It is a truth universally accepted that part of Star Wars’ innate charm is the juxtaposition of the grand sprawling space saga with the population of bit players in the background. Their lives, left unknown for the most part, leaves space for fans to speculate and create stories of their own. Why the Lucas Story Group wishes to plug all gaps with a plot tying cement and further make the galaxy seem really tiny is beyond our ken.
From a Certain Point Of View collates forty short stories from forty authors to celebrate 40 years of Star Wars (the clue is in the title folks). If you are expecting little treat-size chunks of fun, beware, for what you actually get is something more akin to an airport size Toblerone broken into bits. Stone cold Star Wars scribes such as John Jackson Miller, Chuck Wendig, Pablo Hidalgo et al. should serve up a buffet and they do, it’s just the dry ham sandwich and cheese straws kind. Every one of the short stories eek out their premise until you actually find yourself wanting to skip pages. The cover claims 40 stories, though one of them is a painfully unfunny Daily Mail style cartoon with all the wit and charm you would expect therein.
The problem with each and every (bum) nugget is the smug reveal of a tiny piece of continuity that you didn’t realise you were missing. Once you realise it was missing, you wish it could go back to being missing. One tale explains how the creature in the trash compactor got there using its own stream of consciousness as a storytelling device. Another is a day in the life of the mouse droid you see trundle across the screen on the Death Star, another for the cantina bartender and three for the Imperials sat around the Death Star desk discussing whether to fire. Ian Doescher brings us a soliloquy performed by the Emperor in an oh-so-clever-but-actually-really-grating rhyming couplet.
Gary Whitta insists on giving us a coda that fills the final three minutes between Rogue One and A New Hope and what do we learn? Captain Antilles first name is ‘Raymus’. If that ‘spoiler’ made you skwee then this is absolutely the book for you. If, like the rest of us you would rather avoid 39 more moments like this (including that rubbish cartoon), then steer clear.
There is one tiny glimmer of hope amongst these, and no, it is not the Yoda story, but rather the tale of the little red droid that explodes, making way for R2 to take his place on the moisture farm. This, alas, is nowhere near enough to save a book that makes the cantina scene boring, that makes the trench run boring and yes, makes even Vader boring. Came for a Star Wars celebration sharing platter for one? Here, have a cocktail stick with a bit of cheese and pineapple.
FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: CENTURY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW