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From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back offers 40 fun Star Wars stories

Review: This collection offers short stories of varying quality, with a few epic standouts.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
3 min read

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back collects 40 stories about the movie's less prominent characters.

Penguin Random House

The Empire Strikes Back, the greatest film ever made, turned 40 earlier this year. That's four decades of Star Wars fans dissecting every frame and obsessing over background characters. From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back is the logical conclusion of that passion -- 40 short tales telling the movie's story from the perspectives of secondary and background characters, from 40 different authors.

It's not the first such story collection -- we got a similar one for the first Star Wars (aka A New Hope) in 2017. But The Empire Strikes Back moves at a much faster clip than the original movie; this accompanying short story collection, out Tuesday in hardback, digital and audiobook form, mirrors that pace by jumping between to a wider variety of locations.

Most are self-contained tales about some rebel cook or Imperial technician, offering a look at the toil of ordinary people in a galaxy far, far away. They're generally engaging while you're reading, but unlikely to resonate in any major way.

However, the collection is punctuated with more ambitious stories -- Jason Fry's tale about pilot Wedge Antilles reveals what the Rebel Alliance got up to after escaping the Empire at Hoth, while Michael Kogge's yarn about bounty hunter Bossk goes in a surprising, clever direction. I was left wanting more; these stories felt like setups for spinoff novels that I'd read in a heartbeat.

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Along with Bossk, the other bounty hunters Darth Vader sends after the Millennium Falcon are expanded upon here. Longtime Star Wars readers will be reminded of the noncanon 1996 anthology Tales of the Bounty Hunters -- the colorful mercenaries' stories are among the most fun in this collection too. We don't get too much insight into Boba Fett (the coolest guy in the galaxy), but it's always a treat to get into his head.


Bossk's story is among the collection's most engaging.


If you're invested in the spiritual side of Star Wars, we get a few stories about Force users, too. None of these radically alter our understanding of the battle between the light and dark sides, but Jim Zub's Yoda tale reveals what was going through his head during that first encounter with Luke Skywalker on Dagobah, while Mike Chen's Emperor Palpatine story offers a fascinating "what if?" scenario. Mackenzi Lee writes a quirky Obi-Wan Kenobi that I'd love to see more of.

There are also some touching moments from unexpected characters, like the final thoughts of Imperial Admiral Ozzel (whom you might remember succumbing to Vader's fatal management style) and the bedside manner of a Rebel Alliance medical droid.

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This collection also regularly veers into quirky territory, with one story about the Millennium Falcon's computer tying neatly back to Solo's novelization and another offering a slightly creepy insight into the dark side cave on Dagobah. An adventure with a Cloud City background character has fun echoes of Pulp Fiction, but one featuring old school comic character Jaxxon veers too much into slapstick territory.

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back is a fun companion and showcases 40 authors' talents through a varied set of tales. They won't all stick with you and a few stray too far from the movie's tone, but the collection pays clever tribute to the greatest film ever made and sets up some cool possibilities for future storytelling. 

Buying the book from University Bookstore gets you access to three virtual events featuring some of the book's authors on Nov. 10, 11 and 12.