I know I keep saying “This is probably the only time I’m going to re-review something…” I should probably stop saying that.
Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. Actually really good.
So, I first read this book back in 2011 when I was “getting back into” the Star Wars books. At the time, I dismissed it as an unnecessary rehash of the events of ANH. I didn’t consider that it added anything to the overall saga and promptly forgot about it.
To be honest, I have always been about as reluctant to give Del Rey Star Wars books the time of day as they have been to give credit to any other publisher but themselves. (Note the fact that Del Rey claims they published the first Star Wars book, when that was in fact Ballantine.) But I’m not too proud to admit I made a mistake here. In fact, as an information professional, I’ll go ahead and state plainly that before 2014, when Disney|Lucasfilm made it imperative to research the history and actuality of the Star Wars canon, I made a lot of mistakes about Star Wars and George Lucas. That’s over now, I hope ;)
Awhile back, feeling annoyed about Jocasta Nu and the fact that people never seemed to bother correctly differentiating archivists from librarians (another mistake I myself made in the past, until I got an MLS and the confusion was impossible), I asked around to find out of there were any legitimate librarians in the entire canon. What people told me completely flabbergasted me.
“There’s an Imperial librarian in Death Star,” they said. What?! But I read that already! I read it while I was in library school! You’d think I’d remember there being a Star Wars librarian, especially since I’m trying to create a cosplay of a librarian in the Imperial navy! Maybe I had done the book a deep injustice.
Death Star is a great read. It fleshes out A New Hope, giving depth and feeling to characters that in 1977 were little more than extras adding ambiance to our cowboys-in-space Bildungsroman. Michael Reaves and Steve Perry are responsible for some of the high points in the EU, and together they weave a crowded ensemble into a high-tension story leading up to the moment seared onto all our imaginations, when Luke Skywalkers sends those proton torpedoes into the small thermal exhaust port.
An escaped convict, a bartender, her bouncer, a gunner, a librarian, a doctor, and a soldier tormented by strange dreams . . . They are all drawn together by this floating fortress, this “Death Star” that combines the most powerful laser ever conceived of in the galaxy with the largest space fortress ever built. Telling us the “other side” of the story we know so well, Reaves and Perry explore why people serve the Empire, what made soldiers volunteer to work someplace that could destroy planets, what went on in Tarkin’s final days. Even when we know exactly how the story ends, the psychological weight bearing down on the characters creates a high-tension narrative and leaves us not sure what to hope for.
I was so inspired by the character of Atour Ritten that I decided to adapt my Imperial librarian costume, already in-progress, into a cosplay of this proper librarian. I was impressed both that Reaves and Perry captured universal librarian behavior so well, but also that I had spontaneously chosen the correct rank (Commander) for my cosplay! And now I’m thinking I should do a post specifically on my upcoming costume. Hmm.
Anyway, Death Star is not disappointing; it is essential! I apologize for ever disparaging it.