The Force Friday book release and my vacation reading goal/treat! For two years running, I have finished a whole book while on vacation! Last year was Devil in a Blue Dress and I’m stoked about next year.
Aftermath is the official novel filling in some of the gaps between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens alongside this being Disney’s cynical marketing campaign to take advantage of all the new enthusiasm. It’s amazing what a decade can do to heal over the disappointment caused by George Lucas.
Now let’s cover the book. There’s good news and there’s bad news to Aftermath.
I’ll start with the bad since it wasn’t a complete deal breaker for me.
Luke, Leia, Lando, Artoo and Threepio are not in the book. Han and Chewbacca appear in one chapter. Aftermath‘s main protagonists are new characters created by the author (or other sources, more on this later). I agree on how the Star Wars universe is a big enough sandbox for other heroes, ideas, etc. However, this is my main complaint with Star Trek paperbacks publishing the same crap. I primarily buy these books to see what the main characters from the movies/TV show are up to. I don’t give two shits about someone’s fan fiction starring their loser protagonists while the iconic heroes are relegated to being the fat guys who say, “he went that way.” I’m even more insulted when I’m tricked into purchasing it, shame on me here. Peter David’s Star Trek: New Frontier is about the only exception, he’s talented and got permission to recycle several C-list crewmen.
Now I’m willing to give Wendig the benefit of the doubt. Star Wars is a heavily micromanaged property. He may not have been given much choice and there were always rumors about how annoyed Lucas was with what Zahn did in his well-loved trilogy. Thankfully, Lucas has no more say. Disney may be keeping the fates of the primary gang under wraps to create more excitement come December. I doubt this a bit. I think in Force, the old Rebels will just be around to pass the torch to Abrams’ next generation.
One factor I found super annoying was the language. Wendig used some expressions that aren’t going to age well. Namely contemporary expressions. In ten or more years, should anyone read this (it could happen, some people continue to discover Heir to the Empire), they might scratch their had like I would if Spock said “outta’ sight,” in a Seventies Star Trek paperback.
On to the good news.
Numerous B-list characters are present: Wedge, Ackbar, Madine and Mon Mothma. In addition, a nemesis from Star Wars: Rebels, a New Dawn returns. References to all the past six movies, Clones Wars and Rebels are made. The characters Wendig does introduce are plausible, well-thought out and not three-by-five cards; a common tactic of Tim Burton and George Lucas. The story is often interrupted with chapters updating us on how various worlds are reacting to the news of Palpatine’s demise.
I do enjoy the new gray areas Star Wars is incorporating. The Empire’s remnants aren’t all mustache-twirling villains and a couple even think it may be just wiser to cooperate with the New Republic for the sake of continuity. The New Republic is also struggling on getting newly liberated worlds, most in the Core systems, to accept the transition and trying not to repeat the heavy-handed tactics of the Empire.
When it comes to the Star Wars novels, the only audience they have are the fans because I really doubt casual readers bother. This sets up my recommendation to my fellow fans to be this, give it a try. Even if you’re disappointed, Wendig still did well on the pacing. Plus, it’s not like we have a “choice.” Under the new Disney Star Wars regime, everything published now, especially the Marvel comics, is canon.