I was as disappointed as anyone when Disney decided to wipe out the Expanded Universe.
Wait, no, that’s not true. I was as disappointed as any normal person when Disney decided to wipe out the Expanded Universe. I did not go on to act like an insane asshole about it, though, and many people chose that route, so I clearly wasn’t as disappointed as anyone. I hung out with(*) Timothy Zahn this summer, the guy who wrote the Thrawn books, and he seemed like he was having a pretty normal weekend, so I figure I can probably find a way to move on if he can.
I have been further disappointed by the fact that I have hated every single New EU book that has come out so far. I’ve bought all but one of them– I haven’t grabbed Dark Disciple yet, for no good reason– because I am an eternal optimist and a creature of habit, but I literally haven’t finished one of them, because they have been terrible. Maybe I finished A New Dawn. I’m a huge fan of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series, and I was enormously excited that he was writing a Star Wars book. It turns out that first-person Luke Skywalker books should be illegal, and Heir to the Jedi was one of the worst books I’ve ever read. Half of one, anyway; I didn’t come close to finishing it.
Star Wars books had one more chance, and that one chance was Star Wars: Aftermath. I love Chuck Wendig, but I love Kevin Hearne too, and that didn’t work out so well.
And then the reviews started rolling in, and they were awful, and it almost kept me from ordering the book until I realized the incredible percentage of poor reviews that were clearly written by morons. So I bought the book and I read it.
Star Wars: Aftermath is not my favorite Star Wars book. Star Wars: Aftermath is not my favorite Chuck Wendig book, either. That honor goes to The Blue Blazes, which, c’mon, sequel already.
Here are some good reasons to not like Aftermath:
- Chuck Wendig’s typical writing style– present tense, with choppy sentences and occasionally deliberately brutalized syntax– is hardly Star Wars house style. If you’re not ready for it– I was, obviously, because I’ve read his books before– it can be jarring.
- The book is focused on minor and/or new characters. Han Solo and Chewbacca show up for an interlude section, and do not affect the main narrative in any way. I can see this being disappointing.
I don’t dislike Aftermath for either of those reasons. In fact, I don’t dislike Aftermath at all. It’s a pretty good book. But I wouldn’t want to punch you if you didn’t like the book and you cited one of those reasons.
Many of the one-star reviews, sadly, are from people who perhaps need more punching– or perhaps more appropriately a firm slap to the back of the head and a stern reminder to fix your broken life.
Here’s what I liked about Aftermath: the Star Wars universe– well, okay, galaxy— is really big, and a major political event like the fall of the Empire is going to have an effect on every corner of it. While a lot of people aren’t going to like that the book breaks away from the Big Four of Han, Luke, Leia and Chewie, I think it’s actually a strength. The book pokes its nose into lots of different corners– some we’ve heard of, some we haven’t, and some we’re getting our first glimpse of other than a brief shot or two in a trailer– and we see the effects of the Empire’s dissolution across the galaxy. The book is sprinkled with short, three- or four-page Interlude chapters, which pick a character and a planet and tell a really short story about them. None of them impact on the main narrative. It’s a great way to spread the breadth of the story without hugely overloading it with more people and situations to keep track of. The interludes are just that– interludes. You could skip all of them if you wanted to, but that would be a dumb decision.
If you didn’t like Aftermath because there are some gay characters in it, you need to reevaluate every single thing about your failed mess of a life. You are terrible. The good news is, you can stop. And you should.
I am told that there are five gay characters out of the dozens in the book. Here is how terribly gay they are: one mentions toward the end of the book that he is not into women. Technically, this doesn’t even mean he’s gay. He could be asexual for all we know, or perhaps just not into bounty hunters and finding an excuse. One character has a gay aunt, and he has intermittently lived with her and her partner for the last several years. They get a little domestic scene or two. There is supposedly a gay male couple as well; they have such a strong impact on the narrative with their gay gayness and their shoving gay down the throats of the nongay that I managed to miss them entirely. I only know they’re there because I’ve seen people complaining about them. I musta missed a pronoun somewhere, probably in one of the interludes.
If you don’t like this book because there are some gay characters sprinkled among the huge majority of straight characters, this is you:
And I don’t mean “the hero of the series,” by the way, I mean the second whiniest scene in film history, and I’m only using this one because the Tosche Station scene doesn’t have as much of a poutywhinyface as this one does.
Now stop it.
I’m not telling anyone they have to like, or even read, this book. It has weaknesses; chief among them is a problem that slays many would-be Star Wars writers: the deadly problem of the figure of speech. Wendig bounces back and forth between English figures of speech that reference animals and situations that, as far as we know, don’t exist in Star Wars (he may not actually say “raining cats and dogs,” but that’s the type of thing I’m talking about) or trying to use English figures of speech but Star Warsing them up in annoying ways (“raining nexus and rancors!”) that are not better.
Like I said earlier: it’s not my favorite Star Wars book, nor is it my favorite Chuck Wendig book. But it’s certainly a solid effort that’s well worth the read, which is something I haven’t been able to say about any of the other new continuity books (I’m sorry, Kevin! I love you, really!) and there are a couple of really cool hints about the new movies sprinkled here and there. Just do yourself a favor and try to strip away as many preconceptions as you can before you read the damn thing.
Including the bigotry. Definitely get rid of that. Because it’s dumb, and the back of your head has a slappin’ target affixed to it at the moment.
(*) Where “hung out with” means “had maybe a two-minute conversation and shook his hand, and he was sort of at my booth for a while but it was actually the booth next to mine,” but it’s my blog and I get to overstate my life if I want to.