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Excerpt from Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End Released



Aftermath: Empire's End

If you have been excited for the upcoming release of the final chapter in the Star Wars Aftermath series, then here is a little teaser to whet your whistle.  Thanks to the fine folks over at io9, we have an excerpt from the upcoming release.  The cool thing about this excerpt, is that fact that it focuses on Lando Calrissian, who hasn’t been mentioned so far in the series.

Check out the excerpt below:

“Lobot, we’re home.” Lando lifts a dubious eyebrow as he looks around, exasperated. “Guess the Empire didn’t keep up with house­keeping.”

This is the Casino level. Game machines line the smooth blue alac­tite floors far as the eye can see. Sabacc tables, too. And pazaak. And jubilee wheels. Along the far wall are banks of holoprojectors meant to show the latest swoop race down on the track-tubes piped through Bespin’s toxic Red Zone atmosphere. Once, this was a shining pillar of gambling excess: classy and bright with light coming in through win­dows looking out over the sun-kissed clouds. Now it’s wrecked. Trash drifts and tumbles. Machines have been turned over, their credits cut from inside like food from a beast’s belly. The windows are covered over with metal. The holoprojectors are dark. Lobot steps up alongside Lando. The computer forming a half-moon around the back of the man’s bald head blinks and pulses, and at Lando’s wrist is a communication from his friend and cohort.

I’ll look into rehiring staff immediately.

“Do that,” Lando says. Then he thrusts up a finger. “Ah. But make sure we’re hiring some refugees, will you?” The galaxy’s like a cup that’s been knocked over, and now everything’s spilling out. Whole worlds have been displaced by the war. Lando can’t let Cloud City turn from being a city of luxury to being a tent city of expats and evacuees, but he can damn sure give those people jobs. That’s his fa­vorite kind of arrangement: the kind where everybody gets something for their trouble. They win. He wins. The ideal for how everything should work.

Cloud City was always that, for Calrissian. It was a respite—a ref­uge from the Empire while at the same time not existing to spite the Empire, either. He thought, Hey, everybody can be happy, baby. The Empire didn’t have to care. The rebels didn’t need to care. Cloud City could hang in the air above Bespin, separate from all the chaos, from all the strife. Come here, taste a little luxury. Meanwhile, he could mine the Tibanna gas, sell it to whatever starship manufacturer wanted it (the stuff was perfect for making hyperdrives, because with Tibanna, a little went a long way). Meanwhile, Lando could sit back, have a drink, roll some dice, find a lady or three.

Yeah. It didn’t work out that way.

He knows now: In a war like this one, you don’t get to be in the middle. You can’t play both sides. He’d lived his whole life shooting right down the middle, never taking up a cause except the one meant to support his own empty pockets. Those days are over and so is his love of sweet neutrality. When Vader came here, everything changed. He lost Han, for a time. He lost Lobot and Cloud City. He lost nearly everything.

But he gained a little perspective.

And he picked a damn side. Because sometimes, you want to win, you gotta bet big. You gotta put your stack of chits in one place.

It paid off. The Empire is gone. And now he’s a hero of the Rebel­lion (and oh, you can be sure he used that to con more than his fair share of free drinks, not to mention the attention of beautiful admir­ers). But all he wants is his city back. After Endor, he thought he would just be able to sweep in here like a handsome king retaking his throne in the sky—but then that son-of-a-slug Governor Adelhard formed the Iron Blockade. He kept the people here trapped not only by a well-organized Imperial remnant, but also by a grand lie: that Palpatine was not dead. And Lando knows that old shriveled cenobite is dead—because he’s the one who took out the Death Star’s reactor core. And because Luke said the monster was dead. Can you believe it? Palpatine and Vader. Both gone. Two scourges, scoured from the galaxy.

Suddenly he had a second war to fight. Here he thought the Empire was done for and Cloud City was once again his. What an eager fool. Nothing’s ever that simple, is it? It took months and months. He had to stage an uprising. Had to interface with Lobot on the inside. Had to cash in favors with a handful of scoundrels—like Kars Tal-Korla, that pirate. All because the New Republic wouldn’t commit a military ac­tion to retaking the city. He respects it, he understands it, and Leia put it best when she said, “The Rebellion was easy, Lando. Governing’s harder.” The chancellor was just trying to hold on to whatever advan­tage she had—and then with the Liberation Day attack on Chand­rila . . .

Well. All that is over and done. No need to dwell.

Cloud City is his once again. Lando starved out Adelhard. Most of the Imperials surrendered. It’s over. Thank the lucky stars.

He steps forward into the Casino level, and he and Lobot aren’t alone. He’s got a ragtag force with him: some of his Wing Guard secu­rity forces, but some New Republic soldiers, too. It’s just enough to perform cleanup on those who linger behind, clinging to the illusion they can still win this thing.

Together they march forward through the wreckage of the Casino level. He asks Lobot: “The holdouts are ahead?”

Yes. In the Bolo Tanga room.

“Fine, fine, let’s get this over with and evict our final tenants.”

As they walk, Lobot looks over at him as a new communication flashes across his wrist: I am told to remind you that the princess will soon give birth and you have not yet procured for them the standard natal gift.

“What? That’s impossible. She was just—I swear they just got married—didn’t I just get them a nuptial gift?”

It has been the proper biological time. You just do not realize how much time has passed. We have been busy.

“So have they, I guess.”

Also, you never got them a nuptial gift.

He sighs. “Okay, okay. Buying gifts for a kid. Can we get him a cute little cape and a mustache so he looks like old Uncle Lando?”

Lobot doesn’t respond, offering only a humorless stare.

“Fine, fine, I’ll think about it.” His mind drifts briefly to Han and Leia. Han, one of his oldest and greatest friends. And sure, one of his greatest rivals, too. He misses that old reprobate. The crazy times they had!

Good times even when they were bad. And now, Han is with Leia. Hoo, boy. Those two are a pair of rocket boosters firing full-bore. Lando just hopes those two engines are both firing in the same direction—because if they’re ever pointed at each other, they’ll burn each other up.

We’re here.

That, from Lobot. Ahead waits the door to the Bolo Tanga room. Lando can see it’s been sealed with mag-alloy. He turns to Captain Gladstone of the Wing Guard. “We got imaging?”

Gladstone nods. “They’re holed up in there. They’ve broken through to the beam outtake shaft, which in theory would lead them to the engineering sublayer—”

“But the fumes coming up through the shaft will kill them if they try.”

“That’s exactly it, Baron Administrator.”

“So they’re trapped.”

“Like crete-bugs in a beetle-bag.”

“All right, let’s open it up.”

From the book STAR WARS: AFTERMATH: EMPIRE’S END by Chuck Wendig. Copyright © 2017 by Lucasfilm Ltd. Reprinted by arrangement with Del Rey Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

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A Star Wars fan since 1978, he has a passion for all things Star Wars and wonders why May the 4th is not a national holiday. He lives in the wastelands of middle Georgia with his wife, two girls, and two dogs.


New Pop Culture Book, Watching Skies from Mark O’Connell



For those that are interested in the amazing world of pop culture (including Star Wars, but not limited to…), then Mark O’Connell is about to release a book you might be interested in. Check out the press release below, and look for the book to hit Amazon September 1st (for those in the US).

As Ready Player One and Stranger Things prove the retro might of VHS era cinema, Watching Skies: Star Wars, Spielberg and Us is a universal and affectionate tale about the pop cultural remembrances stuck in all our R2 unit’s memory systems.

Watching Skies: Star Wars, Spielberg and Us

Watching Skies:
Star Wars, Spielberg and Us Book Cover

Like many a British kid in an ‘80s world of VCRs, Reagan and Atari, Mark O’Connell wanted to be one of the mop-haired kids on the Star Wars toy commercials. Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and of course Star Wars weren’t just changing cinema – they were making lasting highways into our childhoods, toy boxes and video stores like never before.

In this energetic and insightful memoir-through-cinema, O’Connell flies a gilded X-Wing through a universe of bedroom remakes of Return of the Jedi, close encounters with Christopher Reeve, sticker album swaps, a honeymoon on Amity Island and the trauma of losing an entire Star Wars figure collection.

A unique study on how a rich galaxy of movies continue shaping big and vital cinema to this day, Watching Skies is for all Star Wars kids – whatever their era.

It is about how George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, a shark, two motherships, some gremlins, ghostbusters, and a man of steel jumped a whole generation to hyperspace* (*action figures not included).

Mark O’Connell is an award-winning writer and author. As a comedy writer he has written for a wide range of actors, performers, titles, and media. As a warm-witted pop culture pundit, he has written and guested for Variety, Sky Movies, The Times, The Guardian, OUT magazine, Channel Four, Five, Yahoo Movies and across BBC radio and television. He was one of the official storytellers of London 2012, owns one tenth of a BAFTA, once got praised by the Coen Brothers, and now travel writes. He is the author of Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan.

Note: If you purchase one of the awesome products featured above, we earn a small commission from the retailer. Thank you for your support.

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Voice Cast For ‘From A Certain Point Of View’ Audiobook Announced



If you are like me, you really don’t have the time to read a Star Wars novel anymore. Work and home life just get in the way. However, I do travel for work quite a bit, so Audible is my very good friend. That is why this voice cast announcement for the upcoming book ‘From a Certain Point of View’, has really piqued my interest!

Some of the top names in the industry have joined up to read this one to you. Check out the details below!

From a Certain Point of View

From a Certain Point of View Cover and Author Listing

The stories of X-wing pilots, droid-hunting stormtroopers, and more background characters from Star Wars: A New Hope are about to be told — by some very famous names.

From a Certain Point of View, coming October 3, will bring together more than 40 authors for 40 stories, all in celebration of Star Wars‘ 40th anniversary. It’s definitely a special release, and Del Rey has assembled an amazing cast of narrators for the audiobook version, which we’re excited to reveal below:

Full cast list (in alphabetical order):

Jonathan Davis
Ashley Eckstein
Janina Gavankar
Jon Hamm
Neil Patrick Harris
January LaVoy
Saskia Maarleveld
Carol Monda
Daniel José Older
Marc Thompson

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Retro Review – Star Wars: The Last Command



I grew up experiencing two different eras in Star Wars: before the prequels and after the prequels. That’s not to pass judgment on the prequels, but before them there was a lot of the mythos still locked away in George Lucas’ mind. Ever since the first movie, authors have been adding their own chapters to the ever-growing universe of Star Wars. My first foray into the Star Wars novels was The Truce at Bakura, and I don’t have a great recall of the story other than it took place immediately after Return of the Jedi. Throughout middle school, after The Phantom Menace was released, I jumped through a few more books, particularly the Young Jedi Knights series and Shadows of the Empire. It wasn’t until high school when I became friends with The Outer Rim News Podcast co-host Austin Gordy, that I found out just how little I knew about the Star Wars universe. He introduced me to his vast library of books and miniatures of different ships (the Sun Crusher blew my mind at the time), and to a particular villain named Thrawn. He showed me Heir to the Empire and I assumed Thrawn was the old wizard-looking man on the cover. He corrected me, pointing out the blue man to the side. I thought at the time he looks pretty cool while Austin touted him as a tactical genius in his own trilogy that many considered a trilogy of sorts to the original Star Wars trilogy. I never read the trilogy at the time, but Thrawn was one of those characters that stuck in my memory without actually ever having read the books. Cut to present day. After his introduction to the new canon in Star Wars Rebels, I decided to finally jump into the story that made him a legend. And in case you haven’t read The Last Command, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Star Wars: The Last Command Cover

Star Wars: The Last Command Cover

I have finally finished the Thrawn Trilogy. My review will focus mainly on The Last Command, the final part of the trilogy. Heir to the Empire was a fun start to the story, with our heroes encountering a mysterious figure holding together the remnants of the Empire while causing major damage to the New Republic forces. Dark Force Rising showed us the Noghri culture and the Empire’s deceptive connection with them. In The Last Command, we see the finale of Zahn’s story starring the blue-skinned, red-eyed Grand Admiral.

For a recap, The Last Command follows the New Republic struggling to outwit the Empire’s new leader and master strategist, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Over the course of the previous two books, he managed to gain an advantage by finding a cloning facility and beating the Republic to the location of the fabled Katana fleet. By the third book, he’s making plays for territory.

What’s interesting about Thrawn that I didn’t know until I read the series was that he’s never a POV character for the reader at any point in the trilogy. Instead, author Timothy Zahn approaches the alien genius of Thrawn by showing him the same way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would show us the erratic genius of Sherlock Holmes: by proxy with a trusted assistant. Holmes had Watson, and Thrawn had Pellaeon. Why do this? To me, it came across as a way to give him mystique. Characters gain a certain level of mystery when the audience is denied access to what they’re thinking. Like Pellaeon, we are never given more information on the Grand Admiral than he allows us to know.

He makes some serious plays against the Republic in his final book. He fools a planet into thinking he has shield-penetrating firepower. He orders a raid to abduct Leia and her newborn twins from the heart of the New Republic, which fails thanks to Mara Jade. Lastly, he attacks Coruscant from orbit by releasing multiple stealth-cloaked asteroids above their planetary shield, keeping any ships from getting in or out.

While doing this, Thrawn has also been dealing with two potential problems: Jedi Master clone Joruus C’baoth and the smugglers, namely Talon Karde. He attempts to placate the increasingly insane Jedi clone with the attempted abduction. After it fails, C’baoth (who’s been toying with power over minds) travels back to Wayland, now with its clone facility in full swing and takes over by slaughtering the ysalamiri that were supposed to depower him.

All of our heroes come together on Wayland and manage to stop and kill C’baoth, while Thrawn, watching his first battle spin out of control due to lucky timing, is stabbed in the chest by his lethal Noghri bodyguard, Ruhk.

After all this struggle between the New Republic and Thrawn, I was conflicted by how Thrawn’s demise played out. Throughout the first two books, I became increasingly agitated at how seemingly infallible Thrawn’s strategies were. The only things that seemed to get past him were improvisation (Luke’s X-Wing escape) or blind luck (Leia hiding on Honoghr). Getting to the third book made it worse toward the finale. When Thrawn predicted exactly what the New Republic was going to do leading to the final confrontation, I actually cursed out loud in annoyance. I didn’t know whether to be annoyed at the character for being so good at his job, or Timothy Zahn for making him so unbeatable. I started to guess what was going to be his downfall once I realized that he still had his bodyguard, Ruhk, and that he was still under the impression that the Noghri were completely loyal to the Empire. While I thought at first that C’baoth would be his downfall, that turned out to be only partly true.

Thrawn wasn’t beaten by planning. He was beaten by a perfect storm of bad timing, brought on partly by his own arrogance. His plan was to meet the New Republic in battle, but not to be blindsided by smugglers with their own plan. His plan on Wayland was to keep C’baoth under wraps with the Force-suppressing ysalamiri, but not to have his own men brainwashed into killing the creatures. Being stabbed by his own bodyguard never occurred to him. There was a kind of poetry to his demise, but it felt a little…lessened? Maybe that’s not the right term, but I wish there’d been slightly more to it, especially since so much of the finale with the heroes focused on C’baoth. There was just this expectation to me that in a trilogy titled The Thrawn Trilogy, there would be a more personal confrontation with the title villain.


Thrawn from Star Wars Rebels Season 3

My opinion aside, one thing that really intrigues me about Thrawn has been his enduring popularity since his introduction. While dying at the end of his own trilogy, Thrawn had a lasting impact on the Star Wars Expanded Universe and the fandom around it. What made him so popular?

Let’s travel back to the year of his introductory novel, Heir to the Empire. It was 1991, and Return of the Jedi was nearing its tenth anniversary. There was no hint or indication that the prequel trilogy was going to exist. Timothy Zahn brought forth not just another adventure, but a new villain who leaves the New Republic at a loss. What’s more, he wasn’t another lightsaber-wielding Dark Jedi or lightning-tossing Emperor. He was a villain that relied not on the Force, but on his intellect. Star Wars hadn’t seen a formidable or imposing military villain since Tarkin, so it was primed for a return to the concept.

Zahn’s post-Return story revitalized the Star Wars brand and paved the way for many concepts that would stay with Star Wars, even after the Disney acquisition. We have Thrawn appearing in Star Wars Rebels, as well as the forthcoming introduction of Ruhk into the animated series’ fourth and final season. Even Coruscant, the famous city-planet that was featured throughout the prequels, made its first appearance in Heir to the Empire.

All in all, for me, I have mixed feelings about The Last Command and the trilogy, but its impact is undeniable. Sometimes I was ready to finish a chapter so I could take a break, while other times I was hooked into the story. I recommend it for any Star Wars fan, simply for the value it still holds to the Star Wars universe.

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