From A Certain Point of View

Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View is an interesting throwback to the old Tales of story anthologies, but also something very new. Like the old Tales of books, From A Certain Point of View is a collection of short stories by various authors all covering different characters. Some stories are serious while others are funny. However, the difference between those old Legends books and this one is that all of the stories in this one take place in A New Hope and slowly tell the story of the movie from perspectives we haven’t seen before, at least not in the films. On top of that, this is a charity book where the proceeds are going to First Book. With thirty nine stories and one cartoon by Jeffrey Brown, there’s a lot of variety in the book and definitely something for everyone. Yet the real question is, do the good stories outweigh the bad?

With so many stories, a full, comprehensive review of each one would quickly rack up a high word count and would likely be too long for anyone to read. Instead, I’ll touch on the highlights. Every reader has their own tastes, so my list will be different than most others. One of my favorites was the first story in the book, “Raymus” by Gary Whitta. It was a great way to start things off. The story focuses on Captain Raymus Antilles and bridges the end of Rogue One with the beginning of A New Hope. Raymus is the character Vader famously chokes to death in the beginning of the film while searching for the stolen Death Star plans. It explains why the Tantive IV was on board the Profundity during the battle of Scarif, and how the Empire was able to track them to Tatooine. It also ties into Leia’s line about hope. From there, the book dips down and delves into a series of stories that alter between serious and silly. Things don’t spring back until John Jackson Miller’s “Rites.” That story ties into his Legends novel Kenobi and centers on the Tusken Raider A’Yark who tries to mentor some other raiders as they go out and attack R2-D2, C-3PO and Luke. That scene of course leads to the encounter with Obi-Wan and his famous Krayt dragon yell. Like “Raymus,” it explains some things in the movie, especially with Kenobi’s yell. Yet it’s also a story of Tuskens going through the rite of adulthood, and a tale of lore, legends and culture.

Right after than one is “Master and Apprentice” by Claudia Gray which had quite a few people talking as it involved Qui-Gon’s ghost. It takes place in that small moment in the film where Luke leaves Obi-Wan to go find his aunt and uncle, who are already dead. During that time, Obi-Wan has a chat with Qui-Gon. Claudia uses this opportunity to explore the nature of Force ghosts, what they know, how they materialize, and what they must feel. While it wasn’t my favorite story in the book, it was still pretty interesting. Another story of interest is “Not For Nothing,” which takes a unique spin on the storytelling aspect by making it part of a musician’s autobiography. In this case, it follows one of the Modal Nodes. “The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper” was another one that was fun and follows some of the other cantina aliens in a twisting adventure of criminals and friends. “The Secrets of Long Snoot” by Delilah S. Dawson explores Garindan and his backstory, giving him a purpose and telling a complete little tale. There’s even a scorn lover story about Greedo called “The Luckless Rodian” which was pretty good.

Breaking away from the Cantina, there’s a few more good stories worth noting. “Eclipse” by Madeleine Roux shares Bail and Breha’s last moments on Alderaan, “The Trigger” is a good Doctor Aphra story by Kieron Gillen, “Of MSE-6 and Men” is a fun little story about an Imperial tryst on the Death Star and the mouse droid being a messenger between them, and then there’s three great pilot stories. “Sparks” by Paul S. Kemp follows Dex and his journey to the trench run attack with the catch phrase being sparks start big fires. Pierce Brown, who I would love to see write a full length Star Wars novel, gets a moment to shine with “Desert Son” which is a story about Biggs. However, the third one is, in my opinion, the best story in the entire book. Jason Fry’s “Duty Roster” not only does a fantastic job of weaving in the idea of Fake Wedge being an actual part of the Star Wars universe, but also redeems Wedge and manages to give Fake Wedge a story of his own. I don’t want to spoil it, but this one actually had me welling up with emotion. It’s brilliantly done.

The last story in the book is a funny one, and worth mentioning. “Whills” by Tom Angleberger actually has the Whills writing the crawl to Star Wars, but as an entry in the journals, and it had me laughing. It was a great way to end the book. But at the end, I couldn’t help but realize that there were a lot of stories that were either not good or were simply mediocre. Some don’t really do anything, others start out promising and fall apart at the end. A lot of them are just okay. They’re not great, they’re not terrible, they’re just somewhere in the middle. Looking back through my notes and at the ratings I gave each story, there were three 1/5’s, thirteen 2/5’s, ten 3/5’s, ten 4/10’s and three 5/5’s. That’s three duds, thirteen misses, ten okay stories, ten good stories and three outstanding stories. That’s a lot of subpar or okay stories taking up a large chunk of the book. In turn, that means you might find yourself reading a couple so-so stories in a row, which can lead to a disappointing reading experience. Short story anthologies have a tendency to either be really good with a lot of enjoyable stories, or they get weighed down with a lot of less than entertaining stories. From A Certain Point of View kind of hit on the latter for me. There’s some good stories in there, even some great stories that I highly recommend people go and seek out, but in looking at the whole, I could see waiting for this one to show up at your local library. As much as I liked some of the stories, I had to plow through a lot of stories that weren’t all that enjoyable, and in the end, that resulted in a reading experience that was mediocre. Thus I give From A Certain Point of View a score right in the middle with a two and a half out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

 

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