Author: 40 Authors
Title: From a Certain Point of View: Star Wars
Narrator: Multiple Narrators
Publication Info: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
This book celebrated the 40th anniversary of Star Wars in 2017 with a collection of 40 original short stories by 43 authors. Each story is told from the perspective of a different character in the Star Wars universe, hence the title cribbing Obi-Wan’s famous line “From a certain point of view.” The authors include a lot of well-known writers such as Rae Carson, Claudia Gray, Chuck Wendig, Wil Wheaton, Elizabeth Wein, Jeffrey Brown, Kieron Gillen, Nnedi Okorafor, Jason Fry, and Greg Rucka. I suspect that if you are a bigger fan of science fiction/fantasy writing, you will recognize even more of the authors!
No character is too small to be a point of view character, thus there are tales told by droids, Jawas, Tusken raiders, bounty hunters, rebels of various ranks, stormtroopers, Imperial officers, a numerous other sentient beings. A few bigger characters including Greedo, Obi-Wan, and Biggs get their stories as well as characters like Yoda, Palpatine, and Lando Calrissian who don’t even appear in the movie! Perhaps the strangest story of all is “Of MSE-6 and Men” by Glen Weldon, told from the perspective of a Death Star mouse droid and written in some kind of machine language, that tells the story of an ill-fated romance between a storm trooper and Grand Moff Tarkin.
Some stories are better than others, and I like it when the author takes a small character and builds a whole world around their life before and after their appearance in the film’s narrative. Other stories are less successful because they basically just have the scenes and dialogues repeated from the movie interspersed with the thoughts of the point of view character. The stories are arranged in sequence to the movie’s plot and things really get bogged down with five different stories about characters in the Mos Eisley cantina, and again during the Battle of Yavin.
Some of my favorite stories include:
- “The Sith of Datawork” by Ken Liu, about an Imperial bureaucrat who is able to fix things in the records for the gunnery captain who failed to shoot at an escape pod.
- “Laina” by Wil Wheaton, which tells of a widowed rebel sending his young daughter away for her safety in a story which packs a lot of emotional punch.
- “An Incident Report” by Daniel M. Lavery, in which Admiral Motti files a formal complaint against Darth Vader for force choking him.
- “The Baptist” by Nnedi Okorafor is a life account of Omi, the creature that grabs Luke in the trash compactor.
- “Time of Death” by Cavan Scott details Obi-Wan’s experience of joining with the Force immediately after his death.
I get why they wanted to go with 40 stories for the 40th anniversary, but this book could be improved with some judicious pruning. Nevertheless, this is a fun book and I’m sure Star Wars fans will find something in it they like.