The Empire Strikes Back, the greatest film ever made, turned 40 earlier this year. That’s four decades of Star Wars fans dissecting every frame and obsessing over background characters. is the logical conclusion of that passion — 40 short tales telling the movie’s story from the perspectives of secondary and background characters, from 40 different authors.
It’s not the first such story collection — we got a similar one for the (aka A New Hope) in 2017. But The Empire Strikes Back moves at a much faster clip than the original movie; this accompanying short story collection, out Nov. 10 in hardback, digital and audiobook form, mirrors that pace by jumping between to a wider variety of locations.
Most are self-contained tales about some rebel cook or Imperial technician, offering a look at the toil of ordinary people in a galaxy far, far away. They’re generally engaging while you’re reading, but unlikely to resonate in any major way.
However, the collection is punctuated with more ambitious stories — Jason Fry’s tale about pilot Wedge Antilles reveals what the Rebel Alliance got up to after escaping the Empire at Hoth, while Michael Kogge’s yarn about bounty hunter Bossk goes in a surprising, clever direction. I was left wanting more; these stories felt like setups for spinoff novels that I’d read in a heartbeat.
Along with Bossk, the other bounty hunters Darth Vader sends after the Millennium Falcon are expanded upon here. Longtime Star Wars readers will be reminded of the1996 anthology — the colorful mercenaries’ stories are among the most fun in this collection too. We don’t get too much insight into Boba Fett (the coolest guy in the galaxy), but it’s always a treat to get into his head.
If you’re invested in the spiritual side of Star Wars, we get a few stories about Force users, too. None of these radically alter our understanding of the battle between the light and dark sides, but Jim Zub’s Yoda tale reveals what was going through his head during that first encounter with Luke Skywalker on Dagobah, while Mike Chen’s Emperor Palpatine story offers a fascinating “what if?” scenario. Mackenzi Lee writes a quirky Obi-Wan Kenobi that I’d love to see more of.
There are also some touching moments from unexpected characters, like the final thoughts of Imperial Admiral Ozzel (whom you might remember succumbing to Vader’s fatal management style) and the bedside manner of a Rebel Alliance medical droid.
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This collection also regularly veers into quirky territory, with one story about the Millennium Falcon’s computer tying neatly back to Pulp Fiction, but one featuring old school comic character veers too much into slapstick territory.and another offering a slightly creepy insight into the dark side cave on Dagobah. An adventure with a Cloud City background character has fun echoes of
From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back is a fun companion and showcases 40 authors’ talents through a varied set of tales. They won’t all stick with you and a few stray too far from the movie’s tone, but the collection pays clever tribute to the greatest film ever made and sets up some cool possibilities for future storytelling.