Review: Rebel Rising (audiobook)

Beth Revis had a tough job in writing Rebel Rising, the YA novel chronicling the life of Jyn Erso prior to the main narrative of Rogue One. She not only needed to craft an engaging and exciting story, one that fit into the ever-widening new canon of the Star Wars universe, but she also needed to create a character arc for Jyn herself which both ended with Jyn being an angry, sullen, bitter person who wanted nothing to do with the Rebel Alliance (or, really, anyone or anything), but which at the same time was narratively satisfying. How do you craft a character arc that ends with the Jyn Erso we meet at the beginning of Rogue One and not have the entire thing feel like a let-down and a bummer, or like anything more than an extended prologue to the film? Can you even do such a thing?

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Review: Thrawn (audiobook)

If you’ve listened to the Thrawncast, you know that I’m a big fan both of the character Thrawn and of Timothy Zahn’s writing in general. It was like Christmas when it was announced that not only would Thrawn be coming to Rebels, but that Timothy Zahn would be returning to the world of Star Wars literature to write a new novel featuring everyone’s favorite Chiss.

It’s a year later now, and, here at Tosche Station, at least, we’ve all been pretty happy with Thrawn’s portrayal on-screen in Rebels. How, then, does Timothy Zahn’s new novel Thrawn hold up? Is the magic still there? Is Zahn’s re-introduction of Thrawn to the Star Wars canon awkward, or hindered by trying to fit him into existing continuity? And how does the audiobook — narrated by Mark Thompson, the same performer who recorded the first unabridged audiobooks of the original Thrawn trilogy — represent Zahn’s characters and story? Continue reading

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Holonet Blast #8

Slow news week in the lead-up to Celebration; we’ve got one bit of convention news, and one HUGE piece of publishing news!

The convention news is: Forest “SAVE THE DREAM!” Whitaker will be at Star Wars Celebration! He will be signing autographs at the Star Wars Celebration Autograph Hall. Please scream-whisper your best crazy Saw impressions at him for me. (source)

The other piece of news is a huge deal: As part of the Star Wars 40th Anniversary, Del Rey has announced From A Certain Point of View, an anthology of 40 Star Wars short stories by a murderer’s row of talent — ranging from old Star Wars hands like Jason Fry and Christie Golden, to newcomers like Meg Cabot and Paul Dini, to podcast darlings Ben Acker & Blacker and Griffith McElroy. The project sounds like the Tales From … anthologies published way back in the Bantam days, as it concerns itself with the characters filling out the background in A New Hope. The anthology is due to be published in October, and you can see a partial list of the contributing authors at the (source).

via StarWars.com

That’s it for now! Enjoy those Rogue One Blu-rays, enjoy Celebration, and we’ll see you back here in two weeks!

Interview: Jon Klassen

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This Is Not My HatThis past April I attended the first Alaska Robotics Mini-Con and had the opportunity to interview award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Jon Klassen, creator of I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat and illustrator of Lemony Snickett’s The Dark, among many others. Listen to us talk about his time working in animation, visual storytelling, turtles, hats, and Star Wars as a series of moments!

Jon Klassen’s art can be seen at his website here and he can be found on twitter as @burstofbeaden. You can e-mail him at info@jonklassen.com. His upcoming book, We Found A Hat, in which two turtles in a desert find one hat, will be available this October and his other books are available now, wherever fine books are sold.

Our 2015 Superlatives – Books Edition

It’s the end of 2015, which means it’s time for Best of Lists! Here at Tosche Station, we thought we’d break up our lists into categories, and post a different topic per day.

In this installment, we discuss our favorite books of 2015.

Nanci – My reading tends to go in cycles; some years I read a lot, and sometimes I only finish a handful of books per year. This year, most of my reading was focused on Star Wars, especially after September 4. My to-read list seems never ending, especially with Kindle sales, and I’ve resolved to read more in 2016. That said, there were a couple of books I read this year that really stood out.

  • Liesmith, by Alis Franklin – a queer urban fantasy set in Australia that tells a modern version of Norse mythology, focusing on Loki in particular. I’m not a huge fan of Loki, but I loved this story and especially the characters. Sigmund is an utter delight.
  • Under the Empyrean Sky, by Chuck Wendig – this is the novel that convinced Del Rey to hire him to write a Star Wars book, and I can definitely see why. Wendig has described it as John Steinbeck meets Star Wars. It’s the story of a young man named Cael who lives in the Heartland, which is ruled by the Empyrean, a totalitarian regime that floats overhead in flotillas in the sky. I really enjoyed the setting–cornpunk is definitely a different genre for me–and Wendig’s prose is a breeze to get through.

Saf – Boy, I’ve been so overwhelmed with Star Wars books this year that I’ve barely read outside of them, except for a few others. There were two I absolutely adored, both by my two favourite authors since high school.

  • Tigerman, by Nick Harkaway – a British sergeant is sent to the island of Mancreu, a place that is slowly ticking down to an apocalyptic event. It’s filled with Harkaway’s throwaway line worldbuilding and typical flare, and builds up a lovely, but sad story about a man who just needs a long, long rest.
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness – in a world where young heroes save the world on the regular, the rest of the kids at their schools just want to survive their normal, drama-filled teen lives. Ness always tends to have two things in his stories: LGBT people, and a lot of feelings. The Rest of Us actually helped me get through some rough things in my life, just because Ness really seems to understand how young people think when writing his YA fiction, and I adore him for it.

Bria: THANK GOD FOR GOODREADS.  Look, I read a lot this year and can’t remember everything but there were some standouts. I’d also like to mention both Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel which are both due out in 2016.  I was lucky enough to advanced copies of both and they were both AWESOME.

  • The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey hit all of the right notes for me that a Tamora Pierce book does while having its own vibe.  Lindsey created a neat fantasy world that simultaneously plays by the rules and break them.
  • Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger is about a finishing school for young ladies who are also assassins in a steampunk fantasy version of England.  Is it ridiculous?  Yes.  Is it delightful? Absolutely.
  • Lightless by CA Higgins was just plain neat.  It gave me Leviathan Wakes vibes at times.  I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about this science fiction book with its very contained cast at first but once it really kicked into another gear in the second half, I was completely enthralled.

Brian: Like Nanci, much of my reading was focused on Star Wars this year, especially with the Journey to TFA stuff taking up all of my post-September reading time. That said, I did have some time to read a couple books outside of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

  • Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig. Nanci and I read this about the same time, and like her I really enjoyed this book. I thought I had burned out on post-apocalyptic YA, but this was really a fresh take on the genre. Set in what was once the heartland of the USA, Wendig self-describes this book as cornpunk. Read it and you’ll see why. I actually picked up this book because I wanted to get used to the third-person present writing style Wendig would be utilizing in Aftermath. Let’s say I got a whole lot more than just a style choice primer. This was an excellent read and one I’d encourage everyone to pick up.

Review: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka

Before the Awakening is a successor to the young reader Journey to the Force Awakens trilogy of books. Illustrated by Phil Noto (who also illustrated The Weapon of a Jedi, Moving Target, and Smuggler’s Run) and written by Greg Rucka (who also wrote Smuggler’s Run and Shattered Empire), the novel explains what Finn, Rey, and Poe were up to prior to the events of The Force Awakens. It’s divided into three sections, one for each character, and elaborates on their backstories and provides some insight into where each of them are at the start of the film.

(Slight spoilers for The Force Awakens ahead.)

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Go/No-Go – Star Wars Rebels: Servants of the Empire book series

nasa-mission-control-3Welcome 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

Celebration Anaheim Publishing News

The publishing news from Celebration Anaheim was light this year, but considering most of the news we got at the last Celebration never came to pass (I’m looking at you, Sword of the Jedi), maybe that’s a good thing? We did get some important bits of information, though, and one item in particular I think most of the blogosphere is very excited about.

landoThe Marvel and Del Rey panels ran back to back on Saturday, although all the Marvel news was released a few days earlier. The Marvel panel featured C.B. Cebulski, Jordan White, Jen Heddle, and Leland Chee. It was announced that Charles Soule and Alex Maleev will be writing Lando, a limited release series that will take the place of the current miniseries, Princess Leia. The first issue will be out in July. While Lando doesn’t have the Millennium Falcon during this pre-A New Hope time period (Han already won it), it will feature Lobot! The panel also announced the Shattered Empire team, which includes Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto. While the audience praised Marvel’s Original Trilogy adaptations, the panelists confirmed we won’t be seeing The Force Awakens adaptation any time soon as there’s just too much security surrounding the film’s release.

Jordan White recapped the current Marvel releases, and revealed that “Star Wars #7”, a one-shot about Obi-Wan on Tatooine, will be drawn by Simone Bianchi. Stuart Immonen will take over full-time artist duties for John Cassaday starting in issue #8. We also learned that “Princess Leia #1” was Mark Waid’s first ever number one selling comic, and that Greg Weisman will be writing the second arc of “Kanan”. One final piece of news out of Marvel is that Jen Heddle will be moving off Marvel and Frank Parisi will be taking over her duties. Despite the lack of news, the panel was interesting and revealed some neat insights, and it was great to hear so much enthusiasm from the audience. Most questioners were especially pleased by Princess Leia, which was heartening to see.

The Del Rey panel featured Shelly Shapiro, Jen Heddle, John Jackson Miller, James Luceno, and Christie Golden. We already knew a Battlefront novel was coming, thanks to its placement in the novel timeline and Friday’s battlefront panel. Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed will focus on what it’s like to be a soldier in the front lines during the Rebel Alliance. It’s good for gamers and non-gamers, and will not be a novelization. Look for that in November. The second not-really announcement was that A New Dawn and Tarkin will be repackaged into a single edition titled Rise of the Empire and feature three new short stories, one of which will link to Aftermath, the first post-Return of the Jedi novel in the new canon (which was announced prior to Celebration).

As for Lords of the Sith, which comes out next week (look for a review from Brian!), Heddle stated that the book will give us some insight into Hera’s view of the Empire. The novel features her father, Cham Syndulla, in a major role leading the resistance on Ryloth. Christie Golden discussed the production of Dark Disciple, coming in July, and how she worked with Dave Filoni and the story group to adapt the unproduced The Clone Wars scripts.

fosterFinally, in the best troll of the convention, the panel opened for Q&A. An older gentleman stood up and asked if he could write The Force Awakens novelization. After some back and forth with the panelists, they said “why not” and invited him onto to stage. Surprise–it was Alan Dean Foster! He’s currently at work on the novelization, which will be released in ebook format on December 18. Yes, you heard that right: we won’t be getting the novelization prior to the film. Hallelujah! A hardcover version will come a few weeks later. And the spoiler-phobes like me rejoiced.

You can listen to the entire Del Rey panel here, and be sure to check our Twitter feed for our live tweets of both panels.

20 New Star Wars Books and Comics to Fill in Gap Between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens

Star_Wars_logoThose of you thirsty for some information of the state of the Galaxy Far Far Away leading up to The Force Awakens are in luck. According to an exclusive report at Entertainment Weekly, there are at least twenty new Star Wars books and comics to be released later this year fleshing out the thirty-two years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, ranging all different publishers and target age demographics in a series called Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Content under that title will be released by various Disney imprints as well as at least seven outside companies and is confirmed to include adult novels, young adult novels, sticker books, and comics.

Details on most of the books involved are still under wraps and many of the books are still being worked on, but we do know some about of the upcoming material:

A few titles we can confirm are Del Rey’s Star Wars: Aftermath, which sounds like it may serve as an epilogue to the original trilogy – and perhaps a prologue to the new one. Meanwhile, Marvel Comics will put out one prequel called Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens and another preview story told from C-3PO’s perspective. For vehicle enthusiasts, Studio Fun International will print Star Wars: Ships of the Galaxy.

The report also let’s us know some of the authors involved for a series of young adult novels focusing on the characters of original trilogy, to be released by Disney-Lucasfilm Press:

Cecil Castellucci (author of Tin Star) will write Moving Target, an adventure following Princess Leia; Jason Fry, who earlier wrote Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy, will be the author of The Weapon of a Jedi, about Luke Skywalker; Claudia Gray, author of the Evernight series of fantasy books, will write a book titled Lost Stars; and Greg Rucka, a comic book scribe and writer of the Atticus Kodiak novels, will pen Smuggler’s Run, a Han Solo tale.

There will also be a new series of novels retelling the original trilogy from various perspectives, though there’s no word yet on whose points of view we’ll see.

New Heir to the Jedi Mini-Excerpt

Heir to the JediWith less than a week until the book’s release, Del Rey posted a mini-excerpt of the upcoming novel Heir to the Jedi on their Star Wars Books Facebook page earlier today. Read the excerpt here and check out Bria’s spoiler-free review of the book here.

Heir to the Jedi, written by Kevin Hearne, will be released in hardback, ebook, and audio formats next Tuesday, March 3.