Chuck Wendig – Star Wars Aftermath Audiobook
That’s it ! The Star Wars machine is on! Even more terrible than a Dark Star, the franchise is preparing its big comeback in dark rooms. George Lucas abandons the reins of his empire in favor of another proven director: JJ Abrams. A small revolution which somewhat shakes the Star Wars universe since a whole section of the Extended Universe is called into question, namely all the post-Return of the Jedi literature.
This is how a new collection is born: “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, a series of novels and various books introducing in different ways the new era of this emblematic saga. Only two stories caught my attention in the list: the comic book “Shattered Empire” and this novel, the first volume of a trilogy. Written by Chuck Wendig, it is the only novel that, for the moment, creates a link between the classic trilogy and the future. The others are content to fill the space between the already existing films.
Remember, the Battle of Endor ends with the death of Palpatine and his sidekick Darth Vader as well as the destruction of the second Dark Star. Our heroes celebrate in the company of small living cuddly toys and the entire galaxy is jubilant, celebrating the end of the Empire’s yoke. All’s well that ends well … or not!
Chuck Wendig – Star Wars Aftermath Audiobook narrates the events directly following those of Endor and the first observation that we can make is that the galaxy is not doing very well…
The rebels have won a major battle but not the war. The New Republic is in its infancy and already the problems to be solved are beyond it somewhat. If the factions of the Empire are on the run, the fact remains that liberating the many worlds of the galaxy is costly in time, men and resources. moreover, the ex-rebel fleet is not so huge as to be on all fronts. Entire worlds remain under the yoke of the Empire, stronger than ever since it entrenched itself. This is a strong point of this novel: to show us how cutting off the head of the beast is not enough to destroy it. But it is also its weak point since we had something quite similar at the very beginning of the Extended Universe with Admiral Thrawn who gathered his Imperial Super Fleet to counter-attack the New Republic.
For his story, Chuck Wendig has decided to bet on a whole new cast. If you were expecting to find Han, Leïa, Luke or even the C-3PO / R2-D2 duo it’s a waste of time, you can go your way! This does not mean, however, that the story is free from known characters or even references to them, but they are very secondary.
The same goes for places that boil down to an unprecedented planet: Akiva, in the Outer Rim. We follow a new group of individuals led by their personal interests and who will gradually come together to fight together for the good of all. Thus, we meet Norra Wexley, a rebel pilot who participated in the destruction of the Death Star during the Battle of Endor; his son Temmin who started a shady little business on his own; Jas Emari, a bounty hunter in pursuit of high-ranking imperials for which the New Republic offers handsome sums; Sinjir Rath Velus, an ex-Imperial whose loyalty is now turned in to himself; and finally Bones, a battle droid tampered with by Temmin.
As for the enemies, we will mainly remember the character of Admiral Rae Sloane. Probably one of the most interesting here whose goal is to carry out a secret meeting between eminent members of the Empire to decide on the future reorganization of the latter. I may be wrong but it is also, at least for the films, the first female officer at the head of an imperial fleet.
As a whole, the story is not bad but sorely lacking in originality. Added to this are the unreliable situations that lead to false twists and heaviness on the side of the stormtroopers who are stupid without name. During too rare chapters we have pleasure to find Wedge Antilles and Admiral Ackbar who are the emblematic protagonists most present in this book but who are in the end a little underused (especially the Antilles). What should be remembered here is the general atmosphere that reigns within the galaxy and that we discover little by little through interludes. Every three chapters around, an interlude focuses on a specific event in a specific place, each time different. Thus, we travel from Coruscant to Naboo via Tatooine, Taris, Bespin or even Chandrila for the most famous. If some interludes are passable others on the other hand take stock of the chaos that now reigns or play with references to tempt fans.
Other points should be noted, whether positive or negative:
- The starting structure is directly inspired by the films with the famous “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” followed by the title itself followed by the short introductory text. This trilogy intended to fill the 30-year gap between the two trilogies really arises as an element close to the film versions.
- The use of the present indicative is quite disturbing, all the more so for a story that begins with “a long time ago”. Star Wars is a universe resolutely bygone compared to our own history. As unattainable in time as in space. This choice is damaging I find.
- the style itself is questionable. We quickly tire of reading.
- Homosexuality and same-sex unions are part of the Star Wars universe. A bit like the presence of female officers in the Empire, I do not remember homosexual characters in the productions of Lucasfilm (films as animated series). My memory is perhaps failing me but it is all the same a point to note on the side of Disney in which homosexuality remains erased and little asserted.
- The idea that the Empire would have ended up consuming itself is insinuated by one of the characters and somewhat scratches the image of the Rebellion as well as the more nuanced aspect as to good vs. evil that permeated the saga so far. A whole reflection on politics opens here without really leading to a definite answer. Wars follow one another, each defending his own vision of things. In the end, this will never end. The balance still does not tip one way or the other, for better or for worse.
- There are many references to both the classic saga and the animated series (Fulcrum recruited Wedge Antilles in the Rebellion) and the Extended Universe in general. Everything is not therefore called into question, only a part is. There are even references to unfinished projects like Coruscant’s 1313 level that was supposed to be the subject of a video game.
- the final cliffhanger which leaves us unsatisfied as to the identity of a mysterious character in the shadow of what remains of the Empire. And to think that the second volume will not be released before May 2016! Will episode VII enlighten us this winter?
- lack of objectivity Chuck Wendig’s : Only Rae Sloane saves the honor of the Empire, everything else seems to be a hymn to rebellion. Too bad. The “good guys” always get away with it, even in unlikely situations.
- A premature release: in my opinion, it would have been better to wait until 2016 to publish this book. the fact that the film is not yet in theaters at least of this publication makes that Chuck Wendig most certainly had to be limited in the writing of his story. How to tell the events between episode VI and episode VII without any spoiler from episode VII? By confining an unprecedented cast to an unprecedented planet. Hopefully, volumes 2 and 3 of this literary trilogy open up more to galactic history. After all, it was advertised as filling the scriptwriting void between the two films.
To conclude, this “Aftermath” is average. good ideas not sufficiently exploited and not very original ideas overexploited. Hopefully the finding is more favorable in the light of the film and the other two volumes. If I wait impatiently for the film to the point of avoiding any news or trailer to have the pleasure of a total discovery in the dark rooms, I was still hoping for a little more from this first novel. moreover, the calendar is in my opinion very badly set. Either this trilogy came out before episode VII so that we could make the links from the cinema release (but it was at the risk of revealing too much about the film) or we had to wait for the film to be released in the cinema and propose a story to deliver from this stifling straitjacket. “Aftermath” seems to me more like a teaser than a real novel in the end.