Forty years after the release of the original Star Wars film, the story is retold in this marvellous collection of forty short stories that relive events from the viewpoint of other characters.
Starting with Captain Antilles, the film’s spectacular opening scene is retold through the Captain’s viewpoint as he races to get Princess Organa and the stolen Death Star plans to safety. On his death at the hands of Darth Vader, the action moves to the eyes of the stormtrooper who shoots the Princess with a stun gun and delivers her into the hands of Vader.
While not breaking down the film faithfully, scene by scene, the main action is revisited with familiar lines and events cleverly interwoven into the lives of minor characters and, occasionally, some major players too. We experience Obi Wan’s death from his own viewpoint. We meet Yoda as he waits for Luke’s arrival, Aunt Beru upon her death, and Emperor Palpatine proclaiming his joy at the Empire’s success in rhyming couplets, courtesy of writer Ian Doescher!
The forty authors all provide unique perspectives, varying their storytelling from first person narratives, to Jeffrey Brown’s comical single cartoon panel. Aboard the Death Star, author Glen Weldon provides one of the more unique outings as a gay love story unfolds through the limited understanding of a malfunctioning scuttle bot.
Perhaps the only fault of this clever anthology is the time spent on the planet Tatooine, in particular around the Cantina of Mos Eisley. With the vast array of aliens and action that takes place in and around the Cantina during the film, approximately eight stories bring the evolving plot to a halt while the same or similar scenes are repeated from various viewpoints. Each are good in their own right – whether it be the life of the band, Greedo or the bartender – but this section does little to advance the Star Wars film plot.
Each story begins with a shadow image of the character about to speak, helping readers identify the character from the film. Fans of the Star Wars universe are in for a fantastic treat, while those unfamiliar with the original film (Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope) should easily enjoy each stand-alone tale regardless. Using the film’s subtitle as a theme, most of the stories are tales of hope, whether they end on that note or find hope taking a nasty turn. Either way, the Force is strong in this tome.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Penguin Random House Australia
Released: May 2018
RRP: $19.99 paperback