Commentary

November 9, 2012

Fly Over: ‘Lolita’, ‘Revan’

In bookstores:

‘Lolita’

by Macario Mora

I was raised differently than many of my privileged friends. When I was grounded for partaking in mischievous childhood adventures, I wasn’t denied certain paltry rights like TV or video games; I was denied my freedom. Instead of a slap on the wrist for punching a cat or terrorizing my little brother, I was sent to my room for weeks – sometimes months – and allowed only to read or do homework. So, naturally, I became fascinated with literature.
It was during one of these long hiatuses from reality that I discovered Russian literature, and the genius of Vladimir Nabokov.
Born in 1899 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Nabokov is most famous for “Lolita,” which is about Professor Humbert Humbert who, after coming from Paris to New York in the early part of the last century, becomes involved with Charlotte Haze. She takes him in after his room burns down in a small New England town. It is in the Haze home that he meets and becomes fascinated with Haze’s pre-teen daughter Dolores — Lolita.
The novel was Nabokov’s instant claim to fame in America and was quickly considered a literary masterpiece. “Lolita” also became one of the most controversial pieces of 20th Century literature. Due to the nature of the novel, Lolita has become a noun described in several dictionaries as a seductive adolescent girl or a sexually precocious young girl.
“Lolita’s” context may overwhelm a few readers with its detail of pedophilia as Nabokov takes the reader more closely inside the psyche of a monster than most of us would ever feel comfortable. But, that’s really what makes this, in my opinion, one the best of many great novels from the last century.
Nabokov’s ability to reach inside your mind and paint perfectly the protagonist’s fiendish impulses and nightmarish desires on a mental canvas is on par with Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or Chopin’s Nocturne. It’s an intellectual stimulus that’s too beautiful, despite its superficial content, to not cherish.
His description of Humbert Humbert and Lolita’s cross-country journeys and malevolent escapades is breathtaking. Nabokov and the novel are so much more than a Sunday read. Literary geeks are seldom privy to such mastery of their craft. It’s truly a once in generation experience.
“Lolita” was the author’s creative peak and perhaps sole masterpiece. But, the hundreds of his other novels, novellas, poems, short stories, dramas and works of nonfiction are more than worth a gander.
At the time of Nabokov’s death in 1977, he had few peers on par intellectually or creatively. Truly, it’s a shame this master of literature isn’t on a pedestal dwarfing the likes of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway or John Steinbeck.

 

…..and in stores, ‘Revan’

by Jayson Burns

Did you know that Darth Vader’s two wingmen during that climatic scene in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope are under the call signs “Mauler” and “Backstabber?” Did you also know that Vader’s squadron was called “Black Squadron?” And did you also know that Mauler has a son named Rejlii Mithel who is a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy?
Now that my love and fascination of Star Wars lore has been made clear, along with the implications of my social life, I hope my fellow fan boys and girls out there will trust my judgment of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan.
This is a story that many fans have been waiting for since the release of Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), a Star Wars role playing game developed by the ever amazing Bioware for the Xbox and PC in 2003. KOTOR took place thousands of years before the first movie and followed the player character and his or her allies during the Jedi Civil War, which was instigated by Jedi turned Sith Lord Darth Revan and his apprentice Darth Malak.
The game received critical and public acclaim for its fantastic script, characters, design and controls, and I for one still play it to this day.
Revan follows the titular character as he struggles to uncover the secret threat that is the Sith Empire resting in the farthest reaches of space, as hinted at in the games. At the same time, the story also follows Lord Scourge, a Sith Lord who is attempting to rise up in the Sith hierarchy.
Characters both old and new are introduced along the way, and near the end both tales converge nicely despite the somewhat anticlimactic climax.
One of the biggest draws to KOTOR was the player’s ability to affect the in-game universe through actions and dialogue.
This of course, is also one of the biggest drawbacks to Revan. There are so many choices in the game that by picking one outcome, there’s the possibility of alienating some players who chose the alternative.
Also, since there were so many likable supporting characters in KOTOR, just leaving one out in the gutter is enough to bug some readers.
The story is told well with a clear focus throughout, but it would probably help readers if they had played the games beforehand.
Some readers and fans of the games might be a little turned off by the ultimate fates of some of the older characters (one of which nearly made me throw the book in the trash in anger), but they are still handled effectively. As with nearly every Star Wars book, movie or game, the reader is taken to multiple worlds holding multiple species.
Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan is a Star Wars novel I’d recommend to fans of KOTOR or Star Wars in general, but in the end I’m just not sure if this should’ve been made.
At the very least, I would’ve made the book longer and included more from the source material.




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