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Review: From a Certain Point of View (edited by Elizabeth Schaefer)

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“Terrible things will always happen. They happened on Kiffex and they happen on Naboo and they happen on Tatooine. There will always be a war, and there will always be someone who wants us locked up. But the only thing we can do is survive, Sen. Survive until they won’t let us.”

When I heard the words “Jawa POV,” I instantly knew that From a Certain Point of View is something I simply must read. It’s no secret by now that I’m madly in love with Star Wars. And my obsession with slice of life and perspectives of more ordinary people is well established. A crossover of the two? A match made in heaven, despite my dislike of short stories and anthologies.

From a Certain Point of View is a little unusual for an anthology in that it has a plot – it’s a retelling of A New Hope from the POV of minor characters and all the stories are in chronological order. Some comedic and a lot of them sad. Each doubles as a chapter. Some sections drag a little – the cantina section (did we really need to see Han shoot Greedo five times?) and the one near the end from the POV of Resistance pilots for example – and others felt a little pointless, but the overall effect was wonderful.

I also enjoyed how it ties together A New Hope and some of the newer material. There are clear references to Rogue One (of course) and characters from other movies are often mentioned, if not appearing outright.

Since it’s an anthology of 40 short stories and various other odds and ends, the quality is, of course, inconsistent. Some are great, some not really, most are in between. But I’m glad to say that out of all 40, I only disliked four (Beru Whitesun Lars, Added Muscle, and Whills, all because of the writing style, and Palpatine, because it was in verse) and would choose no less than eleven to highlight as particularly great. Over a quarter. With the other 65% falling somewhere between “lovely concept, but not quite toplist material” or “readable but kind of meh.”

My highlights include:

  • Stories in the Sand by Griffin McElroy: Jawas! I decided to bump the book way up the TBR because someone let slip there was a Jawa POV (I love the adorable little shits) and man, it did not disappoint. It’s about a little scavenger with a special love for stories and I couldn’t help but like him.
  • Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray: Can’t say much about this one except that it’s well-written and took me entirely by surprise. I look forward to Claudia Gray’s tie-in books.
  • The Red One by Rae Carson: POV of the red droid Luke and his uncle did not choose. Holy shit this one is sad. Good, but sad.
  • The Secrets of Long Snoot by Delilah S. Dawson: This one gives us the perspective of the Kubaz spy, aka the alien with the long snoot. Shows some of the discrimination and prejudice the non-humans face.
  • Born in the Storm by by Daniel José Older: This one is about one of the Stormtroopers who got mind-tricked filling in a form to report the incident. A lot of grumbling about sand (implying how it’s coarse and irritating and gets everywhere of course) and how much he hates his job ensues. Hilarious, amazing, I need more.
  • The Trigger by Kieron Gillen: I really need to read the Aphra comics because I found the POV of her as someone who likes neither the Resistance nor the Empire very interesting.
  • Of MSE-6 and Men by Glen Weldon: First of all, the title cracked me up. A fucking mouse droid story! Of course this would be my thing. It also features a (gay) affair between a stormtrooper and an officer, but the ending…well, it put a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Even so, it made it into the highlights list simply because mouse droid.
  • Bump by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker: Another stormtrooper who only wants to shower and end his shift, but of course, the rebels invading the Death Star ruin his plans. Funny. Great balance between humanizing him and reminding us he’s a bad guy and I’d love if it was longer.
  • End of Watch by Adam Christopher: Imperial bureaucrat on the Death Star just leaving her shift aka yet another person with a bullshit job. If it wasn’t already clear by now, I love that. Couldn’t be more up my alley if it tried.
  • The Baptist by Nnedi Okorafor: The infamous trash monster story, the one you usually hear about when someone recs this anthology. Very unique.
  • The Angle by Charles Soule: Lando, watching the aftermath and musing about the cynics and idealists. Another neutral party POV.

He was having one of those patriotic sway type moments, when the whole Galactic Empire seemed to sparkle in his eyes and whatever ridiculous mission was ahead appeared infinitely manageable—all part of the grand design. And that’s all well and good, but there was sand in my butt crack and the day wasn’t getting any cooler, so quite frankly I wished he’d hurry up and get to the point.

Essentially, the more minor the character and the more bullshit their job, the more I liked it. I wish I could get a full novel of some of those, especially the antics of bored stormtroopers who are sick of dealing with sand up their asscrack or bureaucrats going on about their daily life.

The only bigger issue I have is that while a few stories include or mention queer characters, none of those survive. A lot of it is due to the nature of this anthology and the fact that a huge percentage of the stories in general focus on characters who die because that’s how it is (anyone on Alderaan or the Death Star is doomed and we know it). But I still wish we got at least one queer character who managed to get away somehow. It would not have been too much of a stretch, especially not compared to some other things. So I’m torn between feeling desperately glad that repersentation might be happening at least in books, and angry and sick of yet another book that ended in Bury Your Gays.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: any and all Star Wars fans, especially those wondering how more ordinary characters get by – even if you don’t like anthologies, read this
Not recommended to: obviously, people who haven’t watched A New Hope, those tired of queer characters not surviving

2 thoughts on “Review: From a Certain Point of View (edited by Elizabeth Schaefer)”

  1. I have owned a copy of this since it first dropped….or pretty close to then….honestly I never realized it was actually A New Hope-related! Why didn’t anyone tell me?!?! Thank you! Honestly I just saw A) Star Wars. B) Anniversary. and C) All of the amazing author names on the cover! But now that I know all of the rest?? Minor character retellings of A New Hope?! That is EVERYTHING!! I’m in. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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