Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Star Wars

What a year! From Rogue One hype and fear in January to The Last Jedi not going the way we thought this December, Star Wars has firmly re-established itself as a fan phenomenon. My Star Wars nonfiction can be found at the sidebar, and I talk about that a bit more here.

This year saw the end of the Aftermath series, which were carrying a lot of weight as the Star Wars books most focused on ongoing original characters. I very much liked Florian's post on the subject at Fantha Tracks. Six novels were published by Del Rey Star Wars this year, including the short story collections From A Certain Point of View and Canto Bight. With Disney Publishing continuing to put out strong young adult and middle grade books, I've included the five of them in my rankings this year as well.

I have not yet read The Legends of Luke Skywalker.

Aftermath: Empire's End by Chuck Wendig

After my disappointment with Life Debt, I was still eager to find out what happened to Rae Sloane, Sinjir Rath Velus, and the rest of the Aftermath crew. The more canon stories visit the battle of Jakku the more I appreciate what Empire's End revealed about Palpatine's plans and the nature of the planet Jakku itself. I also continue to adore Rae Sloane, whose role in this book generated a lot of discussion about whether she might eventually join either the New Republic or the First Order. It's nice to be so invested in an original Star Wars character again, and being able to spend an entire series with her makes that easy.

From A Certain Point of View by various

"The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper" by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction is, unfortunately, ineligible to be my favorite Star Wars novel of 2017 only because it is not a novel. However, it and other stories in this collection elevate the 40th anniversary tribute to A New Hope to my second place pick. Of course, with 40 stories, the collection is a mixed bag, but I loved the ashen grimness of "Contingency Plan" by Alexander Freed and the characterization and also grimness of "Grounded" by Greg Rucka. Nera Kase is actually me. Kudos to Del Rey for organizing this, as well: wrangling 40 stories has got to be a lot of work.

Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden

You may be seeing a pattern here. I tend to gravitate toward special forces space soldiers, but despite its goofy title Inferno Squad also did some solid character work, taking what would later be revealed to be a rather slim campaign in Battlefront II and developing what felt like real relationships between Iden Versio, Del Meeko, Gideon Hask, and Seyn Marana. Inferno Squad feels like fanfic in a good way. It also muddies the moral waters of Star Wars without ever veering into "maybe the Rebels are actually the bad guys" cynicism, something which Rogue One and The Last Jedi also did nicely.

Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

This young adult book creates an Alderaanian culture and a backstory for Leia that feels as real as anything in the Expanded Universe ever did. Gray takes one of Leia's assertions about herself -- "I like nice men" -- and turns it into something so much more than a story of first romance, although that's there too among the self-discovery and mountaineering and Amilyn Holdo. The Leia book really adds to The Last Jedi with its introduction of a younger Holdo, and the friendship between Holdo and Leia felt deep and unique.

Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson

Taken together with Kelly Thompson's Captain Phasma comic book series, Phasma's characterization in the canon stories was very different than I expected from the movies. However, the two stories are very consistent with one another, and that's what matters. While I was frustrated by the fact that the book doesn't really get into Phasma's point of view until very late, the journey across Parnassos was vivid, and I appreciate that this backstory was told at all. I just wish some more time had been spent on Phasma's growth rather than Cardinal's.

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