A Fun Anthology Celebrating Empire's 40th Anniversary!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on 10 January 2021
Like its predecessor, “Star Wars – From A Certain Point of View,” “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – From A Certain Point of View” collects short stories from 40 different authors telling the story of “Episode V” of the Skywalker Saga from the perspective of those adjacent to the main action. This volume draws upon the talents of Tom Angleberger, Sarwat Chadda, S.A. Chakraborty, Mike Chen, Adam Christopher, Katie Cook, Zoraida Córdova, Delilah S. Dawson, Tracy Deonn, Seth Dickinson, Alexander Freed, Jason Fry, Christie Golden, Hank Green, Rob Hart, Lydia Kang, Michael Kogge, R.F. Kuang, C.B. Lee, Mackenzi Lee, John Jackson Miller, Michael Moreci, Daniel José Older, Mark Oshiro, Amy Ratcliffe, Beth Revis, Lilliam Rivera, Cavan Scott, Emily Skrutskie, Karen Strong, Anne Toole, Catherynne M. Valente, Austin Walker, Martha Wells, Django Wexler, Kiersten White, Gary Whitta, Brittany N. Williams, Charles Yu, and Jim Zub.
While the story follows basic plot of “The Empire Strikes Back,” it uses the adjacent stories to help incorporate elements from subsequent films, television series, and canon novels. For example, Amy Ratcliffe’s story “Heroes of the Rebellion” discusses the importance of Jyn Erso and her band’s sacrifice following the events of “Rogue One,” which Gary Whitta continues in his story “Rogue Two.” Jason Fry’s “Rendezvous Point” references the episode “The Antilles Extraction” of “Star Wars: Rebels,” discussing how Sabine Wren helped Wedge Antilles and Hobbie Klivian defect from Skystrike Academy. Further, the tone of Fry’s story evokes the Rogue Squadron novels from before the Disney acquisition. Both Seth Dickinson’s “The Final Order” and John Jackson Miller’s “Lord Vader Will See You Now” reference or involve Rae Sloane, who first appeared in the novel “A New Dawn” and has gone on to appear in several subsequent novels and comic books. Dickinson similarly explains the Hoth system’s chaotic asteroid field as the result of the planetary system being in an early stage of formation (pg. 194), thereby responding to astrophysicists’ criticisms that the asteroid field is unrealistic. Tracy Deonn’s story “Vergence” gives the cave on Dagobah a backstory while depicting Yoda’s reckoning with his failures, from Dooku leaving the Jedi Order to become a Sith, to the Jedi Order’s role in the Clone Wars, to Ahsoka’s decision to leave the Order after being falsely accused of a crime she did not commit. Michael Kogge, Daniel José Older, Zoraida Córdova, and Austin Walker’s stories focus on the bounty hunters Darth Vader summoned to track the “Millennium Falcon.” In their way, these resemble the 1996 Bantam anthology, “Tales of the Bounty Hunters.” Additionally, Córdova’s “Wait for It” references material from the sixth issue of Marvel’s ongoing “Darth Vader” as well as episodes of “The Clone Wars” including “Death Trap,” “Lethal Trackdown,” “Deception,” and “Bounty.”
Katie Cook’s story, “The Dragonsnake Saves R2,” is the most original in this collection, being a one-page comic strip from the perspective of the creature that tried to eat R2-D2 on Dagobah. Cavan Scott’s “Fake It Till You Make It” features Jaxxon T. Tumperakki, the green space-rabbit who first appeared in issue no. 8 of Marvel Comics’ “Star Wars” title in 1977 and who re-entered the canon with IDW’s “Star Wars Adventures Annual 2018.” While some view Jaxxon as emblematic of the silliness and excess of the old Expanded Universe, I’ve always found him fun and “Fake It Till You Make It” was an enjoyable addition to the canon. Scott’s story is the first prose narrative featuring the character. Alexander Freed’s story, “The Man Who Built Cloud City,” evokes the real-life exploits of Emperor Norton I of San Francisco. Emperor Norton is exactly the kind of person who would fit in well in the “Star Wars” galaxy and Freed’s story works to great effect. “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – From A Certain Point of View” follows in the style of its predecessor, offering entertaining alternative perspectives of the major events of “Episode V” along with some nice deep-references for the fans.
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