Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig

Today I'm looking at the first of three books in the Aftermath trilogy which helps to fill in the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I'm hoping that these books will answer some of my questions about the political situation in the galaxy, although I'm not overly optimistic about the results. To start with as I've said before about Star Wars as a franchise, I worry about the multimedia nature the franchise is starting to take. I've been getting the feeling that to truly understand everything going on in the Star Wars universe, you have to go track down all the comics, books, video games, movies, and whatever other versions of media they decide to utilize. On the one hand, the old Expanded Universe was very much like this and so for people who really like Star Wars it gives them a lot of stuff to explore and enjoy.

On the other hand, to paraphrase Mr. Plinkett, we shouldn't have to read a book to understand a movie. The original movies were self-contained and while not everything was explained in agonizing detail, we didn't have to go check supplemental sources to understand the plotline. We weren't told how the Emperor became Emperor, but for the purposes of the story that wasn't terribly important. We knew he was the Emperor and was in charge, how that came to be was largely secondary. However in the case of Force Awakens, we don't really get an explanation as to who the First Order is or where they came from. Or for that matter what the situation with the Resistance is, because they're apparently not the military of the Republic but they're Republic aligned. So why is the Republic being defended by a paramilitary force? These are questions which probably should be answered within the movie, and we don't even need a super long explanation, a few lines of exposition would be necessary.

As for the plot of this book, Wedge Antilles is doing some post-Endor scouting operations for the New Republic and finds not one but three Star Destroyers in the backwater system of Akiva. Wedge concludes that something big is going down but before he can get the word back to the Republic he finds himself captured by the Empire. He manages to get a message out to Norra Wexley, another Republic operative, who puts together a team on planet to disrupt the Imperial meeting and strike another blow for the New Republic.

Plot-wise this book is okay. Mostly I got the impression that the Empire has bases and resources out in the Outer Rim and beyond the edges of known space where they'll regroup and possibly form the New Order. Otherwise this feels a lot like other Star Wars books which I've read before and I don't know if it brings all that much new to the table. Republic wins and the Empire gets driven further back. I think what I liked most is the vignettes of other things happening around the galaxy to show that the Civil War is not yet over and there are still battles to be won and work to be done to make the galaxy a better place.

The thing that bugs me the most about this book, though, is the character Temmin Wexley, Norra's son. Norra left Temmin behind three years ago to join the Rebel Alliance and has been involved in battles like Endor. She returns to find her son Temmin has gotten involved in black market dealings and basically turned into a typical shitty teenager. I actually found myself really disliking Temmin throughout the book. He isn't interested in the galactic struggle, just wants to keep his head down and make money. By the end of the book he's gotten fully on board with the Republic cause, but I feel like he hasn't learned as a character at all. What annoys me the most is that Temmin doesn't experience any loss during the book. At multiple points his mom Norra almost dies because of her fights against the Empire and towards the end of the book Temmin's robot Mr. Bones (a psychotic patched together battle droid) is shot by the Imperials. But at the end of the book Temmin has his mom and he has Mr. Bones. I felt like this really undermined the book because Temmin didn't experience loss forcing him to grow as a character. Everything turned out okay for him at the end and he goes on further adventures.

I'll have to see where the rest of the books in this series go because so far it's been kind of a disappointment. It's certainly not the most interesting Star Wars book I've read or feeling all that vital yet.

- Kalpar

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