Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: Han Solo at Stars' End by Brian Daley

I. Setting:

One of the most fascinating things about this book is the setting, Stars' End is set in the Corporate Sector, an area of space controlled by the Corporate Sector Authority. 

This idea ties very well into the Prequel films, which feature different corporations and guilds, like the Trade Federation as not just economic entities but political entities with quasi-governmental roles including having their own military forces.  You may not like the political setting of the Prequel films, but in the context of the EU, it fits and is hardly a surprise. 

II. Unofficial Dramatis Personae:

Han Solo, male Corellian smuggler
Chewbacca, male Wookiee smuggler
Atuarre, female Trianni
Pakka, male Trianni cub
Rekkon, scholar/missing person investigator
Torm, CSA agent/spy
Bollux, heavily modified Labor Droid
Blue Max, miniture computer Droid
Jessa, Outlaw-Tech
Doc, Outlaw-Tech
Viceprex Hirken, CSA VP of Corporate Security
Ploovo, criminal/loan shark
Uul-Rha-Shan, Viceprex's bodyguard

III. Story: 

The basics of the story is that Han Solo and Chewbacca are cruising around in the Corporate Sector, trying to earn a living, when because of the Falcon's modifications she runs afoul of the CSA's rules regarding spaceships.  In order to stay out of trouble Han goes looking for an old acquaintance, Doc and his daughter Jesse who run a  nomadic band of  Outlaw-Techs, fugitive Spaceship mechanics. Han wants a forged waiver documents and some special modifications including a new sensor dish (which Lando later looses ) to stay ahead of the CSA's patrols.  It all starts going south when the Outlaw-tech's base is raided, Han in the interest of defending his ship has to join the battle to defend the outlaws.  Through a series of adventures Han and Chewbacca fall in with a crew of CSA dissidents who have lost loved ones to the CSA's secret prison on Stars' Ends.  Eventually Chewbacca is captured by the CSA, and Han must go to rescue him.  Han of course succeeds after blowing the prison tower from the planets crust and almost into orbit. 

This book by Brian Daley is short and a quick read, but its fun and provides a number of firsts and interesting scenes that will be revisited or have continued impact on the EU.  

Was Brian Daley psychic, did he know about the Special Editions long before anyone else.  Take this quote from Han Solo; "I happen to like to shoot first, Rekkon.  As opposed to shooting second." (Ch. VI, pg. 83)

Technologically speaking, this novel marks the first appearnce by the ship that is the predecessor for the X-Wing, the Z-95 Headhunter.  The Headhunter was flown by a number of people in the EU, most notably Mara Jade Skywalker. 

One of the more disturbing ways to die in the EU, is to be thrown into hyperspace.  The basic theory  being that a hyperdrive creates a bubble of hyperspace around the ship, if anything leaves that bubble it will be lost and stuck in hyperspace.  Daley gives us a really cool scene with someone being jettisoned from the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace: "With an explosion of air into vacuum, Torm was hurled out into the chaotic pseudo-reality of hyperspace.  Once outside the Millennium Falcon's mantle of energy, the units of matter and patterns of form that had been Torm ceased to have any coherent meaning." (Ch. VII pg. 120)

We also get an early Clone Wars reference on page 130, where it is mentioned that the droid Bollux served a master during the Clone Wars who was a regimental commander.  Its a bit of a throw away line because so little was known about the Clone Wars in 1979, but with the  

One of my favorite lines of the books is an exchange between Doc and Han that sounds eerily similar to an exchange that Han will have with a young Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley cantina.  "Sonny, energizing an anticoncussion field is not like hot-wiring somebody's skyhopper and going for a joy-ride!" (Ch X pg. 168)

IV. Conclusions:

It is really unfortunate that we lost Brian Daley so young, it would be really cool to see what he would do with Star Wars in the modern EU.  His characterization of a young Han Solo rings very true to me and he writes a fun adventure tale.

You can find this book as part of a compilation with Daley's other Han Solo books, Han Solo's Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy.  Its worth picking up and getting a slightly different and sometimes slightly dated perspective on the EU. 

I give Han Solo at Stars' End 7.5 out of 10 lightsabers. 

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