When I played with Star Wars action figures as a kid, I dreamed up new adventures for Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and the rest. I rarely wondered about characters around the edges who didn’t make the action figure cut (at least, not in the late 1970s) – Captain Antilles, Aunt Beru, or the spy with the long snout who led the Stormtroopers to Docking Bay 94.
But without characters like these, the Star Wars universe wouldn’t feel as rich and real as it does. So it’s great to see them getting their due in Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, a new anthology of officially licensed short Star Wars fiction.
Commissioned to celebrate the original film’s 40th anniversary, these 40 stories are set in and around Star Wars: A New Hope’s nooks and crannies. They take place just before or after the big movie beats, or just off camera – sometimes even off-off-camera.
Individually, they are inventive, entertaining, and often surprisingly emotional. Together, they show us that in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, as in the real world, life is what happens when individuals’ own stories intersect each other in surprising ways.
Previously Untold Tales of Robots, Rebels, and More
Whether you read the volume from start to finish, or dip in and out of it, you’ll find something to enjoy.
Here are some of what I consider the book’s highlights:
- Rae Carson’s “The Red One” will make you pay special attention to R5-D4, the astromech Uncle Owen would have bought were it not for a “bad motivator,” the next time you watch Episode IV. Turns out the little guy’s true “motivator” was as good and pure as could be.
- Both Claudia Gray’s “Master and Apprentice” and Gary D. Schmidt’s “There Is Another” delve into the power to transcend time and space that comes with becoming one with the Force. Gray reunites Obi-Wan with Qui-Gon Jinn, who has one final lesson for his padawan. And Schmidt brings the Force visitations full circle. In his story, the late Ben Kenobi brings Yoda an unexpected mission that sparks compelling “What if?” scenarios in readers’ minds.
- “Stories in the Sand” by Griffin McElroy and “Rites” by John Jackson Miller show us that Jawas and Tusken Raiders dream of finding one’s destiny as much as human teens stuck on moisture farms do.
- The Mos Eisley cantina scene was arguably Star Wars’ most talked-about sequence in 1977. It’s only fitting several of that seedy establishment’s patrons star in stories here. My favorites among these: “The Luckless Rodian” by Renée Ahdieh, in which we find out that Greedo wasn’t driven to track down Han Solo solely by greed; and Chuck Wendig’s “We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here,” which unveils the real reason Wuher the bartender dislikes droids.
- In “Laina,” Wil Wheaton spins a story about a single father who is fighting in the Rebellion. He only wants to get his baby daughter to safety. It’s raw and riveting and, with a single word, skewers your heart more savagely than any lightsaber could. Curse you, Wheaton!
- Creative connections to newer Star Wars canon pepper the stories. For example, Gary Whitta’s “Raymus,” begins precisely where Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ends, and rings a haunting change on that film’s last line of dialogue. Meanwhile, at the other end of A New Hope, E.K. Johnston’s “By Whatever Sun” (co-plotted with Ahsoka Tano voice actor Ashley Eckstein) catches up with a character from her 2016 novel Ahsoka at the medal ceremony after the Death Star’s destruction.
Picking a single favorite story from this anthology feels as impossible as fighting a probe with your helmet’s blast shield down. If pressed, I might make “An Incident Report” by Mallory Ortberg my pick. I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say Ortberg mines the Empire’s bureaucracy for an astonishing amount of humor.
(Also notable for its laugh-out-loud factor: Tom Angleberger’s “Whills.” It will forever change how you read Episode IV’s opening crawl.)
Why Collectors Will Love This Book
From a Certain Point of View will delight anyone who’s seen Star Wars more times than they can remember and still loves it at least as much as they did the first time.
This collection of stories celebrates the same impulse that drives collections of action figures or movie memorabilia: the desire to feel (as Jot the Jawa in McElroy’s story feels) that we are “now a part of something,” no longer simply passive observers, but participants.
What’s your favorite story from this anthology? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
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