Friday, October 23, 2015

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away...

Let me preface this review of Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig by saying I never got into the Extended Universe (now Legends). I tried reading the Zahn books, but got about halfway through Heir before feeling like I was reading really pretentious and horrible fan fiction. I found out how they brought back Boba Fett and his sentient Sarlac and rolled my eyes. I played the old MMO Star Wars Galaxies, but never got into it, mainly because the timeline was so screwy.I recall playing Shadow of Empire on PlayStation, but even that smacked of silliness.

With that said, I picked up Aftermath because I read a bad review of it. I know this sounds odd, but someone was complaining quite vehemently about the inclusion of the GLBQAAT into the ostensibly white straight Star Wars Universe.

So yeah.

The one problem with not particularly breathing Star Wars is that without contextual clues, just saying X character is Twi'Leck doesn't help. Thankfully, Wendig does add in contextual clues, so when you meet Jas, a Zabrack bounty hunter, the horns and facial tattoos means she's one of Darth Maul's people.

Anyway, yeah, this is book one of an alleged trilogy fixing the timeline between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and reclaiming the franchise from the horrors of the Extended Universe. As such, we're not focused on the original heroes (well, the ones from the classic trilogy) as much as we are new characters from both the New Republic and the remnants of the Empire. We do get vignettes throughout the main story giving glimpses at other worlds in the galaxy and what's happening there, and we get a brief visit with Han Solo and Chewbacca who are breaking Republic protocol to go help liberate Chewie's homeworld that I am so not going to try to spell again.

The main plot centers around the Outer Rim world Akiva, where Admiral Rae has assembled some of the last officers of the Empire to try to plot out where to go after the destruction of the Death Star and the end of Palpatine and Vader. Problem being Wedge Antillies stumbles across the meeting and gets captured. His distress call gets picked up by Norra, a Rebellion pilot who fought in the battle of Endor, who's come home to Akiva to get her son Temmin off the planet. Temmin is trying to take over territory from the local crime boss, and getting in deeper trouble by doing so. In the meantime, Jas, the bounty hunter, figures out exactly how many credits she can get after discovering that not only is the target she was after was on Akiva, but 5 other major bounties were there as well. In the process of assembling this disparate group, we also get Sinjer, a former Imperial loyalty officer who had a change of heart during the battle on Endor.

Ultimately, the book relies on ramped up coincidence and misinformation on everyone's part, with everyone believing that everyone else is getting fed information from an outside source. Which, as we find out at the end, they were, as someone we only meet as Admiral makes shadowy commentary worthy of Dr. Claw or Blofield. Also, in keeping with internet memes, Ackbar is back and still worried that taking part of the fleet to Akiva will be a trap.

By the way, the complaints about the queer characters seems a bit silly, since the lesbian couple who raised Temmin after Norra left to fly in the Rebellion exist mainly to provide exposition, and the other gay character mentions it once during the run up to break in to the Imperial meeting. It's not like any of them get graphic sex scenes right in the middle of the plot. for that, you'd be wating Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker's silliness in the EU.

When the next book comes out, I'll probably read it as well, since these are now canonical, but really, for me, Star Wars works better on a big screen with a bucket of popcorn in my lap.