Review: From a Certain Point of View

What I told you was true… from a certain point of view.

It’s a phrase that all Star Wars fans know but one that takes a whole new meaning today with the release of From a Certain Point of View by, well, just about everyone. Del Rey assembled an all-star line up of 43 authors to write 40 different stories that cover the events of A New Hope for the film’s 40th anniversary. It’s an ambitious concept that benefits a good cause: all of the authors have forgone any compensation and all proceeds will be donated to First Book. The stories within the book run the complete gambit with every possible writing style, story tense, and narrator that you could imagine and yet it all comes together to make some magic.

Given what a unique book this is, we’re abandoning the traditional review format to give you the full range of our own certain points of view on this book.

Did we like it?

Bria: Yes!

Nanci: Yes!

Brian: Aye!

If we had to pick our favorite stories, what would they be?

Bria: Going by the order they’re in the book… The Sith of Datawork by Ken Liu (because the Empire is so damn pedantic and I died snickering); Eclipse by Madeline Roux (IT’S FINE I DIDN’T NEED MY HEART); The Trigger by Kieron Gillen (my girl Aphra > everyone else); Of MSE-6 and Men by Glen Weldon (the dark horse story that went so many unexpected places and I loved every minute of it); and Desert Son by Pierce Brown (I knew he was going to hurt me but I read it anyways). I’m only letting myself name five but OH GOD there were so many good ones!

Nanci: Time of Death by Cavan Scott; Duty Roster by Jason Fry; Desert Son by Pierce Brown; Grounded by Greg Rucka; Contingency Plan by Alexander Freed. There, I limited myself to five!

Brian: Oh boy, I really can’t limit myself to a single one. Duty Roster by Jason Fry and Desert Son by Pierce Brown were instant loves for writing about pilots I love oh so dearly (even if the stories completely broke my heart). Grounded by Greg Rucka was a story that’ll stick with me for a while. An Incident Report by Mallory Ortberg just… I couldn’t stop laughing, it was delightful. I’ll throw in another vote for Time of Death by Cavan Scott, and would go further to say that particular short story would be a great foundation for an Obi-Wan film. Wil Wheaton’s story wrecked me.

Did any of stories just not work?

Bria: I didn’t dislike any of the stories but there were a few that just didn’t do anything for me but that’s to be expected from a book with 40 stories. I’ll flat out say that the Greedo story did nothing for me though. Sorry, green dude. That said, I do think that there’s someone to whom every story in this book will appeal.

Nanci: I would say that none of the stories were bad, but were about subjects that didn’t interest me much. However, there were a few stories I initially thought I would be “meh” about that I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would.

Brian: I don’t think there’s a single story in there that fails to work. A couple that maybe didn’t interest me as much because I’m not into that character or subject, but every story works on some level.

We all had a fairly good idea about how at least some of these stories would affect us but what were the surprises?

Bria: Just judging by the authors and subjects, I had a good idea of what stories would hit me right in the feelts. I did not expect to get emotional about a story narrated by a Mouse Droid and yet here we are. Honestly, I didn’t know what I expected from that story but it was not this and I am okay with that. Also, I know it was entirely expected but I made the mistake of reading the double whammy of Change of Heart and Eclipse together while sitting at my friend’s table at a convention and I had an emotional meltdown in public for all to see. There is Another by Gary D. Schmidt made me yell a lot (but in a good way!)

Nanci: It should come as no surprise to people who know me that a certain part of the Beru story made me very emotional. The story about Jot the Jawa was surprisingly poignant, as was The Red One; it reminded me of dogs in the shelter. Contingency Plan hit me with a lot of emotions about Mon Mothma and the futility of the Rebellion. I had never before thought about the conceit of The Angle and I don’t know why, because it’s fascinating and made me look at Lando in a new light. The most surprising story for me was my overall favorite, Time of Death by Cavan Scott. From the social card, I thought it would be funny, but it ended up being everything I ever wanted from an Obi-Wan story that involves Luke and the Larses. Finally, Whills was a wonderful, brilliantly meta way to end the book.

Brian: Chuck Wendig writing about Wuher the bartender. The whole story was just out-of-left-field and surprising in the best of ways. That’s a character you don’t give a second thought to, and in only a few pages Chuck manages to make you not only feel sympathy for but make you care about the guy. Of course it also helps that he dropped a reference to Space Bea Arthur and gave her a wife. Again, another bit of something you didn’t expect, but the story is so much better for it.

Were there any stories that made us yell ‘GIVE THIS PERSON A FULL NOVEL NOW’? (For writers that we haven’t seen write a full Star Wars book, that is.)

Bria: Is it cheating if I say Ken Liu? I’m also one hundred percent here for Pierce Brown to write more Star Wars. Additionally, I know we just got an Organa book but I’d be 100% here for Madeline Roux to write either the Organas or the Naberries in the future.

Nanci: Cavan Scott has written comics, I believe, but I would love to see him take on something prose after his Obi-Wan short story. While Greg Rucka has written YA novels, I would love to see him write something for Del Rey. Also, Pierce Brown can write about Rogue Squadron any day!

Brian: Jason Fry. Okay, yes, I know he’s got the TLJ novelization, but I’d LOVE to see him get a shot to write something in addition to an adaptation. Say, write a Original or Sequel Trilogy era X-Wing novel. Really though, how great would it be to read a Jason Fry novel that covers Rogue Squadron or Red Squadron?

If Del Rey were to replicate this idea for a future film anniversary, what’s the writer/story/film combo that you’d want to see?

Bria: Okay so my initial thought is that John Morton getting to write a Dak story for Empire Strikes Back would be fun since he is, you know, Dak but that feels too easy… My crazy, absolutely pipe dream though would be to see Tamora Pierce write a story about Padmé’s Handmaidens in The Phantom Menace. She’s more fantasy than sci-fi but I think it could be really neat.

Brian: Non-serious answer – John Jackson Miller writing a Bren Derlin story that’s chock full of Cliff Clavin facts. Okay, I might be a little serious about that.

Serious answer – Jason Fry writing a Wedge during the Battle of Hoth story. Greg Rucka writing a Shara Bey story for a RotJ edition.

Nanci: Dammit, Brian stole my answer (the serious one, not the joke). I would love to see Chuck Wendig write something about Sinjir or Sloane during The Empire Strikes Back, or expand on Sinjir’s desertion from the Empire in Return of the Jedi (since we already have a story about Sloane at Endor), because you can’t go wrong with more Sinjir or Sloane.

Bottom line: Would you recommend this book to fans?

Bria: YES. Go get this book. It’s fun, has a little something for everyone, and they did it for a good cause.

Nanci: Most definitely. It’s a special book, and every fan will be able to find a story (or multiple stories!) they love.

Brian: Absolutely. Definitely. Unequivocally yes. Every Star Wars fan, and I mean EVERY Star Wars fan, is going to find something in here they’re going to love, and picking up a copy means you’re helping to support a great cause. I hope this concept makes a return for Empire’s 40th.

Thank you to Del Rey for providing an advance copy of this book for review purposes.

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