Del Rey’s STAR WARS short story anthology, From A Certain Point of View, is a masterwork. The collection features short stories from the perspective of background characters in A NEW HOPE.

Reading the book, I laughed, I cried, and I gained a new appreciation for some severely underappreciated characters. But some of these stories were more than the others. They made me laugh more, cry more, think more. These stories deserve a special shout-out for being the best of the best.

(Note that these are not ranked — this is the order they appear in the text!)

“From A Certain Point Of View” Review: A++

The Red One

From A Certain Point of View

Written by Rae Carson, “The Red One” details the story of the malfunctioning R5 unit Owen Lars almost buys. R5-D4 actually has an interesting history. If you go past strictly canon, the comic “Skippy the Jedi Droid” explains that R5 is a Force-sensitive droid who purposely detonates his motivator for the sake of the galaxy. “Skippy” is non-canon, but it’s a story that tickled fans’ imagination, and it stuck.

“The Red One” is related, though it gives greater detail and (spoiler alert) R5-D4 is not a Jedi-droid. Instead, R5 is a lonely droid. He has been in the Jawas’ possession for four years. He dreams of finding a new master and having purpose again. One day the Jawas clean him up, and he is excited to think he will soon have a new home. Unfortunately, that night the Jawas discover R2-D2.

R2 actually attempts to sabotage R5 to ensure that he is purchased. He tells R5 the story of his mission and how he needs to be purchased to save the galaxy. R5 thinks it’s a load of crock. R5 is delighted to be picked by Owen the next day, but R2 mournfully states that the galaxy is doomed. “Help me R5!” he cries. “You’re my only hope!” Something in R5 stirs, and he feels a new sense of purpose — not serving a master, but helping the Rebellion. He fakes a malfunction so that R2 is chosen instead.

R5 escapes after the stormtroopers ambush the Sandcrawler. He heads off on his own, determined to find a new home. “The Red One” is surprisingly emotional for a story about a droid. R5’s loneliness is touching. His determination to do the right thing is inspiring. And when he rolls off into the sunset, you really hope that he finds a good home.

You Owe Me A Ride

“You Owe Me A Ride” is written by Zoraida Cordova. It tells the story of two sisters on the not-so-right side of the law. Brea and Senni Tonnika live in Mos Eisley and live a life of borderline crime. They somewhat work for Jabba as bounty hunters and con-women. The story is mainly told from Brea’s point of view. She is very protective of her sister and desperate to escape this life. They are given the opportunity at a job that will give them enough credits to escape — capturing Han Solo.

From A Certain Point of View

There’s a lot of backstories hinted at here. The Tonnika sisters seem to have some connection to Han, though it seems to have ended negatively. There’s also hints toward the sisters’ somewhat tragic backstory. In an attempt to rescue a friend from prison, Brea kills a guard. This marks her as a criminal, which has lead the sisters to their current life. Brea wants to undo this as much as she can and provide a better life for Senni. She proposes they do this their own way — they won’t turn Han over to Jabba. Instead, they’re going to steal the Millennium Falcon!

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Obviously, the sisters don’t steal the Falcon, or A NEW HOPE wouldn’t have happened. Instead, when the stormtroopers show up, they take the opportunity to steal an unguarded ship. They’re on their way to a life of peace and freedom, which is all they’ve ever wanted. The Tonnika sisters are fascinating. All they want is peace and control over their own lives.

Seeing them at the end, I want to know more. Did they escape Mos Eisley? What are they going to do next? “You Owe Me A Ride” really left me wanting more. I’d definitely read more about these two!

Of MSE-6 and Men

From A Certain Point of View

Glen Weldon’s “Of MSE-6 and Men” is quite possibly the most hilarious story in this collection. (MSE-6 droids are colloquially known as “mouse droids,” hence the title.) The story is told from the perspective of one of these mouse droids, MSE-6-G735Y, or G7. He’s the personal favorite of the infamous stormtrooper TK-421. 421 is one of the managers of the MSE-6 droids. He does their maintenance and programming. He especially loves G7 and promises him a future of racing in Coruscant.

421 accidentally records a video of himself complaining about the murder the trooper helmet does on his skin. When G7 runs into a superior officer and malfunctions, he plays the video. The superior officer is captivated by 421’s beauty, and — I swear to God — uses G7 to send a sext to 421. He uses high clearance codes to erase G7’s memory, but 421’s response is pretty clear. 421 and the superior officer begin a clandestine affair, seen from the perspective of poor G7.

421 is trying to climb the ranks, and he sees this affair as his ticket to Coruscant. He confides in G7 that he has to do grunt work for a little while to avoid suspicion, but they’re on their way up. Unfortunately, the Millennium Falcon lands on the Death Star and everything goes downhill. Apparently the rebels straight up murder 421, which is not made clear in the movie.

The superior officer is enraged and promises G7 that he will avenge 421’s death. The story ends tragically, with G7 trying to warn the officer of the impending explosion. He flees and finds a new friend… right as the Death Star explodes. What a twist — from sexting romp to tragic end. “Of MSE-5 and Men” certainly tells a story.

The Baptist

From A Certain Point of View

Have you ever given a second thought to the dianoga? Nnedi Okorafor’s “The Baptist,” tells the dianoga’s story, and there’s much more than meets the eye. A female named Omi is taken from her home and brought to the Death Star. Contrary to what you might believe, Omi is very much sentient.

On the flight away from her planet, Omi has a moment. She learns that she is destined for great things, but that she must leave home to accomplish them. Omi is unhappy and deeply lonely. She has always been curious and was exploring her planet when she was ambushed. Her sense of curiosity got her into this mess, and though she mourns her loss, she remains interested in the world at large.

Once installed on the Death Star, Omi is happier. She has a purpose — eating the refuse — and a decent home. But she knows there is something more. That something comes when Luke Skywalker falls into her lair. Omi is nearly in love, and actually, wonders if Luke is her soul mate. She senses that he can feel the things she feels. Her purpose becomes clear — she drags Luke under the water, not to kill him, but to baptize him. Water will cleanse him and prepare him for his journey.

So in the end, this creature that you never think about has a huge backstory. Omi is a sentient individual, but more than that she is religious and Force-sensitive. She has a deep spirituality that you would never have guessed. In the end, Omi dies when the Death Star explodes, but she is at peace and anticipating reincarnation. I was in awe of what Okorafor accomplished in “The Baptist.” This was hands-down one of my favorite stories in the bunch.

Duty Roster

From A Certain Point of View

“Duty Roster,” by Jason Fry, blew my mind for one simple reason. This story tells about Col Takbright, an X-Wing pilot who is unfortunately known as “Fake Wedge.” Col looks just like Wedge Antilles but acts like his opposite. The other pilots regularly mock him. But what blew my mind about Col is this: it was Col sat next to Luke in the briefing, not Wedge. My life is a lie.

“Duty Roster” is more than a plot twist, however. It gives an interesting glimpse into the lives of the Rebels. The duty roster in question refers to the roster of which pilots would be taking part in the Death Star run. There are more pilots than ships, so some would have to stay grounded.

Col is desperate to get up there and prove himself, but the last name called is not his — it’s Wedge. Col is deeply enraged, but gets a life lesson from Wedge — he doesn’t have to go it alone if he would only let people in. He takes this to heart.

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We see the battle through Col’s eyes as pilot after pilot dies, and the Death Star looms ever closer. When the battle is over, everyone flocks to Luke and Han, and Wedge is forgotten. He’s okay with that, though. He feels like a failure for leaving the battle. Col approaches, and rather than taunt him, he congratulates Wedge on his run. Col tells Wedge if he’s ever embarrassed, he can just tell people it was Fake-Wedge up there.

“Duty Roster” features remarkable character growth in Col. But more than that, it gives us a new perspective on the Death Star run. There’s so much more going on than we see. Fry succeeds in bringing that home.

Desert Son

From A Certain Point of View

Bust out your tissues, ladies, and gents, because Pierce Brown’s “Desert Son” will make you feel things. “Desert Son” is the story of Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s childhood best friend. Biggs never expected to see Luke but is ecstatic to have his friend by his side. He sees this as fate, bringing “two sons” of Tatooine together to strike a blow for freedom.

“Desert Son” follows immediately after “Duty Roster,” and tells the other side of the story. While Col and the others are on the ground, Biggs is in the thick of things. Brown does a good job including the action details, but where he shines is in introspective moments. Biggs is very emotional, and he takes the time to process these emotions. There’s fear, made worse when he realizes Luke will be in danger too. But there’s peace in the knowledge that this must be done.

It’s that peace that undid me. We, of course, know that Biggs doesn’t make it home. He is the last Rebel to die before Luke blows the Death Star. So when Brown shows us the battle, we know what’s coming. We know that, despite Biggs’ hopes and excitement, he’s going to die. And Brown drives that point home. Biggs, in his final moments, chooses to sacrifice himself to save Luke.

The ending is beautiful. Brown describes Biggs’ joy, peace, and fear all at once. In the final moments, Biggs thinks of home, of the Tatooine wind and his mother’s voice. When he dies, it’s beautiful. It’s tragic and heartbreaking, but Brown does a masterful job depicting the end of this hero.

I’m not crying, you’re crying! (Okay, we’re all crying.)

The Angle

From A Certain Point of View

Okay, palate cleanser time. “Desert Son” was a heavy one, so let’s end on an unexpected story. There are many more beautiful stories in “From A Certain Point of View” that deserve a close look. “By Whatever Son,” the conclusion, is beautiful and tragic. But we want something lighter, so we’re going to talk about Charles Soule’s “The Angle.” This story features a character you wouldn’t expect — Lando Calrissian.

Lando is taking place in a fascinating high stakes card game when we see him. He needs to win to get out of debt and buy a new ship. Unfortunately, just before he is about to win the game is busted up by Imperials. He flees, choosing his life over his money. He meets up with Lobot, and they discuss the situation. Lobot reveals that there’s a reason the Imperials are riled up. They watch the footage of the Death Star’s destruction, released on the DarkNet by the Rebels.

While everyone else is caught up in the victory, all Lando can focus on is his ship, the Millennium Falcon. He can’t believe that Han took place in the battle because Han is like Lando. They put themselves first and forget about causes. Watching Han put himself in danger for these Rebels is disconcerting for Lando.

However, don’t worry that he’s going to change sides suddenly. Lando is always one to look out for himself. He tells Lobot that if he ever tries to do something stupidly heroic, to just shoot him. Man, wait ’til he sees the script for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

From A Certain Point of View

There are a lot of other great stories in this collection. As I mentioned earlier, “By Whatever Sun” is heartrendingly beautiful. But there are other wacky and interesting stories too. “Stories in the Sand,” tells about a Jawa addicted to watching recorded data tapes.

“Palpatine” is a whopper of Shakespearean text detailing the Emperor’s reaction to Obi-Wan’s death. “Grounded” is another perspective on the Death Star run that will make you ache with grief. If you’re in the mood for feelings, you won’t go wrong with From A Certain Point of View.

J.J. Abrams Will Return To A Galaxy Far Far Away

My only hope after reading this collection is that they release anthologies for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI as well. “From Another Point of View?”

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