Max delves into the multiple points of view of The Empire Strikes Back for this review!
From A Certain Point of View: Empire Strikes Back addition celebrates 40 years of Empire with 40 short stories. Empire is regarded as the best Star Wars, and while I have a lot to say arguing against that, there is no denying that it is a phenomenal movie. Many of this collection’s writers range from well recognized Star Wars veterans to newbies who are making their first foray into a GFFA. The theme is the Star Wars moniker “From a Certain Point of View” so each story is told from the viewpoint of a particular character or being.
From a Certain Point of View | by Seth Dickinson Hank Green R. F. Kuang Martha Wells Kiersten White
Now, I am going to be doing something a little different this time. 40 Stories is a lot and it seems foolish to compare and contrast 40 tales written by authors of vastly varying style. Yet, I am going to go for broke and read all of them (of course) and pick the very best one that I feel truly embodies the “spirit” of ESB. So yes, it is a popularity contest, but I am not critiquing the skills of the writers against each other. This is purely about the feel of it. I will also pick 4 runners up stories and have the readers vote which of the 5 they think is the best embodiment of ESB. Or you can choose one I didn’t pick. Will my number 1 pick win?
The one I pick for number 1 is……The Witness. The Witness is written by Adam Christopher who is set to pen a Mandalorian novel late in the next year. The Witness tells the story of a female stormtrooper, who after witnessing the cruelty of the Empire; decided to abandon the Imperial army and start “fresh”. It would appear that this is a very rudimentary plot, and some will wonder why I picked it. 2 reasons. Deena, the main character wrestles with her decision and her viewpoint on the Empire as a whole. It is a very human feeling that is of not knowing what to believe in or what you want from this world.
It takes time for Deena to comprehend her choice, and it is helped along by witnessing the sadistic and dogmatic attitude of a fellow stormtrooper. Deena also grapples with wanting to make a difference and that was what Empire was strongly based on. Making a difference when a situation seemed hopeless and the bad guys were way ahead. This is the first reason. The second reason is pure nostalgia. There is a sequence in the story that mirrors a Legends tale. In the Legends story, a child gets lost in Cloud City and witnesses the famous duel between Vader and Luke, unbeknownst to them.
Deena (while not a child) finds herself in the same situation and becomes privy to a chilling, albeit garbled, million credit conversation. I am a fan of those scenes that retroactively put new characters in the shadows of old famous scenes and while this collection has a ton of that; this is the only one that did it correctly. The collection has many stories that I feel “ruin” Star Wars by making the galaxy too “casual” and “Earth-like” in the dialogue and story structure. Nobody in Star Wars should ever use the expression ‘get laid’. Ever. I also feel a lot of the tales are silly and tell stories that don’t need to be told. Some are even from the point of view of non-sentient creatures who really should remain non-sentient. I never wanted a strange story from the point of view of a space slug. Space slugs (or Exogorths) are best left as just a cool addition to a Galactic menagerie.
I was not thrilled with this collection. I did pick 4 other tales I like, yet the gap between them and The Witness is vast. I can’t rate this collection on an A-F scale as I feel it would not be fair but warning; be prepared to roll your eyes several times. The 4 runners up are in this order. A Good Kiss by C.B. Lee. The First Lesson by Jim Zub. For the Last Time by Beth Regis. Faith in an Old Friend by Brittany N. Williams.
From A Certain point Of View – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by Seth Dickinson, Hank Green, R. F. Kuang, Martha Wells, and Kiersten White is published by Penguin Random House Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter @MaxN2100 where he shares his love of the Force frequently!
Editors Note | A big thank you to our friends at Penguin Random House for sending over our advance review copy.