Author: Various Authors
Genre: science fiction / short stories
What it’s about: What if A New Hope was told entirely from the point of view of side characters. That’s the main premise of Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. From the loyal captain of the Tantive IV determined to keep Princess Leia Organa safe until his last breath to the force ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn and everyone–both good and bad, both known and unknown–in between.
My thoughts: I loved this book. I mean, yes, I’ll give you that as a Star Wars fan from birth (not really an exaggeration, considering I almost certainly saw the movies for the first time before I could talk) I am definitely the intended audience. But, as a reader, I also just really loved the premise of this anthology–A New Hope revisited from the perspective of side characters–and the final product which, overall, was very well written and entertaining.
Some of my favorite stories included “The Sith of Datawork” by Ken Liu (the author of The Grace of Kings, which I’ve also reviewed before), “Master and Apprentice” by Claudia Gray, “Not for Nothing” by Mur Lafferty, “Of MSE-6 and Men” by Glen Weldon, “The Baptist” by Nnedi Okorafor (author of Binti and Akata Witch), and “There is Another” by Gary D. Schmidt, among others. The last was particularly interesting to me for the implication that Yoda strongly desired to teach Leia the ways of the force rather than Luke, and was extremely disappointed when it was Luke that Obi-Wan sent his way. I don’t know about you, but that’s one AU I would definitely read.
I think this comic by Aly Ruko perfectly sums up what could have been.
Ah, if only.
My one real complaint with the anthology (and what bumped it down from a five-star rating, for me) is that it starts to drag during the section on Tatooine. I mean, really drag. I imagine it had something to do with how they were trying to fill out certain sections of the book, but it messed with the pacing in a pretty big way. There was a bit of a fluid timeline throughout the book which didn’t particularly bother me, but in this section it felt like we just kept getting the same story beats over and over for no good reason. In particular, the stories that took place in the Cantina is where it began to feel a bit excessive to me. After about the tenth story (I don’t know, I could be exaggerating there, I haven’t counted them), part of my brain kept saying, ‘okay, yeah, but why are we still stuck here when Luke and Obi-Wan just took off with Han and Chewie on the Millenium Falcon?’ Once it moved on to the Empire and the Rebels, though, things started to pick back up again.
I do think this book is probably not for the more casual Star Wars fan. I mean, you might still enjoy it, but as someone who considers myself more knowledgeable about Star Wars lore and canon than the Average Joe (though, admittedly, by no means an expert) I was still pretty sure there were references and in-jokes that were going over my head, and definitely a few characters I felt like I was meant to recognize / remember that for the life of me I just could not. Still, it’s a good read, so somewhere at the intersection of Star Wars fans and bookworms who value a good short story (or short story anthology), there is definitely an audience there. And I am definitely part of it.
TL;DR: A really, really great read for Star Wars fans who want to relive the joy of A New Hope from entirely new perspectives.
“This story, with the magic and the fire swords and the crouching woman and the planet-sized ship—it was happening right now.”