Thursday, July 19, 2018

Phasma, by Delilah S. Dawson

So if you've seen anything going on with Angela from the Doubleclicks recently you'll know she's a huge fan of Captain Phasma and said she really liked this book. Since it became available on audiobook at the library I decided to give it a try. This book delves into Phasma's past on the planet Parnassos and how she met Brendol Hux and eventually joined the First Order. There are some moments where Phasma manages to do some really cool stuff in this book, but like most of the rest of the books in the new expanded universe canon I feel like there's far too much protesting that the Empire and the First Order aren't all that bad. You know, despite the fact that they kidnap children to be soldiers, probably practice slavery, and try to blow up planets.

This book has a framing device of Captain Cardinal, a First Order captain with special red stormtrooper armor, who is interrogating Vi Moradi, a Resistance spy. Vi Moradi recently made a trip into the Unknown Regions to get information on the First Order and their leaders, but was captured by the Star Destroyer Absolution. Cardinal wants information about Phasma who's been taking over the stormtrooper training program. Cardinal wants dirt on Phasma so he can take her down in the deadly game of New Order politics.

I was interested in this book because I was curious to see if Phasma did any really badass stuff in it, and I have to concede Phasma does some pretty freaking cool stuff including the equivalent of a ''Diana, Shield'' maneuver. If anything it really makes me wish they had used that in Force Awakens and Last Jedi because I got the feeling that they were trying to build Phasma up into the next Boba Fett-level badass. Now, to be fair Boba Fett did absolutely nothing in Empire Strikes Back but sass Darth Vader and even less in Return of the Jedi. (Way to get punched into that Sarlaac by a blind man, Fett.) So if anything it's a criticism of the fandom's rabid love for Boba Fett than anything else. But I think it would have been a lot better to have Phasma do cool stuff in the movies, rather than having to go to a book.

As for the issues with the First Order, we have both Captain Cardinal and Brendol Hux (father of Armitage Hux who's the Hux in the movies) extolling the virtures of the First Order. They put a lot of emphasis on how the First Order treats everyone equally and brings law and order to the galaxy, opposed to the chaos and anarchy of the ''nebulous freedom'' that the New Republic supports. They also argue that the majority of people in the galaxy don't know what's good for them, so they need an enlightened group of people to tell them what's best for them, and everyone except for Vi Moradi seems to just be...fine with this argument.

Now I can understand the equality argument working for a lot of people, especially the people who are on planets that have, or feel that they have been left behind by the New Republic. Especially in the case of Parnassos which was devastated by a nuclear reactor accident and then abandoned by the mining conglomerate that had caused the accident. I can understand people being upset that the mining company didn't suffer any legal consequences for their actions, and the Empire or the New Order sure wouldn't tolerate that level of incompetence. But when you start saying that you need the ''right sort of people'' to make decisions for everyone else, it begs the question how do we decide who's going to be making the decisions. And all too often it's the people with the biggest guns who decide who's going to be making the decisions for everyone else.

So I'd say that this book is in the middle territory for books in the Star Wars universe. Phasma does some awesome stuff, but also leaves me absolutely terrified because she's willing to kill anyone to achieve her goals. Seriously, don't mess with Phasma. But like with the rest of the new canon, I'm not a huge fan of the fact that people seem to be super okay with the First Order going around killing people, creating child soldiers, enslaving people, and just...just being bad people.

- Kalpar

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