– Minor Spoiler Review –
There have been short story collections in the Star Wars universe before, but nothing quite like this! From a Certain Point of View gathers together 43 authors for 40 stories giving us new perspectives on Episode IV: A New Hope, as a celebration of the film’s 40th Anniversary (bonus: all the author proceeds go to the charity First Book!). In short, the stories within had me crying, laughing, and filled me up with joyous wonder, much like A New Hope did and continues to do 40 years later, which is a pretty fitting way to celebrate the 40th anniversary, if you ask me!
One of the best things about FaCPOV is how there will be a story for everyone within its pages. For the very few I didn’t like, there were at least ten others I loved, keeled over in love with, enjoyed quite a bit, will cherish forever, etc. Tenses (past, present, future) and points of view (first, second, and third) fluctuate wildly and often, providing ups and downs and everything in-between, giving readers a plethora of experiences to take in no matter how much they sit down and read in a sitting. I found myself laughing one story, totally surprised by how a scene from the film would be forever changed, wiping tears from eyes like they were waterfalls the next, and back to laughing so hard it hurt. The various points of view and tense changes also pushes readers out of their comfort zones and highlights the potential strengths of different forms of writing (“Change of Heart” by Elizabeth Wein uses the second person POV for a chilling effect).
This is a collection like no other, with so many new, exciting voices alongside plenty of familiar ones, bringing so many different backgrounds, experiences, styles, and voices to the table it’s frankly astonishing this is actually a thing fans get a chance to read. Every time I turned to a new story, it was like diving into the unknown, unsure of what was below: an emotional deep dive, a humorous scheme of scum and villainy, or the tale of an unsung hero. By the time I finished my dive through the latest story, I never came up disappointed with the experience. It’s hard to really review so many stories or really state the wonder they all bring, so I don’t say this lightly (or jokingly): if you enjoy Star Wars, you’ll enjoy FaCPOV. It’s really that simple.
I’m going to narrow down the list of stories I enjoyed (which is basically every single one) to a Top 5, but I want to get something out of the way: “The Trigger” by Kieron Gillen (Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra) about Doctor Aphra herself, is my ultimate, number one favorite story of the collection; If you’ve visited this site before, this won’t be a surprise. Gillen manages to tap into Aphra’s potential even more so by revealing her inner monologue, and if you enjoy her ramblings out loud in the comics, this is a richer, funnier dive into what makes her a special character. So, with that out of the way, here are my other Top 5 FaCPOV stories (which is A LOT harder than I expected to do), in no particular order, besides the fact they are all below Aphra’s tale:
- “Reirin,” by Sabaa Tahir. While initially confusing, this one surprised me with its open ending and plentiful potential. I have so many questions: was that truly a kyber crystal? Who was the trader who hired Reirin? How did they know about the crystal? Will we see Reirin again, maybe even in the early days of Luke’s Jedi Order? Potential is one thing I really enjoy and there was so much in this one I can’t wait for more!
- “Master and Apprentice,” by Claudia Gray. I’ve been dying (pun intended) for a Qui-Gon Jinn Force Ghost tale (I wrote quite a bit about Force Ghosts recently) and this met or beat all my expectations, though considering this is Claudia Gray we’re talking about, it is to be expected. And much like the Legends novel Kenobi, I really enjoyed how much I learned about Obi-Wan when viewing the character through someone else’s eyes (though that’s a figure of speech in Qui-Gon’s regard).
- “You Owe Me a Ride,” by Zoraida Córdova. Remember my love for potential? The Tonnika sisters have an excess of it, from the hints at a dark past, to their adventures with familiar characters (like Lando, Hondo Ohnaka), and what jobs they get up to as con artists.
- “Eclipse,” by Madeleine Roux. I knew what was I getting into by reading this one, and even when I could barely read the next word behind my tears, I kept pushing on because Roux’s prose was heartbreaking, but compelling. And after having just read Leia: Princess of Alderaan, Bail and especially Breha were ever nearer and dearer to my heart than ever before. Ugh, the feels came back from writing this.
- “The Angle,” by Charles Soule. Lando has gotten the short end of the stick so far in canon (expect that lid to come off when the Han Solo film releases), but he shines here in a tale that helps set up his motivations for his actions in The Empire Strikes Back. And that it’s written by Soule, who crafted the classic, excellent Lando comic miniseries, the characterization is flawlessly smooth.
Every story is a runner-up to this list, though I can at least say the only ones that really didn’t do anything for me were: “Sparks,” by Paul S. Kemp and “Bump,” by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker.
In fact, if you want my thoughts on each and every story, keep scrolling past the plus and minuses at the end for my 1-2 sentence reviews!
Here are a few other things:
- Curious if these are all canon or not? Well, here’s the response from Pablo Hidalgo (who wrote one of the stories, a Tarkin-centric one called, “Verge of Greatness”): some very well could and couldn’t be at the very same time. If you want to get technical, one way you could judge if something is or isn’t: a first-person narrated story might not be because how can we trust the character to be telling the truth? OR…you could just enjoy FaCPOV and not worry about what is or isn’t canon in the first place. In the end, it’s the approach I took, adding plenty of stories to my headcanon until they ever (or never) get validated, and there are plenty I hope could be because they have exciting potential, like say “Reirin” by Sabaa Tahir.
- At NYCC this year, they held a panel for FaCPOV where they had plenty of the authors behind this wonderful book speaking about their stories, and you can watch the whole thing here!
- The editor of FaCPOV, Elizabeth Schaefer, talks with the official site about the trials, tribulations, and background details on how she managed to get 43 authors together to give us this excellent book.
- Over at SyFy Wire, they suggest 5 of the stories that deserve their own films, one of them being Gillen’s Aphra story, “The Trigger.” I could not agree more on that last part!
- The official site hosted a three part series of interviews with authors. The first was Meg Cabot, who wrote “Beru Whitesun Lars,” and talks about why she decided it was overdue for Beru’s story to be told; the second is with Nnedi Okorafor, “The Baptist,” discussing why she chose the trash monster; and lastly is Mallory Ortberg, “An Incident Report,” who reveled in the chance to give passive-aggressive an Imperial spin and is ready for Ep. IX writing duties. Not part of the same series, but they also have a look inside Jeffrey Brown’s sketchbook for his story, “Far Too Remote.”
- For the 40th Anniversary here on the site, I put together my suggestion for a mini-golf course, which might not be as impressive as FaCPOV but I’d argue is equally important for it to be made…maybe.
- Nanci, Brian, and Bria of Tosche-Station used a special, entertaining format for their review, including what they’d like to see if Del Rey revisited the FaCPOV idea for future film anniversaries.
A big thank you goes out to everyone involved, especially the authors who willingly did this without any compensation to be gained from it, besides fellow fans’ tears, laughter, and unbridled joy. From a Certain Point of View is an experience any Star Wars fan should partake in, it acts as a fitting tribute to 40 years of ANH, and I hope we’ll get something like this again for the other films’ 40th anniversaries!
+ Something for everyone
+ Caution: will fill you with laughter, sense of wonderment, and tears, potentially all at the same time
+ Plethora of voices, backgrounds, and experiences bring new delights to the saga and 40 year old film
– Some inconsistencies between stories
And now some short 1-2 sentence thoughts on each individual story, in order!
Beware, spoilers are below!!!!
CANON NOVEL REVIEWS:
Aftermath | Aftermath: Life Debt | Aftermath: Empire’s End
Battlefront: Twilight Company | Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
Lords of the Sith
A New Dawn
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
Heir to the Jedi
CANON YOUNG ADULT NOVEL REVIEWS:
Leia – Princess of Alderaan
Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure
Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure
The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure
Before the Awakening
Guardians of the Whills