- Posted by Giaco Furino
- On September 14, 2015
- 0 Comments
- star wars
By the time I was eleven I was a certified Star Wars fanatic. I’d seen the movies, of course, but I also had all the ‘90s action figures, I’d read a bunch of the books, and my dad even got me this book that was full of vehicles from the franchise. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a sourcebook for the West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. My dad didn’t know either, he just saw it said Star Wars on it and forked up the 19.99 so I could read it. I devoured that weird little compendium. I knew the weight of an AT-AT, the top speed of a landspeeder, the more esoteric differences between an X-, Y-, and A-Wing. While I love Jedi and Sith, mind-tricking and force-choking, green lightsabers, red lightsabers, violet lightsabers, there’s a certain allure to everything non-force related in Staw Wars. I’m a sucker for the tactile, the down-on-the-ground, and the dog fights in space. The new novel Star Wars: Aftermath by author Chuck Wendig, concerns itself not with “hokey religions” but the struggle, the battle, and, yes, the aftermath of war in a galaxy torn apart.
The novel takes place shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi. The second Death Star’s been destroyed, word’s getting out about the fate of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, and the war between the Empire and the New Republic rages. The action opens with fan-favorite Wedge Antilles accidentally stumbling upon a gathering of Star Destroyers, and promptly getting caught. From there, we zoom in on the outer-rim planet Akiva, where a secret meeting of high-ranking Imperial officials (those still left alive) meet.
As the story progresses, we meet a slew of new characters including an ex-Imperial Loyalty officer, a bounty hunter, a rebel pilot and her son. As their fates and stories intertwine, we see a struggle bloom and we see the difference a small group of people can make (even without the benefit of the force plodding them along). At first, it may seem overwhelming to be meeting all these new characters with strange Star Wars names (Jas, Norra, Temmen, Rae), but that’s only because we’re peppered with familiar names at the start (Wedge, Admiral Ackbar, Mon Motha).
The Imperials are meeting on Akiva to plot what happens next, where do they go from here, but their plans fall to pieces fairly quickly. This is just one of the many things Wendig does that feels wonderfully true to SW form. The Imperials puff up their chests, bicker with each other, talk a big game, and make huge threats. But from basically page one things begin to go poorly for them. Their plans keep getting interrupted, the stormtroopers throughout the book are woefully inept (even more so than usual, we learn, because they’re mostly the dregs of what the empire has to offer post-Endor defeat).
But the story isn’t just about what these characters do on this small planet far from the heart of the galaxy, Wendig does a wonderful job of showing us what’s going on all over the galaxy. In between every three chapters or so he slides in an “Interlude” that shows us a glimpse into how the galaxy’s reacting to the defeat of the Emperor. Some don’t believe the news. Some think the rebels are terrorists. Some find and exploit weaknesses in the system as society crumbles. We see Mon Motha make a bold claim about the future of the galaxy. We see hints at exciting future possibilities.
Reader beware: this is a story all about new characters. We don’t spend much time with anyone we already knew (even the captured Wedge is only on the periphery of this story), and the big fan favorites are almost completely in absentia (almost completely). But this book revels in the lore, worlds, species, and weapons of the galaxy. I had a blast combing through the book, stopping to do a quick search on Wookieepedia – there’s an adolescent joy to searching up this lore stuff, going “Wait, what’s a Sullustan? Ooh, what do the Zabrak look like again?” It reminds me of the hours I would spend pouring over that book about Star Wars vehicles and technology as a kid. There’s so much to know, I want to know it all.
This book, for some reason, is getting an unfair amount of flack on the web. People are complaining about the quality of the writing. I wish I hadn’t heard any of that racket, because I went into this book expecting to dislike it. I went into it ready to pick it apart. I admit, when I first cracked into it and saw it was written in present tense, I was dubious. But the action is swift, the characters (once you get to know them, which admittedly takes a little time) are honest and fun to read, and the plot could stand with some of Timothy Zahn’s best writing. Chuck Wendig has brought us the first post-canon-wipe novel, and it’s fun, fast-paced, (surprisingly) violent, and a delight to read. This is the first in a trilogy, and the following two, for me, can’t come fast enough. If you’re a Star Wars fan, crack open Aftermath – it’s like getting back into the cockpit after a long time away from the falcon.