ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back’

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 From a Certain Point of View-The Empire Strikes Back - But Why Tho?

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back is an anthology of 30 short stories told from the points of view of various side characters, and original characters, who bore witness to the events of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Published by Del Rey, the stories in this volume range from tragic to romantic and serious to silly, written by popular Star Wars authors, science fiction favorites, and upcoming fiction stars.

Since 2017’s original From a Certain Point of View introduced the idea of retelling Star Wars from the perspective of the original movie’s myriad side characters, as well as concurrent vignettes from beloved characters not from A New Hope, many have asked whether Empire should get a FACPOV treatment. And if it should, how would the next installment work for a movie with far fewer side and background characters of note? The short answers? Yes, there should absolutely have been a From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back, and you make it successful by simply inventing new characters in pivotal scenes.

The first installment of FACPOV found its most creative and fulfilling moments in stories told by characters not in the film, such as Lando Calrissian, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Dr. Aphra (no, not the Emperor or the Whills). From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back has some of its most successful moments when it is creating original characters. Kiersten White’s story “Eyes of the Empire,” Emily Skrutskie’s “Ion Control,” and C. B. Lee’s “A Good Kiss,” and several others are each great examples of this success. Each character is original, and maybe there’s an on-screen correlate, but you could easily see them having been at Echo Base right next to the rest of the rebels, or aboard a star destroyer.

I also appreciate the diversity of genres the stories bring. The creativity ranges from the romance of “A Good Kiss,” to the action of Jason Fry’s great Wedge Antilles story “Rendezvous Point,” to the, whatever you call the mode Daniel José Older took writing his story “STET!” as if it was a Google Doc draft in the middle of edits. Because the volume contains 30 different stories, several from similar parts of the movie each, it’s okay if certain stories don’t work for you. There is always another perspective to try instead.

Another strong aspect of From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back is the way its characterizations are consistent with not just the movie but other Star Wars canon. For example, “There is Always Another by Mackenzie Lee” stars Obi-Wan Kenobi, who remarks on small character bits developed explicitly in Claudia Grey’s Master and Apprentice. There are also direct Clone Wars references and other small Easter eggs and character moments that always reflect a cohesiveness to the greater Star Wars storytelling rather than coming across as pandering.

The single story that I take issue with is Delilah S. Dawson’s “She Will Keep Them Warm.” Not only does it feel just poorly written prose-wise, but its portrayal of Leia feels flat and I’m some ways, simply wrong. That said, of all the stories in From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back, this feels like the only true error. Some are less compelling than others, to me, but all 29 other stories had either satisfying character moments, interesting stories, creative aspects, or a few chuckles. The occasional drawings by Chris Trevas also help round out this volume.

In all, not every story in From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back will be for everybody, but that’s okay. The range of types of stories is excellent and the balance between original characters and fan favorites helps make sure the book holds something for everybody.

From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back releases on November 10th wherever books are sold.


From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back
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TL;DR

Not every story in From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back will be for everybody, but that’s okay. The range of types of stories is excellent and the balance between original characters and fan favorites helps make sure the book holds something for everybody.