The Nazis carrying torches and confederate flags don't speak for me. Nor do the politicians crying out for unity when they not only benefited from but directly incited division. We may share skin pigmentation or citizenship, but they do not speak for me. We are none of us equal until we are ALL equal. We are one race: human. Our diversity is a strength, a feature not a bug.
Let's get real here, gang, the world looks like shit. Girl has runs in her stockings, her makeup's a hot mess and that hair is fried. Between the terrorist attacks around the world, Brexit, the American election, the tensions between police and citizens.... just what? What is there left? Celebrity gossip? I just don't think this Swift girl is good for my Thomas, and that's all I can stand.
No, I'm not going all Mufasa on you. Okay, actually, maybe I am. So some crazy shit went down in Paris, France this weekend. And in Beirut, Lebanon. Suicide bombings, senseless violence. Murder. Death. As we've seen when tragedy strikes--be it hurricanes, terrorists or other disasters--these things can bring out the best of us. People coming out of retirement to be volunteer first responders. Cab drivers giving Parisians a free ride home. Hashtags or social media sites that help victims. Tips on how to deal with tear gas shared to people in Ferguson from people in Egypt.
So I had this idea today. Now I might have been bingewatching Cracked.Com's "After Hours" and "Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder" videos on YouTube all day, BUT! this popped into my head and began to unspool. It's too long for Twitter (obvs) and the blog is better than Facebook about pictures (and I'm about 10 years too old to be on Tumblr), so YOU GET A BLOG! What if Greedo was not some weird green alien speaking a foreign language? What if, in stead, Greedo was a sassy black woman?
Bear with me....
(And excuse the fact that I want our hypothetical sassy black woman to be portrayed a la blacksploitation parody Foxy Cleopatra, aka BEYONCE!, from Austin Powers.)
First off? The swap makes the dialogue a lot more fun than Han Solo waxing snark with some deformed love child of a dog toy and a Snork. Imagine if you will, our sassy black woman bounty hunter coming up in the Mos Eisley cantina with her blaster out, backing Solo up to a table in the rear of the building.
A: Sexual tension. Hot! B: Bad. Ass.
Solo: I was just on my way to see your boss. Sassy Greedo: Baby, Jabba's put a price on your head so big every bounty hunter in the galaxy looking for your sweet ass. *purrs while looking him up and down* It's a good thing I found you first. Solo: This time I've got the money. Sassy: Maybe you should give it to me and I'll forget I saw you. Solo: I don't have it with me, tell Jabba... Sassy: Baby, Jabba's through with your shit. Dropping shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser? Solo: Even I get boarded sometimes. Sassy: I bet you do, baby. And if you're lucky, Jabba's only going to take your ship. Solo: Over my dead body. Sassy: *licks lips* I don't know about dead, but that's the general idea. I've been waiting for this a long damn time. Solo: Yes, I bet you have.
And his blaster jams because Sassy has used the stiletto heel of her boot to block the trigger (whilst also suggestively flirting under the table with Han).
Sassy: You think I didn't see that one coming? Get on your feet and bring your fine ass with me. I'm taking you to Jabba.
And then? The entire course of the series changes! Han gets taken to Jabba fed to the Rancor. Sassy Greedo gets Han's ship (through clever negotiation with the Hutt).
When she goes to docking bay 94, Sassy finds Chewbacca tuning up the Falcon. You might want to think that Chewy would never betray Han, and I think you'd be right. So when Sassy flashes her pink slip, Chewbacca has a choice to make. He can either go find Han (in which case, Chewy's efforts end in a lot of screaming, and the rancor pulling fur out of its teeth, probably, because this wookie is not putting on the metal bikini) OR he can say, "If the Hutt has Han, he's bantha fodder. I can tool around the galaxy with this chick. I am, after all, a mercenary."
So let's say that Chewy and Sassy are hashing out this new arrangement when Luke and Obi-Wan arrive with the droids.
Sassy: Bitch, please, I don't see you flying anything so fine as my baby.
Chewy and Ben have a brief talk about the change of ownership. Chewy mentions to Sassy that the old guy's loaded as long as they head out to Alderaan. This is an act of good will on the wookie's part since this is his new partner and all. He tells Sassy that they get 2k up front and 10k when they reach the peaceful blue planet. (She doesn't need to know it was 15. Why? MERCENARY!) By this point, the Storm Troopers have arrived and Sassy uses some bad ass moves to beat them to smoking piles of PVC rubble. Luke and Obi Wan are convinced she's awesome.
They make the jump to hyperspace and the new score (with more guitar distortion and Hammond organ) swells like this is a Tarantino flick.
So while they're flying to Alderaan, Sassy is on the Imperial equivalent of a police scanner listening in for sweet new ways to score cash when she hears about these droids that blasted out of Mos Eisley. So, she pops back to the passenger area to check on her new
bounty friends to find Obi Wan watching the kid play with a laser sword and a floating remote.
Sassy: You can all relax. The Empire didn't even notice we left. So, tell me about your droids. You know my daddy used to work on droids back when we lived with a bunch of jawas and I had one just like this here protocol droid.
She pumps him for information with Black Widow-like precision. Luke totally buys her bullshit sob story about her dad (who was actually a gangster with the Hutts), but Ben notices that she's using the Jedi mind trick on the kid.
He realizes that Luke might be Anakin's progeny, but Sassy is probably better suited to his needs. So Ben puts the helmet on her head--with the blast shield down--and she shoots the remote like a boss.
Sassy: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are nothing like a good blaster at your side, baby.
Once they get snagged by the Death Star's tractor beam, Sassy tells them to hide in the cargo hold while she sweet talks the Empire types (promising them the droids for a hefty sum, because clearly if Alderaan is gone, so is Old Ben's money.) So Ben sends Luke on an errand to turn off the tractor beam. Meanwhile, he and Sassy go liberate the princess. (Sassy figures if the princess has money, she'll find a way to get paid AND turn in the fugitive once the Empire puts word out. Double dip, sweets.)
Together Leia and Sassy lay waste to detention block AA23 and together they all get back to the Falcon where Chewy has the ship ready to fly pronto.
Luke gets caught and taken to Vader where the most formidable badass is looking around confused because...
That something is the genetic legacy of your former self and your lady. Probably Obi-Wan, too, but really your kid is there. BOTH OF THEM, I MIGHT ADD! So when Luke is brought before him and gives the name Skywalker (and starts singing like a damn canary about his background), Vader knows that there weren't two moisture farmers named Lars on Tattooine, okay? So Vader realizes right then and there that Luke is his son hidden from him by either Obi-Wan or Emperor Palpatine.
By this point, Luke hasn't had a lot of time with Obi-Wan, so he's not all, up in Ben's business. Luke hasn't watched Vader kill him, thus solidifying his hatred that would lead to Empire Strikes Back whiny face. SO! Vader has a great opportunity to strike up a relationship with his son, a reveal that isn't precipitated by the father cutting off the son's hand. Vader has the chance to say, "That Obi Wan guy? He lied to you. Not only did he take you away from your real parents and hide you on the desert planet you've grown to hate so much you want to be Storm Trooper fodder in an intergalactic civil war, but he lied to you about your father. That's me, by the way."
Luke is so malleable at this point in the series that all it will take is a galvanizing event to solidify his position. Vader can just say, "don't believe me? Look in the hangar."
Luke looks and sees the Falcon blasting away without him, Threepio waving at the maker he doesn't remember. (Sassy, Chewy, Leia and Ben took R2 with them because he has the plans and thus, will lead the Empire to the hidden rebel base.)
This is the deciding moment for Skywalker. Not seeing Ben die at Vader's hands in the single most lackluster light saber duel ever, but seeing him fly away and abandon him. It just confirms what Vader has said.
So Vader takes Luke as a secret apprentice. (Vader even says in Empire that he and Luke can over throw the Emperor, so he's been thinking about it anyway at this point.) One of their first bonding experiences is going after the rebel base on the far moon of Yavin. Luke gets in a Tie Fighter and starts blasting Wedge and Biggs out of the sky like a pair of wamprats. Vader has a proud papa moment because his son has inherited some of his piloting abilities.
The rebels don't destroy the Death Star. Instead, the Empire destroys the rebel base, but not before Sassy busts out, Princess Leia smuggled in the compartment of the ship. The Empire pays Sassy for delivering the droids and they think Leia is dead. Ben goes with Sassy to train her as a Jedi. (And Leia because he knows who she really is.)
The next 2 movies are badass women going across the galaxy. Leia is maintaining the rebellion like a Force-powered Mockingjay, taunting the Empire (since they thought she died). Sassy is working with her and keeping her close. (If the money's right, she may turn her in. It's very Jayne Cobb/Tam Siblings.) Ben doesn't die, so we probably don't hit up Degohbah.
Meanwhile, Luke becomes a Dark Lord of the Sith. He and Vader overthrow the Emperor in an elaborate coup involving a gas mining colony on Bespin. Leia has discovered that the Emperor would be there and vulnerable, so she and Sassy and Ben make for the cloud city. (Which is good because Sassy knows a guy there who owes her money.) We get a massive Skywalker v Skywalker battle with Obi Wan and Vader looking on like Burgess Meredith in Rocky.
Seriously, the entire Star Wars franchise as we know it is altered and Hayden Christiansen doesn't end up in the bullshit cut of Jedi. Han may have shot first in the real trilogy, but if Greedo was a sassy black woman, he wouldn't have shot at all.
EDIT: So, my husband said this idea was (and I quote) "Worse than Phantom Menace". Other than the fact that this is grounds for divorce, I would just like to add this....
FINE. We don't kill Han, because a) Jabba isn't THAT pissed off yet and b) Han would escape. Unfortunately, Jabba would probably try to torture Han, maybe take a hand off as a warning to others who piss him off. Well, Han wouldn't dig the torture or disfigurement, and he'd fight to get away. In so doing, he's horribly scarred. He puts on armor and takes on a new persona, his only goal revenge. He's hunting Sassy (and his ship). He is Boba Fett. So Sassy and Leia get the rich arcs listed above for the next two films and Han gets a revenge arc. (V for Ven-FETT-a, am I right?) WIN!
The husband also warns against Sassy and Leia gaining a third female companion as then they become Chewy's Angels.
So last week was Phoenix Comic Con. I love PHXCC, and not just because it's a good show--which it is. PHXCC is my home show. Not only is it where I live, but a lot of the volunteers and congoers are personal friends. So when I see people I respect from my professional life flying in to hang out at this show, I feel like a very proud hostess. Check out my city, my people, and let us hang out for 4 straight days of geekery. (Unfortunately, it's hot as balls, so you get that part of my city, too. Sorry 'bout that.)
I had a very active, very productive and flat out FUN convention, so let's break it down.
My family and I checked in late in the afternoon. Registration seemed to have their collective shit together (for the most part), however, it did bother me to see people practically sitting on their thumbs just staring at lines get bigger. We did a quick pass through the exhibitor hall's back corner to see the Mysterious Galaxy booth well-stocked with all manner of books (including WILD CARD and UNVEILED) that I wanted to take home with me, and to visit the amazing Emma Lysyk at her booth.
That evening I had the pleasure of being on a Books and Authors kickoff panel with about 10 other Arizona authors including Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Aprilynne Pike, James A Owen, Austin Aslan and Amy K Nichols. I've met and spoken with Austin and Amy before, so it was a treat to see familiar faces. Also lots of fun getting to meet Yvonne and her husband Weston in person finally. Aprilynne started off by telling everyone she writes "fantasy and kissing" and it just snowballed from there. Next thing you know, Weston is touting his books as "military sci-fi and kissing". From there it just got loopy.
After that panel, I went to the Phoenix gastropub of the gods, The Taco Guild, to meet up with a metric fuckton of authors. The place was packed with penmonkeys of one stripe or another. Finally got to meet copyeditor Richard Shealy, reconnect with Stephen Blackmoore, Chuck Wendig and Leanna Renee Heiber.
Probably the most special part of the evening, though, was sharing it with my 9 yr old daughter. I was pointing out people to her to put faces with the names she's seen on my bookshelf.
"That's Cherie Priest," I said. "Oh! BONESHAKER. "And that's Chuck Wendig." "Blackbirds, right?" "Yup. Now you see that guy? That's Paul Cornell." She scrunched up her face. "I don't know what book he wrote." "Remember the episode of Doctor Who where 9 and Rose go back and she saves her dad... Father's Day?" "Yeah." "That guy is the reason that episode made you cry." Her eyes got huge. "Shall we go talk to him?" She just shook her head and hid.
Later in the evening, Mr. Cornell had a moment free and I pounced to thank him for his great stories. I mentioned that my daughter was being particularly shy. His eyes lit up, "Can I go say hi to her?"
That was awesome. He went over to where she was sitting, spoke with her for a few moments, but she was rather starstruck. My husband and I geeked with him about his books for a bit before Paul went off into the throng again. If you have the chance to meet Paul, I highly recommend it. He's a very sweet gentleman. (And he'll be at CONvergence, too. Hint hint.)
Day 2 of PHXCC began with a panel given by local author Eric Tozzi about adapting screenplays into novels and vice versa. It was very informative and Eric was a pretty cool guy. I'm interested in picking up his sci-fi novel THE SCOUT.
Afterwards I skeedaddled to a panel I sat on about Writers' Block with Andrea Phillips, Melissa Marr, Max Gladstone and David Lee Summers. The five of us talked with the audience about how we approach blocks and writing in general. It was a treat to hear that each of us have such varied styles and processes with what is essentially the same job.
Max, Melissa and I then boogied down to the exhibitor hall for a signing with Bennett Coles, ML Brennan and Wes Chu. Connected with some readers, talked with each other... but being down in the exhibitor hall is in and of itself a trip. There was a guy playing geek themes on an accordion, another gentleman walking around with a live macaw on his shoulder, one guys had a Darth Vader helmet with an Iron Man face and Mickey Mouse ears. And a small child who called me Pinkie Pie. (*glee*) Weirdest thing? Someone pointed to me and said, "OH! That's Jamie Wyman!" *shudder* Still feel like that means I've done something wrong and will get hauled off to the principal's office. Does that ever change?
Lunch with Melissa and Aprilynne... hang time and dinner with family and local friends.
I spent the morning roaming the halls like an uncaffeinated, pink-tressed specter before hitting the First Page Critique. Ann Leckie, James A Owen, Tom Leveen and myself sat and listened as about 10 authors read their first pages for us to critique. This was pretty damn awesome, really. Everyone in that room was a badass for even showing up. One girl was probably 15 or 16, and while she didn't get time to read, she was visibly terrified AND STAYED. (I'd seriously liked to have heard what she had written.)
That panel was interesting not just to hear what others have written, but to share opinions with the rest of the panelists. Sometimes we'd all agree, sometimes we'd discuss a piece for a little longer than the time allotted because there was so much to dissect. Very good panel for the brain matter. (And it even helped me figure out what's wrong with one of the stories I'm wrestling with at present. Thanks, gang!)
IF YOU CAME TO THIS PANEL AND HAD YOUR WORK CRITIQUED: Please connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. I can't promise to look at your work further, but I'd love to talk to you more. Especially you, young Ravenclaw in the second row!
Had another signing after that with Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, Naomi Novik and Max Gladstone. Then we intrepid authors traipsed to the Sheraton for a Drinks with Authors event. Books were given away, conversations had, and livers destroyed. I was pleased to see many people from the earlier critique session come up and talk more about their works.
When they kicked us out of that ballroom for a Red Wedding event, a lot of us just went down to the hotel bar to continue the shennanigating. (It's a word.) Some goodbyes had to be said then as some folks were getting up early to head home on Sunday, but many were the slightly inebriated huggings. I knew it was time for me to leave when the following exchange occurred:
Random lady to friend with a pink wig: *points at me* Hey! She has the same hair color as you! Me: Isn't it embarrassing when two women show up to a party wearing the same tresses?
Fourth day of Con... that point where you're tired, loopy and running on little more than the last ergs of a high that can only be maintained with caffeine.
Weston Ochse, Yvonne Navarro, Bennett Coles, Kelley Armstrong and I started our day with a panel that was allegedly about Outside Influences. However, everyone in that room was more than happy to diverge into a free-for-all of conversation with the audience about any number of topics. We learned that Weston needs to produce t-shirts that say, "It's Billy Picket Time", and that when you've got a group of tired authors, wackiness WILL ensue.
Now, I was going to go get lunch, but I saw a friend pop into a panel about Social Media with Kevin Hearne, Chuck Wendig, Sam Sykes and Myke Cole. Knowing that I've got more I could learn about social media, I thought, "Hey, I'll munch on some trail mix and stuff while I learn something! Cool!"
Well, I sat down in the crowd while the panelists were in pre-panel mode and they mentioned that Delilah Dawson was supposed to be on the panel, but couldn't make it due to her travel plans. The guys were apologizing that they were four white guys and that the panel had a distinct lack of diversity when I heard Chuck say, "Wait, Jamie's here. Let's get her on the panel."
There went my lunch. (My husband later gave me a side-eye when I told him I'd skipped said meal.) But it was so fun. I was the only one on the panel without a beard, so I made a bit of a pink beard for myself.
Radagast the Pink. That's what they call me. Fear my power and sleigh pulled by indignant cats.
Seriously, very special thanks to Myke, Sam, Chuck and Kevin for including me at all, but for also being welcoming panelists who didn't then just treat me like the token girl on the panel. Good times paneling with you.
After that, I stayed put for the Mythology panel with Kevin, Greg Van Eekout, Melissa Marr and Austin Aslan. At this point, I feel I should apologize. I was exhausted and my blood sugar was plummeting, so I stopped being able to word well. There were some great conversations, though, about cultural appropriation, privilege. We could've talked for hours about such a broad spectrum as "mythology", but we only had the hour.
I called my con done shortly after that and headed to a friend's house for a home-cooked meal. Ended up crashing early. Good thing I had a guard puppy.
Cons are always interesting to me. They're where I really feel like an author, not just some struggling scribe. I get to talk to others like me, see the people who have the kinds of careers I aspire to and get better ideas of how to improve what I do and how I do it. At the same time, it's easy to feel hilariously outclassed and small in the presence of creators like Paul Cornell, Cherie Priest and Ann Leckie. We spend 4 days geeking, sharing, drinking, talking, making connections... and at the end of it we're exhausted, but hopefully we've all taken something more than a business card or two.
I'm really looking forward to seeing Paul and Wes at CONvergence next month, and hope to keep building ties with some of the local authors I connected with this weekend.
If you were there, SAY HI! And now? I'm going to have some chai and fall down. And write. I've got stories to finish.