Last week, they announced a slew of upcoming Star Wars novels, and that made me remember that I’d heard good things about one of the pre-Force Awakens novels, Lost Stars, by Claudia Gray, so I decided to read it.
The story follows two childhood friends who are about the same age as Luke and Leia, born around the time of the fall of the Old Republic and rise of the Empire, but they grow up on an Imperial world, so they have a very different attitude about the Empire than we’ve seen in most of the Star Wars stories. They want nothing more than to grow up to pilot TIE fighters. The story follows them as they attend an Imperial military academy, and then we get a kind of “Lower Decks” view of the events of the original trilogy, as they’re present or aware of most of the major moments, but seeing them from an entirely different perspective. The events surrounding the Death Star send them in different directions and make them question the meaning of loyalty.
I’m not sure how well this book would work as just a science fiction novel for someone who wasn’t familiar with the universe and the story, but it really works to flesh out that universe for people who are fans. We get into the heads of people who fight for the Empire and see that they, too, are fighting for things they believe in, and then when the things they believe in come into question, they’re still fighting for the people around them.
It’s interesting to see what other people think of the main characters from the original movies and how they see those events. So, if you’re a Star Wars fan and want more of that universe, this is definitely worth reading.
This and those announcements of other new books have reminded me of one of my earliest writing ambitions. I’d always made up stories in my head to entertain myself, and our main neighborhood group game was what you could probably call live-action group fan fiction, so I’d made up characters and stories to fit into other “universes,” but once I saw Star Wars, it really jumped into overdrive. Since there was a shortage of female characters, I had to make up characters to play, and that turned into an elaborate mental narrative. Even before Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the first tie-in novel, was published, I wanted to write a Star Wars book. A lot of my earliest attempts at writing started as mental Star Wars stories that morphed into something original before I put anything on paper. Still, I would have preferred to write them as real Star Wars stories. I just had to change them because that was an unrealistic dream.
But then I realized last week that it’s not quite such an unrealistic dream. I’m a published author. I’ve even written for the publisher that does the Star Wars books. I’m not sure how to pursue it or if I even really want to. There are plusses and minuses. The money is good, and it’s a good way to become a “bestselling” author. It’s a good way to gain a lot more name recognition. But there are a lot of constraints to writing in someone else’s universe, and the attention that comes with it can bring with it a lot of negativity. It brings out some of the more obnoxious fanboy elements, those people who nitpick every detail and throw a fit if it doesn’t match their mental version of that universe. I’m mostly invisible to those people now, since I’m pretty obscure as an author, but doing a Star Wars book would throw me into the middle of that nastiness. I can imagine what they’d say if my name were announced and then they went and saw those cartoony covers — probably something about how I’m going to destroy Star Wars by turning it into a romantic comedy.
Still, whether or not it’s something I end up pursuing, it’s kind of cool to realize that something that seemed completely out of reach when I was a kid isn’t entirely unrealistic now.