What happens next?
That’s the question a writer hopes to hear from the reader. It means the writer has created a story that has pulled the reader into that world, that he or she wants to know the outcome of what’s transporting on the page.
I heard that question in my mind a lot when reading Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath.
The book arrived on my doorstep last Tuesday. I finished it today. In between those days, I found myself looking at the clock and thinking, Okay, I can read a little bit more. I won’t be tired in the morning.
Short version: This book was amazing.
Slightly longer version (with some spoilers, so be forewarned): As you may have seen from previous blog posts, I’m a fan of Star Wars. So when I heard about Aftermath, I jumped for joy. First, we were getting a novel set after Return of the Jedi that was officially official! Second, it was being written by Wendig, a writer whose blog posts over at Terribleminds have been profanely funny and infotainmential in the writing world. I had read the excerpt on Entertainment Weekly’s website and was sucked into the story almost immediately. I couldn’t wait to read the rest.
Then came the book’s release. Then came the slimos.
Now, I know this book has received some, um, attention from “fans” (although I’m not sure that is a correct term; I’m thinking of a more colorful metaphor), especially when it comes to the book’s rating on Amazon. I couldn’t believe it. Surely this book couldn’t be THAT bad?
Ah, but this is the Internet. I soon learned the reasons for these low ratings, and I wanted to bash my head into the bulkhead.
STUPID REASON NO. 1: Wendig used third person present tense to narrate the tale.
Well, in my eyes, it gave the story a sense of urgency. I’m sure if it were told in third person past tense, it might have retained that chugging feeling, but I think telling it in the present worked just fine.
STUPID REASON NO. 2: The main characters from Episodes IV-VI are pretty much off-camera.
Okay, I guess it’d be cool to see what Luke was up to at this point in the timeline, but I was perfectly fine following the exploits of Norra Wexley and Rae Sloane.
STUPID REASON NO. 2.5: The main characters are WOMEN! THAT CAN’T BE! WHERE ARE DA MENZ?!?
To which I say, grow up.
STUPID REASON NO. 3: There were several gay characters in the novel. GASP! HORRORS! OH NOES!!!1!!1!
STUPID REASON NO. 4: IT DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT THE FORCE AWAKENS BUT YOU SAID IT WOULD!
It did say “Journey” on the cover. Can’t give everything away before the movie is shown, right?
Well, now I had to read this novel and see what all the fuss was about.
From the prelude showing the short-lived celebration on Coruscant at the end of Jedi all the way to the epilogue, Wendig captured all the things that make Star Wars such a wondrous universe. Although the celebration at the end of the movie made for a great closure to the trilogy, Wendig shows that the Empire didn’t quite scamper into the corner.
Throughout the book, Wendig gives us interludes from across the Galaxy Far, Far Away to show how people are dealing with what’s left of the Empire and what the New Republic is doing, including a certain scruffy-looking nerf herder.
Perhaps it was the will of the Force, but I had gotten Ultimate Star Wars for my birthday, which features short bios on all sorts of things from the Star Wars universe. I found myself reading entries one day, only to recognize them later while reading Aftermath, like a connection to the bounty hunter Jas Emari. It was also cool to spot references to the Rebels TV show, including Fulcrum.
And then there’s Mr. Bones, that lovable battle droid put together by Norra’s son, Temmin. That droid needs his own series. He should team up with Artoo and Threepio posthaste.
I don’t know if I’m in the majority, but I like the idea of having the new canon. It makes perfect sense, especially with the upcoming movies. Gives everyone a clean slate to work with. And fans can still enjoy the now-labeled Legends novels.
Legends. The third rail of Star Wars.
This has been bugging me for ages. I have always known that the Expanded Universe wasn’t part of the official timeline. I wish I could remember the article where I saw it, but it specifically said that the EU is a “might-have-happened,” and whatever George Lucas came up with was official. So you can imagine my confusion when it seems like there’s somebody going, “If you don’t make the novels canon again, I’ll never read a new novel again.” THEY. WEREN’T. CANON. TO. START. WITH.
If there’s anything to be learned from this brouhaha, it’s “don’t read the comments.”
Leaving all that aside, Wendig has crafted a worthy addition to the Star Wars mythos, and I’m looking forward to reading what happens next.