Part 1: Why I Didn’t Hate The Idea of Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire
In this essay (which is actually just the next four paragraphs) I will explain why I wasn’t immediately a hater of the concept of Galaxy’s Edge tie-in literature.
Star Wars lit, by its very nature is tie-in literature. Primarily, the stories tie-in to the movies, but we’ve seen plenty of books that connect with the TV shows or video games. We’ve even seen some experimentation with tying in with the comics, with the recent Alphabet Squadron – TIE Fighter crossover. So that’s a paragraph of words. Hang onto that.
Star Wars, by its very nature, has always been experimental. The original movie captured so many fans’ attention because it pushed the boundaries of what movies could do with special effects. The Phantom Menace created Jar Jar! Rogue One brought Peter Cushing back to life!! Whether or not you appreciate the decisions themselves, the Star Wars franchise has always been about pushing boundaries, trying new things, getting ~~experimental~~
When Star Wars announced their Galaxy’s Edge line of novels with the reasoning of “it’s so that fans who can’t go to the parks can still experience the parks,” I think it was pretty obvious to all of us that the translation of that reasoning was “it’$ $o that fan$ who can’t go the park$ can $till experience the park$.”
But also, go back to paragraphs two and three and mash those together. What happens when you combine a franchise whose lit is by nature tie-in lit and which is always pushing the boundaries of new and unique ways to tell stories? By golly, I daresay you end up with novels that tie into a theme park! And that’s why, despite the capitalistic cash grab alarm bells going off in my head, I was kind of curious to see how they went about with this new and experimental way of creating tie-in literature.
Part 2: When Is World-building World-building And When Is World-building A Commercial?
Black Spire is a good Star Wars book! I enjoyed it! Especially because, right now, I’m so hungry for post-The Last Jedi content to hold me over before we all get TROSed. And yes, of course, this novel doesn’t give us any big information on what Rey, Leia, Finn, Poe, Rose, Chewie, Nien, the Abednedo dude, Konnix, and that Porg are up to after escaping Crait. But, much like the Aftermath series, it paints a picture of the state of the galaxy, and tells a story about the challenges of recruiting “regular” people into the galaxy-wide conflict when those “regular” people are just trying to afford their groceries (or as we all know they are called in space, “sproceries”). So that’s cool.
The thing is, if I were reviewing this book as simply a post-TLJ novel and nothing more, I would say that its strongest point was the world-building. Vi and friends go to a planet I’ve never heard of, and over the course of the novel, we learn about the culture, the people, the landscape. And I come to empathize with the plight of the residents, and maybe come to want to visit that planet myself someday!
Problem is, we’re all suffering from a little Batuu-fatigue, since all of the sudden, every character in every Star Wars property has some reason to visit or mention that “backwater outpost.” So, every time a detail is dropped, a detail that in any other novel would be considered standard world-building fare, all I see are dollar signs. “Vi went to Oga’s cantina and ordered a Black Spire Brew” OH MY GOD I GET IT I’LL GO TO OGA’s CANTINA AND BUY THE BLACK SPIRE BREW WHEN I GO TO THE THEME PARK.
So what is it? World-building? Or just a straight up commercial for things you should look for when you sell your firstborn and go the Star Wars land? Probably both.
In the end, I wasn’t able to separate the two in my mind. And, for better or worse, that hindered my enjoyment of the novel some. But not entirely. Because there are a few other reasons to enjoy this book, which I will describe in Part Three, happening on the next line of this book review.
Part 3: Which Begins On This Line Of The Book Review
Some non-Galaxy’s Edge-related reasons you may enjoy this book.
- Did you like Phasma? I liked Phasma. Well this hasn’t really been advertised, and I’m not sure why because a lot of people seemed to like Phasma, but this book is definitely a direct sequel to Phasma. Two major characters’ stories continue onwards in this novel (spoiler alert: Phasma isn’t one of them). And it’s a pretty good continuation of their story. Except for that their relationship kind of makes me uncomfy. But maybe you’re into that kind of thing?
- This book addresses PTSD! Mental health in Star Wars! We don’t see that much! Does it do it well? I don’t know. I’ll leave that commentary to the folks who have PTSD themselves. But it’s nice to see an author making an effort!
- What happens when your small band of Resistance fighters trying to save the galaxy from the soul-crushing hoards of pseudo-fascist children puts out a distress call and no one responds? You gotta RECRUIT! This book is about that, but I already kind of addressed that.
Basically, what I’m getting at, is that this book is about more than just a list of things you can buy at Galaxy’s Edge. But it’s also a list of things you can buy at Galaxy’s Edge. So my recommendation is to buy it and read it. Or not. You have free will, so it’s up to you.
Thanks to Del Rey for providing a free advanced review copy of the book to Rogue Podron!!