I love Star Wars! I love short stories! Together this second collection was a win-win for me, as I also loved the previous book Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View.
Forty authors celebrated forty years since The Empire Strikes Back was released by contributing a story of background or supporting characters from the ending of A New Hope to the ending of TESB movie. What I especially like about short stories is you can read an entire story in bite-sized portions, perfect for when you are a full-time working mom like myself who has limited reading time but loves to read! There are a few spoilers, but I did my best not to give it all away!
Eyes of the Empire by Kiersten White 4/5
An Empire soldier who is tasked with watching video feed from traveling droids around the universe clues in that the Rebels are on Hoth and alerts the command. When she realizes her intel led to much death and destruction, she lets some data from Dagobah go unreported…
Hunger by Mark Oshiro 4/5
The Wampa on Hoth that attacked Luke gets some poignant backstory. He just wanted to feed his family!
Ion Control by Emily Skrutskie 3.5/5
A Rebel soldier on Hoth helps transport her fellow soldiers off planet when the Empire finds their base. Persevering while the base falls apart, she is determined to get as many to safety as she can.
A Good Kiss by C.B. Lee 4/5
Not every soldier gets to shine, behind-the-scenes drudge work is a necessity to keep troops fed and safe. But one soldier finally does get his turn to be a hero when his knowledge of the back tunnels proves invaluable. Plus, his crush returns his affections as they escape to safety.
She Will Keep Them Warm by Deliah S. Dawson 3.5/5
A mother Tauntaun who is used by the Rebels as transport has her own feelings about how her family herd is being utilized, but you know she will make the ultimate sacrifice to keep a certain someone warm.
Heroes of the Rebellion by Amy Ratcliffe 3/5
A reporter stationed on Hoth hopes to get exciting stories from Luke, Leia and Han as they are recognized heroes but realizes there are so many more heroic stories out there from everyday soldiers and civilians.
Rogue Two by Gary Whitta 3/5
A pilot who hates the cold worries that Han and Luke won’t make it back alive when they are caught outside at night and is the one who radios back that he found them the next morning.
Kendal by Charles Yu 4/5
Admiral Kendal Ozzel ruminates on the path that got him to the point where he is being Force-choked by Lord Vader. As he dies he realizes he made horrible choices that led to him joining the Empire vs the Rebels that his former-fiancé wanted to join. But before all that, he was just a child who loved his mother’s cooking.
Against All Odds by R.F. Kuang 4/5
Dak is a gunner for Luke, and views it as the highest honor, as both men work well together. But even the most experienced and competent soldiers can run into bad luck.
Beyond Hope by Michale Moreci 4/5
A soldier whose home planet was taken over by the Empire is looking for revenge and joins the Rebels. But this story is the opposite of the one before, as this soldier survives, less due to talent, but because of luck.
The Truest Duty by Christie Golden 4/5
General Veers of the Empire reveals he fed Admiral Ozzel some incorrect data which resulted in him making a bad move which brought down the wrath of Vader upon him. Now Veers has been promoted and will not let Vader down.
A Naturalist on Hoth by Hank Green 5/5
A dedicated scientist studying the flora and fauna of Hoth makes a radical decision when the base is attacked. This was a weird little tale, but I loved it.
The Dragonsnake Saves R2 by Katie Cook 3/5
A one-page cutesy cartoon about how the swimming alien on the planet Dagobah saved R2 from the swamp that he and Luke crash-landed on.
For The Last Time by Beth Revis 3/5
Admiral Piett of the Empire also stays true to Vader after witnessing Ozzel’s death.
Rendezvous Point by Jason Fry 5/5
This longer story highlights Wedge Antilles, a respected pilot from A New Hope who flew with Luke against the first Death Star. A new squadron needs to be assembled and he helps pull together new pilots. Many are rookies and he puts them through simulators but they need to fly out on a mission soon, and he needs to make hard decisions as he knows some won’t survive. This was an important story that shows the nitty-gritty of war.
The Final Order by Seth Dickinson 4/5
Captain Tian and Commander Canonhaus serve together on the Imperial ship Ultimatum and have a fraught conversation, as neither trusts the motives of the other. How depressing, one can never ever let their guard down as betrayals are common among them.
Amara Kel’s Rules for TIE Pilot Survival (Probably) by Django Wexler 5/5
We are introduced to a likable TIE pilot who has rules for herself so she stays alive. But she breaks them when she starts to fall for another pilot. New recruits = “cloudflies” was dark humor at its best.
The First Lesson by Jim Zub 4/5
Yoda’s thoughts when he meets impetuous Luke for the first time.
Disturbance by Mike Chen 3.5/5
Emperor Palpatine feels a great disturbance in the Force and sees a possible future play out in his mind before he summons Vader to his chambers.
This Is No Cave by Catherynne M. Valente 2/5
This is another creature POV story, this time it’s about the animal found in the asteroid belt that the Millennium Falcon needed to escape from. While I found The Baptist by Nnedi Okorafor in the previous book and Hunger by Mark Oshiro in this book solid, this was a miss for me.
Lord Vader Will See You Now by John Jackson Miller 4/5
When a story deeply centers on a minor character, it’s a clue that this person is found in non-canon Star Wars books and graphic novels. Such was the case with Rae Sloane who needs to explain her actions first to Admiral Piett then to Vader. Her instincts prove to be correct.
Vergence by Tracy Deonn 2/5
The cave that Luke was tested in on Dagobah now has a POV too. Whatever.
Tooth and Claw by Michael Kogge 3/5
The reptilian bounty-hunter Bossk has it out for Chewbacca. I’ve always thought Chewbacca should have been more developed, but this story was just about how emo Bossk is.
STETI by Daniel Jose Older 2.5/5
A story trying too hard to be clever- this is written as if it were an edited article for the Galactic Digest from a journalist who is much too close to his news source during a bloody feud in a diner.
Wait for It by Zoraida Cordova 4/5
Boba Fett is summoned by Vader along with some other bounty hunters to capture Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. He now lays in wait for his mark.
Standard Imperial Procedure by Sarwat Chadda 4.5/5
Ashon is an Imperial janitor, who was a former engineer who had a dramatic fall from grace. When he spots something that Boba Fett wants, his fate is sealed. This was a great story, but that ending…
There is Always Another by Mackenzi Lee 5/5
Obi-Wan Kenobi even in death regrets many of his past choices with Anakin. His thoughts on Yoda’s martyrdom and choice to reside of Dagobah made me laugh. When he tries to help Yoda talk Luke out of leaving his Jedi training, he compares Luke to his father and it pains him. This really humanized Obi-Wan and I loved it.
Fake It Till You Make It by Cavon Scott 3/5
Jaxxon, a rabbit-type smuggler tries to talk Lando into a shady deal on Cloud City, but Lando has other things on his mind. This scoundrel has a redeeming moment at the end, and turns out he is a character from older Star Wars graphic novels.
But What Does He Eat? by S.A. Chakraborty 3.5/5
Lando is trying to impress Vader and calls in his acclaimed head chef to cook a meal for him and the other Imperial guards. The chef does her best, but does Vader actually eat?
Beyond the Clouds by Lilliam Rivera 3/5
Isabalia is a lackluster newbie bounty hunter based out of Cloud City, but pivots when given a chance to join a new rebel movement.
No Time for Poetry by Austin Walker 3/5
Droid assassin IG-88 and bounty hunter Dengar form an unlikely partnership when hunting for Han Solo.
Bespin Escape by Martha Wells 3.5/5
A clan of alien Ugnaughts scramble to find a ship to get safety off Cloud City when the Imperial forces arrive.
Faith in an Old Friend by Brittany N. Williams 4/5
Piloting droid LS-37, last seen in the movie Solo, is now part of the Millennium Falcon’s circuitry. She still has a crush on Lando and helps get them to safety. It was nice to have a story about this droid that we got to know in a movie, and who I felt had an ignoble end there.
Due on Batuu by Rob Hart 3/5
Two Cloud City residents see an opportunity to escape with a package that could give them some coin if put in the right hands.
Into the Clouds by Karen Strong 3.5/5
A poor little rich girl and handsome pilot escape from Cloud City together- perhaps into a happily ever after. This was a bit of a romance story that was just loosely tied to Star Wars, but I found it more appealing than I thought I would.
The Witness by Adam Christopher 4/5
Another story that gives an Imperial soldier some humanity. Deena, Stormtrooper TK-27342, has had enough and decides to desert at the siege on Cloud City. By accident she witnesses some of the battle between Vader and Luke. I was rooting for her.
The Man Who Built Cloud City by Alexander Freed 2/5
A delusional man who believes he is king of Cloud City is helped to safety by a security guard. So the guard put his own loved ones in danger to rescue this man??
The Backup Backup Plan by Anne Toole 3/5
This longer story was about the residents left behind on Cloud City who didn’t escape and how they skirt around the new Imperial law. Sure this took place in the Star Wars universe, but it didn’t relate to the movie.
Right-Hand Man by Lydia Kang 4.5/5
A medical droid completes the surgery on Luke to give him a new right cybernetic hand and has some surprisingly poignant and wise words for Luke. Clever title.
The Whills Strike Back by Tom Angleberger 5/5
Another amusing entry about how the Whills scholars decide on what to include in the word scroll in the introduction of each movie. Loved the sly reference to Life Day! The author Angleberger did the same for the first book, and I hope he closes out the next book too.
This collection was strong and evolved from the first anthology, with less clunkers. It fleshed out some characters believably and added some diversity with some LGBTQ+ romances. My only criticisms there are too many creature POVs and Luke was shown inconsistently from story to story. Sometimes he was a wise God-like hero other times a petulant hothead. But all in all, a fun read for all Star Wars fans and I look forward to the next 40-year anniversary book for Return of the Jedi.