2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of STAR WARS, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re not the only ones stoked about STAR WARS, either. Lucasfilm paired with Del Rey publishers to release From A Certain Point of View, a collection of 40 short stories about STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE. The twist about FACPOV is that it’s told from the perspective of minor characters. This is STAR WARS from a certain point of view.

The book features stories starting from the end of ROGUE ONE/the beginning of A NEW HOPE and ranges all the way to the medal ceremony at the conclusion of the movie, with a post-script detailing how the infamous opening crawl was composed. The stories are humorous, heartbreaking, and downright wacky. If you have a favorite STAR WARS character, forget them. You’re going to have 40 new favorite characters after reading this.

The Stories

FACPOV begins with Captain Raymus Antilles, captain of the Tantive IV. Antilles ends his chapter — and his life — with the refrain we learned from ROGUE ONE: hope. He faces death with peace because he knows that Rogue One has given them hope, and the Princess will give hope to the Rebellion.

The stories flood from this point. There are a wealth of stories that happen in Mos Eisley that the movies give us no inkling of. We meet countless new characters of diverse species all desperate to survive Mos Eisley.

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There are stories from the point of view of Imperials. We see their doubts, their resentment, their patriotism. They are as infinitely diverse as the creatures in the Mos Eisley cantina, not a faceless homogeneous group. We get an in-depth perspective of life on the Death Star that, frankly, I never even thought about. On the flipside, we see stories from the Rebels. We see what they have suffered, what they hope for. We get truly heartbreaking stories.

And we get a lot of death. You don’t think, watching the movies, about how many people died. Sure, you think of Obi-Wan, and perhaps objectively about Alderaan. But FACPOV shows you, deeply, personally, how many people died for the Rebellion. We also see those who survived, and how much their survival costs. FACPOV ends, fittingly enough, with the story of Alderaanians. The remains of the Alderaanian guard watch the medal ceremony at the conclusion of A NEW HOPE. They, like Captain Antilles, think of the Princess and the hope that she brings.

Cantina Chaos

Characters you would never even have considered get a voice in this collection. There are stories about characters that you only glimpse momentarily. The cantina scene, in particular, sparks a wealth of stories in this collection. For example, Mur Lafferty’s “Not For Nothing” tells the story of the Bith musicians who play the famous cantina music. They are desperate to escape Tatooine, whose harsh desert climate is murder on their biology. Their story shows the cantina violence from an outsider’s perspective.

Greedo gets his voice in Renee Adhieh’s “The Luckless Rodian.” We learn that Greedo isn’t just a greedy fool. He has a grudge against Han Solo stemming from a female’s rejection. By telling this story, Greedo changes from an idiot to a nice guy out for revenge. You root for his death harder.

From A Certain Point of View
Chalmun’s Cantina. Art by Ralph McQuarrie.

Wuher, the bartender, is revealed as a more profound man than you would have thought. His comment — “we don’t serve their kind here” — almost feels like a throwaway line in the movie. But Chuck Wendig’s background for Wuher reveals that battle droids nearly killed him in the Clone Wars. His hatred of droids stems from a traumatic childhood memory.

“The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper,” by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, is a delightful romp. A variety of lowlifes fight and squabble to survive. You meet the Muftak and Kabe, two grubby aliens trying to survive a world beyond their abilities. They are pitted against gambling rivals, a bartender demanding rent, a bounty hunter, a Bith musician, and the violent criminals that dominate the cantina scene. At points, you fear for Muftak and Kabe’s lives, but in the end, everything comes together, they are all forgiven, and all forgive each other, and they share the drink of friendship.

Unexpected Feels in From A Certain Point of View

Delilah S. Dawson’s “The Secrets of Long Snoot,” tells the surprisingly emotional story of the Kubaz spy who informs the Imperials where to find the Millennium Falcon. In the movie, all we see is that he works for the Imperials and sells out our heroes. However, here we learn that the Empire enslaved Long Snoot and he was stolen from his homeworld. His people have been lied to and used for their abilities to read body language and pheromones.

From A Certain Point of View
#JusticeForLongSnoot

He has just received word that his mate has died, and he is desperate to get credits to buy his passage off-world and return to his family.  By selling out the Millennium Falcon, he can buy his way home — until the Imperials fail to apprehend the ship. They deny him his credits. Long Snoot is heartbroken, his last hope stolen away. You feel for him after reading his story. This is a character that you at best despise and at worst ignore entirely. But now you see his story in full, his point of view, and you feel it.

Another unlikely hero emerges in Elizabeth Wein’s “Change of Heart.” Told in second person point of view, this story details the inner thoughts of an Imperial Intelligence agent who aids in Princess Leia’s interrogation. The officer is stunned by Leia’s youth and beauty. When Leia refuses to give in to torture, the unnamed officer feels respect. When Leia lies to Tarkin’s face, the unnamed officer is the only one to recognize it as a lie. This poses a dilemma — should the officer reveal the lie? But in the end, the officer refuses to give Leia up. They have recognized Leia’s strength, dignity, and courage, and are now part “of her rebellion.”

From A Certain Point of View: Imperial Shenanigans

There are a surprising number of stories that show the Imperials as much less professional than they appear. Ken Liu’s “The Sith of Datawork” shows how one Imperial officer in charge of paperwork manages to circumvent a variety of rules to help out a friend. The levels of bureaucratic workaround in this story are masterful.

Daniel Jose Older’s “Born in the Storm” is downright hilarious. It’s in the form of a report from a stormtrooper stationed on Tatooine. The story gives the outline of the famous “you don’t need to see his identification” encounter from a reluctant and insolent trooper, TD-7556. The trooper shows a concerning preoccupation with the dewbacks that mounted troopers ride. In the end, while the troops are rushing to apprehend the Falcon, TD-7556 runs off, steals a dewback, and rushes into the desert. He files his last report with an amazing lack of decorum while on the run.

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However, Older is slightly upstaged by Mallory Ortberg’s hilarious “An Incident Report.” This story is a report filed by Admiral Motti after he is choked by Darth Vader in a meeting. The tone of the piece is arrogant and self-righteous in all the right ways. Motti refers to Vader’s actions as “workplace proselytization.” Motti insists that he has “no objection to the gentleman’s religious beliefs,” here referring to Darth Vader’s devotion to the Force. Motti takes a condescending tone, insisting that in the future Vader should “confine himself to using words to win arguments.” The story a hilarious look at the man who suffers to demonstrate Vader’s power.

The Jedi

One story that occurs early is Claudia Gray’s “Master and Apprentice.” Gray’s story brings back an unexpected character — Qui-Gon Jinn. Qui-Gon returns as a Force ghost mentoring Obi-Wan. He was a character I wasn’t expecting to see, but not unwelcome. Yoda also appears in Gary D Schmidt’s “There is Another.” We get a glimpse of Yoda’s life on Dagobah. He is preparing for the dry season, soon to plant his food. He fights off droids with the Force.

From A Certain Point of View
Old friends.

Yoda is more than the crotchety old alien we meet in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, however. Yoda here is lonely and sad. He mourns his lost friends and holds on to their possessions, despite what he preaches in the prequel trilogy about letting go. He dreams of training a new padawan — but focuses on Leia, not Luke. Leia possesses a strong will and dedication, whereas Luke is flighty and irresponsible. It is only once Obi-Wan visits him, now a Force ghost, that Yoda agrees to train Luke.

Obi-Wan’s death gets its own chapter in Cavan Scott’s “Time of Death.” The chapter in “From A Certain Point of View” confuses me, as befits the story of a man’s death and conversion to the Force. We get snippets of Obi-Wan’s life on Tatooine, particularly his watch over Luke and his loneliness. He regrets the actions he took and how it has left the galaxy in the hands of an untrained boy. Had he had his way, Obi-Wan would have taught Luke young, but Owen forbid Obi-Wan from having any contact with Luke. In the end, once he has become one with the Force, Obi-Wan realizes he can still mentor Luke, and he hopes for the future.

The Heartbreak is Real in From A Certain Point of View

One of the more heartbreaking stories is Madeleine Roux’s “Eclipse.” It tells the story of Breha Organa, Queen of Alderaan. She is dealing with the dissolution of the Senate and the absence of her husband and daughter. Bail returns, but with terrible news — Leia is lost. They work furiously to try and find proof that Leia has survived, but they are cut off when a strange eclipse happens. The eclipse is the Death Star, and they are about to die. In their final moments, Bail and Breha embrace and hold on to the certainty that Leia is still alive.

From A Certain Point of View
Heartbreaking.

Wil Wheaton’s “Laina” is more of an unexpected heartbreak. A Rebellion soldier on Yavin is sending his daughter away so that she won’t be in danger. He records a message for her to watch when she is older, detailing his backstory. It’s touching and sweet… until the soldier reveals he is sending her to Alderaan. The realization is like a punch in the gut.

Greg Rucka’s “Grounded,” tells the story of Nera Kase, chief mechanic of the Rebellion. Kase reveals how attached mechanics get to their pilots, and all the pilots are hers. Kase watches the attack on the Death Star, keeping heartbreak at bay with duty. It is only once the Death Star is destroyed that Kase allows the heartbreak to sink in.

“Contingency Plan,” by Alexander Freed, tells the story of Mon Mothma fleeing Yavin against her will. She sets out, knowing that if the Death Star is not destroyed, all is lost. She runs through various scenarios in her head of how horribly things can turn out. Mon Mothma is the icon of the Rebellion, but she knows that if Yavin is lost, so is the Rebellion. She prepares for defeat and is highly unprepared for victory.

 Overall Impressions of From A Certain Point of View

From A Certain Point Of View is an excellent supplement to STAR WARS canon. There has always been a wealth of material to work with outside of the main story. However, rather than creating full novels and series like in the Legends Universe, FACPOV allows for smaller snippets. You can get these additional stories without devoting a large chunk of time.

The collection also made me feel more than I thought it would. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried. Biggs Darklighter gets a chapter, and it’s heartbreaking to see him excitedly reunite with Luke knowing he’s about to die.

I laughed at times, especially with “Born in the Storm” and “The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper.” A stormtrooper describes an alien as shook. Apparently, that wasn’t Wedge next to Luke in the briefing, and everything I know is a lie.

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After reading From A Certain Point Of View, I’m left thoroughly entertained… and wanting more. I want to see a similar treatment for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI, as this edition only covered A NEW HOPE. I want to see further treatment of some of the characters, who I got really attached to. Will Long Snoot ever get home to his family? I need to know.

All in all, I think From A Certain Point Of View succeeds. It entertained me, it moved me, it got me (somehow) even more engaged with the STAR WARS universe. It’s well worth the read. And Lucasfilm, if you’re listening — give me more!

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