It was a great privilege to interview author Michael A. Stackpole earlier this year for FANgirl Blog. His Star Wars books are some of my all-time favorites, especially the X-wing series with his partner in authorial mayhem Aaron Allston. The X-wing series looks to be an odds-on favorite to win the recent Suvudu.com poll asking fans which books they’d like to see make it to the movie or television screen. One of the reasons I respect both writers so much is that they’ve treated their female characters with empathy and respect, and when the Star Wars backlist went digital earlier this year I featured their books as examples of Jaina Solo written well as a woman and a warrior.
When Mike offered me a chance to read and review some of his original works – Perfectly Invisible and In Hero Years…I’m Dead – I jumped at the opportunity. I really didn’t look at the blurbs, I just opened the first (and shorter) one and dove in. Hey, look, I noted, it’s got a female protagonist.
As I read Perfectly Invisible I got a Fringe-meets-Castle vibe. The book is short, more like a television episode than a movie, and from what I recall Mike intends on writing more about his heroine, Miracle Dunn. Oddly enough, I’ve had it on my list for my ongoing Seeking Strong Female Heroines blogs to highlight Olivia Dunham and Kate Beckett from those two shows.
Update: The Suvudu.com poll winner was announced today, and it was the New Jedi Order series. The NJO is a great nineteen-book tale with a lot of emotional punch and classic Star Wars themes. The series also features two great books written by Michael Stackpole – the Dark Tide duology, Onslaught and Ruin – and two great books written by Aaron Allston – the Enemy Lines duology, Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand.
I had a parenthetical in the original version of the post noting that my supposition of the winner was based on the comments on the original poll page. The parenthetical went away in the editing process. These things happen. In this new age of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, the poll result is a good reminder that the subset of people who post a comment often isn’t representative of the overall group, whether poll voters or paying customers, and that the views expressed in commentary on some message boards like TFN Lit, where the NJO was shown little love, don’t necessarily represent the views of the true audience.
Polls have their own difficulties, too. The usefulness of their results depends on many factors, including how they’re set up, how many choices people get to pick, and who sees the poll in the first place. Quite a few commenters to the Suvudu poll, for example, said they would have picked X-wing as a second choice; in reverse, I would have picked the NJO as a second choice. So although X-wing ended up a distant second in a single-choice poll, asking people to only pick one may not end up reflecting the aggregate popularity of each choice. Similarly, if there had been a write-in option, the NJO wouldn’t even have been my second choice; two series that I feel are better suited to adaptation to the screen – Legacy of the Force and the Legacy comics – weren’t eligible for this vote. So while it’s always fun to look at the results of polls to see how one’s own mindset compares to others, it’s also important not to draw broader conclusions than what’s supported by the specific data provided by the particular questions and answer choices. That’s certainly been my experience with polling as a business professional.
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