Much of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra isn’t original new content, but the perspective you gain is worth it and it’s fun to get inside Aphra’s head.
The Doctor Aphra Scriptbook is the re-telling of the popular Dr. Aphra comic series, written by Kieron Gillen and now re-imagined by writer Sarah Kuhn. It’s great to see that in the light of the abhorrent Anti-Asian sentiment in America, that a bright star shines in our galaxy, promising hope and change. Sarah Kuhn is a fantastic author and of American-Asian descent, perfect for writing Aphra. And although she has not been portrayed in live-action (yet), she is drawn to be a woman of the Pacific Islander race.
Doctor Aphra was a breakout character who stole our hearts back in 2015 or 14 when I was still reading comics. I remember seeing the cover for an upcoming solicitation and finding Aphra on the cover. I was quite fascinated and delighted to see an Asian character in the ever-evolving canon mythos.
STAR WARS: DOCTOR APHRA (SCRIPT) | SARAH KUHN
Even though this is a re-telling of the events of the comics, Kuhn adds her own perspective, along with a keen insight into Aphra’s thoughts. And adds another dimension to the events of that story. Kuhn has a very whimsical writing style and presents Aphra as a very “real” character, looking to find her way in the galaxy. She is an archeologist which is a good profession for Star Wars; since everything in the galaxy, is apparently quite old.
Aphra honestly reminds me of my sister in the fact she is so confident in herself that it’s to the point of absurdity. As I said with added dimensions, I was delighted to have Maz Kanata thrown in at the very beginning, shooting at Aphra’s ship, which I did not remember from the comics. I liked seeing Maz interact with Aphra as they could not be more different if they tried.
Aphra’s flashbacks also provide a lot of original content. And most of them are recollections of Aphra’s time at the university where she studied archeology. The whole university life reminded me greatly of Harry Potter, as students are divided by their year. First-year, second year, third year. Just like the Hogwarts students! Aphra’s narration is entertaining to read, as while she is super confident, she also has fears and concerns like any other mortal. And throughout the book, desires to become close to the Dark Lord himself, Darth Vader. Yikes!
When flashbacking, we learn that Aphra once stole a book. Yes, a book. Paper and books are very rare in the galaxy, so it’s fitting for an archeologist to well, unearth one. I am currently studying to be a librarian, so any reference to books makes me happy. Aphra can also be a goofball with a California Valley Girl/Brooklyn girl attitude (like my sister), but there is also no denying that she is quite smart. Vader coerces her services early on, and Aphra’s goal is to prove how special she is to Vader. And that he needs her for the job he wants to be done.
Other flashbacks show Aphra’s childhood which I feel Kuhn did very well, as she showed us the pain of divorce through the eyes of a child. Losing her parent’s togetherness and then her mother altogether hardened this girl and made her exhibit signs of sociopathy. This seems a bit harsh to diagnose, and most would want to classify Aphra as a narcissist, but I think that throughout the book, Aphra shows a very disturbing lack of emotion and empathy. She is not a psychopath because she did love her mother. But as an adult, she seems to care for nobody else and is unaffected by violence and death. She is also promiscuous, taking 3 female lovers at a time, and loves adventure and seeks thrills; another sign of sociopathy.
A DARK PATH
What’s frightening, is that she can keep company with murderous Dark Lords, sadistic droids, and bloodthirsty Wookiees. And yet, she still comes off as an innocent, unassuming female. I think she covers the pain of losing her mother with overconfident compliments to herself, and a dark, dry sense of humor. And Sarah Kuhn writes it all so expertly. Aphra serves as a detective of sorts for Lord Vader, as he has a personal objective and cannot leave any tracks for the Emperor to find. It is in the immediate aftermath of A New Hope and Palps isn’t too happy with his apprentice at this time.
Aphra analyzes Vader throughout their time together, searching for chinks in his armor (no pun intended), that could someday be used to bring him down. Aphra is cold and calculating, but no fool, and even says upfront to Vader, that if he intends to kill her; she would prefer it be a lightsaber to the neck and not spacing her out an airlock, as she always dreaded imagining. Aphra is also very good at staying alive though, so I have a lot of respect for this character.
Vader’s dialogue is great in this book, as it is very formal and no-nonsense like he always was. It’s never seen that Aphra grows to care for Vader or anything. But I was surprised at her having a crushing realization that Vader does not view her as special, and instead readily expendable. This hints at deeper feelings in Aphra, as even though she trusts nobody and cares for nobody; she still has a desire to connect with people. Hence she is a sociopath and not a psychopath.
The only part of this book that I wasn’t crazy about was the ending. It’s not Sarah’s story. So I don’t fault her and I felt that Palpatine’s reaction to Vader and Aphra, is in stark contrast to how he reacts in the ongoing Vader comic series. I stopped with comics before the first Aphra series ended, so what do I know. However, I do keep tabs on the progressing storylines and the shift in Palpatine’s actions is contradictory. Yet, I can’t help but love how smart Aphra is, as she planned everything so strategically from the get-go. She may even be smarter than Palpatine himself!
All in all, this was a great book and a very fast read. Seriously; it’s so compact that even if you aren’t a voracious reader, you will still be able to knock this book out in a day or two. Yes, much of it isn’t original new content. But the perspective you gain about Aphra is worth it and it’s fun to get inside her head.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (Script Book) is published by Penguin Random House and is available to buy from 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 where he shares his love of the Force frequently!