A collection of forty short stories, celebrating forty years of Star Wars.
Warning: I’m going into some Star Wars minutiae below and your eyes may glaze over. If you don’t give a diddly about Star Wars, feel free to stop right here and get off. I won’t mind.
You know that creature in the cantina scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, the one who looks like a bat? Don’t worry if you don’t…they’re only in the movie for about five seconds.
This character has a name (Kabe). This character has a backstory and a characterisation. This character has a gender. This book is forty stories from characters like Kabe, peripheral to the main plot of Star Wars, but running alongside it. Some of them take bigger roles (Like Wedge Antilles, who shoots down a TIE fighter and saves Luke Skywalker), but most are like Kabe.
So as you can imagine, this isn’t a book for an initiate into the Star Wars universe. There are characters only the most devoted Star Wars fan will recognise in here. It makes it hard for it to be accessible for someone who might just wander by and pick it up. The same goes for some of the authors – I recognised some had penned other Star Wars works, or were associated with Star Wars in some way.
I had higher hopes for this collection. For a start, all forty stories take place over the course of only Star Wars: A New Hope. There are nine (at time of writing) official Star Wars films to choose from (more if you drag in the Ewok movies), so I found the limit to be an odd one. I’d have liked to have seen a story from The Empire Strikes Back or Rogue One. It’s a big universe to choose from.
But enough with the flaws. What worked for me?
A particular favourite was the officer who files the endless paperwork that keeps the Empire moving and who knows how to work the system to bail out other officers. Sounds like a hoot, right? A paper pushing bureaucrat? But the story centres on the officer who didn’t fire at the escaping droids in A New Hope (His name is Hija, for those keeping notes), and how this bureaucrat helps him figure out a good reason for not firing. And any author who can write a decent story about a bureaucrat deserves Kudos.
There’s a kicker of a story from Wil Wheaton about a tower guard who watches the X-Wings depart for the Death Star - the twist near the climax is heart breaking. There’s a fun story from Emperor Palpatine done entirely in rhyming couplet. A tale from Boba Fett done like a 1940s pulp detective story. A tale from the last seconds of Alderaan. An argument between Whills.
Not a collection for the Star Wars novice by any means, and the scope of the tales was disappointing. Nevertheless, some were very entertaining.