It’s like they spit upon my beloved characters and who I knew them to be. They spit upon all that I knew they’d have become to put together some Game of Thrones-lite family drama. They took my wide-eyed happy space adventure and threw it away in the trash heap, where it has sat for so long that it’s only a legend for the people in that universe.

And then they killed Han.

Not in some blaze of glory befitting the space pirate. Not saving the day with a Yee-haw and an explosion.

No, they killed him at the end of his son’s lightsaber then dropped him into a bottomless pit and blew up the planet he’s on for good measure. This son spends the whole movie being irritating because he’s an angry crybaby of a man who grew up with Han and Leia as parents, Luke as his uncle and Jedi teacher, and yet he decided to turn out bad. I have no patience for those who have it all and who make bad choices. No patience for it at all. I’d have preferred he have died in this movie and we’re done with no need for another two episodes. I have no interest in his redemption. None. at. all.

The Luke, Han and Leia that I knew in the original trilogy would still be together now. They’d still be fighting the good fight if that’s what was needed. They wouldn’t be apart, or in hiding. This isn’t the story I wanted to see. After working so hard and saving so many, I wanted to see them sitting back and enjoying some peace, and perhaps being called to action because of some new bad guys. This isn’t the way I wanted my Star Wars universe to turn out. We have enough terrible things happening in our actual world. For so long, my Star Wars universe was happily free from that sort of disappointment.

I wanted Luke to be a Jedi Knight, teaching a new group of students. I didn’t want a retread of Anakin and the death of the Jedi from Revenge of the Sith. We’ve already done that. We’ve already had the descent. We’ve had the redemption. We have balance restored to the Force. Having the same events play out again, skipping a generation makes me tired. Do we never learn anything? Are we always doomed to repeat history? Maybe humanity is, but Star Wars was always above that.

I wanted to see Leia and Han in a healthy happy relationship. She being the strong woman. He being her equal. Instead, they have been living apart apparently for years, and Han and Chewie are back to their origins. Han apparently learned nothing, and rather than changing to the better man we all watched him became, he just gave up and ran away. No, this is not the Han Solo we got to know. He was better than that.

It’s too bad, because I actually liked the new characters. Rey is sweet, caring and powerful. I was connected to her after the long time we spent with her on Jakku. I liked Finn, although he felt far too contemporary with his snappy dialog and comebacks, and I liked Poe, although we saw far too little of him. Best of the new characters was hands down, BB-8. He displayed so much emotion, and was definitely adorable. There is someone for everyone who felt they weren’t represented by the white males in the original trilogy.

Still it ticked me off that we got to have R2 under a tarp for most of the movie, in low mode as he waits for the return of his master (i.e. the missing Luke).

The fact that the entire plot is a retread of A New Hope, with Empire thrown in for good measure was actually the thing that bothered me the least.

In the end, this was not the story I was hoping for. This was not the way I wanted the universe to turn out. Perhaps I gave Lawrence Kasdan too much credit when I learned he was writing the story. He gave us The Empire Strikes back, which has been my favorite film to date. But now I think that had he run unchecked by Lucas, ESB would not have been nearly as wonderful as it was. Perhaps all this “dark” nonsense was just one George Lucas heartbeat away, and now that George has given away Star Wars, dark is what we get.

I think the largest mistake is that the film (and all the people who like it) forgets what made Star Wars so appealing. It was a kids’ film with a happy ending. The good guys won. They were in peril but we the audience knew they were always going to make it. Even when Obi-Wan sacrifices himself, he disappears and we immediately hear his voice and know he’s not really gone. He’s still here to help Luke. Yes, that’s not realistic, but Star Wars was never about realism. The original trilogy was about hope and light and happy endings. TFA was none of that.

I leave it to the masses to follow Star Wars from now on. I know why you like it. It’s a good film. It’s got good characters. It just did too many things to break my heart. I can’t feel anything but sad. Instead, I will sit back with my original trilogy and ignore what has happened in TFA. For me, Han will be still alive, and he and Leia will be together forever, with Luke and his new Jedi Padawan bringing light to the universe.

May the Force Be With You.

JJ Abrams to direct new Star Wars movie

Everyone who knows me has been asking me what my thoughts are about the announcement that JJ Abrams will be directing the new Star Wars movie. I love Star Wars. Seeing A New Hope at an impressionable age is probably part of why I am a Rocket Scientist today. I also love JJ Abrams work: Alias, Lost, and now Fringe.

Actually, I am the target audience for the announcement. I should be overjoyed. I should be thrilled. I am not. I am just worried.

If you follow me on twitter you know why. I hated the Star Trek reboot. Hated it. Simply hated it.

I was really excited when a new Trek was in the theaters. I was excited to watch a new installment from one of my favorite mythos. I wasn’t very happy with the last two traditional Trek movies (Nemesis was horrible), and was looking forward to something good.

I was less excited once the credits rolled and the movie was over. It is a good science fiction space movie. I will give you that. But it’s not a good Star Trek movie. It’s more about angst and bad guys interacting with actors doing great impersonations of the Original Series cast, and less about the exploration and seeking of new lifeforms that made the Star Trek I love so wonderful.

I left the show feeling that as a fan, I’d been cast aside. Setting the action in a new alternate reality gave the creators a clean slate. The reboot was cheating in a way, a shortcut. That’s fine for the creators. I understand their motivation. They are free of any and all responsiblity to past/present/future established story lines. But for me as a Trek fan and movie goer, I am not interested in going to this alternate reality where the future timeline I know isn’t going to happen, (or where Vulcan no longer exits). I left the new Star Trek so very sad. I’m am not interested in returning to that alternate reality/timeline. It makes me sad that I have no interest in going to the new movie this summer. It really looks like it will be more of the same.

When I go to the theater to see a movie, it’s driven more by my desire to spend time in a world that interests me with characters I care about. JJAbrams knows how to make characters that I care about. Sometimes, though, he skimps on the world.

I don’t want that to happen with Star Wars. Since I cannot affect anything about the new movie, I stopped ranting on twitter, and promised my followers I’d stop cluttering their timelines with my worries. I thought I’d bring them here one last time, since I am not entirely finished with my worrying.

I love Star Wars – Episodes IV, V, VI. There’s no one series of movies that mean as much to me as they do (especially The Empire Strikes Back). I Love Lost. There’s no TV series that means as much to me as that show. I know from the small nods in Lost that JJAbrams loves Star Wars too. I want Star Wars to be Star Wars, not something new, fresh, dark or brooding. I can only hope that just like Hurley, JJ wants that for his Star Wars too.

May the Force be with him.

(I had to say it. I promise it will be the last time.)

Fingers crossed.
RSM

A small taste of irony

I tried to get to my blog from work yesterday. I wasn’t going to post to it. I just wanted to read it like I read dozens of other blogs on my lunch break.   Mostly, I wanted to see whether the post I’d written and scheduled had actually gone live. Under the rules and requirements for use of computer systems at work, reading blogs on our lunch breaks is allowed.

Unfortunately, our Firewall at work now blocks my blog.

The firewall blocking is a new occurrence because I’ve checked to see if a post went live by reading my blog at work before. It’s been so long since I posted anything, though, that I can’t say for sure when I was last successful.

When I navigated to the page that you all navigate to when you read this blog, rocketsciencemom.wordpress.com, I got our “This site is blocked by your organization” website. The reason for the block? Essentially something about being uncertain about the content of the site and whether it is work related.

If I believe that the site is being unnecessarily blocked, I can issue a help ticket with our IT support group to have them go into the Firewall rules and excuse this particular site. I have had to do that before for legitimately work related sites that held information on spacecraft and launch vehicles and related systems, that were blocked by the third party firewall software IT security implemented. In the past, it was a relatively painless process. We have a new IT support contract that seems to offer anything but support for IT, so I don’t know how smoothly the process would work now.

I am leaning toward not going to create a help ticket to get access to my blog. It just seems too much like narcissism.  The small irony of this does make me laugh. You’d think that of all the blogs I read on my lunch hour, mine would be applicable to where I work. The very title of the blog has the word Rocket in it!

Maybe the firewall rules have been recently updated and they will eventually open access back up again. Until then, I will have to check my blog on my iPhone if I want to do it during the day, or just wait until my children and husband allow me time to sit on my computer at home.

I hope that your organization isn’t blocking my blog as something you shouldn’t be reading at work.

Enjoy!
RSM

Reflecting on the Transit of Venus

Transit of Venus broadcast live via NASA TV app, streamed wirelessly to my Apple TV from my iPad2.

As I was checking out my site’s stats this morning, I noticed that a few folks were coming to my site by searching for “transit of venus for kids”. I have kids, and I June 5th’s  dinner explaining the transit, streaming it live via NASA TV on our television, then (with my husband) taking my kids outside to see it for themselves. They seemed to understand what they were seeing and what I was explaining, so I thought that perhaps I’d tell you all what I told them.

A long time ago, scientists thought that everything we see up in the sky revolved around the Earth. The moon obviously did, so the thought process was that everything else must too.  This simplifies things a bit, because when I say scientists, I really mean those in western Europe. There were star gazers in other countries and other cultures who were very aware that the Earth was on a journey around the Sun and not the other way around.

But for my purposes, I wanted to set the stage that the great Galileo lived at a time where his discovery was against publicly accepted knowledge.

Let’s segue to Galileo.  He built a telescope because the technology of the time was insufficient to view the things in the sky he was hoping to investigate and use to verify his mathematical estimations. He was starting to believe that while the moon did revolve about the Earth, the Earth herself might revolve around something too.

Using his telescope, which wasn’t even as strong as a telescope you might have in your own home, Galileo gazed at Jupiter and found it also had moons! He only saw four of them, but that was enough to support his theory. The Earth has a Moon. Jupiter has moons. Maybe the other planets have moons, and maybe everything doesn’t orbit the Earth.

Next came Venus. Galileo was doing some calculations of where he expected to find Venus if it’s orbit was actually around the Sun and not the Earth. If it orbited the Sun, every once in  a while it should appear to the Earth that it would cross in front of the sun. In front of the sun!? If Venus marched in front of the sun from our point of view, then it has to be between the Earth and the Sun. And if it’s between the Earth and the Sun, it really should orbit around the Sun and not the Earth.

This wasn’t proven until folks like the Salford stargazer William Crabtree who in 1639 was the first to observe the Venus transit. You can read about him at: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1580747_salford-marks-transit-of-venus-from-home-of-man-who-first-saw-it-in-1639—video

The tracking of the transit of Venus was so important, that just like we send science spacecraft and set up telescopes to observe and discover new things about the universe around us, the great Captain Cook set sail to Tahiti where he successfully observed and took data on the transit of Venus.

NASA has a little writeup about Captain Cook’s Tahiti voyage here:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2004/28may_cook/

Technology developments like a special clock that worked on the unsteady voyage on the ocean for Captain Cook and crew, and better telescopes developed by Galileo, helped scientists discover and learn new things, or confirm things they’d been thinking were true. Just like then, NASA and other scientific agencies, academia and companies continue this wonderful tradition of technology development today.

So, I told my kids, at the end of this talk on the history of science and  Venus, that science is just as exciting now as it was when Galileo and Captain Cook were out discovering new things. We are using their same techniques to discover new planets around far away stars. If you have a thought or theory about how things work, even if that thought is different than other folks around you, don’t assume you are wrong. Investigate. Gather data. Observe. The universe is an amazing place and she is just waiting for us to learn.

In short, Science = Awesome. Then, Now and into the Future.

Or at least that’s what I think. 🙂

RSM

Transit of Venus

Transit of Venus taken in 2004. Credit nasaimages.org

Today, June 5, 2012 astronomy minded folks will be able to observe a site that we here on Earth won’t have the ability to see again until December 2117. During the transit, Venus will appear to cross right in front of the sun. To those using telescopes and other protected viewing equipment, Venus will look like a tiny black dot in front of the glowing disk of the sun. That tiny dot will move over the course of several hours (about six), across the face of the sun, observable by viewers on almost all parts of the globe. For a sneak preview, check out the image to the left taken back in 2004 during the last Venus transit.

NASA has several sites up with background information on what the transit of Venus is and how to view it. Here’s one with a nice science@nasa movie describing what all the fuss is about. The safest way to view the transit would probably be to do so online. NASA plans to host a live question and answer chat session and stream a live video feed of the transit. You can find the chat and video feeds here.

NEVER look directly at the sun, even to see something cool. ALWAYS use some sort of protective shielding, or just avoid looking at all and head on over to your computer screen and let NASA stream the video to you.

You can check out the transit times for your local observation location from the transit of venus.org. This site, sponsored by the app developer DDQ in the Netherlands, has a ton of information about the transit, including a free iPhone app.

I am super excited for this opportunity and hope I can get home early enough so that the kids and I can gather around Dad’s computer to watch Venus take her walk.

Enjoy fellow stargazers.

RSM

Post publish update

Here are some more sites with good info on the transit

Space.Com

Bad Astronomy’s Blog

Reflections on the end of the 2011

Today is the first day of winter, Yule in the Pagan calendar, and the start of the lengthening of our days. Seems like a perfect time to post a little bit here to the blog that I have neglected for a couple of months now. I apologize to those few readers who have stopped by this last week to see what I might have posted.

This has been an interesting year. I spent a major part of it in a detail position as a branch chief. That’s Rocket Scientist speak for serving temporarily in a promotion as a manager. Because it was only a detail and not a full blown promotion, I had all the responsibility for my people but no real power to make decisions or cause things to happen. It was a good run, though, and I was able to learn whether I liked being a manager (I did). In spite of the limited “power,” I was able to help my branch stay afloat in the chaos that is where I work. My own branch chief has been called higher up to help fill other needs. I don’t know when she will return, and I am grateful that she asked that I serve in her place.

The bad part of spending time being a manager was that I internalized a lot of stress, so much so that my hair started to fall out. If you know me, you know this is huge. I’ve had hair almost down to the small of my back for most of my adult life. A month ago, I had my husband cut 8 inches off because it looked so thin. Eight inches because that is the minimum needed to donate. I think I’ve come to terms with it (losing the hair) but have yet to fully relax and unwind.

At the end of the year, as I look toward a new year with a fresh start, my promise to myself is to work harder on that. Work harder on relaxing. In the coming year, I may or may not be able to get into management. There is so much up in the air at work. I do know I liked it but I also know that I let things get to me. Lesson learned. Relaxation is key to well being. To be the best I can be, I must be kind to myself. Those are things I already knew but was caught by surprise how little I actually put them into practice.

My wish to all of you reading this is to also be kind to yourselves. In everything you do, go ahead and do your very best. That’s all that you can ask. After that, accept the outcome however it falls. If you’ve done your best, you have nothing to worry about and nothing to be ashamed of. Worry will make your hair fall out. I am proof of that.

Thankfully, I have a loving family and super awesome kids to focus on. That’s what I’ve been doing, and it is helping. They are the light of my life, and my main reason for being.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, whether it’s for Baby Jesus or Santa. Happy Hanukkah to those who are celebrating the festival of lights. Happy Yule to my pagan friends. And best wishes for the new year to everyone.

All my best.
RSM.

RSM thoughts on the Shuttle retirement

I have been holding off making any comments about the fates of the four retiring shuttles because I had a very vested interest in the outcome of that particular contest. I happen to live in Ohio, and very dearly wanted to see a shuttle housed at the beautiful National Museum of the Air Force. Sadly, Ohio lost, something we’re pretty used to in this state. Now that I am watching the petulance of one of the winners, NYC, and how very ungrateful they are to having been given one of the very first Shuttle’s ever built (Enterprise), I had to say something.

Have you read how NYC is reacting in the press to being given a “fake” shuttle, as one op ed reporter put it? Head on over here to check it out. I will wait.

Welcome back. So, really, the columnist in New York felt that the Enterprise was a fake shuttle and therefore somehow unworthy of being displayed in NYC. I must admit I was so dumbfounded I was without words in response to this article.

Ever since I found out that the folks at the museum there near the Wright Patterson Air Force base had put their proposal into the running and that they had a pretty good shot at proving Ohio had what it took to present a shuttle to the American public in a respectful setting, I started to get my hopes up. This is something I rarely do, because when it comes to things space and NASA, Ohio is always on the low end of things. NASA has several centers spread across the country. The Ohio NASA center (yes there is one in Ohio, and it’s older than NASA itself, having been established during NACA) has been known to get shortchanged in deference to the other, more powerful, more famous NASA centers.

Still, we’d take a rejected shuttle, a somehow inferior shuttle, any day of the week.

Just give us the word, NYC and we will gladly take Enterprise.

RSM.

BTW, the comments and opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone. I speak for no one other than myself.

RSM: Thanks for a great 30 years Discovery

Shuttle Discovery STS-133The space shuttle Discovery crew (STS 133) woke today to the sound of the Star Trek theme by Alexander Courage, and a monolog much like the opening to the Original Star Trek (OST) by none other than William Shatner.

You can see a video set to the audio here

This monolog was tailored to DIscovery’s 30 year mission to explore new science in the final frontier. It made me proud to be a Rocket Scientist, and to be part of something so much bigger than myself. It also made me sad at this ending, especially because there does not seem to be a beginning about to start behind it. I hope for our country and for my children, that the new beginning is as spectacular as the ending we are watching right now.

God speed Discovery. Thanks for a great 30 years.
RSM