The suckage of the Star Wars prequels may be disappointing, but thanks to Neal Stephenson at least it finally makes sense:
In the 16 years that separated it [Episode I: The Phantom Menace] from the initial trilogy, a new universe of ancillary media had come into existence. These had made it possible to take the geek material offline so that the movies could consist of pure, uncut veg-out content, steeped in day-care-center ambience. These newer films don't even pretend to tell the whole story; they are akin to PowerPoint presentations that summarize the main bullet points from a much more comprehensive body of work developed by and for a geek subculture.
I am, incidentally, finally reading the third volume of Stephenson's recent Baroque Cycle, and my opinion of the series has only improved as I've read more. They're big, complicated books that require a sustained investment of time I don't have lately; but when I do get a chance to immerse myself in them, they're worth it. With the next installment of Harry Potter to be released in a matter of weeks, I may soon find myself in quite a dilemma about what to do with my scant pleasure-reading time...
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