Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. Today on the launch pad: the Star Wars Rebels: Servants of the Empire book series by Jason C. Fry. This four-book tie-in to Star Wars Rebels is made up of Edge of the Galaxy, Rebel in the Ranks, Imperial Justice, and The Secret Academy, each of which Nanci has discussed individually. But now that the last book is out, how do we feel about the series as a whole? To mission control for the verdict! Continue reading
It’s New York Comic Con, which means it’s time for Star Wars literature announcements! At the big Star Wars stories panel at NYCC, the following stories were announced
- New Republic: Bloodline by Claudia Gray. This novel will take place six years before The Force Awakens
- Aftermath: Life Debt and Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig
- A short story about the aliens in Maz Kanata’s castle will be penned by Alan Dean Foster and appear in Star Wars Inisder
- The Perfect Weapon by Delilah Dawson will be an electronic short story
- Tales From a Galaxy Far Far Away by Landry Walker will contain a series of short stories.
For dates and more information, be sure to visit the link above!
I don’t want it to end.
That’s the thought that kept running through my mind while finishing the last few chapters of The Secret Academy, Jason Fry’s awesome conclusion to the Servants of the Empire series. I’ve talked enough about how great the series is, and how Fry is absolutely incredible at portraying serious concepts like rebellion and totalitarianism for young readers without dumbing them down. After his stellar entries to the Journey to the Force Awakens line, I knew Fry wouldn’t disappoint with the finale to the series. But I still wasn’t happy to see Zare and Merei go.
It’s not that I don’t like Han. He’s a great character. As a viewer, I appreciate his humor and his cynicism. I appreciate his smuggler with a heart of gold characterization. I appreciate his relationship with Leia and, even more, his relationship with Luke. As an author, I like that he provides shades of gray and an excellent voice. But it’s no secret that Luke Skywalker captured my heart way before Han Solo could ever have a chance, and I never “grew up” to like Han, as many other people did.
So among the three “Journey to the Force Awakens” young reader novels, Smuggler’s Run was the one I was least looking forward to. I saved it for last, even though people said Moving Target would spoil the end. All that said, I still had good expectations for this book.
I was pleasantly surprised, because Smuggler’s Run is an amazing romp, super fun, and has absolutely fantastic characterizations.
Two weeks ago, I had the honor of moderating the Aftermath panel with author Chuck Wendig. I was super excited for this event because, as I explained at the start of the panel, I love Star Wars, I love the Expanded Universe, and I love Chuck Wendig’s writing.
I was nervous, of course, as I always am before panels. Even though 2015 marked my third year (!!!) doing panels at Dragon Con, and even though I’ve been co-hosting the podcast for over 3.5 years (!!!!!), I still worry about freaking out while talking in front of a crowd. Not only that, but this was my first panel interviewing someone famous and my first panel without Brian on stage as well. I was all on my own. Could I handle the pressure? Would I say something really dumb? Would I have to run off the stage to barf?
Thankfully, none of those things happened. (Of course they didn’t. Anxiety sucks!) And most of that had to do with the fact that Chuck Wendig is a hilarious and awesome human being. I’d had a few Twitter exchanges with him prior to the convention, and met him the night before the panel at his Barnes and Noble signing. It was comforting to know he was just a regular guy, and that he would be just as tired as I was come Friday at 8:30 pm after not going to sleep until some godforsaken hour that morning. (We were up all night to get Star Wars!)
For many people, the phrases “young adult” and “fanfic” give Lost Stars two strikes before even turning to the first page. There’s a big stigma out there against YA fiction, because, and let’s not be blunt here, teenage girls read it. That’s not to say YA is all great — it can be melodramatic and poorly written — but the same is true of adult books, is it not?
Then there’s the fanfic comparison. Many people like to criticize Expanded Universe books they dislike by calling them “glorified fanfiction.” To me, though, fanfic is not an insult. Fanfic represents a land of opportunities in Star Wars literature. You can write about whoever you want, doing whatever you want, whenever you want. You can stick to canon or split into an alternate timeline. There are no rules. So you could, for example, create your own original characters and have them live through key events of the Galactic Civil War.
Lost Stars takes that common fanfic premise to the extreme, and that’s a good thing. Continue reading
I usually hate reading present tense prose, at least in professional fiction. It’s always lent itself to fanfiction in my mind for some reason, so when I read the first excerpts of Aftermath when they were released, I wasn’t impressed.
Boy, was I wrong.
I read Aftermath in between feedings and diaper changes of our new little Jedi-in-training, and every time I set the book down, I looked forward to picking it back up again, and had the book come out before Little Jedi’s arrival, I probably would have read it all in one sitting.
Many of you know that I am, by trade and training, a professor of literature. So while the rest of our staff has reviewed Aftermath based on its content, I want to focus on the style and why it works so well for this novel.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Nanci.
When Nanci was 11 years old, she saw Star Wars for the first time. And promptly fell in love with Luke Skywalker. She loved everything about him: his farm boy earnestness, his hot-shot piloting, his skills with a lightsaber. She loved that he was brash and courageous and kind and loyal and optimistic even in the face of certain death. She loved everything about him — yes, even the “Tosche Station” line.
(Yes, she did choose the name for this podcast and blog.)
People told her that one day, she’d grow up and stop loving Luke so much. That Luke was a character for kids to look up to, while Han is the character adults loved.
That never happened. Nanci stayed firmly on “Team Luke” despite all arguments to the contrary. (His relationship with Mara Jade helped solidify her lifelong devotion.)
But even so, things started going sour.
The Expanded Universe lost its luster. Luke stopped being the character Nanci believed him to be. Even amazing one-offs, like Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, weren’t enough to make Nanci happy.
She still loved Luke, even if he’d lost his way in the Expanded Universe.
Then the reboot happened.
(Spoilers for the book and some rumors about TFA under the cut.)
I love the Expanded Universe. I love that it exists. I love that there are books and comics and even video games to fill up my Star Wars obsessiveness in the absence of film and TV shows. I love that Heir to the Empire jump-started the fandom way back in 1991. I love that the barrage of books and comics kept the fandom going strong during the 1990s. I love that the EU always drove the Star Wars story forward, no matter what was happening onscreen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: without the EU I would not have become a Star Wars fan.
I don’t always like the way people treat the Expanded Universe. I hate that people look down upon it. But I also dislike when fans treat it as just as important as what’s onscreen. This might seem odd, coming from an EU fan like me, but it’s true. I hate when people take something that happened in a book and assume it will have huge consequences for the Sequel Trilogy. Yes, everything is canon now, but that doesn’t mean every story holds the same weight.
Nor should they.
(spoilers for Star Wars #6 and #8 under the cut)
First, blurbs for the three new short stories in the Rise of the Empire novel bundle have been released.
MERCY MISSION by Melissa Scott
Years before she led the crew of the Ghost, Hera Syndulla was a young pilot looking to make a difference in the galaxy. Hera sets out with Goll — a close ally of her father, Cham Syndulla — on a dangerous mission to help the citizens of her homeworld, Ryloth, now languishing under the might of the Empire.
BOTTLENECK by John Jackson Miller
When Grand Moff Tarkin is tasked by Emperor Palpatine to investigate a dispute slowing Imperial production on a backwater planet, he expects an easy mission. Instead, Tarkin must forge a tense alliance with Count Vidian, the Empire’s newest rising star and a most capable rival. Matching wits and risking betrayal at every turn, the two powerful Imperials duel to gain the upper hand…and elude, at all costs, the price of failure.
THE LEVERS OF POWER by Jason Fry
As Imperial and Rebel forces clash on and above the Forest Moon of Endor, Admiral Rae Sloane commands from the bridge of the Star Destroyer Vigilance. At a time where the stakes could not be higher, Sloane works to protect the Death Star and ensure Imperial victory, all too aware of the uncertain future for the Empire that may lie in the aftermath of the battle.
Young Hera? When Tarkin Met Vidian? ADMIRAL RAE SLOANE AT THE BATTLE OF ENDOR? Sign me up!
Second, Random House released a blurb for Battlefront: Twilight Company, the upcoming video game tie-in from Alexander Freed.
Among the stars and across the vast expanses of space, the Galactic Civil War rages. On the battlefields of multiple worlds in the Mid Rim, legions of ruthless stormtroopers—bent on crushing resistance to the Empire wherever it arises—are waging close and brutal combat against an armada of freedom fighters. In the streets and alleys of ravaged cities, the front-line forces of the Rebel Alliance are taking the fight to the enemy, pushing deeper into Imperial territory and grappling with the savage flesh-and-blood realities of war on the ground.
Leading the charge are the soldiers—men and women, human and nonhuman—of the sixty-first mobile infantry, better known as Twilight Company. Hard-bitten, war-weary, and ferociously loyal to one another, the members of this renegade outfit doggedly survive where others perish, and defiance is their most powerful weapon against the deadliest odds. When orders come down for the Rebels to fall back in the face of superior opposition numbers and firepower, Twilight reluctantly complies. Then an unlikely ally radically changes the strategic equation—and gives the Alliance’s hardest-fighting warriors a crucial chance to turn retreat into resurgence.
Orders or not, alone and outgunned but unbowed, Twilight Company locks, loads, and prepares to make its boldest maneuver—trading down-and-dirty battle in the trenches for a game-changing strike at the ultimate target: the very heart of the Empire’s military machine.