Book Review: Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View | Fun backstories from 40 diverse perspectives

TITLE: Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View
AUTHOR: Various
SERIES: N/A
RELEASED: October 2017; Del Ray
GENRE: Science Fiction
FORMAT: Hardback

KEY INFO: Short story anthology, fun and interesting backstories, contributions from popular authors 
REPRESENTATION:
aliens, female MC’s, droids, m/m relationship, people of colour
CONTENT NOTICES:
death

amazon // book depository // goodreads

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Finances. Galas. Silks. Budgets. Would Leia return in time for the equinox? It seemed unlikely, and yet in a small, private corner of her heart that had nothing to do with rebellions or politics, Breha hoped so.

– ‘Eclipse’ by Madeleine Roux

40 authors. 40 short stories. 40 unique points of view to celebrate 40 years of Star Wars.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View is a witty, diverse and well-written collection of short stories which retell the story of A New Hope from 40 different points of view including the alien in the Death Star trash compactor, one of the Bith performers in the Mos Eisley Cantina’s band, a Shakespearean poem by Emperor Palpatine about the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a little MSE-6 droid aboard the Death Star who records a blossoming relationship between a Stormtrooper and an Imperial Commander, and Leia’s mother before the destruction of Alderaan. The collection draws together the works of best-selling authors, such as Meg Cabot, Sabaa Tahir, Pierce Brown, and Nnedi Okorofo, as well as familiar writers from the Star Wars universe.

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As soon as this book was announced and I saw some of the big names who had contributed stories to From a Certain Point of View, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. There was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to read the trash compactor scene in A New Hope from the perspective of the alien in the water (honestly, this was a big selling point for me) and I can say that I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Something I found really interesting was that although it was the big names that initially attracted me to this collection, it was authors who I hadn’t heard of who got me to stay. I personally found some of the stories written by best-selling authors, such as Meg Cabot’s ‘Beru Whitesun Lars’, actually not particularly good. Although I love these authors for their respective works, I often felt like their stories really didn’t fit the characters that they were writing about or stylistically fit into the collection. However, it was stories like Madeleine Roux’s ‘Eclipse’ and Glen Weldon’s ‘Of MSE-6 and Men’ that really stood out for me due to their creativity, dynamic storytelling, and ability to capture the essence of Star Wars within their stories.

The advantage of having 40 different stories though is that each one brings something new the table, keeps the pace of the book moving, switches up between being hilarious and heart-breaking, and also fills in so many of those dreaded plot holes in the film! Wonder how on earth R2-D2 and C3-PO’s escape pod got away undetected by the Death Star? How R2’s memory, with the crucial message from Leia, didn’t get wiped when he was onboard the Jawa’s Sandcrawler? Who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo? Why did Lando really sell Han out? This collection has some answers!

Like all anthologies, there are some parts which are less enjoyable than others. The obsessively long focus on the Mos Eisley Cantina scene, for example, is the one that stands out the most here. But, overall, this is a really fun collection which is full of tongue-in-cheek moments, enjoyable stories from background characters, and points of view that you never knew you wanted. If that’s not quite enough to sway you, the authors have foregone any compensation and instead all proceeds from the book go to First Book – a leading non-profit organization that provides new books and learning materials to children in need.

 

→ Raymus by Gary Whitta – ★★★☆☆ ← 
Captain Antilles, the pilot of the Taintive IV which is carrying Princess Leia Organa, guides us on the dangerous journey between Scarif (Rogue One) and Tatooine (A New Hope) as they attempt to outrun the Empire who are in pursuit of the Death Star plans transmitted by Jyn Erso.

→ The Bucket by Christie Golden – ★★★★☆ ←
A humanising story told from the perspective of Stormtrooper TK-4601 who battles with an internal dilemma over his individuality versus the Empire’s motives as he catches and escorts Princess Leia to Darth Vader.

→ The Sith of Datawork by Ken Liu – ★★★★★ ← 
Who would have thought that paperwork could be so funny and interesting? Here we witness the true power of the bureaucrats through the eyes of Arvira, an Imperial Logistic Datawork Officer, as he bombards the poor gunnery captain, who let the escape pod bearing R2-D2 and C3-PO slip through, with forms to save his neck (and earn Arvira with more social influence).

→ Stories in the Sand by Griffin McElroy – ★★★★☆ ←
A super cute story of a little Jawa, Jot, who dreams of a life among the stars. When he stumbles across a data projector which can play holo-recorded droid memories, it proves to be very fortunate for a recently captured R2-D2.

→ Reirin by Sabaa Tahir – ★★★☆☆ ← 
A fairly enjoyable story of a female Tusken Raider called Reirin who dreams of being more than just a Tusken Raider stuck in the sands of Tatooine.

→ The Red One by Rae Carson – ★★★☆☆ ← 
A story that offers a surprising little background of the Red R5-D4 droid, originally picked by Owen Lars, who blows his top and is traded back for R2-D2. Not everything about this little droid is as it seems. Would have been rated higher if the author had been more creative with the way the story was told, rather than telling it through a very human narrative.

→ Rites by John Jackson Miller – ★★★☆☆ ← 
Male teenagers seem to be all the same, even if they’re Tusken Raiders. Arrogant, rebellious and with a lot to learn, this group of Tusken Raiders discover some of the desert’s secrets and know that there’s only one way to respond – with raids!

→ Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray – ★★☆☆☆ ←
The return of a surprise master whose come back to school his ‘young’ apprentice. Lots of other fans seemed to really enjoy this story but it just didn’t gel for me.

Beru Whitesun Lars by Meg Cabot – ★☆☆☆☆ ←
A rather out-of-character insight into the mind of Luke’s Aunt Beru and the (happy) sacrifices that she made to take Luke in.

→ The Luckless Rodian by Renee Ahdieh – ★★★☆☆ ← 
What was Greedo thinking when he tried to ambush the legend that is Han Solo? Who shot first? Well, now you can find out in this little tale as Greedo pursues Solo on his last ever bounty. This story also marks the start of a verrryyyy long section on the Cantina.

→ Not for Nothing by Mur Lafferty – ★★★☆☆ ←
A fun little story about the Bith cantina band, the Modal Nodes, told as an autobiographical excerpt by one of the musicians, Ickabel G’ont which tells the unlucky tale of how they’ve come to be playing in a small cantina in the middle of Mos Eisley.

→ We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here by Chuck Wendig – ★★★☆☆ ← 
Introducing Wuher, the bartender of Chulman’s Cantina where all the action is going down. An intriguing story which gives us some interesting background on the cantina, its surprising owner, and the dreary life of being a bartender in a shady cantina (lots of cleaning blood!)

The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction – ★☆☆☆☆ ←
A ‘short’ story that is far too long at 24 pages, especially given that we’ve already had 3 other Cantina stories by this point!

→ Added Muscle by Paul Dini – ★★☆☆☆ ←
The return of Boba Fett and his very strong opinions about Jabba the Hutt letting Han Solo go (again).

→ You Owe Me a Ride by Zoraida Cordova – ★★★★☆ ←
A really cool little story about two female bounty hunters – Brea and Sunni Tonnika – who contrive a dastardly plot to escape from their debts to Jabba the Hutt, by stealing the Millenium Falcon from a particular man with a certain reputation…

→ The Secrets of Long Snoot by Delilah S. Dawson – ★★★★☆ ←
The surprising tale of poor ‘Long Snoot’, the informer who notifies the Stormtroopers of where the droids are that they’re looking for. A really interesting little backstory about who ‘Long Snoot’ is, the dilemma that brought them to Tatooine and their unsuccessful plan to get back home.

→ Born in the Storm by Daniel Jose Older – ★★★☆☆ ← 
Nobody likes reading incident report forms, especially when they’re filled in by whiney Stormtroopers! Born in the Storm is a record of TD-7556’s confusion about letting certain droids go and his seeming escape to pursue the job of his dreams.

→ Laina by Wil Wheaton – ★★★★☆ ←
A surprisingly lovely story by Wil Wheaton about Ryland, a Rebel Soldier stationed on Yavin 4 who is about to have to make a very difficult decision concerning his baby daughter.

→ Fully Operational by Beth Revis – ★★★☆☆ ← 
Told from the perspective of General Tagg aboard the Death Star, we witness the sudden realization by Tagg that the greatest weapon of the Empire may not actually be the giant moon that he is sitting in.

An Incident Report by Mallory Ortberg – ★★★★☆ ←
An amusing officious report made by Admiral Motti, who is licking his wounds after being Force-choked by Vader for throwing shade about Vader’s beliefs.

→ Change of Heart by Elizabeth Wein – ★★★☆☆ ← 
Another humanizing story by a Stormtrooper who is struggling with an internal struggle while he guards Princess Leia during her unpleasant interrogation from Vader and during the destruction of Alderaan.

→ Eclipse by Madeline Roux – ★★★★★ ← 
My favourite story of the entire book, Eclipse is an incredibly well-written and emotional story of Leia’s parents, Breha and Bail Organa, during their last hours on Alderaan. An emotional rollercoaster from start to Eclipse.

→ Verge of Greatness by Paulo Hidalgo – ★★★☆☆ ← 
An okay read in the middle of a lot of other great chapters, Verge of Greatness is a back and forth account about two Imperial officers who are at war with one another over who is the better Imperial and who should get credit for the Death Star.

Far Too Remote by Jeffrey Brown – ★★★★☆ ←
A nicer breather from all of the written stories, this one is actually a funny cartoon about the Imperials almost capturing a “Rebel Base”.

The Trigger by Kieron Gillen – ★★★★☆ ←
What is it with scavengers and smugglers being wise-cracks? This unfortunate scavenger almost meets an untimely end when she happens to be scavenging at the exact site of a Rebel Base when the Empire lands. Luckily, her mouth is her greatest weapon – but is it enough to save her this time?

→ Of MSE-6 and Men by Glen Waldon – ★★★★★ ← 
My other favourite story, Of MSE-6 and Men, is a great story told from the perspective of the little ‘mouse’ droids onboard of the Death Star. Written in a creative format to reflect that this story is from the point of view of a droid, it captures a blossoming romance between a male Stormtrooper and a male Imperial Officer.

Bump by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker – ★★★★☆ ←
Imagine having a massive headache after getting back from a mission, and then having an intruder alert and having to run around looking for them in your hefty Stormtrooper outfit. This is a story about that, but with a little twist thrown in.

End of Watch by Adam Christopher – ★★★★☆ ←
Another tale about the intruder alert, also from the perspective of someone who just wants to get off shift and not have to deal with Empire work-related problems!

The Baptist by Nnedi Okorafor – ★★★★☆ ←
Where did the alien in the Death Star trash compactor come from? Why is it so interested in Luke? This charming little story by Nnedi Okorafor has the answers.

Time of Death by Cavan Scott – ★☆☆☆☆ ←
Another bizarre out-of-character story, this time about Obi-Wan during his last few moments before he disappears into thin air.

→ There is Another by Gary D. Schmidt – ★★★★★ ← 
Poor old little Yoda stuck in hiding on Dagobah has very strong opinions about which Skywalker he wants to teach, and let me tell you, it’s not Luke…

Palpatine by Ian Doescher – ★★★★☆ ←
A fantastic Shakespearean poem written by Emperor Palpatine about Obi-Wan’s death. Hilarious and actually a really good poem as well.

Sparks by Paul S. Kemp – ★★★★☆ ←
Settle in for the start of a number of heroic stories about the Rebel pilots because you’re in for a long ride! Sparks is the first of these, written by well-known Star Wars author Paul S. Kemp about the final moments of Dex, Gold Two, during the Battle of Yavin.

→ Duty Roster by Jason Fry – ★★★☆☆ ← 
Flying in the Battle of Yavin is a dream for most rebel pilots, but what happens when you’re left on the sidelines? Duty Roster explores what it’s like for pilots, like Col, who never get their chance to fly.

→ Desert Son by Pierce Brown – ★★★☆☆ ← 
What are the chances of also being a moisture farming boy from Tatooine and happening to have been a childhood friend of Luke?

Grounded by Greg Rucka – ★★★★☆ ←
Another thought-provoking story about those who are grounded during the Battle of Yavin, this time told by Chief Engineer Nera Kase. Anyone familiar with Battlestar Galactica knows the weight and responsibility that Chief Engineers have to bear, not just for the vehicles but also for the pilots, and in this tale, it is a very hard load to bear for poor Nera.

Contingency Plan by Alexander Freed – ★★★★☆ ←
No matter how much you believe in the cause, sometimes we all have doubts. Contingency Plan explores what it’s like to be a leader with doubts through the eyes of Mon Calamari leader, Mon Mothma.

The Angle by Charles Soule – ★★★★☆ ←
Ever wonder why Lando Calrissian sells Han Solo out, even though their apparently real good buds? Charles Soule gives us a very good idea in The Angle.

By Whatever Sun by E.K Johnston and Ashley Eckstein – ★★★★☆ ←
What would it be like to one of the only surviving people of your planet, watching as your Princess gives medals to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker? An emotional tale about one of the last surviving Alderaanian, Miara Larte.

Whills by Tom Angleberger – ★★★★☆ ←
A hilarious ending to a fantastic collection, Whills is a tongue-in-cheek conversation between two historians who are arguing about how to tell the story of Star Wars. Telling everything out of order you say? Vague and mysterious references to the long history which sets the scene for A New Hope but no further explanations until 20 years later? Whoever thought that would be a good idea?


EST. 2015 (1)

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